For all hunters—and for the backcountry hunter especially—a great knife is a very important piece of gear. There are piles of knives out there, and most of them are totally adequate, if not great. But as with anything, there’s always room for improvement. As a mountain hunter, I’m always looking for ways to pare down my gear while improving efficiency. And knives are no exception.
If you’ve read some of the reviews I’ve done, you know I’m a huge fan of replaceable blade knives for field skinning, caping, and dressing. There are several big advantages to using replaceable blade knives. Primarily, they don’t require you to carry a sharpening stone, and they’re extremely handy for caping and skinning around horns, etc. For the past few years I’ve used the Havalon, which uses scalpel blades. They are great, but have several drawbacks:
—Blades are thin and can break
—Scalpel blades tend to dull quickly
—Replacing blades safely requires carrying pliers (this can be done with a pocket knife, but you’re more likely to cut yourself)
I recently acquired a knife, however, that eliminates these issues without sacrificing the benefits of the Havalon. The Camillus TigerSharp folding knife has been totally under the radar for me—until now. It’s everything I’ve been looking for in a hunting knife for quite a while. Here’s a breakdown of how it fits my criteria:
Size and weight
The days of the Jim Bowie hunting knife are dead and gone. A smaller knife is more precise, and the Rigersharp is just right with a 2.5-inch blade that weighs only as much as any run-of-the-mill folding knife.
The replacement blades are thicker, very sharp, and titanium-bonded for hardness, so they hold an edge much better than the scalpel blades and won’t break nearly as easy. For situations where you have a sharpening stone, they’ll last even longer. The overall profile of the blade is great as well. Some blades are very deep from the edge to the spine, which makes it more challenging to slide under the skin. Serrated blades are also available as well.
The sharp blades slide into the contoured sleeve-style retainer, but unlike some other knives, they slide through the top and into place, allowing any fat, meat, or hair to be pushed free and not gum anything up. Once in place, the blade is retained by a threaded bezel (that won’t totally unscrew and get lost), which also doubles as the thumb stud. You don’t need any tools—and don’t have to risk slicing off your finger—when replacing blades.
Mountain hunting is all about wringing the maximum utility from a finite amount of gear. In the past, I would bring a replaceable blade knife and a regular pocket knife for daily use. This knife is well made and great for everything from utility use to field dressing, including the precise caping work like skinning around sheep horns.
At $52, it’s right in the price range of other replaceable blade folders, and a good buy.
I really don’t get very excited about gear that often, and I’ve handled piles of knives, but this is one blade that I’ve been missing out on. I can see my TigerSharp riding in my backpack for years to come.