11 Best Knife Blades for Any Job

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11 Best Knife Blades for Any Job

The shape of a knife blade determines how well that blade will perform specific tasks. It’s a world of tradeoffs: Piercing ability, tip st

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The shape of a knife blade determines how well that blade will perform specific tasks. It’s a world of tradeoffs: Piercing ability, tip strength, slicing efficiency, and how much abuse a blade can take are all factors in deciding which knife blade profile is best for the task at hand. There’s far more than looks involved when it comes to the shape of things that cut. Here’s all you need to know about 11 different style of blades to help you find the right knife for the task at hand.

1) Straight Back Blade

straight back knife
A burly straight-back knife will stand up to the tough tasks of buchcrafting. Courtesy of Weldon Owen

Characteristics

A straight spine with an upward curving edge that rises to the spine to form a semi-sharp point.

Best For

  • Bushcrafting
  • Kitchen tasks
  • Learning sharpening techniques

Pros

  • Very strong
  • Easily batoned through wood
  • Easy to apply force to spine with fingers or palm

Cons

  • Not ideal for piercing tasks
  • Not enough belly for skinning

2) Drop Point Blade

drop point knife
The do-it-all quality of a drop-point blade makes it perfect for everyday carry. Courtesy of Weldon Owen

Characteristics

A favorite of hunters, the drop point features a slight downward curve to the spine to form a lowered, or “dropped,” point.

Best For

Pros

  • Strong point retains a bit of belly for skinning
  • Best for gutting animals, as the point angles away from organs

Cons

  • With a tip less sharp than those of other profiles, it’s not a great piercing blade

3) Trailing Point

Trailing point knife
The long belly on a trailing-point blade lengthens the cutting surface. Courtesy of Weldon Owen

Characteristics

This blade’s spine curves upward, and a trailing point provides a long, curved edge for slicing.

Best For

  • Skinning and caping animals
  • Filleting fish

Pros

  • Very sharp point
  • Lots of belly
  • Design gives lightweight knives additional length to the cutting edge

Cons

  • Weak point
  • Difficult to get in and out of a sheath

4) Clip Point

Knife with a clip point blade
Clip points excel and skinning game animals. Courtesy of Weldon Owen

Characteristics

The classic Bowie knife profile. A straight spine drops in a slight angle or concave curve to meet the tip, as if the spine were clipped off.

Best For

  • Skinning and caping animals
  • Filleting fish

Pros

  • Very controllable sharp point
  • Decent belly
  • Excels at piercing

Cons

  • If the clip begins too far from the tip, the point of the blade can be weak

5) Spear Point

knife with a spear point
Spear-point knives have two cutting edges. Courtesy of Weldon Owen

Characteristics

A symmetrical profile with a spine that forms the centerline of the blade. Can be sharpened on one or both sides.

Best For

  • Piercing
  • Thrusting
  • Throwing

Pros

  • Very sharp tip
  • Can have a double cutting surface

Cons

  • Not useful for non-fighting tasks

6) Spey Point

knife with spey point
The spey point was designed to castrate farm animals. Courtesy of Weldon Owen

Characteristics

A defined, sudden downward curve to the spine that meets a curving, upswept edge. Commonly found on trapper-style pocketknives.

Best For

  • Traditionally used for castrating farm animals.

Pros

  • Easily sharpened
  • Safe to use when a sharp point isn’t needed

Cons

  • That lack of a sharp point limits piercing ability
  • Often a short blade

7) Leaf

knife with a leaf blade
Knives with leaf blades are common for self-defense. Courtesy of Weldon Owen

Characteristics

This hybrid between a drop point and a spear point features a less aggressive downward slope to the spine with a more acute point.

Best For

  • Fine cutting that requires a sharp point
  • EDC
  • Self-defense

Pro

  • Easy to carry, as most leaf point blades are short

Cons

  • Thin point can be weaker than that of other grinds
knife with sheepsfoot blade
Sheepsfoot blades are easy to sharpen. Courtesy of Weldon Owen

Characteristics

A straight spine curves downward to meet a completely straight edge, with no sharp piercing tip.

Best For

  • Rescue work
  • Use on inflatable boats
  • Trimming hooves of small livestock

Pros

  • Blunt tip can be very thick and strong
  • Very controllable edge
  • Easy to sharpen

Cons

  • With no sharp tip, not useful for piercing tasks

9) Wharncliffe

Knife with aharncliffe blade
A sheepsfoot blade as a razor-sharp point. Courtesy of Weldon Owen

Characteristics

Similar to a sheepsfoot, with a downward curve or angle to the spine that starts closer to the handle of the knife.

Best For

  • Rescue work
  • Self-defense
  • Utility tasks

Pros

  • Sharp piercing tip
  • Strong, robust blade often built with thick blade stock

Cons

  • No belly for skinning tasks

10) Hawkbill

Knife with hawkbill blade
This knife model makes it easy to see how the hawkbill blade got it’s name. Courtesy of Weldon Owen

Characteristics

Shaped like a claw or talon—or a hawk’s bill—the hawkbill profile has a sharply concave spine and cutting edge that meet at a downward point.

Best For

  • Utility work, such as cutting carpet and linoleum
  • Self-defense

Pros

  • Cutting webbing, heavy cordage and lines
  • Sharp, inwardly curved tip is great for making long cuts

Cons

  • No piercing ability
  • Little utility for hunting and fishing

11) Tanto

Knife with tanto blade
Tanto blades are solid for EDC. Courtesy of Weldon Owen

Characteristics

Thick, with a straight edge that takes a sudden upward, uncurved angle near the blade tip to meet the spine at a straight or slightly convex angle.

Best For

  • Self-defense
  • EDC
  • General utility tasks

Pros

  • Extremely strong and sharp tip
  • Robust blade

Con

  • Tricky to sharpen
  • No belly for skinning

This article was adapted from Field & Stream’s Total Camping Manual.

Total Camping Manual Book cover

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