If you’re serving oysters as a one-off treat, you probably pried them with a make-shift tool like a spoon, knife, screwdriver, or car keys. But if you’re a shellfish connoisseur, you need shucking knives in your drawers. Some oyster knife designs are regional, driven by local preferences.
New Haven knives have a curved tip, better suited for half-shell clams. They have short wide blades. Galveston knives have longer, narrower blades. Meanwhile, Frenchman knives have a protective finger guard at the base of the blade. So which is the best oyster knife? Let’s find out!
1. HiCoup Oyster Shucking Knife
This knife is almost identical to the Archer oyster shucker. They could be twins. It has the same beautifully grained pakka wood handle and an oversized handguard.
The hilt is a pretty touch, and it’s rugged at the same time because it makes your oyster knife resemble a tiny pirate sword. Functionally, the handguard provides better leverage and enhances your shucking force.
On a more practical level, it protects your fingers from getting cut and scraped as you shuck. The 2.5-inch Frenchman blade is forged from 420-gauge stainless steel and polished to mirror-level.
Instead of a plastic sheath for the tip of your knife, HiCoup throws in a free leather sheath. As we mentioned before, some knife professionals don’t advocate sheaths, but they do look good.
The sheath also offers secure storage, convenience, and portability. Slip the sheath in your pocket or bag in case you randomly visit a seaside shop or get served clams at a friend’s house.
But take the knife out regularly so it doesn’t accumulate moisture. And consider tossing a silica gel bag in with the knife, to soak up extra moisture. Make sure the gel bag has no leaks or holes.
HiCoup is a 3-rivet knife and the rivets are compressed into the wood to reinforce the joints and prevent them from slipping out over time. Be sure to keep the inside of your leather sheath dry.
2. Archer Premium Oyster Shucking Knife
Consumers love knife sheaths. They look cool, feel rugged, and protect your blades as well as your fingers. But some experts warn against storing your knife in its sheath, especially if it’s a leather sheath. The leather traps moisture, so your knife may end up even more damaged.
But oyster knives are rarely sharpened except maybe at the tip. That’s probably why this Archer premium shucking knife has a plastic sheath to shield its pointy tip.
It’s a small sheath though, so it’s easy to lose. The knife itself is beautifully designed with a wavy handguard and an intricate 4-inch 3-rivet pakka wood handle. The handle curves comfortably in your palm
The stainless steel blade is full tang and is sharpened on both sides. That plus the elaborate hilt makes it a Frenchman style knife. The stainless steel blade is 2.5 inches long and is made of 420-grade steel.
It’s polished to a mirror-like glint and shaved down on both sides to create a double-bevel-edge that makes it easier to crack your oysters open. It’s a nice aesthetic touch too.
The Archer Oyster Knife looks good and works great. Its blade and handle are both premia, and its gift box is equally luxurious. Plus it has a 100% money-back guarantee.
3. Swissmar Shucker Paddy Oyster Universal Knife
Typical oyster knives have an easily recognizable silhouette. The small blade and sturdy handle are a tell-tale signature. But this Swiss model takes a different approach.
The gun-shaped handle is both arresting – pun intended – and functional. The butt rests in the crook of your thumb and nestles in your palm. The finger grooves allow a firmer shucking grip.
The blade also has a finger guard to prevent slipping. The handle comes in black or yellow and is angled at 135°. Swissmar’s shucker blade is unusual too. Its unexpected shape goes well with the knife handle, but it makes the knife tricky to categorize. It’s only tapered on its bottom side.
Its top side is flat and has a groove on its lower side, resembling a bottle opener. This is useful for slicing through the oyster’s adductor muscle. Thee blade is 3 inches long, and this shucking knife is safe in the dishwasher.
It works equally well whether your right or left-handed because the dual-axis is comfortable in either hand. It allows functionally balanced and shucking power.
This Swiss shucking knife is pretty and stylish. It’s a guaranteed conversation starter at the shellfish bar. But it takes some practice if you’re more used to vertical oyster knives.
4. Deglon Dune Shucking Knife
While we’re in the territory of strange-looking knives, this Deglon has a rather unusual shadow. In place of a ‘normal’ shucking blade, it has a narrow shucking surface with a 3-point tip.
The ‘blade’ is flattened into a taper, allowing it to slip between the oyster crease and pry it open. And while the blade is thinner than typical shucking knives, the handle is larger than its rivals.
The Deglon has a rounded handgrip that sits snug in the ball of your palm, providing extra shucking leverage. The blade is stainless steel and is 1 and ¾ inches long, shorter than most shucking knives.
It does have instructions on the back of the pack, but it may be challenging for amateur shuckers since it doesn’t work as intuitively as regular oyster knives.
Seasoned chefs and seafood pros love this knife because it slips and slides beautifully. But if you have less shucking experience, you’ll probably break the blade as you try to force it in.
Worse, you may push too deep and damage the oyster flesh in the process. So don’t buy this knife unless you’re secure in your shucking skills. You can still keep it, but more as an art piece.
As you order this knife, note that the image is a side view of the knife. It exaggerates the width of the blade and the depth of the handle. In reality, the ‘needle’ blade is 0.97 inches thick.
5. Oxo Good Grips Oyster Knife
Things that bend at the tip are not generally admired. So you’ll be forgiven for thinking it’s a design flaw or a weakness in the metal. But the Oxo oyster shucker is deliberately dented at the tip, giving it a slight forward lean.
This makes it easier to slip into the crease and wedge open your oyster shell. The squat hand sits cozy in your palm, provided added shucking support.
The Oxo knife is dishwasher safe. Its handle has a hole at the bottom so you can hang it on a hook or string it up if you prefer. The blade is stainless steel and the handle stays firm, even when it’s wet.
You won’t slip and gouge your arm with this oyster knife, and that fact alone could make it the best oyster knife. That said, it’s still worth investing in a good oyster glove.
Your Oxo comes bent out of the box, but inexperienced guests may worry they’ve ruined your knife when they notice the bend. Especially since they’ll only notice the dent after shucking!
6. R. Murphy Shucker Selection
Not sure which oyster knife suits your needs? Buy them all! This combo pack is useful if your oyster palate is mixed. Since the box has four different types, you’ll have the right knife whether you’re shucking large Pacifics or tiny Olympias.
This box contains four murphy knives, each with its own functions and advantages. The handles are all three-rivet wood in varying shades.
The handle shapes vary too, allowing you to adjust your grip for different oyster sizes and species. The Narragansett, Damariscotta, and Wellfleet are all styled with side-tapers of different depths.
They have the same double-wedged blades, but the width of the taper varies. The fourth knife in the set is a New Haven knife with a longer blade and a bent tip.
These knives have thick blades, Bubinga lumber handles with brass rivets. Bubinga is a popular African hardwood. The wooden handles are infused with a vacuum to make them less susceptible to moisture damage.
These knives are crafted and polished by hand, and R. Murphy has patents on all their blades apart from the Wellfleet, whose patent is still being processed.
Buying a knife bundle may seem like a good idea in terms of versatility and multiple functionalities. But check the individual knife prices to be sure you’re getting a genuine deal.
7. Dexter Russel Boston-Style Oyster Knife
Boston shuckers are among the most versatile, so many seafood lovers consider it their best oyster knife. This model has a distinct white handle which seems counter-intuitive.
After all, fish can get messy in general, and when you’re digging into a plate of oysters, the fluids splash everywhere. Your knife will soon get stained, and that can be irritating, especially with guests.
In some ways, this is a benefit. Remember, oysters are eaten raw or lightly steamed. And even when you plan to cook them, they have to be alive when you shuck them.
Meaning there’s a high risk of food poisoning of your oysters are mishandled. Using a white oyster knife forces you to be generous with the bleach and aggressive with the kitchen scourer. That reduces fishy germs.
The knife handle is textured to reduce shucking slippage. The blade is 3 inches long and it can handle both large and small oysters. It’s a hefty knife at nearly 3 ounces and is approved for use on oysters and clams, its sturdy enough for both shellfish types.
This US-made knife is made from stain-free high carbon patented dexsteel. It’s recommended for hand-washing only. The Sani-Safe NSF-rated Dexter-Russel knife doesn’t ship internationally. And being a knife, you can’t bring it as hand luggage. So plan carefully if you want to buy it outside the states.
8. Wusthof Frenchman Oyster Knife
Hilted oyster knives are broadly classed as Frenchman knives. Especially if their hand-guard is especially elaborate. This knife though has the standard Frenchman blade, which is shaped like a pointed horseshoe arch. The blade is broad and measures 2.5 inches by 1 inch.
However, the perfectly round hand-guard and full tang blade are is more the classic oyster knife design. The knife has two rivets rather than three, but being German-made, the engineering and balance are guaranteed.
The handle is straight and black, so it doesn’t offer ergonomic advantages. But again, this is the standard oyster knife silhouette, so it’s a universal flaw.
While it doesn’t have any special curves, the synthetic handle does use compression on its rivets, so they’re less likely to loosen or slip out of place. The teardrop-shaped blade is cut by laser.
The knife is stamped (rather than forged) in Solingen, which we already know is ‘Oyster Knife City’. It even has the pitchfork logo to verify its provenance. At 3.2 ounces it’s on the heavier side.
The Wusthof oyster knife has no bells and whistles, but it’s shipped for a city that’s globally renowned for high-quality cutlery. And the black handle is a stylish design selection.
9. Opinel Folding Oyster Knife
The best oyster knife blades are visible slimmer than their handles. This ensures a firmer grip, fewer injuries, and more power when you push and pry your clams.
But the Opinel knife has an even width from blade to tip, which is an odd design choice. But then again, it’s a folding knife, which explains its dimensions. And the handle in question is made of padouk wood.
Sometimes referred to as New Guinea Rosewood, this timber gives your oyster shucker a distinct redwood mood. The handle has gentle curves that fit your palm in a snug, comforting way even while the blade is folded.
Remember to use a food-grade lubricant on your knife pivot since fish already heightens the possibility of contamination and tummy trouble.
The knife has a vibroloc safety ring and a thumb groove on its blade. You have to rotate the ring to pull out the blade, then retwist the safety ring to lock the blade in an open position.
Don’t forget the re-locking stage or you’ll slice your fingers before you even touch oyster flesh. Being a switchblade, it’s convenient and portable, but it doesn’t offer much leverage for shucking.
While the Opinel knife if cool and pretty, you have to touch the blade while you shuck because there’s no finger guard or palm grip. This isn’t the ideal shucking posture and you could get hurt.
10. Victorinox New Haven Oyster Knife
New Haven blades are bent or curved at the top to help you position them better. The Victorinox version doesn’t just tilt at the tip.
Instead, the whole blade has a thicker central section that gives the whole blade a convex curve, ending in a slightly hooked tip. The hourglass-shaped handle is comfy. It has super-grip texturing to reduce slipping when the knife is wet.
It’s a synthetic blade with no visible rivets, so it’s safe inside your dishwasher. And because this is a Swiss model, you’re assured of precision in its blade-handle joinery.
The bright red handle easily catches your eye, and the high-carbon blade remains intact and viable even after years of use. But the curved tip does seem to bend more with every use, so try loosening your wrist.
This slightly alters your shucking angle, making the process easier and putting less strain on the knife. In general, New Haven blades are used when you plan to serve your oyster in a half shell, so keep that in mind when you buy.
If you don’t want the shell, you might be better buying the Providence version of this knife. It has a similar blade size but without the hooked blade tip. Victorinox has established its reputation for knives. It produces oyster knives in all five classes, so if you’re partial to New Haven styling, this piece will work for your medium to small oysters.
To a newbie, all oyster knives look equally strange. But to a ‘seafoodie’ the slightest variation can be twitch-inducing. So let’s layout your top priorities as you shop for the best oyster knife.
Type of Oyster
Yes, you can use an oyster knife to open clams, but clam knives aren’t as strong. So when you’re looking for the best oyster knife, give more weight to oyster species than clam species. The most popular oysters are Pacific, Atlantic, Olympia, Kumamoto, and European.
Each has a slightly different flavor and size, so if you have a preferred species, pick the right knife for your shellfish. For example, Boston knives can shuck any oyster size but Frenchman knives work better on smaller European oysters. Galveston blades work with larger oysters.
Type of Knife
Oyster knives are divided into five main categories, though there are sub-genres and crossovers. These knives are named for the regions or nations that popularized them.
In summary, New Havens are short and wide with a curved blade. Providence blades are similar but without the curve. Bostons and Galvestons are long and narrow. Frenchman knives are short and squat.
Boston blades and Galveston blades have pointy tapering tips while the Frenchman oyster knife has a projecting lip to protect your palm.
It also has sharper sides, so it’s easy to find the weak spot on your oyster shell and crack it open. The blade is smaller and is teardrop-shaped. You can make your choice based on style preference, availability, or convenience.
Type of Blade
Oyster knives could be a squat 2 inches or a larger 4 inches. They can be sharpened on one side or both sides. Some blades have a concave curve (New Haven Styling) while others are flat.
Some have rounded tips while others are pointy or tapered. The blade material matters too. Most knives are stainless steel, but the amount of carbon varies. High-carbon knives are tougher.
They hold their edge longer, but they’re also more susceptible to discoloration and corrosion. You also want a blade that is planted deep into its handle.
You don’t want the knife flying off its handle as you try to pry your clams apart. That’s embarrassing and potentially injurious. The blade should be sturdy enough that it doesn’t bend, crack, or break when it hit a tough shell.
Type of Handle
The blade may be the most essential part of your oyster knife. But the handle matters too, especially if you eat oysters frequently and/or in large batches.
The knife needs to be ergonomic, well-balanced, comfortable in your hand, and easy to use. Because oyster knives are small and not necessarily sharp, you don’t have to worry about their blades getting dull in the wash.
So you may want a product that’s dishwasher safe. It’s easier than cleaning off the sticky, fishy mess by hand. Be careful to avoid tossing it in with non-fishy utensils, because that piscine scent is hard to remove.
Check that the handle is securely attached, sturdy, and waterproof because even during meals, fish generally contains a lot of moisture. Wooden handles need extra care.
Even seasoned seafoodies can sometimes hurt themselves shucking. The handle of your oyster knife is important. It helps if it’s non-slip and has a solid grip.
It should be shaped to avoid tiring your hands. But most important, it helps to buy a shucking knife that has instructions included. These will guide you on avoiding injury and might cover basic first aid tips.
The instructions should also tell you how to care for your knife. They should be written in plain, simple, everyday language. Some even have seafood recipes, wine pairing tips, and serving suggestions.
Always be careful with oysters, because shellfish easily causes allergies and food poisoning of its improperly handled or prepared. And that includes exposure to shucking knives.
Weight and Handling
Balancing a smaller knife takes more time and care than larger knives. But because smaller knives are often cheaper, their forgers don’t put in as much effort.
You could opt to buy a cheap oyster knife that you’ll replace after one or two meals. Or you could buy a more recognized type and brand. Ideally, test it out by hand, to see how it feels. You can’t do that online.
If it’s not possible to shop in person, check the material used to make the blade and handle, then compare this against the stated weight of your shucking knife.
This gives you an idea of the knife’s balance. Lighter knives are better, but if it’s too light, you won’t have the leverage to open your oyster shell. Consider buying a set with different sizes and styles for a bundled discount.
Shucking It Up!
We’ve reviewed ten top brands and we recommend the HiCoup Oyster Knife. Here’s why:
- It looks expensive but as a pocket-friendly price.
- It’s a full tang knife so there’s no blade wastage.
- It has a 4-inch handle to enhance leverage.
- The pakka wood handle is treated to make it waterproof.
- The joints are compression riveted to extend durability.
- The mirror-finish steel blade is both pretty and powerful.
- The Frenchman hand-guard adds a cool safety factor.
- HiCoup’s steel blade is high carbon 420-gauge stainless steel.