By: Tom Claycomb
I do a lot with knives. I’ve been on pro-staff, field staff, and sponsored by I don’t know how many companies, and do knife-related seminars from Texas to Alaska.
In January alone, I had knife seminars in Reno at the Safari Club International Convention, the next week in Dallas at the Dallas Safari Club Convention and Expo, the next week four knife seminars in Vegas at the SHOT, and the next week in Boise at the CC Wildgame feed. And then write a weekly knife product review for Ammoland.
Here’s why I say all of the above. I get to test a lot of knives. In this product review, I want to cover what I think is the ultimate hunting knife. Before I start though, let me give a few disclaimers and a few side notes as to where I’ll be coming from:
A knife is a tool. You don’t just have one screwdriver, do you? One open end wrench? No. Same with knives. No one knife will proficiently do all of our outdoor tasks. I say the hunter could justify having five different designs. So if for hunting we need five designs, then how big would the list be if we included tactical, fishing, survival, and camping knives in the mix? So in this article I’m going to discuss which knife is the best all-around knife for gutting and skinning your big game.
A lot of which knife you favor is heavily influenced by if it fits your hand and is proficient on the game animal you primarily hunt. So what fits my hand might not be the same as for you. Therefore, of course, what I say doesn’t mean isn’t necessarily the Gospel truth, it’s just what I favor.
Without further ado, let’s get started. My favorite all-around hunting knife is the Diamond Blade Wayne Goddard’s Traditional Hunter. I favor a 3 ½-inch blade; this one is 3.57-inches, the handle fills my hand, and it is a nice-looking knife.
But the real reason I vote this as the #1 knife is due to its design. I think everyone agrees that with a drop point blade, you can skin faster without the fear of cutting through the hide on your trophy.
But…you need a clip point knife to be able to cut the pattern. (The pattern is the “H” you first make when you run a cut down the belly line and out to each hoof.) So that means if you carry a drop point knife, then you also have to carry a clip point.
Here’s why I think the ingenuity of this design is what makes it cool: the TH has a drop point design, but the spine near the tip is tapered down so it has enough of a point that you can cut the pattern. So with the TH, you have the best of both worlds, clip point (almost) and a drop point. Basically, two knives in one. Since the time Diamond Blade made this design, I have noticed a lot of cheap Chinese knives have plagiarized the design.
Diamond Blade uses Friction Forged D2 High Carbon Tool Steel. President Charles Allen worked with Brigham Young to develop the Friction Forging process. It gives DB knives some unique properties.
Normally, hard metal it is brittle. If you bend it, it will snap. But because of the Friction Forging process, the hardness of the metal is elevated and it remains flexible. Friction Forging (FF) makes the metal hard, which allows the DB knives to hold an edge longer. FF would be an article in and of itself, but suffice it to say, it adds some nice attributes to the knife.
You would think that since it holds an edge so long that this knife would be super hard to sharpen. Not so! In literally two or three minutes I can get an edge on my TH on my Smith’s Consumer Products fine diamond stone.
With this knife, you also have the option of choosing two handles: Black Micarta
Now for one last feature that elevates it from a GOOD hunting knife to an EXCELLENT skinning knife: If you look at the handle from a side view, you will notice it is slightly concave. In looking at the blade, you will notice it is slightly concave. This design keeps you from needing to bend your wrist while skinning. Genius!
I’d only make two tweaks to the TH:
I would suggest putting thumb grooves on the first 1-inch of the spine to prevent slippage, although I’ve had my TH since 2005 and have never slipped and gotten cut by it.
My original sheath didn’t hold the knife down tight. Charles gave me another sheath a couple of years ago.
So there you have it. The #1 hunting knife in the world that I’ve tested in the last 15 years.
Tom Claycomb III is a product tester for outdoor manufacturers, hunter, and outdoor writer, writing from Idaho.