Take good care of your tools, and they will take care of you, 2. A workman, no matter the job at hand, is only as good as his tools. That’s stuck with me over the years, and I think about it every time I clean, maintain, or sharpen anything that’s got a blade or moving parts.
When it comes to my hunting knife, keeping a sharp edge is a must. Dressing game in the field or at the lodge requires sharp blades and a steady hand, otherwise you run the risk of spoiling your hard earned meat and hide. A good hunting knife sharpener is the hunter’s friend, though when you choose a sharpener there a few important factors to consider. Let’s look at what key features are important, and then we will look at a few of the best sharpeners so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
How to Choose the Best Hunting Knife Sharpener
Type of Sharpener
To begin with, you need to know what kind of sharpener is going to suit your needs best. Are you sharpening your knife in the field? A pocket sharpener is going to be your friend. Do you hang your game at the lodge and dress it there with no electricity? A hand sharpener may be your best bet. Dressing game at home with electricity handy? A power sharpener will do the best job. Once you know how you will make use of it, picking the right sharpener will be a lot easier. Make sure you choose a quality sharpener that will work where you need it and where you will be using your knife most frequently.
The type of blade you sharpen will require a various coarse and fine sharpening surfaces. What kind of metal is used in your knife? Does it need a coarse sharpening before polishing and finishing the edge with a fine grit stone or ceramic surface? What is best for your knife’s material? Water stone or ceramic? Do a little research to make sure you get a sharpener that will help you get your knife to a factory-sharp edge with minimal effort. Knowing what sharpening surface best suits your knife means you can spend less time sharpening and more time working.
There are several ways that your knife sharpener can function. There are the flat stone variety for those of you who prefer the traditional method of putting a fresh edge on a knife. However, this means hauling a couple of relatively bulky and heavy stones around if you take it into the field. There is the ceramic rod and block method that gives a fine edge with the fewest number of strokes, but it is not exactly the most portable method of knife sharpening. Sharpening rod and block systems also require a sturdy table to set up and use. Then there are the two-step roller type that allow you to quickly sharpen each side of the blade with a few easy strokes. This is the preferred method for handheld sharpening, but it requires a steady hand to grind and hone a fine edge.
Many knife sharpeners offer different grips depending on the type and sharpening method. There are pocket folding model ceramic sharpeners that let you grind and hone a fresh edge on the same sharpener, but keeping them steady and holding the right angle to sharpen the blade can be a bit challenging. The grip on two-step sharpeners makes holding a correct angle somewhat easier, but they only work well if you can place them on a level surface, which is not always available when you are out in the sticks. Electric sharpeners usually have built-in adjustable blade guides that make the grip and angle somewhat irrelevant as the sharpener keeps the blade at the proper angle. However, unless you have access to an electrical outlet, that does you no good out in the sticks. Make sure you choose the grip style you are most comfortable with before purchasing a sharpener.
What kind of material is primarily used to make the sharpener you are considering? Is it plastic? Polypropylene? Kraton/Kratex? Stainless steel? Look it over to consider if it will hold up the amount of use or abuse you will being applying to it. Does it look cheaply made, or does it look like it can take a real beating? For sharpeners you will use in the same location every time like and electric sharpener or a handheld power sharpener, this is less of a factor, but for a sharpener you will be carrying with you in the field it can make all the difference. Be sure to choose the most durable sharpener you can based on how you will be using it.
Recommended Best Hunting Knife Sharpener Reviews
Based on research and some buyer feedback, here are the five best hunting knife sharpeners on the market. Take a look at why these five are exceptional, and then choose the one that’s right for you.
Lansky PS-MED01 BladeMedic
Like a 911 call for your hunting knife, this little pocket-size wonder does it all. With a diamond-coat tapered rod it can sharpen any edge, from pocket folder knives to fish hooks. It also has a ceramic sharpening edge for quick blade touch ups in the field, and with a preset sharpening angle it is easy to set a fresh edge in minutes. As if that were not enough, it also features a tungsten carbide sharpener that can freshen up your blade with just three or four strokes. Best of all, it features a ceramic sharpening surface specifically for serrated edges, so it can be used on bonesaws or other game dressing tools as easily as knives. The grip is on the smaller side though, so keep that in mind if you are a hunter with large hands. Also, you need a steady hand to make best use of this sharpener, so perhaps give it a trial period to make sure it is a good fit for you In my opinion, this sharpener is ideal for the experienced hunter and game butcher on the go who wants to pack light.
Smith’s 50264 Adjustable Manual Knife Sharpener
The Smith’s 50264 is an all around winner in terms of grip sharpeners. Though less portable than some models, it has the distinct advantage of being a two stage sharpener that allows you to adjust the angle of the ceramic sharpening surfaces, and the sharpening wheels are replaceable should they wear out. That means it is much easier to sharpen many different styles of blade without having to keep a separate sharpener in the house, and you can easily keep it in the best possible working order for years to come. Additionally, this sharpener also has a slot for sharpening serrated blades, making it ideal for serrated knives you use frequently, such as bread knives or serrated hunting knife blades. The soft rubber grip also rests well in the hand, and helps you keep everything steady while you draw your blade through the sharpener. A further advantage of this sharpener is that it is perfect for sharpening gardening tools, so if you are a waterfowl hunter who dresses their blind when they are out you can keep your clippers and shears in top condition. I’d recommend this model for the hunter who doesn’t mind carrying slightly more bulk and weight, and prefers to be able to sharpen all of their tools in the field in addition to their hunting knife.
SunrisePro Knife Sharpener, USA patented, Original
If you want the best possible sharpener to keep at your hunting lodge that doesn’t need electricity, this is the best choice. Seriously. Buy it. The diamond sharpening surfaces will put a razor-sharp edge on any kind of knife, even serrated knives. It is also perfect for kitchen cutler, gardening tools, blender and food processor blades, and anything else that needs periodic re-sharpening. Don’t buy new kitchen knives, use the SunrisePro Knife Sharpener to make your old cutlery new again. Also, its suction cup base makes this one of the most stable sharpeners on the market for bench use. Moreover, its rock-solid base is ideal for more senior hunters who may not be able to keep the blade as steady as they used to during sharpening. Best of all, if you buy a genuine SunrisePro Knife Sharpener and it does not leave you 100% satisfied, SunrisePro will give you a full refund. Yes, you read that correctly. One hundred percent satisfaction, or your money back. I would not recommend this model for portable use in the field, but if you need to keep your knives factory-sharp and you are dressing game without access to electricity, this sharpener is hands down the best choice.
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools SH-02 Countertop Sharpener
The SOG model is an excellent lodge keeper that conveniently mounts on a countertop for keeping all your blades factory-sharp. It’s also perfect for hatchets, survival knives, hunting knives, and kitchen cutlery. Additionally, it allows you to draw oiled blades through the sharpening surface for the keenest possible polished edge. Furthermore, SOG has a well established reputation for high quality products, regardless of their intended purpose. When you buy SOG, you are buying a product that is going to last a lifetime while giving you a lifetime of excellent service. Ultimately, while it is too bulky to take out in the field, the SH-02l has the benefit of being more stable for bench use, and it is versatile enough to put an edge on any kind of cutting tool, including bonesaws and gut-hooks. This kind of sharpener is a must have for your cabin in the backcountry where keeping a sharp blade is essential.
Presto 08810 Professional Electric Knife Sharpener
For the hunter that prefers surgically sharp edges and takes their kill home for dressing, this is the Cadillac of knife sharpeners. The Presto 08810 is the model you buy when you want true, professional knife-maker quality sharpness at home. With a three stage process of sharpening surfaces, this model takes all the guesswork out of getting a perfectly sharpened edge with interchangeable blade guides. This means you can choose the angle that is best for each knife that requires sharpening, be it a chef’s knife or a hunting knife. While marketed as a knife sharpener, many users have also reported it works well for larger tools such as axe blades, hatchets, and machetes. All in all, if you want a home electric powered sharpener that can keep a scalpel-like edge on your hunting knife, this is your best choice.
When it’s all said and done, and you compare the features of each of these sharpeners, the best choice for hunting knives is clear: Smith’s 50264 Adjustable Manual Knife Sharpener. While the Lansky Blademedic is designed with hunters and outdoorsman in mind, the Smith’s 50264 offers better versatility and a shallower learning curve. When you dress game out in the field, your tools are going to need frequent cleaning and re-sharpening to get the job done right so as not to damage your newest hunting trophy. Not only that, but taking a deer down with prime cuts is very difficult without a very sharp knife. The Smith requires the least effort for the greatest return, and unlike the other higher end bench-based or electric models, it offers the most stability without needing a flat, level surface and available power.
The next time you are in the market for a portable sharpener to keep in your hunting kit, buy a Smith 50264 Adjustable Manual Knife Sharpener. I truly believe that you cannot find a better value for the price, and if you want to make sure that you’ve got the right tools for any game dressing job you need this sharpener. Get one today, and see for yourself how easy and convenient it can be keeping your hunting knife razor-sharp for every hunt.