Hawaiian knife maker Ken Onion told us he was working on the ultimate hunting knife, but it wasn't ready yet. We assumed that he meant he was putting the finishing touches on a prototype, and were we wrong!
Instead, Ken was concluding an extensive field testing program spanning more than five years, making dozens of custom skinners and giving them to Alaskan guides, professional hunters, and taxidermists in exchange for their feedback. He kept modifying the design and sending out more knives, which have now been used to skin over 60 Alaskan bears, and have been proven on deer, elk, moose, antelope, hogs, sheep and cattle.
While some were skeptical at first, it has become the favorite knife of many of the top guides. It also works well for skinning, gutting, deboning, the fine detail cuts preferred by taxidermists, and even kitchen and camp chores.
We call it simply the Onion Skinner™. It features a three-quarter tang Bohler K110 stainless steel blade, high hollow-ground and polished to a satin finish, with a hardness of HRC 58-60. The scales are Twin-Fused™ with a glass filled nylon core and soft textured TPR outside for grip. A lanyard is included. The custom leather sheath is molded and fitted to grip the scales and lock the knife in position until needed. It can be worn left or right, inside or outside the belt.
Here's an explanation of its unusual features and their functions:
First, the knife has a thin tip, with a slightly convex grind near the tip that minimizes drag. No caping knife is needed for detail work.
Second, the top of the blade has a pronounced "camel hump". This allows the
hunter to insert the tip under the skin and rock the hand back, which raises the
tip up and away from the paunch.
Third, the tip has a straight section at an offset angle. This makes the knife a
useful utility and cooking tool around camp.
Fourth, is the short 3.75" blade length. This is just the length of the average
finger, which has proven perfect for the pencil grip favored by many hunters.
Finally, the Onion Skinner features a handle which has a deep finger choil,
which greatly improves grip in slippery conditions. The thin cross section allows
for less obtrusive carry while still locking in the fitted sheath.
So here is Ken's ultimate skinner. Field-tested for five years, and finally ready
for production and your own field test.
After several hunting seasons with this knife in my hunting kit I feel it deserves a 5 star rating. The blades shape is very condusive to the field preparation of big game. I've used it on numerous black bear and whitetail deer as well as African plains game. Its edge retention has been fantastic, and no rust or corrosion. The sheath is very slim, but its strapped in my pack. I probably own 40 knives and if it means anything, this is the knife i take afield in NY, PA, AK, and South Africa.
2014-12-07 Fayetteville, NC
I am highly disappointed. I have used it cleaning three deer. Pros: Ships sharp. The shape of the tip really does make gutting an easy task. Cons: Awkward shape can make detailed work or unusual angles difficult. Now for the biggest issue. By 2 days after the first deer processed, rust spots appeared. I gave this knife a good cleaning after I finished using it. After my third deer cleaned, it only got a quick field spray down and wipe down. Big mistake. I pulled it out today and it is covered in large rust spots. This is the second CRKT knife in a row I have had this problem with, and the other did nothing but sit in my pocket. I don't expect this from a stainless knife. If I wanted to have to oil my knife after every use I would buy carbon steel blades. CRKT Response: Cleaning and maintenance instructions were given. Stainless means that it stains less, not that the blade is rust resistant. With proper care and cleaning you should have no further issues.