Cut to the chase: are replacement blade knives worth it?
Replacement razor blade knives have quickly become the field-dressing knife of choice for many hunters. While there is no doubt that these knives have increased in popularity in recent years, are they actually any better than traditional knives?
While many hunters still prefer a traditional knife, it’s hard to deny that there can be substantial benefits to using a replaceable blade knife. To fully understand the benefits, we decided to review a couple different replacement blade knives.
These knives are wicked sharp! While most traditional knife blades use an edge angle of 22-24 degrees per side, most replacement razor blade knives use a far thinner blade with an even more aggressive grind angle.
The razor blades allow for effortless cutting because the thinner blade reduces friction (similar to fillet knife’s thin blade).
Replacement razor blade knives eliminate the time you would spend sharpening a traditional blade. Sharpening a traditional blade takes time, patience, and skill. The perceived quality of a traditional knife is frequently based on edge retention, however, that increased edge retention frequently corresponds to greatly reduced sharpenability. We found that being able to simply swap in a new razor blade saved a considerable amount of time in the field.
1. The Piranta from Havalon
Havalon was the first to popularize replacement razor-blade knives for hunters. They took their parent company’s (Havel) medical scalpel blades and mounted them in a folding knife called the Piranta.
Quite popular with guides, outfitters, and taxidermists, the Piranta really set the initial standard for replacement razor blade knives in the hunting world. While these blades are extremely sharp, we noticed the Piranta had two shortcomings.
First, is the thin scalpel blades (0.4mm) can break when lateral force is applied to the blade. Second, while the blade attachment system is extremely secure, it makes it extremely difficult to replace the blade (and really requires pliers to do safely).
2. The Razor-Lite from Outdoor Edge
Outdoor Edge entered the replacement blade scene several years after Havalon, but they clearly learned a few lessons from the Havalons first. For their Razor-Lite Series of replaceable blade knives, Outdoor Edge developed a blade support system with a push button blade release.
The rigid blade holder fully supports the razor blade, which adds strength, and gives you the option to sharpen the blades just like a regular knife (we found the blades sharpen even easier than most traditional knives). The majority of today’s most popular hunting knives are 3.5-4.0” in length, so Outdoor Edge also chose to develop longer 3.5” (vs 2.75” with the Piranta) blades for the Razor-Lite.
The Razor-Lite handle has a rubberized TPR coating, which provides a safe, non-slip grip, even when the handle becomes slick with fat and blood. Each knife also comes with a dual position nylon sheath that has a second internal compartment to store the spare blades separately (each knife includes five spare individually sealed blades).
Additional things we liked
Blaze Orange Version – saved time finding the knife on the ground.
Pro Model – Incorporates the same replacement razor blade system, and adds an additional curved gutting blade. The gutting blade cuts under the skin to open game effortlessly without cutting hair or internal organs.
EDC Version – Same replacement blade functionality, but with a lighter weight handle and pocket clip
Whether you’re a fan of replaceable blade knives or not, one thing is clear, they are going to be around for a long, long time.