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Best skinning knife? We review the Carp Knives Classic Skinner

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600 300 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

A good skinning knife can be invaluable to the big game hunter. This skinner is a winner for the deer or elk hunter.

by Leon Pantenburg

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I did not get a free knife, and I was not paid to write this review. At the time of publication, there was no sponsorship relationship between Carp Knives or Kendall Carpenter with Survivalcommonsense.com. This review is my opinion, based on use, and no other input was solicited.
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The Carp Knives Classic Skinner has the design and steel to be a superior skinning knife.

Hunting knives are specialized tools, and as hard as we look, there is no such thing as the ultimate, do-it-all knife that can do everything well.

But sometimes you want a specialized tool, and not a knife that might just do OK. This becomes apparent after the harvest of an elk or deer a long way from the trailhead. Skinning is going to be a major part of the work, and the faster the hide comes off, the sooner the carcass can be quartered and the meat can cool.

If I’m doing a backpack elk or deer hunt, I’ll take my primary hunting knife, but my hunting partners and I will split up the weight between a block-and-tackle, a skinner and a boning knife. (Here are some good backcountry knives.)

This Carp Knives skinner is worth considering.

Kendall Carpenter, owner of Carp Knives, got into blade smithing for the fun of it.

“Honestly, I started out making the knives I like, and I started selling a few,” he said. “Now, folks ask me if I can make this or that. Sure. I can do whatever the customer wants.”

Carpenter makes other styles, but the Classic Skinner seems to be the most popular, as far as a skinning knife. Most of his knives are skinner/bushcraft styles.

“I know it (the skinner) is not a “survival” knife, but I knew you would not be batoning the crap out of it,” he said.

All Carp Knives are completely handmade.

“No jigs. All done by my hands,” Carpenter said. “I do stock removal. I order bar stock, and cut off what I need, and go to work. I do not order pre-made blanks. I’m a knife maker, not a knife assembler.”

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The sturdy leather sheath is attractive and safe to use.

Here are the specs of the Classic Skinner:

Overall length: 9-1/8 inches

Blade length: 5 inches

Cutting edge: 4-3/4 inches

Steel: CPM-154

Made in USA

Sturdy leather sheath included.

I carried the classic skinner on a couple of successful deer hunts. It was used to do a lot of the skinning, and I found it worked quite well.

Here is the good stuff:

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This is a solid grip for using a skinning knife.

Steel: CPM-154 is a great edge holding steel, according to Carpenter, with about the same amount of carbon in it as typical 1095 carbon steel. But it has 14 percent chromium, which makes it a “stainless”.

“I hunt white tail deer down in south Alabama,” he said, “and I know CPM154 can hold an edge very well.”

Handle: A variety of materials are available. The skinner has a curly maple handle I find very attractive. It measures 4-1/4 inches, which is a good size for my large hands. When skinning, I tend to hold the knife with my thumb and last three fingers, and put my index finger on the spine. This handle is comfortable for that grip. I didn’t get it extremely bloody, since it wasn’t being used to gut the deer, but my experience is that micarta and wood tend to get “grippier” when damp or wet.

Ticky, nit-picky comment here: I’d like the handle better if it didn’t have the finger groove next to the blade. I don’t like them there, and find my index finger tends to rub the handle wrong in that spot.

Point: A variety of points are available, too. I like an upswept trailing point on a skinner, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for an all-around hunting knife. This point works well for its intended purpose.

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The Classic Skinner proved itself on a couple of whitetail deer.

Grind: The blade has a flat grind, with a secondary bevel on the edge. This makes the knife a little thick on the bevel shoulder, IMO, and is not the best grind choice for a skinner. I go with a convex grind on all my user hunting knives, and am really happy with how convex performs.

I think this already great knife would be better if it was a full height convex.

Spine: The spine features some very nice file work, which adds texture. This makes the spine more comfortable to use in the aforementioned skinning grip. For hardcore survival types, this means that the spine won’t be as effective for shredding tinder and pitchwood or for scraping a ferrocerium rod to make sparks.

Sheath: The skinner comes with a custom fit, hand-tooled leather sheath that looks great and secures the blade well.

Overall workmanship of this knife and sheath is excellent, and you won’t be disappointed with the quality.

Carp Knives start at $150, depending on the size, blade style and handle material. I predict this price point isn’t going to last long.

It’s just a matter of time before Carp Knives gets discovered, and they are going to skyrocket in value. Here’s hoping we helped hasten that day!

Check out the other Carp Knives here.

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