Knife Blade Shapes Explained

Peter Stec
September 28, 2021
Knifeup - Best Blade Shapes

We pay close attention to nearly all details of our lives, but not so much when it comes to picking the right knife for the right task. We tend to just go with whatever seems to be the best option on the market and whatever looks best, without ever considering any other aspects. 

On the other hand, some people take into consideration every minute detail starting from the blade material to the material used on the handle while choosing a blade for any purpose, whether its for whittling, carving wood, hunting, fishing, cleaning, and dressing game in the field, chopping up veggies, self-defense, and so much more.

Thanks to avid knife enthusiasts, people are becoming much more aware and mindful about what knife they are picking up and why they are picking up that exact one. We decided to create a simple list of blade shapes and what each blade does, how to use it, and products of that particular blade type that you can buy.

Understanding and following this guide will make your life easier and help you sound like a pro whenever someone brings up knives at the next dinner party.

Blade Shapes

Knifeup - Best Blade Shapes

Drop point blade

Kershaw Blur Black

This blade shape is probably the most popular and common blade shape around. This blade gets its name from the arc at the back of the knife which tends to slide in the downward direction rather than sliding straight out like other knives. 

The back edge of the drop point blade is unsharpened and untouched to facilitate precision work, allowing carpenters and welders to work with ease by laying a finger along the spine of the blade or by gripping the blade while performing detailed tasks. 

The blade features a broader tip which is meant to help reduce breakage but is not equipped enough to pierce effectively.

Pros

  • It has a good controllable point
  • Offers a large cutting space for slicing

Cons

  • Not meant for piercing objects or materials
  • The blade point is not as sharp as other knife counterparts

You can consider purchasing these knives if you’re looking for something with a drop point blade:

Clip point blade

CRKT Foresight EDC Folding Knife

This particular blade is highly similar to the drop point blade shape, but the only distinction is that the clip point edge tends to slide downwards to a way sharper point. The backside of the blade is partially ground to facilitate cutting downwards as well as upwards.

Thanks to the two sharpened edges, the point is highly sharp and precise which makes it an excellent tool that can help with self-defense and stabbing. The rounder belly of the blade is meant for other simpler and utility-focused tasks such as slashing branches and trimming.

Pros

  • Highly sharpened blade
  • Excellent for piercing
  • Can be used for slicing items since it has a great cutting edge

Cons

  • The point is not the strongest of all
  • Is not suitable for skinning and dressing

You can consider purchasing these knives if you’re looking for something with a clip point blade:

Serrated blade

Kershaw Clash Pocket Knife

Serrated blades are usually incorporated into drop or clip point blades, but that does not mean that they cannot be found on any other knife. A serration is basically like a set of teeth that we have all seen on a saw and functions in a very similar manner on knives as well.

Serrations are ideal on an EDC knife that can cut through any paracord, rope, bone, cartilage, wood, ligament, food items, cloth, and basically anything that requires a tiny saw to break it apart.

Pros

  • Ideal for cutting tougher materials
  • Cuts thinner which gives a better and cleaner cut

Cons

  • Less precise than straight-edge blades
  • Can tear through the object instead of cutting smoothly
  • Difficult to sharpen due to their unique style

You should consider purchasing these knives if you’re looking for something with a serrated blade: 

Leaf-blade

Kershaw Clash Pocket Knife

This particular blade shape and style has been popularized as well as standardized by the influence of SpyderCo, a renowned blade and knife manufacturer. One can distinguish a leaf blade by simply looking and taking a note of its naturalistic looks and resemblance to actual leaves.

The blade seems quite similar to the drop point blade, but they have distinctive features as well such as a much more noticeable slope of the backside of the blade that halts to an aggressive and sharp point. This blade is much more attack-specific than a drop or clip point blade and is actually meant to be used as a tool for protection as well as labor work.

Pros

  • The thicker and wider blade makes an excellent cutting blade
  • Due to the thickness, it is a very rigid blade and can handle cutting through most materials

Cons

  • Since the introduction of longer and more efficient blades, the leaf blade is not that popular 
  • Blades with higher hardness and toughness are chosen over a leaf blade

You should consider purchasing these knives if you’re looking for  something with a leaf blade:

Needle or Dagger blade

Kershaw Secret Agent

The name of the knife says it all. This blade has been a crucial part of history and a variety of cultures and has been aiding humans to defend themselves for hundreds of years. This blade was a highly popular tool in the field of combat, especially close-hand combat. 

There have been variations created of this blade to make it more utilitarian but there is only so much one can change.

A dagger is a blade with a highly sharp point and typically two sharp edges, which is why it was considered excellent at stabbing and thrusting. Since the dagger’s purpose is extremely streamlined to self-defense and combat, it does not find any value in our daily lives unless we are going out to battle. Many people prefer to keep these as emergency tools or even as simple showpieces in their homes.

Pros

  • It can cut a smaller or bigger hole, depending on how far you push the blade in
  • The point is right parallel to the handle which provides more accuracy 
  • Higher resistance at the middle due to the more thickness at the middle
  • Excellent for self-defense

Cons

  • It has no utilitarian value
  • It is not very good at chopping things or materials

You should consider purchasing these knives if you’re looking for something with a dagger blade:

Trailing blade

SpyderCo Bow River Fixed Blade Knife

This particular blade has a certain swooping design that halts it at a highly sharp point which is extremely useless for thrusting and stabbing since the blade is a rather weak and fragile one. 

But, that is also because trailing blades are primarily hunting knives that are meant for slicing, skinning, dressing, and cutting up the game and they are rarely ever used for thrusting, sticking, stabbing, or spearing into anyone or anything.

Doing anything with the blade that puts a lot of pressure on its center will render it useless and broken; hence, use it for your food prep and hunting requirements.

Pros

  • Excellent for skinning and slicing up meat 
  • Works as a great fillet knife or even a simple kitchen knife

Cons

  • Cannot handle any tasks other than slicing and skinning things due to their frailty 
  • It has a weak point

You should consider purchasing these knives if you’re looking for something with a trailing blade:

Tanto blade

Kershaw Kuro

This particular blade is renowned for being one of the most complex blades to break or damage. They are usually replacements for hatchets in situations involving heavy-duty tasks that require a ton of piercing and pushing. 

This blade features a highly sharp-angled tip that is quite similar to a chisel’s point. The tip of the chisel can vary in angles and it could either be more swept back or highly steep, which would also affect the overall performance of the blade. 

This blade is useful to people who need to cut through bodies or carcasses while hunting, carving hardwood, and perform heavy-duty daily tasks.

Pros

  • This blade has excellent tip strength
  • The highly advanced Japanese technology and design makes it trustworthy and durable
  • Can sharpen with little difficulty

Cons

  • Even though it is easy to sharpen but since it has two bevels, it feels like you’re sharpening two knives instead of one.
  • It is not very good at slicing items.
  • They are impractical if you’re not using them to slice or stab something.

You should consider purchasing these knives if you’re looking for something with a Tanto blade:

Pen blade

A pen knife is a small knife that aids in the maintainence of various archaic writing instruments. A Swiss Army knife or any other multi-tool knives are similar to a pen knife. They help in the most fundamental chores such as opening boxes, letters or intricately cleaning the surface beneath your nails. Suggestion: Victorinox Executive ($50)

Gut hook blade

Gerber Myth Fixed Blade

The name somewhat describes its purpose. This particular blade is mainly used for field dressing, cutting up bodies or carcasses, and any task you could encounter while hunting in the wild.

This blade has a spine that forms into a highly sharp semi-circular point, pretty much like a hook. This is more of a feature incorporated into a simple blade rather than a blade type.

It does not provide much utility in your daily life unless you live in the wild.

Pros

  • You can field dress wild game with ease
  • The rounder belly at the middle is great for slicing and skinning items
  • The high point is exceptionally sharp

Cons

  • It is tough to sharpen the trailing edge point
  • It is extremely hard to sharpen the hook of the knife
  • It does not provide much utility except when you’re out in the wild

You should consider purchasing these knives if you’re looking for something with a gut hook blade:

Sheepsfoot blade 

CRKT Jettison EDC Folding Knife

The Sheepsfoot blade was specifically created for trimming sheep’s hooves; hence it is designed in such a manner that both the edges of the blade are completely blunt. This blade is highly easy to handle and use, rarely hurts anyone, has a thick and ergonomic handle for better manoeuvering, and is overall one of the safest blades in the knife world.

You can pack it as an emergency tool as well as for EDC. 

The blade shape is distinguished by a pretty straight edge followed by a spine that slightly curves at the bottom to meet at one point. 

Pros

  • They are handy for slicing, carving, and rescue tasks
  • They do not have a sharp tip which reduces the risk of hurting the animal or the person
  • It is one of the safest blades out there

Cons

  • The lack of tip makes it undesirable to quite a few people.
  • It is not an excellent tool for meal prep.
  • Many variations seem more practical.

You should consider purchasing these knives if you’re looking for something with a Sheepsfoot blade: 

Wharncliffe blade

SpyderCo Yojimbo 2 Specialty Tactical Knife

This particular blade is essentially not very different from the Sheepsfoot blade. This blade has a much lesser exaggerated drop at the meeting point, and instead, it begins gradually sloping when it’s nearly halfway to the meeting point.

This particular blade has a straightforward function and that is to cut things. The blade is overall tough. It is a sharp cutter and you can open, cut, or chop nearly anything with this blade.

Pros

  • It is great for any tasks that involve cutting open anything.
  • The blade is easy to sharpen.
  • It has great precision at its tip.

Cons

  • It is not a hunting knife and cannot handle heavy-duty tasks either
  • Since there is no rounder belly, you cannot work with slicing or skinning flesh

You should consider purchasing these knives if you’re looking for something with a Wharncliffe blade:

Straight or Plain Back Blade

Gerber Gear 31-003731

This is the standard knife and ‘typical’ that we all probably have lying in one of our kitchen drawers. This particular knife has very few curves, cuts, or hooks, provides a bigger surface for cutting veggies or meat, and can chop nearly everything in an ordinary kitchen.

Kitchen knives are the best example of such a knife and typically use this design since it’s the least prone to breakage and has a prolonged shelf life without corroding or falling apart.

We believe that everyone should have this knife in their house as it helps with all cooking and chopping tasks and you can use it once in a while to cut open some ropes and packets if needed.

Pros

  • It is almost an essential item in the kitchen as it helps chop and cut nearly everything.
  • It provides a large cutting surface.
  • It allows you to cut food items with precision due to its sharp point.

Cons

  • It cannot handle heavy-duty tasks.
  • Its use is limited to the kitchen.
  • It is not the most robust blade of all. 

You should consider purchasing these knives if you’re looking for something with a straight back:

Spear blade

Spear points are sharp on both sides and the point of the blade lands precisely in the center of the knife. These work exceptionally well to pierce and slash but do not serve any purpose other than its combative benefits. 

Blunt Tip

A blunt tip is used by boaters or by anybody who needs a cutting surface that reduces the risk of accidents in open water. The ends of the blunt tip are clipped just like the spear point. These speciality knives come in handy in places where a minute mistake can take a ghastly turn. 

Pros

Spey-Point

The Spey point is the rare find in the modern times. Its interesting crossover dro, sop point Sheepsfoot and was made to primarily spay animals. The precision of the knife makes it a good fit for skinning. With the evolution of time, better methods have been introduced to neuter livestock even though a lot of shepherds still use their teeth. 

Hawkbill

The Hawkbill’s defining feature is the long back that merges into its blunt top. The most use of this blade is to cut cords or strip wires. The utilization of this blade is limited and odds are that you may never need it. Suggestion: Boker Plus Hawkbill Brown Bone Knife ($16)

Talon

The Talon is considered to be an extremely advance version of the Hawkbill. The talon shape is combat-ready and is built to leave the enemy forces with heavy injures or to open the arteries in the neck, arms and legs. Be sure of what you are signing up for or wandering into if you happen to be caught in a back-alley knife battle in an underground fighting pit in Thailand. Suggestion: 5.11 Tactical Tarani Karambit ($80)

Harpoon

A Harpoon is basically a drop-point blade with a raised ridge on the backside, making it look like a whaling harpoon. It does more damage in combat, and adds space on the backside providing for additional leverage when cutting downward. Suggestion: Zero Tolerance BlackWash Hinderer ($140)

About The Author
Hey Knife Up gang! I'm Pete, and I'm just another man like you in a small rural town who loves the outdoors as much as the other million internet users that cruise sites like KnifeUp.com every day. The difference is that I like to share what I know and research what I don't totally know so that YOU can have all the info you need to feel confident and prepared for all things outdoors-related! And, for those who care, I have 42 years of wilderness canoeing and bushcraft experience in Northern Ontario and spend most of my Summers covered in mosquitos and fish slime, but hey, it's a lifestyle choice, eh?

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