Gerber Propel Automatic Knife Review

Gerber Legendary Blades was started by Joseph R Gerber. This company started out as a small batch of handmade knife sets in 1939. Within the next twenty years, Gerber became one of the most reliable knife companies in the business. Gerber’s mission is to design knives that pull in quality materials and groundbreaking designs. Their knives are built to last a lifetime. Gerber not only produces knives, but also axes, handsaws, flashlights, survival kits, multi tools, and much more. Every product that Gerber turns out is going to be quality, innovative, and last a very long time. Today we are going to go over one of their products in particular: The Gerber Propel Fully Automatic knife.


The Gerber Propel Fully Automatic knife was introduced in August of 2013. Gerber offers two different designs of the same knife for the buyers: The Propel Auto and the Propel Downrange Auto. These two versions were designed to mimic the 06 auto knife, which was an instant hit in the knife community. The 06 has a Federal National Stock Number, which allows federal agencies to procure these knives without going through a bidding process. Gerber kept all of the positive aspects of the 06, but they slimmed it down to make it a little more pocket-friendly. You can still expect to have the same durability, reliability, and field-proven performance. It is all just packed into a smaller package.


The overall length of this knife is 8.52 inches while opened. When the knife is closed, it measures in at an even 5 inches. The knife weighs 4.28 ounces. This is a great length and weight for your everyday carry knife. The length is not overly long, but you will still be able to perform your needed tasks with it. The knife won’t weigh you down, but it will still feel sturdy and durable while you are using it.





Gerber Propel Automatic
Gerber Propel Automatic

The blade on this knife is 3.5 inches long made out of 420HC. This is a mid-range steel that is nothing extraordinary but can stand up to what you throw at it. The HC in the steel’s name stands for High Carbon, so this steel is a harder steel than other stainless steels. This steel is easy to sharpen. It is also a durable steel, even after periods of long use. Because this steel is easy to sharpen even in the field or on the go, many outdoor enthusiasts like this steel.

If you get the Propel Downrange version, the steel use will be S30V steel. This is a high end, premium steel that has high corrosion resistance. It is also a very tough steel. Because it is a premium steel, you can expect it to go the extra mile. Some people pry and dig with blades made out of this steel and don’t experience any compromised blade integrity. S30V steel will hold an edge very well, but it is harder to sharpen than the 420HC steel. This is a good all-around steel.

Whichever version you choose; the steel is coated in a black oxide coating. This coating is added for a few reasons. First, the coating helps add corrosion resistance properties. It also adds a black color which boosts the aesthetic of the blade. This knife has the blackening to match the handle. This coating also helps to prevent slipping while you are cutting in critical conditions. The black oxide also minimizes reflective purposes. This means that if you are in a tactical situation, you don’t have to be concerned about the sun’s reflection giving away your position.

The blade silhouette is a tanto style point. A tanto style point was traditionally in Japanese short words. The tip on a tanto blade is going to be stronger than many other tips, because it is a broader shape. However, the tanto silhouette creates two main bevels, which makes it trickier to sharpen than a different style. Also, a tanto blade will not have a belly, so slicing tasks will be trickier. This style does have a unique look to it, so if you like the look, buy it. Also, if you know that you need a stronger tip, go for it. If you are a beginner in the knife world and looking for a versatile everyday carry knife, I don’t know if this is what I would recommend.

There are actually three cutting areas on the blade. There is the front bevel, which is 1 inch that has been sharpened bi-facially. The main edge on the blade is divided between the plain and serrated portions. The plain portion of this blade is 1.25 inches and the serrated portion is 1.5 inches. Because of the three different sections, sharpening this knife is a pain.

Users of this knife have also noticed an up and down wobble when the blade is opened. But, they have also noticed that the Propel has almost no lateral wobble whatsoever.





The handle scales are made out of G10. On the Propel, the G10 handle scales are black. On the Propel Downrange, the G10 scales are tan. This material is a laminate composite that is made out of fiberglass. This handle will feel and work similarly to carbon fiber, but it is a much cheaper option. The handle material surprised me because Gerber usually uses glass filled nylon for their handle. G10 was definitely an upgrade compared to the commonly used handle material. To add texture and grip to the handle, Gerber has added checkering across the handle scales. They also added deeper grooves in areas along with the checkering. With both of those texturing techniques, you can feel secure while using and holding this knife.

The handle is pretty large and fills most people’s hand. On the spot where it touches your palm, there is a very slight swell. There is also a large groove where your index finger can fit. Because of this deeper groove, there is also a bump that also adds to fitting in your hand perfectly.

Gerber has attached the G10 scales to a metal frame using torx screws. There are four of these screws on each side of the handle.



Pocket Clip and Carrying:


Something unique about this knife is that the pocket clip can be placed on the knife in three different ways. You can mount it for the right pocket either tip up or down. Or you can mount it for the left pocket, but only tip up. Some users have reported bending the pocket clip while bumping it on things, but it is easily bent back into shape.

This knife carries pretty high in the pocket. If you are trying to conceal your knife, this probably isn’t going to be the knife for you.

Unfortunately, because of the checkering and deeper grooves on the handle, this knife has been known to destroy pockets. This isn’t usually a problem in most peoples’ minds, but if you are going to be dressed up, you might not want to carry this knife.

On the Downrange version, the pocket clip is tan, just like the handle. This tan matches many camouflage patterns, so you don’t have to worry about your knife standing out while trying to keep it concealed.



Action and Deployment:


Gerber Propel Automatic
Gerber Propel Automatic

The Propel uses a plunge lock and safety switch. To unlock the knife, you pull the safety switch towards you. Then to open the knife, you push in the round silver button. Along with opening the knife, it also locks it up so you can feel secure while using it for the heavier duty tasks. This button triggers a torsion spring inside that has constant tension on the blade. Because of this constant tension, you do not have to worry about blade bounce.

To close this knife, you push down the firing button and then manually close the blade.

If this knife is in your pocket, your best bet is to engage the safety. The safety mechanism shows red when it is disengaged. The opening button can be sensitive and you definitely don’t want to accidently open this knife while it is in your pocket. But, because it is a more sensitive button, the knife is easily deployed with just one hand.





Both versions of this knife sport a pommel spike. This spike has been designed to break through most glass, including your car windows. This spike can also work as a lanyard anchor point.



Pros of the Gerber Propel/Downrange Automatic Knife:


  • You have two options of steel depending on what you like.
  • The 420HC is hard, easy to sharpen, and the edge lasts for quite a while.
  • The S30V steel is a premium steel that can stand up to much harder tasks than the 420HC steel.
  • The blade features a black oxide coating which helps resist corrosion, light reflection, and makes the blade less slippery.
  • The tanto silhouette has a stronger tip than lots of other tip style options.
  • The blade is a combo blade and the serrations are great for cutting through thicker materials, like rope or branches.
  • The handle is made out of G10 scales, which is a durable material.
  • The G10 comes in two different color options.
  • The G10 scales have aggressive texturing, providing you with excellent grip even in the trickiest of situations.
  • The handle is large and will fill your hand, helping with grip.
  • The pocket clip can be carried in three different ways.
  • The Downrange pocket clip is a tan that matches most camo patterns, so your pocket clip will not be obvious while carrying.
  • The knife is very easy to deploy using only one hand.
  • The knife sports a pommel spike, which works as a great glass breaker.
  • The length and weight of this knife is perfect for your everyday carry knife.



Cons of the Gerber Propel/Downrange Automatic Knife:


  • 420HC steel is a mediocre steel and doesn’t stand out, especially compared to other steel options.
  • S30V steel is a hard steel to sharpen, so you won’t be able to sharpen it in the field if the need arises.
  • The Tanto style blade is not a versatile blade. If you are a beginner in the knife community, I would not recommend this style.
  • There are actually three different cutting surfaces, which makes this an extremely hard knife to sharpen. Really, you are going to have to be a professional to sharpen it well.
  • There is an up/down wobble to the blade while opened.
  • The pocket clip doesn’t carry very deeply, so it is going to be obvious. This is not a great knife if you are trying to conceal it.
  • The handle has extreme grip, so it will beat up your pocket.





Something to keep in mind before you purchase this knife is that because it is fully automatic, or a switchblade, it is not going to be legal in all states. Make sure you know your local switchblade laws before buying this.

Gerber only sells their automatic knives through websites with the proper credentials, so as long as you are purchasing from a trusted website, your knife will be backed by Gerber’s lifetime warranty. This knife was designed and built in the United States of America, so you can expect only the best quality. Along with being patriotic and designing and building this knife in the states, Gerber offers a Pro Program. This program is for first responders and military personnel. It gives these members exclusive offers and discounted prices. If you feel like you fit into either of these categories, it is definitely worth looking into.

This is an overall fantastic knife for your tactical or utility purposes. When you are searching for the perfect everyday carry knife, you want it to feel familiar. The Gerber Propel or Gerber Propel Downrange will feel familiar. They are both easy to work with and very durable. This knife will not disappoint you in the field. You are provided with two different versions so you can pick the one that will fit your lifestyle the best.


Tanto vs. Drop Point

Tanto vs. Drop Point


Some knife blades are made to be able to perform almost any task well, some are for utilitarian purposes, and many are designed for specific purposes. There are about eight popular and commonly used points, but today we are only going to go over the advantages and disadvantages of tanto and drop point tips. Which one of these two shapes is going to work best for you?


The Tanto Point:

The tanto point blade shape was invented in the 1970’s and gained most of its popularity in the early 1980’s. The shape was invented by the cutlery company Cold Steel. They got the idea for this shape from the stellar Japanese cutlery craftsmanship. Tanto points are known for how strong they are, how much power they have behind them, and how high quality their pommel is. What does a tanto point look like? The tanto sports a flat grind, but it does have a high point. Tanto’s do not have belly’s, so slicing is going to be a little bit more difficult than a different shape, but for what you lack in belly, it makes up in strength.

An example of a knife with a tanto point is the Boker Kalashnikov 74 auto knife.

Boker Kalashnikov 74BT
Boker Kalashnikov 74BT

For starters, the tanto point is extremely strong. Its strength is what most people first notice when they are using a blade with this type of point. The flat grind and high point create a triangular shape—which in an engineering standpoint, is the strongest shape. This is achieved because the unsharpened edge of the made meets the sharpened edge at an angle, instead of the usual curve. Because of this shape, the blade is able to stab through the harder materials. When you have a blade with this shape, you do not have to worry about your blade snapping while stabbing through things.

The second main characteristic of this shape of blade is how it closely resembles a chisel point. Chisel tips are known for having more power and durability than most of the other blade shapes, this is because a good chunk of the overall metal count is closer to the blade’s point. The Tanto shape is similar to that design because it has a thick tip, a lot of its metal is near the tip of the blade. Because of this, it is a great shape for your defensive tool; the tip is able to absorb the impact or pressure from piercing, even repeated piercings. If you have almost any other knife shape, repeated piercings would causes your blade to break. Because the tip is so strong, you can actually pry with it as well. This knife is designed to be a survival knife, but if you got stuck in a survival situation with this style, you would not be in a bad position. The strong tip makes it able to perform tasks that you wouldn’t usually throw at a knife, such as prying.

Another fantastic benefit to the tanto style is that they are relatively easy to sharpen, especially when you are in the field. This is because they have two flat edges, without a curve. This means that if you do not have your usual sharpening equipment, or any actual sharpening equipment, you will still be able to get it sharpened. As long as you have a stone, you are going to be able to sharpen your knife.

Something that most tanto fans love is that they are designed after Japanese blades, especially the Katana blade. Both of these styles have a tip that aligns perfectly with the knife’s spine. The fact that it was inspired after Japanese blades gives it an aesthetic that most people wouldn’t expect.

Now that we have gone over why a tanto is such a great design, we should touch on what makes people dislike the tanto style.

For starters, tanto’s do not have a belly whatsoever. This means that slicing tasks are going to be particularly difficult. Slicing a rougher material is going to be especially hard.

Another reason that people tend to shy away from purchasing a blade with a tanto shape is because sharpening them can be a hassle. I know, this sounds like a contradiction because I just said that they are going to be easy to sharpen in the field. While they are relatively easy to sharpen because they do not have a curve, they are also a pain to sharpen because they have a double bevel. This means that instead of sharpening one edge that spans the length of the blade, you are going to have to sharpen two different edges. While this is a hassle, the sharpening of each edge is going to be easy. I honestly wouldn’t let this characteristic deter you from purchasing a tanto style knife.

Lastly, tanto knives can feel impractical. These knives are made to stab things and to be able to work with thick, hard, rough materials. But usually, your everyday tasks don’t involve stabbing through hard tasks—most likely, you are going to be slicing on an everyday basis; which a tanto isn’t going to excel at.

Tanto knives are designed to do everything, but they are designed to do one thing really well. If you know that you are going to be piercing through harder materials on a common basis, this is the style of knife that you are looking for.


Pros of a tanto blade:

  • Crazy strong blade, with a stronger point.
  • Excels at stabbing through hard materials.
  • Very similar in shape to a chisel point.
  • Relatively easy to sharpen, even in the field. All you need is a stone.


Cons of a tanto blade:

  • Tanto’s do not have a belly, so slicing is going to be difficult.
  • Sharpening is a hassle because of the double bevel.
  • Tanto’s aren’t designed to do everything, so they can feel impractical.
  • The tip can be hard to control.


The Drop Point:

The drop point style is one of the most popular shape for blades. It is designed to be an all-purpose blade.

An example of a knife that sports a drop point style blade is the Chris Reeve Nyala.

Chris Reeve Knives Nyala
Chris Reeve Knives Nyala

As you can see, the back, or unsharpened edge of this knife goes right from the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curve. A better where to describe this is calling it a convex curve, which means that the spine of the knife seems to “drop” towards the tip of the blade where it meets the tip. This style is very similar to that of the clip-point, however, this one has a stronger tip, and is actually less suitable for stabbing.

One of the favorite characteristics about a drop point style is the long cutting edge. This makes it a perfect shape for your tactical or survival knife.

Another favorite characteristic about a drop point style is that the tip is very easily controlled, so it is a great option for your hunting knife. Hunting knives are where you will most commonly find a drop point shape. The tip is lowered, which makes it easier to control. And when you can control your hunting knife, you are less likely to cut the organs, which will ruin the meat.

Another reason that this knife shape is an excellent choice for your hunting knife is that because the tip isn’t super sharp or defined, you can use the entire length of the blade while you are skinning a knife. Because you can use the entire length, your skinning time will be dramatically reduced.

A third characteristic that people love with this shape of knife is that it has a large belly, making slicing a breeze.

Fourth, because the drop point has such a straight back, or unsharpened edge, it is perfect for batoning. This is the process of cutting or splitting wood by repeatedly striking the spine of a knife with an object, usually another piece of wood, to drive your knife deeper into the wood. This allows the user to have more control over the situation and it takes minimal effort.

While it is starting to seem like a drop point shape can do almost anything, it wouldn’t be right of me to skip over the negative aspects of this style.

Really the only major disadvantage to choosing a drop point blade is that it has a broad tip. Because of this, you aren’t going to be able to stab things well at all.

A drop point blade is a great option for your everyday, all-purpose knife. Almost any situation that comes up, you are going to be prepared to take it on and get out of it in great shape. These are very versatile blades. They work great for a hunting knife, they work great in survival situations, they work great for tactical situations.


Pros of a drop point blade:

  • Long, uninterrupted cutting edge
  • The tip is sharp enough to perform precision work.
  • The tip is lowered, so you have excellent control over it.
  • The drop point style sports a large belly, so slicing is a piece of cake.
  • Because the back is relatively straight, this knife is great for batoning.
  • This is an all-around knife that can perform most tasks.
  • This is an excellent option for your hunting knife.
  • This is also an excellent knife for everyday carrying.
  • If you have this knife during a survival or tactical situation, you are going to be set.


Cons of a drop point blade:

  • The point is pretty broad, so stabbing isn’t going to be a piece of cake.


After reading this article, I’m sure many of you are wondering why anyone would even pick a tanto blade. The point is not to turn you away at all, it is just to inform you of all your options. What are they both good at? They both have relatively straight backs, they are both great in survival situations because you can use them to dig and pry. While a drop point knife can arguably do more in everyday life, a tanto blade is designed for a specific set of circumstances. The main question that gets asked surrounding tanto blades is would you rather have a knife that is good at a lot of things, but not great at anything. Or would you rather have a knife that is not good for a variety of uses, but is fantastic at one specific thing? You have to take in how often you are going to be using your knife. Do you expect to use this knife all the time and have it for your everyday carry? Or is this knife going to be more of a backup, or hideout in an emergency backup until the need arises? Once you have truly figured out what it is that you want your knife to be able to accomplish, you will have a better idea of which knife shape you would be better fit to buy. Whether you pick a tanto style or a drop point style, you are going to have an excellent knife on your hands. To check out a variety of either of these two blade styles, log on to BladeOps and order your new knife today.


Knife Blade Geometry

To many people, there are two main parts that make up a knife: the handle and the blade. This is adequate knowledge until you go to try to purchase your own knife and you are immersed in a world of vocabulary that you have never heard before. One of these words that many people don’t understand is the grind. The grind of the blade refers to the “shape of the cross-section of the blade”. This is different from the profile or shape of blade, such as drop point, etc. The grind is how the blade is thinned to reveal the cutting edge. There are eight popular grinds in the knife world: hollow grind, asymmetrical grind, flat grind, convex grind, compound grind, and the chisel grind. This article is going to discuss what each of these popular grinds are and what makes them good options as well as some cons to each of the grinds. Before we begin, there is one word that we should know what it means: the bevel. According to the Merriam-Webster, the bevel is the ground angle and shape of the blade’s cutting edge. Let’s begin.


Hollow Grind:

This style of grind has been popular through the ages, because it is very classic style of grind. It has a thin edge, which helps create the least amount of cutting drag. The hollow grind is concave, meaning that both sides of the blade curve symmetrically inwards until the point where they meet. However, the hollow grind doesn’t give the strongest edge offered, so it isn’t ideal for use on hard materials. Also, because it isn’t the strongest edge out there, the grind isn’t super durable and dulls quicker than most grinds. This grind is great for straight shaving razors, axes, culinary knives, and hunting knives. For use on a hunting knife, the hollow grind is especially ideal for slicing and skinning.

Advantages of having a hollow grind:

  • A classic, popular style of grind.
  • The thin edge creates the least amount of cutting drag.
  • Fantastic for hunting knives.

Disadvantages of having a hollow grind:

  • The hollow grind doesn’t create the strongest edge that you can get.
  • Isn’t the most durable of grinds that you can find.
  • This style of grind will dull quicker than the other styles of grinds.


Asymmetrical Grind:

The asymmetrical grind is a unique grind because it has two different styles of grind on the same blade. The two edges of an asymmetrical grind tapers from both sides, but the bevel angles are uneven, as opposed to different grinds, where they are symmetrical or even. There is a large variety of grinds that you can put together to create the asymmetrical grind and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. One of the most popular combinations on this grind is with convex grinds or flat grinds. Because of the two different grinds, it produces a more durable edge. This style of grind is often found on tactical knives because it creates a more durable edge, it is stronger than other grinds, and has decent sharpness to it.

Advantages of a having an asymmetrical grind:

  • This style of grind is ideal for tactical knives.
  • An asymmetrical grind produces a more durable edge than other grinds.
  • This style of grind is super strong.
  • With this style of grind, you can create many different combinations of angles to get exactly what you need for your task.

Disadvantages of having an asymmetrical grind:

  • Because this style creates such a durable edge, you do sacrifice some sharpness.


Flat Grind:

The flat grind is the simplest profile that you can find. There are actually three different styles of flat grind: full flat grind, high flat grind, and the Scandi or Sabre grind. Having a flat grind means that you will have low cutting drag and still keep more strength than you would have with something such as a hollow grind. Flat grinds are great for woodworking, culinary knives, whittling, and general use knives. These knives are easy to maintain and sharpen.

The Full Flat Grind:

The full flat grind has a single, symmetrical V-bevel. This means that the blade tapers from the spin evenly from both sides into the point. Because of this, the edge can be crazy sharp, but you do sacrifice some of the durability. A true full flat grind is actually rare to find these days, because often times a secondary bevel is included on this style of grind. A full flat grind is best for pushing the knife into something, so you’ll see a full flat grind often on chef’s knives.

The High Flat Grind:

The High Flat Grind is the second style of flat grind. This style of flat grind is more popular than the full flat grind.  The difference between a full flat grind and a high flat grind is that a high flat grind leaves a small portion of the blade the same thickness. This portion is found adjacent to the handle at the bottom of the blade. After this portion ends, it tapers down to the point, just like the full flat grind does. This style is great for survival situations because it is very easy to sharpen in the field.

The Scandi Flat Grind:

The last style of flat grind is the Scandi flat grind. This style has many names including the Scandi grind, the Scandinavian Grind, the V grind, and the Sabre grind. The Scandi grind is similar to the high flat grind because it too has a portion of the blade that stays the same thickness before it tapers to the point. However, with this style, the portion that is the same thickness is much larger. The Scandi style of flat grind is also ideal for survival situations because it is very easy to sharpen while in the field.

Advantages of the flat grinds:

  • A flat grind is ideal for woodworking, whittling, culinary knives, and general use.
  • This style is easy to maintain and sharpen.
  • The flat grind sports an extremely strong edge.
  • This grind is ideal for survival situations because it is easy to sharpen in the field.

Disadvantages of the flat grinds:

  • The flat grinds are not very durable and lose their edge quickly.
  • The full flat grind style is rare to find these days.


Convex Grind:

On a hollow grind, the grind curves inward; however, on a convex grind it sports a slightly outward rounded curve that comes to a point. This is extremely similar to the Scandi flat grind, but instead of the straight grind, it is curved. This grind is one of the most durable grinds and they stay super sharp. On the flip side, they are one of the most difficult grinds to sharpen. This style of grind is considered to be the most difficult grind to produce, but they are considered to be a highly specialized grind. The convex grind is also known as an axe grind because axes are most commonly found with a convex grind. Because it is such a durable grind it is ideal for axes, chopping, splitting, hunting, woodworking, culinary knives, and general use knives. The convex grind is becoming an extremely popular style of blade grind.

Advantages of a convex grind:

  • The convex grind is ideal for axes, hunting, woodworking, and culinary knives.
  • This style is considered a specialty grind.
  • This grind is the most durable grind, making it great for chopping, splitting, and heavy duty tasks.
  • The convex grind will stay sharp for a very long time period.

Disadvantages of a convex grind:

  • This style is the hardest grind to sharpen.
  • This style is also one of the hardest grinds to manufacture.


Compound Grind:

The compound grind is also known as the double-bevel grind. The compound grind takes any other grind of grind and then ads in the second V-bevel to produce the cutting edge. The compound grind is one of the most commonly found grinds in knives today because it does incorporate any of the grinds that you like, plus the extra bevel. So what is the reason to adding an extra bevel onto your blade? It adds to the cutting ability and it is less likely to chip. However, because it is more durable than other grinds, you do have to give up some of the sharpness that you would get with some of the other grinds offered. The compound grind cuts better than the V edge grind, plus it lasts longer than the V edge grind would. This style of grind is ideal for woodworking, general use knives, whittling, and culinary knives.

Advantages of a compound grind:

  • The compound grind is much more durable than other grinds, so this is a great option if you have a softer steel blade.
  • You can take any grind and then add the second bevel to make this style of grind.
  • The second bevel on this grind adds cutting ability.
  • The compound grind is much less likely to chip than other grinds.

Disadvantages of a compound grind:

  • The compound grind isn’t as sharp as the other grinds offered.


Chisel Grind:

The chisel grind is very similar to the Scandi grind except that one side is completely flat. The flat side starts at the bottom of the spine and is straight until the other side meets it at the point. The opposite side has a bevel that starts close to the middle of the blade and then tapers in a straight line to the end. The only side of the blade that is sharp is the tapering side. The angle degree that you are most likely to find is anywhere between 25 and 30 degrees, which works to create a more durable edge. Not surprisingly, this grind is found most commonly on chisels. However, they are also found on some tactical knives, and also in culinary knives, especially Japanese culinary knives. The chisel grind is ideal for woodworking because the grind works to help follow the grind of the work. The chisel grind is considered to be one of the easiest grinds to sharpen, which is good, because chisel grinds need constant maintained and re-sharpening. But, when it is sharp, it can get an extremely sharp edge.

Advantages of a chisel grind:

  • You can get an extremely sharp edge with a chisel grind.
  • The chisel grind is ideal for woodworking and culinary knives.
  • The chisel grind is one of the easiest grinds to sharpen.

Disadvantages of a chisel grind:

  • The chisel grind needs constant maintenance.
  • The chisel grind does not keep its sharp edge well at all.


We have now covered the most popular six grinds, but there are some other grinds that are not as common. One of the most popular unpopular (what an oxymoron) grinds is the Semi-Convex grind:

Semi-Convex Grind:

The semi-convex grind is also known as the asymmetrical convex grind. This one combines the convex edge and the V edge. They combine these two because the convex grind offers fantastic durability and the V edge is very easy to sharpen. Like I said, this grind is not very popular, but you will see it from time to time.

Advantages of a semi-convex grind:

  • This grind uses the durability that the convex grind offers.
  • The semi-convex grind gets the ease of sharpening from the V edge aspect that it sports.

Disadvantages of a semi-convex grind:

  • This style is not found often.
  • The edge of this style can get very dull quickly.



There are many intricate aspects that determine how quality your knife is. One of the most overlooked of these aspects is the grind style. There are six popular grinds: hollow grind, asymmetrical grind, flat grind, convex grind, compound grind, and the chisel grind. These six include the basic grinds, but the compound grind and the asymmetrical grind will combine two of your favorite grinds to create the perfect blade for you. Each grind excels at something unique, so before purchasing your next blade, check and see if the grind is the perfect option for you.


Knife Wars: G-10 vs. Micarta

G-10 and micarta are sometimes thought to be interchangeable. This is not a true statement. G-10 and micarta a very similar, but they do sport some key differences. Today we are going to go in depth about what each one is, what they have that makes them unique, and why they are different from each other.


What is G-10?

G-10 is known as a fiberglass based laminate. So what does that mean? To make G-10, you take fiberglass cloths that are soaked in an epoxy resin. To fully understand this process, let’s talk about what resin actually is. Resin can be found in a natural or synthetic form, but the kind on most G-10 handles is the synthetic form. Resin is known to be a viscous liquid, which means that it has a high resistance and can stand up to a high level of stressors and wear and tear. Once the resin hardens, it is permanently hard. While synthetic resin is already a very hard and durable substance, an epoxy resin is said to be two times stronger than concrete, seamless, and waterproof. Okay, back to the G-10 process: once the fiberglass cloths are soaked in an epoxy resin, they are layered on top of each other. Heat and pressure is then added to compress it into the wanted shape. This is the same process that is used for micarta and carbon fiber handles; however, G-10 is unique because this process uses fiberglass while the other two do not.

What is micarta?

One of the most common forms of micarta is linen micarta. Micarta is made extremely similar to G-10. The layers of linen are coated in a resin, but in micarta it is a phenolic resin. Phenolic resin is slightly different than an epoxy resin. Phenolic resin is made with an organic compound called Phenol, creating a synthetic material. After these layers are soaked with a phenolic resin, just like in G-10, they have heat and pressure applied to create the strong material.

Differences: While G-10 is made with an epoxy resin and micarta is made with a phenolic resin, most people wouldn’t be able to explain or tell a difference. The main difference between what these two materials really are is that G-10 is made out of fiberglass and micarta is usually made with linen, but is often made with canvas, and sometimes even papers or burlaps. Because of this, micarta can have very unique looks compared to G-10, where it is always made out of the same material. Many people think that micarta looks a little more rugged, because the base material has more texture than fiberglass does.


Is G-10 a strong material?

One of the main defining characteristics of G-10 is the strength that it possesses. For starters, the main “ingredient” of G-10 is fiberglass. Fiberglass is known for being crazy strong and durable. But then in the G-10 process, the fiberglass is woven together. The weaving makes this material even stronger than it already is. Lastly, this woven fiberglass is soaked in an epoxy resin, which creates a hard, almost plastic material. Almost any of the G-10 users will attest to its insane strength. Actually, G-10 is considered to be the toughest of any of the fiberglass resin laminates. And while many people think that Micarta is the stronger out of the two, G-10 has been ranked as the stronger material.

Is micarta a strong material?

Micarta has been called “The Steel of the Plastic Industry”, so yes, micarta is a strong material. Because micarta is soaked and baked in a resin, it creates the same hard, almost plastic material that G-10 is. Compared to many other knife materials, micarta is a very strong handle material. But, because the different base materials aren’t woven like the fiberglass can be, micarta loses out on that aspect of the strength.

Differences: Once again, it really comes down to the base material used. Because fiber glass can be woven, it creates a stronger, more durable material. The base materials of micarta are softer materials and can be scratched if not treated properly; however, when it is treated correctly, it is extremely hard to scratch, and is almost as scratch resistant as G-10. Determining which one of is stronger is a very close competition, but G-10 pulls out as barely stronger.


G-10 is a smooth material; is there any grip to it?

Yes, G-10 is a smooth material in its natural state. However, the manufacturers know how vital grip is on a knife, especially a knife that is durable enough for heavy duty tasks. Most commonly found is checkering to create the texture on the handle, but almost any pattern can be added to the G-10 material to create a custom look for your handle. Also, the fiberglass cloth is woven to create the strength that G-10 is known for, but by weaving the fiberglass in different ways, it creates different creative textures that you wouldn’t be able to find in many other knife handle materials. While it is water resistant, this material can feel less grippy when it is wet.

Micarta is an extremely smooth material; how is there any grip?

Yes, micarta truly has no surface texture. When first created, it is slippery, smooth, and has no grip whatsoever. Because it is so smooth, it takes more hand labor to achieve the desired texture. To achieve the desired grip, a texture is actually carved into this knife handle. Because it takes so much extra hand labor, it makes micarta a more expensive priced knife. While micarta is also water resistant, it can actually feel more grippy while wet, because the base materials are natural and their textures come out more while wet.

Differences: In their natural state, both materials are very slick. However, G-10 is slightly less slick. G-10 is a little easier to get texture into and can actually have its fiberglass woven into a texture. While micarta is virtually texture-less at first, a texture can be carved into the handle. This takes more manual labor than creating texture on G-10 and so micarta is costlier. G-10 is slicker when wet, while micarta actually gains some traction while wet. When deciding which one to get, look at the task at hand, if the knife is likely to become wet, such as during a fishing trip, micarta might be your best bet.


Why is G-10 such a customizable material?

G-10 is one of the most customizable materials for blade handles. This is because of a few reasons. One of the ways that G-10 can be customizable is the handle pattern. In the previous paragraph, we talked about how texture is added to the G-10 and while checkering is most common, really any pattern can be added. This gives the G-10 a unique look that you aren’t going to be able to find on too many other materials for your knife handles.

Another reason that is so customizable is because of the different colors that you can make G-10 from. G-10 is most commonly found in black, but fiberglass can be found in many colors and so can the epoxy resin. This means that you can create the handle in a huge variety of colors and mixes of colors. Sometimes, the fiberglass cloths will have layers of different colors which adds a pleasing aesthetic that you wouldn’t be able to find in other materials.

Lastly, because G-10 is made from layers of cloth, it is very easy to get different thicknesses for your handle. All the manufacturer has to do is layer more or less of the fiberglass.

Customizing G-10 is a very cheap process because it is so easy to change up so many different aspects of the materials used.

Can I customize my micarta handle?

Because micarta is made out of natural materials as its base material, there are less color options available. Often times, micarta comes in a natural color such as yellows and browns. On the flip side, there are multiple natural materials that you can make your micarta handle out of, which would all give you a different look. Canvas has a chunkier texture to it than linen. Paper doesn’t have a texture to it. And burlap can give you the chunkiest look to it.

With a micarta handle, you cannot get special patterns in the knife, because with a G-10 knife, you just have to weave the fiberglass in different ways. There is no other way to weave the natural material, because they are already woven.

Lastly, it is very easy to get different widths of micarta for your handle, because it is made by a layering process. It is very simple to have more or less layers for a thicker or thinner look.

Differences: While G-10 comes in a huge variety of colors, there are select few colors for micarta handles to be made out of. However, with a micarta handle, you can get many different looks because of the natural base material. With a G-10 handle, it will always look plastic-y. With both of the materials, it is easy to change the thickness or thinness, because they are both made from the layering process. While you can get a variety of different looks with either material, they have very different looks from each other. G-10 is more of a cold/modern look, because it is more plastic-y looking, while micarta will give you a more natural and rugged look. Often times, people think micarta adds a classier element to your knife, as opposed to G-10.


Is G-10 an easy material to maintain?

Yes! G-10 is one of the easiest materials to maintain because it so strong, durable, and tough. G-10 is resistant to rust because it is a synthetic plastic-like material. Also, it doesn’t become brittle or soften over time—basically what you see is what you get. Plus, G-10 is non-porous, so no liquid or dirt can be sucked up into the handle, making it brittle. Because it isn’t porous, it is very easy to clean and you don’t have to worry about transferring liquids or particles if you have this type of handle on a knife that you use for hunting or fishing. Some handle materials, such as mother of pearl, are prone to chipping, but G-10 is completely or almost completely resistant to any chipping.

Is micarta an easy material to maintain?

While micarta is a synthetic material, the base “ingredient” for micarta is a natural material, so it does require some upkeep. A good way to take care of micarta is to oil it pretty often. If it is left un-oiled, it can start to soak up blood, sweat, dirt, etc. and becomes an un-hygienic knife. Oiling it is a simple process and the benefits from keeping up on it and taking care of it outweigh the process of taking care of it.

Differences: G-10 is much easier to maintain because you don’t actually have to do anything to maintain it. Because micarta’s base material is a natural substance, it can lead to soaking up of any extra fluid or dirt. With micarta, you are going to want to keep it constantly oiled, but all-in-all, it’s not too bad of a process to keep it looking and feeling its best.


What types of knives is G-10 best for?

G-10 is an ideal type of handle material for tactical knives. This is because it is extremely strong, extremely sturdy, and won’t soak up any extra fluids or residue. You do not have to maintain G-10, so having it in a survivor situation would be perfect.

What types of knives is micarta best for?

Micarta is also a great option for tactical knives. Micarta is very strong and very sturdy. They stand up against many elements and actually feel like they have better grip while wet. These are great for hunting and fishing knives as well. The only drawback is that you do have to keep your micarta handle oiled to keep it in best condition.



At first glance, G-10 and micarta seem like an almost identical knife handle material. However, they do have differences and these differences are what is going to help you decide which one is a better candidate for you and your task at hand. Both are fantastic, strong, and durable options. But they do have characteristics that keep each handle and each knife unique.


Knife Lock Styles

Finding a new knife can be an overwhelming process. There are so many different features that you have to decide between. Some of the main features are steel types, blade shapes, and how the knife opens. One of the features that folding knives have is the locking mechanisms. When I was first looking into buying a new knife, I knew that I had to figure out all the previously mentioned characteristics, but I overlooked researching the locking mechanisms. This article is all about the different popular locking mechanisms and what the advantages and disadvantages of each of them are.


Liner Lock:

One of the most popular and commonly used locking systems is the liner lock. This style is also known as the Locking Liner system. This style was originally known as the Walker Lock because the inventor is Michael Walker. The system works because when the knife blade is opened, there is a metal lock bar angled from the center of the handle interior towards the center where it bumps against the tang of the knife blade. When the tension of the lock bar is pressed against the blade, it keeps the blade open and in place. To close the knife, you use your thumb to push the lock bar away from the blade, which releases the tension, and then you can close the blade manually. This type of locking system is commonly found on tactical folding knives.

Advantages of a liner lock:

  • This style of lock is easy to close one handed, so it makes it an ideal mechanism for when you are doing lots of hands on work.
  • The liner lock is great for tactical knives.
  • This style of lock is very reliable to use.

Disadvantages of a liner lock:

  • This style is normally made by thinner metal, so they can wear out.
  • When a liner lock is not built correctly, it can lead to failure over time.
  • When a liner lock is not built correctly, it can led to lots of blade play.
  • This is not an ambidextrous style of lock, because it can only be released from one side.



The lockback locking mechanisms is one of the older styles of locking mechanisms; you will see this style on a lot of classic folding knives. This style is often called a spin lock, because it has a notch on the back of the handle. This notch is where the spine of the blade locks into when it is opened. To then close the knife, you push on the exposed part of the spine, which is usually found in the middle of the handle, which moves the part of the mechanism holding the blade in place. Once this is moved, you can close the blade manually. Because the piece you push to disengage the lock is out of the way, it is hard to accidently unlock the knife. However, because this is out of the way, you often have to use two hands to close the knife, not making this an ideal option for tasks that requires your other hand.

Advantages of a lockback:

  • This style of locking system makes knives with this mechanism ambidextrous.
  • The release “button” is out of the way, so it is a safe way to keep your knife locked.
  • This style of lock holds the blade securely.

Disadvantages of a lockback:

  • The user usually has to use two hands to close it.


Frame lock:

The frame lock locking mechanism is also one of the most popular locking mechanisms. This style is really just a liner lock on steroids. Meaning, that instead of having the internal lock bar moving into the right place, it is incorporated directly into the handle. This makes it work similarly to the frame lock, because the frame (this would be the lock bar on a liner lock) positions itself right beneath the blade when it is opened, not allowing it to fold. On a liner lock, the liner and lock bar work as a spring, but in a frame lock, the frame works like a spring. This makes this style more secure than a liner lock. Just like on a liner lock, you push down on the frame, moving it out of the way and freeing the blade, then close the knife manually. Because the locking mechanism is in the frame, it uses a large amount of metal against the blade, which is why it is more secure and sturdy than a liner lock. This makes it ideal for heavy duty tasks. Advantages of a frame lock:

  • The frame lock system is very sturdy.
  • This locking mechanism keeps the blade very secure.
  • The frame lock is ideal for heavy duty tasks, including cutting, piercing, and slicing.

Disadvantages of a frame lock:

  • You normally have to use two hands to close the knife.
  • This style is costlier than a liner lock style of locking mechanism.


AXIS lock:

The AXIS lock is specifically made by Benchmade, meaning only Benchmade knives will have this lock, but it is a revolutionary lock, so I’m not going to skip talking about it. This locking mechanism is made of a spring-tension bar that goes the length of the handle. After the blade is opened, this spring-tension bar is pushed forward within the slot in the handle until it locks into place. It locks into place when the blade is fully extended. The spring-tension bar then rests on the blade, so that it can’t close. When closing the knife, you pull this spring-tension bar to the back of the blade, with the thumb studs, and then can close the blade. You can reach the bar from either side, making it very ambidextrous. This system uses less of the regular locking system parts that can create friction, so this style feels much smoother than others. But, because it has so many parts involved, it can be hard to clean and maintain.

Advantages of an AXIS lock:

  • This style is completely ambidextrous.
  • You can close the blade without ever putting your fingers in line of the blade, making it a safer option.
  • This style feels smoother than other styles of locking mechanisms.
  • Very sturdy—this style can stand up to some of the toughest work.

Disadvantages of an AXIS lock:

  • The AXIS lock can be hard to maintain and clean because of the smaller parts that are hard to take apart.
  • This locking mechanism is only on Benchmade knives.
  • The smaller thumb studs can be hard to operate, especially on the smaller knives that feature the AXIS lock.


ARC Lock:

This style of lock is also known as the Cam lock. The ARC lock is another style of locking mechanism that is only found in one brand of knife, but the ARC lock is only found on SOG Specialty Knives. It is very similar to the AXIS lock. But the difference is that instead of having a bar moving in a vertical motion, this style has a device that moves in an arc. The bar and arc-moving device both work identically by blocking the tang of the knife from closing while locked. The ARC lock has high strength levels, and SOG has tested the strength in lab tests. The ARC can open very quickly and smoothly; it can also be opened with only one hand. SOG has added a safety feature that ensures the blade stays secure within the handle when it is closed.

Advantages of an ARC lock:

  • This locking mechanism is completely ambidextrous—one of the few.
  • The ARC lock can open quickly and smoothly.
  • The knife features a safety mechanism that keeps the blade securely closed while locked.
  • This style is very easy to use.

Disadvantages of an ARC lock:

  • This style of lock is only found on SOG knives.
  • While this style of lock is very strong, it is not as strong as some of the other options.


Tri-Ad Lock:

Cold Steel has also designed their own type of locking mechanism; they named it the Tri-Ad lock. Andrew Demko is the designer of this style of locking mechanism. This style works by having the blade shouldered around the stop pin, this helps at resistance to wear. The stop pin works to even out the pressure that the blade creates and redistribute it into the handle, because the handle can absorb the pressure better. Some unique aspects of the Tri-Ad lock that Cold Steel has worked to create is extra space allows the rocker to go further into the notch. This is great for normal wear that most locks go through over time. Another thing that Cold Steel has created is that in the Tri-Ad lock the full surface of the lock and the blade are level with each other. And the lock has a slight angle, which pushes the lock inwards instead of outward, making this helps keep the locking mechanism for a longer. Plus, the pin hole has extra space inside so that the knife can actually self-adjust over time as the different parts are slowly worn out. This makes knives with this style of lock extremely maintainable. The Tri-Ad lock is a very secure and safe style of locking mechanism that keeps the blade snug. The Tri-Ad lock is similar to the lockback style of mechanism, but it has the added stop pin to make it unique.

Advantages of a Tri-Ad lock:

  • The patented stop pin moves the pressure from the lock into the handle to ease every day wear and tear that locks endure.
  • Because the Tri-Ad has extra space in the pin hole, this style of lock is self-adjusting, making knives with this style of lock extremely easy to maintain.
  • Because the lock has a slight angle, the pressure pushes the lock inward instead of outward, making the lock sturdier.
  • This style of lock is a very secure style of lock.
  • Similar to the lockback style, but with the added stop pin making it unique.

Disadvantages of a Tri-Ad lock:

  • This style is exclusive to Cold Steel, so it is not as widely used.


Slip Joint lock:

This type of lock is unique because it doesn’t actually every lock. It has a slip joint that uses pressure from a spring to hold the blade up. To open this kind of knife, you pull on the blade, which snaps it into place. To close it, you just push it back down. Because this type of lock isn’t actually a lock, this style is not great for heavy duty knives. This type of “lock” is most commonly seen on Swiss Army Knives.

Advantages of a slip joint lock:

  • This style is very simple and easy to use.

Disadvantages of a slip joint lock:

  • Since it doesn’t ever actually lock into place, it is not great for heavy duty tasks.


Lever Lock:

A lever lock works because there is a pin that prevents the blade from closing. Once the blade is completely open, the pin fits in a hole that is on the tang of the blade. It gets its name because when you want to close the knife, there is a lever that you push down which then lifts the pin out of the blade. Then you can fold the blade back into the handle. This pin also is what keeps the blade closed, so you have to press the lever to open the blade as well. This style of lock is commonly found on Italian style switchblade knives.

Advantages of a lever lock:

  • The pin and lever system hold the knife securely in place while locked.
  • This locking mechanism is found on Italian style knives, so it looks aesthetically pleasing.

Disadvantages of a lever lock:

  • If the lever or pin breaks, the whole locking system is destroyed.


Now that we have discussed the different, common, and popular blade locking mechanisms, you can make a more informed decision when buying a knife and get the perfect knife for you. Check out BladeOps to find great knives with any of these locking mechanisms.



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How Knives Open

One of the ways that knives are often categorized as is how they open. There are six different ways that knives can open. These are automatic, out the front, butterfly, spring assist, folding, and fixed blades. Today we are going to discuss what each of these are, how they are most often used, and some advantages and disadvantages of each kind.


Automatic Knives:

Automatic knives are known as a variety of different names, one of the most popular being a switchblade. Some of the other names that an automatic knife is known by are pushbutton knife, ejector knife, springer, flick knife, and flick blades. An automatic knife is a folding or sliding blade that is contained in the handle of the knife, which can then be opened automatically by a spring. This is triggered by a button, lever, or switch on the handle. Many automatic knives include a locking blade, which adds a safety element to the knife. This safety is when the blade is locked against closure. The safety button is usually a manual button that allows it to be locked in an open or closed position. Automatic knives are grouped into two categories: folding and out the front. Some people enjoy automatic knives because of how quickly and efficiently they can be opened, usually with just one hand. However, automatic knives are highly regulated in the states, because they can be dangerous. Unfortunately, automatic knives can have mechanical failure, thus ruining the knife. Some people are hesitant with automatic knives because they can open without meaning to open, but like earlier stated, most of the automatic knives have a safety feature. This style of knife can also be a more expensive option than others. This style of knife is not an ideal knife for heavy duty tools, because a fixed blade would stand up better to heavy use.

Advantages of an automatic knife:

  • Can be opened very quickly.
  • Can be opened with one hand.
  • Most feature a safety mechanism.
  • Can be speedy for using as a self-defense weapon.

Disadvantages of an automatic knife:

  • High regulations and laws that limit the ability to own one, so you have to check into your local laws.
  • More expensive than some of the other options.
  • Not ideal for heavy duty use.
  • If your automatic knife doesn’t feature a safety, it can be accidentally opened when you didn’t want it to be opened.


Out-the-Front Knife

Similarly, to an automatic knife, out-the-front knives are known by a few names. Some of these other names include sliding knife and telescoping knives. An out-the-front knife got its name because it is a knife that opens and closes through a hole in one end of the handle. This is unique because many other knives open with the blade coming out of the side, rather than the front. An out-the-front knife is one grouping of an automatic knife, because you can get this style as an automatic style. However, you can get a manual out-the-front knife. There are a few different styles of out-the-front knives, some of the popular ones are automatic knives, gravity knives, and spring assisted.

Automatic out-the-front knives:

This style of out-the-front knife is where the blade is connected to a track on the inside of the handle. This grouping is also categorized into two groupings: single action and double action. Single action deploys the blade automatically, but they must first be cocked or retracted to close. Double-action is when the blade deploys and retracts with a button and spring design.

Gravity out-the-front knives:

This style of out-the-front knives are never known as a sliding knife, because the blade is ejected by gravity. This style does not have a spring inside the handle, unlike the other kinds. The blade gets locked inside the handle with a lever, which creates tension to hold the blade in place. To eject the blade, you have to first release the lever and then turn the knife upside down, the blade will fall right out. Then, this lever also creates tension to lock the blade to hold it open.

Spring assisted out-the-front knives:

This style is a newer style. This style works because when the blade is retracted, it is under constant pressure from a compressed spring that rests inside the handle. When you push the button, it releases the spring, which then pushes the blade out of the handle. To pull the blade back into the handle, you press a release button, which is usually the same button, and manually retract the blade.

Advantages of an out-the-front knife:

  • Variety of styles, so you can get what you prefer.
  • Some are automatic, so they are quick.
  • Since the blade comes out the front, you cannot close the blade on your hand.
  • This style is a good option for self-defense.

Disadvantages of an out-the-front knife:

  • Since many are automatic, they fall under the same strict laws that other automatic knives do.


Butterfly Knives

Like the previous two knives, butterfly knives go by a couple of different names, such as a fan knife or a balisong knife, the latter being one of the most popular name options for this style. A butterfly knife is a folding pocket knife, what makes it unique is that it has two handles that hug the blade when it is close. When it is open, the two handles fall to the bottom and there is a small clip that connects the two handles to keep them open and together. This style of knife was very commonly used by Filipino people, especially in the Tagalog region. A balisong knife is primarily used for stabbing or slashing. This knife is not ideal used for chopping because it doesn’t carry the weight to actually carry through with any of the chopping. Butterfly knives rarely sport a serrated edge. However, many people have trained themselves to perform the art of “flipping” or “fanning”. This art is when people can perform by flipping the knife in a series of movements.

Advantages of a butterfly knife:

  • This style of knife has a unique look to it, so it has an awe factor to it.
  • The handles of this knife can be used as a blunt weapon.
  • Can use this knife for an art form, instead of just tactical uses.
  • Butterfly knives are good for stabbing and slashing.
  • This can be a cheap option.

Disadvantages of a butterfly knife:

  • While this is good for stabbing, since the blade is so thin, it makes a smaller wound than other knives would.
  • This style cannot be used for chopping.
  • The typical size is a lot larger than other styles of knives.


Spring-assisted knives:

Spring-assisted knives are also commonly called assisted-opening knives. This style is often confused with an automatic style knife, but they differ slightly. This style is a kind of folding knife that has an internal mechanism of a torsion spring and a track that the blade is resting on. This mechanism helps finish opening the blade once the user has already partially opened it. The user will partially open the knife by using a flipper or thumb stud that is attached at the bottom of the blade. When the knife is closed, the blade will be held in place by torsion springs. You can also get an additional blade lock on the knife. While an automatic knife has strict laws, assisted knives are usually legal. Another benefit of spring-assisted knives are that they are less likely to have some of its mechanisms broken, unlike an automatic knife. This is because an automatic knife has constant pressure on the spring the whole time that the knife is closed. In a spring-assisted knife, the spring only has this tension placed on it when the blade is being deployed, at other times, the spring has no pressure and can be relaxed. Because spring assisted knives are partially automatic, they can open much quicker than a regular folding knife would be able to.

Advantages of a spring-assisted knife:

  • They are legal in more places than a fully automatic knife would be.
  • Because they are legal in more areas, they make for a great every day carry knife and a great self-defense weapon.
  • Less likely to break than a fully automatic knife.
  • Much quicker to open than a regular folding knife.

Disadvantages of a spring-assisted knife:

  • This style is not as quick to open as a fully automatic knife.
  • Not great for heavy duty work.
  • Over time, the inner mechanisms can wear down and the “assisted” mechanism loses its “snap”.


Manual folding knives:

A manual folding knife is a style of knife that requires the user to physically open the blade. The user will do this by using either a thumb stud or a cut out. The cut out style of opening mechanism is commonly found on traditional pocket knives and also on Swiss Army knives. The cut out is a small groove in the blade that you can put your nail in to get a grip on the blade and open it up. The thumb stud mechanism is a small protrusion that sits on the blade that allows you to get a grip on the blade. This is usually done by placing your thumb on the stud and pulling the blade out of the handle of the knife. A manual folding knife was the first style of pocket knife before any of the newer knife technology was developed. This style of knife is a very popular knife because they fit nicely in your pocket and can also be carried easily in a pack.

Advantages of a manual folding knife:

  • This style of knife offers a very classic style.
  • Opens slower than an automatic knife, so it can be much safer than an automatic or assisted knife.
  • Since it doesn’t rely on a spring to open, it is less likely to break than an automatic or assisted knife.
  • Legal in many more areas than an automatic knife—but make sure to always check your local laws before buying and carrying a knife.

Disadvantages of a manual folding knife:

  • Opens very slowly, so it is not a good self-defense weapon.


Fixed blade knife:

A fixed blade is any knife that doesn’t have a folding or sliding blade. They are sometimes called sheath knives because to close them, you just place a sheath over the blade. This style of knife is usually stronger and sturdier than the other styles because the blade is directly connected to the handle and you remove any moving and inner parts. You can also purchase fixed blade knives in a large variety of sizes—you can get them small and you can get them huge. But, fixed blades are usually harder to conceal than the previous styles of knives. They are also harder to carry, since they are usually larger and don’t fit in pockets as well or at all. Fixed blade knives are also very easy to maintain because you don’t have to worry about springs or mechanisms. Fixed blade knives often have a larger blade than the previously mentioned styles, making them ideal for heavy duty work. This style of knife is also an idea survival tool because they can manage so many different tasks and they will last.

Advantages of a fixed blade knife:

  • Sturdier than other options of knives.
  • Last longer than the other styles of knives because they don’t have moving parts that can break.
  • Longer/bigger blade.
  • Great option for a survival tool.
  • Great option for heavy duty work.
  • Large variety of sizes.
  • Easy to maintain.

Disadvantages of a fixed blade knife:

  • Harder to conceal than other styles of knives.
  • Harder to carry, since they are usually bigger than the other styles of knives.



There are many different styles of knives and one of the biggest ways to categorize them is how they open. We have now discussed the six most popular categories of how knives open. When choosing the perfect knife for you always keep in mind the task at hand.



Overview of Knife Handle Materials

So far we have discussed the different steel types that a knife can have and the different popular knife shapes. For the last segment of the beginner’s series, we are going to talk about the different popular knife handle materials.


Carbon fiber knife handle:

A carbon fiber knife handle is a woven handle made up of thing strands of carbon, which is then set in epoxy resin. Many times, you can see the weave-like pattern in the handle, which can be varied, and there are different epoxy colors, so you can get a wide variety with this material. Because of how this handle material is made, this option is a very light weight handle. But, it is still one of the strongest handle options out there—it can be stronger than steel. However, because of how carbon fiber is woven, it can suffer from being very brittle. This is caused by the pattern of the weave, the handle is very strong in the direction of the weave, but when it is stressed in other directions, the weave starts to break apart. This means that it is prone to cracking upon sharp impacts. Another thing about carbon fiber is that it is a labor intensive process, so knives with this handle material are not going to be found cheap.

Advantages of a carbon fiber knife handle:

  • Extremely strong.
  • This is a very lightweight option.
  • Can get variety because of the different weave patterns and the different colors of epoxy resin.

Disadvantages of a carbon fiber knife handle:

  • This material is a more expensive handle option.
  • Brittle, so it might break upon sharp impact.



G-10 knife handle:

A G-10 knife handle is a material that is made out of fiberglass that is then soaked in a resin, compressed, and then baked under pressure. G-10 was originally designed to be in circuit boards, so it can stand up to elements such as acids, water, and oils very well. This material is very similar to carbon fiber; however, it can be found for a much cheaper cost. G-10 can be made from many colors, but is most often found in black. Then the material is can be finished in another variety of ways, which gives it different textures to serve different purposes. Fixed blade knifes and tactical folders are commonly found with this type of handle because it is so durable and still lightweight.

Advantages of a G-10 knife handle:

  • Very tough, so it can stand up to any surprises.
  • This is a very lightweight option.
  • This material is very durable.
  • Can be made in different colors.
  • Can have different textures, so you have options to pick the one that works best for you and your needs.

Disadvantages of a G-10 knife handle:

  • This is still a brittle option because it is made of fiberglass and resin.
  • Even though this option is cheaper than a carbon fiber handle, the process is still lengthy, so it is still a more expensive option.


Micarta knife handle:

Another popular knife handle material is micarta. The technical description for micarta is a “fabric reinforced phenolic laminate”, which means that it is created by soaking linen cloths in a phenolic resin, and then pressing them together. This process is repeated until the desired thickness of the handle. This process is very similar to the G-10 material’s process. Micarta can be made in a variety of different colors and can be finished in a variety of different ways, one of which being a very smooth finish. This material is a much smoother finish than other options and to get a good texture, it needs hand labor to carve out a texture, making it a pricey option. Micarta was originally designed to be an electrical insulator, so it is easily one of the best plastic options for a knife handle. Micarta is very tough and durable and will not scratch easily.

Advantages of a micarta knife handle:

  • This is a very durable material and will not scratch easily.
  • This is a very light material.
  • This is a very tough material.
  • Many people think that micarta is a more aesthetically pleasing material as opposed to G-10.

Disadvantages of a micarta knife handle:

  • Because of the building process, this material is a more expensive option.
  • This material can be brittle.


Kraton knife handle:

Kraton material is actually a synthetic replacement to rubber. Because of this, the material has excellent flexibility, high traction, and sealing abilities, but because it is a synthetic replacement, it offers more—kraton has an increased resistance to heat, chemicals, and weathering. In most cases, a kraton handle is actually made by molding the kraton onto a harder handle material. By adding the kraton onto the other material, it works to add grip and increases the comfort of your knife handle. Kraton can also come in different degrees of hardness, depending on your preference. This material is usually used in utility knives, because there aren’t color options.

Advantages of a kraton knife handle:

  • Adds grip, which makes it a good option for a utility knife.
  • Gives your handle a more comfortable grip.
  • Because it is a synthetic material, it has high resistance to weathering.
  • This is a very durable handle material.

Disadvantages of a kraton knife handle:

  • This is not a very aesthetically pleasing material—there isn’t a variety of options to look.
  • Because it is similar to rubber, it can slowly start to soak up some of the fluids and other residue, making it a harder material to get it feeling clean.
  • Because it is porous, it can soak up fluids and slowly damage the material, making it brittle and weaker.

Aluminum knife handle:

Aluminum is a popular option for a knife handle because it is a very durable material. Aluminum is normally anodized for some extra protection and to make the handle harder. The anodizing process can add a variety of colors. Aluminum is also a lightweight option for a handle and when properly texturized, the aluminum can have a reasonably secure grip. Aluminum is also a comfortable material to hold in your hand, which makes this material a great option for extended use. This material is used often in new knives; however, this material is not as strong or durable as a titanium handle.

Advantages of an aluminum knife handle:

  • This is a strong material.
  • Even though it is a metal handle, aluminum is still a lightweight option for a knife handle.
  • Aluminum feels heftier or sturdier than other options, but isn’t heavy.
  • Aluminum has good corrosion resistance properties.
  • Can be anodized to get a variety of colors, so it is aesthetically pleasing.

Disadvantages of an aluminum knife handle:

  • This metal can feel slippery, especially when not properly texturized.
  • Aluminum can be cold to hold, so it is not ideal for being used often in cold weather situations.
  • This material can be scratched up easier than a more premium metal, such as titanium.


Titanium knife handle:

Titanium is a metal, just like aluminum; however, it is a more durable option than aluminum. It is also heavier than aluminum, but still not heavy. For the extra weight, you get a lot of extra strength. Out of all the alloy metal handle options, titanium offers the best rust resistance properties. Titanium is considered a premium metal for your knife handle. Oddly enough, titanium has a warm feel to it, so if you are going to be mainly using your knife in the colder months, this option is a fantastic one. Even though titanium is a premium metal, it is still prone to scratches, especially when being compared to a stainless steel. Titanium can be textured through a process known as bead-blasting, which is when a stream of abrasive material is used to rough up a smooth surface such as this. And, just like aluminum, titanium can have different colors added to it through the anodization process. This material is often used on new pocket knives.

Advantages of a titanium knife handle:

  • Titanium offers a strong material.
  • Although titanium is heavier than other materials, it is still considered a lightweight option.
  • Out of all the alloy metal handle options, titanium is the most resistant to rusting.
  • You can get this material in a variety of different colors.
  • Has a warm feel to it, so it is an ideal option for colder seasons/areas.
  • Considered a premium metal.

Disadvantages of a titanium knife handle:

  • Titanium is pretty expensive.
  • Titanium is prone to scratching.


Stainless steel knife handle:

Stainless steel is one of the most durable knife handle materials. Stainless steel is also extremely resistant to corrosion and rust. Stainless steel is a heavier handle option than many of the other materials. When looking for a knife for every-day carry and heavy duty knives, I would recommend not choosing stainless steel because of the heaviness to them. This material can be slippery, so often times the manufacturer will have added ridges and etchings into the handle to give it more friction. Still, stainless steel is commonly seen with rubbers, synthetic rubbers, and plastics to give it better friction and grip than what it would have with the etchings. Stainless steel doesn’t come in a variety of colors, so the silver look can look cold to some.

Advantages of a stainless steel knife handle:

  • Stainless steel is a very strong knife handle option.
  • Stainless steel is a very durable material.
  • Stainless steel is extremely resistant to rusting and corrosion, making it a long lasting handle option.

Disadvantages of a stainless steel knife handle:

  • Stainless steel is a heavy material, so it is not great for every day carry.
  • No color variety.
  • Stainless steel is slippery, sometimes even after being etched into to add texture.


Zytel knife handle:

Zytel was developed by Du Pont and it is considered to be unbreakable. Zytel is a thermoplastic that is made by combining fiberglass and nylon and then being heated to nearly 600 degrees Fahrenheit. During this process, it is injected into a mold to get the wanted form. Zytel has the nylon fibers arranged randomly and haphazardly, which makes it stronger than G-10, Carbon Fiber, and Micarta because those fibers are arranged in the same direction. This material is very resistant to bending and abrasion. Zytel is a very cheap material to make, so having this material on your knife is a cheaper option. This material is so durable and cheap, so it has become a very popular option for handles. However, some people say that it looks cheap and feels hollow. It all comes down to personal preference. On its own, Zytel is pretty smooth, but often has better grip added to it during the molding process. But, if you are looking solely for grip, G-10 would be your best bet.

Advantages of a Zytel knife handle:

  • This is one of the strongest knife handle materials that you can get.
  • Zytel is a very tough material.
  • Zero maintenance because it is nearly indestructible.
  • An inexpensive option.

Disadvantages of a Zytel knife handle:

  • Some people think that this material can feel cheap and hollow.
  • Does not have as solid of a grip as a G-10 handle.


Bone knife handle:

Having a bone knife handle is a very classic material. The bone can come from almost any type of bone, but popular kinds are giraffe bones, elephant bones, and of course a cow bone. Sometimes it is not actually bone, but a different material such as antler, horns, or tusks that makes up the handle. Bone knife handles are a popular option in the knife collector community. A drawback to a bone handle is that it is porous, so it can be prone to deformation and cracking over time. Bone is not resistant to weathering, temperate, light, or moisture. This is not a choice for every day knife or a utility knife.

Advantages of a bone knife handle:

  • Bone is an inexpensive material.
  • A bone knife handle is a very classic and traditional choice.
  • Dye can be used on it to create a variety of different looks.
  • Great for a collector’s knife.

Disadvantages of a bone knife handle:

  • Bone is very porous.
  • Bone is prone to cracking.
  • Bone is not resistant to weathering.
  • Not a good option for a utility knife or an everyday carry knife.
  • Can be slippery.


We have now discussed steel types, blade shapes, and handle materials. After this beginner’s series of articles, you will now be equipped to go out and purchase your ideal knife for you and your purpose.


Blade Shape Basics

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.


Tanto Blade

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.


Sheepsfoot Blade

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.


Wharncliffe Blade

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.


Overview of Knife Blade Steels

Choosing the best knife for yourself and your task at hand can feel overwhelming when looking at all of the options that there are. You have to decide between steel types, blade shapes, and what the knife’s purpose is. To make this process easier for everyone, I have decided to do a beginner’s series. To start off with, I am going to define the different terms used in ranking knife steels and then go into the different popular types of steels and dig deep into their details to help you figure out which knife is your perfect option.


Basic Terms

For starters, there are a few different terms that I should define. First off, the Rockwell Hardness Scale, this is a scale that determines the hardness of a material by a series of tests. The lower the number of Rockwell Hardness, the softer the steel. The higher the number, the harder the steel. Often times, these numbers are paired with either “HRC” or “RC”. These terms just say that the number is on the Rockwell Hardness scale, just two different ways of saying that. With steel, the hardness is often described as the strength of the steel.

Another important aspect is toughness. Often times, hardness and toughness are used as synonyms, however there is a difference.  The toughness of a knife is referring to how much force the blade can endure before chipping, cracking, or breaking during heavy use. The thing about toughness and hardness is that the harder a knife is, the less tough it will be and vice versa.

The third main factor in steel is corrosion resistance. Corrosion resistance is how well the knife holds up to rust and other discolorations of the steel.

While hardness, toughness, and corrosion resistance are the three main factors in steel, there is another factor in choosing which steel to purchase. The edge retention of a knife’s steel. This is used when describing how long the blade will stay sharp after a period of usage.


Different Types of Steel

Now that we all understand the basic terms used to describe the steels, let’s focus on the individual types of steel that can make up a knife blade.


One of the more popular types of steel for knives is S30V steel. S30V steel is a stainless steel that is considered premium knife steel. The Rockwell Hardness level is 59.5-61. The steel has 1.45% Carbon, which is a relatively high amount of carbon in a steel. This steel was actually designed to be used in knives, specifically high-end pocket knives and kitchen knives. This type of steel has fantastic wear resistance, and based on how tough it is, it is surprisingly hard. Because of how tough and hard it is, it is considered one of the best choices for knife making. Knives made with S30V steel have great edge retention, however, this knife is harder to re-sharpen. Because of the durability and edge retention, knives with S30V steel are a great option for everyday carry knives, they last long and can take a beating to tackle the harder tasks.


Another popular steel used in knives is AUS 8 steel. This steel is also referred to as 8A steel.  The Rockwell Hardness level is 57-58. One of the biggest pros about AUS 8 steel is how well it can hold an edge. It is also extremely easy to sharpen. This type of steel has .75% carbon, so this means that it is a relatively hard knife. This is a cheaper knife and for the price, it has great corrosion resistance capacities. Overall, this type of steel has a good balance of toughness, strength, edge holding, and resistance to corrosion, especially for the price. Because of its lower price, it won’t hold up forever, but is great if you are looking for a cheaper option.


1095 steel is a great option for a cheaper cost. The Rockwell Hardness level is 56-58. This steel is very easy to sharpen and to get extremely sharp; however, it only has average edge retention. It has about 1% carbon, so it is very tough, meaning it’s extremely resistant to chipping. Because it’s so tough, it makes it an ideal candidate for survival knives and heavier duty fixed blades. Because 1095 steel is tougher than most knives, it can take more of a beating and isn’t commonly chosen for every day carry knives.

154 CM

This steel was originally designed for jet engine fan blades, but has made an appearance in the knife business because it is tough, has a good edge holding capacity, and has good corrosion resistance. This is a stainless steel with 1.05% carbon content. Surprisingly, this steel has very good toughness for how hard it is. The Rockwell Hardness level is between 58-62. It is a good option if you don’t want to pay the cost of S30V steel. 154 CM steel is fairly easy to sharpen as long as you have the right equipment. Knives made with this steel are great for general tasks, but they excel at heavy duty cutting applications.

ATS 34

ATS 34 steel has a carbon content of 1.05%. The Rockwell Hardness level is 60-61. This steel is a Japanese steel and people consider 154CM the American equivalent of it. This steel is a high quality steel that is being used in many custom knives. The edge holding properties in this steel is good, but it is moderately hard to sharpen. The steel has a high corrosion resistance, and these knives are mainly for general use.


VG-10 steel was originally used for kitchen cutlery, because it is one of the highest levels of stainless steels. This is also because this steel holds a great edge and has a fantastic anti-rust property. The carbon content in this steel is around 1%. This steel is one of the hardest steels and because of this, it can get brittle and chip. VG-10 steel contains vanadium which is what gives it the extra toughness. Because of the high quality of its stainless properties and its strength, VG-10 is sometimes known as a super steel. This steel is very similar to ATS-34 and 154CM steel. The Rockwell Hardness is 60. VG-10 steel originated in Japan and was first introduced in America by Spyderco. While the cost might seem steep when first looking at it, you get what you pay for and it is well worth the extra money.

420 HC

The “HC” in this steel stands for High Carbon, because this steel has an increased carbon content compared to regular 420 stainless steel. 420 HC steel has a carbon content around .4-.5%. This knife has a good toughness, but very good corrosion resistance; in fact, in spite of the low cost, this steel has some of the most corrosion resistance properties out of all the steels. Because this steel is so soft, it is very easy to sharpen. The Rockwell Hardness level is a 58. Knives with this steel are a great budget option and are mainly for general use.


This steel has a carbon content of around 1.15%, meaning that it has high strength and a great edge holding capacity. The Rockwell Hardness level of this steel is between a 61-62. This steel has average corrosion resistance properties. BG-42 steel is easy to sharpen. This steel is becoming more popular because custom knife makers have begun to use this steel more often. This steel has been used in the aerospace industry, so it is a high performance steel, and is great for knives that have to take a severe beating.

440 A

This steel has a carbon content of around .67%. This is a stainless steel and it is low cost. This steel is similar to 420 HC, but since it has a higher carbon content, it has better levels of edge retention and wear resistance. The Rockwell Hardness level of this steel is between a 55-57. This knife is very easy to sharpen and is used mostly for general use.  Out of all the 440 steels, it is the most rust resistant. Knives with this type of steel have a good balance of corrosion resistance, edge retention, and easy re-sharpening, making them a great option for every day carry.

440 C

440 C steel has a carbon content that ranges between .95-1.2%. It is a hard steel, with average toughness and wear resistance. 440 C steel very easy to sharpen and can get a very sharp edge. The Rockwell Hardness level on this steel is 58-60. One of the pros of having your blade made of 440 C is that it has extremely high resistance to stains. Out of all the 440 steels, it has the highest levels of carbon. This steel is considered to be a high end stainless steel. This type of steel was once considered the high end of knife steels, but recently it has been dropped down the list because of so many new types of steels that can be manufactured. Knives with 440C steel blades can be mass produced, so you can get them at a lower price than many other types of steels. These knives are mostly for general use.


D2 steel is often referred to as “semi stainless steel”, because while it does have a high chromium content, it doesn’t have enough chromium to be categorized as fully stainless steel. However, it does still have a very good amount of resistance to corrosion. This steel also has an excellent edge retention, but it is harder to sharpen than most. However, because it is harder than other stainless steels, it does hold its edge better than the other stainless steels. The Rockwell Hardness level is between a 59-60.  Knives with this type of steel are good for general use.


While Damascus steel is a popular steel, it is very different than any of the other steels that we’ve been discussing. This steel is made out of two or more layers of different types of steel and “folding” them together. Folding, is just a specific type of welding, where the different layers of steel are fused together. After these layers are fused together, the steel is etched with acid. Because the acid reacts differently to the two different types of steel, it reveals a striped pattern out. Knives with Damascus steel has a high toughness, but the process is long and the cost of production is high. This means that Damascus blades are usually just used for the aesthetic in decorative blades. Damascus is actually considered a precious metal. These knives are usually collector’s knives. The Rockwell Hardness level of Damascus steel is a little bit trickier because there are different types of steels in it, but they usually range from a 53 to 62.


M2 steel is used in cutting tools; this metal is used to cut metal. This steel has a carbon content of about .85%. This holds an edge really well, but on larger knives, it can make them brittle. But, M2 steel is hard to sharpen. The Rockwell Hardness level of this steel is a 62. This has fantastic strength, good toughness, and is extremely high in its wear resistance properties. This steel has poor corrosion resistance properties and will often be covered in a corrosion resistant coating.



When first looking at buying a new knife, the options can seem overwhelming, especially with all the different types of steels. To choose the one that is right for you, you must consider what you are using the knife for. You have to choose the right balance between strength, toughness, wear resistant, stain resistant, how well the knife retains its edge, and the price. Sometimes you have to give in an area to have a higher content in a different area. You can usually find a budget steel without giving up too much on quality.

Now that we have tackled the popular steels and what they are best used for, stay tuned for articles breaking down the different blade shapes and handle materials.