Choosing a knife that suits your needs isn't always easy considering all the different knife blade types out there. And, if you're serious about getting the most out of your blade, knife blade types do make a difference. So, what's the story with all the different blade types, and more importantly, what do they do?
KNIFE BLADE TYPES: WHAT'S IN A BLADE
If you're cutting a length of string, anything from an itty-bitty penknife to a cavalry sword will work. However, if your knife is more than a utilitarian tool, you'll likely be looking for specific performance.
For example, an 18-inch Bowie will fell a small tree or quarter a grizzly bear without breaking a sweat. It won't, however, fillet a freshly caught brown trout very well.
Here are some examples of the range of knives out there.
What sets knife blade designs apart?
Let's look at the string example again. All knives are suitable for a small number of very basic tasks, like cutting our piece of string. However, each particular family of knife blade types has been tried, tested, and refined over time to perform specific tasks very well.
What makes a blade's design exclusive?
Essentially, a knife's intended use dictates the blade's length, shape, thickness, and how it's ground to a cutting edge. Some features are common to many designs, while others feature in only one blade family.
Some knife blade types are ideal for skinning and dressing game, others for fine fillet work, while some are fighting knives by design. In each case, the elements come together in a blade that does a specific job smoothly and efficiently.
6 KNIFE BLADE TYPES FOR YOUR COLLECTION
Everyone will, of course, have their opinion on which knife blade types belong in your collection. And, while there will probably never be universal agreement and all the blades, these are the six knife blade types we think you should have in your collection.
DROP POINT BLADES
Drop points are among the most common knife blade types and are one of the most generic in terms of versatility.
The classic drop point design features a spine that curves down through the tip to meet the point. This generally places the knife point at or slightly above the centerline of the knife. The result is a well balanced, strong blade that's suitable for multiple tasks.
Drop point knives are single edged and are usually hollow ground with relatively broad blades in relation to their length. The soft spine and deep belly profile don't produce a sharp, pronounced point.
DROP POINT USES
Drop point blades are one of the most popular profiles for both folding and fixed blade knives. They are ideal for skinning and field dressing game. The less pronounced point of a drop point blade allows for great control with little chance of puncturing intestines or botching cuts.
Drop point knives with heavy, thick blades make for outstanding survival or bushcraft knives. Their overall strength and stability mean they are suitable for anything from opening cans to mallet-chopping firewood. The drop point is one of the most versatile knives you'll own.
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Clip point blades
Along with drop points, the clip point profile is one of the most popular knife blade types in general use.
Clip point blades have a pronounced straight or concave cut-away from the spine to the knifepoint. Bowie knives and Ka-Bar's are classic examples of the clip point blade design.
This rapid transition from the spine to tip gives clip point blades a sharper, more defined point than a drop point blade. Apart from this significant difference, clip and drop point knives share many physical similarities. Both are strong and controllable blades, although the sharper, slimmer clip point may be more prone to bending or breaking.
Clip point uses
The sharper point of a clip point blade is more suited for cutting in hard to reach places. It's also better at penetrating tough material. That said, it's superior penetrative qualities make it less suitable for skinning or dressing game.
Outside of that limitation, clip point blades make excellent all-around carry knives.
SHEEP'S FOOT BLADES
The sheep's foot blade was originally designed to trim the hooves of sheep. They featured a "hidden" point so they could cut material from the hoof without penetrating and injuring the animal.
The hidden point comes courtesy of a spine and cutting edge that runs parallel for most of the length of the blade. At the end of the blade, the spine curves down smoothly and rapidly to form a blunt, rounded point. This feature prevents the blade penetrating while allowing for straight, controlled cutting.
SHEEP'S FOOT USES
Sheep's foot blade profiles grace both fixed blade and folder knives in a variety of sizes. They are popular pocket folders for day to day chores as diverse as opening packages and slicing beef jerky. Consider a sheep's foot blade for a simple, reliable knife that gets the job done without punching unwanted holes.
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This specialized knife blade profile is found mainly in self-defense and combat knives.
The spear point is characterized by a symmetrical blade that is either double-edged or partial double-edged design. The design lends the blades a sharper point profile than a drop point but not as sharp as a clip point.
Spear points are generally flat ground. They have a thick central ridge, which gives the blade strength and rigidity. Knives like the Sykes Fairbairn service knife are prime examples of spear point blades.
Spear point uses
Spear point knives make excellent combat knives because their doubled-edged, sharp point design suits both cutting and stabbing applications. Also, spear point blades are generally very strong and rigid. This helps them penetrate well, even through heavy clothing. The profile features on many styles of combat and tactical blades, including daggers, boot, and push knives.
Unfortunately, spear point knives have fairly limited applications. Their narrow, sharp-pointed blade profile doesn't offer good control for skinning or butchering tasks. They are suitable for general use. However, their real forte is close-quarters combat.
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The hawkbill, or talon, blade profile is the first of our two specialized knife blade types.
Hawkbill blades are instantly recognizable by their rounded, concave blades. Their shape is reminiscent of the bill or flexed talon of a bird of prey, hence their name.
While rather evil-looking, the blade has rather practical and mundane origins. Typically, the cutting edge of a hawkbill knife is plain ground and partially or completely serrated.
Hawkbill knives started as a boring working knife. The hooked blade made cutting back toward the user safer, like when cutting carpets. Also, the hawkbill worked very well when trimming cylindrical objects like the insulation on electrical cables.
The hawkbill blade has evolved quite a bit over the last decade or so, though. The popularity of the karambit tactical knife among specialist military forces has seen the humble carpet knife take on an exciting cloak and dagger persona. Either way, the hawkbill knife is a worthy addition to any serious collectors arsenal.
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GUT HOOK BLADES
The last of our knife blade types lineup is not so much a blade type at all. It's rather a specific feature on a number of different profiles with a very specific purpose.
Gut hook blades feature a small semi-circular cutout or notch at the blade tip. The notch features a very sharp cutting edge and smoothly polished outside surfaces.
Gut hook uses
When removing the gut contents of animals during field dressing, it's very important not to pierce the animal's intestines. If this happens, the contents of the animal's gut will contaminate the rest of the meat and may spoil the whole carcass. That said, opening the gut cavity can be tricky as the intestines and stomach are very close to the surface.
Enter the gut hook! This knife blade lets you make a small, controlled initial cut into the gut cavity. You then slip the gut hook into the cut and draw the blade back towards you.
The cutting edge around the gut hook then opens the skin and muscle of the abdomen, almost like a zipper. The smooth polished edges of the notch do not pose any risk of puncturing the intestines while the hook itself smoothly cuts through the skin.
SIX KNIFE BLADE TYPES YOU NEED IN YOUR COLLECTION: CUTTING TO THE CHASE
The six knife blade types we have spotlighted here are by no means the only worthy contenders for collectors. They are, however, a selection of useful and versatile blades that will have you covered in most situations.
Please share any tips or insights regarding the fascinating world of knife collection in the comments section below.
Featured image by: Pixabay