Finding the Best Survival Knife in 2020: Our Favorite Fixed Blades [Tested & Reviewed]

If you find yourself in an unexpected survival situation, what kind of knife would you want at your side?  Honestly, you would probably be happy to have ANY knife with you.  But obviously since you are reading this, you are someone that plans ahead, and you don’t want just any old pocket knife, you want the best knife possible to well, survive with.

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We all have our personal preferences on what makes a good knife to go camping or hiking with, but in an extreme situation you want the absolute best survival knife possible, and so we are here to make sure that you have the right choice for any situation.

The comparison guide of knives below and the analysis that follows will help you find the right knife to meet your needs.


View on Amazon:Steel:Our Rating:Price:
Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Fixed Blade1095 Cro-Van$$
Gerber LMF II Survival Knife420 High Carbon$$
Gerber Strong Arm420 High Carbon$$
Ka-Bar Full Sized Fighting Knife1095 Cro-Van$$
Fallkniven A1 Survival KnifeLaminated VG10$$$$
Buck 119BKS 6 Inch Blade420 High Carbon$$
Ka-Bar BK7 Combat Utility Knife1095 Cro-Van$$
Schrade SCHF9N Fixed Blade Knife1095 Cro-Van$$
ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge1095 Steel$$$
ESEE Laser Strike1095 Carbon Steel$$$
SE Outdoor Tanto (bonus)440 Stainless Steel$

Comparison Guide Key:

1.Knife brand and name/model: Click to view more details or to purchase.
2.Blade Material: The metal used in the blade.
3.Rating: Our Rating
4.Price:  Generally Speaking: $ = under $50, $$ = $51 to $100, $$$ = $101 to $200, $$$$ = $200+

The knives included in this chart actually only begin to scratch the surface.  So many manufacturers and models exist that there is no way that we could have listed everything.  However, many exceptional survival knives are included at every price range and from a wide variety of quality makers.

All of the survival knives included are fixed blades which many feel is an essential criteria for choosing a proper survival knife.  There are a few folding knives that will make good backup options, but your primary choice for a survival knife should always be a fixed blade.

Feel free to use the quick jump menu below to make it easier to find the details that apply to you.


Ka-Bar BK2 Fixed Blade 1095 Steel

Our rating

Ka-Bar Becker BK2


Gerber Strong Arm 420 High Carbon Steel

Our rating

Gerber Strong Arm


ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge 1095 Steel

Our rating

ESEE 6P-B Plain Edge


So, Just What is a Survival Knife?

A survival knife is the essential tool that can be used in the event you get lost in the wilderness or involved in some other extreme outdoor environment. In the event that you are lost in the wilderness the proper knife can truly be a life saver to help you build shelter, start a fire, hunt, prepare food, dig, clear paths, and so much more.

Best Fixed Blade Knife in Tree Stump

Do you really think the castaways from LOST would have survived without John Locke’s suitcase full of knives including a Ka-Bar Full-sized USMC, a Master Bowie knife, and a Spyderco Harpy? Even Hollywood knows that you need a knife to survive when you get “lost”!

In general, a full-tang, fixed blade is going to be more reliable and less likely to break than a folding knife or partial tang. Having a full-tang knife (metal blade runs the full length to the end of the handle) will help ensure the knife can handle extreme pressure or usage without the risk of breakage.

However, a solid folding knife or partial tang knife is more likely to be in everyone’s price range and still provide many of the benefits that perhaps an “ideal” survival knife would.

How to Choose the Right Survival Knife: 8 Things to Consider

There’s a few things you need to consider when picking out your survival knife which includes your planned needs, uses and budget.

In order for a survival knife to perform all of the myriad tasks that is likely to asked of it, it must incorporate several key features that we dive into more detail in the sections below.

1. Blade Design: Choosing the Right Type of Survival Knife:

When choosing a survival knife, blade design is perhaps the single most important factor since it determines whether or not a knife is suitable for survival use. For instance, when faced with a wilderness survival situation, the user often employs the full length of the cutting edge from the choil to the belly for different purposes and sometimes, even the tip is needed for piercing.

As a result, you should be aware that there are actually several different blade designs consisting of clip pointsdrop pointsspear points, Nessmuks, trailing points, etc., but, those best suited for survival purposes are the clip point, the drop point, and the spear point.

The reason for this is that all three blade designs are meant to position the tip of the blade closer to the center line to provide the user with greater control than can be had with a straight back design.

Also, all three designs serve to lighten the tip of the blade in order to balance the blade closer to the hilt which also provides the user with better control over the tip.

Experienced wilderness survivalists tend to think of survival knives as falling into one of three different categories consisting of heavy duty choppers, camp knives, and bushcraft/utility knives depending on their blade length and blade design.

A heavy chopping tool will feature a robust construction and have a blade that is 10 inches to 14 inches in length with a weight-forward blade design and a saber grind and be made from a tough steel such as 1095, 5160, or 440C.

Also, it should feature a highly ergonomic, non-slip, handle design with, preferably, a cushioned, textured, non-slip, surface on the handle made from either Kraton or Hypalon rubber.

A camp knife is defined as a medium sized knife with less robust construction and a blade that ranges from 5 inches to 8 in length with a balance point near the hilt and a flat grind or a hollow grind.

Also, it should feature an ergonomic handle that allows the knife to be held in several different positions.

A bush craft/utility knife is defined as a knife that has a blade that measures from 3.5 inches to 5 inches with clip point, a drop point, or a spear point blade design and a flat grind or a hollow grind with an ergonomic handle design.

Schrade does a good job with the video below giving more detail on the types of blade design.

2. Fixed Blade or Folding? Which is best for a Survival Situation?

As the expert in the earlier video highlighted, a pocket knife is good to have on hand when you need a good all purpose knife you can carry everyday.  The primary problem with relying on a folding knife is the fact that they have the additional break point that a fixed blade knife does not have.

This is critical when you think about the different uses you may need to use your knife in when you are in a tough survival situation.  The last thing you need is a broken knife when you are trying to setup a shelter or start skinning a recent game kill.

You want something that’s going to be extremely sturdy that will allow you to leverage the knife in just about every situation and not break under contact.  You need to have a knife that is ready to stand up to extreme abuse and last a long time doing it.

A good folding knife has it’s place in any survivalist’s arsenal, but it should never replace a fixed blade knife as the primary resource that you use for extreme situations.

3. Blade Edge: Know the Best Purpose of Your Knife’s Edge

The design of the cutting edge is also a critical factor when choosing a survival knife because the different types of cutting edges are designed for different purposes.

First and foremost, here are straight cutting edges which are specifically designed to be general purpose edges. However, it should be noted that they can feature either a positive rake angle, a neutral rake angle, or a negative rake angle measured from the bolster.

The neutral rake angle is the most common and it is defined as a an angle that extends at a right angle from the bolster.

A positive rake angle extends from the bolster at a downward angle in order to increase the angle of attack when cutting and slicing.

A negative rake angle is one that extends at an upward angle from the bolster and it is designed to lessen the pressure placed on the cutting edge when cutting and slicing.

Then, there are recurved edges which feature a straight section extending from the Ricasso but which then changes to a positive angle at it approaches the center of the blade and curves upward to the tip as it reaches the belly of the edge which places the balance of the blade well forward of the hilt.

Therefore, the purpose of the recurved edge is to create the blade that is good for both cutting and carving near the bolster but which is also tip heavy for better chopping performance.

4. Blade Length: How Long Should Your Knife Be?

A third critical factor when choosing a survival knife is the length of the blade because different length blades are best suited for different purposes.

For instance, blade lengths ranging from 8 to 10 inches are usually long enough and have enough weight to be well suited for chopping and splitting with a baton but, they tend to make it difficult to control the tip of the blade when trying to perform small, precision, cutting tasks.

Survival knives with blade lengths ranging from 3.5 inches to 5 inches are much better suited for more delicate tasks such cutting notches in stakes and staves to build traps and snares, skinning small game animals and gutting fish, slicing up root and tubers, ect.

Blade lengths ranging from 6 to 7.5 inches represent an excellent compromise between long, heavy-duty, blade designs and short utility blade designs.

5. Blade Steel: What’s Your Knife Made of?

Types of Survival Knife Steel

Next to blade design, the type of steel that a survival knife is made from is possibly the second most critical factor when choosing a survival knife.

You should first be aware that there are two different categories of blade steel consisting of non-stainless, high carbon, tool steels and stainless steels with the defining difference between the two being the amount of Chromium the steel contains.

While high carbon tool steels are often significantly tougher than stainless steels, they are less likely to break, they are more prone to corrosion. Plus, although they are also easier to sharpen, they will not hold an edge quite as well as stainless steels.

Whereas, stainless steels are generally less tough than high carbon tool steels but will generally hold an edge better (depending on composition and Rockwell Hardness) and, they are far less prone to corrosion But, they are also more prone to break and, they are generally more difficult to sharpen as well.

However, having said that, the relative toughness and edge holding ability of any blade steel is also dependent on its Rockwell Hardness (designated HRC).

Therefore, knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 50 to 54 are meant to be tough whereas, knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 58 to 62 are meant to hold an edge well and knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 54 to 58 are meant to be a compromise between toughness and edge holding ability.

Large, heavy-duty, survival knives with long blades should be made from a non-stainless, high carbon, tool steels and have a Rockwell Hardness of 50 to 54 whereas, small bush craft knives with short blades can be made from either type of steel and should have a significantly higher Rockwell Hardness and the same is true for camp knives.

Therefore, some good choices for high carbon tool steels for this purpose are 1095, 5160, O1, and A2 whereas, some good choices for stainless steels are 420HC, 440C, AUS-8, and AUS-10.

6. Blade Grind: Saber or Flat Grind? What’s the Difference?

Blade Grind Shapes For Knives

Every bit as important when choosing a survival knife as blade design and cutting edge design is the blade grind. While there are several different types of blade grinds, the two best suited for survival knives are the saber grind and the flat grind.

The reason that this is important is that a saber grind exhibits a primary bevel that extends only a very short distance from the cutting edge to the back of the blade and it creates a thick, axe-like edge that is difficult to sharpen to a fine edge but, which does an excellent job of holding an edge when chopping and splitting.

A flat grind exhibits a primary bevel that extends from the cutting edge all of the way to the back of the blade which represents a compromise between a saber grind and a hollow grind.  As a result, it can be honed to a much finer edge than a saber grind but will hold an edge better than a hollow grind.

Some survival knives have a hollow saber grind which designed to incorporate both the spine thickness of a saber grind and the fine edge of a hollow grind and while this type of blade grind works fairly well for chopping, cutting, and slicing, it is not optimized for either task which makes it a good compromise between a saber grind and a flat grind.

7. Tang Construction: Full or Partial?

The tang of a fixed blade knife is the portion of the blade that extends into the handle upon which the knife’s handle is fixed.

Because the point where the tang meets the blade is the knife’s weakest point, it should be noted that while there are several different types of knife tangs, the ones best suited for survival knives are the full tang and the hidden tang due to their inherent strength with the inherently weaker partial tang and stick tang being poplar for some handle designs.

The full tang is by far the most popular design and should be your top choice because it consists of a tang that extends the full width and length of the handle with handle scales that are affixed one either side of the tang via epoxy and rivets.

The hidden tang is similar to the full tang in that it extends nearly the full width and length of the handle but is designed in such a way the handle can be hollowed an slid onto the tang where is usually affixed with epoxy.

The partial tang and stick tang are the least desirable of the four types of tangs used to construct survival knives since they have a tang that extends the full length of the handle but only extends a small part of the width.

This type of tang is most commonly used in conjunction with handles made from stacked leather discs that are secured with a pommel cap that screws onto the end of the tang via threads.

8. Handle Material: Understanding Grips

Another important factor to consider when choosing a survival knife is the material from which the handle is made because it must be both tough in order to prevent cracking and breaking and it must be impervious to the absorption of moisture to prevent rot.

The single most popular handle material for survival knives is either canvas or linen Micarta which is a resin impregnated fabric that has been heated to liquefy the resin and then pressed under tremendous pressure to form into a solid material.

Fiber reinforced plastics such as G-10 and Zytel are also popular and work just as well. However, neither of these materials provide the user’s hand with any sort of cushion to lessen the shock generated when chopping with the knife.

Textured rubber handles such as those made from Krayton or Hypalon are good choices for heavy duty choppers.

Our Review of the Top 10 Fixed Blade Survival Knives:

Most of the survival knives mentioned above are excellent options, but there are a few that we just need to point out as our favorites.  Below you will find our top 10 overall best survival knives along with a more detailed individual review.

So, pull up your camping chair and let’s dig into these options.

1. Ka-Bar Becker BK2 “Campanion” Fixed Blade Knife:

The Ka-Bar Becker BK2 Campanion is one of the most popular survival knives on the market today.  With over a thousand reviews on Amazon, this makes it not only well-tried, but also well reviewed.  (You can read all those reviews by clicking the link below).

Here are some points worth mentioning about the knife:

Ka Bar Becker BK2 Companion Fixed Blade Knife Sharp

• Blade type: drop point
• Overall length: 10.5”
• Blade length: 5.25”
• Blade material: 1095 Cro-Van
• Rockwell Hardness: 56-58 HRC
• Handle material: Ultramid
• Sheath material: Nylon
• Weight: 16 oz.

Looking at the knife, you can see why people like it. Not only does it have a drop point blade design that is well suited for survival use, it features a heavy-duty construction with a 5.25 inch blade made from 1095 Cro-van (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) non-stainless, high carbon, tool steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 56 to 58 and a the deep saber grind that allows it to be honed to a fine edge.

It also features a very ergonomic handle design made from Ultamid which is a custom made polyamide that extremely tough and impervious the absorption of moisture.

Due its medium size, it is well suited as both camp knife and a bush craft/utility knife since it will perform most any small task asked of it from skinning game animals to preparing an evening meal.

However, another reason it’s so popular is the price! With the quality design, craftsmanship, size, and durability, you would expect something on the higher end. But, for less than $70, you can add this great survival tool to your collection!

2. Gerber LMF II Infantry:

Specifically designed to be a military grade survival knife, the Gerber LMF II is a very well designed little knife. Although it’s way too small to be effective chopping tool and its design is not particularly well suited to the role of camp knife, it is an excellent little utility knife.

Here are some features worth mentioning below:

Gerber LMF 2 Infantry Knife

• Blade type: drop point
• Overall length: 10.59”
• Blade length: 4.84”
• Blade material: 420 HC
• Rockwell Hardness: unknown
• Handle material: Glass Filled Nylon
• Sheath material: nylon
• Weight: 11.67 oz.

The LMF II Infantry has a 4.84” drop point blade design made from 420HC stainless steel with a deep saber grind and a serrated cutting edge.

The serrations and the glass breaker on the pommel are indicative of its military mindset since the serrations on the cutting edge are not particularly well suited for sharpening stakes and staves nor for carving notches but, they are rather useful when cutting a seat belt to exit a downed air craft or for sawing your way out of an aircraft fuselage or a helicopter canopy.

In addition, it features a very well designed 5.75” handle made from glass filled nylon with a textured rubber coating that is nearly indestructible and is impervious to the absorption of moisture and it has an integral double finger guard with jimping on the inside edges to improve the grip.

Furthermore, the designers of this knife had the forethought to include two lanyard holes in the finger guard so that the knife can be lashed to a staff or pole to create a makeshift spear to protect the user from attack by predatory animals or for use as a makeshift hunting tool.

The Gerber LMF II Infantry knife is well suited for a myriad of small utility jobs in a survival situation.

3. Gerber Strong Arm Military Knife:

Another one of Gerber’s line of fixed blade, military, survival knives, the Strong Arm is designed to serve as a small utility survival knife. In fact, it feature a 4.8” drop point blade almost identical to the LMF II Infantry model listed above.

Here are a few of the features worth looking at for this knife.

Gerber Strong Arm Survival Knife

• Blade type: drop point
• Overall length: 9.8”
• Blade length: 4.8”
• Blade material: 420 HC
• Rockwell Hardness: unknown
• Handle material: Glass Filled Nylon
• Sheath material: nylon
• Weight: 7.2 oz.

Like the LMF II, the Strong Arm is also made from 420HC stainless steel with a hard, black, ceramic coating to further enhance the steel’s corrosion resistance and to provide a stealthy appearance when used in tactical situations.

However, unlike the LMF II Infantry model, the Strong Arm is available either with or without serrations. Due to its small size, it is too small to be effective at even light chopping tasks and it is a bit on the small side for a good camp knife but, it does make and excellent utility or “bush craft” knife for jobs that require a significant amount of control over the blade.

Of course, aiding in that control is the ergonomic and well designed 5” handle made from glass filled nylon with a textured rubber coating that is nearly indestructible and is impervious to the absorption of moisture. Also, it has an integral double finger guard with jimping on the inside edges to improve the grip.

Plus, it comes with a heavy-duty, nylon, modular sheath system that can be mounted vertically on a MOLLE vest, horizontally on a standard 1.75 inch belt, as a drop leg belt mount.

The Gerber Strong Arm knife is a well designed utility survival knife for small jobs with its 420HC stainless steel blade and its nearly indestructible, rubber coated, handle and modular nylon sheath system.

Like many other top Gerber products, the Gerber Strong arm it is a knife that you can depend on in a survival situation.

4. Ka-Bar Becker U.S. Marine Corp Fighting Utility Knife:

Recognized worldwide as a true icon among combat knives, the KA-BAR U.S.M.C. Fighting and Utility Knife is their most famous knife! In fact, the only other combat knives as widely recognized as the classic “KA-BAR” are the Sykes/Fairbain and Sykes/Applegate double edged daggers issued to British soldiers during WW1 and WWII and the “Kukri” issued to Nepalese Gurkha troops.

Even though there’s a fair bit if history behind the KA-BAR fighting knife, here are a few features that the knife boasts:

Ka Bar Full Size USMC Marine Knife• Blade type: drop point
• Overall length: 11.875”
• Blade length: 7”
• Rockwell Hardness: 56-58 HRC
• Handle material: leather
• Sheath material: leather
• Blade material: 1095 Cro-Van High Carbon Steel
• Weight: 0.7 lb.

Featuring a heavy duty, 7”, clip point blade with a saber grind made from 1095 Cro-Van (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) high carbon tool steel with a black, corrosion resistant, coating and a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58.

This knife follows the classic Bowie knife design and not only is it eminently well suited as a combat knife, it is also extremely well suited as a heavy duty survival knife.

In fact, although there are a lot of survival knives on the market today, considering the blade design and the robust construction of this knife combined with its relatively low MSRP, it would hard to choose a better knife.

In addition, for those of you who like a bit of nostalgia, the handle of this knife is made from thick, leather discs stacked on a stick tang with a double finger guard at one end and secured with a steel pommel cap on the other to help balance the knife near the hilt.

Plus, the leather discs have been sealed to make them impervious to the absorption of moisture while still providing a positive grip.

Lastly as a nice add-on feature, it comes with a heavy duty leather sheath stamped with both the KA-BAR and U.S.M.C. logos.

5. Fallkniven A1L Survival Knife:

Without a doubt, Fallkniven is one of the premier production knife companies in the business today and the Fallkniven A1L Survival Knife is a premier example of their commitment to producing high quality knives.

Here are some of the notable points of the A1L:

Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife Full Tang

• Blade type: clip point
• Blade length: 6.3”
• Overall length: 11”
• Blade material: VG-10
• Rockwell Hardness: 59 HRC
• Handle material: Kraton rubber
• Weight: 12 oz.

Featuring a 6.3 inch clip point blade made from a core of VG-10 stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 59 HRC laminated between two layers of softer stainless steel with a saber grind that extends nearly to the back of the blade combined with a spine that measures a full .24 inches, this is literally one of the strongest survival knives you can buy!

In addition, it features hidden tang construction with a very ergonomic, diamond textured, Kraton rubber, handle with an integral finger guard, for a non-slip grip.

Plus, it comes with a heavy-duty black leather sheath that has a single snap strap. Although the blade is a bit too short to make an effective chopping tool, it is an excellent example of what a camp knife should be.

Due to its general purpose blade design, it is one of the best possible choices for a wilderness survival knife for performing nearly every task you might need to do from slicing to cutting to skinning.

6. Buck Model 119 Special Survival Knife with Leather Sheath:

A truly iconic example of the general purpose “camp knife”, the Buck knives model 119 “Special” has been an integral part of the Buck line of classic knives since 1945 when Hoyt and Al Buck used to build them by hand in their two man shop.

Here are the specs:

Buck 119 Survival Knife

• Blade type: clip point
• Overall length: 10.5”
• Blade length: 6”
• Blade material: 420 HC
• Rockwell Hardness: 58 HRC
• Handle material: phenolic plastic
• Sheath material: leather
• Weight: 7.5 oz.

In fact, because it features a 6” Clip Point blade with a hollow grind made from 420 HC stainless steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 58 HRC, it is an excellent design for a multitude of survival tasks such as trimming branches and carving notches for traps and snares as well as skinning game and other general purpose jobs.

It’s not well suited for chopping because of its relatively light blade and balance point near the hilt. Plus, although the hollow grind on the blade allows it to be honed to a very fine edge for cutting and slicing, it also allows the edge to dull more easily when the knife is used to chop.

On the other hand, the 4 1/2”, black phenolic plastic, handle is both large enough to comfortably fill the hand and is very ergonomic.

Plus it’s complimented by a double finger guard up front and a polished aluminum butt cap in the rear which really sets off the pitch black handle. Anyone who knows knives can spot a Buck knife at a glance just by noting the distinctive handle design.

For those people who appreciate classics and antiques, the Buck model 119 Special is the general purpose survival knife (aka “camp knife”) to have because it is an extremely well designed knife for this purpose.

In fact, this knife is so well designed that it has been in continuous production for 70 years which is not only a testament to both its functionality and its popularity, but a strong argument that this could be one of the best survival knives in the world ever made.

Last, it comes with a heavy-duty, black, pouch type, leather sheath with fold-over flap and snap closure which is a nice touch.  It’s hard to go wrong with a classic and the Buck Model 119 is no different.

7. Ka-Bar Becker BK7 Combat/Utility Knife:

The Ka-Bar Becker BK7 Combat Utility Knife was designed by Becker Knife & Tool to be the ultimate all-purpose utility knife for both soldiers and survivalists who need a relatively lightweight survival knife for heavy-duty use.  KA-BAR has been well known by survivalists and military personnel for years.

Here are the specs for the BK7:

Ka Bar BK 7 Clip Point• Blade type: clip point
• Overall length: 12.75”
• Blade length: 7”
• Blade material: 1095 Cro-Van
• Rockwell Hardness: 56-58 HRC
• Handle material: Ultramid
• Sheath material: Nylon
• Weight: 0.85 lb.

In fact, its long blade combined with its excellent blade design and its straight cutting edge make it imminently well suited for its role as a general purpose survival knife.

Featuring a 7” clip point blade with a deep saber grind made from 1095 Cro-Van (adds both Chromium and Vanadium to Carbon and Manganese) high carbon tool steel with a black, corrosion resistant, coating and a Rockwell Hardness of 56-58 HRC, the BK7 is a good choice for a truly tough survival knife that will stand up to most any job including light chopping, splitting, and digging.

Plus, this full tang survival knife has a very ergonomic handle design with handle slabs made from “Ultamid” (aka Zytel) which is a custom made polyamide that is extremely tough and impervious the absorption of moisture.

Due its medium size, the Becker BK7 Combat/Utility Knife is very well suited for use as a general purpose camp knife since it will perform most any job you might need of it in a survival situation from building survival shelters to building traps and snares to preparing the evening meal.

It also comes with a heavy-duty, MOLLE compatible, nylon sheath.

8. Schrade Extreme Survival Knife (SCHF9):

A fine offering from Schrade, the Extreme Survival model SCHF9 is an excellent choice for those people who prefer non-stainless tool steels over stainless steels due to their superior toughness and ease of sharpening.  It’s also the most budget friendly knife on the list which is a good thing for folks with a sub $100.00 knife budget.

Here are the specs:

Schrade Extreme Fixed Blade Knife

• Blade type: drop point
• Overall length: 12.1”
• Blade length: 6.4”
• Rockwell Hardness: unknown
• Blade material: 1095 High Carbon
• Handle material: Plastic Elastomer
• Sheath material: nylon
• Weight: 16 oz.

Featuring a 6.4 inch drop point blade with a recurved cutting edge and a hollow grind made from 1095 non-stainless, high carbon, tool steel, the Schrade Extreme model SCHF9 is a well thought out design.

For instance, the straight section of the cutting edge is great for sharpening stakes and cutting notches while the deeply curved section near the tip places the knife’s balance point well forward to make it a more effective chopping tool.

The 1095 high carbon tool steel is the perfect choice for a heavy duty knife that can expect to see hard use. In addition, the handle is extremely well designed with a very ergonomic shape that is specifically designed to fit the human hand with finger grooves to provide a comfortable, positive, grip.

Also, the handle scales are made from Thermo Plastic Elastomer which is a material that displays the properties of both plastic and rubber. Therefore, the grip on this survival knife is both incredibly tough and, it also provides a cushioned, non-slip, grip.

Schrade rounds it out with a heavy duty nylon sheath with a single, buckle closure, pocket on the front.

9. ESEE-6 Plain Black Blade with Grey Removable Micarta Handles:

The Randall Adventure & Training Company entered the knife market with their own ESSE brand of knives in 1997 and since then, ESSE Knives have become well known for their quality of design and workmanship. In fact, the ESSE 6 with plain edge is one of the top rated survival knives on the market today.

Let’s look at the specs:

ESEE 6 Micarta Grip

• Blade type: Drop Point
• Overall length: 11.75”
• Blade length: 6.5”
• Blade material: 1095 High Carbon
• Rockwell Hardness: 55-57 HRC
• Handle material: linen Micarta
• Sheath material: Kydex
• Weight: 12 oz.

It’s obvious that when your knife is designed by a wilderness and jungle survival training specialist specifically for the sole purpose of survival, that it should be near the top of the pack in quality. So, if you are looking for a tough, medium sized, high quality, wilderness survival knife, you can’t go wrong with the ESSE 6.

With 6.5” drop point blade made from 1095 high carbon tool steel with a flat grind, a black, corrosion resistant coating, and a Rockwell Hardness of 55-57 HRC, this survival knife is easily on par with the KA-BAR knives listed above but, it has a very different blade design. In fact, it’s design resembles a hunting knife far more than it does a combat knife.

While the drop point blade positions the tip close to the center line for precise control, the flat grind provides the perfect compromise between the razor sharpness of a hollow grind and the edge toughness of a saber grind.

Plus, the choil features a shallow finger groove to allow the user to move their hand forward on the grip and place their index finger in the groove for significantly more control over the edge when carving. This knife is an excellent choice for a tough, general purpose, survival knife.

In addition, this full tang survival knife comes with a hand filling, highly ergonomic, handle design made from two linen Micarta handle scales attached to the tang with three Allen screws.

Not only is the handle of this best outdoor knife very comfortable, it also provides the user with a nearly indestructible, non-slip, grip that is impervious to the absorption of moisture.

ESEE wraps it all up in a nice package with a molded Kydex sheath which is not only extremely tough, it is also completely waterproof.

10. ESEE Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife:

The ESSE Laser Strike knife is somewhat unusual among survival knives in that it features a spear point blade as opposed to ESSE’s standard drop point design.

However, many experienced wilderness survivalists consider the spear point blade design to be the ultimate bush craft/utility knife blade design because the tip is positioned directly in line with the center of the blade for highly effective piercing while retaining enough belly to still make a good skinning knife.

Let’s look at the specs of this best fixed blade survival knife:

ESEE Laser Strike Micara Handles

• Blade type: spear point
• Overall length: 10”
• Blade length: 4.75”
• Blade material: 1095 High Carbon
• Rockwell Hardness: 55-57 HRC
• Handle material: linen Micarta
• Sheath material: Kydex
• Weight: 9.5 oz.

Featuring a 4.75” spear point blade made from 1095 high carbon tool steel and a Rockwell Hardness of 55-57 HRC with a flat grind and a black, corrosion resistant, coating, this knife is the perfect companion to the ESSE Junglass.

The high carbon tool steel makes it a tough little survival knife while the mid-range Rockwell Hardness enables it to hold an edge well without being excessively difficult to sharpen.

This hardy full tang survival knife comes with a highly ergonomic handle design made from two linen Micarta handle scales attached to the tang with three Allen screws.

Not only is the handle very comfortable just like the ESEE 6, it also provides the user with the same nearly indestructible, non-slip, grip that is impervious to the absorption of moisture. ESEE finishes it off with a molded Kydex sheath which is not only extremely tough, it is also completely waterproof.


Bonus Survival Knife: SE Outdoor Tanto Knife with Firestarter

The SE outdoor Tanto knife is an excellent entry-level survival knife for preppers just getting started or those on a tight budget. It lacks all the bells and whistles of more expensive survival knives, but for the insanely low price it does its job with flying colors.

Let’s take a look at the specs:

• Blade type: Hollow ground
• Overall length: 7”
• Blade length: 3”
• Blade material: 440 stainless steel
• Rockwell Hardness: N/A
• Handle material: black matte stainless steel
• Sheath material: nylon
• Weight: 7.2 oz.

The SE Outdoor Tanto Knife is a bare and bones survival knife for survivalists that would rather have a knife than no knife at all when things go south. The blade is made of 440 stainless steel and is harder to sharpen than other survival knives on our list but once you get the hang of it resharpening is easy as pie.

The military green cord-wrapped handle is a handy detail as the heavy duty cordage can be easily unwrapped when an emergency situation demands it. Due to this survival knife’s small frame you can re-purpose it as a spear head. But don’t be fooled by the dimensions. It can also be used in making tent pegs, split kindling, and staring a fire. What’s more, because there’s an ideal balance between the blade and the handle, this survival knife is also great for throwing.

Yes, this full tang survival knife comes with a magnesium alloy firestarter for an extra fire source in your bug-out bag or survival kit. The thick nylon sheath comes with a belt loop if you want to keep this knife and the firestarter close to your body.

We do not recommend the SE Outdoor Tanto to be used as a primary survival knife, but it makes a great backup option for when things start to look really dire.

So What’s the Best Survival Knife for the Money?

So the true question always comes down to value.  What’s THE best knife I can get for my budget?  We have four survival knives on our list that we would choose that are all in a similar price range.  They all give different features and while all of the knives in our top 10 list feature some great options, there’s 4 of them that we’d take above the rest.  Those four are the following:

Best Under $100.00, around the $80.00 Price Range:  Ka-Bar Becker BK2

Coolest Looking Model under $100.00:  Gerber LMF II Survival Knife

One of the Most Trusted Survival Knives & often used in the US Military:  Ka-Bar Full Size US Marine Corps Knife

Old Faithful on the Cheap:  Buck Knives 0119 Fixed Blade Knife

As has been stated, any of the choices in this list will be a great option for your next outdoor adventure.  If we could only choose from a few survival knives, these four would be our top choices as they are economical and will last a very long time if cared for properly.


So, as you can see, there is actually quite a bit to consider when searching for the best survival knife on the market today. In fact, just trying to choose the best blade length, the best blade design, and the best blade steel make the task difficult enough. Other factors such as cutting edge design, tang construction, and the design of the handle and material from which it’s made may further complicate things too.

Rather than thinking of a survival knife as a single, all-purpose, tool, it is helpful to instead think of them as purpose specific tools consisting of heavy duty choppers, camp knives, and utility/bush craft knives.

A good heavy chopping tool is characterized by an extra heavy blade 10” to 14” in length with a weight forward design made from a high carbon tool steel such as 1095, 5160, O1, or A2 as opposed to a stainless steel and it should feature a shallow saber grind combined with a non-slip handle design made from a tough material.

You can see some blades we recommend for these purposes by checking out the article here.

A good survival knife is characterized by general purpose blade design ranging from 5 to 8 inches in length with either a deep saber grind or a flat grind made from a high quality stainless steel designed for the purpose such as AUS-8 or 440C combined with an ergonomic handle design.

A utility/bush craft knife can be either a fixed blade or a folding knife and is characterized by a much shorter blade ranging from 3 to 5 inches in length with either a flat grind or a hollow grind for superior sharpness and made from a high quality stainless steel designed for the purpose such as AUS-8 or 440C.

By thinking of survival knives as a system rather than a single, all-purpose, tool, you can combine a compact heavy chopper with a small survival knife or a large survival knife with utility knife to form a complete system that will ensure that you always have the correct knife for the job at hand.

10 Fantastic Fishing Spots in North Carolina

From the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains in the west to the gorgeous outer banks, North Carolina is full of great fishing spots. Freshwater fishing enthusiasts have many choices where to go fishing for large and smallmouth bass in the many lakes and reservoirs.

Those with a passion for streams and hiking have thousands of miles of waterways, most with stunning rainbow and speckled trout. The best fishing spots in North Carolina are easy to find, too.

If all that fishing is not enough, there is the vibrant music scene. While bluegrass may be what most people think of when someone mentions North Carolina, you can listen to any musical genre you want while discussing your big catch over a craft brew from one of the state’s many breweries.

The vibe here is very different from other places like the East coast fishing areas in Connecticut or Maine.

Get ready for a great fishing trip because North Carolina offers some excellent opportunities for saltwater fishing. You can cast a line from the shore or pick a guided trip for some deep-sea fishing that you will never forget.

So, start packing up your tackle and gear because after reading this list, you’ll want to go fishing in NC.

1. Lake Fontana

With more than 400 miles of shoreline and a water surface of 10,230 acres with a ton of different branches, Lake Fontana is one of North Carolina fishing destinations that are best suited for bass fishing. (Check out our step-by-step guide to catching big bass here).

There’s even an annual bass tournament on the lake (this year, it was held in March) were anglers can win real cash, have unrestrained access to entertainment venues, and try out the local cuisine.

You can even try your hand at trout fishing at one of the many different streams that feed into the lake. Record-breaking fish are common, making this one of the best fishing spots in North Carolina.

Make sure you are properly geared for your trip and make sure your fishing gear can stand up to some of the larger fish in the area. Bass over 10 pounds and huge catfish and muskie are routinely caught on the lake.

You can also pull up your boat and explore the ruins of old homesteads or hike a huge network of trails. The best part about Lake Fontana is that you have many options for both camping and fishing.

You may see these types of fish at Lake Fontana:

  • Largemouth or smallmouth bass
  • Kentucky Spotted Bass,
  • Walleye
  • Bluegill
  • Lake Trout
  • Muskellunge
  • Crappie
  • Crap

While there, be sure to visit Fontana Dam, which is the tallest dam on the eastern seaboard. When you are not fishing, it is worth the trip to take in this wonder. Be sure to check out Fontana Village for a bite to eat while you are there, too.

2. Jordan Lake

jordan lake

image by pixabay

Jordan Lake is a 13,940 acre reservoir in the New Hope Valley just west of Raleigh. It is a popular destination for those who want to get out of town for some quality fishing time.

It has a depth that averages 14 feet and maxes out at 38 feet, so this is a shallow lake in an area that gets hot in the summer. While Lake Fontana has shoreline does not enable easy access to the lake, Jordan lake’s 180 miles of uninterrupted shoreline can meet every fisherman’s needs.

Thanks to the many campgrounds, local shops, restaurants, and accommodation opportunities, you can either come alone or bring the whole family with you. There’s something fun and engaging to do at Lake Jordan for everyone, from junior to grandpa.

You can hook these types of fish at Jordan Lake:

  • Largemouth and smallmouth bass
  • Channel catfish
  • Black or white crappie
  • Bluegill
  • White or striped bass
  • Yellow perch

Largemouths are usually huge due to the generous aquatic vegetation that sustains and feeds the species. On average, a largemouth weighs more than 6 lbs, with the largest specimen ever caught at the lake weighing slightly over 14 pounds.

3. Lake Norman

Lake Norman is a 32,000 acre lake that draws in many anglers because it is an excellent place to fish for bass. While there are some big catfish in this lake, it also has an abundance of white perch.

Although this lake can be crowded at times, you can get good results when you put in a day fishing here. With 500 miles of shoreline, you can go off by yourself to fish and get away from the popular spots.

Excellent access and a variety of catfish means this is one of best fishing spots in North Carolina to wet a line. The types of fish you can catch at Lake Norman include:

  • Largemouth, striped, white or spotted bass
  • Channel, blue or flathead catfish
  • Black crappie
  • Bluegill
  • White and yellow Perch

The bad news is that you’ll need a fishing license to catch fish at the lake, the good news is that there are no seasonal restrictions when it comes to bass, you can catch it year-round. Striped bass should be no larger than 16″ while black bass and crappie should not exceed 14″ and 8″ in length, respectively.

For more info on the permit and fishing limitations, check out

4. Lake James

Lake James is a 6,800 cold-water lake that boasts depths of 120 feet below the surface or more. This makes Lake James the home to many different species of fish, including those enjoying cool water. This lake is a great fishing spot especially in summertime.

For those of us who want something beyond the typical bass fishing experience, there is the thrill of chasing Northern pike or tiger muskies on this beloved North Carolina lake. But the most spectacular catches are smallmouths, which are often surprisingly big.

Lake James is popular for a lot of reasons beyond fishing. It is easy to access and has plenty of boat rental and camping facilities. It also has more than one marina, unlike a lot of lakes.

Plus, thanks to the amazing scenery and its crystal clear water, Lake James is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Old North State.

Here’s what you can expect to find at the end of your line at Lake James:

  • Largemouth, white or smallmouth bass
  • Blue catfish
  • Black or white crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Northern pike
  • Tiger muskie

5. Lake Chatuge

Lake Chatuge 7,480 acre scenic lake located in the Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains along the North Carolina and Georgia border, which offers anglers over 7,000 acres of water surface in the summer. Spotted bass, white bass, largemouth bass, and hybrid bass are the most common fish you will find there.

But don’t be surprised to see a walleye on your line, too. You can use a Georgia or North Carolina fishing license, so it is a popular spot for anglers from both states.

Here are the species of fish you can catch at Lake Chatuge:

  • Largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, or hybrid striped bass
  • Channel catfish
  • Black Crappie
  • Bream
  • Bluegill
  • trout (nearby Chatuge Dam)
  • Walleye
  • and 22 more fish species.

Historically speaking, Lake Chatuge used to be the best place in Georgia to fish for smallmouth bass, but the species experienced a rapid decline after the illegal introduction of spotted bass into the lake. The blueback herring has also been an unwelcome guest in the lake since the ’90s.

Today, the most common species is the bass. The largest hybrid bass to be caught in Chatuge stood at a whopping 25 lbs 8 oz, an official state record that hasn’t been shattered to this date.

Also, the lake is known for hosting the largest walleye ever caught in the state (13 lbs, 8 oz in 1986).

6. High Rock Lake

High Rock Lake is 15,180 acres and the deep-water lake hosts some exquisite schools of bass and crappie. The large size means there is a lot of room to find your own special fishing hole to reel in the big ones. With 365 miles of shoreline, there is so much for everybody to explore.

You don’t even need a boat to wet a line thanks to the lake’s jaw-dropping 336-mile-long shoreline.

But if you really need a boat, you’ll want to check in on the boating regulations depending on what type of watercraft you plan to use. There are numerous marinas to supply your every need. You can also rent a boat to get out in the deeper parts.

Here’s the fish species that dwell in High Rock Lake:

  • Largemouth, white, and striped bass
  • Channel, flathead, and blue catfish
  • Black and white crappie
  • Bluegill

Be wary that unlike the previous two lakes on our list, the water is not clear, so make sure that you stockpile plenty of brightly colored lures and spinnerbaits.

Check video above for a gentleman’s experience while boat fishing for crappie on High Rock Lake.

7. Ocracoke Island Outer Banks

If you want to get away from it all and enjoy some great deep sea or offshore fishing, go to Ocracoke. This remote community was once a popular hangout for pirates like the infamous Blackbeard.

While there, visit Teach’s Hole for some great swimming time near the shore and bountiful fishing further out.

Ocracoke is not for the faint-hearted due to its remoteness. There are a lot of vacation rentals on the island. However, they book up fast because it is a beloved place to escape the everyday insanity of big city life.

Anglers can count on catching:

  • Drums
  • Sharks
  • Bluefish
  • Flounder
  • Spanish mackerel
  • Pompano
  • Spots
  • Croaker
  • Sea mullets

On your way to Ocracoke try fishing near Swan’s Quarter. Most people take the ferry to get to Ocracoke. However, the remoteness and tranquility of Swan’s Quarter are worth fishing, if you have the time.

8. Smoky Mountains National Park

With thousands of miles of streams to fish along, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to explore. You may know this is the most visited park in the entire National Park system.

However, most visitors only venture a few feet from their cars, leaving many places to drop a line in the water. You can discover many trout fishing spots by getting on the trail and fishing further out than most people dare to venture.

A backpacking-style fishing rod that collapses can help you have a more comfortable fishing expedition.

However, before going to the Smokies, you must purchase a state fishing license from either North Carolina or Tennessee first if you aged 13 or older. Kids aged 12 or younger are allowed to fish at no charge if they are with an adult that has purchased a permit of license.

The cost of the license largely depends on the type of fishing and the area you plan on visiting and you need to buy it before arriving at the park as you cannot buy it from the National Park Service.

All licensed anglers are allowed to fish from half an hour before dawn until half an hour after dusk (the official hours) year-round. There’s a limit to how many smallmouth bass and rainbow trout, brook, and brown trout you are allowed to take home (juts 5
per day per adult and 2 per day per kid).

9. The Tuckasegee River

If you love to fly fish, head to the Tuckasegee River, which fans have nicknamed, “The Tuck.” This gorgeous river is home to some great fly fishing.

In fact, it is one of the best fishing spots in North Carolina. For the bass fishing enthusiast, “The Tuck” offers some of the biggest smallmouth bass in the Smoky Mountain Region. This means you could catch bass that are close to eight pounds and 16 to 20 inches long.

This is a family-friendly river with good access. When you are not fishing, you can take rafting or tubing trips to cool off. Anglers on the river also enjoy catching the steelhead from Lake Fontana that start running into “The Tuck” in April.

You’ll spot trout and many other types of fish in the Tuckasegee, which is one of th ebest places in North Carolina to fish trout. However, don’t be surprised by the size of Tuckasegee River (around 40 to 100 yards in width).

The Catch-and-release period starts on Oct. 1st and continues through early June. It is a great fishing spot for beginner and advanced fishing enthusiasts alike that don’t mind catching mostly medium-sized fish. There are also many other great fishing spots nearby, like Fontana Lake and the Nantahala River.

10. The Nantahala River

Just down the road from the Tuckaseegee is the Nantahala River, one the best 100 trout-fishing rivers in North America and a popular place for national fly fishing championships.

It offers hands-down some of the best trout fishing experiences the state has to offer but you’ll need a state fishing license from NC with a trout stamp on it first.

This family-friendly river provides excellent fly fishing. You’ll want to avoid some parts of the river frequented by rafting trips, but there are plenty of choice spots.

This is a cold river, so you will want to wear some good waders. You’ll also need some outdoor clothing, even during the spring and summer months. This river is especially a great place to cool off from the summer heat.

The most common fish species here include:

  • Wild/stocked brown trout
  • Wild/stocked rainbow trout

The hatchery-supported ares are closed in March.

Bonus North Carolina Fishing Destination: Sutton Lake

When it comes to bass fishing, North Carolina has plenty of destinations to choose from. One of the best bass fishing lakes in North Carolina is an interesting place called Sutton Lake. The lake is a power plant cooling reservoir known statewide for its impressive largemouth population.

Sutton Lake has unusually warm waters even during winter months because of a nearby powerplant whose discharge keeps water temperatures of all the lake’s seven ponds into the 70s and 80s even in winter.

This fact makes the lake a surprising fishing oasis for all bass die-hards during the cold months. In addition, from December 1 through March 31 anglers are barred from keeping the catch. This translates into trophy-sized captures in late March and April.

Beside largemouth bass, Sutton lake hosts several other species:

  • Black crappie
  • Sunfish
  • Bluegill
  • Flathead catfish

Last-Minute NC Fishing Tips

Sometimes the best fishing spots in North Carolina are where you must hike to. People fish out the easy to reach spots sooner.

So, if you can, try to catch fishing holes that require a 30 minute to one hour hike to reach. Here are some more fishing tips for you:

  • Pay attention to individual area rules. Fishing in N.C. is great but there are some areas that have different rules than others. Catch and release-only areas can sometimes be on one section of a river while on another, you can keep your catch if you meet the size limits.
  • Some spots are becoming more crowded. North Carolina is a beautiful state that is wonderful to live in and the secret is out. With more people deciding to make their home in the area or vacation to N.C., some of the choice spots are crowded. Going at non-peak times can help, too. You can also find a spot closer yet far far away from the crowd.
  • Book lodging, guided trips, and boat rentals well ahead of time. During busy times of the year boats and lodging, as well as guided fishing trips can book up quickly. If you are determined to go to a certain popular place, the sooner you book the better. Guided fishing trips can be hard to get, especially if you have just shown up. Check out Airbnb and VRBO for affordable rates on local lodging.
  • Expand your fishing knowledge. There are a lot of great places that offer lessons and chartered trips if you want to learn a different way to fish or get out from the shoreline. If you have never fly fished, sign up with a local guide to learn the best techniques.

If you have any spots that you think we’ve missed, feel free to drop us a line on Facebook or by email (subscribe to our list) and let us know!

Featured image by: Pixabay

Best Fishing Locations in Illinois: Top 10 Spots to Visit for Your Next Catch

Illinois attracts many fishermen as a recreational sport with its many fishing tournaments. It is one of the best states to fish in in the Midwest as the Illinois fishery management has created many breeding reservoirs for recreational use.

Fishing in Illinois can be fun for anglers of all levels of skill because the Prairie State’s is abundant in natural lakes that are packed with large catfish and largemouth bass.

You’ll find a wide variety of fish here, just like you would in states like Connecticut or North Carolina. (Check out our full guide to catching the best fish in North Carolina here.)

If you are planning a fishing trip to Illinois, the many options might overwhelm you. But, fear not because here is a list of the top 10 tried-and-tested locations for a great fishing expedition. Keep reading so you can choose your favorite.

1. Mississippi River

The Mississippi River spreads across most of the United States, from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The mighty Mississippi River is as long as it is muddy. But this river rewards anglers with some of the best trophy catches.

While fishing in Illinois, you can test your mettle by landing a jumbo catfish. All it takes is the right bait. During the day, you can scavenge for hidden caves for catfish and then return at night to snatch them when they are feeding.

Here’s what you can catch in Mississippi’s muddy waters:

  • Largemouth and smallmouth bass
  • Sauger
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Walleye
  • Catfish (the most spectacular catfish, though, can be found in the Louisiana segment of the river)
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch

Due to the vastness of the river, around 3,000 miles, it is widely believed that one could spend their entire lifetime casting a line on a 30-mile segment and would not be able to unlock all that portion’s secrets.

The Mississippi river is both immense and majestic, an earthly paradise for all sport fishing enthusiasts.

2. Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is one of the top places to fish in the entire state of Illinois.  It’s near Chicago, making it a great location for tourists with families, and giving you plenty to do if you decide to explore other outdoor activities than fishing.

Reelers of all levels of experience can enjoy boating on the lake. They do have a maximum speed limit of 55MPH on the lake, which shouldn’t be a problem for most anglers, unless you decide to do some speedboating in between your fishing expeditions.

There are also “slow” areas where you need to watch your speed and your wake.  It’s also a great place for kayaking and overall exploring some of the more beautiful scenery in the Chicago area.

In winter and early spring, you can also go ice fishing on Lake Michigan.  Make sure you bring your favorite Auger along.

The best part about Lake Michigan is that it hosts the greatest variety of fish among all of Illinois lakes. It has almost any species of fish one could catch in Illinois and more, including trout, salmon, and the voracious pike. (Click here for some less-known fishing tips if you are into Northern pike).

Here are some of the types of fish you can expect to catch out on Lake Michigan in no particular order, depending on where you end up (it’s a big lake).

  • Salmon
  • Bass
  • Crappie
  • Whitefish
  • Smelt
  • Lake trout and/or brown Trout
  • Walleye
  • Northern Pike
  • Muskie
  • Steelhead

3. Heidecke Lake

Heidecke Lake is a former cooling lake for the Collins Station Power Plant that has been out of service for more than 10 years. They have some rules to follow for fishing Heidecke lake, so be sure to review them before you go.

The lake is unique in structure because it has a perched part for better cooling, but it can be risky when it is windy.

The lake also varies in depth, so it is advisable to use a fish finder to locate schools of fish. There is not much vegetation there, but there is also less timber in the water.

It’s a great place to find a wide variety of fish, so you’ll want to have a variety of gear that can be tweaked on the spot to handle just about any type of fish.

Heidecke Lake now holds the title of an ambient lake that provides a wide variety of fish including:

  • Smallmouth, striped, largemouth or yellow bass
  • Walleye
  • Muskellunge
  • Hybrid striped bass
  • Channel catfish
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Bullhead

While fishing along the banks, you might get surprised by trophy-sized smallmouths (which this lake happens to be abundant in), walleye, hybrid striped bass (the last two species are more likely in spring).

4. Lake Springfield

When fishing in Illinois, you may want to visit Lake Springfield, a beautiful parkland with abundant wildlife. Woods and bluffs surround the shoreline. Anglers in the area can encounter wildlife like deer, turkey, and even eagles in the winter season.

Amenities include the nature park, picnic shelters, and a boathouse that offers a view of the lake and which you can rent for special occasions .

Anglers can rent a kayak or canoe, too, to go out on the lake. The warm water from the plant affects only one-fourth of the lake where schools of bass search for plankton.

Anglers can hook a variety of fish here as well including:

5. Crab Orchard Lake

Crab Orchard Lake is an artificial lake they constructed for flood prevention and recreational purposes. It is a 7,000-acre paradise for water skiers, swimmers, campers and fishermen.

They also allow all manners of water transportation without restrictions. Lotus planting and introducing largemouth bass every year have stabilized the local bass population.

The creel limit for largemouth bass is three per day and they must be larger than 16 inches. Spinnerbaits and artificial lures produce the best results for largemouth bass.

You can hook any of these fish species in Crab Orchard Lake:

  • Channel catfish
  • Crappie
  • White and largemouth bass
  • Bluegill

6. Devils Kitchen Lake 

Devils Kitchen Lake features a large amount of largemouth bass spreading over 810 acres. With steep slopes and sandstone valleys, the deep Devils Kitchen Lake is a sight to behold.

Clear waters and submerged timber make the ideal habitat for fishing. But there is a 10 horsepower limit on outboard motors. Plus, the southeast part of the lake is accessible only to boats with electric motors or by pedaling.

The lake has standard site regulations on fishing, including what types of watercraft you can use. The regulations and constant efforts of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are contributing to the healthy numbers of fish in Devils Kitchen Lake.

Here’s what you can find on the end of your line:

  • Rainbow trout
  • Bluegill
  • Redear sunfish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Yellow perch
  • Crappie

7. Rend Lake 

When most people think about fishing in Illinois, they think of Rend Lake, a reservoir with a longshore close to Benton, Illinois.

The depth of this lake varies from 10 to 35 feet, which is enough for fisherman to explore. You can also get a guide or an eight-hour boat trip with supplies like water, bait and tackle.

There is a golf course at Rend Lake, too, making it a versatile place for fishing in Illinois.

The park also offers camping sites, museum tours, hiking and cycling. There are lots of largemouth bass, but you can only take those larger than the 14-inch minimum length.

Anglers can expect to find one of these fish species in Rend Lake:

  • Largemouth or white bass
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Channel, blue or flathead catfish
  • Carp

8. Evergreen Lake 

Evergreen Lake is a man-made pond in Central Illinois they built back in 1970. It still attracts people who love fishing in Illinois with its many eye-pleasing areas, lots of greenery, and camping facilities.

Whether you are a professional reeler in a rowboat or a landlubber on the shore, you’ll see plenty of fish. You can rent a paddle or rowboat for a fair price.

However, there’s a 10 HP limit for motorized boats on the Evergreen Lake, just like on any state-owned body of waters in Illinois to encourage a quiet fishing environment. What’s more, starting Oct. 1st until January 1st, gas-powered motors are completely forbidden in the Southern parts of the lake to protect migratory birds.

All in all Evergreen Lake, IL, is a beautiful and peaceful place for fishing or having a day out with family – the trails are very well-kept and there are many well-run camping grounds and play areas for children around the lake.

If the horsepower limit is not an issue, you can snag these fish at Evergreen Lake:

9. Sand Pond

Sand Pond may only be a small pond, but it offers a place of relaxation on its sandy shores. You can fish with choirs of western chorus and leopard frogs in the background. In the summer, the marsh-like pond is full of dragonflies and places for catfish to hide. This location is a must-go-to for landlubbers of all skills.

In the spring the trout almost jump on your hook. But there is a creel limit of one largemouth bass a day. You may even encounter waterfowl or Canadian geese, but stay away because th
ey are protective of their young. They don’t allow boats or wading in Sand Pond.

Landlubbers can cast their lines and catch these fish:

  • Bluegill
  • Channel catfish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Rainbow trout

10. Fox Chain O’ Lakes

The Fox Chain O’ Lakes is an impressive 987-acre fishing location with 488 miles of shoreline for anglers of all stripes very close to Chicago. The chain is a continuous string of lakes on the Fox River, without counting 5 adjacent lakes, that makes a fantastic fishing and boating location.

The deeper waters of the Fox Chain are heavily populated with motorized watercraft, especially in the weekends, thanks to the lakes’ close proximity to Chicago and Madison (steer clear of Fox Lake if you’re a peace-seeking angler at the end of the week).

The chain has been described as “the busiest, most used inland waterway per acre” in America.

But there are plenty of spots – look for shallower waters, where you can have your fishing fix in peace while admiring the natural scenery. The lakes are packed with bluegill, large-mouths, small-mouths, catfish, and walleye.

If bluegill is what you’re after, set camp on the 45-foot deep Catherine Lake. For Northern pike and trophy-sized bass head to Channel Lake. For a peaceful day bank fishing and excellent panfish, choose Buff Lake or Petite Lake, two smaller ponds in the chain.

Grass Lake is the shallowest in the chain (3 ft) but it is home to plenty of pike, catfish, and bass. For muskie, head to Fox Lake, but since it is heavily boat populated over the weekends get help from a local guide or do it yourself in off-season or during the week.

Even better, Lake Shabbona, which is a two-hour drive from Fox, is reportedly jam-packed with muskies. You can’t get back empty-handed from Shabbona.

The Fox Chain lakes aren’t short of campgrounds, bait shops, marinas, swimming locations, and local guides to fishing hot spots.

The guides specialized on catching the elusive muskie, or ‘Musky’ in local slang, are some of the best in the state, so if you’re looking for an adrenaline-packed fishing expedition that’s hard to forget don’t hesitate to book a trip beforehand. And bring Junior with you.

In wintertime, some of the lakes make great spots for ice fishing but check the state and local regulations for such endeavor before embarking on a fishing trip.

Here are the fish species that you’re most likely to see on the end of your line at the Fox Chain O’ Lakes:

  • Bluegill
  • Bass
  • Flathead catfish
  • Northern Pike
  • Walleye
  • Muskie
  • Black and white crappie
  • Perch
  • Other panfish

Bonus Lake: Lake Shelbyville

Lake Shelbyville marina

Lake Shelbyville is a man-made wonder in central Illinois. This artificial reservoir with 11,100 acres of pool surface and 172 miles of shoreline turns 50 this year.

The lake was originally build to shield Kaskaskia River Valley of rampant flooding, but in the meantime it has turned into a beloved attraction for anglers and vacationers alike.

With eight public beaches, just as many public campgrounds, 3 marinas, and more than 1,000 campsites, there’s plenty to do at the lake. Lake Shelbyville attracts throngs of anglers especially from early May to late June when the most predominant fish species, the white bass, can be caught by the hundreds.

It is estimated that around one million white bass now call Lake Shelbyville their home, with many fishing stories claiming that the white bass population there is so abundant that anglers can catch bass at almost every cast.

Other popular fish species at Lake Shelbyville include:

  • Bigmouth buffalo (trophy up to 20 lbs)
  • Muskie
  • Walleye
  • Carp (very popular with bowfishing enthusiasts)
  • Crappie (there were reported record catch rates in the last couple of years)
  • Freshwater drum
  • Sauger
  • Yellow bass
  • Striped bass fingerlings

Final Thoughts

There’s no shortage of amazing fishing spots in Illinois. The Prairie State’s wide system of lakes and rivers offers plenty of room for both beginner and advanced anglers to cast a line and be rewarded royally soon afterward.

All Illinois fishing destinations on our list offer countless opportunities to catch some jaw-dropping trophy fish to remember for a lifetime. No wonder Illinois is currently one of the best places to throw a line in the Midwest.

How to Hunt Squirrel: 13 Hunting Tips (Best Times, Guns, & More)

It’s a question that drives you nuts. Should you hunt squirrel? Also, how do you hunt squirrel? Thankfully there is an answer to each of these questions.

Finding squirrels like the red squirrel, western gray squirrel, round-tailed ground squirrel or tree squirrel in the woods is exhilarating. You can get quite a bit of squirrel meat off these small game mammals, too.

Squirrel meat can be delicious when you beer batter and fry it. You can also use it in stews or barbecue it. Some people wrap the legs in bacon and toss them on the grill, too.

Squirrel hunting helps control overabundant squirrel populations. You can use a squirrel’s coat or hide for many purposes. Squirrel hunting requires planning and preparing, as well as having the right gear and equipment.

Always keep an eye on what you are doing when hunting squirrels. Safety is a crucial factor when you are out there on the hunt for these pesky little rodents. Take the time to find the best weapon to bring along, so you can be safer and more successful during your small game hunt.

1. Review the Legal Terms

Most importantly, you must have the legal right to go squirrel hunting. Before you head off to the woods, get a small game license (you need licenses for almost all types of game) for the place you are going to hunt.

The terms for attaining a license vary by state or province. So, review the regulations for hunting squirrels in your specific area.

You might only be able to go hunting during specific times of the year when it is squirrel season. This season takes place in most regions during the fall and winter months. The dates vary by each place. There are also rules on where you can hunt.

You may be allowed to hunt on a certain state or provincial park grounds. Some places require you ask for direct permission from the property owner before you start hunting.

Check the bag limits, too. There may be a limit to how many squirrels you can hunt in one day, as well as during an entire season.

2. Choose the Right Time

Look for squirrels during the early morning or late afternoon hours because squirrels are most active at these times. Morning is when squirrels go out to look for food.

It is easy and necessary for them to find food early in the day when they are at their hungriest.  Avoid hunting squirrels in inclement weather, as like deer, they move around and can be harder to track.

Late afternoon to early evening is when squirrels bring food back to their habitats. This is when most squirrels are busy foraging, so you should be able to spot them moving around.

3. Look in the Right Places

Plan your hunts in areas where you are the most likely to find squirrels. Check areas where there are lots of trees. These include trees that produce nuts and other items squirrels commonly consume. An oak tree is one of the most popular places to see squirrels.

Any tree that produces the types of nuts or fruit that squirrels enjoy is the place to locate squirrels. Be aware of the type of trees in the area, so you can determine if they are places squirrels may be searching for food.

4. Find the Best Weapon for Squirrel Hunting

Shop around to get the right squirrel hunting weapon before leaving on a hunting trip. Do some target practice using a small game weapon that works best for squirrels.

In the end, choosing the right squirrel hunting weapon boils down to personal choice. Here are the best weapons for squirrel hunting in my opinion:

The Shotgun

Shotgun Squirrel Hunting

Use a shotgun to cover a larger amount of space during your hunt. The spread of a shotgun shell can cover much of a squirrel’s body at once, thus ensuring a better chance of a kill without damaging too much meat.

Be sure to aim the shotgun carefully so it targets the precise area you want to shoot.

Look for a six-shot because it is large enough to target a squirrel without ruining the flesh. Also, choose a barrel 26 inches in length or greater so the shell will move precisely.

Remember, a shotgun will make a loud sound with each round. The noise will most likely scare the other squirrels away. Focus on being precise and cautious when shooting at squirrels or any other small game, for that matter.

When you take aim, remember that the spread on the shotgun shell will move outward a few centimeters after you shoot.

The .22 Caliber Rifle

22 Rifle Hunting Squirrel

The second option for a weapon to use is a .22 caliber rifle (my favorite). This rifle uses a smaller ammunition that targets the squirrel  and other smaller game with precision.

The ammo will not damage much of the squirrel meat, either. A .22 caliber rifle produces a longer range than a shotgun. The rifle also lets you go after just one part of the squirrel’s body.

Aim to be accurate and hold your firearm steady. Fortunately, most .22 caliber rifles come with an automatic reloading feature. This feature lets you add multiple rounds into the rifle before you start shooting and release one of the rounds every time you fire the trigger.

Be sure to regularly clean the muzzle and barrel to get a more accurate shot.

This rifle works best when you attach a scope to it. A scope gives you a clearer view of your target. It is also important to take wind, elevation, and distance into account when using a scope.

Bow and Arrow

Bow Hunting Squirrel

Another option for hunting squirrels is with a bow and arrow. But take note that most squirrels are small and less than a foot in length.

Because they are so small, it could be difficult to hunt squirrels with a large bow and arrow.  In other words, leave your deer hunting bows at home.

You should sharpen any arrow you use so it can pierce the squirrel’s body with ease. Even so, any arrow you aim incorrectly could cut through too much of the squirrel’s body, leaving little meat or fur to use.

The Air Rifle

While this might not look daunting, an air gun can be deadly to squirrels, and it is the cheaper option of the bunch. Air rifles are best suited for small game like fowl, rabbits and squirrels.

The only major downside is that it requires a lot of practice for a humane kill, as the area that you must hit is very small for an instant kill.

If you want the animal to die instantly and avoid needless pain or tons of frustration, aim for a head shot, which is also difficult to pull off on such small targets. Plus, larger squirrels can absorb multiple hits and evade if you miss the head.

Here’s some smooth action with an air rifle:

5. Spotting Squirrels

Spotting Squirrels when Hunting

Once you have the weapon of choice primed and ready to go, it’s time to search for areas where you are more likely to find squirrels.

Begin by looking at the types of trees and foliage where squirrels like to forage and live.

There are a handful squirrel hunting tips you can use for finding squirrels. Some tips don’t necessarily require visually spotting the squirrels, but rather hearing them.

Be sure to look or listen carefully, so you know exactly what you are shooting at:

  • Listen to squirrels as they move through the leaves. Squirrels often hide in foliage and other shady, protected areas.
  • Listen for the sounds of cutting, hulling and scrapping. This is when squirrels scrape and nibble at nuts and acorns, dropping pieces on the ground and leaves. It sounds similar to raindrops. Also, look for cuttings on the ground. This is a sign that a squirrel is up in a tree and eating something.
  • Squirrels often make noises as they climb trees. You should hear the sound of tree bark rustling or sections of bark falling.

Also, remember that squirrels have many colors to their coats. While most squirrels have brownish coats, you may also see some gray, red or white tones. Some squirrels in Canada have shiny black coats, too.

6. How Big Do Squirrels Get?

A typical squirrel can weigh from 0.75 to 1.5 pounds. This small size makes it all the more important to be precise when shooting at a squirrel.

You must be as accurate as possible when shooting so you do not damage the meat that could happen when hunting these small mammals.

7. How Far Can You Shoot?

You should shoot a squirrel from approximately 20 to 35 yards away. This distance is far enough to allow your shotgun shell or arrow to target the proper spot. It also helps you avoid scattering the rest of the squirrel’s body far and wide.

Although you can shoot further away when you use a .22 caliber rifle, you will be more likely to get an accurate shot from a closer distance. Consider your weapon and the size of your target when hunting squirrel.

8. Moving While Hunting

Be cautious when moving around while hunting. You need to be as quiet as possible. Avoid stepping on anything wet or damp. Stay away from sticks and other items, too. Debris and wet surfaces make more noise than other things.

Avoid walking directly towards a squirrel to get a better shot. The squirrel will most likely notice you as you get closer and scurry away instantly.

9. Use Bait If You Can

One helpful tip for hunting squirrels is to add bait to the area. The right kind of bait can attract squirrels effectively.

Peanuts, sunflower seeds and other common nuts are worth adding to your bait trap. After all, most squirrels cannot resist such treats.

Nuts, seeds and fruit can create an irresistible smell for squirrel – and from a decent distance. Add peanut butter to your bait to create an even stronger smell.

Oranges or other fruit make a sweet-smelling bait. Make sure they are fresh, so the fruit will produce a strong smell and squirrels will spot them easily.

Always keep the bait in a contained area. Put the bait in a space that encourages the squirrel to stick around for a while. Observe how the mammal moves around and if it stays in the same spot while eating.

By keeping the squirrel still, you get some extra time to aim and shoot the squirrel.

10. Where to Shoot a Squirrel

The best place to shoot a squirrel is in the head area. The brain is the best spot as it ensures the squirrel will die nearly instantly. This lessens suffering, and preserves the fur and meat.

If it is too challenging to aim for the head, aim for the heart. It is located near the upper body not too far from the neck. Shooting the body, like a deer – isn’t something you should consider if you are trying to retain any edible portions of meat.

Watch the squirrel carefully when aiming, and try to shoot at it while it is still. Shooting while a squirrel is moving around could hurt your chances of getting a clear shot while also ruining the fur and meat.

Try not to shoot a squirrel directly from the front or behind. Wait to get a perfect side shot of a squirrel. Shooting such a small mammal from the front or back could force the bullet or arrow to penetrate too much of the body.

This will cause too much damage overall, so you’ll end up poor quality meat.

11. Ground Squirrel Hunting is Best

It is safer to shoot at a squirrel on the ground. You may have the opportunity to shoot at a squirrel in a tree, but that could be risky. If you happen to shoot a weak branch of a tree, it could come down on you.

Also, the squirrel could fall off the tree and hit the ground hard, causing damage to the meat. Even worse, you could shoot at a squirrel in a tree that may just stay there, especially if the tree branch or ledge is thick or large.

12. Safety Points

Before you go out hunting squirrel, make sure you know the top safety rules for hunters. Some are simple common sense, while others may be new to you. Be sure to take all the precautions you can to stay safe while out in the field, such as:

  • Check your firearms before you go out hunting. Keep the muzzle and chamber of your gun clean, so no debris is in the way.
  • Stay far from the squirrel if possible. Use binoculars to see from a far distance.
  • Avoid hunting near damaged or broken trees. Branches and other parts of the tree—if not the entire tree—could fall off and hurt someone.
  • Point your firearm down to the ground when you are not using it. Make this a habit every time you go hunting.
  • Do not place your finger on the trigger guard area until you are ready to shoot. All it takes is a slight movement to make a gun go off, so be aware of where your finger is at all times.
  • You and everyone else in your hunting party should wear bright clothes. Such outfits make everyone easier to spot.
  • Check how clear your line of fire is before shooting. Do not shoot until you can see the target perfectly.
  • Never go after a moving target. Always go after squirrels that are sitting still so you can aim better.
  • Avoid hunting when it is windy out. Wind can cause your ammo to shift and miss its target. The wind speed is especially important for a .22 caliber rifle, because the bullets are small and lightweight.

13. Patience is a Virtue

The most important aspect of squirrel hunting being patient. Squirrels are highly energetic critters, so they move around a lot. They are quick and hardly ever sit still at certain times of the day. Wait and be careful when you aim at one.

You might have to stay in the same spot for 10 to 30 minutes at a time. But, when you are patient, you will eventually get the shot you want.

The perfect shot will give you the most out of your hunt. If you have never gone, squirrel hunting is a fun activity worth trying.

It’s a thrill to find and hunt squirrels because you get food and fur to use. It is also a outdoor pasttime more people are enjoying nowadays.

Just make sure everything you take with you is safe to use and do it legally. Be safe and enjoy the squirrel hunt by preparing and packing the right gear.

Best Pocket Knife for EDC [2020]: 20 Folding Knife Reviews


Buying a knife used to be easier. But now, whether you are buying a survival knife, pocket knife, or just looking at any manufacturer’s website to gather information, it can get quite confusing.

There was a time when most people’s idea of an “everyday carry” knife consisted of one of the many different types of traditional pocket knife patterns.  Their idea of a tactical folder was an Italian-style stiletto, not the modern looking EDC knives you see today.

These days, there seems to be a mass exodus away from the traditional pocket knife patterns of old to what seems to be a long line of various designs of tactical folders which can also serve very well as every-day-carry knives.

In this article, we will talk about both modern and traditional knife patterns because both forms of knives are completely viable options as knives that you can use and carry every day.

Below we’ve put together a quick comparison chart of our three favorites.  If you like in-depth guides, take a look at our buyer’s guide along with all 20 of our top picks, along with pictures & specs for each knife.


Kershaw Ken Onion Blur




Benchmade 940 Osborne




Buck 110 Traditional Pocket Knife




In the comparison chart above, you will find our top three picks, each in their own category:

1.Overall Value: Great combination of both quality and budget combined
2.High End: The perfect choice if budget isn’t an issue
3.Traditional: Top old school traditional pick

If you still need more help picking the right knife for your needs, our Buyer’s Guide & Advice section should help you along the way.

We’ve also broken each of our top choices down in more detail which you can get to easily, by using the menu below.

Pocket Knife Buyer’s Guide:

There are two schools of pocket knives (for the most part).   Some people would argue that you have a smaller subset of pocket knives that are considered more military style and tactical in use.  We stand by that most of the knives we’d recommend for military or tactical use should be fixed blade knives and not something that’s a basic EDC pocket knife. Bushcraft knives should be shorter in nature and also have a fixed blade.

Today’s knives for the most part fall into two buckets which are Modern Pocket Knives and Traditional Pocket knives.  Let’s look at the basic differences and uses of each type in more detail below.

1. Traditional vs. Modern Folding Pocket Knife Patterns: 

The Origins of the Traditional Pocket Knife Style:  Unlike the modern crop of folding every day carry knives, many traditional patterns were specifically designed to meet the needs of people in specific professions. For instance, the Stockman pattern was originally developed for use by farmers, ranchers, and stockyard workers who used their pocket knives to trim hooves and spay and neuter livestock. The Pen Knife was originally developed for use by clerks, bankers, and layers to use when sharpening their quill pens.  Traditionally styled folding knives are also a favorite of knife collectors.

Another classic patterns is the Barlow (which is available in different sizes) because it does an excellent job of filling the need for an all-purpose knife.  Traditional designs would encompass all traditional folding knife patterns such as the iconic buck 110 Folding Hunter and the Buck 112 Ranger as well as all classic patterns such as the Barlow, the Stockman, the Sunfish, the Pen, ect.  Schrade does an excellent job in the video describing some the basic traditional knife models in more detail.

There ere are six designs commonly used on traditional pocket knife patterns consisting of straight backs, clip points, drop points, spear points, sheep’s foot, spey, and Wharncliffe. They can be combined with numerous different handle patterns. A knife with a Clip Point, a Sheep’s Foot, and a Spey blade combined with a Serpentine handle design is always called a Stockman pattern. Choosing a traditional pattern is really a matter of personal preference depending on how you intend to use it.

The Origins of the Modern EDC/Tactical Pocket Knife Style:  However, because so many of the jobs that once required a man to carry a “working knife” on a daily basis are no longer existent, the modern “everyday carry” knife has evolved from the traditional folding lockback to a much more tactical design. The two patterns are very distinct from one another when placed side by side.

The more modern knife patterns are extremely popular due to technological advances in modern day design and these newer modern designs typically surpass more traditional knife designs depending on the intended use of the knife. Your more modern looking knives typically stand up to abuse and serve really well in areas of labor that require a knife with more aggressive features. This just means that someone who installs carpet may be more apt to stick to a Spyderco than a traditional folding Buck Knives model.

Modern looking tactical folding knives came about in the 1990s as more aggressive looking knives became popular.  We think these knives are a great option for someone that needs a good option for basic everyday carry, but we wouldn’t rely on them as a sole self defense knife. For that purpose, we’d rely on a full tang fixed blade knife due to the durability and the lack of a break point that a fixed blade knife has.

2. Finding the Optimal Blade Size:  

Most modern folding knives are generally medium to large size, and traditional pocket knives are usually available in small, medium, and large sizes to meet various needs.

A “gentleman’s knife” is always small so that it will ride comfortably in a dress pants pocket and will be non-threatening to coworkers when you need to use it. Whereas, a working pocket knife is usually a large size knife so that the blades are easy to open and the handle fills your hand when you grasp it and thus, a medium sized knife is meant to be a compromise between small gentleman’s pocket knife and large working pocket knife.

Because most modern everyday carry folding knives feature pocket clips for vertical carry on the edge of a pocket, they do not require belt sheaths. Most traditional folding knives do require a belt sheath which some people like while others don’t.

3. Blade Design (Modern Everyday Carry, Traditional, etc.):

 Traditional vs. Modern Folding knife Designs Compared StylesWhen choosing either a modern folding knife or a traditional folding knife pattern, the first step is to decide whether your main purpose for the knife is work or self defense since the two blade designs are very different from each other.

Modern designs usually feature either a clip point or a drop point blade design because they place the tip of the blade closer to the center of the blade where the cross section is more narrow. This makes the point sharper for easier piercing. It also notably limits the amount of sweep the blade has even if a deep belly is included.

Working knives are far more often used for cutting and slicing than piercing.  They generally feature blade designs with extended cutting edges and a mild sweep to the belly specifically designed to maximize the length of the cutting edge.  Blade designs with points that are located at or near the center line of the blade tend to be better suited for tactical use.  Blade designs with the tip located well above the center line of the blade tend to be better suited for general purpose use.

When choosing a traditional pattern, you have the choice between two, three, and four different blades contained within the same handle and each blade can be of a different shape.

Both the clip point and the spear point designs are meant to be general purpose blade designs.  The spey exhibits an extra deep belly for an extended cutting edge on the sweep which makes it good for slicing and whittling.  Sheep’s Foot and Wharncliffe blade designs provide a straight edge all of the way to the tip and thus, they provide a short, highly aggressive, cutting edge.

The Pen blade on a Barlow or a Pen knife is perfect for removing staples and other small jobs.  Many outdoorsmen favor the Muskrat pattern which features two large clip point blades or the Trapper pattern which has both a long clip point and a long spey blade. The Stockman makes the ultimate working knife pattern with its clip point, sheep’s foot, and spey blade.

4. The Different Types of Blade Steels:   

Pocket Knife Getting Forged BladeWhen choosing either a modern every day carry knife or a traditional folding knife or modern pocket knife pattern, blade steel is something to consider. Blade Steels are first divided into two categories consisting of stainless steels and non-stainless, high carbon tool steels.  Each type of steel has different properties.

High carbon tool steels are generally significantly tougher than stainless steels due their grain structure.  They are generally not as wear resistant as stainless steels and they are slightly more prone to corrosion.

Stainless steels on the other hand are generally not as tough as high carbon tool steels and they are more inclined to break under duress. They are also significantly less prone to corrosion due to the inclusion of at least 12.5 percent Chromium and sometimes a little Nickel thrown in for good measure. Stainless blades are more difficult to sharpen than high carbon tool steels and they won’t take quite as fine an edge. They will however hold their edge longer than a high carbon steel of an equal Rockwell Hardness.

In fact, the Rockwell Hardness of the blade is another important consideration when choosing a knife. This is important because the softer a blade is, the less it holds an edge and it’s less likely to break. The harder a blade is, the better it will hold an edge but, the more inclined it will be to break.

Softer blades are easier to sharpen whereas, harder blades are more difficult to sharpen. Bladesmiths use something called the Rockwell Scale C to measure the hardness of knife blades. A tough knife blade would have a Rockwell Hardness of 50-53 HRC, while a hard knife blade would have a Rockwell Hardness of 58-62 HRC.  Knife blades with a Rockwell Hardness of 54-57 are a good compromise between toughness and edge holding ability.

All modern every day carry knives and most traditional pattern folding knives are made from stainless steel. There are a few companies that still produce both types of pocket knives with blades made from high carbon tool steels.

The same is true for traditional pattern pocket knives and pocket knives with high carbon tool steel blades.  They are shinny when the knife is first removed from the box. A couple of days of continuous carry in a pocket will cause the blades to develop a dark brown patina which actually helps to prevent corrosion. This is normal and not something to worry about.

5. Pocket Knife Handle Design: 

Messer im Gegenlicht der SonneWhen choosing a traditional pattern, there are numerous different handle patterns to choose from. There is the Swell End Jack, the Serpentine, the Peanut, the Sunfish, the Canoe, the Coke Bottle, ect.

In most cases, specific handle shapes are always paired with certain designs.  When choosing a traditional design, you first choose the type and number of blades you want and simply accept the handle design that accompanies it. The Barlow with a Swell End Jack handle pattern and the Stockman with a Serpentine handle pattern are among the most popular designs.

Most modern designs are simpler and are made based on functionality and intended use, rather than sticking to a pattern that more traditional models have for years.

Traditional style handle scales range from many different types of synthetic materials such as Delrin, Mica Pearl, and Kirinite. There can also be many different types of natural materials such as exotic hardwoods, jigged bone, and Stag antler.  Your choice should depend on your intended purpose for the knife.

For instance, if you are purchasing a working knife, you would probably want a tough material such as Delrin. If you are choosing a gentleman’s accessory, then you would want a decorative material such as Mother of Pearl or Abalone.


Best Modern Folding Pocket Knives: Our Picks for 2020:

Because a full list of high quality pocket knives for the modern user is simply too extensive, we have instead hand picked for you 13 of the best EDC knife picks on the market today.

1. Kershaw Blur Folding Knife: 

The Kershaw Blur Folding Knife might be the best pocket knife on our list so far, and also the best EDC knife for the money in our opinion.  Kershaw is known for quality and sturdiness, but this knife is also very budget friendly, while not skimping on durability.

While Benchmade should be your go-to if you have the money, the Kershaw Blur, gives you a sleek and simple design as well as comfort and utility all in one package.

Specs for the Kershaw Blur:

Kershaw Blur EDC Pocket Knife• Overall Length: 7.875 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.375
• Blade Type: Drop Point
• Blade Material: 14C28N Stainless
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: Aluminum
• Weight: 3.9 oz.

Its practical design and additional safety measures make it a top pick for the cost.  It features a closed length of 4 1/2 inches and a length of 3 3/8 inches.  It has a thumb stud which helps assist in opening and closing the blade with one or both hands.

The blade made from 6061-T6 Anondized aluminum and comes with a speed safe opener for additional safety.  This is important if you plan on keeping it in your pocket every day.


2. Benchmade 940 Osborne Design Knife: 

The Benchmade 940 Osborne is the cream of the crop.  In fact, we feature this knife in a detailed breakdown right here.  Benchmade has made it’s mark by having some of the top quality pocket knives on the market and the 940 Osborne is no different.  While price is always a factor, equally important is the quality of the knife.

Benchmade 940 Osborne Folding KnifeSpecs for the Benchmade 940:

• Overall Length: 7.87 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.4 Inches
• Blade Type: Reverse Tanto
• Blade Material: S30V Stainless
• Rockwell Hardness: 58-60 HRC
• Handle Material: G-10
• Weight: 2.65 oz.

The 940 is by far one of the higher quality knives on our list, but it comes with a higher price tag as a result.  It’s a premium folder that comes equipped with a pocket clip on one side, making it ideal for everyday carry.

It has a 3.4 inch stainless steel blade with an ambidextrous thumb stud which makes this a great option if you are a lefty.  When extended the knife measures 7.87 inches from top to bottom.


3. Spyderco Endura 4: 

Like the Tenacious Combo Edge, the Endura 4 has a serrated edge blade and it’s made from VG-10 high carbon steel. The blade itself is titanium carbonitride coated to help prevent against rust.

Spyderco Endura 4Specs for the Spyderco Endura 4:

• Overall Length: 8.75 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.75 Inches
• Blade Type: Drop Point
• Blade material: VG-10 Stainless
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: Fiber Reinforced Nylon
• Weight: 3.67 oz.

It has a lock on the rear side of the blade to ensure it doesn’t open easily and when completely open, the knife locks.  This helps prevent unintended closure. It comes with a clip on the handle to make it easy to attach to your belt and the handle is also textured for optimal grip.

It’s also equipped with pocket clip on the handle, making it a great option for anyone that’s looking for a decent EDC option.


4. Benchmade Super Steel Barrage:

The 940 Osborne isn’t the only top tier knife that Benchmade is responsible for making.  The Super Steel Barrage is extremely popular with the high-end knife owning crowd.

Benchmade 580 Super Steel Barrage in HandSpecs for The Benchmade Super Steel Barrage:

• Overall length: 8.35 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.6 Inches
• Blade Type: Drop Point
• Blade Material: 154 CM
• Rockwell Hardness: 58-61 HRC
• Handle Material: G-10/Aluminum
• Weight: 4.94 oz.

It’s a little pricey, but for the quality you expect from Benchmade, it’s well worth the cost. It’s made of M390 “super steel” and has a locking blade to help ensure that it won’t pop open at an unexpected time. It has an ambidextrous thumb stud that will help with opening and closing the knife with one or both hands.

Again, the price tag is a little steeper, but when it comes to knife quality, you get what you pay for.


5. Benchmade Griptilian 551-1: 

While the Benchmade Griptilian 551 doesn’t have quite the same accolades as the 940 Osborne or the Super Steel Barrage, It’s still quite popular with outdoor enthusiasts due to the solid construction and overall length of the blade.

Specs on the Benchmade 551:

• Overall Length: 8.07 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.45 Inches
• Blade Type: Modified Clip Point
• Blade material: CPM-20CV Steel
• Rockwell Hardness: 58-61 HRC
• Handle Material: Unknown
• Weight: 4.17 oz.

The blade is slightly longer than some of the others on this list, coming in at 3.45 inches.  When the knife is open, the entire knife is a total of 8.8 inches in length.  It’s made from CPM-20CV Steel and has a fixed point blade.  It is also ambidextrous.


6. Spyderco Delica Plain Edge:

The Spyderco Delica makes our list as it’s one of Spyderco’s better selling models.  It has a 4 way clip with a screw together construction making it easy to take apart and clean up when needed.

Spyderco Delica Plain EdgeSpecs for the Spyderco Delica:

• Overall Length: 7.125 Inches
• Blade Length: 2.875 Inches
• Blade Type: Drop Point
• Blade material: VG-10
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: Fiber Reinforced Nylon
• Weight: 2.5 oz.

It has a textured handle making it easy to grip and it has an enlarged opening hole making it easy to pull it completely out and extend.  It has a 2.875 inch VG-10 Steel Blade and measures 7.125 inches when fully opened. It’s a great value and won’t break the bank, making it a great choice for budget conscious shoppers.


7. SOG Flash II Knife: 

While SOG is notorius for their survival knives, they have a good reputation as an every day carrier as well.

SOG Flash II Tactical Folding Knife in HandSpecs on the SOG Flash II:

• Overall Length: 9 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.5 Inches
• Blade Type: Drop Point
• Blade Material: AUS-8
• Rockwell Hardness: 57-58 HRC
• Handle Material: Glass Reinforced Nylon
• Weight: 3.10 oz.

The Flash II comes equipped with a 3 1/2 inch blade and the SOG technology provides an easy solution to open the blade with one hand.

The handle is made of nylon that’s been glass reinforced and the black finish almost looks like a little like a carbon fiber material. The SOG flash is a solid everyday carry knife.


8. Spyderco Tenacious G10 Combo: 

The Spyderco Tenacious Combo is slightly different than many of the other models on this list. It has screw together construction and an easy opening hole to make it easily accessible when it comes to taking it apart and cleaning it.

Spyderco Tenacious Edge G10 ComboSpecs on the Spyderco Tenacious G10 Combo:

• Overall Length: 7.76 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.39 Inches
• Blade Type: Drop Point
• Blade material: 8Cr13MoV
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: G-10
• Weight: 4.1 oz.

The biggest difference is the serrated edge at the base of blade which makes this blade ideal for cutting small branches in the forest or while hiking in the brush. The blade is 3 5/16 long and is a Flat Ground Blade.

The Spyderco Tenacious Combo edge also comes equipped with a pocket clip on the back, making it convenient if you need the flexibility of carrying it openly for any range of tasks. The Tenacious Combination Edge is a great pickup for anyone on a budget looking for the quality that you’d expect from Spyderco.


9. Spyderco Pacific Salt Knife: 

The Pacific Salt Knife is a mid sized folding knife which offers a serrated edge along the entire length of the blade. The blade itself is 3.8 inches and is made of H-1 steel.

Spyderco Pacific Salt Folding Knife in HandSpecs on the Pacific Salt Knife:

• Overall Length: 8.687 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.812 Inches
• Blade Type: Drop Point
• Blade material: H-1
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: G-10
• Weight: 3 oz.

When the blade is fully open it is 8.7 inches in total length. Spyderco has some amazing knifes on this list, but this one breaks the top 20 due to the fact that it’s thinner than most and can be very comfortable as an EDC knife. It’s more modern looking, which Spyderco is known for.


10. Ontario RAT 1:

The Ontario Knife RAT-1 is one of Ontario’s most popular knives. Ontario has been manufacturing knives for quite some time and the RAT 1 is an excellent knife for the fact it’s a solid knife at a decent price point. If you are looking for something that’s easy on your wallet and you aren’t afraid to bang around, this is a great pick.

Ontario Rat 1Ontario Knife & Tool Rat 1 Specs:

• Overall length: 8.5 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.5 Inches
• Blade Type: Clip Point
• Blade material: AUS-8
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material:Nylon
• Weight: 5 oz.

This flat grind blade is manufactured with AUS-8 steel, which is a quality knife steel. While it’s not going to hold up to the likes of S30V, AUS-8 is generally durable and fairly easy to sharpen. It also holds its edge consistently, but you may find yourself needing to sharpen it more frequently compared to other steels.

At 4.5 inches when closed, and only 4.5 ounces in weight, the RAT-1 makes a for a decent companion without taking up too much space. The lanyard hole is a nice touch if you need to carry it around your neck. Ontario produces several knives for the US government and the US military, so you’ll be in good company with the RAT-1 and at a reasonable price point.


11. Spyderco Cara Cara 2: 

The Cara Cara 2 is a great pick for anyone looking for a super light weight carry option.  It’s made with 8Cr13MoV steel, which is a Chinese steel. It’s a higher quality Chinese steel that’s easy to sharpen and holds an edge well.

Spyderco Cara Cara 2Spyderco Cara Cara 2:

• Overall length: 8.5 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.75 Inches
• Blade Type: Drop Point
• Blade material: 8Cr13MoV
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: Stainless Steel
• Weight: 5.6 oz.

The Cara Cara 2 is another great option for people on a budget.  It’s similar in both look and feel to the RAT I from Ontario.  It carries with it some of Spyderco’s signature traits, which includes the cut away hole at the base of the blade itself, making it easy to open and close the knife.

The blade opens and closes smoothly, and the flat ground blade cuts through most daily tasks with ease.  It has a pocket clip and a lanyard hole, giving you plenty of different options for choice of carry style.

Normally Spyderco’s offerings are significantly costlier, but that’s usually because they are made with American made steel and some are produced in the United States. This lower cost offering is made overseas, allowing Spyderco fans to enjoy their quality without having to break the bank to do so.


12. Benchmade Mini Griptilian: 

If you are looking for quality in a small package, the Mini-Griptilian is tough to beat. We are Benchmade fans here at Wildernes Today, and this particular knife has the quality that you’d expect and it doesn’t wreck your wallet.

Benchmade Mini Griptilian 556Benchmade Mini Griptilian Specs:

• Overall length: 6.78 Inches
• Blade Length: 2.91 Inches
• Blade Type: Drop Point
• Blade material: 154CM
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: Glass Filled Nylon
• Weight: 2.81 oz.

The 940 is our favorite knife by Benchmade.  The Mini-Griptilian is close.  It’s comfortable to hold and does the job when you need a smaller knife to complete certain tasks.  It’s manufactured with 154CM Steel, which is an American made steel that stays extremely sharp and holds an edge very well.

It’s also easy to open and close with just one hand.  Be careful if you do this though, as the blade is extremely sharp, right out of the box. The blade does not have a spring assist opening, but the blade locks firmly in place.

As with the 940, it comes equipped with the AXIS lock technology, which firmly locks the blade in place.  As always, you can expect a lifetime warranty.  The handle is ergonomically as comfortable as just about any knife on this list, and at 2.81 ounces, it’s extremely light to carry around. If you are looking to get into a Benchmade product without spending a ton, this knife will allow you to jump in full force.


13. Spyderco Paramilitary 2: 

The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 is a fantastic knife that’s made in the United States.  Spyderco is another one of our favorite manufacturers, and the ParaMilitary 2 is a knife that can be used for just about anything you can throw at it.

Spyderco Paramilitary 2Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Specs:

• Overall length: 8.28 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.44 Inches
• Blade Type: Clip Point
• Blade material: CPM-S30V
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material:G10
• Weight: 4.8 oz.

The ParaMilitary 2 is on the pricey side because it’s made with CPM-S30V steel.  This is one of the most expensive types of steel that a knife can be made with.  This type of steel sharpens easily but holds an edge for an extremely long time.  It’s also one of the toughest steels to break and cuts through practically anything.

The G10 Hadle on the Paramilitary 2 is extremely comfortable, making it ergonomically pleasing for even the most picky people (like our editorial staff).  The blade locks in place and pivot bushing system makes the knife extremely easy to open and close.  There’s no thumb assist, but you get the signature hole in the blade that Spyderco is famous for, so opening with one hand is definitely do-able.

The Paramilitary 2 is a tough knife to beat if you are looking for a knife with high quality steel at a reasonable price point.


Best Traditional Pocket Knife Picks: 

Since we first broke down some of the more modern pocket knives in 2020, next we will cover our favorite traditional models.

Our modern models always seem to have a place in just about everyone’s lineup due to their modern styling and technological advancements.

It’s worth noting that we feel that Buck Knives dominates the traditional space.  There’s always a place in the lineup for some of the more traditional looking pocket knives which we will jump into below.

1. Buck Knives 110 Hunter Folding Knife: 

Buck Knives has been around a very long time.  They manufacture many different types of knives and the 110 Hunter folding knife is one of their most popular EDC knives in this price range

Buck Knives 110 Traditional Folding Pocket Knife RosewoodBuck Knives 110 Folding Hunter Specifications:

• Overall length: 8.5 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.75 Inches
• Blade Type: Clip Point
• Blade Material: 420HC
• Rockwell Hardness: 58 HRC
• Handle Material: Rosewood/Brass
• Weight: 7.5 oz.

The 110 Hunter is one of the most popular traditional pocket knives in production.  It may not be as “stylish” as some of the newer production models, but it’s tried, tested and true and has been around for a long time.

Popular among many outdoor enthusiasts and weekend campers, the Buck 110 has steadily morphed into a classic wilderness knife (one of our editors believes that it is the best pocket knife of all times although severely underrated). It is the right pick if you are longing to re-live your outdoor adventures you had as a kid, just in an adult sized version.

Plus, this knife will exceed all your expectations when it comes to the quality of its build and materials. We couldn’t believe our own that at this price point, an American EDC classic would not skimp on quality. Everything about the 110 Hunter looks and feel premium, from handle and blade to overall finish and fit. And this hasn’t changed for multiple generations so far.

The blade is a 3 3/4 inches 420HC steel clip blade (420HC is very easy to get scary sharp and it is the perfect choice for a knife in this category). The total length is 8.5 inches, making it easy to carry, and the blade length is 3.75 inches which makes it productive for most daily tasks. Buck have added their trademark deep hollow grind to this knife’s blade to achieve an extra level of cutting edge sharpness.

The 110 Hunter also comes equipped with a leather sheath, is sharp right out of the box, and has a lifetime warranty. Plus, Buck Knives’ after sales services is hard to match these days.


2. Buck Knives 112BRS Ranger Folding Knife:

Another stalwart for Buck Knives, the 112BRS Ranger is one of the top traditional pocket folding knives on the more compact side.  With .75 inches less than the 110 Folding Hunter, the Ranger is the ideal pickup for someone that wants the quality that Buck provides but still sticking on the smaller side of the knife spectrum.

Buck Knives 112 Traditional RangerBuck Knives 112BRS Lockback Ranger Specs:

• Overall length: 7.75 Inches
• Blade Length: 3 Inches
• Blade Type: Clip Point
• Blade Material: 420HC
• Rockwell Hardness: 58 HRC
• Handle Material: Rosewood/Brass
• Weight: 5.6 oz.

If you are trying to limit the size of the knife you are carrying for everyday activities, the Ranger fits the bill.  It’s one of the smaller knives on the list and quality wise, there’s just nothing quite like owning a buck knife.  This is a perfect knife for anyone with slightly smaller hands, or someone that just might want something smaller than the 110, without losing any of the reliability.

The blade is a 3 inch 420HC steel clip blade.  You’ll also get a leather sheath with just like its big brother, the 110.  It’s another added perk for a folding knife that’s a little more budget friendly.  If you are looking for a smaller knife, the Ranger is a fantastic choice for a compact model. Here’s a side-by-side size comparison of the two EDC knives.

Buck 112 Ranger (top) v. Buck 110 Hunter (bottom)


3. Buck Knives 505RWS Knight:

Small and compact, the Buck Knight is a great knife in a smaller stature.  It’s perfect for carrying everyday around your house or cabin for basic uses.  As typical, the Buck warranty is hard to beat and the Knight does a great job of keeping cost in check while not sacrificing the quality that Buck is known for.  Keep in mind, this knife is a small knife and will fit in the palm of your hand.

Buck Knives Knight SmallBuck Knight 505RWS Specifications:

• Overall length: 4.5 Inches
• Blade Length: 1.85 Inches
• Blade Type: Clip Point
• Blade material: 420HC
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: Rosewood/Brass
• Weight: 7.5 oz.

If you are looking for a quality knife that comes in a small package, the Knight is sure to get the job done.  It makes for a great keychain knife or one for the 5th pocket of your jeans as you stroll around the house.  You can see how small it is just by looking at the size in the palm of our editor’s hand.

For the small size, the Knight gives you quality in a very small package.  You also get the Buck warranty and piece of mind that comes with it.  This is a great knife for any Boy Scout or younger person just getting into enjoying life outdoors.  It’s also great for any small tasks around the house and is the perfect size to take up almost no space if you are a minimalist.


4. Case Cutlery Lockback Red Bone:

The Case cutlery Red Bone is a fine choice for someone looking for a US made lifetime warrantied knife.   The Old Red Bone Lockback is a classic knife offering from Case.  The quality is on par with Buck and this is another knife that will last you a lifetime.  This is a smaller knife that will fit in the palm of your hand and is on the same playing field as the Buck Knight.  Case has a long tradition of making quality knives, and this is no different.

Case Cutlery Red Bone Handle StainlessCase Pocket Worn Lockback Specs:

• Overall length: 5.5 Inches
• Blade Length: 2.75 Inches
• Blade Type: Drop Point
• Blade material: Surgical Stainless
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: Rosewood/Brass
• Weight: 1.9 oz.

Overall, the Case Lockback is a good option for anyone looking for a companion on their next outdoor tent camping or hunting trip.  Case hangs in there with Buck from a quality perspective and case specifically takes extra steps to break in their knives to make them feel a little more “worn.”

If you are considering the Knight from Buck, the Lockback Red bone should be one of the knives in your list of considerations.  Like the Buck Knight, this is a smaller choice as you can see by the size of it in our editor’s hand.  It’s another quality choice to pick from if you are looking for something that’s good for a first-time knife owner, or  you just want something that looks extremely old school and very traditional.


5. WR Case & Sons Stainless Trappper: 

Smaller than the Traditional trapper, this Case model has a 3.25 inch blade bringing the overall length of the knife when fully extended to just over 7.3 inches.  This trapper knife is just as good as the Bone handled version, but it’s cheaper due to the synthetic handles versus the bone handled trapper listed above.

Case & Sons Blue Bone Stainless TrapperCase Cutlery Synthetic Handle Trapper Specs:

• Overall length: 7.25 Inches
• Blade Length: 3.25 Inches
• Blade Type: Drop Point
• Blade material: Chrome Vandium
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: Synthetic
• Weight: 4.8 oz.

The Case synthetic handled trapper does what it’s meant to do and does it on a pretty decent budget.  As with all Case knives, it’s manufactured in the USA.  The trapper blade is one of the oldest knife designs out there and it’s one that you can’t go wrong with.  If you are considering a trapper knife and want to save a few dollars to go without a real bone handle, then this should be at the top of your list.

Trappers are a common type of popular knife and a lot of cutlers mass produce them because of their popularity.  This knife is a true trapper as it has both a clip and spey blades and nothing else.  Case stays true to the original model and does so with an excellent design and bone finished handle.


6. Buck Knives 301 Three Blade Folding Knife (Stockman Design):

As we jump into Stockman territory, the Buck Knives 301 Stockman is our top selection for the money.  It’s elegant, classic and has the quality that you’d anticipate from a Buck product.  This is also Buck’s largest traditional folding multi-purpose knife that they offer.

Buck Stockman 3 Blade KnifeBuck Knives Stockman Specs:

• Overall length: 6.5 Inches
• Blade Length: 2.75 Inches
• Blade Type: Clip Point
• Blade material: 420HC
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: Rosewood/Brass
• Weight: 2.9 oz.

The 301 Stockman comes equipped with three blades.  It has a clip point, spey and sheepsfoot blade.  It’s made from the standard Buck 420HC Steel which holds an edge very well on top of being extremely corrosion-resistant.  It’s a perfect knife for just about everything you can throw at it.

It’s perfect for skinning, pruning, whittling and just about anything else you can think of in a traditional every day carry pocket knife.


7. Case Cutlery Medium Pocket Knife (Stockman Design):

Stockman again makes the list for a quality knife design in the Stockman category.  It has 3 blades, the standard clip point, spey and sheepsfoot that all Stockmans carry.  It has an Amber Bone handle which gives it a nice vintage look while remaining durable.

Case Cutlery Stockman SurgicalCase Cutlery Medium Stockman Specs:

• Overall length: 6.5 Inches
• Blade Length: 3 Inches
• Blade Type: Clip Point
• Blade material: Surgical Steel
• Rockwell Hardness: Unknown
• Handle Material: Amber Bone
• Weight: 7.5 oz.

Like the trappers that Case does a great job with, this Stockman is a fine offering.  They do a great job of serving up a Stockman in a more compact version.  This knife is an ideal size for daily carry at right around 6.5 inches, similar to the Buck Stockman.  The bone handle is a nice touch that offers the knife a vintage feel and like their other knives, this Case model is also made in the USA.

This Stockman is ideal for hunting, fishing, hiking, or anything you need to use it for as an every day knife around the house or cabin.


Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the top brand of pocket knife?

What’s the best way to clean a pocket knife?

Is it legal to carry a pocket knife?

How do I sharpen a pocket knife?

How can you improve a cheap pocket knife?

What’s the best “outdoorsy” folding pocket knife?

What’s the best EDC pocket knife that’s LIGHTWEIGHT?

What’s the best folding knife for a boy scout?


So What’s the Best Pocket Knife for the Money?

Let’s start off by saying that any knife on this list should be completely sufficient for any task you throw at it.  It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a modern every day carrier that looks more tactical in nature, or are just looking for a traditional Stockman.  All the knives on this list are solid choices and will function well for whatever your needs are.

It’s safe to say that after all of this we’ve come up with a few of our favorites which we will list below in order of styles:

Modern EDC Knife Choices:

Top Modern Folding Knife Choice:  Kershaw Ken Onion Blur

Top Choice if You have a healthy Budget:  Benchmade 940 Osborne

Traditional Pocket Knife Choices:

Top Traditional Lockback:  Buck Folding Hunter Knife

Top Stockman:  Buck 301 Stockman

As you can see, when choosing a pocket knife, there many different types to choose from and each one features a different number of blades with different blade designs combined with different handle patterns in different sizes.

Regardless of your intended purpose for the knife, there is undoubtedly a modern or traditional pocket knife pattern that will suit your every day carry needs.

Top 17 Best Laser Rangefinders for Bow and Rifle Hunting in 2020: Ratings & Reviews

When choosing the best laser rangefinder, you will likely notice that most of the time they fall into two different categories.  Usually we talk about those intended for golfers and there are models that are intended for hunters.

This article will focus on brands and models of laser rangefinders that are specifically designed for rifle and/or bow hunters.  While there may not seem to be much difference between these two types, each has features that are specially designed for its intended purpose.

Rangefinders are obviously much different than binoculars (we’ve already broken down the (best binoculars for hunting here on this page) but one thing is the same – you should be looking for the highest quality that you can reasonably afford.

Some units are specifically designed for close range use and as a result,  they lack magnification.

Others are intended for very long range use and thus have superior glass optics with multi-layer coatings, large Objective Lenses, and large Exit Pupils for superior light transmission and ultra-clear sight pictures.

In addition, they may have other such features such as lighted reticles and multiple targeting and ranging modes.

A laser rangefinder designed for golfers can certainly be used for hunting and vice versa, hunters will greatly benefit from purchasing rangefinders that are specifically designed for hunting just like hikers will benefit from getting an ABC watch specifically made for hiking.

Below you will find our top 3 rangefinder picks along with a detailed buyer’s guide that will help you identify key points to consider while making a rangefinder purchase.



Sig Sauer Kilo


Nikon Acculon Final


Nikon Aculon



Bushnell Bone Collector


The rangefinders above only begin to scratch the surface.  So many manufacturers and models exist that there is no way that we could have listed everything.  However, many exceptional rangefinders here are included at every price range and from a wide variety of quality makers.

Feel free to use the quick jump menu below to make it easier to find the details that apply to you.

A Buyer’s Guide – What to Look For 

First of all, you need to understand that all laser rangefinders operate by firing an invisible, tightly focused, beam of light at a given target and then measuring the time it takes for said beam of light to be reflected from the target and return to the rangefinder.

This is what calculates the distance to the target.

Because of this, they are adversely affected by hazy atmospheric conditions, glare, any objects between the rangefinder and the target, and any target that is not highly reflective.

All laser rangefinders feature a reticle which is the crosshair or other type of aiming point you see when looking through your rangefinder.

However, many of them use LCD displays that often appear as black lines that you superimpose over the object you want to range but, this type of reticle is often difficult to distinguish against a dark background or in low light conditions.

Some rangefinders have illuminated reticles which are actually LEDs instead.

Even though the brightness of the LEDs is adjustable, in bright conditions they can be overwhelmed by the ambient light such that they cannot be seen even at the highest settings.

Because of this, when your eyes are accustomed to the lower light levels, the reticles are often so bright that they impair your night vision even when set to the lowest settings.

Also, this same issue pertains to the other information displayed on your screen such as yardage numbers and modes.

Therefore, the best option is to choose a rangefinder with a backlight LCD screen which gives you the capability to view your information in all light conditions.

The time of day you hunt may impact the type of rangefinder you should buy

The time of the day you hunt may impact the type of the rangefinder you should buy.

Also, when hunting, both the size and weight of the objects you carry are very important.

Therefore, when purchasing a laser rangefinder, it is best to look for one that is both lightweight and compact in size.

In addition, when hunting, there is often very little time between the moment you spot the game animal and the time that it disappears from view.

So making sure you choose a rangefinder that is easy to operate is also a good choice.

Furthermore, laser range finders operate in two different modes depending on how they were designed.

For instance, when a laser rangefinder ranges the first object in its line of sight and ignores more distant objects, the rangefinder is said to be operating in First Priority Mode.

However, if it disregards the first object is sees and ranges past it to a more distant object, the unit is said to be operating in Second Priority Mode.

Laser range finders that operate in First Priority Mode are best suited for golfers because a golf course generally provides an unobstructed view of the flag.

If you range on the flag using First Priority Mode rangefinder, it will calculate the distance to that flag and not to the people or trees behind it.

First Priority Mode Rangefinders provide very accurate readings on open ranges with unobstructed views.

On the other hand, laser range finders that operate in Second Priority Mode are better suited to hunters because hunters often must range their targets through woods, across brushy clearings, or across agricultural fields.

Having the rangefinder ignore the closer objects is a useful function. However, some laser range finders do have a function that enables the user to switch between First Priority and Second Priority modes using a “pinpoint” or “bullseye” reticule which tends to make the rangefinder more versatile.

Rangefinders are often marketed using the maximum distance that the particular unit will read but, it should be noted that even though the manufacturer’s specifications for a particular laser rangefinder may list a maximum distance of “X” number of yards, it will only range objects at that distance under optimal atmospheric conditions from highly reflective surfaces.

However, when encountering heat waves caused by a warm day, glare caused by snow, or even hazy conditions caused by air pollution, any rangefinder’s ability to range objects over long distances will be severely impaired.

Most of the time, a game animal such as a deer can only be ranged at one half to one third of the stated maximum range.

On the other hand, some models of laser range finders also feature a given amount of magnification just like binoculars and, although magnification does not extend the range over which the rangefinder can measure accurately, it does make it easier to range small objects because they appear larger in the viewfinder.

Of course, a high degree of magnification is not particularly useful if your sight picture is not clear and thus, more expensive models of laser range finders often feature high quality glass lenses and anti-reflective coatings but, you will also pay more for these premium features.

Last, it should be noted that in addition to laser range finders operating in either First Priority Mode or Second Priority Mode, many models are also available with numerous additional modes such as Horizontal Mode and San Mode.

In fact, the Horizontal Mode is particularly useful when hunting in mountainous terrain because it uses Trigonometry to calculate the correct distance to a target at both inclining and declining angles and thus, it provides an accurate distance measurement even when aiming uphill or downhill.

Scan Mode, as the name implies, enables the hunter to range the distance of multiple objects by holding down the Scan button and then moving the rangefinder back and forth across the viewing area.

Some models even have integral ballistics tables that enable the rangefinder to calculate not only the distance to the target, but to also calculate the amount of “holdover” for a given caliber and bullet weight at a given muzzle velocity.

5 of the Best All-Purpose Hunting Laser Range Finders for the Money 

There are many different brands of rangefinders that are specifically for bow hunting and rifle hunting, but then you have a few select models that serve as “jacks of all trades.”

These particular rangefinders (outside of the Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 which excels at everything) may not be as crisp for one specific purpose, but do a good job of extending to multiple uses. They strike a really good balance between optical clarity, and “up close” distances as well as further out.

The five rangefinders below will do their job for any type of hunting and you can even use them on the golf course if you choose.

1. Sig Sauer kilo 2000 Laser Rangefinder 

Sig Sauer Kilo 2000

Maximum Range: 1-3400 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 4x
Objective Lens: 25mm
Mass Weight: 7.5 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

Sig Sauer is one of the premier firearms manufacturers producing rifles and Handguns in the United States.  It only makes sense that they bring their penchant for top quality hunting goods over into the rangefinder market.

The Kilo 2000 ranges up to a mile, with results displayed up to the nearest 1/10th of a yard.  You can reliably range deer out up to 1200 yards, making this a perfect companion for deer hunters.  The max range on reflective targets is 3400 yards.

It features what Sig calls “Angle Modified Range” compensation, which gives you a more accurate distance/range by analyzing not only the line of sight, but the angles from what you plan to take your shot.

It’s waterproof, fogproof and is extremely lightweight, coming in at only 7.5 ounces.

If you have a bigger budget, the Kilo 2000 should be a hands down pick, without question.  Unfortunately the price tag will put this one out of reach for some hunters that are on a tight budget.  If you can afford the cost and want precision accuracy and have to have the “premier” laser rangefinder, then the Kilo 2000 should be an easy grab.


2. Nikon Aculon Al11 Laser Rangefinder 

Nikon Aculon AL11 Small
Maximum Range:
 10-550 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: 1 Yards
Magnification: N/A
Objective Lens: N/A
Mass Weight: 5.6 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

Like Simmons, Nikon is also very well known for their rifle scopes for both tactical and standard hunting rifles.  While Nikon has a few different rangefinders on the market, the ACULON wins our vote because of it’s size.

The ACULON is one of the smallest rangefinders on this list no matter what you plan to use it for.

While it bills out at 550 in the owner’s manual, the ACULON has been reported to range out to about 650 yards accurately without any problems making this an ideal rangefinder for any outdoor activity.

The Nikon also comes multi-layer coated optics like many of the scopes that Nikon Produces.

Like the Simmons, it has an easy to read LCD display and single button operation which makes it easy to use when you are on the move from location to location while out in the field.

The ACULON is also waterproof and rainproof giving it an extra edge on top of its compact size.  Overall, you cannot go wrong if you are looking for something this compact and are trying to stick to a certain budget.

3. Wildgame Innovations Halo XRT 

Wildgame Inovations Halo XRT
Maximum Range:
 10-500 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards
Increment Reading: 1 Yards
Magnification: 6x
Objective Lens: N/A
Mass Weight: 11 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

The Wildgame Innovations Halo XRT Rangefinder is billed out as a multi-purpose rangefinder for both hunters and golfers alike.  The XRT has become popular more because of the ergonomic feel and less of the actual specifications of some its competitors.

The Halo XTR can range out to about 500 yards without any problems and has a 6x magnification.  It has a scan mode which makes it useful while moving and like both the Simmons and Nikon is also water resistant.

The big win here is the feel of the rangefinder ergonomically.  Hunters love the grip and finger indentations making it ideal for longer term use.  It holds well and the improved ergonomics have many users raving about how it feels in their hands.

The XRT is more favored by compound bow hunters but is slowly making the rounds in the rifle hunting circuit as well.

For all the features it offers, it’s hard to beat the compact and ergonomic XRT.

4. Bushnell Michael Waddell Bone Collector 

Michael Waddell Bone Collector Rangefinder
Maximum Range:
 10-600 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 4x
Objective Lens: N/A
Mass Weight: 8.8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

The Michael Waddell edition is a simple light weight rangefinder made specifically for hunting.  It targets out at 600 yards with +1/-1 yard accuracy and has an objective 4x 21mm lens.

The Bone Collector is a little different than any of the others on this list as the housing is rainproof and a little bit more sturdy.

This rangefinder was specifically made with the hunter in mind and was built to withstand the abuse of a long hunting trip where brushing up against trees and other objects happens regularly.

The Bone Collector also works extremely well in lower light conditions, allowing you to eek out as much hunting time as possible when you are on your next expedition.

While the Bone Collector is one of the newer rangefinder on this list, it’s already become a favorite for both bow and rifle hunters alike.

5. Simmons Rangefinder 4X20LRF 

Simmons Rangefinder 4x20 LRF
Maximum Range:
 10-600 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 4x
Objective Lens: 20mm
Mass Weight: 6.4 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

The Simmons brand is pretty synonymous with quality in just about every optic that they produce.

They produce some of the best rifle scopes for hunting on the market that fall within a reasonable price range and they do not fall short with one of the top all purpose rangefinders in the 4x20LRF 600.

The Simmons has an LCD display that lets you judge your targets at 10 yards all the way up to 600 yards.  Like many of their rifle scopes they use some of the more advanced technology on the market with producing the optical lens.

One of the better features of the 4c20LRF 600 is that it’s completely weatherproof making it a great piece of equipment for any long term hunting expedition.

While the Simmons does not have some of the more technologically advanced features that some of the other rangefinders do (see the Zeiss Victory for an example), it’s the perfect combination of quality and budget minded for a variety of different uses.

5 Great Laser Range Finders Specifically for Rifle Hunting: 

Although there are many different brands and models of laser range finders available from numerous different manufacturers, we have listed below what we feel are the top five laser rangefinders for rifle hunters.

There are a few things that differ from rifle hunters to archers that you should be aware of, and that’s primarily that rifle hunters are going to need a model that’s specifically designed to get some extra distance.

If you are hunting deer with a compound bow and a broadhead, your distances are going to vastly differ from someone hunting with a 30-06.

1. Zeiss Victory PRF Laser Rangefinder 

Zeiss Victory
Maximum Range:
 10-1300 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 8x
Objective Lens: 26mm
Mass Weight: 10.93 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

Zeiss is a well known and highly respected European optics company with a long standing reputation for building superior quality binoculars.

Consequently, it should come as no surprise that they also construct top of the line laser range finders and the Victory PRF laser rangefinder with Ballistic Info System is no exception.

Like their binoculars, this rangefinder features high performance optics which provide 8 power magnification combined with the Carl Zeiss T multi-layer lens coating which ensures crystal clarity and the best possible light transmission for a clear image even in low light conditions as well as the LotuTec coating that ensures both rain and snow slide off of the lens immediately and enables dirt to be removed easily without a trace.

In addition, although it is the smallest unit in the Zeiss line of rangefinders, it is nonetheless a rugged unit that will withstand being bumped and/or dropped because the sensitive electronics are contained and protected inside of a waterproof, dustproof, rubber armored case.

Plus, this range finder is easily operated by a single-touch measuring button and the unit it will display the distance measurement within one half second of releasing the button for extra fast readings.

Or, the unit can be placed in Scan mode by simply depressing and holding the button as the unit is swept across the field of view to provide multiple distance measurements on multiple targets.

Plus, it features a Ballistic Information System that uses an internal ballistics tables for given calibers and bullet weights at given muzzle velocities combined with the current distance measurement to provide accurate hold over distances for more accurate shot placement.

2. Leupold RX-1200I Laser Rangefinder 

Leupold RX 1200I DNA Camo
Maximum Range:
 6-1215 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 6x
Objective Lens: 22 mm
Mass Weight: 7.8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

The Leupold RX-1200i TBR Rangefinder with DNA uses a high performance, “Digitally eNhanced Accuracy”, engine that was specifically designed to provide both rifle hunters and bow hunters with with True Ballistic Range readings.

Also, the third generation signal processing capabilities significantly increases dependability when ranging on soft, non-reflective, targets such as game animals and provides superior ranging consistency regardless of target color.

In addition, the Quick Set Menu uses on-screen prompts which makes this rangefinder exceptionally intuitive and easy use in the field and, it features selectable reticles and multiple display intensity settings in either yards or meters for easier target acquisition.

Plus, it features multi-coated optics and fold-down rubber eyecups to accommodate users with or without eye glasses.

3. Nikon Monarch 1200 Ultra-Compact 

Nikon Monarch 1200 Ultra Compact
Maximum Range:
 11-1200 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 7x
Objective Lens: 25 mm
Mass Weight: 9.8 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

The Nikon Monarch Gold Laser 1200 laser rangefinder features their Tru-Target ranging system which enables the user to choose between either First Target Priority mode which displays the distance of the closest subject (useful when measuring the distance to a target in front of an overlapping background) or Distant Target Priority mode (displays the distance of the farthest target).

This is useful in wooded areas or Scanning mode to range multiple targets in the field as well as a Target Priority Switch System that enables the user to prioritize smaller and harder to range targets with the push of a button (Bullseye Mode).

Also, it features both an LCD readout and an Active Brightness Control Viewfinder that provides clear viewing by automatically turning on an orange LED when the unit is used in darker situations and the brightness of the LED is automatically adjusted according to the ambient light.

It also provides hunters with a new level of extreme range measurement accuracy with pinpoint, 1/2-yard, precision up to 550-yards and one yard accuracy to 1200-yards!

Therefore, it is the perfect choice for varmint and big game hunters who require extremely accurate, long range, measurements of targets at distances that exceed one half mile.

In addition, it also utilizes Nikon’s original digital measurement process to provide faster, more accurate, measurements in severe hunting conditions, making this a great laser rangefinder.

4. Nikon Rifle Hunter Laser Rangefinder 

Nikon Rifle Hunter
Maximum Range:
 11-1000 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 6x
Objective Lens: 21 mm
Mass Weight: 6.9 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

The Nikon RifleHunter 1000A S Laser Rangefinder is a lightweight, compact, unit specifically designed for rifle hunters.

Thus, it has the ability to operate in either First Target Priority mode which displays the distance of the closest subject (useful when measuring the distance to a target in front of an overlapping background) or Distant Target Priority mode (displays the distance of the farthest target) which is useful in wooded areas.

It also has a Target Priority Switch System for measuring overlapping targets.

Easy operation enables the user to measurement actual distance or the compensated horizontal distance (horizontal distance ± height) for increased accuracy and an Active Brightness Control Viewfinder provides clear viewing by automatically turning on an orange LED when the unit is used in darker situations and then adjusting the brightness of the LED automatically according to the ambient light.

In addition, the Nikon 1000A S range finder also features the Nikon Tru-Target Ranging System with a brighter, wider, field of view and an ocular that is 28% larger for increased light transmission.

Plus, with an increment reading of 0.1-1.0 yards and an accuracy rating of 1.25 yards, it is also an excellent choice for recurve bow hunters. Last, the unit is waterproof, fog proof, and compact enough to fit in hunter’s pocket and thus, it is well suited to the rigors of hunting.

5. Bushnell G Force ARC Laser Rangefinder 

Bushnell G Force ARC
Maximum Range:
 5-1300 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 6x
Objective Lens: 21 mm
Mass Weight: 6.6 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

The Bushnell G Force DX 1300 ARC is a sleek, simple, and deadly laser range finder that is an excellent choice for both gun and especially crossbow hunters.

Featuring 6 power magnification with Vivid Display Technology and a diopter adjustment for crystal clear viewing along with Angle Range Compensation, the G Force DX 1000 uses a integrated Extreme Speed Precision Turboprocessor to automatically calculate the compensated horizontal/vertical distance based upon the angle of the terrain to provide accurate compensated distance readings out to 99 yards with the distance measurement displayed in 1/10th yard increments out to 199 yards.

Also, it features selectable Rifle or Bow Automatic Range Compensation (ARC) modes; each designed with their own specialized capabilities such as holdover distance, MOA, & Mildot.

It also features a Variable Sight-in (VSI) Bullseye targeting mode, a Brush targeting mode, and Scan targeting mode to provide targeting options that will enable you to range single or multiple targets in varied types of terrain.

In addition, this range finder is housed in a sleek, rubber-armored, case that is completely waterproof and is small enough to fit in your pocket.

5 Awesome Laser Range Finders Specifically for Bow Hunters 

If you are a bow hunter, your needs are going to be much different than someone who’s hunting from long distances.  You want to make sure that you are getting great optical clarity and a very specific range but in closer quarters.

While many of our favorites will double up for both rifle and bow hunting, the five picks you can check out below are specifically made with archers in mind.

If you don’t ever have any intention of picking up a rifle on your next deer hunting expedition, then take a look at something that was created specifically with a bow hunter in mind.  Let’s look at our favorites.

1. Bushnell the Truth Laser Rangefinder 

Bushnell The Truth Hunting
Maximum Range:
 7-850 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 4x
Objective Lens: 20 mm
Mass Weight: 6.0 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

The Truth Laser Rangefinder by Bushnell is specifically designed with bow hunters in mind.

Featuring Clearshot technology, The Truth laser rangefinder not only alleviates the need to guesstimate the distance to your target, it also provides instantaneous feedback on your shot clearance by calculating the actual flight path of the arrow and then warns you of any obstructions that may deflect your arrow in flight.

In fact, with a simple, three-step, process, you can calibrate this rangefinder to correspond with the speed of your bow.

Then, once the target is ranged, a dot is displayed to show the maximum height your arrow will travel; thus allowing you to note any obstructions in your arrow’s flight path.

Also, it features 4 power magnification for greater ease in acquiring a target and, the Automatic Range Compensation (ARC) mode automatically compensates for the angle of the terrain when calculating distance to provide you with an accurate distance measurement when shooing at either inclining or declining angles.

Plus, it’s a very compact unit that will easily fit in an archer’s pocket and thus, it is always close at hand. However, it should be noted that this unit is neither waterproof nor fogproof and thus, care must be taken when using in inclement weather.

2. Nikon Arrow ID 5000 Laser Rangefinder 

Nikon Arrow Bowhunting
Maximum Range:
 5-600 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 6x
Objective Lens: 21 mm
Mass Weight: 6.2 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

The Nikon Arrow ID 5000 laser rangefinder was designed to be the ultimate bowhunting rangefinder.

Featuring Nikon’s Tru-Target Priority System and Nikon ID (Incline/Decline) Technology, the Arrow ID 5000 was designed specifically for those who are truly serious about bowhunting.

Because of this, it will provide you with an accurate distance measurement even at angles as steep as 89 degrees!

Also, it features a nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed body for waterproof and fogproof performance in even the wettest conditions combined with a 6 power magnification and Nikon’s legendary multicoated optics for easy target acquisition and superior sight picture clarity.

In addition to all of these features, the display is capable of displaying the distance measurement in either yards or meters depending on your preference with increments as fine as 0.1 yards/meters.

Plus, it’s small size makes it easy to carry in a shirt or pants pocket and, at just 6.2 ounces, it won’t weigh you down.

3. Nikon Archers Choice Rangefinder 

Nikon Archers Choice for Hunting
Maximum Range:
 5-200 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 6x
Objective Lens: 21 mm
Mass Weight: Unknown
Waterproof: Yes

The Nikon Archer’s Choice MAX Laser Rangefinder w/ LCD display has a First Target Priority Mode (Bullseye Mode) to allow you focus on targets as small as a fence post in order to get an accurate distance measurement to that one, lone, buck meandering through the meadow.

Also, it includes a Distance Target Priority Mode that displays the range to the farthest target among all of the targets measured and thus, it is ideal for accurate ranging in situations where game animals may be partially obscured by grass or brush.

In addition, it features Nikon’s advanced ID (incline/decline) Technology that automatically compensates for various inclines or declined up to an incredible +/- 89 degrees!

Plus, it has bright, multicoated, optics with proprietary, anti-reflective, coatings providing high-resolution images combined with the Active Brightness Control viewfinder that provides improved light transmittance.

It’s also equipped with new technology that detects the brightness of the target itself and automatically adjusts the reticle to either a gray LCD or an orange LED for maximized visibility and contrast.

4. Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC 

Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC
Maximum Range:
 5-1000 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards
Increment Reading: .1 Yards
Magnification: 6x
Objective Lens: 21 mm
Mass Weight: 6.6 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

The Bushnell Scout DX 1000 ARC is a sleek, simple, and deadly laser range finder that is an excellent choice for both gun and bow hunters.

Featuring 6 power magnification with Vivid Display Technology and a diopter adjustment for crystal clear viewing along with Angle Range Compensation, the G Force DX 1000 uses a integrated Extreme Speed Precision Turboprocessor to automatically calculate the compensated horizontal/vertical distance based upon the angle of the terrain to provide accurate compensated distance readings out to 99 yards with the distance measurement displayed in 1/10th yard increments out to 199 yards.

Also, it features selectable Rifle or Bow Automatic Range Compensation (ARC) modes; each designed with their own specialized capabilities such as holdover distance, MOA, & Mildot.

It also features a Variable Sight-in (VSI) Bullseye targeting mode, a Brush targeting mode, and a Scan targeting mode to provide targeting options that will enable you to range single or multiple targets in varied types of terrain.

In addition, this range finder is housed in a sleek, rubber-armored, case that is completely waterproof and is small enough to fit in your pocket.

5. Wildgame Innovations HALO X Ray 

Wildgame Innovations X Ray Halo
Maximum Range:
 10-600 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards
Increment Reading: 1 Yards
Magnification: 4x
Objective Lens: N/A
Mass Weight: 11.2 oz.
Waterproof: Yes

The Wildgame Innovations Halo X Ray is an advanced laser rangefinder that enables bow hunters to range their target  for the most precise distance measurement possible at the time of the shot.

Designed to minimize movement when in close proximity to game, the Halo X Ray is an excellent choice for bow hunters.

Also, the Halo’s scan mode for constant ranging feature automatically calculates the distance to the target for increased accuracy.

The Halo X Ray Z6X is small, ergonomic and compact making it an ideal travel companion for archery hunting trips when you don’t want to have to carry excess weight loads with the rest of your hunting gear.

The Halo X Ray is one of the least expensive laser rangefidners and one of our favorites for archers that are just starting out in the world of archery hunting.


Best Budget Rangefinder: A Duo of Fantastic Picks under $100

If you are on a tight budget but want a range finder that won’t let you down and even exceed your expectations, here are two budget range finders with amazing accuracy and features. With these, you’ll get much more than you pay for.

1. AOFAR Hunting/Archery Range Finder

Maximum Range: 5-600 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: 1 Yard
Magnification: 6x
Objective Lens: N/A
Mass Weight: 11.2 oz.
Waterproof: No

Are you on a tight budget or simply want an inexpensive rangefinder you won’t feel sorry for losing or breaking? The AOFAR archery range finder is one of the best budget rangefinders out there. It has far exceeded our expectations.

First, it shines bright in the accuracy department. It surprisingly works down to 1 yard (some users claim 0.5 yards) and up to 550-600 yards. Plus, the readings are consistent and the accuracy dependable.

Second, the image clarity is on par with that delivered by more expensive models. Dozens of hunters can confirm. Plus, the rangefinder sports some features you would only find in much more pricey models, like the fog setting and speed scanning option.

The only real downside of this laser range finder is that it is rather difficult to read the range in low light conditions. But for the performance, features, and supplied accessories (battery, carabiner, belt loop, etc.), this downfall was not a deal breaker for us.

The AOFAR archery range finder has all the accuracy and many of the bells and whistles of products that cost twice or even thrice as much. At the current price, this guy is a steal.

2. BIJIA Hunting Rangefinder

Maximum Range: 5-650 Yards
Viewfinder Display: Yards/Meters
Increment Reading: 1 Yard
Magnification: 6x
Objective Lens: N/A
Mass Weight: 6.35oz
Waterproof: Yes

Here’ a budget laser rangefinder that is both fast and accurate thanks to its continuous scan mode. This rangefinder is designed for multiple tasks from hunting and shooting to archery and golfing. Hunters will find useful this model’s golf setting since it reads elevation changes.

It is a simple rangefinder that does exactly what it is supposed to with great accuracy. It sports only three settings: 1. Range, 2. Golf and 3. Speed. The golf mode comes with handy angle compensation function which is a must have when the distance between line of sight and horizontal distance gets too wide for a regular rangefinder to correctly measure.

This multiuse rangefinder can measure range down to less than 1 yard and up to 600 yards (as per the manufacturer). It comes with a stock battery, carry case, cleaning cloth, strap, and manual. Thanks to the ultra-clear LCD display, the readings are fairly clear even in low light conditions.

The BIJIA Hunting Rangefinder makes for a simple but highly functional laser range finder for people looking for a multipurpose model or for hunters on a tight budget.

Wrapping Up & Final Thoughts 

So, as you can see, laser rangefinders are available in a wide range of sizes and prices with integrated features that range from the very simple to the very complex.

The main thing to keep in mind is that regardless of the manufacture’s stated maximum distance, most laser rangefinders will only range targets accurately out to one third to one half of that distance under less than perfect conditions.

In addition, the simpler the unit is to operate, the less you will have to memorize and the quicker you will get your measurement.

Some basic units are available without magnification which is fine for bow hunters but, rifle hunters will definitely benefit from purchasing a rangefinder with at least some magnification as well as high quality, coated, optics, wide Objective Lenses, and large Exit Pupils to ensure the greatest possible transmission of ambient light through the rangefinder to the user’s eye for the clearest possible sight picture.

Last, it should be noted that while some hunters prefer extra compact units that are easily carried in a shirt pocket, others prefer larger units that they can operate with two hands instead of only one.

However, regardless of which brand or model of laser rangefinder you choose, there is no doubt that having one will drastically increase your accuracy by enabling you to determine the correct amount of holdover when shooting either a bow or a rifle.  Packing the right rangefinder for your hunting expedition should be just as important as picking out a camping stove or a chair for a 3 day trek in the wilderness.

13 Best Family Camping Tents & Quick Buyer’s Guide

Most reviews of tents for outdoor camping usually focus on small, one- or two-person models. These definitely have a lot going for them as they’re lightweight, easy to carry, and don’t need a lot of space to set up.

So, if you’re heading out on your own for a camping trip a compact tent could be just what you need.

If there’s more than one of you, however, you’ll probably soon find it a bit cramped and realize that it’s not quite the best family tent you have hoped for.

Best Family Tents for Camping: Our Top 3

  1. Coleman 8 Person Instant Tent
  2. Coleman WeatherMaster 10 Person Tent
  3. Kazoo Saturn 6 Person Tent

**Note – There are several possibilities that may fit your needs listed in larger detail below. If you want to skip the read, the three choices listed above are top picks and are battle tested. All three are great choices.

Distinguishing the Benefits of Small vs. Large Tents:

Small tents are really designed for lightweight backpacking, and the designers assume that you’re carrying a rucksack and not much else. That’s what they base the tent’s size on, but for campers with larger families, it’s not always the best assumption. As well as your pack, the chances are you have a lot of other gear with you too.

If you are hunting – you may have a hunting crossbow, fixed blade survival knife, game camera, laser rangefinder and everything else you need for a successful hunting trip.

It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that a four-man tent is going to hold two campers and their gear. If you are heading out on a fishing trip and are bringing along a fishing kayak and fly fishing gear, then plan accordingly to pick up a tent that has at least 2-3 more people than you will have on the trip. If you are just heading into the woods and only have basic camping gear, space becomes a little less of an issue.

Even if you’re camping on your own, but planning to be away longer than a couple of days, it makes a lot of sense to take a larger tent. The extra space will soon be appreciated, especially if the weather’s not great. In a small backpacking tent you often don’t have much more space than you need to sleep in.

Keeping your gear clean and maintained can be a real struggle in a cramped tent. On the other hand if you go for a larger one you’ll have plenty of room to relax and work on your gear, which will make your trip a whole lot more pleasant.

If you choose a six- or eight-person tent there can be other advantages. These are usually divided into multiple spaces, which is ideal if you take the kids camping – they can have their own room. Alternatively, for hunters, you can have a sleeping area and another for storing all your gear. Whatever you decide, it’s always good to have more space and the flexibility it brings with it.

Ultra-lightweight gear is fine when you expect to have to carry it long distances – that’s what it’s for, after all. If you’re taking the kids the chances are you won’t be carrying it more than a few hundred yards from where your car’s parked, so you can afford to bring a bigger, more comfortable tent. If you have the kids along, you’ll probably be more focused on finding a nice camping space and having some fun with some great family activities.

How to Choose a Family Camping Tent: Quick Buyer’s Guide

Family Camping Tent in the Woods OutdoorsThere are a few things to look for when you’re choosing any tent, and a couple of extra points with a larger one. Here are the factors that should be looked at when you’re making your decision on what one to buy:

Size: This is a pretty obvious one. You need a tent that’s big enough to hold everyone who’ll be staying in it, plus all their gear, plus whatever activities you plan on doing inside the tent. Always plan for the worst case here, which usually means bad weather. It’s great to sit outside the tent when the sun is shining or it’s a nice night around the campfire – but not so appealing when a cold wind is driving the rain into your face. Make sure that, if you have a wet spell, the tent is roomy enough to do more than squeeze inside.

Weight: For backpacking, every ounce counts. If you want a tent for family camping it’s usually less of an issue. Heavier tents also tend to be more robust – they’ll stand up to wind better, and should last you more seasons. If you just plan on camping out in your backyard and a half of a mile in the woods, then weight shouldn’t be a factor.

Layout: Most tents have an inner sleeping room plus a vestibule area inside the door, which can be used for storing gear. Many larger tents opt for a central door and vestibule with a sleeping room each side of it. This is ideal for families, as it gives about as much privacy as you can have in a tent, and it also increases your options.

If there are two of you in a six-man tent you might be able to only put up one of the sleeping rooms, giving you a large space to store and maintain your equipment, hang up wet clothes or just relax at the end of the day.

Durability: A cheap tent designed for occasional family summer breaks might not stand up to a storm in the woods. Your tent is the only shelter you have, and it’s worth paying a bit more to get one that can stand up to the elements. You’ll also save money in the long run because it will last longer.

Just like any other piece of gear it’s important to decide what you need before you start shopping around, and what tent suits you best will depend on your own requirements. Think about what sort of trips you plan to make, what you’d like to do inside your tent and where you’ll be setting it up, and use those facts to pick the winner. To help you out here are our favorite family tents that work great for hunting or camping.

Best 10 Person Tent for Families: Our Top Choices

Camping in larger groups is becoming more and more popular. If you are camping with a group o f 10 people, the 8 person tents just won’t cut it. Most of the tents on our 10 person tent list will have at least two rooms, making privacy a little better, especially if two families plan to camp in the tent together. Let’s face it though, if you have 10 people camping with you, space is going to be relatively limited.

The good news is that our top three choices on this list will all do the job. All three have adaquate space and will allow you to camp in a large group setting. These tents are also good for people who have a family of 7-8 and just want a little extra room for their gear, pets, and whatnots. Let’s jump in.

1. The Coleman Weathermaster 10 Person Hinged Door Tent: 

Coleman Weathermaster 10 Person TentColeman comes up big on our list, and they start it off with a monster tent that comes in at 17 x 9. It can fit up to 10 people or three queen airbeds. With a 6 foot, 8 inch center – most grown adults will be able to stand up inside the tent with relative ease.

The door hinges are great for people that are constantly coming and going inside or outside the tent. It comes equipped with a Rainfly that provides adequate weather protection if you get caught in a rainstorm, and it has a mesh roof that will allow a little sunlight to come in on sunny days.

Like similar Coleman models, the floor is constructed in a manner that’s designed to keep out moisture. If you truly need the moisture out, it’s still obviously recommended that you lay down a tarp firs before setting up the rest of the tent. This is a great pick for people that need the space and at a pretty reasonable price point, you can’t go wrong. If you have a ton of people coming along, or have larger pieces of gear like a tandem fishing kayak, then this is an excellent choice.

2. Mountain Trails Grand Pass Tent for 10: 

Mountain Trails Grand Pass 10 Person TentMountain Trails does a great job with the Grand Pass 10. It measures close to the same size as the WeatherMaster at 18 x 6.3 x 10. The big benefit for the Grand Pass is the storage. It’s designed to roll up and stuff into a duffel formation to make it easy to carry.

It’s one of the lightest 10 person models you can currently buy at around 21 total pounds. This is great because it won’t add unnecessary weight to your pack if you are planning on hiking long distances before you get to setup camp.

The tent itself has a full 170 square feet inside the tent, and it’s just over 6 feet at standing height. If you have a family of 7, you should fit very comfortably in the Grand Pass 10. It will fit your extra camping or hunting gear with relative ease.

Even though the floor is reinforced, we’d recommend laying down tarp underneath just to keep any unwanted moisture out.

3. Ozark Trail 10 Person 3 Room Cabin Tent: 

Ozark Trail 10This is a great three room tent. It has a center area that’s great for coming in/out of and two side rooms that are separated by dividers. It can fit up to three queen mattresses and has improved ventilation to help make sure the air in the tent is not so stale.

Slightly heavier at almost 32 pounds, this would probably not be our first pick if weight was a primary concern for hiking. Like others on our list, this tent packs right up into a duffel bag with relative ease. The setup is pretty quick as well and the directions are not extremely complicated.

The price is pretty reasonable and we’d recommend this tent if you are looking for a three room tent with extra space. While we like the Coleman as our top pick, this is a great alternative at a lower price point.

Best 8 Person Tent for Families: Our Top Choices

If you have a larger family of 8, finding the right tent is definitely not an easy task. You have to take into consideration exactly how much privacy you need, and how much additional gear you will need to store with the whole family.

You need to take into consideration room count, space, as well as everything we just covered in our buyer’s guide above when making the right choice. As always, we’d recommend that you pick a tent that’s at least two people bigger than you are planning on taking along to allow for adequate space.

There are are a few top rated tents that have done really well with the general population, and we’ve helped hand pick our top choices for you below.

1. Coleman 8 Man Instant Tent:

Coleman 8 Person Instant Family TentIf you want something that’s easy to set up this Coleman is pretty hard to beat – you can do it on your own in ten minutes, and with two people it takes a fraction of that. It’s also roomy, making it perfect for longer trips – but at 36 pounds you won’t want to carry it very far.

This is an externally framed tent that comes out the bag with all the pieces ready assembled. You just need to unfold and extend all the poles until they lock into position, so it’s basically impossible to get anything wrong.

Once it’s set up you just have to peg it down – use the guy lines! – and that’s it; everything’s secure. The Instant Tent doesn’t come with a rain fly but Coleman’s 10×14 model will fit it if you want some extra protection. The heavy-duty, waterproof WeatherTec walls will stand up to most rain though.

Inside there are some configuration options. There’s a zippered divider you can use or not, giving the option of one or two rooms – and each will take a queen size mattress with plenty space left around it. There’s a door at each end and plenty of windows with mesh screens – one end can be converted into a sunroom.

2. Coleman Red Canyon 8 Person Tent with Three Room Divider:

Coleman Red Canyon 8 Person TentColeman’s Red Canyon is marketed as an 8-person tent, but as usual if you fill it to that capacity there won’t be a lot of extra space. It’s very comfortable for six though, and also very easy to set up the way you want.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Red Canyon is that it’s roomy. It’s 17 by ten feet, and there’s six feet of headroom in the center. Once the tent itself is set up a rain fly goes over the top.

This only covers the top half of the walls but the Red Canyon has a great reputation for keeping the rain out. One side of the fly is extended out to give some extra protection over the door.

Inside you’ll find one huge (for a tent) space, but Coleman also supply two zip-in dividers, so you can split it up into three. Because they all have a sealed floor they can be used as sleeping rooms, which not all tents allow. For light and ventilation there are four mesh panels – on and opposite the door, and at each end. The center ones have zippered privacy flaps and the others are covered by the rain fly.

The Red Canyon is quite easy to put up – it’s even possible to do it solo, although the long poles can take some wrestling. Poles are color-coded for simple assembly, and shock corded together. Overall this is a capable, well-made tent.

3. Wenzel Klondike 8 Person Tent with Two Room Divider: 

Wenzel Klondike 8 Person Tent with Two Room DividerAt first glance the Klondike looks like it would be more at home on a campground than in the woods – its walls are close to vertical and there’s a big, mesh-sided sunroom on the front.

Don’t be fooled though. The main compartment is a tough dome tent and the sunroom has zippered walls that convert it into a second enclosed space. It’s ideal for an extended hunting trip or a family wilderness adventure.

The Wenzel’s design gives you a lot of options. The sun room can be left open to the air, with the mesh to protect you from critters, and makes a great place to relax. It’s also ideal for storing packs and other kit, and like the main compartment it has a sealed bathtub floor to keep everything dry. A big circular door between the two sections can convert it into more or less a single space if required – if you do, it feels big enough to have a decent party in there.

One strong point of this tent is the headroom, which is excellent – close to six feet everywhere. It can also be buttoned up for good weatherproofing, but the main compartment also has mesh-screened windows. It does need two people to set up – you’d really struggle on your own – but it’s a sturdy and spacious performer and also a great value.

4. Coleman Montana 8 Person Tent: 

Coleman Montana 8 Person Family TentThe Montana is a long, narrow tent at 16×7 feet, and inside there’s a large single room with a full floor. It comes with an included rain fly, so all conventional so far – but it has some very clever touches.

Each end wall has a mesh window at the top, which can be zipped closed for privacy – but they’re angled inwards, so they can be left open even when it’s raining without letting water in.

There’s also a D-shaped door with a lightweight hinged frame, which seals with both Velcro and a zipper – this saves a lot of zipping time if you’re in and out a lot. Below the door is a small folding mat sewn to the tent’s waterproof base, giving you something clean to stand on if you’re putting on dirty boots. The tent also has an interior pocket for small items and an electrical access port. The Elite version even has integrated LED lighting.

Very steep walls mean the Montana catches the wind, so use the guy ropes, but also gives excellent headroom. There’s loads of space inside and a small fly extension to keep rain off the door. This is a solid and up to date tent, ideal for four or five people to camp in comfort.

5. Browning Camping Big Horn Family Tent with Two Room Divider:

Browning Big Horn Family TentBrowning has a reputation for quality that starts with their legendary guns and carries on into their wide range of outdoor products; it shows in the Big Horn tent.

Unusually they don’t make any claims about how many people it sleeps, but the floor area is similar to the 8-person models we tested – so ideal for four or five.

This is a cabin-style tent with steep sides, and the headroom is really remarkable; over seven feet in the center, and generous everywhere.

The Big Horn uses the popular three-pole dome design; the poles are fiberglass and the uprights steel for extra strength. A separate rain fly goes over the roof and buckles onto the poles – it’s worth fitting it even if it’s not raining, because it shields the tent from the sun. That will protect the fabric and help keep you cool in hot weather. Inside there’s a zippered divider that can be used to split the tent into two good-sized rooms. Each room has its own door and three mesh windows.

This is a simple design but extremely well made out of solid materials. It’s a very waterproof tent. It also has some nice detail touches, including a hook in the center for hanging a lantern and three mesh gear pockets in each room. The quality makes it more expensive than some, but browning is known for their quality in just about everything they do and this tent is no different.

6. Coleman Evanston 8 Person Tent: 

Coleman Evanston 8 Person TentAffordable quality isn’t the only good thing about Coleman tents; they also have enough variety that you’re almost guaranteed to find one that suits you. The Evanston is a simple and spacious tent that’s quick to set up but gives plenty of room for an extended trip.

This tent is a dome design, with an extra hoop to support the generous screened porch. There’s a separate rain fly too, with triangular side gaps to allow ventilation and a view out of the windows. The interior is a single large room with close to six feet of headroom in the middle.

Its best feature is the porch, which is fully enclosed by mesh sides and large doors. You can’t close it in, and the sloped front means it can collect some rain, but it’s a great place to sit and watch the world from. It also makes a spacious gear store. There wall between the porch and interior has a waterproof base, so any rain that does pool in the porch won’t make it to your sleeping bag.

Best 6 Person Tent for Families: Our Top Picks

Families of 6 are a little easier to plan for than a larger family of 8. These tents are great for people that are outfitting a family of four and can use a little extra space inside the tent for their camping gear.

If you are a full family of 6, we’d definitely recommend looking at an 8 person tent just because the extra room can come in handy. The 8 person tents aren’t that much bigger or heavier than 6 person tents so they are ideal if you need the extra room.

Six person tents are great for people that have 3 – 6 people that are looking to cap their weight that they have to carry around. If you fall into this bucket, we’d recommend that you look at any of the 6 person tents we have outlined for you below.

1. Kazoo Saturn 6 Person Tent:

The Kazoo Saturn 6P tent is one of those large tents that actually accommodate the number of people stated on the package and some more. This double-layered instant cabin tent comfortably fits 6 adults with plenty of space for gear. The 118×110 inch floor fits two queen mattresses or 6 adult sleeping bags with plenty of room to spare.

Everything about this tent oozes quality and attention to detail, from the high-quality material used for its construction and sturdy aluminum frame to the waterproof seam sealed zippers and waterproof seamed 210T rip-stop floor material.

Thanks to its aluminum automatic frame, it doesn’t take more than 1 to 2 minutes to get the tent up even by one person, and tearing it down is just as easy. The tent has two upper full-mesh walls and two doors for some of the best ventilation seen in a large tent. You’ll notice that with six people inside, there is little to zero condensation after one night. Plus, the front door can be turned into a handy sunshade which is a great thing on hot summer days.

The Kazoo Saturn is one of the best large tents for family camping especially because it is insanely spacious (adults can stand inside and children have plenty of space to play and nap) and for being impressively sturdy for the money (there are several reports from happy campers about this cabin style tent holding up to some pretty severe rain storms and winds.) Hands down, this is our favorite 6 person tent for family camping so far.

2. Coleman Sundome 6 Person Tent: 

Coleman Sundome 6 Person TentAnother Coleman and another style, the Sundome is a hexagonal dome tent that can fit six at a pinch, but is ideal for three or four. It’s a simple design with a single large interior room and a rainfly that gives some extra protection to the door. The upper walls are mesh for ventilation.

One great thing about the Sundome is that it’s easy to set up, even on your own – it can be done in ten minutes. Despite its simplicity it has some nice details.

faA lantern hook overhead comes in handy after sunset, and there are two mesh gear pockets on the walls. There’s a mat for the door, which helps keep dirty boots (and dirt) out of the interior. A port lets you run a power cable in if you have access to electricity. This tent is ideal for family trips to a campsite.

While a second room for storing gear would be nice, the plus side the Sundome weighs just 18 pounds and is a good option if you plan to carry it any distance.

3. Coleman Weathermaster 6 Person Tent: 

Coleman Weathermaster 6 Person TentThe Weathermaster is a six-person dome tent but a very generously sized one – it’s as big as some of the eight-person ones we’ve looked at, and can comfortably accommodate five people. It has two sections, a main sleeping room you can divide in two with a zippered curtain, and a mesh-screened sunroom.

The sunroom can’t be closed up, so won’t double as more sleeping space. It also doesn’t have a floor. That has advantages though, because you can store muddy gear in it without messing up the tent. For a bow hunting trip, that’s the best use for it, but it makes for a nice bug-free place to sit in the evenings as well.

As the name suggests this is a rugged tent. The fabric seems tough, and the walls have Coleman’s WeatherTec system to keep the rain out. Poles are heavy duty 11 mm fiberglasses. There’s a rain fly with an extension to protect the door. The door itself is the same D-shaped hinged model as the Montana, complete with fold-out mat underneath.

The WeatherMaster isn’t cheap for a six-person tent, but the build quality and performance make it a great choice for a few nights in the woods.

4. Coleman Instant Tent 6 Person Tent: 

Coleman Instant Tent 6 PersonIf you like the idea of the Instant Tent but the weight of the eight-person model puts you off this one might suit you. With 90 square feet of interior space, and close to six feet of headroom, its cabin-style interior is roomy enough for three and all their stuff. It’s also a good bit lighter at 24 pounds.

The current six-person model has a few updates to the design, including reflective guy ropes to help you avoid tripping at night. Like its bigger brother it uses Coleman’s WeatherTec system to keep the rain out, but it doesn’t come with a rain fly. If you’re expecting major stormy you can improvise one with a tarp, but a Coleman one to fit this tent is due out soon. Details include a lantern hook and two mesh storage pockets inside.

This is even quicker to set up than the bigger version because there’s less weight to grapple with, and if you’re after a convenient tent it’s a great option for the money.

5. Alpha Camp 6 Person Tent: 

This tent takes a different approach to quick setup. It’s not quite as fast as the Coleman Instant, but you can still get it ready to use in just a few minutes and there’s a lot less weight to haul around. The ALPHA CAMP will provide shelter for three people and all their gear, or four if you don’t have too much stuff with you, and tips the scales at 14 pounds.

ALPHA CAMP have gone for a four-pole design, with two long ones forming the central dome and another at each end. The telescopic main poles are pre-attached and just need to be extended to sort out the dome. Then attach the end poles to complete the frame, put on the rain fly and stake out the guy ropes. It’s quick and simple, and the end result is a sturdy and fairly roomy tent. It doesn’t have as much headroom as the others, though, so you won’t be walking around inside – it’s about 4.5 feet high at the center.

Inside it’s comfortable and well ventilated, with generous mesh panels shielded from rain by the fly. If you’re planning on backpacking with a couple of friends this isn’t beyond the limits of what you can carry, and it’s also a good size for hunting in dense woods where a higher tent would be awkward and conspicuous.

Wrapping Up & Parting Thoughts: 

When it comes to choosing the best family tent for your next outdoor excursion, we always recommend buying one that will sleep two people more than you actually have. This will ensure that you have enough room for extra camping gear like two way radios or camping equipment and enough space that you don’t trip all over each other as you come and go.

While most of these tents can help make an outdoor excursion enjoyable, ultimately you need to decide what specifications you are looking for before making a choice. Camping, hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities are all going to have different levels of gear requirements, so it’s up to you to plan accordingly.

Best Binoculars for Hunting: 16 Reviews Including Compact Models

If you want to succeed at hunting and other outdoor activities, you need to use all your senses to their utmost. The sense of hearing, smell, touch, even taste sometimes – but most of all your eyesight. This is where finding the best binoculars comes in.

A keen vision is what’s going to help you find an excellent place to set your hide or spot the first glimpse of approaching prey so you can use your walkie-talkie to radio into your hunting partners. Sometimes our eyesight could use a helping hand, though.

It’s useful to be able to focus on details without having to move in and check them out, watch exciting areas from a discreet distance, such as in a tree stand or extend your visibility when the light starts to fade.

How can you quickly and easily improve your vision? Get a good pair of quality binoculars to accompany your laser rangefinder and other hunting gear.

You won’t go wrong with any of the 10 we have in our comparison chart below. For a detailed breakdown of each model, use the quick jump menu after we compare our three favorites.

Our Three Top Picks

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD

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Bushnell H20 WaterProof

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Now that you’ve seen our top 3 choices feel free to dive in a little deeper to make sure you are picking the right set of quality binoculars for your particular situation and planned use.

You’ll find that finding the right pair of binoculars is a highly personal choice, but there are some basic criteria you should consider before picking up your next pair of binoculars.

What to Buy: A Buyer’s Guide

There are great binoculars in all three magnification categories, so the question is which type you should opt for Answering this question will depend on your intended use and what features you need.

To make things a little simpler, we’ve split this into two primary questions you should be asking yourself before buying a pair of hunting binoculars.

Do I Need to Buy Full Size or Compact?

Good astronomy binoculars are out of the question since they are used for a different application.

Let’s start off by covering whether a compact model is the right choice for you. Compact binoculars have several drawbacks compared to full-size ones.

They often have fewer features, simply because they’re smaller. Optically they tend to have a narrower field of view and the small lenses mean they collect less light.

That reduces the brightness of the image and makes them less useful either side of sunrise and sunset. They also usually have a longer minimum focus distance, so you can’t get a magnified view of something five or six yards away.

At the same time, they have one major advantage – they’re compact. Unlike their larger relatives they slip easily into a pocket, and they don’t weigh much.

If you’re looking to reduce your load, a pair of compacts gives you a lot of the performance of larger binoculars at a fraction of the weight and bulk. These can serve as dual purpose binoculars since they weigh less, making them the perfect addition to your next kayak fishing or fly fishing trip.

It all depends on how much performance you’re willing to trade off in exchange for portability. If you mostly hunt in full daylight it could be a worthwhile compromise. Compacts are great for checking out a distant object or confirming you’ve got the right target

What Magnification Power is Best?

The key difference between 8×42 and 10×42 binoculars is the amount they magnify by. Higher magnification power tells you how much the binoculars reduce the apparent distance by.

If you’re looking at something 400 yards away then through the 8×42 pair you’ll be able to see as much detail as if it were 50 yards away – the real distance divided by eight.

Switch to 10×42 and it will look like it’s 40 yards away. On the face of it, higher magnification seems to be better, but it’s not quite that simple. The extra performance comes with several trade-offs, and these could easily affect your decision.

What You Need to Know When Buying Binoculars?

Hunter Looking through Hunting Binoculars for Prey - Best Binoculars for Hunting
Make sure you are looking at all the right magnification and size options when choosing your hunting binocular

Magnification: The binocular magnification is the number written or printed designated with an X. If the binocular magnification states 10x, it means it magnifies the subject ten times.

For example, a game 1,000 meters away will appear like it was just 100 meters away as seen with the naked eye. Good magnification for binoculars (regular and portable) is between 7x and 12x.

Anything higher will be heavy and will be hard to manage without a tripod.

Objective Lens Size: The objective lens is the one opposite the eyepiece. The objective lens size is essential because it determines the amount of light that enters the binoculars. A bigger objective lens size will work perfectly for low light conditions.

The lens size is in mm and comes after the magnification X designation. A ratio of 5 mm lenses with the magnification is ideal. An 8 x 40 mm lenses produce a brighter and better image with its large diameter lens.

Waterproofing: Since binoculars are essentially outdoor products, it is essential that binoculars have waterproofing. The waterproof feature is designated “WP.” The waterproof feature is usually through a rubber coating which also gives it some form of shock protection and sticky grip.

Although regular models can stay for a few minutes, high-end waterproof models can be left submerged for hours without getting any damage.

Weight and Eye Strain: Binocular weight should be considered before buying it. Heavy binoculars will tire you for prolonged use.

Also, choose a binocular that will not strain your eye. While it is difficult to use regular binoculars for more than a few minutes at a time, the high-end compact binoculars models hardly cause any eye strain and can be used for long hours if needed.

Eye Relief: Eye relief is the distance from the binocular’s eyepiece to your eye. Most manufacturers install eyecups on the eyepieces where the eyes are placed at the proper distance from the eyepieces for ease of use.

Many long eye relief binoculars feature fiber optic adjustments on one of the eyepieces. This will enable most users to fine-tune the focusing system to their eye prescriptions when using the binocular without their prescription glasses. The eyecups are often adjustable for further viewing adjustments.

Basic rubber eyecups can be folded back to allow the user to place the eyeglass lenses closer to the ocular lens. Another long eye relief type is adjustable eyecups that twist in and out to set the proper distance for the individual user precisely.

Lens Quality and Coating: The lens coating is necessary because it minimizes the amount of reflected light and allows the maximum light transmission to enter. The lens quality ensures the image is distortion-free and has better contrast.

The best lenses work better when viewing in low light conditions because it transmits more light and the colors are not distorted or washed out.

Image Brightness: The image brightness you see through your binoculars is mostly determined by the exit pupil. The exit pupil is the diameter of the beam of light that comes out of the eyepiece, and you can find that by dividing the lens diameter by the magnification.

So 8×42 binoculars have an exit pupil 5.25mm wide, 10×42 drops to 4.2mm and a set of 10×25 compacts only manage 2.5mm.

A narrower exit pupil means the image that reaches your eyes is falling on a smaller area of your retinas, and that makes the picture seem dimmer. If the objective lenses stay the same size then increasing magnification will make the image less bright.

If you’re under 25 then your eyes can expand their pupils to around 7 or 8mm (it slowly decreases with age) so there’s no point having an exit pupil larger than that, but within that limit larger is better.

Of course, unless you’re willing to drop to 4x or 5x magnification that means large lenses and heavy binoculars, and 42mm is a good compromise between bulk and light gathering.

Field of View: Field of view is the diameter of the area seen through the glasses and indicated in degrees. The larger the field of view, the larger the area you can see.

Exit pupil, on the other hand, is the image produced on the eyepiece for the pupil to see. The lens diameter divided by magnification gives you the exit pupil. An exit pupil of 7mm gives maximum light to the dilated eye and is ideal for use in twilight and dark conditions.

Hunting binoculars on a log
Field of view and exit pupil are also important

Higher power with the same lens size means a narrower field of view. There are other design factors that can affect it as well but, other things being equal, this is a rule you can’t get away from.

At 8x magnification, the cone you can see into will usually be about 20% wider than you’d get at 10x, and that translates to about a 50% wider field of view.

High magnification is perfect for getting a close look at something you saw with the naked eye, but if you’re scanning the landscape you’ll find it’s a much slower process. High magnification also increases tunnel vision – your awareness will be cut down to a narrower area.

Stability: Image shake is always a problem with magnified optics; unless you mount your binoculars on a tripod – which isn’t always practical when hunting – every slight vibration of your hands will be magnified in the image.

With astronomical telescopes, it’s not rare for a tiny shake while you’re adjusting the focus to move the telescope far enough that the object you’re looking at has jumped right out the field of view.

The difference between 8x and 10x isn’t enough to do that, but you’ll find it harder to study something when it’s jittering around in front of your eyes.

So if you do a lot of hunting in low light transmission conditions 8×42 is a clear winner. The brighter image will let you start observing earlier in the morning and maintain a visible image for longer after dusk.

Good 8x42s will give a brighter picture than the naked eye when the light is poor, and 10×42 just can’t do that.

On the other hand, if you prefer to hunt in full daylight, the 10×42 is the most popular and definitely has advantages This is probably where most hunters, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts fall into.

Whether you are hunting in the woods or hanging out at the Grand Canyon, most of us are out in the open during the day, so that’s when the 10×42 makes more sense.

The extra power cuts apparent distance by 20%, which can make the difference between seeing a vital detail and missing it.

As outlined above, the most popular options for hunters are full-size binoculars in the 8×42 and 10×42 formats, and compacts. Your choices will come down to personal use and preference.

Check out this video resource below for more information on choosing the right binocular. While the video wasn’t created by us, there are some true value points in the video that is worth watching.

10 10×42 Hunting Binocular Favorites

10×42 is one of the most widely used binocular magnification & objective lens diameter combinations. The 10x magnification is an excellent choice for any hunter that needs to see further into the distance than an 8x magnification will allow.

As mentioned previously, 10x magnification may make it harder to use in dusk conditions, but most hunters aren’t out hunting into the evening hours on their first few hunting trips.

If you are an avid hunter, then an 8x magnification may make more sense if you go on prolonged hunts and need to sacrifice extra power for additional visibility.

Here are 10 of our Favorites

1. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD

These roof prism binoculars from Bushnell are completely up to date and ideal for hunting.

They’re built on a magnesium alloy chassis coated with soft-touch rubber armor and are pretty compact for the 42mm lens format. They’re also fog proof and water resistant, and the lenses are low-dispersion ED glass.

Optically these are great binoculars. The lens coatings are an ultra-wide spectrum, so image brightness and clarity are top notches. Field of view is wide – 340 feet at 1,000 yards.

The eyecups can be adjusted for eye relief and there’s a diopter ring on the right eyepiece. Overall a good, solid piece of equipment with great performance.

2. Leupold Mojave

The Mojave is another roof prism design, with an open bridge design that gives them a distinctive appearance and reasonably lightweight for their size – just over 2.5 pounds.

They have a light waterproof rubber armor coating that also gives excellent grip, and all the features you’d expect – twist adjustable eyecups, a diopter ring, and folding lens covers.

The real strength of the Mojave is in the optics. Leupold has a proprietary nitrogen purging process, and along with the mirror coated lenses, the result is image quality and image brightness that’s very hard to match.

This is a huge advantage around dusk and dawn; when other 10×42 binos struggle the Leupolds still deliver a bright, sharp picture with optimal eye relief.

3. Vortex Optics Viper HD

The Vortex Viper binoculars are large but exceptionally lightweight, and also seem very robust.

The Vortex binoculars are well sealed against moisture and come with a decent selection of accessories – a rainguard, padded case and strap are all included. There’s also a very nice lifetime repair or replace warranty.

Optically these binoculars are incredible when used in the field. Vortex uses the same lenses providing excellent light transmission like some of the top Japanese manufacturers, and it shows.

The Viper is easily the equal of the Leupold Mojave, in a lighter (but slightly less rugged) package. The ED low-dispersion glass has an excellent multi-coated lens that does wonders for brightness and clarity at any distance with optimal eye relief.

4. Carson 3D Series HD

This is a fairly compact set by the standards of full-size binoculars and combined with lightweight they’re easy to carry and use all day.

They do lack a couple of features, like adjustable eyecups, but as compensation, you get optics that not many other budget-friendly binoculars can match. The 3D series use BAK 4 roof prisms in a sealed, waterproof alloy chassis.

All lenses are ED glass and feature multiple coatings, so light transmission is above average and the image is crisp and bright. Field of view is good, 314 feet at 1,000 yards.

5. Bushnell PermaFocus

These are one of Bushnell’s budget lines, but don’t write them off – if you want a decent, affordable set of binoculars these will serve very well, especially if you are on a budget.

They’re compact, lightweight and ruggedly built, and feature twist-up eyecups and a diopter ring. One thing they don’t have is a tripod adapter.

The only disadvantage of these is their fixed focus system. It allows rapid use at longer distances, but you won’t be able to use them for a close focus to view small objects a few yards away.

Field of view is relatively narrow at 293 feet. They’re also not water or fog proof. The optics are clear and reasonably bright though, so if you’re after budget binoculars these are definitely worth a look.

6. Bushnell Fusion 1-Mile ARC Rangefinding Binoculars

This pair is at the other end of the range from Bushnell’s PermaFocus. A dedicated hunting system, they combine binoculars and a laser rangefinder with a range bracket running from 10 to 1,760 yards.

It offers bow and rifle modes, with an integrated bullet drop calculator, so should suit any hunter. Range data is displayed in the optical path via a small 96×48 pixel screen.

The 1-Mile’s optics have a narrow field of view at just 252 feet, but within those limits the image quality is excellent – it’s bright and clear right out to the edges. Combine them with the advanced rangefinder and this is a real winner.

If you want to feel like a sniper when you’re out hunting, a spotting scope used by a buddy will do the job. But with all the features of the PermaFocus, you don’t need a spotting scope.

7. Carson Caribou MO-042

For the price, they feel very solid, but while they’re nitrogen purged, we noticed some slight fogging a couple of times. We don’t think they’d stand up to hard use as well as a more expensive pair, which isn’t really a surprise.

On the bright side, the optics are a pleasant surprise. Field of view is a respectable 315 feet and the image is clear and bright. Dawn and dusk challenge them more than the Carson 3Ds, but overall they’re pretty good.

8. Bushnell Trophy XLT

A mid-range Bushnell model, these are specifically designed for hunting and include some very nice features. The lightweight body has thick waterproof rubber armor with chunky ribs, giving an excellent grip.

There are thumb grips just in front of the eyepieces for a more secure hold.

The multi-coated optics are O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, too, so the XLT is thoroughly proof against water and fogging. The fast focus system knob is bugged and heavily ribbed for good grip and there’s an easy diopter adjustment.

The picture through the XLT is extremely good, with a crystal clear image that stays bright well into dusk and becomes usable again before dawn. Any hunter will get good results with these binoculars. The Bushnell Trophy is also considered one of the best birding binoculars available in the market today.

9. Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42

Like all Vortex products, these give you an affordable and pretty robust set of binoculars with glass that belongs in a much more expensive pair. With all the quality features the Diamondback has to offer, it’s an outstanding value for money.

These are among the most solid Vortex binoculars, and optically you won’t get better for other options in the same quality bracket. The focus is smooth and precise, and once you’ve set the diopter ring, it won’t budge until you want to adjust it again.

The roof prisms in the Diamondback are phase-corrected to give you an extremely clear picture with almost no aberrations, and the lens coating is exceptional in low light.You also get the fantastic Vortex lifetime guarantee.

10. Upland Optics Perception HD 10x42mm

If you are looking for a pair of professional hunting binoculars with amazing clarity and great price, look no further. Upland Optics’ Perception binoculars will perfectly fit the bill. 

These shine bright in the clarity department in all lighting conditions thanks to the Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Glass. ED glass is usually used in top-end cameras, binoculars, rangefinders, and other optical devices that need high-precision and clarity. 

With a 113 m field of view at 1,000 m and 17.2mm eye relief, these sturdy binoculars are specifically built for the outdoors, be it hunting or just admiring wildlife. They are also waterproof, fogproof, and scratch resistant.

Plus, they come with a carrying case, neck strap, lens cloth, and a lifetime guarantee. We think that the value this product offers at this price point makes it some of the best hunting binoculars for the money at the moment.

Three 8×42 Hunting Binocular Favorites

8×42 is extremely popular with hunters that hunt in the early morning and into dusk. The sacrifice in power allows more light to enter the lens, giving greater visibility at a closer distance.

You sacrifice a little on distance for something that allows you more freedom and flexibility into the time of day you choose to hunt.

Both 10x and 8x magnifications are extremely popular with both rifle and archery hunters alike. As with all binoculars, when you buy a premium pair – you get what you pay for.

Here are our three favorite picks.

1. Vortex Optics Diamondback 8×42

The 8×42 Diamondback comes with the same features as their more powerful cousin, so the main difference is in optical performance.

If you spend a lot of time scanning you’re going to notice a significant speed increase with these; field of view at 1,000 yards is 420 feet, compared to the 10×42’s 345 feet, which makes a difference when you’re going for the first sight of your quarry.

In full daylight, you won’t see much more brightness from the lower power model, but around dawn and dusk, they have a definite performance edge, as you’d expect.As usual, a generous set of accessories is in the box, including rainguard and molded carry case.

2. Nikon 16002 PROSTAFF 7S

The quality of Nikon optics is legendary, and even though the PROSTAFF 7S is towards the budget end of their range, you’ll still get fantastic performance without crushing your wallet.

Low profile rubber armor gives a good grip on the solid body, and the optics are well sealed. For the price, they feel incredibly tough.

You won’t be disappointed with the image quality either. Field of view is a respectable if not outstanding 390 feet, and the picture is very bright.

You won’t have any trouble picking out prey at dawn or dusk. At this sort of money, the PROSTAFF is an excellent deal.

3. Bushnell H2O

The H2O uses the older-style Porro prism, so they have a more classic and less streamlined shape, but they’re still very good performers at a budget price.

The body is rubbed and coated in heavily textured rubber armor, which makes them feel very secure in your hands. You get twist-up eyecups, and the focus knob is in the center of the bridge and easily operated from below with a thumb.

The Porro design makes these very short without compromising the optics – in fact, it’s a technically superior design compared to the less efficient, but more compact, roof prism – so for this price, they give a great image.

Field of view is 410 feet, excellent for a budget 8×42.

Our Three Favorite Compact Models for Hunting

Compact binoculars are an entirely different beast. You’ll still get the same power ratios as full-sized binoculars (8x or 10x), but you’ll get a smaller objective lens size, making these truly only viable for daytime hunting.

Remember that a bigger objective lens diameter usually means more light inside the binoculars, which yields a brighter picture. Compact binoculars are great if you are day hunting and need to pack light.

Some compact versions are also much more, making them a great pick for someone just starting out and not looking to break the bank.

Here are three of our favorites.

1. Nikon 8218 Trailblazer 10×25

The Trailblazer 10×25 is a truly tiny item, just over four inches long and not much broader. Despite that, they have impressive performance and a good selection of features.

You get a solid rubber-armored body with Eco-Glass optics, a diopter ring on the right eyepiece and smooth bridge-mounted focus wheel. They’re lightweight, waterproof and fog proof.

They also give a startlingly good image in decent light. The combination of high power and small lenses means they don’t cope well at dawn or dusk, but in full daylight, the picture is vivid and bright.

Field of view is a very impressive 342 feet at 1,000 yards. The Trailblazer packs a lot of power into your pocket.

2. Bushnell H2O Compact 10×25

Like the rest of Bushnell’s H2O range, these compacts put a lot of emphasis on waterproofing and ruggedness; it’s heavily rubber-armored, with excellent gripping surfaces, and the optics are O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged for fog resistance.

The waterproof binoculars can focus down to 15 feet with an easy to use the ribbed knob, and also have diopter adjustment and twist-up eyecups.

Optically these are good for budget binos, while not up to the standards of a more expensive model. That shows up most in the field of view which is just 341 feet – fractionally less than the 10x Nikon.

There’s also some chromatic aberration around the edges, which isn’t intrusive but is there. On the other hand, the image is generally sharp, and for compacts, their dusk and dawn performance is very acceptable.

3. Bushnell Powerview 10×25

This is a budget compact model, with a wallet-friendly price tag, so as you’d expect some compromises have been made. The objective lenses are the small 21mm size, and that makes a big difference – they have 40% less surface area, and light gathering power, than 25mm lenses.

You’re not going to get much use out of these around dawn and dusk. They also lack diopter adjustment but do have twist-up e
yecups. The body is solid and rubber armored, but we wouldn’t rely on them to be water or fog proof.

The good news is that the optics are reasonable. Field of view is 378 feet, not great but better than the more expensive H2O, and image quality is surprisingly good as long as you have enough light to work with. If you’re on a tight budget, these are a lot better than nothing and worth considering.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What are the Best Hunting Binoculars for the Money?

A: While this answer is somewhat subjective, the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD gets great reviews, and is a reasonable price point for binoculars made by a manufacturer with a track record in hunting optics.

Q: What are the best binocular brands for archery hunting?

A: Again, this can be somewhat subjective based on budget or other factors, but the Vortex Optics HD is a popular choice with many bowhunters. They are an upper tier product, so the higher end price tag follows.

Q: What strength binoculars do I need?

A: This is a loaded question and will depend mainly on how you intend to use them. Binoculars with a magnification of 10x are a popular choice among many hunters because they can cover a wide field of view and many different hunting styles/game types.

Q: What are the best value compact hunting binoculars?

A: The Bushnell Powerview is an excellent choice if you are looking for both cost-effectiveness and value. They come in many different magnifications while remaining compact, and are extremely budget friendly.

Q: What are the best hunting binoculars for buck hunting, elk hunting or for other big game?

A: The Bushnell Green Roof Trophy Binoculars are a great 10x magnification option, especially for hunters on a budget.

Q: What are the best hunting binoculars on a budget?

A: Another vote for the Bushnell Green Roof Trophy binoculars due to cost. 10x magnification power with a strong performance track record and fully multicoated optics are hard to beat.

Q: What are the best high end hunting binoculars?

A: If you are looking to spend an obscene amount of money on binoculars, anything by Swarovski is considered the cream of the crop when it comes to hunting binoculars. They have a strong track record of excellent hunting performance, and their price tag reflects it.

Final Thoughts on the Best Binoculars

Finding the right pair of binoculars is no different than choosing the right pocket knife or fixed blade survival knife for your outings. You need to understand what it is that will best fit your needs and pick the model that you will get the most use from.

While we can provide you with all the guidance in the world, only you can narrow down the Binoculars that are best for your unique hunting situation.

Our parting thoughts are that if you are spending most of your time hunting in the daylight and not at dawn or dusk, go with the 10×42 magnification and spend a little more than you had originally planned on.

The quality will be worth the investment.If you intend on hunting at a wide variety of times and need something that’s easier on the wallet, the 8×42 options are great.

Compact Binoculars should only be purchased if you are needing something very portable or are tight on cash. These will work in a pinch but not as good as the other models that were made for a better field of view.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with any of them on our list, and we welcome comments below if you feel like we need to add your favorite set that may not have made the cut.

Top 10 Best Bolt Action Rifles

Bolt action rifles are one of the oldest and most trusted types of long barrel guns available, giving over a hundred years of service and development.

These rifles are known to be accurate, stable, and easy to handle when out in the rough of nature. There are more manufacturers today than ever before, so the number of bolt action rifles available is staggering.

If you don’t know what to look for, or if you aren’t sure what features work best for your needs, then finding the right rifle can be difficult. Today we will take some fo the headache out of comparing these types of rifles and break down ten of the most popular models currently on the market.

Best Bolt Action Rifles – Comparison Table




Mossberg Patriot

mossberg patriot bolt action riflesInfo

Lithgow LA102 CrossOver


Winchester XPR Composite

xpr bolt action riflesInfo

Savage 110 Storm

savage storm bolt action riflesInfo

Ruger American Ranch Rifle

ranch rifle bolt action riflesInfo

CZ 557 Left Hand


Savage Axis II XP

axis ii zp bolt action riflesInfo

Mauser M-18

m 18 bolt action rifles Info

Remington 783 Synthetic

783 synthetic bolt action riflesInfo

Franchi Momentum


What We Reviewed

  • Mossberg Patriot
  • Lithgow LA102 CrossOver
  • Winchester XPR Composite
  • Savage 110 Storm
  • Ruger American Ranch Rifle
  • CZ 557 Left Hand
  • Savage Axis II XP
  • Mauser M-18
  • Remington 783 Synthetic
  • Franchi Momentum

Mossberg Patriot



The Patriots are a series of entry-level type bolt action rifles from Mossberg. There are six basic models, starting with the standard Patriot with a walnut stock, an LBA adjustable trigger, a new streamlined bolt design, and a drop box magazine system.

The button-rifled fluted barrels make long-shot targeting easy, with close grouping and great momentum. The rifling in the barrel delivers superior efficiency, giving full-velocity delivery from every caliber bullet you load. (Here’s a list of the best reloading kits according to our editors: Best Reloading Kits for Beginners and Experts)


This series of bolt action rifles from Mossberg start at around $325 and go up to around $730.


The Mossberg Patriot comes with the standard manufacturer’s warranty coving all defective parts and associated labor for repairs.


  • Stylish walnut stocks
  • Barrel with recessed crown


  • Difficult mounting system for scopes

Lithgow LA102 Crossover


The LA102 CrossOver is a superior gun, giving all the other bolt action rifles on this list a run for their money. The centerfire system allows for adjusting to several caliber barrels, making the customization easier and more manageable. This isn’t the lightest of the bolt action rifles, but the ergonomic stock and light steel construction make it handle like a much less dense stocked rifle.


The LA102 is still in preorder status right now through Lithgow, so you can put your name on the waiting list to receive information on the pricing once the rifle is available to the public. The expected retail price is around $1,300.


The LA102 CrossOver comes with the standard manufacturer’s warranty covering all defective factory parts and repair labor.


  • Handles like a lighter gun
  • Excellent value for hardware included


  • Weak stock material

Winchester XPR Composite



The Winchester XPR is designed as the model workhorse for the working hunter. An updated version of their popular Model 70, the XPR introduces a new composite synthetic stock with a new bolt mount system for the hardware. This new construction makes for better recoil control and a lighter handle on the frame.

This is an excellent hunting rifle for someone who needs reliable, tough, and light, coming in under seven pounds. For more hunting rifles, check out our related post: Best .22LR Rifles for Hunting and Survival.


The Winchester XPR retails for around $550.


This rifle is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty for up to one year on all defective parts.


  • Rated as most accurate
  • Superior trigger system


  • Difficult to adjust the stock

Savage 110 Storm



The Savage 110 Storm is the most durable of the bolt actions rifles we compared for this review. The AccuFit system gives functional customization without sacrificing the rugged feel of an all-weather rifle. The Gray stock is a synthetic composite that’s strong, durable, and helps give you extra control with the ergonomic shoulder cut.


This series of bolt action rifles retails for around $750.


This comes with the standard manufacturer’s warranty, which covers all defective parts and associated labor.


  • More caliber options than the others


  • Few available attachments

Ruger American Ranch Rifle



This is one of the more versatile bolt action rifles on this list, making it a great option for someone needing a utility player out in the woods. The lightweight, ergonomic stock gives it a classic look with a tactile, firm hold. The synthetic stock has a rubber butt pad and full-diameter bolt body, giving great recoil control.


These bolt action rifles start at around $450 and top out at around $550.


These bolt action rifles come with the standard one-year manufacturer’s warranty, which covers all parts and labor.


  • Versatile sporting rifle
  • Great accessory options


  • Only standard stock and barrel options

CZ 557 Left Hand



This is one of the best left-handed bolt action rifles on the market, making it an ideal choice for the southpaw shooter. This left-hand short action rifle has a slick and clean American-pattern style stock with a 24” barrel, with a 557 push-feed system design for tight groups.


This rifle is available for around $860.


All bolt action rifles from CZ-USA come with a limited one-year warranty on all defective parts.


  • Reliable push-feed system for ammunition
  • Sturdy stock construction


  • Limited adjustment capability

Savage Axis II XP



The Savage Axis II XP is a rugged option for the experienced outdoorsman. The synthetic stock and the button-rifled barrel are designed for tight grouping and driving momentum. This model also comes with a floating head with an adjustable mount bolt that gives you greater control over the fine adjustments.


This rifle retails for around $380.


Savage offers a one-year limited warranty on all of their rifles and accessories, which covers parts and labor.


  • A great value for this feature set
  • Nine different caliber options


  • Limited magazine upgrades available

Mauser M-18



Mauser is one of the most famous makers of rifles worldwide. The Mauser M-16 was a favorite dating back to World War II, and that is the design that evolved into the modern M-18 bolt action rifle. Called “The People’s Rifle” by Mauser, this is a multi-caliber gun that gives you two standard options, .308 and .30-06.

(Check out our side-by-side comparison of these popular hunting calibers: The .308 vs. the 30-60 for Hunting – Ballistics and Accuracy Comparisons.)

There is an expanded series of caliber options that have rolled out for an additional price, including .243 Win., Magnum: 7mm Rem., and .300 Win. The black burnished surface is smooth with an even carbon grain, making it light, functional, and easy on the eyes.


The Mauser M-18 Bolt Action Rifle retails at around $700. It is available from retailers worldwide, so be sure to check the local brick-and-mortar store for their own prices.


Mauser offers a limited manufacturers warranty on all of their bolt action rifles. This covers any defective parts and the associated labor for repairs.


  • Beautiful stock and form
  • Based on a trusted design


  • Expensive for the features

Remington 783 Synthetic



The Remington 783 Synthetic Stock rifle is a workhorse designed for the utility hunter or heavy-duty sportsman. The black synthetic stock has exceptional rigidity and tensile strength, giving it extra balance and control when firing. The 783 also comes standard with the new Crossfire trigger system from Remington, a breakthrough system engineered to give you the ability to customize the pull like never before.


This model of bolt action rifle starts for around $350.


This rifle comes with the manufacturers defect covering warranty, which has varied coverage.


  • From a reliable gun maker
  • Adjustable trigger system


  • Few variations of stock

Franchi Momentum



The Franchi Momentum is a high-end series of bolt action rifles from one of the leading makers of precision hunting and sports firearms. There are six different caliber configurations for the Momentum: 30-60 Springfield, .300 Win. Mag, .308 Winchester, .270 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .243 Winchester.

You can also get the rifle by itself in three different configurations: black synthetic, threaded and plain barrel. The trigger is a single stage designed to work with the streamlined stock, giving it a crisp pull with full body control, in any of the five standard shooting positions.


This rifle can be purchased for around $550. Franchi only sells through authorized dealers, so be sure to use the link below to search for a local shop for this gun and the final price.


Franchi has a seven-year limited warranty on the Momentum series of bolt action rifles. This warranty covers any manufacturer defects, which includes complete coverage of replacement parts and all associated labor.


  • Six different types to choose from
  • Lots of features


  • Accessories and scopes are expensive

Product FAQ

1. What Are Bolt Action Rifles?

Bolt action rifles use an old but reliable pin firing system that uses a bolt lever to load and stage the ammunition and a hammer mechanism to fire the cartridge. The rifle itself is a long barrel with etched rifling in the interior to guide and spin the bullet, making it fly with higher velocity and greater accuracy.

2. How Are Bolt Action Rifles Different?

Though these types of rifles are older in design, they remain dependable and accurate. The simple system for loading, chambering, and ejecting the ammunition make it tougher than the more complicated semi-auto or high-caliber rifles.

3. What Are They Used For?

Bolt action rifles have been used in everything from military operations, civilian enforcement, and common game hunting. They are a reliable and accurate rifle for long to medium range contact, so they make ideal hunting rifles for woodland situations. The most common use for bolt action rifles today is domestic sporting and game management.

4. Where Can You Purchase Them?

The laws for gun purchase will vary from state to state and country to country, so it’s very important to familiarize yourself with local codes regarding the purchasing of firearms. The manufacturers on this list have authorized sellers worldwide that are contracted with selling these bolt action rifles to the public. The provided links for each model have location finders for authorized retailers for that manufacturer.

How We Reviewed

We looked at the different features of the rifles and compared them against one and other. Some things we looked for were stock construction, handling and weight, adjustability and customization, and the final performance. We have taken care to call out some strengths and weaknesses of each of these rifles so you can make an informed decision for the right rifle for you and your needs.

Overall Price Range of this Product (and Similar Products)

carved wood rifle

These types of bolt action rifles can be bought on a premium or a reasonable price. Also, the accessories and stock construction were the two biggest factors that determined the final price of the rifle.

Since most of the rifle manufacturers sell through brick and mortar retailers, you can find different deals throughout the year for different regions. That makes checking the official sites we have included much more important when shopping for the right rifle.

The Verdict

man is aiming the bolt action rifles

These were all superior engineered bolt action rifles, with each one offering their own features and benefits. When comparing all of these models a clear favorite has come to the front of the pack.

The Mauser M-18 is the industry standard for rifles, giving their hundred-year history a workhorse for every shooter. The price was reasonable for this quality rifle, so we recommend the Mauser M-18 as the choice for best of the bolt action rifles.

Best Handgun: Top 10 Choice For Home Defense

Almost nobody wants to be in the sort of emergency situation where they have to fire their gun. However, in life it often pays to prepare for the worst even while you hope for the best. For many, that will mean owning a gun and training with it regularly so as to be able to use it to protect themselves and others.

For that task, you need the right tool. We want to help you to find the best handgun for everyday carry or home defense so that in a crisis you can be sure that it won’t let you down.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. What Is the Best Handgun?


2. Should I Get a Revolver or a Semi-Automatic Handgun?


3. How Much Does a Good Handgun Cost?

How We Reviewed

In order to help you find the best handgun for you, we compiled a list of some of the handguns suitable for everyday use and home- and personal-defense.

These handguns are all ones from reputable brands and which came highly recommended by their users. We have provided an overview of each handgun’s key features, a list of pros and cons, a rough price, and a link to where you can find more information on buying one.


Overall Prices of Handguns

smoking black pistol with an empty ammo flying

The guns we reviewed ranged in price from the very affordable to the most expensive. However most were available for an affordable price. Prices of handguns of the same model may vary depending on the handgun’s finish, barrel length, magazine capacity and the size of rounds that it takes.

What We Reviewed

  • Walther PPQ M2
  • FNX-45
  • CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical
  • Springfield XD MOD2
  • Colt 1911
  • Ruger 1707 GP100
  • Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
  • Sig Sauer MK25 P226
  • Gen 4 Glock 19
  • Beretta M9

Walther PPQ M2


This pistol, a product of German precision engineering, incorporates a range of features such as striker fire action, three automatic safeties, and a loaded-chamber indicator, with accuracy, durability, and reliability.

It has almost negligible recoil, making it one of the best handguns for women or other users with less wrist strength or who have conditions such as carpal tunnel.

This handgun may be just slightly too big for concealed carry unless you are a large framed person yourself, but in almost all respects it’s a good gun. However, some users may want to switch out the plastic sights for something a bit more durable.


  • Accurate
  • Reliable
  • Great bonus features
  • Less recoil


  • Plastic sights
  • Slightly too big for CC



This handgun is well suited to a range of tasks, such as personal defense, home security, and law enforcement. The frame is made of a tough polymer, but the barrel and slides are stainless steel, allowing users to get the best of both worlds.

It can be racked with either hand, meaning that it can be used easily by left handed shooters. On the downside, the grips are rather large.

Plus, some users reported that the grippy texture began to cut into their hands after they had been through a few magazines.


  • Ambidextrous
  • Polymer frame
  • Stainless steel slides and barrel
  • Option to add red-dot sight


  • Heavy
  • Very large grips

CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical


CZ, the Czech gun manufacturers claim that “CZ 75 Pistols are used by more government, law-enforcement, military and security agencies than any other pistol in the world.”

This model was designed to take the best features of military service pistols from around the world to create a tough, reliable, and accurate handgun.

Many users describe it as the best handgun they have ever owned, and it was very hard to find any criticisms of its design or performance. However, you might find it hard to get hold of.


  • Great ergonomics
  • Consistently accurate
  • Popular


  • Hard to find
  • Fairly heavy

Springfield XD Mod.2


This slimmer “sub-compact” new model in Springfield Armory’s XD range is comfortable in the hand and as a concealed-carry firearm.

It has a short trigger and short reset, meaning that follow-up shots are as accurate as the first shot.

The XD Mod.2 has a corrosion resistant Meltonite coating which gives it a rugged semi-matte finish.


  • Tough
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Very compact


  • Requires a firm grip to fire accurately
  • Difficult to rack

Colt 1911


This pistol, sometimes known as “The Government” has a long and glorious history within the world of American Firearms. The single-action, semi-automatic, magazine-fed pistol fits comfortably in the hand and “points” well.

It can be easily modified and customized, including the ability to fine-tune the trigger action; one of the reasons it is loved by gun enthusiasts.

However, the pistol may be too large to be gripped comfortably by some users. Additionally, the lack of a de-cocker in the pistol means that great care must be taken when lowering the hammer.


  • Easily modified and customized
  • Accurate
  • Comfortable


  • No de-cocker
  • May cost a lot to maintain

Ruger 1707 GP100


Ruger’s range of Centerfire revolvers are well-known for being dependable, reliable, and accurate.

This Ruger, the only revolver on our list, features a smooth-cycling triple-locking cylinder making sure of an accurate shot every time you fire.

The grip is designed to reduce recoil and make firing the gun comfortable. The revolver is available in a range of chamber sizes and finishes.


  • Reliable
  • Accurate
  • Less recoil


  • Stiff trigger
  • Less easy to clean

Smith&Wesson M&P Shield


This Smith & Wesson model is the handgun of choice for many military and law-enforcement personnel because of its rugged build, reliability, and accuracy.

This is one of the best handgun choices for a concealed-carry gun because of its compact frame. This handgun comes with two magazines of different sizes so you can decide which you want with you on any given day.


  • Small but powerful
  • Suitable for concealed carry
  • Handgun of choice for many military and law-enforcement personnel


  • Difficult to rack
  • Trigger requires a lot of pull

Sig Sauer MK25 P226


This German-made pistol, with black hard-anodized aluminum frame and extra-grippy ergonomic grips is the choice of a wide range of law enforcement and military units, including the Navy Seals.

It is a ruggedly built, extremely tough gun that is easy to strip down and clean. It has no safety-catch and is designed to be carried with a round in the chamber and the hammer de-cocked so that it can be drawn and fired with ease.

Though there is little danger of the gun firing accidentally, this feature of the handgun may be a little too intense for some.


  • Ergonomic grips
  • Black hard-anodized aluminum frame
  • Reliable
  • Negligible recoil


  • No saftey

Gen 4 Glock 19


Glocks are well known for their reliability and performance. This latest version of the Glock 19 featured a rough textured frame and grips, and three backstraps to customize the fit.

The handgun boasts a stronger-than-steel polymer frame coated with Tenifer to make them impervious to all kinds of bad weather.

The magazine release buttons are large and reversible to make the Glock 19 suitable for ring- and left-handed users.


  • Reliable
  • Small enough to serve as carry-gun
  • Tough polymer frame
  • Ambidextrous


  • Plastic sights
  • Trigger may need replacing

Beretta M9


The Beretta M9 was developed with input from military, police, and other law enforcement personnel to create a gun suitable for use in any sort of crisis, even meeting the requirements of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Beretta M9 is available with single or double action. The handgun can be disassembled and reassembled without any tools.

It comes with two magazines so you’ll always have a spare. However, some users reported that their accuracy with the Beretta was far below that of any other of their guns, which may be a serious cause for concern.


  • Developed to military specifications
  • Reliable
  • Single or double action


  • May be less accurate

The Verdict

man holding a pistol

We’re loathe to make any definitive statement on the best handgun, because it’s such a subjective field. Nevertheless there were a few standout candidates in this field of ten.

The best handgun if you prefer a revolver is the reliable and compact yet powerful Ruger 1707 GP100. Amongst the pistols, we thought the best handgun for concealed carry was the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, and the best handgun overall was the CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical.

When you go to try out handguns that you find that something completely different is to your liking, but whether you go for one of these guns or not, we hope that this was a good place to start.

Best Rangefinder in use by Hunter on Expedition

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