Finding the best skinning knife for small game isn’t easy largely due to the size and type of game that needs skinned.
We have always advocated that there isn’t one specific knife that can do the job for everything. So, we look at knives as tools that each have their own specific use.
There are tactical knives that are used by military or police personnel, field knives, knives used as survival tools, and EDC folders. All of these knives have their own uses and any seasoned prepper, hunter or outdoorsman usually has at least a couple different knives in their arsenal.
Small game is tricky. You need a blade that is smaller so that you have the ability to control it very precisely, while being extremely sharp and effective at cutting hide away the carcass.
What To Look For in a Small Game Skinning Knife:
The biggest thing you need to consider for small game skinning knives is how you plan on using the knife. We suggest our favorite choices below but whether you go fixed blade or folding blade will entirely depend on how you intend to use the knife.
If you are sticking to a base camp and plan to skin your game back at the camp, go with a fixed blade that will last a little longer and can be sharpened.
If you need a good knife that you can carry along with you in your pocket so you can skin and field dress small game such as rabbits in a pinch, a folder is probably the right choice for you.
Let’s look at our top picks. There’s a number of different types of knives to choose from, but our top choices below will get you skinning small game in no time on your next hunting trip.
1. Havalon Piranta Z Folding Blade Skinning Knife:
The Havalon Piranta Z Folding blade is a top selection for almost any type of small game and is the only folding knife on our list. We traditionally advocate the use of fixed blade options for skinning, but small game knives give you a little bit more flexibility in this respect.
The Piranta has a smaller blade at 2.75 inches in blade length with a full length of 7.25 inches when completely open.
The blade is extremely sharp and makes for a perfect pocket companion when you are out hunting rabbits or squirrels in the wilderness. The blade has been known to run as sharp as a surgical knife making it extremely effective in prying away the skin from a recent kill.
Related Read: How to Hunt Squirrel – 13 Hunting Tips
The blades swap out easily which means you don’t need to sharpen the blade, ever. You just swap them out as they get dull and keep on moving.
This knife is a popular pick by taxidermists due to the sharpness of the blade and ease of use. The Piranta Z is a great selection that will make skinning your next rabbit a piece of cake.
If you are looking for an equally crazy sharp folding skinning knife for small game which can also double as a boning knife, check out Piranta Z’s cousin, the Havalon Baracuta Edge.
2. Buck Knives Open Season Fixed Blade Knife:
Going back to the fixed blade, Buck is one of our favorite knife makers due to their quality and we believe no seasoned hunter’s arsenal is complete without a Buck.
The Open Season is a 4.25 inch drop point blade, giving you a little more leverage when you are skinning. This makes this model a good pick if you want a nice “in between” knife that will skin a rabbit effectively but can also handle a Coyote or even small deer.
The knife stands 7.625 inches in full length making it less easy to carry inside your pocket. If you are looking for a pocket carry skinning knife, we’d stick with the Havalon Piranta or the Havalon Baracuta.
The top of the blade drops down toward the tip which aids in effective skinning of small game and makes it easy to handle.
The Open Season is a good all around knife that can be used for skinning and other basic tasks. If you traditionally hunt smaller game and just need a good all around knife to take along camping, this knife is a good choice.
3. Old Timer Sharpfinger Full Tang Fixed Blade by Schrade:
This Schrade Old Timer is no longer the USA-made version that old school hunters have come to grow and love. But that doesn’t make it any less of an effective blade.
Even though the Sharpfinger is produced overseas, it still holds up the Schrade name very well.
The blade is 3.3 inches long and the knife total length is 7.1 inches. Again, if you are looking for something that’s a pocket carry knife while out in the field, the Havalon Piranta is probably a better choice due to convenience.
This classic Old Timer is a great choice if you are looking for a cheap fixed blade knife that’s made of 7Cr17 high carbon stainless steel.
It comes equipped with a brown leather sheath and is extremely sharp right out of the packaging. If you are looking for a good knife for skinning small game while on a budget, this Old timer by Schrade is for you.
4. The Morakniv Companion
When it comes to skinning small game, you can’t go wrong with many hunters’ favorite all rounder, the Mora knife.
The Morakniv Companion has everything ready for the task: razor-sharp blade, outstanding edge retention, and an excellent rubber grip handle for when your hands get sweaty or bloody.
The well-made 4.1-inch blade is made of hardened Sandvik 12C27 stainless steel and makes the Mora Companion ideal for a wide range of uses, from skinning game to food preparation and even carving.
Since it has an amazing edge retention, the Companion makes a great hunting and skinning knife in the long run.
With this Mora, you could skin and field dress anything from squirrel and rabbit to small elk and deer, without having to worry about sharpening it or the handle getting too slippery when covered in grease and blood.
The stock sheath is built as a tank – we have multiple reports from real purchasing customers about dropping the knife multiple times without a scratch, which is a very rare occurrence with knives in this price range.
So, if you are limiting to one knife when out in the Great Outdoors, this is a fantastic skinning knife for small to medium tasks that won’t break the bank. A word of caution, though. Once you bought your first Mora, watch out how many more you buy.
5. Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner
With this skinning knife, Benchmade have outdid themselves. The Mountain Saddle Skinner is built like a tank (Rockwell hardness of 58-60 & amazing grip), can take a beating, and is scary sharp right out of the box so that you can have access to all the juicy parts of your small game without ruining the meat.
This knife is marketed toward medium to big game hunters, but it is a must-have for small game hunters as well. Plus, it holds an edge like very few skinning knives in its class can. It is a rather pricey knife but it will be cherished and utilized for many generations to come.
Adding a knife that’s specifically engineered to skin small game is a wise choice for any hunter. It’s a little difficult to get out and start skinning a rabbit or a squirrel when the blade is just as long as the animal you intend to skin.
While there are a number of different directions you can go to accomplish the task, any of the top 3 we’ve discussed in detail above are sure to set you on the right path in your next outdoor adventure.
Are you looking for a rich and trustworthy resource of expert outdoor tips, gear reviews, and hot survival topics with a heavy emphasis on hunting and fishing? Look no further! Wilderness Today’s team of dedicated outdoor enthusiasts, veteran hunters, and passionate anglers are here to share their firsthand experience with you. With us, there’s no hiking trip too challenging to undertake and no game too sneaky or massive to take down. We have some of the best gear recommendations, tactics, and insider advice on the interweb and the utmost respect for nature.