Fixed blade hunter suggestions

Oct 19, 2004
I want to buy my brother a fixed blade hunter for Christmas but am not sure what brand to get. Damascus would be nice if I could get it for under $500. If not, I think D2, A2, 52100, or S30V would be good, but, the other common steels (aus8, vg-10. 154cm, etc.) would be fine too, I guess. I was looking at A.G. Russell's selection of Bark Rivers and they looked like the best so far. Any suggestions would be helpful...

Thank you

Dunno if you'll be able to get one in time for Christmas direct, but try A G Russell and see if he has any in stock.

Edit: TJ just beat me too it by seconds ;)
The best for a stainless would be S30V, which (IMO) is better than D2 in every way, plus being stainless. For carbon steel, 52100, 5160, and 3V are all good choices, there are other good ones too, but those are some of the common (and excellent) steels. Damascus of course would be awesome, but I don't know who makes good damascus fixed blades for under $500 (or even over $500 for that matter).
There is a Marbles Woodcraft with sheep horn handle on that would make a beautiful Christmas present.

Other than that a Fallkniven NL4 or NL5 would also be great.

For hunters, I've had my best luck with Bark River and Bob Dozier. The Doziers, being customs, have the better fit and finish and much better sheaths, but they do cost a bit more. Overal though, I'd base my decision on which grind you feel most comfortable with. Bark River uses convex grinds. The Doziers that you'll find for sale are usually hollow ground or flat ground.
Take a look at Dozier, Denning, and Ingram.....all offer a nice selection of hunters and a great bang for the buck IMO (pardon the pun...couldn't resist).
Go to the Knife Discussion forum page at

There is a recent post that lists quite a few fix blades available to go! Avoid that 12 month wait time. Also check out their "inventory" section for some beautiful stag classic models!

Forget the steel (unless being stainless is a deal-breaker) and look for a good maker. If he has a reputation for good knives he picked the right steel. Plus, folks here give high marks to markers who "stand behind" their work.

The good news: You don't have to spend half of your budget to get a nice-looking, good-working hunting knife.

The "bad" news: zillions of choices.

Dozier is a good'n (D-2 is nearly "stainless"). Good sheaths as well. I love the two Doziers I have.

Mr. Wilson has available hunting knives listed in the maker's sales forum here. I have one of his ("Semi-Skinner" - also D-2), and it is impressive and came with a nice, heavy sheath.

I have liked my Bark River knives (a Google search for any brand/maker in the advanced search-exact term box shows vendors, many with knives in stock). Bark River sells through dealers like DLT and Knifeworks.

These three build specifically for hunters, as do others who will be mentioned here in due course.

If you get to a short list, come back and ask more questions. No shortage of opinions here. :D Seriously, if you see broad support for a maker, you can be pretty sure he does good work.
I know folks who own damascus knives, use them, and like them. For me, damascus is for art these days, not function. (Duck!) The couple I own and love are very prone to rust (more so than any other blades I own), which also goes to practicality. (I have a third that looks great until you notice the series of small voids where the billets of damascus were joined.)

I believe modern steels and heat-treating can get the right combination of edge holding and toughness without the old "magic" of damascus.

If you need it, go for it, but be prepared to pay a lot more for equal quality.

Hey, it's your money, and you have a better idea what will float his boat than anyone here.
As I understand it damascus was designed to get around the problem of average quality soft steel.

We don't have that problem any more, so damascus is now more of an aesthetic statement than a material advantage.

Most people seem to be suggesting D2, and you can have great D2 for under $200.

Check out the Swamp Rat Safari Skinner: it's nice looking, and very functional.

I love using damascus knives. I'm not going to say "micro serations" :), but you can get a nice agressive edge (that isn't too agressive) after the etch. Take a look at a Roselli, great bang for the buck. I believe he is offering wootz blades too. Price will be well under $500.

Oh man, most people with this question say "for under $100". Lots more choices with a $500 limit. Have you looked at scandanavian style knives such as or kellam knives? Have you looked at Nessmuk style blades, a guy named Dale Chudzinski makes them. Heck, for $500, you could get him a nice knife AND a Gransfors Bruks hunter's ax! I wish I had a brother like you. You might think function first and then the blade style will be more clear.
Theres a D'Holder up for sale right now for $450. You can't get a whole lot better and his knives rarely go for under $500.
If you would like a forged blade using 52100 I would give Bill Buxton a call, or for stock removal I would call Bob Dozier. I have 9 Dozier's and 3 from Bill and all have given me very good service. I have used all of these as hunters and I believe a forged blade holds a edge a little better with no deformation of the edge, as D-2 is prone to do when used hard.
I'm a Dozier (see above) and a Ruana (see their site) fan. But if it were me I'd buy him the Spyderco Moran, which is a great knife, and a case of his favorite Single Malt Scotch...which you would then be compelled to help him celebrate with!
Good luck,