Best steel for hunting knife

Knowing the best steel for hunting knife is as important as choosing the right hunting knife. Archaeologists finds that the first hunting knife was probably a sharp edge broken stone that they used for hunting animals and other cuttings. Since the dawn of the man, the hunter’s best friend is a sharp hunting knife that not only holds the edges for a longer time but also performs multiple tasks like cutting meat, skinning animals, and even being able to cut the rope and sometimes cut and shape small branches of trees.

Choosing the right knife for your hunting tour is not an easy job, especially if you are new in the field. There are hundreds of thousands of hunting knives available in the market, but did you know which steel is best for a hunting knife. Is it 420HC or 440, D2 and 1095, H1 or ZDP 189? Should it be high carbon steel or stainless steel? Confused? Let’s solve this mystery and find which steel is best for hunting knives.

Carbon Steel Vs Stainless Steel

When it comes to steel material used in crafting cutlery and knives, stainless steel and carbon steel are the two basic alloys. The main difference between stainless steel and carbon steel is the amount of chromium in its chemical composition. The amount of chromium in stainless steel is between 10 to 16 percent. On the other hand, carbon steel contains less or no chromium in the alloy. Carbon steel is harder than stainless steel and has better hold edges. Knives with high carbon content can rust easily. The presence of chromium protects the blades from rust and oxidation but has shorter edge retention. 

Carbon steel and stainless steel are both best to be used in the manufacturing of knives. The selection of the hunting knife either with stainless steel or carbon steel depends on the environment. If there is humidity, then stainless steel should be your first choice with a good knife sharpener in your pocket.

Advantage of Stainless steel

The fact is that there is no such knife that is truly stainless steel. Any steel which is truly stainless and contains enough amount of chromium, will not be a good choice for knives. A good amount of chromium in steel prevents it from rust but the other hand makes it softer with low edges retention. To craft a good quality stainless-steel knife, a perfect amount of chromium is added to steel alloy and undergoes a heat treatment. After the heat treatment, the steel becomes harder to hold edges and is polished properly to shine. If you are in a more humid environment like boat fish hunting, then Stainless steel should be your first choice. Some of the most used stainless steel for hunting knives are 440A, 440B, 440C, 12C27, VG10, CPM, AUS8, 154CM, and ATS34.

Advantages of Carbon steel

Carbon steel contains all the important elements that make it stand out, but it is the absence or very rare availability of chromium. The heat treatment of carbon steel is different from that of stainless steel. Carbon steel is harder, easy to sharpen, and holds better edge retention. For many hunters, carbon steel is a plus. It should be treated differently than stainless steel with proper cleaning and oiling to prevent it from rust and oxidation. Hunting a deer or performing the hunt in a dry and less humid environment then there is no better choice than other carbon steel. The most commonly used carbon steel for knives is 80CrV2, 15N20, 52100, and many others.


Carbon steel and stainless steel are both best for hunting knives. The selection of one depends on the hunting environment and location. In areas with more humidity or boat hunting, stainless steel is the best choice. A proper treated and rust resistance quality will help the stainless-steel knife to hold the edges for a long time. On the other hand, if you are performing the hunt in dry weather then a carbon steel knife will be the best pick. The carbon steel knife is a multi-task knife that not only cut and skin the animal but also cut ropes and tree branches. It holds the edge retention longer than stainless steel and is very easy to sharpen.  

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