After the two-day Mississippi deer hunt, my friend Buddy Douglas was displaying the tenacity some would call “Pig-Headedness.” Despite my repeated efforts, Buddy would not accept a cent for food or drink, nor would he let me pay my guest fee at his hunting club.
Southern hospitality, you must understand, is a very real tradition to many Mississippians, especially as it relates to whitetail deer hunting. We were raising our voices.
And I like the Cold Steel Canadian belt knife for cleaning small game, chopping potatoes and onions and trimming fat and gristle off meat. It’s also a good skinner on many parts of a big game carcass. (But, I’d like the Canadian belt knife better if the handle was made of Kraton and bigger in diameter!)
But the Master Hunter’s name says it all. If you could only have one knife for big game hunting, the Master Hunter should be in the running.
First, my criteria. My qualifications for any survival knife are based on prejudice, use and experience.
Briefly, my hunting and survival tool must be a strong sheath knife with a sturdy blade. No folders or gut hooks. The blade should be between four to six inches long, and made of a steel that is easy to sharpen, but that will hold an edge well.
I test knives by using, not abusing them. In all my knife testing, the implement must first pass the kitchen test. The knife is used for everything a kitchen knife might be used for, including spreading peanut butter, slicing bread, peeling things, etc.
So, IMO, Cold Steel makes a very good knife for your survival and hunting needs at a reasonable price and you can narrow your choices down to the SRK and the Master Hunter. But you will have to decide.
First, the similarities:
- The Kraton handles on both knives give a positive grip, especially where conditions are wet and slippery. Cleaning game is certainly one of those occasions and expressly the role the Master Hunter was intended to fill.
- Both models have blades with backbone, though the Master Hunter’s is shorter: 4-1/2 inches, versus the SRK’s 5-3/4 inches. The thick blades are incredibly strong, but also means that neither knife is the best choice for a meat-slicing knife. And I’ve never gotten any Cold Steel knife new out of a box without it already being shaving-sharp.
- Both knives have excellent sheaths, readily adaptable to carry and safe. I really like the Concealex sheaths shipped with both models. Both have a snap closure that lets you put on or take off the sheath without undoing your belt. That’s an extra little touch I like a lot. You can also adjust the location of the belt loop with two Phillips- head bolts.
But there are a few differences that only knife enthusiasts would consider:
- The SRK comes with a blackened blade, which is useless for my needs. I removed the finish on my SRK immediately, and have never had a problem with rust. The Master Hunter comes with a bright, plain finish that is appropriate for a working hunting knife.
- The SRK has a clip point, which is my favorite design for that initial cut up the belly and through the ribcage of a whitetail. But the Master Hunter has a drop-point, which is another great choice.
- The angle, or bevel, of the edge is more abrupt on the SRK, making it more of a wedge and harder to sharpen. The Master Hunter’s bevel is more gradual and spread out over the width of the whole blade.
When my cousin, Marion Fitzgerald, came west to hunt elk with me and my brother Mike Pantenburg in 1993, I recommended he buy a Master Hunter. For what Marion was looking for – that is, a solid hunting knife that would also be useful back home in Nevada, Iowa – the Master Hunter was the best choice.
I don’t claim to be a wilderness survival expert, but I know what equipment works for me in the backcountry. The Master Hunter will serve you well.
Order your Master Hunter here.
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