How Thick Should A Hunting Knife Be (With Examples)

by Derrick | Last Updated: August 7, 2021

The thickness of a hunting knife is something many people don’t think about. They simply go to the store or Amazon and buy something that is affordable or something that is eye-catching from a looks perspective.  

In reality, the thickness of a hunting knife is important and impacts the performance of the knife.

How thick should a hunting knife be? The Buck 119 is a well-respected hunting knife and the blade thickness is .175″. That is a fairly good all-around knife thickness for most hunters.

What is a good size hunting knife?

Knife thickness is only one aspect of a knife.  The other dimensions impact performance and also help determine the appropriate thickness.  Generally speaking, the smaller the overall knife the thinner it is. If a small knife has too thick of a blade it can lead to uncomfortable conditions under use. 

A hunting knife should be comfortable in your hand when you are using it. If you have large hands, then a larger knife will work better than a smaller knife. For example, I prefer my knives between 7-8 inches long with a 3 3/4 to 4-inch handle length. This allows me to comfortably hold the knife without having to grip down on the handle as hard or risk my hand slipping down on the blade.

Spine Thickness vs Edge Thickness 

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On any knife the spine is always thicker than the edge of the knife.  The spine of the knife adds stability and rigidness and helps keep the knife from breaking under use, while the edge is thinner and ground to form the cutting edge.

Generally speaking the thicker the spine the greater the angle of the cutting edge on the knife (this isn’t true 100% but generally holds true). 

Does The Hardness of Steel Matter?

Yes, certain steels are naturally harder or heat-treated harder than others. Steel used for knives is given a Rockwell hardness rating and/or range.

A knife that will be used for chopping, for example, a machete, will be softer so it is easier to sharpen and doesn’t break as easily.  While a smaller knife that is primarily made for slicing would be heat treated harder to keep longer-lasting edge retention, but therefore is harder to sharpen.

How Hard Should a Hunting Knife Be?

Most general-purpose knives, including hunting knives fall between 56 and 66 HRC (usually somewhere in the middle of this range) according to AGRussell. 

The best way to tell how hard a steel is, is by looking at its Rockwell scale number. Most common kitchen cutlery falls into the 40’s and 50’s which means they are relatively soft, fairly easy to sharpen and not very durable.

Knives intended for heavy-duty applications such as butchering usually start out much higher like 60+ and 70+. These types of knives tend to last longer because their edges wear slower and stay sharper over time.

Is A Thick or Thin Hunting Knife Better?

Thickness alone does not make a great knife. It needs to fit your hand properly, feel right in your hand, be sharp enough and be able to take care of itself. There are many different factors involved in making a quality hunting knife.

It really is a personal preference thing. Some people love big bulky knives while some find them unwieldy. Others feel a thin knife is more maneuverable and precise.

I think there is no one answer to this question. You need to consider all aspects of what makes up a good hunting knife – size, weight, balance, durability, ease of handling, etc.

Does Knife Grind and Blade Design Influence Thickness?

Yes!  While not always the case, generally speaking, some knife grinds can have an influence or perform better with a thicker steel.  Generally, you will see convex grind knives with a thicker knife steel than say a scandi grind.  In reality, knife grind and steel thickness really is a personal preference but one can surely influence the other.

Common Hunting Knives With Thickness – Let’s Analyze Some Examples

Buck 119

The Buck 119 is 10 1/2″ in overall length and has a .175″ blade thickness, weighing in at 7.5 oz. It is probably the single knife that most outdoorsmen have owned at one point or another in life, having been in production for 75 years.

This is a popular choice among hunters due to its versatility and ability to handle most tasks well. Buck has been around since the early 1900’s and continues to evolve today. They offer several models ranging from $50-$200 depending on features and materials. Their website offers free shipping if purchased online which appeals to many.

Outdoor Edge RazorPro II

The Outdoor Edge RazorPro is an interesting knife in that it is a folding knife and it has replaceable blades.  It comes with a gutting blade, a bone saw blade and various other multi-purpose blades.  The RazorPro’s “razor” blade thickness is .6mm.

Buck Knives 110 Folding Hunter

The Buck 110 Folding Hunter is another classic hunting knife made by Buck Knives.  As the name says, this is a folding knife as well and it has been on hunter’s belts for years, both during hunting season and during day-to-day tasks.  This knife was introduced to the Buck lineup in 1964, so it has surely stood the test of time.

The Buck 110 Folding Hunter has a slightly hollow ground blade that measures around .120″. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would recommend seeing if you can borrow a couple of hunting knives of various thicknesses off of friends.  This will allow you to try before you buy. Don’t just go buy any old cheap knife off Amazon or eBay. Find a reputable manufacturer who specializes in quality hunting knives. Look for a company that uses top-grade steels and designs, then look closely at the specs to ensure it meets your requirements.