In A Rush? My Top Choice is the Worksharp Guided Field Sharpener.
What Makes A Hunting Sharpener Different Than Your Kitchen Sharpener?
Choosing the best knife sharpener for hunters is different that just choosing the best overall knife sharpener.
If you are looking to sharpen a serrated knife or a more general knife sharpener for all different kinds of knives then check out our post about how to sharpen a pocket knife.
However, if you are looking for the best hunting knife sharpener then read on, this post is for you!
My factors for determining what I think is the best choice for sharpening your hunting knife is that it must be; lightweight and portable, easy to use in the field, and durable enough to last for many hunts to come.
Many hunting knife sharpener reviews showcase products that are best kept in the shop or at best, back at camp. All of my choices are meant to come with you in your pack so that you have it with you when it matters most!
Best Knife Sharpener For Hunters
1. Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener
The Work sharp Guided Field Sharpener is My number one choice for the best field sharpener for your hunting knives. It is the best portable all in one sharpening system that I have tested on my hunting knives. It has two separate diamond grit plates, two multipurpose ceramic rods, and a leather strop, all built in to one light, strong, and easily packable tool. This is a great knife sharpening system for your hunting blades.
- 220 Grit Diamond Plate for fast material removal to shape and repair edges
- 600 Grit diamond plate for overall sharpening
- 3 position ceramic rod with coarse grit, fine grit, and fish hook groove
- Small diameter ceramic rod for sharpening smaller serrated edges.
- Leather strop pre-conditioned with micro-abrasive for final edge polish
- 20 degree general purpose angle guides
- 25 degree finishing guides for micro bevel
- built in broad head wrench
- removable and interchangeable diamond plates
- weighs only 4.6 ounces
- just over 6 inches long and 1.5 x 1 inch wide
- Lanyard hole
- Assembled in Ashland Oregon USA
- Legacy Limited lifetime warranty
This sharpener ticks the boxes in everything I look for in a portable field sharpener to bring with me on my hunting trips. I really like that it has everything from a coarse diamond plate all the way to final stropping. If you nick your blade and need to do a complete re-sharpen in the field this little all in one package will get the job done.
The high quality diamond plates will last a long time and the angle guides help make it easy to use. When you need to sharpen your blade in the field, you can count on it to maintain a razor sharp edge on your hunting knife for many years to come.
While it's smaller size may make me choose one of my other knife sharpeners at home this great tool will be going with me on every hunting trip in the near future. Considering just how effective it is I may just grab a couple more and keep one in my truck and another one with my tools on the jobsite.
The only drawback that i have with this sharpener is that it is a little small for my hands. While this is a compromise that helps keep it light and compact, I would like to see a slightly larger version that would fit my hands a bit better.
2. Lansky QuadSharp
The Lansky QuadSharp is my best budget sharpener choice. It is very small, lightweight, and simple to use. It is a common carbide pull through style. The "V" groove carbide slots are pre set to different common blade angles.
This sharpener comes with a section of tapered ceramic rod that can be used for final honing as well as sharpening serrated knife blades.
- Made by famous sharpening brand "Lansky"
- Carbide pull through slots in 17, 20, 25, and 30 degree angles
- 800 grit ceramic rod for final honing
- Ceramic rod is tapered for sharpening serrated blades
- Lanyard hole.
- Smallest sharpener in this test
- Metal construction
The main drawback for this sharpener is that the "V" groove carbide style pull sharpeners can be less effective than diamond on some of the harder steels available today. Coupled with the fact that it is only a 2 stage sharpening system it lacks a little bit of versatility.
This is a great little sharpener for quick little touch ups in the field until you can get back to camp or home to your complete sharpening system.
3. DMT FWEF Double Sided Diafold Sharpener
The Diafold sharpener from DMT is great choice for sharpening in the field. Sometimes simple tools are all that is needed to do the job. The Diafold combines the simplicity of a standard sharpening stone with the convenience of a folding handle and the effectiveness of diamond grit.
The FWEF has a fine grit on one side and extra fine on the other side. This is perfect for quick touch ups as well as removing a small nick or ding in your blades cutting edge. The convenience of the folding handle makes it easy to hold and use when your hands are wet and slippery. The sharpener also folds inside of the handle for storage to protect the diamond surfaces when in your pack.
- DMT monocrystalline diamond sharpening surfaces
- DMT's new hardcoat diamond surface for long life
- Fine side is 600 grit
- Extra fine side is 1200 grit
- 4 inch by 1 inch sharpening plates
- folding handle
- 9.5 inches open length
- 5 inches closed length
- lightweight 2.4 ounces.
The only drawback i can find with this sharpener for sharpening your hunting knives in the field is that you are limited to the two grits you have on the sharpener with you and there is no built in strop option. The shouldn't be a problem for most field sharpening as long as your knife is already fairly sharp and only requires light touch ups as you work.
Also, if you wear a leather belt, i like to rub a little bit of stropping compound on the inside of the tongue of my belt and i can use that as a quick strop when needed.
4. DMT 3 Inch Dia-Sharp Credit Card Sized Sharpener Set
These little credit card diamond sharpeners from DMT are the perfect size to fit in your wallet so you can take them with you anywhere. I carry the 1200 grit with me at all times. I find it perfect for removing a nick in my blade or doing light touch ups as needed.
This set of three is very small and lightweight and could fit in your pack for a hunt without even noticing they are there. But if you needed to do any sharpening in the field then you would have a full set of diamond plates.
- DMT Micronized monocrystalline diamond
- Coarse 325 grit
- Fine 600 grit
- Extra Fine 1200 grit
- 3.25 inch by 2 inch
- Color coded vinyl carrying cases
- Continuous diamond surface for sharpening points or hooks
- Weighs less than one ounce each
These are great little sharpeners to take with you anywhere you go. My only real drawback i have found with these is that they are a little small for my hands. I have found though that if you can wedge it on a solid surface it makes it much easier to use and helps you get the razor sharp edge you need.
5. Cabelas Folding Diamond Knife Sharpener
Cabelas folding diamond knife sharpener is similar to the DMT Diafold sharpener however it is an oval shape which makes it good for sharpening blades with inside curves. Most standard hunting knives like a clip point or drop point can easily be sharpened with a flat stone or plate but if your hunting knife has an inverse belly then this is the field sharpener for you.
- Single 750 grit diamond coating
- Oval shape for inside curves
- Diamond surface folds into handle for protective carrying
- Folding handle is solid and gives good grip
- Very light weight and easy to carry
6. Cabelas 2-stage pocket knife sharpener
The Cabelas 2-stage pocket knife sharpener has 2 "V" groove sharpening slots but what makes this a good choice for a hunting knife sharpener is the small tapered diamond rod portion. This diamond rod folds into the case for easy transport and is the perfect size and shape for sharpening the small inside edge of a gut hook.
The small diamond rod can also be used for sharpening serrated knives and serrated blades although I don't know anyone who uses a serrated blade for processing game. However, if you are someone who uses a gut hook for the initial opening then this is a good little sharpener to have in your pack.
The two "V" groove's are pre sat at 20 degrees and has one coarse carbide slot and one finer (800 grit) ceramic slot.
- 3 different sharpening surfaces
- One coarse carbide "V" groove slot
- One finer (800 grit) ceramic "V" groove
- Tapered 400 grit diamond rod
- Great for sharpening gut hooks or serrated edges
- lightweight and compact for easy transport
- lanyard hole
- Reversible and replaceable carbide and ceramic stones
The main drawback I have found with this sharpener is that the small diamond rod detents are kind of weak and the rod comes out of its storage position too easily. This isn't a major problem but it can allow the rod to come out and poke into things in your pack so be sure to store it accordingly.
What Makes A Hunting Sharpener Different?
For many of us, hunting is a way of life. And when it comes to putting top quality meat on the table for your family, you want to make sure you have the right tools for the job.
Once you have your animal on the ground, the work is far from over. You want to make sure you have a high quality hunting knife with a razor sharp edge. There are few things more frustrating than starting to field dress some game only to realize you have dull knives and a dull blade.
Unlike a full sized sharpening system you may have at home, your hunting knife sharpener needs to be portable, lightweight, handheld, easy to use, and very effective at getting your hunting blade ultra sharp. And of course, bringing your favorite electric sharpener from your shop is out of the question out in the field.
Often, when you are dressing large game such as Elk or Moose, a quick touch up of your cutting edge will make the job that much easier. It is a great idea to have the best hunting knife sharpener in your pack and ready to go at all times.
If you are more interested in learning how to sharpen your EDC pocket knife then check out our post about what is the best way to sharpen a pocket knife.
Diamond Sharpening Plates
High quality knife steels require high quality sharpening tools in order to get a razor sharp edge on them in a quick and efficient manner. There are many newer "super steels" that have very hard blades and tend to "skate" across standard sharpening stones made out of tungsten carbide.
This is one reason I love my diamond sharpening stones so much. The electroplated diamond is just much harder than traditional knife sharpeners. The diamond stays sharp longer allowing you to effectively sharpen today's modern harder steels more easily.
Even standard stainless steels and high carbon steels can benefit from diamond sharpening stones. They cut faster and stay flat without cupping like standard sharpening stones. While i am not saying that a standard sharpening stone will not work, i just prefer diamond due to its overall increased performance and effectiveness.
Angle Guides For Consistent Angles
Many different types of angle guides are available for sharpening your hunting knives. Many times they aren't needed for just a quick touch up in the field. Also, many people prefer to hand sharpen by feel and experience and have the skills necessary to freehand it.
With that said, It can be beneficial to use angle guides or at least have them available to help maintain a consistent angle when sharpening.
Some sharpeners have them built in, some are adjustable, and some are stand along guides that you can purchase separately and just use when needed.
Understanding Blade Angle
The angle at which you sharpen your blade can determine the overall level of sharpness as well as the durability of the edge. Your shaving razor and your axe both have very different cutting edge angles to perform very different jobs.
A fairly standard edge angle of many knives straight from the factory is around 20 degrees per side. This produces a compound angle of 40 degrees. This is a compromise angle that is still sharp enough for effective cutting but still leaves enough steel behind the edge that it is fairly durable as well.
If you are like me and desire a little more sharpness and are willing to sacrifice a little bit of edge retention you can steepen the edge angle to 15 or 17 degrees per side. This 30 degree to 34 degree compound angle will slice a little easier but you may need to touch up your edge a little more often than a 20 degree angle. Especially if you rub up on some bones or something else very hard.
Some of the more modern and harder steels handle these finer edge angles and profiles a little better that the standard stainless steels of years past. If you have a high quality hunting knife with a very high quality steel then you may wish to run a steeper blade angle and see how it cuts for you. If you want to geek out on some of the amazing new steels on the market you can check out Knife Steel Nerds. The have a great article on sharpness vs cutting ability here.
Ceramic Rods and Sharpening Steels
If you are trying to get your edge as sharp as possible or just doing a light touch ups over the span of a large cutting job then a quick touch on the sharpening steel or a ceramic rod may be just what you need.
It is good practice to use a sharpening steel or ceramic rod after any serious blade grinding or stoning. The process of grinding your blade on a stone will leave small bits of metal burr and under magnification you can see that the edge is slightly jagged and irregular.
Many times this level of sharpness is just fine for the task at hand and for most every day knife users they will not progress past the basic sharpening stone. However, with that said, many hunters will not be satisfied with this mundane level of sharpness for their best hunting knives.
If you are like me, as soon as you feel that little bit of "tooth", or grab to your blade, you know it is time to do a touch up and bring back that scary sharp edge. This is where the sharpening steel or ceramic rod comes into play.
The job of the sharpening steel or ceramic rod is to not really remove steel like the previous grinding stages, but instead, to remove any remaining bits of burr and gently align the edge. This gentle alignment can be performed many times in between using the stones and is often enough of a touch up in the middle of game processing.
Stropping Your Blade
One good habit to get into when field dressing game is to strop your edge often to help keep it as sharp as possible. A couple quick swipes on a good leather strop can maintain your cutting edge as sharp as possible while you are working.
Sometimes that is all that is needed to make your hunting blade function it's best rather than a full sharpening on a stone. While stropping won't maintain your edge indefinitely, it can help rejuvenate it just enough to get the job done when needed.
It is also a very good idea to always finish with a strop after you perform any more serious sharpening tasks. The strop can help remove any left over bits of burr as well as polish the cutting edge to make sure it is razor sharp and ready to cut.
Choosing A Good Hunting Knife Sharpener
So what criteria did I use to choose the best knife sharpener for hunters? The following list were some of the factors I used to make my choices. Keep in mind, I am a hunter and am basing these choices off my own real world experience.
A Good Hunting Knife Sharpener Must Be;
- Easy To Use
- Effective for different blade styles
- Able to perform all required sharpening steps.
- No small parts to get lost in the field
- Cost effective
I have looked at a few other reviews of hunting knife sharpeners that were obviously written by someone who has never used these tools in the field. Many people suggest large electric sharpeners that are not only expensive, but more suited for use on your kitchen knives than your best hunting knives in the field.
While it is great to have the biggest, fanciest and most complicated sharpening systems at home, hunters need something they can pack with them to simply and effectively perform sharpening duties in the field, where it matters.
Having the right tools and supplies when you go out on a hunt can be the difference between coming home victorious or fumbling you way around in the bush. And after the shot, there is still a lot of work to be done.
This post was first written in 2020 and was focusing on the best knife sharpener 2020, and the best manual knife sharpener 2020. It is now the fall of 2022 and I still recommend the Worksharp Guided Field Sharpener as one of the best rated knife sharpeners on the market.
Having a razor sharp hunting knife can help make the work after the shot that much easier. And, having the best hunting knife sharpener with you will help make sure your hunting knife is always razor sharp and ready for use.
The light and portable sharpening tools listed above are my favorite that I have used over the years. I may have a multitude of the best sharpening supplies at home or even back at camp but if your blade needs a touch up when you are field dressing game then it is a good idea to have a tool like this in your pack with you.
What is your favorite knife sharpener for hunting? Drop me a comment below and let me know.