For most of my life I have loved knives. From making that first peanut butter and jelly sandwich to butchering up a deer for the family, knives were crucial in making it happen. I began collecting them at a young age and learning about them. At first I collected anything, but in the past decade I have only collected and kept quality blades. One company that I have just been acquainted with is PUMA. Now, I only knew of the sneaker with a puma name, so a knife company was news to me. This review on three different blades, all carrying the PUMA name in a different way. We have the PUMA Hunter's Pal, PUMA IP Amigo, and the PUMA SGB Mule Deer Hunter. All of the knives come with a leather sheath.
First off, you really have to take notice of the PUMA name and where the knife is coming from. PUMA comes from Germany. PUMA IP is from Spain. PUMA SGB is assembled in China. I look closely at these things when I look at the box as these can all have a variance in quality and construction.
Second, I have average size hands and for me, that is important to know when doing knife reviews. I don't have small hands, but I don't have huge hands either. I don't have skinny finger or fat fingers. The way I hold each knife is the same and that is how I initially judge a knife. That being said, it will often be very superficial and my opinion may change once used in the field.
The PUMA Hunter's Pal is a very cool, handmade knife. To me, it has the look of a small Bowie knife, but more manageable at 8" long. Made with 440C stainless steel*, the full tang knife came out of the box sharp and ready to cut whatever I wanted to cut. The handle is on the narrow side, which I did not initially care for. The stag handle was authentic and had character. I did notice that the PUMA Hunter's Pal, as a genuine PUMA knife, does not have a metal emblem inset into the handle. I found that interesting as it would help distinguish it from other knives. I used the Hunter's Pal to take the backstraps out of a coyote. (Yes, I took the meat out to eat.) It cut like butter and was surprising easy to handle when cutting. The knife overall is very impressive and I really like the way it cuts. The handle does not have a pre-drilled hole for a paracord or leather loop.
The PUMA IP Amigo is 6.41" in total length, and I was warned that I might not like it due to the smaller size, but while I found the handle short, it fit very well in my hand due to it being wide. Due to the thumb grip, I am able to control the blade better. Also full tang and made with 440C stainless steel*, the Amigo is short, stocky, and wicked sharp. While the Hunter's Pal was sharp, this was even sharper! You can do the fingernail test, but to me that's child's play. I dry-shaved with mine and it left a bald spot! I knew it would cut through anything, so I used it on some plastic followed by a pork loin. The Amigo is easy to handle and will make a fine skinning knife in the field. It's not heavy, but fits the hand well and is easily manageable. It also holds an edge very well. The handle also has a pre-drilled hole for a paracord or leather loop.
The PUMA SGB Mule Deer Hunter was my least favorite knife of the three, but that is not to say that it won't work in the field, as it is a decent knife in my opinion. This 7.5" knife is a full tang and is made from 440A stainless steel*. The overall weight and balance of the knife is nice. My biggest issue with the knife was that it wasn't very sharp out of the box. I tried dry shaving to no avail. It did cut into a coyote loin, but I could feel it dragging. I spent some time with it on a wet stone and then it cut well at first and then dulled quickly.I had to spend more time getting it good and sharp. I think this knife would also benefit from a better thumb grip on the back of the knife. The handle also has a pre-drilled hole for a paracord or leather loop.
Another thing I look at when reviewing anything is the packaging. Normally, I wouldn't mention it, but this time I will because each box has a slightly different look. Poor packaging will give the impression of a cheap knife. The PUMA and PUMA IP were packaged in black boxes with limited verbiage. The PUMA SGB was yellow and green, which was perfectly fine, but the text was missing letters. That immediately had me concerned, even before I opened the box.
Now on the part you guys are probably all asking, how much do these knives cost? Think of a hunting knife as an investment. You want it to last for years, decades, even a lifetime if you are lucky. The PUMA Hunter's Pal retails for $319.00 which is really high for me personally, but it will last you a lifetime. The knife works incredibly well, but I know my budget would not allow a $300 knife purchase. The PUMA IP Amigo retails for $149.00 and that to me is a reasonable investment into a skinning blade that will last a long time. The PUMA SGB Mule Deer Hunter comes in at $59.99, which tends to fit more budgets, but you will also spend more time sharpening it. If I had to rank them due to overall use, along with sharpness I would put the PAL first, Amigo second, and the Mule Deer Hunter last. For my first experience with the PUMA line, I would say the knives are impressive and each fit a certain purpose.
*440A Steel - Has a carbon content range of .65-.75%. This is a low cost stainless steel. It is the most rust resistant of 440 steel, and 440C is the least rust resistant of the three. However, the 400 series are some of the most rust resistant knives out there.