KNIFE BLADE SHAPES GUIDE
Written by Blade HQ Staff Writer Andrew Hamilton on 12/19/2018
Are knife blade shapes a mystery to you? From the traditional Clip Point to the modern Reverse Tanto and beyond, read on to learn what makes each of these blade shapes so special.
1. Drop Point Blade ShapeDrop Point blades are: durable, versatile, and effective at stabbing strikes.
The Drop Point is easy to identify with a convex curve from the spine of the blade to the tip. This knife blade style is a great all-around design with graceful lines and a flexible, utilitarian profile. Every maker has put their own spin on the Drop Point with classic designs on offer like the Benchmade Bugout, Boker Kalashnikov or Kershaw Skyline, among many others.
2. Clip Point Blade ShapeClip Point blades are: traditional, great for detail work, and are an ideal choice for stabbing strikes.
The Clip Point is similar to the Drop Point with one distinction. Instead of a convex curve, the Clip Point features a concave curve to the tip. This blade style excels at detail work towards the tip. The Clip Point gained massive popularity in America during the 1800s through its implementation in the Bowie knife. Popular Clip Point knives include the Chris Reeve Sebenza, Buck 110, and Kershaw Launch 1.
3. Tanto Blade ShapeTanto Point blades are: strong, piercing, and tactical.
For any tactical task, the Tanto Point blade is a tantalizing choice! With a massive potential for penetration and insane durability, your Tanto knife will never let you down. Beyond a purely tactical perspective, the Tanto blade has lots of appeal for its strong lines and aesthetic distinctiveness. Try the Boker Plus Strike, Smith & Wesson OTF, or Kershaw Shuffle.
4. Spear Point Blade Shape (AKA Dagger Point)Spear Point blades are symmetrical, balanced, and are an ideal choice for stabbing strikes.
Spear Point knives are known for one main thing — stabbing. And boy do they do it well! But beyond that, you can also expect your Spear Point knife to possess a flexible, balanced edge ideal for slicing and general EDC tasks. Many Spear Point blades feature a double edge. Consider picking up the Kershaw Launch 4, Bradley Kimura, or Microtech Ultratech.
5. Wharncliffe Blade ShapeWharncliffe blades are: traditional, versatile, and powerful.
The Wharncliffe blade shape has a history dating back hundreds of years, but in recent history it has found new life within designs both tactical and minimalistic. The Wharncliffe knife style excels in EDC tasks with a thin tip and long, straight edge. If you’ve never tried a Wharncliffe, you’re missing out. Try the Kershaw Leek, Spyderco Yojimbo 2, or Kizer Theta.
6. Sheepsfoot Blade ShapeSheepsfoot blades are: maneuverable, non-threatening, and work-oriented.
The Sheepsfoot blade shape lives in a similar world to the Wharncliffe above. The sharp, pointed tip of the Wharncliffe is swapped for a stubby convex tip. Functionally, the Sheepsfoot is utilitarian and non-threatening. Put your finger onto the back of the spine for a nimble and maneuverable feel in the hand. Popular Sheepsfoot knives included the CRKT Pilar, Kizer Sheepdog, and Steel Will Modus.
7. Standard Blade Shape (AKA Straight Back)Standard blade knives are: utilitarian, versatile, and effective at both slicing and stabbing.
What do we have here? Perhaps the most refined and minimal blade shape is the Standard, also known as Straight Back. As its name would indicate, the blade features a straight spine angle with a traditional blade belly. Sometimes simplicity rules out, as this blade shape can truly do it all. If you’re looking for a Straight Back blade, try the Boker Kwaiken, CRKT Burnley Obake, or Morakniv Companion.
8. Hawkbill Blade ShapeHawkbill blades are: tactical, utilitarian, and distinctive.
At first glance, the Hawkbill may look scary or intimidating with its severe lines. Give this blade style a chance, and at its core you’ll find a knife that excels in both the garden and garage. Pop open zip ties, tear apart cardboard, or graft some citrus trees in your orchard. Oh yeah, and the Hawkbill will certainly do the job if you ever need to get tactical. Grab yourself a Fox Knives Karambit, Cold Steel Steel Tiger Claw or, Spyderco Dragonfly 2 Salt.
9. Reverse Tanto Blade ShapeReverse Tanto blades are: durable, utilitarian, and rooted in traditional design.
The Reverse Tanto blade shape was made popular by Warren Osborne and his iconic 940 design for Benchmade. Its popularity has been cemented over time due to its durable tip and distinctive lines. Traditional slipjoint knives sometimes features a blade shape known as the Spey Point which closely resembles the Reverse Tanto. In addition to the 940, consider the Kizer Feist or the Zero Tolerance GTC 0055.
10. Trailing Point Blade ShapeTrailing Point blades excel at: slicing, stabbing, and skinning tasks.
Massively popular among hunters, the Trailing Point blade is distinctive for its back edge and point that rises above the highest point of the handle. Hunters love the Trailing Point for its generous belly and agile maneuverability. Popular Trailing Point knife options include the ZT Sinkevich 0462, WE Knife Co. Zeta, and the CRKT Crossbones.
11. Kukri Blade ShapeKukri blades are: utilitarian, battle-ready, and traditional.
The Kukri blade shape originated in Asia many, many years ago. It began as the weapon of militia soldiers, but eventually became popular among farmers for its utilitarian versatility. The Kukri knife could be used in the fields to till the earth, harvest vegetables, or clear brush. Consider a Kukri like the CRKT Johnson KUK, Cold Steel Royal Kukri, or the Cold Steel Magnum Kukri if you love the functionality of the machete but want something a little different.
BLADE SHAPES OVERVIEW
When it comes to choosing your next new knife, there might be nothing more important than the shape of the blade it comes with. Consider the usage that you’re going to be putting your knife through, and you’re sure to pick a winner.
When you go through our website looking for your next blade shape, keep in mind that blade shapes vary greatly depending on the design philosophy of the maker. It has come into vogue to throw the word ‘modified’ into the mix when a blade shape doesn’t strictly adhere to a traditional definitions. With your knowledge amped up a few degrees, you can be a more informed shopper when it’s time to buy.
You already know Blade HQ has all the knives. Make it happen, unbox your new knife with the blade shape of your choosing, and then email me a picture and a few words about what went into your decision (AHamilton at BladeHQ.com). We'll feature submissions on our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
The video below highlights many of the different grinds and steels you can find on knives today. Different grinds can be found with different blade shapes, so keep both in mind and pick the one that suits your fancy.
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