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Hunting knife review: First impressions of the Hyken Knives Lite Hunter

Hyken Lite Hunter, Bark River knives
600 300 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

(Disclaimer: Kniveshipfree.com is a SurvivalCommonSense sponsor. Neither KSF, Hyken Knives nor Bark River Knives had any input into this review.)

This latest offering from Hyken Knives promises to be a superb hunting knife.

by Leon Pantenburg

The hard part about field testing hunting knives is that they should be tried out under realistic conditions, field dressing and butchering small game or big game animals. And right now, for me, that means the actual hands-on use will have to wait until deer season opens.

Hyken Lite Hunter, best hunting knife, Bark River Knives

The Hyken Lite Hunter in desert ironwood is good looking and practical.

But you can look at some knives, and just tell they will do fine, and that was my first impression of the Hyken Knives Lite Hunter.

Generally, in a big game hunting knife I want the blade length  to be between four and five inches, with a convex grind. The handle has to be comfortable for long term use. It must be designed to be safe and secure, even when covered with blood, fish scales or the nauseating goo that is sometimes part of gutting a large animal. Just out of the box, the Lite Hunter fits my personal preferences exactly.

Here are the specifications

 Overall Length:  8.75″
 Blade Length:  4.375″
 Blade Steel:  CPM-154 Stainless
 Blade Hardness:  58-60RC
 Blade Thickness:  .155″
 Weight:  5.8oz.
 Price:  Starting at $202.46

 

The Good Stuff:

Quality workmanship: Hyken knives are made by Bark River Knives™. I have reviewed several dozen BRs over the years, and I have never received one that didn’t have the highest quality and workmanship. Hyken knives come with the Bark River 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.

Handle: I choose desert ironwood for a handle, because it’s beautiful and tough. It also lets me see how much attention to detail has been paid. On a full tang knife, the grain of the wood needs to match up on both sides of the blade. Again, no surprise here. The grain matched perfectly.

Hyken Lite Hunter, best deer hunting knife, best deer hunting knife

The generous handle is designed for extended use.

“The handle is a perfectly contoured teardrop style with an index finger depression that indexes the knife automatically,” according to the website, “making it seem like an extension of your hand. Designed to be in hand all day with no fatigue with a perfectly located swell making it feel secure in hand even in a loose grip with no hot spots or edges to make you want to set it down.”

My experience with desert ironwood is that it becomes almost tacky when wet, and there is little danger of your hand slipping when working inside the abdominal cavity.

Blade design: The design first attracted me to the Lite Hunter. It features my favorite clip point with a long swedge.  (My Ambush Tundra is currently my go-to hunting knife.) The Lite Hunter has the longest blade length of the Hyken Knives Lineup.

Steel: The CPM 154 is heat and cryo treated to 60-61RC to provide superior edge holding and corrosion resistance.

CPM-154 Stainless is new to me, so I’ll be checking it out using the knife for various bushcrafting tasks. Again, because I trust Bark River quality, I’m guessing this steel will make a great hunting knife. I’m also guessing that the blade will require a little more tenacity to re-sharpen, but we’ll see about that.

Spine: The edge opposite the cutting edge is ground at a 90 degree angle, like an ice skate. This means you will be able to process tinder, and scrape a ferro rod to create sparks for fire making. I avoid using a knife on a ferro rod whenever possible, but it’s nice to know that option exists.

Sheath:  The sheath is made with top quality leather in a handsome Maduro color and it has an integral firesteel loop. The sheath also has an unconditional lifetime warranty.

I carried the Lite Hunter on my belt on a recent float/fishing trip on Oregon’s John Day River, and the sheath was comfortable and secured the knife nicely. I like square ends on sheaths – to the casual observer, it looks like a pliers or some other tool is being carried. That is good urban camouflage.

Made in the USA in Escanaba, Michigan. Support local small businesses – our economy depends on them!

Hyken Lite hunter, Bark River knives, best hunting knife

Users with medium to small hands should find this handle very comfortable.

Other stuff:

Handles designed for average sized hands usually don’t work all that well for my (glove size) large hands. Over prolonged use, the handle on the Lite Hunter rubs the inside of my index finger, and it is not comfortable. My right palm measures right at four inches across, and length-wise, the 4.25 inch handle is just right.

But the handle fits my wife’s smaller hand almost perfectly, and for users with medium to small-sized fists, this is going to be a really comfortable handle. It resembles some of the handles in the Zoe Crist line of blades, and a friend of mine with medium-sized hands swears by his Santa Fe.

That doesn’t mean that those of us with working man hands should disqualify the Lite Hunter. Bark River’s 100 percent satisfaction guarantee applies to handle comfort also, so the company will work with you to get it right.

And one size never fits all – take all my comments with a grain of salt, and decide if they apply to your knife needs.

Should the Lite Hunter be your next hunting knife?

It could be – it will all depend on what you are looking for. For a deer hunter, it would be about perfect – lightweight, well designed and practical. In fact, it has the potential to be the best deer hunting knife for you. The Lite Hunter should handle every aspect of field dressing, skinning and quartering a whitetail with no trouble at all. It should also work well for larger game such as elk and caribou.

For the hunter who frequents high humidity areas, such as my beloved southern swamps, a stainless steel knife is a good choice. The combination of blood and humidity can rust an ignored carbon steel blade overnight, and stainless is much more forgiving of such abuse. For a hard use hunting knife, the Lite Hunter with a micarta handle should do the job really well and last forever.

The practical design, superior materials, and Bark River’s bulletproof warranty may make the Hyken Lite Hunter the best hunting knife choice for you.

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Bark River Knives, best survival knives, Ambush knives


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