Hunting Knife Sharpening

A typical hunting knife requires an extremely sharp edge for proper and safe usage. Between dealing with fats which build up on the surface clogging the edge and cutting action, the nature of having cuts to make in multiple positions, and awkward positioning of the carcass itself during field dressing makes the task require a precision tool.

Added to this the critical point of not accidentally piercing any organs during the process is a major focus, rather than insisting on a less keen edge to reduce the likelihood of any mishaps, the solution is to have as sharp of a tool as possible to speed the process, reduce struggling and fighting with freeing any viscera, and allow less force to be used leading to greater control and safety.

Dull knives are dangerous. Additionally, a knife that you’re having to struggle with due to poor design is just as dangerous and one which needs frequent service during field dressing or skinning to release heat from the carcass leads to hurrying trying to compensate for the poor knife performance which creates mistakes and potential injury.

Having a hunting knife constructed from high quality blade steels such as S30V, CPM 3V, M390 or at least an older but entirely capable simpler steel such as 440C is a massive upgrade over cheaper high-volume knife companies’ offerings. Regardless of heat treatment protocol, marketing, or legions of “good enough” user reviews which a big company utilizes to push a cheaper product at a commercial price, a high quality knife steel provides a superior product.

A S30V hunting knife with a properly constructed grind with roughly 0.010” (ten one-thousandths of an inch) of terminal thickness prior to sharpening results in a keen, slim cutting edge with little reinforcement for some distance up the blade due to full flat grind profile, or a hollow grind of varying heights up the blade. Any thickening and therefore resistance behind the cut needs to be balanced between durability and cutting performance, similar to the difference between a razor blade and an axe. Other blade steels will have optimized edge thickness and blade geometry resulting in a most efficient grind for a given application.

With the “edge” of the hunting knife at that appropriate dimension there isn’t a wide primary bevel which needs maintained – enough for durability, but not excessive which trades ease of use for durability which isn’t the first consideration when choosing a hunting knife or selecting blade steel and the type of grind.

This allows the eventual actual re-sharpening operation to be quick, requiring less progression through grits of stones, less wear on the blade due to a faster less aggressive touch up being the typical process rather than starting with a coarse sometimes 400 grit stone for a heavily rolled and dulled edge of a softer steel knife working up to possibly 8000 grit water stones which are similarly overkill for all but the highest performing steels such as S30V and other quality choices. The “touch up” oftentimes is just a stropping application with a properly designed, high quality hunting knife.

When buying quality hunting knives made out of high end materials the performance increase proves the argument that a better product, made by hand in the United States, is an investment work making.