Characteristics of a gutting hunting knife



As the name suggests it is a tool that allows us to gut the hunted animal. Some hunters treat gutting as a necessity that concludesthe hunt, while others celebrate evisceration as the crowning glory of the hunt. Gutting itself is a tedious and sometimes  a very tiring task (depending on the size of the game). Therefore, it is worth having an equipment that will significantly facilitate this procedure.Such a knife must fit well in the hand, it must have the right length of the blade, a shape that allows an easy penetration of the carcass without damaging it, and, well, it must be sharp. In addition, for hunting aesthetes, the visual qualities of the knife will also be of considerable importance. Let's analyse the various components of the gutting knife:



  1. STEEL :

Ideally it should be stainless, durable, retain its sharpness for a long time, sharpen easily, look good and, on top of that, be cheap. Of course, thisispracticallyimpossible as of today.

Therefore, we need to consider what aspects are most important to us, and which ones we can dispense with. If we are not in a hurry and do not mind sharpening the knife while gutting or after each piece of gutted game, then we do not need to choose a knife with an expensive, highly hardened blade. If you don't care about the visual qualities of the blade then don't choose damascus (for linguistic purists - for the purposes of this article, I will refer to "damascus" as both "pattern welded steel" and "woodz" - just for simplicity - as this is not a technical article about steel).

All you need is a knife made, for example, from the popular 440C steel, which can be hardened up to 60 HRC while it is also stainless. When it comes to the stainlessness of the blade it should be mostly acknowledged by those who do not pay attention to cleaning and caring of the knife after each use. On the other hand,those who value visual qualities, will choose a damascus, which can also be stainless. Damascus from the best manufacturers can be hardened up to 65 HRC. However, if you are most concernedwith the durability of the blade, choose a knife with a head made of good tool steel (e.g. D2) accepting that it will be at least partially susceptible to rusting.If utility values (hardness and durability of the blade, stainlessness) are more important than the price then we will choose a powder stainless steel. Just keep in mind that the purchase of a hard-steel knife is a bundled deal - this also means the need to buy a rather expensive diamond sharpener.



For fixed-blade knives, we have fulltang and hidden tang designs. Fulltang designs are most frequently used in knives requiring greater strength in which, due to the purpose, greater weight is rather an advantage (e.g. chopping wood). It is precisely because of the lighter weight that I would choose a gutting knife in a hidden tang design. Folding knives are also an option for gutting, as they have significant advantages - they fit in any pocket and don't dangle from the belt, which some people find annoying with large knives. They also have a significant disadvantage - without dismantling the structure, it is impossible to clean them thoroughly after gutting. Leaving aside the odour "qualities" of such a knife that hasnot been cleaned for a long time, it should be remembered that such construction actually rules out a rust steel blade - itwould require disassembling and cleaning the knife after each use.That leaves us with cheaper ordinary stainless steel blades (which dull faster) or the expensive and very expensive stainless damascus and powder steels.




Here, the decisive factor should be the size of the game you are hunting. For animals up to the size of a deer, a blade length of 10-11 cm will be sufficient (unless you are also using this knife for stabbing). Obviously we can opt for a longer blade, but let’s keep in mind that the longer the blade the more difficult it is to control. It has the greatest significance when we are operating with both hands, whilst our handle is wet with blood frominsidethe carcass and, in addition, when working in the dark. Furthermore a longer blade also means its greater height and difficulty when workingthe anus, especially on smaller game.


  1. SHAPE

The blade should be straight, slightly pointing downwards. Tip of the blade should not be “big-bellied”- the more slender it is the easier it will be to work the anus. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be as narrow as a dagger, because it is the curvature that ensures a smooth and easy cut. Also the tip of the blade can’t be pointed upwards, as we will be cutting the intestines and stomach while piercing through the abdominal layers. In addition, the steep tip of the blade is another nuisance when cutting the anus. In short, it should be a typical, rather narrow "drop point".





This is of little importance - as long as it does not absorb water. However, there are a few fine details worth taking into account when choosing. Artificial materials and antlers will be noticeably heavier, on the other hand they have almost 100% moisture resistance. Although, natural materials such as wood (and in particular, tree burls), have a unique charm in my opinion. In the case of stabilized wood, we have a combination of visual qualities and very high moisture resistance at a relatively low weight. And, for example, stabilizedteeth and tusks of a mammothare a material that combines moisture resistance, uniqueness, fairly high weight, uncommon beauty and high price. However, the material of the handle is above all an aspect that depends mainly on the size of your wallet and your taste, and when it comes to taste, as we all know, there's no accounting for it.





These elements should fit as precisely as possible into our hand. As a general rule, it can be assumed that the back of the handle should form a straight line or curve with the back of the blade (the so-called "banana"). The length of the handle as well as its tip should be shaped so that it fits well and naturally in the hand during cutting- both when gripping with the cutting edge of the blade facing downwards or upwards in a reverse grip (just as when cutting through the skin on an abdomen of a gutted animal).It is the shape andsize of the handle (as well as the blade) that will mainly determine the comfort and ergonomics of use.


As can be concluded from the above analysis, choosing the ideal gutting knife, one that will serve us for a long time and whichwill ensure that gutting is not just a tiresome necessity, is not easy and requires a lot of thought.Unfortunately, when we buy a mass-produced knife from a factory, we rarely have the opportunity to find something that has beencarefully tailored in every element to our hand, our needs or  our habits. This is where knives handmade by knife enthusiasts come into the picture.Each copy of such a knife, even if it’s not made for a specific person, is still adjusted during its creation in terms of its purpose of use and comfort (e.g. fitting the handle to the hand, correcting the position of the blade in relation to the handle, etc.). There is currently an extensive selection of handmade knives available and there is a very good chance that we will find something to suit our needs.While the most ideal solution (and unfortunately the most expensive) is to order a handmade knife directly from the knifemaker - then we have the possibility of adjusting the knife exactly to our own preferences. In other words, all the elements I have mentioned above can be selected exactly to suit your needs.In addition, if the knifemaker we ordered our knife from lives near us –which is ideal - we have the opportunity to adjust the knife to our hand at every stage of production. Certainly I haven't covered every nuance here, but I think this analysis will help a few hunters to avoid some of the mistakes when buying a gutting knife. Ultimately,  we allhave friends with missed purchases of hunting knifes lying around in their drawers, that have failed them when it comes to gutting.

You can find professional gutting knives, refined in every detail.


                                                        Author:  Mieszko Godlewski GARUCHI KNIVES