When on the hunt, there’s nothing worse than your hunting knife going dull when you need it most. If you’ve spent a lot of money on a high-quality hunting knife, you need to keep it sharp to get the most out of it. What you need is the best hunting knife sharpener on the market.
However, what defines ‘the best hunting knife sharpener’ is up for debate. Some hardcore hunters will argue that whetstones are the way forward. While whetstones may produce sharper results, they’re definitely more difficult to use. In this guide, we’ll examine the best hunting knife sharpeners on the market – both whetstones and standard knife sharpeners.
- Best Hunting Knife Sharpener Overall – Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition
- Best Sharpening Stone – Work Sharp Whetstone Knife Sharpener
- Best Portable Knife Sharpener – Smith’s Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener
- Best Portable Electric Hunting Knife Sharpener – Smith’s Cordless Knife & Tool Sharpener
- Most Versatile Hunting Knife Sharpener – Lansky Blademedic Knife Sharpener
Which Style of Hunting Knife Sharpener Do You Need?
Hunting knives come in all shapes and sizes, as do hunting knife sharpeners. To pick the best hunting knife sharpener for you, you need to consider how you plan on using it. Obviously, you plan on using it to sharpen hunting knives. But, do you plan on doing this before or during your hunting trip?
Here are all the different types of hunting knife sharpeners you’ll encounter:
Plug-in hunting knife sharpener
Not exactly the most contemporary hunting knife sharpeners, but you can still find machines that are required to be plugged in at all times. While they can produce a sharp edge on your knives, they’re not practical in the modern world of hunting. They’re impractical, limiting, and best avoided if you’d rather sharpen your hunting knives anywhere.
Cordless hunting knife sharpeners
By far the most convenient, cordless hunting knives can be used to sharpen blades from anywhere. Normally, these come with their own charger. This allows you to charge them overnight and use them anywhere. While they’re the biggest limitation is that they run out of charge, they should still last you a whole hunting trip.
Pocket knife sharpeners
It’s up for debate whether pocket knife sharpeners are more convenient than cordless electric sharpeners. Electric sharpeners make the job easy but cannot fit in your pocket. Pocket knife sharpeners require more effort, but are by far the most portable sharpeners available. Once you get the hang of pocket sharpeners, knife sharpening becomes a lot faster and easier.
Back in the day, hunting tools were sharpened using stones. In tribute to these old days, you could invest in a whetstone. Whetstones normally consist of a metal sheet, and either silicon carbide, aluminum oxide, or diamond stones. By running your knife blade at an angle across this surface, you can sharpen your knives effectively.
Best Hunting Knife Sharpener Overall – Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition
What we love about it:
The Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition is an industrial knife sharpener with a unique design. If you want to put an edge on your blade and waste no time doing it, this machine can whet your blade in seconds.
- Abrasive Size: 0.75″ x 12″
- Duty Cycle: 1 hour continuous
- Sharpening Angles: 15° – 30° adjustable
- Motor: 120VAC / 1.5 amp (with variable speed)
- Power Button: Variable speed
- Unique design: This Work Sharp knife sharpener uses interchangeable belts to sharpen knives. When you force your blade against a belt, a convex edge is created. This edge angle sharpens the blade.
- Several belt types are included: The machine comes with several belt types, including a Coarse Abrasive Belt, Medium Abrasive Belt, Fine Abrasive Belt, and Extra-Fine Abrasive Belt.
- Fast sharpening action: This machine can consistently sharpen blades in rapid time. The amount of time it takes solely depends on how blunt your knife is and how sharp you want to make it.
- Affordable: Despite its brilliant design, this Work Sharp knife sharpener is within budget.
- Electric: Not recommended for taking on the hunt. This machine needs access to electricity to work.
- Can scratch: You need to focus on the job. If you’re not careful, this powerful machine can scratch your blade.
Named after Ken Onion, a renowned custom knife maker, this electric hunting knife sharpener lives up to his reputation. We think it stands out from the crowd due to its unique approach to blade sharpening. Nothing else that we’ve reviewed using belts to sharpen a blade in this manner.
Best of all, its one-of-a-kind design works. The convex edge creates a sharp point like no other. Grooves can be found along this guided sharpening system. This makes it simple for users to create a consistent angle. As far as electric sharpeners go, nothing can return your knife back to its factory profile quite like this Work Sharp model.
One thing that should be said about this Work Sharp knife sharpener is that it is not an automatic sharpener. It still requires the user to apply even pressure to the knife. Carelessness could lead to this machine ruining your hunting knife permanently.
Best Sharpening Stone – Work Sharp Whetstone Knife Sharpener
What we love about it:
If you’d rather opt for a much more affordable product from Work Sharp, choose their Whetstone Knife Sharpener. Whetstones are the best option for those who like to feel they’re sharpening their own knives, rather than letting the machine do all the work. This product from Work Sharp at least makes the process easier, with angle guides.
- Style: WSBCHWT
- Sharpening Angles: 17°, 20°
- Sharpening guides: 15°, 17°
- Abrasives included: 1000 Grit Ceramic, 6000 Grit Ceramic
- Abrasive Size: 7.1″ x 2.3″ x 1.1″
- Easy use: What puts many off using a whetstone is how tricky it can be to master. This Work Sharp whetstone rectifies the issue by adding angle guides. These guides make it easy to run the razor edge along the stone itself, producing a super-sharp knife.
- Affordable: A whetstone is the most basic form of sharpening tool you can get. It is often also amongst the most affordable. This particular one can be bought for under $30, which is a bargain in our books.
- Portable: Small in size, you could take this whetstone anywhere. This is ideal if you want to take a sharpener with you when out on a hunt.
- Creates sharp edges: Once you master how to use a sharpening stone, you’ll be able to create sharper edges than any other sharpening tool can.
- Tricky to use: Some hunters disregard the sharpening stone as more hassle than it’s worth. It does take a few uses to get used to the motion. For some, this is a few uses too many. By the time they’ve semi-mastered it, they’ll be ready to throw the stone away!
A knife-sharpening stone is undeniably more romantic than an electric sharpener. It can really complete the rugged wilderness look. However, it takes effort to master. So, if you’re going to start with a sharpening stone, start with this one from Work Sharp.
Not only does it feature knife guides, but it also has anti-skid feet. This means you can place it on a flat surface and not worry about it moving around too much. A combination of the feet and the guides makes it easier for newbies to pick up the whetstone motion necessary for knife sharpening.
You can change the sharpening guides between 15° and 17° depending on the angle you want to create for your knife. 20° and 25° guides are also available but are sold separately.
Best Portable Knife Sharpener – Smith’s Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener
What we love about it:
If you’re looking to minimize your load, this super compact knife sharpener from Smith’s takes up minimal space in your pack. Not only is it compact, affordable, and easy to use, but it also boasts a tapered rod coated in diamond stones.
- Size: 3.5″ x 1″
- Weight: 0.35 oz
- Color: Gray
- Material: Ceramic
- Grit: Coarse, fine
- Fast: Despite its size, the Smith’s Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener works extremely quickly. If you’re looking to bring sharpness to your knife curve, all it takes is a couple of runs along the sharpener’s carbide blade slot.
- Compact: This pocket knife sharpener combines practicality with quality. Not only can it give your hunting knife a sharp edge, but it can also be kept in your pocket while you’re out hunting. If you notice your blade going blunt, you can whip this out and whet the knife in seconds. It also features a lanyard hole for easier accessibility.
- Lightweight: No matter where you hold this sharpener, you won’t feel the weight at all. At just 0.35 ounces, it’s one of the most lightweight sharpeners on the market.
Out of all the pocket knife sharpeners, we like this one the best. The reason it’s our favorite is that it fits easily wherever you need it. If you’d rather have it hung on a lanyard for seamless accessibility, then you can. Alternatively, if you’d rather keep it in your pocket, this lightweight and small knife sharpener can fit in any pocket with room to spare.
The carbide blade slots found along the side of this model make sharpening your straight and curved knife edges easy. It only takes a few runs along this small sharpener to get your knife looking good as new again. This sharpener also features a ceramic blade slot, making it appropriate for a wide range of knife types.
Although you may not need it for your hunting knife, this sharpener also features a diamond-coated tapered rod. This is great for bringing an edge to hard-to-reach or serrated edges.
Overall, this is a solid choice if you need a portable knife. You could invest in a more expensive electric hunting knife sharpener to keep at home and buy this affordable option to take out on hunts with you.
Best Portable Electric Hunting Knife Sharpener – Smith’s Cordless Knife & Tool Sharpener
What we love about it:
If you’ve got some extra space in your hunting pack, why not take a Smith’s Cordless Knife and Tool Sharpener with you? You can charge this handy device up before you leave, and have it with you in case of emergencies when out on the hunt.
Size: 9.4 x 5.11 x 5.75″
Weight: 28 oz
Grit options: Fine, Medium, Coarse
Included: Belts (3), Smith’s bag, Cordless knife, Belts (3), power supply, and tool sharpener. This machine also includes 1 lithium-ion battery, which is necessary for it to work.
- Cordless: This is one of the best hunting knife sharpener tools to have as you can use it anywhere. Featuring electric sharpener power, you can use it to whet your knives anywhere. Whether you’d like to do it in the garage while you’re out or in your truck on-site, this reliable machine can be used.
- Sharpening guide: To go with its portability, this machine also features a sharpening guide. This way, you can easily and professionally sharpen your knives on any surface. By placing your hunting knife in the sharpener guide, you can create an even and sharp blade.
- Guide sizes: There are also several guide sizes to choose from. The sizes that come with this electric knife sharpener are 15, 20, 25, and 30°.
- Bulky: The biggest drawback of this model is its size. While you could take it onsite with you, it may be too bulky to have on you at all times. For this, a pocket knife sharpener would be much more appropriate.
Electric knife sharpeners don’t have to be plugged into the wall. With the Smith’s Cordless Knife and Tool Sharpener, you can unplug the machine and take it wherever you like. This means you can create a razor-sharp edge in whatever part of your home’s most comfortable.
Alternatively, it also means you can take it with you when you’re out hunting. While it may be too bulky to have at your side at all times, you could leave it in your truck. This would save you from going all the way back home to sharpen your knife blade. The tool comes with a charger, meaning you can charge it up anywhere.
The machine comes with a handle with a rubber grip. This makes it easy to hold and allows you to better angle your knife.
The product also comes with extra bands and a convenient hold-all bag.
Most Versatile Hunting Knife Sharpener – Lansky Blademedic Knife Sharpener
What we love about it:
This versatile hunting knife from Lanksy can be used on basically any knife you’ll be using in the wild. Whether you need your boning knife sharpened or your regular hunting knife, this manual knife sharpener has you covered.
- Size: 3.9 x 1.25 x 0.45 “
- Made from: Tungsten carbide, ceramic, diamond
- Weight: 3.98 oz
- Versatile: There isn’t an end to what this Lanksy model can sharpen. With a diamond-coated rod, serrated ceramic edge, ceramic sharpening slot, and a carbide slot, you can use this on any hunting knife. Whether you need to whet or recondition your blade, this knife sharpener is a top choice.
- Portable: Hunting knife sharpeners need to be as portable as possible. Hunting knives that are big and bulky are no good for taking on a hunt. This slender model from Lanksy is the perfect hunting companion. Suitable to slip in your pocket or hang around your neck on a lanyard, it’s highly portable.
- Ergonomic: Despite its versatility, the hunting knife sharpener still sits comfortably in your hand. Designed with maximum comfort in mind, this tool doesn’t sacrifice usability for practicality.
- Rod wears out: You can expect the rod to wear out gradually over time. However, it is unlikely that you’ll use the rod much for hunting knife sharpening.
- Not as quick as other compact hunting knife sharpeners: It takes five strokes to create a sharp edge with this tool. Other hunting knife sharpeners on this list can do it in 3!
This is an incredibly useful tool to have out on hunting trips with you as it can be used against several knife blade types. When hunting, you ideally need individual knife sharpeners for each blade you have. Instead of buying several knife sharpeners, you could buy this all-in-one compact hunting knife sharpener.
Whether your tools are serrated, standard, or curved, you can transform blunt to sharp with this tool. It also stands as one of the fastest means of sharpening hunting knives. Regardless of the blade type, it only takes 5 strokes to make an impressive edge. While this may not be as fast as other knife sharpener tools on this list, it is still mega fast!
All the different slots are marked clearly, and the rod folds away when not in use. When held, this hunting knife sharpener feels comfortable and easy to control.
Considerations When Buying a Hunting Knife Sharpener
No one best hunting knife sharpener suits everybody, just as there’s no best hunting knife. Knife sharpening depends on the type of blade you work with. While we can recommend all of the above as top-quality hunting knife sharpeners, how do you know which one is best for you?
Here are some considerations to make before purchasing:
There’s no one-size-fits-all here. You need to consider what edge type will be best suited to your blade. Would your knife be better with a ceramic or a carbide slot?
Would you benefit more from a hunting knife that can fit in your pocket or one that can hang from a lanyard? If you regularly use your hunting knife when out hunting, you need a pocket-sized one instead of a plug-in one.
Do you carry several blades on you? Do you need to sharpen a boning knife, a hog skinning knife, as well as a hunting knife? If so, look for a single knife sharpening tool that can cater to all your knives.
If you’ve invested a lot in your hunting knife, you’ll also need a top-quality hunting knife sharpener to keep it in tip-top shape. Does the price reflect the quality, features, and design?
How We Chose the Best Hunting Knife Sharpener
Being experts in the field, we judge a hunting knife sharpener on the following factors:
How well it cuts
We only recommend knife-sharpening tools that actually do the job. If a knife sharpener can’t return a blunt blade to factory quality, we don’t consider it worth your time.
How comfortable it feels
Some knives can take more than a few strokes to return to optimum sharpness. If the tool doesn’t feel comfortable in our hands, it may be annoying to work with when it comes to sharpening.
We judge durability on the quality of the materials used. You shouldn’t have to use your sharpener that often. So, it should ideally last you many years. If we deem the materials too weak, we won’t recommend the sharpener.
What do professional hunters use to sharpen knives?
A professional hunter will most likely use sharpening stones or some form of manual knife sharpener. However, there’s no official sharpening tool for professional hunters. They may use electrical sharpening devices if they deem it appropriate.
Can you sharpen a hunting knife with a sharpener for kitchen knives?
As long as your blade fits into the sharpener, it should be safe to use it. However, we’d recommend getting a separate sharpener for your hunting tools. It would be unhygienic to use the same sharpener for your hunting utensils as your kitchen tools.
Last Tips on Hunting Knife Sharpeners
If you take hunting seriously, you need to make sure your tools are all in check. You don’t want to be heading into the wild with a blunt object, especially not a blunt hunting knife!
Our top hunting knife pick is the Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition. It stands out from the crowd for its unique design. Plus, it’s fast-working and affordable. However, this design may not be for everyone.
For hunters who prefer a whetstone, we’d recommend the Work Sharp Whetstone Knife Sharpener. For hunters who want easy portability, we’d recommend the Smith’s Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener.