Types of Pocket Knife Blades

As cliche as it sounds, there are many different types of pocket knife blades available that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Their design often match the knives’ intended function.

Before we start, in the interest of full disclosure. I must inform everyone that this article contains affiliate links. Meaning if you do decide to click on the links provided in this article and decide to purchase something, I will earn a small percentage of the sale (at no extra cost to you). To learn more about this please click here.

It is important to understand the different styles of knife blades in order to choose a knife that suits your needs. Using an incorrect knife for the job is like a toddler trying to push a cube into a circular hole. Will they be able to do it? Probably, if they have enough upper body strength, but is it the smartest approach? Perhaps not.

Choosing a type of pocket knife blade that suits your uses will make your life much easier, and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.

I will take you through a list of different blade types and focus on their advantages and disadvantages, as well as what function they are designed for. The common blade styles are listed below.

  1. Clip point
  2. Drop point
  3. Sheepsfoot
  4. Tanto
  5. Reverse tanto
  6. Trailing point
  7. Spear point
  8. Wharncliffe

Clip point


A kershaw knife with a clip point blade

AdvantagesDisadvantages
- Sharp Tip
- Decent Belly
- Good Control
- Versatile
- Sharp tip can be fragile

This is an extremely common knife design, it is the cliche “stabby stabby knife”. It features a spine that starts out straight and eventually dips down sharply towards the point, the dip can be straight or curved. The resulting point is very sharp and pointy.

The unsharpened spine and the lowered point results in the knife being very easy to control. The sharp point provides good penetrative ability and good maneuverability in tight spots. There is also a belly due to the bevel curving up, providing the knife with decent slicing ability. This is a very versatile knife that is good for general purposes.

The sharp tip can also be a drawback. Being sharp means there is less material at the tip, causing the tip to be more fragile and less durable.

Function:

This is truly a generalist knife, they can serve a variety of purposes. Having a knife like this can make you feel both prepared for the jungle or your backyard. It has a place in any outdoor use.

Having said that, the clip point doesn’t truly have one thing that it excels at. Meaning if you’re after a knife for a more specific purpose then you may need to look at other blade styles.

Drop point


A morakniv companion knife featuring a drop point blade

AdvantagesDisadvantages
- Large Belly
- Good Control
- Versatile
- Decreased Penetrating Ability

Following on from the clip point, this is also an extremely common blade style. There is no doubt that you have come across these designs in your journey. This blade is relatively straight forward and simple, the spine is slightly curved (convex) and runs straight from the handle to the point without any sudden changes. The resulting point is “dropped” meaning it points down.

There are many advantages with this design. The lowered tip and unsharpened spine gives you good control, you can hold the knife in a variety of ways. The design features a large belly that is extremely useful for slicing.

However compared to the clip point, the drop point is not as good for stabbing and penetration. The point is wider and has more material.

Function

Similar to the clip point, this design is also highly versatile. You’ll find a use for it no matter where you go, whether it’s the pier or the forest. However, the drop point is much better at slicing so it is very well suited for use as a hunting knife.

Sheepsfoot


A Fiddleback forge knife with a sheepsfoot blade.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
- Functional
- Good Control
- Safe
- No Penetrating Ability

Sheepsfoot is a knife that is designed for work. It features a spine that curves down sharply near the point and a straight cutting edge. The style was originally designed for trimming sheep hooves, hence the name.

This knife is extremely good at slicing and carving, it is meant for business. The long and unsharpened spine is designed to be held by your fingers and thus provides a lot of control, even more control than you may have on your knife addiction in the future. The style is also very safe, there are no sharp points that could accidentally cause damage in one way or another.

The lack of a sharp point is also a drawback, meaning the knife has no penetrative ability, decreasing its versatility.

Function

Living up to its name, this design is very good at hoof trimming. In the modern setting they are commonly used for wood carving and other carving purposes.

It has also been reported that in emergency situations, first responders could use these knives to cut seat belts and clothing from their patients safely without worrying about cutting the underlying skin.

The featured knife is the Fiddleback forge carver. If you like the look feel free to click on the image and have a closer look. This is a brilliant small knife designed for wood working.

Tanto


A knife featuring a tanto blade, tanto is engraved on the blade.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
- Very Strong Tip
- Good Puncturing Ability
- Design
- No Belly
- Difficult to Sharpen

This is a design that you’ll see once and never forget. It features two primary bevels, a straight one running along the bottom, and a second one at the front that meets the first one on an angle. Creating a knife that has no belly. It is a design that resembles the Japanese swords.

I personally have a love – hate relationship with this style. It a design that I love (I’m not biased), it is aesthetic and cool. The style is also extremely good at puncturing, stabbing and piercing.

Now getting to the part I hate about the knife…. It just isn’t very versatile. Yes it is really good at stabbing things, but it has no belly, it can’t slice very well. I also find the knife difficult to sharpen, you must think about both primary bevels, not just one.

Function

Hard to say, this is a knife that’s really fun to keep around, some are also really cool and good for fidgeting. Other than that the knife is really good at stabbing things, so if you have a job where you need to stab boxes or carpets all day then this knife may suit you very well. Scraping edges with the knife may be good too. I personally think this is a style that has been designed more with combat in mind.

Trailing point


A Fiddleback forge knife featuring a trailing point blade.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
- Large Belly- Decreased Versatility

These knives are designed with a spine that curves up near the point. The resulting knife has a large belly but is lightweight at the same time.

The large belly and lightweight allows these knives to have great slicing and slashing ability.

The downside however is these knives are not very versatile, they’re like a guy that plays Wonderwall at parties. They’re very good at it, but if you ask them to play something else they’ll have no idea what to do and everyone will suffer from secondhand embarrassment. With trailing points, they’re extremely good at slicing, but if you try to use it to stab something; it will be a disaster for everyone.

Function

Just because they are only extremely good at a single thing, doesn’t mean they’re not useful. These are the styles commonly found on skinning and filleting knives, they are crucial tools for fishermen and hunters.

The featured knife if the Fiddleback forge Bourbon street skinner. Its function lives up to the name, it is designed for skinning. If you like the look of the knife, feel free to click on the image and learn more about it.

Reverse tanto


A fiddleback forge knife featuring a reverse tanto blade.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
- Strong Tip
- Increased Slicing Ability
- Relatively Versatile
- Design
- Manufacture Issues

Thinking back to the tanto, the bevel sharply rises up towards the spine, but the reverse tanto the spine sharply dips down towards the bevel. Some manufacturers have also modified the design a little to add a larger belly to the knife.

Just like the tanto, these knives have extremely good penetrative abilities. But they have the added advantage of a belly that is able to be used to slice, increasing the versatility. The reverse tanto also retains a lot of the aesthetic and pleasing design elements of the tanto.

The reverse tanto is however hit with a very unique issue. There have been reports of some manufacturers producing dud knives in this style. The produced knives may have tapered tips that reduces its durability.

Function

This is difficult to say, but I would most likely classify these knives similar to the drop point and clip point. These knives are more adaptable than the tanto, they can be used to slice, to cut or to stab. However, they may still fall behind the drop point and clip point in terms of versatility, but we can’t forget its eye-catching design.

The featured knife is the Fiddleback forge utility finger. Feel free to click on the image if you’d like a closer look.

Spear point


A Fiddleback forge knife with a spear point blade.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
- Decent Point
- Good Pierce and Penetrating Ability
- Small Belly

This style can be found as single or double-edged, the spine and bevel creates an almost symmetrical shaped blade. This is another design that I adore a lot.

The style has a decent point that is really good for piercing and stabbing, as well as drilling. It performs most functions pretty well, however it has a relatively small belly thus having decreased slicing ability.

Function

This is the knife I want by my side when I fall off a tourist truck in the middle of the amazon, the knife I want on my belt when I get lost looking for Tarzan, the knife I want in my hand when a lion pounces me looking for an easy snack.

Putting all that in a sentence a human can understand, the spear point is an extremely useful knife for survival situations. These knives can be used to defend yourself, dig a hole or chop some wood (especially the single edged ones).

The featured knief is the Fiddleback forge bushccraft tasker. You can find out more about the knife by clicking on the image.

Wharncliffe


A Fiddleback forge knife with a wharncliffe blade.

Advantages Disadvantages
- Cutting Power
- Decent Point
- No Belly

This is a knife with a history that is actually traceable, but way too long to cover in this post. It comes with a bevel that is completely flat and features a sharp point. Traditionally these knives have a long spine that will curve gradually towards the point. With modern designs, the wharncliffe and reverse tanto can be quite similar. Some have also classfieid wharncliffe as a part of the sheepsfoot family, however the two can be differed by the slope of the spine.

Wharncliffe have a more gradual slope compared to the sheepsfoot, which runs straight and suddenly dips down.

This is another knife that is specialised for a single purpose, in this case it is cutting. The style boasts great cutting power, the completely flat bevel means that every point of the knife can be used and leveraged to its full force. The point of the knife is also great for penetration.

The style lacks a belly and may not be suitable for slicing.

Function

This is one of the more simple ones to think about, the style is great for cutting purposes, especially using the tip. It has been suggested that wharncliffes are really good for cutting materials similar to leather, as you use the knife the tip will eventually ground down and become round.

Once the tip was round you simply grind the knife from the spine downwards, creating a newly sharp tip that you can use to cut.

Outside of leatherwork these styles could be used to cut paper, cardboard, among many other things.

The featured knife is the Fiddleback forge talon, it is a small knife that can do everyday tasks and excels at opening amazon packages.

Quick summary


There are many different knife styles out there, I’ve only covered a few common ones. It is important you decide which style suits your needs the best before purchasing a new knife; and understanding the blade design can help you understand what the knife can be used for.

I’ve included many Fiddleback forge knives in this article. They’re a great knife company that is highly regarded and trusted in the knife community. They are known for their high quality, reliable and stunning knives. If you liked any of the knives I’ve featured, feel free click on the image to see more; or simply click here.

If you need any help or have any questions feel free to leave them down below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

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