Choosing the best knife for you can seem like a daunting task when first being introduced to the knife industry. There are many things to consider when choosing the best knife for you including steel type, blade shape, and handle material and style. In this beginner’s series, we have already covered the different popular steel types and today we are going to focus on the different blade shapes there you can choose from. Some of these shapes are designed for everyday use and some are designed for a specific task, but like always, the choice will come down to personal preference.
Clip Point Blade
The clip point blade shape is one of the most popular blade shapes used today. The back, or unsharpened, side is flat and goes about half of the length before it looks to be “clipped off”, which is where the name comes from. This second half of the back can be straight or curved, but it is more commonly curved; this design is to make the tip thinner and sharper. This thin tip allows for more precise cuts, and can also get into harder to reach places. This blade shape is most commonly found on Bowie knives. This blade shape is great for almost any situation and can stand up to the unexpected.
Advantages of a clip point blade:
- The point is very sharp and easy to control.
- The knife shape features a “belly” which is great for slicing and gives plenty of cutting edge.
- Clip points are great for piercing, which comes in handy to use on hides during hunting.
Disadvantages of a clip point blade:
- Because the tip is more narrow than a regular tip, it is weaker and can be prone to weakness and breaking.
Drop Point Blade
The drop point blade shape is also one of the most popular blade shapes used today and it is very similar to the clip point shape. The spine of the knife, or the unsharpened side, goes from the handle to the tip in a shallow curve. This end meets the sharpened side at the tip, which gives it almost a “v” shaped blade. Because the curve is convex, it has more strength and can stand up to more than the clip point blade. This blade shape sports a large “belly” that is perfect for slicing. This shape is found commonly in hunting knives, larger pocket knives, and is also a great shape for survival and tactical knives.
Advantages of a drop point blade:
- Great for hunting because the belly is ideal for skinning an animal.
- Great for hunting because the larger point makes it easier to avoid puncturing any of the animal’s organs.
- The point is strong and much less likely to snap than a clip point blade.
- The belly of this shape is great for slicing almost anything.
- Features a strong tip that resists breaking, so this shape is ideal for survival situations.
Disadvantages of a drop point blade:
- The point is not as sharp as other knives, especially a clip point blade shape.
- When hunting, this knife doesn’t excel in piercing.
The tanto blade shape came from the Japanese samurai swords and was designed to pierce through armor. The blade shape has a very angular shape, that has two straight edges that join. Not similar to the clip point or drop point, tanto blades don’t have a belly. Instead, the straight edge turns into an angled edge that leads to the point. Because there isn’t a thin tip, but instead a flat edge, this style of blade has phenomenal strength. This blade shape is not made for to be all purpose, but instead is designed to be a tactical blade. This shape is very popular with military personnel and law enforcement groups because of how strong they are and their ability to cut through a variety of different materials.
Advantages of a tanto blade:
- Because they can cut through so many different materials, pierce/stab, they are ideal for survival situations.
- The tanto has a crazy strong point.
- This style is great for piercing through hard materials.
Disadvantages of a tanto blade:
- Because there is not belly, this blade shape is not ideal for slicing.
- The point is harder to control than the other blade shapes.
Something that makes the sheepsfoot blade style so unique is that it is almost the opposite of a normal blade. This means that the sharpened edge of the blade is completely straight and the unsharpened edge of the blade is straight until it curves to meet the sharpened edge at the tip. This style of blade was originally designed for trimming the hooves of sheep, which is where it got its name. This knife style is great for chopping because you can put your fingers on the dull back to have better control of the knife. Because this style has a “false tip”, it prevents any accident punctures while using this knife. This style of knife is popular in kitchen knives because you don’t need a point like you would in other tasks. Sailors use this style of blade because of its ability to cut through all the sailing ropes, and emergency responders use this style of blade to cut through seatbelts and other restraints.
Advantages of a sheepsfoot blade:
- Very controllable.
- Because the blade doesn’t have a point, accidental puncturings/stabbings are very avoidable.
- Gives a clean cut while slicing.
Disadvantages of a sheepsfoot blade:
- This style does not have any point, so the knife cannot be used for many tasks.
Gut Hook Blade
This style of blade is one of the most unique shapes of blades that is out there. This style of blade has a sharpened semi-circle ground into the spine of the blade. Then, the inward part of the semi-circle is sharpened. This semi-circle, or hook, is usually used by hunters in the field, because they can make a small cut in the animal and then hook the semi-circle into the cut and pull the skin. This is so that hunters can open the animal without cutting into the muscle. This style of knife is also used by fisherman when they gut their catch.
Advantages of a gut hook blade:
- Used by hunters for field dressing their game.
- Great for gutting fish, because the shape makes it easy to cut into the meat, damaging the quality.
- The blade has a large belly that makes it ideal for skinning and slicing.
- The blade features a high point, which keeps it out of the way and makes it easy to avoid accidental puncturing.
Disadvantages of a gut hook blade:
- The “hook” in the spine is hard to sharpen because you can’t use regular sharpening tools; often times, a small file and manual force is used.
- The “hook” in the blade adds significate mass to the blade.
Trailing Point Blade
The trailing point blade shape is another unique blade shape. This style has a back edge that curves upward instead of downward. This style of blade got its name because the back edge of the knife “trails” higher than the rest of the blade. Because of this upward curve, the blade has improved slicing ability. This curve is usually very large, and large curves, or bellies, are ideal for skinning. This curve also allows the blade to be more lightweight than other knife blades. The point is one of the sharpest, making it ideal for small work, such as skinning game and fish. This style of blade is most commonly found on skinning and fillet knives.
Advantages of a trailing point blade:
- The large belly makes this style of blade ideal for slicing and skinning.
- The point is higher than other blade styles, placing the point out of the way.
Disadvantages of a trailing point blade:
- Because the point is thinner than most, it makes the tip very weak.
Dagger or Needle Point Blade
This style of blade is known most commonly as the needle point blade, but sometimes is known as a dagger blade. The needle point blade is designed to have the best point; this blade is double-edged and is ideal for stabbing. This blade shape has two symmetrical blades that taper to a thin, sharp point. Needle point blades are often used by police personnel and military personnel because they are small and can be easily hidden, especially in things like their boot. These blades can also be easily withdrawn from their sheaths. They are also loved by these groups because they make for a great self-defense blade in close combat scenarios.
Advantages of a needle point blade:
- The very thin, sharp point is fantastic for piercing soft targets.
- Great for self-defense in close-combat.
- Great for stabbing.
Disadvantages of a needle point blade:
- Because the point is so thin, it can be weak especially on harder targets.
- Because the two sides of the blade are symmetrical, there is not belly, so this style of blade is not ideal for slicing.
Spear Point Blade
A spear point blade is extremely similar to a needle point blade. Most spear point blades are double-edged, but some are only sharpened on one edge, but it has symmetrical blades. The two blades meet in the middle at a point. This blade style got its name from spears, because of the symmetrical sides meeting in the middle at a point. Because it has a good amount of material, this blade style is durable, and great for cutting. Spear points are often found in throwing knives, penknives, daggers, and other knives made for thrusting. The spear point blade does have a small belly, so it can slice through objects; however, it is not an ideal style for slicing and cutting, especially when compared to the other style of blades. Since you can’t choke up on the blade, the spear point style is not designed for delicate tip work.
Advantages of a spear point blade:
- This style has a strong point.
- Because it can be double edged, you can get a very sharp tip on this style of blade.
- This style is very controllable.
- This style is very durable.
- Makes a great dagger.
Disadvantages of a spear point blade:
- It has a small cutting edge, making its slicing properties slacking.
- Not good with delicate tip work.
The wharncliffe blade is very similar to the sheepsfoots blade, but, the spine of the blade curves more closely to the handle than the sheepfoots blade. This earlier curve allows for a shallower curve. This style of blade was commonly used by sailors, because the shape is designed so that the sailor cannot stab himself or others when the waves get rocky. This is not a common blade style, but when used, it is very useful.
Advantages of a wharncliffe blade:
- The user will have great control over this blade.
- The blade does not have a point, so it is a safer knife to use.
- The edge is very simple, making it great for cutting.
Disadvantages of a wharncliffe blade:
- The blade does not have a point, so this blade style is not very versatile.
Serrations are the jagged edges of a blade. Serrations can be added to almost any style of blade and make it so that you can cut things much quicker. Instead of slicing though, serrations almost tear the material that you are cutting apart. Serrations are ideal if you need to cut through materials such as tree branches, rope, or thicker objects.
Advantages of serrations:
- Can cut through thicker objects easier and more efficiently.
- Great for utility tasks.
Disadvantages of serrations:
- Because they serrations are put on the belly of the knife, it takes up room that could be used for slicing.
Deciding which knife is the perfect knife for yourself can seem like an overwhelming decision. This article on the advantages and disadvantages of different blade shapes will hopefully make that decision a little easier. Just keep in mind the task of which you will be using your newly purchased knife for.