Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner 15001-2 Review
Blade
Steel
Design
Handle
Sheath
What's Great About it:
  • Razor Sharp Blade
  • Premium Steel for Edge Retention and Corrosion Resistance
  • Superb American Craftsmanship
What Could Be Improved:
  • Fit of the knife in the Sheath
  • Handle could be thinner
5.0Overall Score

Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner Review – Best Overall Skinning Knife

ImageBlade TypeOverall Knife LengthBlade LengthBlade ThicknessPriceEditor's RatingCheck Price and Reviews
Fixed Blade8.73 Inches4.17 Inches.58 Inches$$$5.0 / 5.0

Overview of the Saddle Mountain Skinner 15001-2


Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner Review

Apart of the newer Hunt Series, and the Saddle Mountain Hunter Family, Benchmade has brought us the compact Saddle Mountain Skinner 15001.

Specifications

  • Blade Type: Fixed
  • Blade Length: 4.17 Inches
  • Overall Knife Length: 8.73 Inches
  • Blade Thickness: .14 Inches
  • Handle Thickness: .58 Inches
  • Blade Material: CPM-S30V Stainless Steel
  • Blade Finish: Satin

Different than some of Benchmade’s other lines, the Saddle Mountain Skinner has been completely designed with the needs of a hunter (read: skinner) at the forefront – and overall it is phenomenal, and absolutely worth every penny. I have been extremely excited about this knife, and if you haven’t seen it or read about this knife yet – you’ll see why in this review of the Saddle Mountain Skinner!

Every year we hear the same marketing hype for different released knife series, regardless of brand, and all of the shiny bells and whistles that it will have. If you’re like me, it’s easy to start to get desensitized to that. Let me tell you though, this beauty is not all marketing and no bite. The Saddle Mountain Skinner was actually designed with real field research, unlike plenty of knives that simply are not practical in the field. Benchmade created a gem with top-end materials, and performance driven. To most people that use it, it just feels right from the moment you hold it.

Whether you’re a knife collector or avid hunter, an aesthetically pleasing knife design is never a bad thing, but that was not Benchmade’s focus here … it was all about performance, and they really knocked it out of the park. It truly is a testament to quality USA manufacturing and craftsmanship.

Lastly, let’s get something straight before I dive deeper into this review of the Saddle Mountain Skinner. If you’re looking for an EDC, tactical knife, or anything other than a skinning knife, you’re looking at the wrong knife. This knife can surely hold its own in many areas of bushcraft, hunting, caping, butchering but there’s a reason that Benchmade called it the “Saddle Mountain Skinner”. Its strengths are specifically tailored to field dressing, and if that is what your needs are, you’re going to love everything about how this knife performs.

Features

  • Made in the USA
  • Designed with a Modified Clip-Point Blade
  • Includes a Form Fitting Kydex Sheath
  • Equipped with Premium CPM-S30V Stainless Steel Blade

 

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What I look for in a Quality Skinning Knife

All hunters have different tastes, styles and preferences, that’s a part of the fun. I’m personally of the school of thought that an ideal skinning knife has a sharp blade in the 4 – 6 inch range, as that is the perfect size for most game. I find that a knife in this range offers the most control, and precision in the cuts that I make.

The blade length of the Saddle Mountain Skinner is just slightly above that, measuring at about 4.17 inches. Immediately that checked an important box for me, as size DOES matter when it comes to field dressing.

What stands out to you?

When I think of the Saddle Mountain Skinner I think: Top notch. Practical. Razor Sharp. Durable. Versatile. Sharp. Unbelievable Edge. Sharp (again – it really is that sharp)

When you first unbox it, it’s striking that even for a large fixed blade, it is remarkably lightweight for its size (which is key). You’ll notice it may have a simplistic design, but an appearance that was crafted very meticulously. You’ll appreciate the advanced weight distribution of the knife. Most knife manufacturers gloss over the importance of how the knife balances in your hand, and this is a characteristic you can tangibly feel and compare to other knives right out of the box.

The Skinner has a large re-curved blade, useful for tasks such as meat cutting, gutting, skinning and field dressing. You’ll find that for such a sharp knife, it is surprisingly sturdy, and will be the perfect assistant for numerous tasks in the field, making it an extremely versatile and usable knife.

With the 4.17 Inch blade, the blade size is perfect for almost all gutting tasks. The belly on the blade allows for convenient big game slicing and cleaning

Let’s Dive Into the Nitty Gritty

Blade Quality

Arguably the most important part of a skinning knife is the blade. With a dull blade, nothing else matters. Regardless of how elegant the design of the knife is, how comfortable the handle feels, or what type of fine leather was used to craft the sheath, it is all moot without a strong blade that serves as the lifeblood of the knife.

The Saddle Mountain Skinner comes with a razor sharp blade right out of the package, and it is not an understatement to say that it stays that way. Even after extensive and rigorous use (See Video for field test demonstration), because of its strong steel (CPM-S30V), the blade holds its edge extremely well.

If you’re hunting deer, elk or other large game, then this knife won’t leave your side. It cuts through skin and hide like a hot knife through butter, and will be the first knife you turn to after bringing down that buck.

Benchmade created this model with a drop point re-curved blade, which is what you want in a quality skinner to be able to make all necessary cuts. The re-curved blade provides for better total functionality, and it’s arm-hair-shaving-sharpness easily cuts through game cartilage and bone (all without losing its edge). The re-curve in the belly allows for great angles for extensive, separating cuts.

As sharp as the blade is, Benchmade designed the Skinner with a delicate tip that offers flexibility for precision and accuracy. It’s also worth noting that the knife’s deep belly is going to be your sweet spot for cutting.

When skinning, I also like to choke up on the blade to make more precise cuts. I’m excited that the Saddle Mountain Skinner makes great use of jimping, with jimping towards the blade’s tip that allows you to choke all the way up on the knife. I find that using the belly of the knife is where you get the cleanest cuts, and where it feels the most natural in your hand.

Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner Blade

With jimping on the spine, it simply offers additional hand placement for finer gripping – ideal in bloody environments where additional grip is imperative

Steel

For the Saddle Mountain Skinner, Benchmade opted to use their premium CPM-S30V stainless steel. The high-quality steel is what helps to make this such a fantastic knife. Albeit, the high-end steel is a reason for the higher cost of this knife, it’s a worthwhile expense in terms of sheer quality and durability.

As mentioned earlier, the Skinner can become razor sharp, and holds its edge well. However, after wearing down from prolonged usage, it is easy to re-sharpen. It rarely needs sharpening, and the most maintenance work that you will most likely need to do is small touch-ups to bring it back to razor sharp levels.

I like the CPM-S30V as compared to cheaper steels because it won’t rust, stain nor dull easily. The corrosion resistance is an important element to myself because I don’t always have time to quickly clean a knife off after a kill. Should it stay out in the field with blood, water or grease on it, I want to know that it won’t rust, or be hard to clean off later.

The S30V is as a harder steel (HRC 58-60), so if you try to use it as a general purpose hunting knife and to serve as a hammer in the field (or pry bar, or chisel or punch), it could chip pieces off.

I prefer a premium steel like this because of its edge retention, durability, corrosion resistance as well as its stronger cut depth and consistency. Benchmade also constructed the knife creatively with the compound of this steel, creating a blade steel that wears evenly as opposed to some that wear in parts.

 

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Handle

Another important consideration for a quality skinning knife is the handle. If a knife doesn’t feel right in your hands, or sit comfortably, then it’s a hassle to use it for extended periods of time as you’re doing field dressing work. Or, if a handle slips in greasy conditions, then it also becomes a health hazard as well.

The Saddle Mountain Skinner has a handle that grips like glue, and is truly a pleasure to hold. It is suitable for skinning game as it maintains its grip in any type of condition, wet, messy, bloody, oily, etc. With larger hands, I can sometimes be picky about what handles I find comfortable (if you’ve done extensive skinning before, you’ll understand why!).

I love that this knife just feels right in your palm. With strong ergonomics, it rests comfortably in your grasp, and can work stress-free without worrying about it slipping. There are 2 models, one with the G10 scales and the other with dymondwood handle.

While I like the design of the dymondwood handle, the G10 scales and handle is excellent for both small and larger hands. It’s thin enough that it doesn’t feel heavy in your hands, but just thick enough to be comfortable as a tool you can use for hours. Some find that the handle is thinner than they like, but I generally prefer thinner knives when I will spend extended time processing game. In the field you really don’t want an overly heavy knife.

The contoured G10 handle has added grooves, ridges and texture that allow for strong traction, as well as thumb grooves for extra security and hand placement options. In slippery situations, I find the G10 to be more conducive to those environments than the wood.

Overall, it is clear that Benchmade knows what we want. Without all the bells and whistles, we want a handle that won’t create hotspots, slip in greasy conditions, and not feel overly heavy, and they have succeeded on all fronts.

Design

Admittedly, while this knife won’t “WOW!” you out of the box, and for the price you might even expect to be bedazzled by the design, I do like the simplistic design it sports. It has a nice finish and looks classy ‘enough’. It’s not overly lavish like a TOPS knife, or even some of Buck’s high-end knives, but the overarching craft is impeccable.

It was designed to be efficient for its size, and generally lightweight. It’s not going to win any awards on a cosmetic or aesthetic level. Instead, it’s going to skin game for you like no other knife (at-least not in this price range)

Benchmade designed this model to handle with supreme control, and ensure traction. There’s few other situations that require as much traction then when you’re doing something such as gutting a deer.

Benchmade meticulously designed this knife for a hunter, and so the craftsmanship of the entire knife is stellar.

While this won’t be the prettiest knife in your collection, it will be one of the most ergonomically designed knives. You may not be showing it off for cosmetics, but your hunting friends will be amazed by its performance. And ultimately, when I’m out in the field, I’m more concerned with how efficient my tools will perform, not exactly how pretty they will look on display.

Sheath

For a higher-end knife, I want a sheath that will properly protect the knife, and make it convenient to grab when I need it. The Saddle Mountain Skinner comes with a decent brown kydex sheath, which for the most part, holds the knife in place. However, if there is one complaint with this knife, it is that Benchmade put all of their focus and time on the knife and neglected the sheath.

Some users complain that the kydex sheath allows for some wiggle room, which enables the knife to move around, and that it doesn’t snap securely into place. On the other hand, just like the knife itself, it is perfect for wet conditions.

The sheath is lightweight and will sit snug on your hip (or in your bag). Benchmade could have, and should have, paired the Skinner with a higher-quality sheath, but it is only a small drawback (and definitely not a deal breaker) for a stellar knife. It will do the job, but you may want to eventually look at finding a suitable alternative.

What Type of Game Was it Made For?

This knife can handle any game. It is truly ideal for skinning and gutting whitetail, but just as easily can handle other large game such as elk, mule deer, hog, or any other game you put in its path. It can slice through pheasants and rabbit like a hot knife through better – bone and breasts without dulling the knife. Some fans of this model have even reported that they can process half a dozen deer before even needing to sharpen.

Benchmade Brand

Benchmade is a highly regarded brand within the industry, and thought of as one of the top of the line for quality and production. They are known to offer fantastic support, use high-quality material and is American made. They’ve built their brand on performance driven designs, high-quality materials and reasonable price points.

Benchmade also backs their products up with their Lifesharp Service and warranty service. When you receive your Benchmade knife, you’ll receive written documentation of the Benchmade Lifetime Warranty where Benchmade will repair or replace any knife that is defective. With the Lifesharp service, Benchmade will resharpen your Benchmade knife to a factory razor sharp edge, and inspect the knife for any warranted repairs, and replace any parts of the knife if it requires it (and send it back within 2 – 3 weeks).

This is a testament to the quality American brand that they have built (manufactured in Oregon).

Verdict

While it is not without its faults, Benchmade has crafted a truly exceptional skinning knife. With most things in life (and as many of us hunters know from experience), you get what you pay for, and this is an example of a high-quality American manufactured skinning knife. Benchmade has put it all together to create a skinner masterpiece: excellent steel, comfortable and sticky handle, proper use of weight distribution (great center of balance), razor sharp blade, edge retention, options for alternative grips (usage of jimping), good sheath, all backed up with through brand and warranty.


Benchmade Saddle Mountain Skinner Review

The Saddle Mountain Skinner is creating the standard of skinning knives at this price range. When you compare it to others of this quality and price range, the Skinner is in a class of its own. They’ve combined almost all of their best features to create what will become your favorite skinning companion (made to last for a long time), and a knife you’ll be happy to pass down to the next little hunter in line.

I’m still very excited about this knife because of how well all of these pieces come together, and the performance it offers, and with that, I highly recommend this knife.

All in all, the price is unbeatable for the value provided, and if you’re a serious hunter, you will love this knife.

 Pros:

  • Lifesharp Service to re-sharpen back to factory edge
  • You’ll be able to field dress white tails like it is nothing
  • Constructed with top end steel
  • Superb American craftsmanship
  • Razor sharp blade out of the box AND stays that way (especially with occasional small touch-ups)
  • Balance of the knife in your hands
  • Ergonomic handle design and feel

Cons:

  • Fit of the knife in the sheath. It allows for excess wiggle room where tighter retention would have helped to solve this problem.
  • Sheath would also be better if it had a strap as opposed to the snap
  • Some find the handle to be thinner than they prefer

Editor’s Rating: 5.0 / 5.0

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If You Enjoyed This Review – You’ll Enjoy These:

Our review of the Buck 113: http://www.huntsharp.com/buck-113-review/

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Our Buyer’s Guide for the best skinning

 

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