KA-BAR knife – is it good for hunting? We find out!

The original Ka-bar knife is a legendary fighting weapon that is still admired by many.  But suppose you don’t want a Hollywood-inspired killing tool but a practical knife that’s good for hunting trips.

Is a KA-bar a good hunting knife?

The original Ka-bar is a combat knife that’s designed for use in a military environment. It isn’t designed for hunting-specific tasks like skinning, field-dressing, or boning. In fact, the long blade and heavy-duty design of the Ka-bar don’t make it a practical choice for hunters.

That said, there are a few new models in the Ka-bar lineup like the Ka-bar Mule and the Ka-bar Skinner that are good options for hunting.

Now, considering the reputation of the Ka-bar, this may sound baffling.

So, let’s take a closer look at the various technical features to understand why the Ka-bar isn’t the best choice for hunters.

How to Choose a Hunting Knife?

To start with, let’s understand the important points that you need to keep in mind while picking a hunting knife. Then we can relate the features with the ones in the Ka-bar.

Honestly, with a wide variety of hunting knives in the market, it’s difficult to establish the exact design features that are needed. But some of the main points are listed below.

  • The length of the blade depends on the type of game you will be hunting. For birds, squirrels, and deer a blade length of 4 to 5 inches is good enough. If you’re hunting elk, a large and sturdier blade may be necessary. However, a large blade can be difficult to handle during a hunting trip.
  • Folding blade knives are compact and easy to use. They are also good for a one-handed opening and are a more practical choice for hunters. However, fixed blade knives are stronger and easier to clean.
  • A drop-point hunting knife with a thick blade is a good choice for skinning. A knife with a gut hook is also effective for field-dressing big game.
  • While wood and leather handles are functional, they lack durability. Also, they can be difficult to grip when wet with blood or water. Synthetic materials like ABS or Zytel are a better option.
  • When it comes to the blade material, high-carbon stainless steel is the best choice in terms of edge retention and toughness. The high-end designs also contain high-vanadium steel.

Specifications of the Traditional Ka-bar Knife

The full-size USMC Ka-bar knife is still one of the most popular knives in the market even decades after it was introduced. The high-quality design and performance make this a durable and rugged choice as a combat knife.

The entire design of the Ka-bar is marked by the top-notch fit and finish. The classic fixed blade design looks awe-inspiring and the genuine leather sheath adds to the overall aesthetics.

The 7-inch blade is made from 1095 Cro-Van steel and offers excellent durability. The material also holds an edge for long periods. The clip point blade is super sharp with a 20-degree blade angle. Even with the long blade, the knife weighs around 0.7 pounds.

If you want a touch blade, the Ka-bar is one of the best out there. Also, the clip point makes it an excellent slicer. The penetration ability is also good. In addition, the blade comes with a “flat grind” that makes it thicker at the edges and more durable. The leather handle offers a good grip and feels comfortable.


  • The Ka-bar comes with a heritage that makes it special for any knife owner.
  • A strong blade that’s an effective slicer. It’s good for slicing meat.
  • The high-quality material allows the blade to stay sharp for long periods.
  • The weight is nicely balanced. This makes it a good knife for quick moves.
  • The combination of the leather handle and the leather grip offers a classic look.
  • It offers good value for money.


  • With an overall length of 11.875 inches, the knife isn’t easy to carry around. 
  • The leather handle of the traditional model isn’t the most durable choice for outdoor use. Thankfully, there’s a Kraton-handled version of the Ka-bar that’s more durable.
  • The Ka-bar comes with a partial tang or narrow tang that tapers down after the blade. That makes it less hardy than full-tang knives.

Is the KA-BAR a Good Hunting Knife?

Now that you have gone through the features of the Ka-bar, let’s point out a few factors that make it unsuitable for hunters.

  • Being almost a foot in length, the Ka-bar can be too long for most hunters. This makes it difficult to use on smaller games. This also makes it difficult to carry in a backpack. On the whole, it’s not a slick knife.
  • The leather handle can deteriorate in wet conditions. Also, some users find the oval shape of the handle not ideal for a comfortable grip.
  • The fine tip lacks tip strength and the clip point blade isn’t the best choice for gutting wild game.
  • If you want to use your hunting knife as a utility knife as well, the Ka-bar isn’t the best choice. It’s not the right knife for actions like battoning.
  • The sheath doesn’t come with a tactical MOLLE webbing. This doesn’t allow you to attach it to your backpack or carry it close to your body.

Overall. If you need a knife for your bug-out bag or for self-defense, the Ka-bar is an excellent option. But when it comes to hunting, it just doesn’t have the right features.

If we look back at history, the Ka-bar is strong enough to kill a Kodiak bear. But as a hunter, I would prefer using a gun. So, the features that make it a great fighting knife don’t necessarily make it great for hunting.

Quite simply, the Ka-bar lacks the necessary refinements that many modern hunting knives have.


Make no mistake about it.

The Ka-bar is a great fighting/utility knife. Truth is, it’s the most respected fixed blade knife ever made. 

But it isn’t designed to be used for hunting. There are quite a few hunting knives in the market that offers better performance than the Ka-bar.

That said, choosing the right hunting knife is more of a personal preference. The Ka-bar is good for cutting and slicing action. If you love the design, you can use it for hunting trips, even though it will not excel at all the tasks.


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