Sometimes having the right tool for the job makes all the difference.
That’s a truth we understand at Petersen’s Hunting, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the best knives and multitools for 2012. Whether it’s the right hatchet for your back country adventure or the perfect knife to help cut your arm free from a fallen boulder, we’ve got you covered. The other nice thing about our list? You can equip your outdoor toolbox with any one of these tools for right at or under $100. If you do have to cut a limb off to save your life, we figure you’ll need that extra change to cover your hospital bills.
OK, it does look tactical at first glance. But trust me, Benchmade’s 530 is anything but. Designed from the onset as the lightest “real” knife the legendary Oregon-based company could make, they used every trick to build this sub two-ounce folder (1.88 ounces true weight). With a finely ground, 3.25-inch 154 CM blade tucked into a svelte synthetic handle and secured by the fabulous Axis lock, this knife is UFC fighter tough yet supermodel thin. The 530 is that rare knife that slides weightlessly into pockets, packs, or gut cavities with ease.
Log onto Buck’s website and build your ideal hunting knife. Everyone knows the Buck 110 Folding Hunter—a blade as iconic as Jack O’Connor and Fred Bear—so I won’t go into many details about the actual knife. Buck’s innovative and interactive custom knife-building website, however, is superb. Choose between three knife templates; add features you like, pass on those you don’t. This lets you decide, both aesthetically and financially, what constitutes your perfect knife. Tim Neher, art director for Petersen’s Hunting, built a 110 to his specs with “timbo” engraved on it. For a quality knife, why not customize it?
My mentors were men who began killing bucks in the 1950s, therefore it’s no shock that my idea of a hunting knife is a fixed blade with a stacked-leather handle carried, of course, in a leather sheath. While the blade isn’t worn from repeated sharpening and the leather handle isn’t bloodstained, this Case Leather Hunter embodies everything a field knife should be. Its 4.8-ounce heft balances the 4-inch Tru-Sharp mirror-finish, drop-point blade perfectly. Pair it with a compact sharpener like an EZE-Lap and you’re all set for a lifetime of boning and butchering in the backcountry.
Tough to improve upon greatness, but Gerber has done just that with their black-oxide coated MP600 ST (Sight Tool). Based on the same one-hand-opening MP600, the upgraded ST version rocks a newly designed A2 front-sight adjustment tool and carbon scraper for dialing in and maintaining your AR or M14 rifle, an improved and lengthened Phillips driver, as well as favorites like a partially serrated blade, carbide wire-cutters, and slender yet powerful pliers. Rounding out the great features is a handsome ballistic nylon sheath made—like the tool itself—in the USA.
Havalon’s newest addition to their lineup of scalpel knives, the Piranta Torch, is 2.1 ounces of razor-sharp precision for hunters and anglers. The handle is made of aircraft aluminum with an open back for quick and easy cleaning. The 2.75-inch removable scalpel blade, while still scary sharp, is 20 percent thicker than preceding versions and features a safety tab for easier blade changes. If you’re sick of knives going dull and requiring sharpening, look no further than the Piranta Torch.
Until now there have been two types of one-handed multitools. Either the pliers opened one-handed or the blades did. Never both. Enter the Leatherman OHT (One-Hand Tool). This new tool features slide-out, spring-loaded pliers and eight separate tools—two knife blades, four screwdrivers, a saw blade, and a belt cutter/gut-hook—all deployable one-handed and each held securely by a locking liner. The tool also has replaceable 154CM wire-cutters, comes with a nylon molle sheath, and will be offered in black or Coyote Tan Cerakote.
I hate wearing blaze orange, but I love it on my easily lost equipment, because anything that can easily be set down—knives, radios, binoculars, flashlights—can also be easily left behind. That’s one reason why the Lone Wolf Landslide, with its dazzling orange handle, makes our list. Other reasons, like the backstrap-removing 3.5-inch N680 blade, simple and reliable lockback mechanism, and perfectly balanced 3.2-ounce heft, don’t hurt, either. Lone Wolf is also made right here in the USA.
We’ve all seen them: guys who can deploy a multitool .38 second faster than a heavily-caffeinated ninja can wield nunchucks. Well, if you are one of those guys, don’t buy the SOG. It’s not fast. But if you like simple and dependable, the Paratool makes up for it by being the only multitool with jaws capable of operating at different angles from the handle, a very handy feature for reaching around corners. The made-in-USA Paratool also offers a collection of 15 common tools to assist in less-specialized chores.
A hatchet may be the simplest outdoorsmen’s tool, but in its simplicity there is a certain grace, quality, and purpose. A $20 hardware store hatchet can barely be considered functional, but a good hatchet is nearly a work of art—the epitome of balance and functionality refined. The new Backcountry Hatchet fits this bill precisely. You can debate all day long about the relative merits (or lack thereof) of Swedish meatballs, but one thing you can’t take away from the Swedes is their ability to make damn fine cutlery. The 1.5-pound Swedish carbon alloy steel head combined with 16 inches of American hickory makes you want to just chop something down. Barring a handy stand of pine trees, you can always shave with it…literally.