Best Boning Knives In 2024

Written By Jesse Gillotti 

Updated

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A good boning knife is invaluable when you are butchering deer or other game animals. Today our staff will weigh in on the best boning knives for deer processing, both in the field and in the kitchen.

We will also take a look at the best butcher knives for deer. A boning knife will get the job done, but some of the older guys on our staff prefer some specialty butcher knives for deer.

We will give you our top picks as well as in depth reviews, so that you will have the knowledge to choose the best knife for your style of processing.

Best For overall

Wustoff classic IKON Boning Knife

Wüsthof Classic IKON 

Best budget pick

Victorinox Fibrox 6 inch boning knife

victorinox fibrox pro

Best Butcher Set

Outdoor Edge Butcher Max 11-Piece Game Processing Set

Outdoor Edge Butcher Max

Best Boning Knives And Butcher Knives For Deer At A Glance

How We Chose The Best Boning Knives

I have been butchering multiple deer every year for more than 15 years. During that time, I have tried and tested all of the boning knives and butcher knives on the market. 

I also reached out to all of our staff members and interviewed them on their favorite boning knives for processing deer, elk and other game animals.

I put all of that data together with my personal experience and arrived at the knives in this review.

Best Boning Knives: Reviews And Recommendations

Below you will find in depth reviews of all of the best boning knives that our staff uses to butcher deer and other game animals.

Let's have a look.

Best Overall

Wustoff classic IKON Boning Knife

If you know anything about high quality knives then you will be familiar with the Wusthof name. They make some of the best knives on the market.

The Classic IKON boning knife will be the last boning knife that you ever buy.

The 5.5 inch blade is precision honed and forged out of a single piece of Wusthof steel.

Wusthof steel has a hardness rating of 58 Rockwell, which is very hard steel and it will retain its edge for much longer than knives made from softer steel. They also utilize their proprietary PEtec edge, which makes an extremely thin cutting edge for superior sharpness right out of the box.

The contoured handle is made from an extremely durable material called Polyoxymethylene which was developed to resist discoloration, even after years of use.

The double bolster design adds a pleasing amount of heft and stability to the knife, which makes it feel great in your hand and it is a pleasure to use.

Specifications:

  • Overall length: 9.8"
  • Blade Length: 5.5"
  • Handle Length: 4.3"
  • Weight: 4.6 ounces
  • High Carbon Stainless Steel Blade
  • Contoured Synthetic Handle

What We Like

  • We love the contoured handle that lasts for years without fading or discoloration.
  • The blade holds an edge for a long time due to its hardness.
  • We like the double bolster design.
  • We like the extra control we get from the shorter 5.5" blade.
  • We love the lifetime warranty.

What We Don't Like

  • It doesn't need sharpening very often, but when it does, it is difficult to sharpen because of the hardness of the steel.

If we had to pick only one boning knife to use for the rest of our lives, it would be the Wusthof Classic Ikon Boning knife.

These boning knives are made in Germany and have a lifetime guarantee, but you won't have to use it.

Editor's Choice

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels ZWILLING Flexible Boning Knife

We have some hunters on staff that absolutely love the J.A. Henckels Flexible boning knife. They even like it better than the Wusthof.

It has a very unique blade shape and an ergonomically designed curved bolster that is ideal for precise cutting and safety.

The 5.5 inch blade is forged out of a single piece of Special Formula High-Carbon NO STAIN stainless steel using their patented SIGMAFORGE process.

They then use a 4 step ice hardening process in which they cool the steel to a temperature of -94 degrees fahrenheit, which produces an extremely hard steel averaging 56-57 on the Rockwell scale, slightly less hard than the Wusthof boning knife.

The ergonomic handle is made from ABS which is durable and wear resistant. The handle and the full tang are triple riveted for durability.

The slight hook at the end of the handle gives confidence when working with wet, slippery hands, which is usually the case when you are processing a deer.

Specifications:

  • Overall length: 10.6"
  • Blade Length: 5.5"
  • Handle Length: 5.1"
  • Weight: 5.3 ounces
  • High Carbon Stainless Steel Blade
  • Ergonomic ABS Handle

What We Like

  • We love the ergonomically designed handle that helps to keep a secure grip when working with slippery hands.
  • The flexible blade makes it easier to remove silverskin and separate the meat from the bone, leaving very little wasted meat.
  • We like the unique bolster design that gives an extra level of safety by helping to prevent your hand from reaching the blade.
  • We love the lifetime warranty.

What We Don't Like

  • Pricey

There is a reason that this knife was chosen as best boning knife by America's Test Kitchen. It is an awesome boning knife that will probably outlive you and be handed down to another hunter in your family.

This knife is made in Germany where JA Henckels has been making knives for 280 years, and designed in Italy by Matteo Thun.

Best Budget Boning knife

Victorinox Fibrox 6 inch boning knife

The truth is, you don't need expensive knives for boning and butchering deer. The Victorinox 6 inch knife gets the job done without spending and arm and a leg.

Yes, this knife is made by the same company that makes the iconic Swiss Army Knife.

Karl Elsener opened a cutler’s workshop in Ibach-Schwyz in 1884. Karl Elsener fought against poverty and unemployment in the Schwyz basin in the early years by creating jobs.

In 1891 he developed and supplied the Swiss Army a soldier knife for the first time. Its popularity led him on to develop the Swiss Officer and Sports Knife. 

This knife has a lot of bang for your buck. It has a non-slip Fibrox handle that gives you a secure and comfortable grip no matter the hand size.

The Fibrox Pro has an S-shaped blade that allows for maximum flexibility. This makes it easy to slice meat off the bone and fillet a fish quickly.

This blade is constructed with quality high carbon stainless steel. The handle is formed with thermoplastic rubber for a secure and ergonomic grip.

It is a high quality, cheap boning knife.

Specifications:

  • Overall length: 11.38"
  • Blade Length: 6"
  • Handle Length: 5.38"
  • High-quality, lightweight European steel
  • Non-slip patented Fibrox Pro handle for a secure and comfortable grip no matter the hand size

What We Like

  • We really like the price.
  • We like the handle design.
  • We love that is dishwasher safe.
  • We like the flexible blade.

What We Don't Like

  • Does not hold an edge as well as our other top picks.
  • Not crazy about the tip design.

This knife is definitely not on the same level as our other top picks, but if you are looking for an affordable knife that gets the job done, then this is the knife for you.

Best Dalstrong Boning knife

Dalstrong Shogun Series Boning Knife

Dalstrong was established in 2014 by David Dallaire in Toronto, Canada. He is the mastermind behind the brand and designs. 

Let's begin with the military-grade G10 ergonomic handle meticulously made for life-long durability. It is an incredibly strong, non-porous fiberglass-like material highly resistant to heat, cold, and moisture.

Each knife has an engraved end-cap to stabilize the blade for balance and agility. An intricate copper mosaic pin enriches the center rivet of its triple-riveted design.

You can safely and securely ensure your blade is fully protected at home or on the go with the premium quality polymer Dalstrong PerfectFit saya (sheath). It is included with each knife and includes an embossed Dalstrong logo and pin closure.

Premium imported materials from Japan, America, Germany, Sweden, and China are carefully assembled by expert bladesmiths in YangJiang, China. YangJiang is famous for its knife crafting traditions dating back over 1400 years.

It takes highly trained artisans 30-60 days to produce each knife. They hand-polish and hand-finishing each blade and handle using the 3-step traditional Honbazuke honing method.

Traditional Japanese processes are combined with high-tech Cryo-tempering to improve the steel’s crystalline structure, making them stronger. The merging of modern technology allows for achieving quality while keeping the costs of knives lower.

Dalstrong offers a rock-solid 100% money-back guarantee and a lifetime warranty against defects. They stand behind their products and customers, always.

Specifications:

  • Overall length: 13.35"
  • Blade Length: 8"
  • Handle Length: 5.35"
  • Weight: 6.24 ounces
  • AUS-10V Japanese steel
  • High-pressure fiberglass laminate handle

What We Like

  • Money back guarantee.
  • 62+ Rockwell hardness.
  • 67 layer beautiful Damascus steel.
  • We really like the 8" blade for processing deer.
  • We love the lifetime warranty.

What We Don't Like

  • Not crazy about the fiberglass handle.

Some hunters and butchers love a knife with a little longer blade for butchering deer and other game animals. The Dalstrong 8" long blade fits that bill perfectly and is the knife that they choose for the task.

Best Curved Boning knife

Shun Classic High Performance Boning Knife

Japanese knives are not new to the game. From the traditional Samurai sword to the chef's cutlery, Japanese knives are known for excellence.

According to the Shun history, Shun's brand name is derived from the Japanese culinary term  “shun.” Shun is a tick of time—the exact moment when the fruit is perfectly ripe, a vegetable is at its best, or meat is at its most flavorful.

Each blade has a cutting core of Shun's proprietary VG-MAX "super steel" this harder steel allows for an Ultra-thin and incredibly sharp edge that features a 16-degree blade angle. 

This six-inch beautiful knife provides professional results for both experts and beginners. It can be masterfully used by culinary geniuses, aspiring chefs, fishermen, and deer hunters.

Incorporating a traditional Damascus-clad blade allows Shun to provide close and easy cutting. The narrow blade reduces drag when boning and filleting.

The traditional Japanese-style handle has a slight ridge on the right side, which fits into the curl of your fingers for a comfortable and secure grip. The shape resembles the capital letter D when looking at its profile. Pakkawood is waterproof, durable, and doesn’t harbor bacteria.

The blade is flexible but not as much as other boning knives. This makes it perfect for all cutting meat tasks. 

Specifications:

  • Overall length: 11"
  • Blade Length: 6"
  • Handle Length: 5"
  • Weight: 7 ounces
  • VG-MAX Super Steel Blade
  • Gorgeous Pakkawood handle

What We Like

  • The beautiful Pakkawood waterproof handle feels great in your hand and is very durable.
  • The blade holds an edge for a long time, only needs to be sharpened once a year. Although we hone the blade with a steel every time we use it.
  • Free lifetime sharpening
  • We love the lifetime warranty.

What We Don't Like

  • One of our staff members had the tip break on this knife.

If you are looking for a high quality boning knife with a curved blade, then this is the knife for you.

Best Butcher Knives For Deer and Game Processing Kits

The butcher knife is famous in the meat processing business. It is often mistaken as the cleaver because of its function, but it has a much lighter and thinner blade. This allows the user to make perfect cuts, unlike the cleaver that chops with larger chunks.

The sturdy blade allows the user to chop or slice meat pieces without breaking the knife. A butcher's knife, unlike a boning knife, is characterized by its durability and balance, and it can even go through beef or deer bones.

This type is usually available in different sizes, ranging from 8 to 14 inches, depending on the manufacturer or seller. The boning knife is almost the complete opposite of the butcher's cleaver. 

Boning knives have long, thin, flexible blades with a sharp tip to make piercing meat easier and safer. The blade is designed to cut through ligaments and connective tissue to remove raw meat from the bone.

The slim, flexible blade makes it the best choice for cutting around the bone without ruining the surrounding flesh. Boning knives are designed to be light and maneuverable, so you can count on them to be more comfortable and easier to use than butcher knives.

 Let's take a look at the best butcher knives for deer.

Best Butcher knife For Deer

DALSTRONG Butcher-Breaking Cimitar Knife

These knives are made with a military-grade G10 ergonomic handle meticulously made for life-long durability. It is an incredibly strong, non-porous fiberglass-like material highly resistant to heat, cold, and moisture.

This butcher knife is engineered to perfection, just like all Dalstrong products. The curved blade allows you leverage and the ability to make complete cuts in a single motion without any sawing.  

It is expertly crafted to slice flesh, breakthrough cartilage, and trim fat from beef, venison, pork, poultry, fish, and other meats. Whether professional or amateur, this knife will not disappoint.

The Shogun Series butcher blade is forged from a single piece of imported Japanese AUS-10V super steel with 67 layers of folded steel. It features an enhanced vacuum treatment using nitrogen cooling for perfection and performance.

This blade is hand sharpened to 8-10 degrees per side. This produces an ultra-sharp edge with excellent wear resistance. This knife is not made for flexibility but for strength.

Specifications:

  • Overall length: 14.6"
  • Blade Length: 10"
  • Handle Length: 4.6"
  • Weight: 1.52 pounds
  • AUS-10V Japanese super steel
  • military-grade G10 handle

What We Like

  • Sturdy well built knife.
  • Damascus steel blade.
  • Holds its edge.

What We Don't Like

  • Knife is heavy.

This is the best butcher knife on the market for processing deer and other game animals, but it is heavy and you will feel that weight when working with the knife for hours.

Best Game Processing Knife Set

Outdoor Edge Butcher Max 11-Piece Game Processing Set

Want to have every hunting and game processing knife and gadget?  This is your kit. You can start here if you are just getting ready to process your first deer and wonder which tool is right for you. Maybe it is not your first, but you still want to own all the tricks. This is a great kit.

This set includes all the tools to process game like a pro. You will find a caping knife, gut-hook skinner, boning knife, wood/bone saw, ribcage spreader, game cleaning gloves, and a tungsten carbide sharpener, all in a hard-side carry case. 

Fellow outdoor loving hunter David Bloch’s passion led to a senior knife design project in 1986 while a mechanical engineering student at Colorado School of Mines. Thirty-three years later, David is still crafting some of the best sports tools on the market.

Each knife is created perfectly balanced. A blade of 420J2 stainless steel is precisely heat treated, taper ground, and hand finished for a shaving razor sharp edge for superior edge retention.

Every knife comes with an ergonomically shaped, high visibility blaze-orange TPR handles. This design reduces hand fatigue after long periods of use and ensures a safe and comfortable grip.

What We Like

  • Eight piece set everything you need in the field or the kitchen.
  • The Hard molded case for safe travel and storage.
  • Rib cage spreader is a game changer for working inside the body cavity of deer and other big game.

What We Don't Like

  • We wish the blades would hold their edge a little longer.

Outdoor Edge stands behind a 100% money back guarantee. They also boast a Lifetime guarantee and excellent customer service. 

We appreciate the thought that went into this kit. From field dressing to the freezer, you will find what you need. It's nice because only a fellow hunter could think of all the details. Down to the highly visible orange handles, everything was considered. 

Best Game Processing Knife Set

Jero 3 Piece Pro Butcher Meat Processing Set

Portugal has long been known for its obsession with cutlery. When visiting, you will see precisely what we mean. There is a particular utensil for every dish. We are not sure how anyone can keep them all straight.

One thing you will not have trouble finding will be excellent craftsmanship. Jero was established in 1983 by  António Jorge and António Ramalho in Benedita Portugal.

Jero has highly skilled artisans with decades of combined experience and has always chosen the best materials.  Extreme efficiency and quality knives are produced every single day in our facilities. Jero knives didn't take long to cross borders and arrive overseas quickly.

Germany was the first international customer, and many other countries followed. Jero exports to markets in the USA, the Nordic countries, France, Russia, and Lithuania.

Even as a small family business, Jero grew very quickly and knew they must focus on sustainability. The company now employs close to a hundred workers.

This Jero meat processing set includes three popular knives for both commercial and home processing.  A narrow butcher knife, skinning knife, and curved boning knife are included in this handy set.

All three knives are constructed of high-carbon stainless steel for strength and long edge life.  Each handle is manufactured from commercial grade polymers that are injection molded onto the blade and tang of the blade.

The handles also impact and temperature resistant, textured for grip, and easy to clean. Their shape is a popular design that allows for different hand sizes and positions comfortably.

What We Like

  • German High-Carbon Stainless Steel Blades.
  • Injection-molded commercial grade polymer handles.
  • Sharp Edge That Is Ready To Work right out of the package.

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't hold an edge very well and needs to be sharpened often.

If you are looking for a complete knife set for processing game, the convenience of having all three knives does make this set appealing. It is nice to have them ready when the deer hits the ground. 

What Is A Boning Knife

Cutting steaks with a boning knife

A boning knife is, as the name suggests, a knife that you use to remove bone from meat and to break down primal cuts into more usable cuts of meat for recipes.

In terms of deer and other big game, you will use a boning knife after you have field dressed, skinned and quartered the animal with your deer hunting knife.

The boning knife will be used to break down the quarters into cuts of meat such as steaks, chops and roasts.

You can also use the boning knife to remove fat and silverskin, also a boning knife is perfect for cutting venison into manageable pieces for the meat grinder.

Click here for a list of the best meat grinders for processing wild game.

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Boning Knife

Removing Silverskin with a boning knife

Blade Types 

There are different blades to consider when looking for your perfect boning knife. It is not a one size fits all type of purchase. Each individual will experience each design differently.  You can choose curved or straight, Thin or broad, and flexible or stiff. Let's look at some of the options.

Curved Blade

The curve of a fillet or boning knife is perfect for removing fish skin in one swipe, as well as making long, clean strokes through the flesh. This shape can also make some delicate jobs, such as filleting a quail or removing silverskin, more effortless as the angle of the curve allows for more effective maneuverability around small spaces.

Straight Blade

This is easier for preparing large chunks of meat, such as beef. Interestingly, many traditional Japanese fillet knives are straight. The straight blade is said to help with more delicate slicing and intricate cuts. When used by an expert, these knives are ideal for high-speed chops.

Thin Blade

Not all thin blades are flexible. Thinner blades are needed for cutting at smaller angles. Thinner blades can slice through flesh with less resistance, causing less harm to more delicate meat.

Broad Blade

Wide block style, sturdy knives are essential for portioning thick meat.

Flexible Or Stiff Blade?

Removing Fat with a boning knife

Flexible Blade

The ability to blend and flex is ideal for intricate jobs as it allows the knife to cut corners and challenging shapes.

Stiff Blade

Tougher, thicker meat can cause a thin knife to flex and go off course. Stiff blades can be used to cut through and portion off broad cuts and cut meat into smaller chunks for grinding.

High Carbon Steel

Carbon steel boning knives keep their sharpness longer than stainless steel and can go years without needing to be sharpened. It is easier to sharpen, but it needs a finer grit stone or sharpener and a light touch.

However, carbon steel is more fragile than stainless steel and can chip if you drop or mishandle it. It is also susceptible to becoming discolored quite quickly, which isn’t a problem for most but can be less than ideal if you’re looking for picture-perfect knives.

Kitchen knives will use grades with high amounts of carbon to give the knife hardness and strength. But this needs perfect heat treating to ensure that the blade is neither too brittle nor too flexible. After all, a knife that will either bend and not just flex or break is not a very good one. 

Any decent knife will have received this heat treatment, so don’t worry about buying a brittle knife.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel also contains carbon. But the, carbon is only one of the Iron-based alloy families that prevent corrosion (or staining) and protect from heat. This is important in a knife.

It’s the chromium in the steel that inhibits the iron from rusting and guards from heat damage. Chromium isn’t susceptible to oxidation. This causes stainless steel to have a longer life and maintain its razor edge. 

Stainless steel is usually softer than carbon steel, and this means the knife’s edge will lose its sharpness quicker.

Stainless steel boning knives remain gleaming even with age and daily use.

They are not sensitive to acids like onions, tomatoes, or fruit.

RELATED: Outdoor Edge Razor Pro Review

Boning Knife Handle

Boning knife handles usually come in four different materials. Each has its pros and cons. It will come down to personal preference.

Nylon handles are the strongest and most impact resistant handle option. This nylon material can tolerate high temperatures and is reinforced with glass fibers during manufacturing. These handles are likely to become discolored with use and cleaning.

A boning knife with a plastic handle can be very comfortable and more economical than other materials. They also come in various colors. This enables color-coding and helps inhibit cross contamination.

Wood handles are popular with foodservice professionals even though they can be more high-maintenance than other handle materials. Although it has long been a classical knife handle option, it most likely will not last as long as other materials. Wood is challenging to clean. Wooden handles are known to have issues like rotting and splintering because wood is a natural material. Some wooden boning knives also have to be oiled frequently, so check the manufacturer's instructions for recommendations on optimal care and maintenance.

Stainless steel handles provide a sleek look and are great to resist contamination as it is easy to clean. It also can become slippery if it doesn't include a pattern or a grip, and this may cause accidents. Stainless steel can be maintained easily.

Boning Knife Sheath

Knife sheaths are essential for the life of your blade. They can come in materials like Kydex, nylon, or leather. We prefer leather for several reasons. Leather lasts forever when properly maintained and is beautiful. It also protects your knife's edge from being dulled or chipped.

Safety Features

The most important thing when considering the safety of a knife, gun, or even a deer stand is knowing how to use it properly. If you are using a boning knife for the first time, please educate yourself on the correct procedures. 

You may also notice that you will find a finger guard on most boning knives. This is the notch where the blade meets the handle.  It is a safety feature for protecting your fingers while handing slippery ingredients.

Video - An Introduction To Butcher knives for Deer Including The Boning Knife


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference Between a Boning and a Fillet Knife?

The difference between a boning knife and a fillet knife is their intended uses.  A boning knife is used to pull the meat away from the bone.

The fillet knife, on the other hand, is used to cut the skin away from the meat and is most commonly used for fish. 

A boning knife can be either rigid or flexible. A fillet knife is always going to be flexible. Both of these knives are very useful to have in your arsenal, especially if you are a fisherman as well as a hunter.

How To Clean And Store A Boning Knife?

Every time you use your boning knife, you must wash it immediately with warm, soapy water. You can use a soft cloth or gentle brush if necessary to remove debris.  

After cleaning, please make sure you dry it thoroughly with a soft, dry towel. Again, make sure it’s completely dry before putting it back in its place, preferably a knife block or sheath, but never loosely in a drawer, and it will be ready to use again next time.

What Other Uses Does A Boning Have In The Kitchen?

A boning knife can be used for many tasks in the kitchen, from peeling and slicing fruit to cutting cakes and goodies. It makes delicate cuts a breeze.

The thin, slightly flexible blade allows this knife to be immensely useful in the kitchen for everyday use until you are ready to use it for processing that deer for the freezer in the fall of the year.

What Is The Best Way To Sharpen A Boning Knife

The best way to sharpen a boning knife is to use one of the best hunting knife sharpeners.

Sharpening a knife involves taking bits of metal off the blade and revealing a new sharp edge. Honing requires a honing rod or steel to renew the edge and does not sharpen your blade but realigns it. While sharpening will only be needed once or twice a year, honing can be performed more often.

When using a whetstone for sharpening, it’s best to have at least two stones, and both must be kept wet during the entire process. You’ll also need to hold your knife at the precise angle for each side of the cutting edge if sharpening on both sides. Use light pressure to glide the blade back and forth along the stone.

You may need to repeat the process several times for each side. Whetstones come in a variety of grits, which refers to the abrasiveness of the stone and is the reason you’ll need to be familiar with the specifications of your knife.

Final Thoughts

So with all things considered, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a boning knife for deer hunting and processing. Most of those considerations will come down to preferences and use.

However, it is also important to consider the best knife you can afford with your budget and the best bang for your buck.

When it comes to deer hunting, there are a lot of tricks and equipment that can advance your ability, and I believe that you get what you pay for.

A good boning knife is an investment and can be used in the kitchen daily.

We stand by our recommendation and believe that the Wüsthof Classic IKON Boning Knife is the best investment for the home of any deer hunter.

We hope all your hunts are successful and your freezer is full.

Photo of author

Jesse Gillotti

Jesse is a member of our pro staff and a frequent contributor to DeerHuntingGuide.net. He is obsessed with hunting deer and big bucks in particular. He has a knack for obtaining permission on the best private land to hunt big bucks. He is constantly testing out new equipment and providing feedback for our reviews and gear roundups.

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