Hogue Hunting Knives

By Jeff Johnston, FE Hunting & Shooting Editor

Recently Mike Schoby texted me, asking if I’d heard of Hogue knives. He lives in Montana, and we hunt together as time allows. 

“Hogue, as in, the company that makes those rubberized gunstocks?”

“Yeah, that’s them,” he said. “But they make legit knives too,” or something like that. “I’m going to send you a couple to see what you think.”

To be honest I was fairly disappointed when I unboxed the first one, because it was one of those exchangeable-blade scalpel knives of the type that I had denounced several years ago after I saw my guide lose a blade in an elk carcass as we were quartering it at dusk on the side of a mountain. Moments later he cut his finger as another blade kept popping off while he was skinning the animal out. It seemed to me that the advantage of having a scalpel-sharp blade at all times wasn’t worth the risk of fiddling with it constantly. In more flavorful language,I relayed my opinion to Mike.  

“You dumbass,” he said. “That’s the whole point of it; unlike the Havalons, you never have to actually touch a blade.”

So I gave the Hogue Expel Folding Scalpel and Expel Blade Dispenser an actual look. Sure enough, the magazine-like blade dispenser (sold separately) not only doffs blades from the knife and dons fresh ones, but it also stores the old blades so I don’t have to toss them in the camp trash bag or leave them on the mountain like a bum. That’s a game changer. I also like the fact that the Expel actually feels like something a surgeon would use with its precision engineered blade locking system and G10 grip scales rather than cheap-ass plastic like most of the other exchangeable scalpel knives out there.  

Even still, I prefer the other Hogue he sent, the Extrak XL fixed blade, as my primary knife in the field. Come to find out, this full tang, 3.9-inch clip-point is made of a top-end alloy steel called CPM M4 that’s known for its edge retention. Hard to sharpen, hard to dull. It’s so thin and light at 2.3 ounces that I forget that it’s clipped to my bino harness by way of a molded Kydex sheath. The knife itself is available in blaze orange Cerakote to mitigate the chance of me losing it, which is always probable. So that’s what I’m carrying these days, thanks to Mike. When I’m in the skinning shed or under the lights of camp in a more controlled environment, that’s when I pull out the scalpel. But that’s just me.

I’ve been a fan of American-made Hogue products for years. Now I can recommend its knives too.  

Cost: Expel Folding Scalpel, $125; Expel Blade Dispenser $25; Extrak XL Fixed Blade, $220

Pros: Buy the dispenser with the Expel and never worry about cutting yourself as you change blades again. Top-notch, made-in-America quality with top-end steels and grip materials 

Cons: pricier than its Chinese-made competition

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