Knife Blade Profiles (The 20 Different Types Explained)

There are different types of knife blades on the market today.

Each is unique in its own design and use. In fact, some blade designs don’t adhere to traditional designs, while others are outright menacing and vicious.

Although the market is flooded with different types of blade shapes available, we are concentrating on the most common and popular types on the market today.

When choosing the right knife for your specific needs, you must make sure the blade type meets the specifications of your intended use. That’s why it’s important to understand blade shapes so you can ultimately choose the right one.

Our goal is to provide you with in-depth information on this topic. So if blade profiles are a mystery to you, read on to learn what makes them unique, their intended use and the pros and cons of each. 

In this ProSurvival Strategies.com Guide, you will learn:

  • What are the different types of blade shapes?
  • What is the best use of each blade shape?
  • What are the pros and cons of each?
  • And much more! 

In a hurry, below is a quick reference of the 20 Blade Profiles. 

Ok, let’s begin. 

What Is The Best Knife Blade Profile?

I am frequently asked “what is the best blade shape or profile?” My immediate response is there is no such thing as the “best” blade shape.

Let’s face it, if there was nobody would be describing the different types of blade shapes on the market. In fact, all knife manufacturers would be producing the same shape over and over. How boring. However, there is definitely a “best” blade shape for your personal needs.

Before diving head first into the different available blade profiles, I would like to ask you two very simple questions, “What do you need the knife for?” and “What are your expectations of the knife?”

I have no doubt in my mind that your two answers will definitely guide you when purchasing a knife. My goal is to provide you with the best analysis and information so you can confidently make a well-informed decision on which blade shape is best suited for you. 

Why Is The Shape of a Blade Important? 

There is no question that each blade design is unique in its own right. We all expect our knives to perform simple tasks such as chopping, cutting and slicing.

For example, Straight Back and Drop Point Blades are excellent for chopping, piercing and slicing. They are extremely user-friendly, utilitarian and versatile. In support, these blades are very popular with all outdoor enthusiasts from campers to survivalists.

Some blade designs even allow the user to place a finger on the spine of the blade for more precise cuts and leverage when used on rough cutting jobs. A quick example is the Sheepsfoot Blade.

Trust me, you will not be placing a finger on the Needle Point or Spear Point especially if they are manufactured with a double edge.

Other blade shapes such as the Needle Point, Speer Point and Kerambit are specifically manufactured for close quarter combat (CQB).

As you read below, there are other blade shapes that join the group and you will understand why. Due to the very nature of these blade shapes, it’s your responsibility to research your state’s law. A great starting point is the American Knife and Tool Institute.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As you read below, you will immediately understand the importance of each blade shape. Remember, no blade is the same and each has its pros and cons. No matter your personal preference, make sure it works for you.

The last thing you need is choosing a blade shape that doesn’t meet your intended purpose. 

How To Choose The Right Blade Profile For Your Personal Needs? 

As stated above, ask yourself two very simple questions:

  1. What do you need the knife for?
  2. What are your expectations for the knife?

Before purchasing any knife, make a quick list of what you need it for and your expectations of it. Take into consideration your hobbies, daily tasks, outdoor activities and profession.

For example, if you are an EMT or Police Officer, you need a blade shape that is designed to immediately cut seat belts or clothing off a victim to render treatment because time is of the essence.

I’m sure you get the picture. I am not in your shoes, and everyone has their own expectations. If you take the time and complete the above mentioned list, it will be so much easier to determine which blade shape suits your personal needs. 

Why Don't Folding Knives Have Double-edged Blades? 

With very rare exceptions such as the Balisong (i.e. Butterfly Knife) and automatic switchblades, folding knives are definitely not well suited to double-edged blades.

The reason is that the spine of the blade usually stands proud of the knife handle when the blade is closed. If it was sharpened, a sharp edge would be exposed even if the blade was closed. So carrying and deploying it would be extremely dangerous. 

The Pros And Cons of 20 Different Blade Profiles From The Kukri To The Serrated Blade. 

KUKRI BLADE

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WHAT IS A KUKRI BLADE PROFILE?

This mysterious and unique blade shape originated from the Indian subcontinent and is directly associated with the Nepali speaking Gurkas of Nepal and India. Immediately apparent is the distinct recurve in the blade which is used as a tool and weapon.

The kukri came into limelight only in and particularly after the Anglo-Nepal War in 1814-15 after the formation of British Indian (Gurkha) Army. The great romance and the extraordinary accounts of bravery that this knife evokes are legendary and historic.

DID YOU KNOW?
The Kukri is the national knife of Nepal and a symbolic weapon of the Gurka soldier. In the Gurkha soldier's grip, the Kukri becomes an incredibly menacing weapon with which he has demonstrated great feats of bravery while facing the enemy on the battlefield. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A KUKRI BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • The Kukri is versatile because it can function as a smaller knife by using the narrower part of the blade.
  • The heavier and wider end of the blade towards the tip functions like an ax or small shovel.
  • It is more compact than a survival machete.
  • Maintains a sharp edge while tolerating impacts.
  • Its unique design allows the user to grab and cut in a single swift motion.
  • It is an excellent hunting tool allowing you to clean and dress animals in the field.
  • It’s an amazing multipurpose tool in the field (i.e. chopping firewood, digging, shaving tinder and clearing brush).
  • It’s an effective chopping and slashing weapon due to its weight and curved shape. The design enables the blade to inflict deep wounds and penetrate bone.

Cons:

  • It’s hard to swing effectively from a close distance with a kukri. The bend in the blade requires you to be slightly further away from the object you intend to strike.
  • The Kukri is not for the novice. This specific design requires training on how to use it effectively.
  • It’s sometimes difficult to get used to the balance of a Kukri. The center of gravity is in a different place.

Two quick and excellent examples of Kukri Knives are the CRKT Kukri and the Official Issued Genuine Gurkha Kukri. 

TANTO BLADE

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WHAT IS A TANTO BLADE PROFILE?

The traditional Tanto Blade design comes from Japanese inspiration. It was originally utilized in Samurai short swords, which date as far back as the 15th or 16th century. This blade style has a very flat and straight belly with a sharply angled tip that almost resembles a chisel point. This reinforces the point of the blade which gives it an extreme penetration power.

The traditional purpose of this blade was specifically for close-quarters combat and puncturing armor. The design itself definitely has a massive potential for penetration and is extremely durable. 

DID YOU KNOW?
There are different types of tanto blade styles such as the Shinogi, Hira, Kanmuri-Otoshi, Moroha and Kubikiri. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A TANTO BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • The main benefit of the Tanto Blade is its strong tip shape.
  • They are specifically designed for puncturing while holding up to strong materials and not breaking.
  • It has lots of appeal for its strong lines and aesthetic distinctiveness.
  • They are very popular in tactical knives due to their penetrating power.

Cons:

  • Tanto Blades are difficult to use for everyday knife tasks. 
  • They are not designed for slicing.
  • They are not suitable for gutting, skinning or field dressing game.
  • Sharpening the blade is complicated due to its two edge design.

Two examples of Tanto Blade Knives are the KA-BAR 1266 and KA-BAR 2 Black Tanto

REVERSE TANTO BLADE

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WHAT IS A REVERSE TANTO BLADE PROFILE?

Now that you understand what a Tanto Blade is, let’s examine the Americanized Reverse Tanto Blade. This is a modern take on the ancient and traditional design.

There is no question that this blade style is becoming more popular with knife enthusiasts.

Unlike the Tanto design, the Reverse Tanto has an angle that sweeps backward towards the spine of the knife. The front angle is not sharpened which keeps a constant thickness which increases blade strength. The belly of the blade has more sweep to the main edge which allows for slicing and more traditional knife tasks unlike the Tanto Blade. 

DID YOU KNOW?
There are two main types of Reverse Tanto Blades, the Osborne Reverse Tanto and the Dozier Reverse Tanto. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A REVERSE TANTO BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Reverse Tanto blades have an extremely sharp tip and can pierce through tough materials. 
  • Their strength is derived from the amount of steel located behind the tip and shape of the blade.
  • They are capable of slicing and cutting unlike its ancient predecessor the Tanto.
  • They are more tactical in nature.
  • They are extremely durable and an excellent blade choice for an everyday carry or fixed blade.
  • The main reason these blade shapes are purchased is for the tip strength.

Cons:

  • The strength of the tip depends on the knife manufacturer. Not all manufacturers use the same amount of steel at the tip of the blade. 
  • The one drawback of a reverse tanto is that the main tip is thinner at the point and does not have as much steel backing it. Thus, it does not have the brute strength as its ancient ancestor the Tanto blade. (This depends on the manufacturer).

Two examples of Reverse Tanto Blades are the Benchmade 940 and Benchmade 940-2

SHEEPSFOOT BLADE

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WHAT IS A SHEEPSFOOT BLADE PROFILE? 

Immediately apparent is the distinct design of the blade itself. This blade shape is characterized by a straight edge and a spine that curves down to meet at the point.

These blades are specifically designed for slicing and minimizing the potential for inadvertent piercing with the point. They can be easily controlled by your fingers when placed on the dull back.

As the name suggests, they were originally designed to trim the hooves of sheep.

Traditional Sheepsfoot blades do not have piercing points. However, knife manufacturers modify these blades to rectify this disadvantage. 

DID YOU KNOW?
Sheepsfoot blades also have a long history of being used on ships because its very design prevented sailors from stabbing themselves when the ship was rocked about by waves. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A SHEEPSFOOT BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Sheepsfoot blades are easily controlled by your fingers.
  • They are great for chopping and slicing.
  • They have excellent carving capabilities.
  • They lack a menacing tip which prevents accidental injuries.
  • They are perfect for emergency / rescue situations because they can cut through clothing or seat belts without the risk of accidentally stabbing a person.
  • They provide optimum leverage when used on rough cutting jobs.

Cons:

  • Sheepsfoot blades cannot stab or pierce. 
  • They are now designed to look tacti-cool. A word to the wise, steer clear of the modified ones, they are not tactical knives.
  • They are not very practical for everyday uses.

Two great examples of Sheepfoot Rescue Knives are the Spyderco Assist Salt and Spyderco Rescue 3

WHARNCLIFFE BLADE

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WHAT IS A WHARNCLIFFE BLADE PROFILE?

It’s very easy to confuse the Wharncliffe Blade with the Sheepsfoot Blade. However, a Wharncliffe has its own unique design which sets it apart.

Unlike the Sheepsfoot, the Wharncliffe has a thicker blade and the back of the blade begins to curve at an earlier stage than the Sheepsfoot. Therefore, immediately apparent is the blade angle itself.

The Wharncliffe has a piercing point unlike the Sheepsfoot. Due to its design, it is an excellent utility knife. Some knife manufacturers have turned the unusual suspect into a no-nonsense self-defense tool. 

DID YOU KNOW?
Razor knives, box cutters and similar utility cutting tools are typically Wharncliffe patterns. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A WHARNCLIFFE BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • The Wharncliffe is an excellent utility knife.
  • They are excellent for precision cutting because of the blade tip.
  • They are practical and easy to sharpen.
  • Certain models are excellent for personal defense.
  • The straight profile ensures maximum power and leverage.
  • They are excellent for skinning.
  • The acute point enables it to penetrate with less resistance than most other blade styles.

Cons:

  • Wharncliffe blades are difficult to manufacture and some knife makers compensate by making the top of the blade curve steeper making the blade appear more like a Sheepfoot. 
  • If you drop the knife there is a high probability the tip will break.
  • Due to its design, the blade leads with its tip so you’ll likely pierce before you slice. 

Two examples of Wharncliffe Self-Defense Knives are Benchmade Azeria 125 and Spyderco Ronin 2

NEEDLE POINT BLADE / DAGGER

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WHAT IS A NEEDLE POINT BLADE PROFILE?

There is no question that when it comes to fighting knives, the Needle Point or Dagger enjoys an elite status that very few other blades can boast. Historically, daggers have always been revered as incredible potent weapons.

What immediately stands out is the design which features a double-edged blade that gradually tapers to a thin sharp point.

These blades are capable of serious cutting performance with either edge and penetrating soft objects due to their tapered point. They are specifically designed and used for close quarter combat.

A VERY IMPORTANT QUICK NOTE:
A very quick word to the wise, double-edged knives are illegal to carry in many jurisdictions. It’s your responsibility to do the homework on the knife laws where you live. “When in doubt, always exercise caution and carry something single edged”. Don’t get boxed into a legal corner. 

DID YOU KNOW?
The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife (commonly known as the British Commando Knife) is an iconic legend in its own right. This double-edged knife was made famous during World War II, when issued to British Commandos, Airborne Forces and the SAS. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A NEEDLE POINT BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • The primary advantage of Needle Points / Daggers is the double-edged blade that cuts in both directions and piercing ability. 
  • They can be used with “edge out” and “reverse edge” tactics without having to adjust your grip.
  • They are extremely versatile in close-quarter combat.

Cons:

  • Needle Points / Daggers are illegal in certain jurisdictions. 
  • They are purposely designed for close-quarter combat.
  • The tip is very sharp and thin which has a tendency to break when used against hard objects.
  • They are clearly not designed for utilitarian purposes.

Two examples of Knives with Needle Point Blades are the iconic Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Knife and Spartan Geroge V-14 Dagger.

SPEAR POINT / DAGGER

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WHAT IS A SPEAR POINT BLADE PROFILE?

A Spear Point blade is similar to a Needle Point blade that makes for excellent precise piercing.

The blade is symmetrically shaped and has a point aligned with the centerline of the blade's long axis. Spear point blades usually have double edges and are considered daggers.

Like the needle point, you may run into legal issues. The good news is that spear points can be either double edged or feature a false edge or swedge.

This blade has a belly and its point is much stronger which assists in slicing too. It presents an unparalleled blend of strength associated with a drop point and the strong point of a dagger. This design is strong and durable. 

DID YOU KNOW?
A swedge is a tapered false edge song the spine of the knife which is usually not fully sharpened. This reduces point thickness improving the baldes piercing ability.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A SPEAR POINT BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Spear Point blades can be used for slicing and piercing.
  • The center spine provides symmetry.
  • Unlike Needle Points, they are not just suited for military and law enforcement purposes.
  • They are either dual edged or swedged and have a reinforced point.
  • They are also used in throwing knives if both edges are sharpened.

Cons:

  • Some of the cutting edge is sacrificed to create a strong penetrating point.
  • If both edges are sharpened, they are considered daggers.

Two great examples of two knives with Spear Point Blades are the Gerber Mark II and Tops Knives Little Bro

CLIP POINT BLADE

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WHAT IS A CLIP POINT BLADE PROFILE? 

The Clip Point is one of the 3 most common and popular blade shapes next to Drop Point and Straight Back.

As the name suggests, these blade profiles have the appearance of having the forward third back / spine of the blade “clipped off”. The clip itself can be either straight or concave. So literally there are two curved portions of the blade, the back and belly.

These blades are commonly found on Bowie knives. 

DID YOU KNOW?
In 1838, Rezin P. Bowie, brother of Alamo hero James Bowie, claimed to have made the first Bowie Knife. It was clearly designed as a hunting knife. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A CLIP POINT BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Clip Points have a long belly which makes them ideal for slicing. 
  • They allow for quicker stabbing advantage with less drag during insertion and faster withdrawal.
  • They have more control for precise cutting.
  • They can be used for hard to reach places due to the thinner tip.
  • The spine of the blade that is not “clipped” is flat and unsharpened allowing the user to apply more force for controlled cutting. 

Cons:

  • Clip points have a very sharp and narrow tip. This has a tendency to be weak and can break. 
  • They may not perform well with heavy tasks such as chopping and cutting thicker materials.
  • The user must exercise caution if exerting force to the unsharpened end of the spine, so you don’t injure yourself on the sharpened “clipped” edge.

Two examples of Knives with Clip Point blades are the American icons Buck 119 Fixed Blade and Buck 120 Fixed Blade.

TRAILING POINT BLADE

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WHAT IS A TRAILING POINT BLADE PROFILE?

Immediately apparent in a trailing point blade is the back edge (i.e. spine) that has an upward curve or upsweep.

The belly of this blade provides a large cutting surface which is optimized for filleting, skinning and slicing. The point of the blade rises above the highest point of the handle.

Although the tip itself allows for fine and delicate cutting it’s not very strong. This is the trade-off of having a very long curved cutting edge. Remember, the most distinctive and impressive feature of this blade is the large belly / cutting edge.

These blades are excellent for hunters and fishermen who need a precise tool in the field. 

DID YOU KNOW?
Trailing points are found on both folding and fixed blade knives.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A TRAILING POINT BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Trailing Points are excellent for filleting, skinning and slicing.
  • The fine tip allows for finer cutting and piercing.
  • They provide a large cutting surface unlike other knives.
  • They allow for agile maneuverability.
  • They are lightweight and with a little practice easy to use.
  • The higher than usual point keeps the tip up while slicing.
  • They are easy to sharpen.

Cons:

  • Trailing points have weak tips and are prone to breaking. 
  • They are not designed for hard use.

Two examples of knives with Trailing Point Blades are the CRKT Clever Girl Fixed Blade and Kastking 7 inch Fillet Knife.

GUT HOOK BLADE

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WHAT IS A GUT HOOK BLADE PROFILE?

Unconventional and unorthodox, the most notable feature of this design is the gut hook located on the spine of the blade. The gut hook itself is a sharpened semi-circle which is grounded into the spine. Actually, this is more of a feature than an actual blade.

The purpose of the added feature forged on the spine of the blade is to assist hunters when “gutting” a fresh kill. It is inserted into “small cut places” on the underside of the animal, and then the hunter pulls the knife to unzip the skin of the animal.

Since the “hook” opens the abdomen of the animal, it allows a hunter to remove the organs of the animal without slicing into the muscle. Thus, the quality of the meat is preserved.

However, not all hunters agree that a Gut Hook is the most favorable knife for gutting a deer. Experienced hunters rely on a steady hand and practiced aim.

This is a debated topic and professionals view the Gut Hook as a novelty item. Others have referred to the Gut Hook as a “bottle cap opener”. 

DID YOU KNOW?
The Gut Hook was popularized in the 1960s, and its first intended purpose was to pick up a pot by the ladle from a campfire. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A GUT HOOK BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Guthooks are favorable for new hunters because it keeps them from puncturing the organs of the animal. 
  • They are useful when opening the abdomen of an animal to remove the organs.
  • They are appealing if you are looking to add an unorthodox blade to your collection.

Cons:

  • The back spine of the knife cannot be sharpened, leaving only a single-edged front blade.
  • Some hunters are uncomfortable using this blade to gut a deer with the back of the “hook” pointed at them.
  • The hook on the spine of the blade is difficult to sharpen.
  • The “gut hook” gets snagged into meat when drawing the knife back.
  • You will find yourself having to line the blade up with the sides of each cut, just to be able to draw the blade back.
  • They are not precise for piercing, because the hook on the spine will catch on the exit.

Two examples of Gut Hook knives are the Buck 191 Zipper Guthook and Gerber Gator Premium Fixed Blade

HAWKBILL BLADE

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WHAT IS A HAWKBILL BLADE PROFILE?

Due to its distinct profile, this blade clearly resembles a hawk’s beak, with its sharp downward curve. The dull spine curves straight down at the end, in the same direction as the sharp edge. This ultimately creates a sharp point facing downward.

The dull spine allows the user to handle it safely and apply pressure for more force and control. If you recall this was an advantage of the Sheepsfoot Blade.

Even if the blade is dull, the point is extremely sharp which allows the user to pierce material. Due to it’s piercing ability, it still allows the user to enable the dull blade to finish the cut. The inner curve and belly are also sharp.

Due to their design, these blades are suited for cutting, piercing and slicing. The unique shape of the hawkbill knife has a lot of advantages other knives simply don’t have. 

DID YOU KNOW?
Hawkbill knives are also proven to be excellent in combat situations which has led to the rise of tactical hawkbill knives. It has been called the “blade with many capabilities”. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A HAWKBILL BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Hawkbill Blades have a very sharp point for piercing materials. (Even after the blade has dulled, the point remains sharp and still allows it to finish the job). 
  • They have a curved edge that cuts through materials.
  • They have a dull spine which allows the user to apply pressure and increase control during its use.
  • They are excellent for cutting rope, fishing nets, carpet, linoleum, electrical wire insulation, seatbelts and cord.
  • Although the curve of the blade may have its limits, manufacturers have modified its shape. This allows the blade to take on a wider range of functions.
  • They are found on fixed blades and folding knives.
  • They also have tactical uses.

Cons:

  • Hawkbill blades are not easy to sharpen due to the inward curve of the cutting edge. (For example, a straight edge stone cannot contour to the inside curve of the blade). 
  • The shape is unique and the curve may limit its uses.

Two examples of Hawkbill knives are the Tactical Off Grid and Greenlee Fixed Blade

TALON BLADE A.K.A. KARAMBIT OR KERAMBIT

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WHAT IS A TALON BLADE A.K.A KARAMBIT OR KERAMBIT BLADE PROFILE?

The Talon Blade is also known as the “Kerambit'' in Indonesia and Malaysia and “Karambit” in the Philippines. This menacing blade encompasses a spine and belly that curve in a concave or “C-shaped” fashion. Although many people believe it is derived from the talon of an eagle or hawk, it’s claw-like shape is a homage to the Sumatran Tiger. In fact, its other nickname is “Kuku Macan” (tiger’s claw).

This blade is unlike conventional designs because it’s curved like a tiger’s claw. The tip of the blade is designed to slash while pulling the blade in deeper to cause severe damage. It can be designed as a double- or single-edged blade, with or without serrations.

What sets this blade apart from the others is the safety ring. The ring ensures better retention of the blade. A finger, usually the index or pinky is in the ring. This unique feature makes it difficult to disarm its user. It also protects the user from inadvertently dropping the blade.

These blades are primarily used by trained martial artists for combat and self-defense. 

DID YOU KNOW?
The Origins of the Karambit date back to the 11th Century, and it was the primary tool for harvesting rice, root crops and skinning animals. However, it wasn’t uncommon for Indonesian women to tie Karambits to their hair and use them as self-defense weapons. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A TALON BLADE PROFILE A.K.A KARAMBIT OR KERAMBIT BLADES?

Pros:

  • Talons or Karambits are easily concealable such as folding knives or miniature sheathed models. 
  • They are manufactured as fixed blade and folding knives.
  • They can be quick to deploy and kept at the ready.
  • The safety ring doubles as an impact tool and makes it difficult for an opponent to make you drop it.
  • They are also used as backup weapons.
  • They allow the user to grip an opponent while your thumb or other finger is in the safety ring.
  • They can be used in a close grappling situation.
  • They allow skilled users to transition into various positions making it difficult for an opponent to counter effectively.
  • They have a menacing appearance which may deter a potential attacker.

Cons:

  • Talon or Karambit is definitely not user-friendly and not for the novice. It takes years of training to perfect its use. Carelessness will lead to a significant injury. 
  • They lack versatility and utility, not effective for outward cutting.
  • They are slow to deploy if you don’t possess the necessary training.
  • They are specialized in nature and not suited for heavy duty or survival tasks.
  • They have limited striking range, you must be within punching range of your assailant.
  • They may not be legal in some jurisdictions.
  • Depending on the manufacturer, quality Karambits are expensive.

Two examples of Karambit are the CRKT Provoke and Schrade SCH 111.

STRAIGHT BACK BLADE PROFILE (A.K.A. STANDARD BLADE PROFILE)

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WHAT IS A STRAIGHT BACK BLADE PROFILE?

As the name suggests, this Straight Back (A.K.A. Standard Blade) is pretty straightforward. They are definitely designed to be utilitarian and versatile. This blade has a dull straight spine, a curved edge and a long belly.

The spine is not sharp, and its user can apply a finger for added pressure to increase cutting force.

The tip of the blade is along a strong back which makes it also ideal for stabbing or piercing objects. It’s also excellent for slicing because the majority of the blade is simple to control when maintaining a cut line.

Due to their versatility, these blades perform all cutting tasks such as chopping, piercing, skinning, slicing and stabbing. They are easy to sharpen because they only have a single curve along the front. However, they tend to be slightly heavier than other blade designs.

Since this blade design is user-friendly and utilitarian, it is commonly found on hunting and survival knives. Let’s face it, in a survival situation, you need a knife that is well-rounded. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A STRAIGHT BACK BLADE PROFILE (A.K.A STANDARD BLADE PROFILE)?

Pros:

  • Straight Back blades are excellent for chopping, piercing, slicing and stabbing. 
  • They have a dull spine which allows you to safely apply pressure when added cutting force is essential.
  • They are popular in camping, hiking, hunting and survival knives.
  • They are utilitarian, versatile and user-friendly.
  • They are extremely strong since they feature a rigid blade all the way to the tip.
  • They are easy to sharpen since they only have a single curve along the front.
  • They have superior ergonomics.
  • They are less aggressive looking than other blade profiles such as the Tanto, Needle Point, Spear Point, Kukri and Talon / Karambit. It’s a traditional knife shape associated with utility.

Cons:

  • StraightBack blades are heavier than other blade shapes. 

Two examples of Knives with Straight Back Blades are the Morakniv Companion and Tops Knives Tanimboca Puukko

DROP POINT BLADE

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WHAT IS A DROP POINT BLADE PROFILE?

Like the Straight Edge, the Drop Point is another popular blade profile in use today and for excellent reason.

This blade shape features an unsharpened spine that slopes from the handle of the knife to the tip of the blade (i.e. a convex curve), hence “drop point”.

Like the Straight Back and Sheepsfoot, the user can extend the index finger on the spine of the blade for a scalpel-style grip. The fingertip can also be used as a “depth stop”. The lowered point provides more control, strength and thickness at the tip. The tip is also good for thrust cuts. Most importantly, you won't have to worry about accidentally snapping off the tip while using it.

These blades also feature a large belly perfect for chopping, slicing and long sweeping cuts. Some modified drop points may even resemble Spear Point blades.

This is a well-balanced design that is comfortable in various grip configurations. Due to its tip strength and ability to hold up to heavy use, these blades are commonly found on hunting, survival and tactical knives.

This blade design is without question probably the most utilitarian and versatile.

DID YOU KNOW?
Drop Point knives were popularized in the mid-20th century due to their unique curved design which differentiated them from regular hunting knives

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A DROP POINT BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Drop Point blades are the perfect shape for butchering tasks like cutting, puncturing, slicing, skinning and carving. 
  • They are more versatile for game-care tasks like disjointing and prying.
  • They allow the user to extend the index finger along the spine of the blade for more controlled and precise cuts.
  • They are well-balanced for various grip configurations.
  • They are less aggressive looking than other blade profiles such as the Tanto, Needle Point, Spear Point, Kukri and Talon / Karambit. It’s a traditional knife shape associated with utility.
  • They are simple, visually pleasing and practical.
  • They have a strong point that is sharp, controllable and resists breaking.
  • They are an excellent all purpose blade that can be used in many situations, expected or unexpected.
  • They are commonly found on camping, hiking, hunting, survival and tactical knives.
  • They are easy to sharpen.

Cons:

  • Drop Point blades have a broad tip which may not be suitable for piercing. 
  • Depending on the types of knife, (folder or fixed blade), the blade may be heavy.

Two examples of Drop Point Knives are the Cold Steel SRK and KA-BAR Becker Companion.

BLUNT TIP BLADE

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WHAT IS A BLUNT TIP BLADE PROFILE?

This blade shape defies all knife blade design and logic because it lacks a sharp tip, hence the name “blunt tip”.

As strange as it may seem, these blades are specifically produced for recreational and professional divers. The main reason this blade lacks a tip is safety.

There is no doubt in my mind that a diver’s worst nightmare is inadvertently puncturing himself or diving equipment in the open ocean. Yes ladies and gentleman, the slightest drop of blood in the water attracts our greatest fear.

Despite its blunt tip, the blade itself can be either serrated or plain edge. In fact, one edge can be serrated and the other straight. This is extremely important because divers face multiple hazards such as being caught in monofilament lines (which is almost invisible underwater) or tangled in old fishing nets on the seafloor.

Most diving professionals recommend a serrated edge because it can easily cut through these underwater hazards.

Some of these blade profiles also have a line cutter designed into the blade itself. Let’s face it, these blades must be versatile due to the dangers divers encounter. Remember, a good blunt knife will have a line cutter, sharp edge and serrated edge.

DID YOU KNOW?
Fishing lines are a serious threat to divers. If you don’t believe me, read this article

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A BLUNT TIP PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Blunt tip blades are safe and prevent unintentional stabbing or puncturing. 
  • They are clearly less dangerous than blade shapes with points.
  • They are excellent for cutting old fishing nets and monofilaments if trapped.
  • They are optimal for digging, prying and wedging.
  • They are extremely useful when a diver needs to anchor himself to the seafloor during a strong current.

Cons:

  • Blunt Tip Blades are not designed for piercing or stabbing. 

Two examples of Blunt Tip Knives are the Gear Aid Aku Blunt Tip and Promate Scuba Dive Snorkel Titanium Knife

HARPOON BLADE

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WHAT IS A HARPOON BLADE PROFILE?

Ok, don’t get excited we are not hunting Moby Dick. At the most basic level, the harpoon blade has a sharp edge and dull spine.

However, what sets this blade apart is the upward ramp located on the spine which is immediately apparent. All harpoon blades have this feature.

However, knife manufacturers have taken this design to another level by varying its appearance. Some of these blades are pointed like a spear or feature straight or curved edges.

The belly or “cutting edge” remains straight, and has a gentle curve in the top third of the blade. These blades are commonly used for cutting and skinning tasks. Due to the dull spine and ramp, it offers significant stability and safety. In fact, the user can apply added pressure to the spine of the blade for increased cutting force.

Try that with a spear point or needle point. No thank you, I’ll pass. 

DID YOU KNOW?
Lewis Temple, a skilled blacksmith was the inventor of a whaling harpoon known as “Temple’s Toggle” and “Temple’s Iron”. It was the prominent harpoon used in the whaling industry during the mid 19th century.

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A HARPOON BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Harpoon Blades have an upward ramp on the dull spine which allows the user to apply pressure to increase cutting force. It gives the user finer control on the knife with a forefinger for skinning or a thumb when choking up on the knife for more power behind cutting strokes. 
  • They have a ramp which improves safety and stability to the knife.
  • They are easy to sharpen.
  • They are aesthetically appealing because the thumb ramp flows with the lines of the knife.
  • They are good for cutting and skinning tasks.
  • They are found on both folding and fixed blade knives.

Cons:

  • Harpoon Blades are frowned upon by some users stating that the ramp has no other use other than looks.
  • They may not be suited for other tasks.

Two examples of Harpoon Blade Knives are the KA-Bar Becker Harpoon Fixed Blade and Tops Knives Eagle Shadow

LEAF BLADE

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WHAT IS A LEAF BLADE PROFILE?

As the name suggests, the Leaf Knife Blade is evident due to its naturalistic appearance that resembles the leaf of a walnut tree.

The blade has a dull spine and a sharp edge that curves upward. They also have a large hole at the end of the spine, close to the handle used as a thumb hole for easy and quick deployment. This blade style is found on Spyderco folding knives.

Although its design sounds innocent and inviting, make no mistake that an earlier predecessor such as the Applegate - Fairbairn Smatchet fixed double-edged leaf blade was specifically designed for combat. 

This design is even used as a machete, specifically the Condor Big Leaf Machete.

DID YOU KNOW?
The Xiphos (pronounced Ksee-fohss) is an ancient Greek double- edged short sword with a leaf-shaped blade. The leaf bladed shape was well-suited for cutting and thrusting, providing both a wide blade surface for excellent cuts and a reinforced point that would widen any wound that it stabbed into quickly. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A LEAF BLADE PROFILE? 

Pros:

  • Leaf Blades are excellent for cutting, hacking, piercing, puncturing, slashing and stabbing because of its geometric design. 
  • They are versatile and used for many different purposes.
  • They have a greater potential for a center of balance closer to the handle.
  • They are easy to sharpen due to their uniform curvature.
  • They are aesthetically appealing.
  • They last longer with repeated use since they're generally broader at the area where most damage would occur.
  • The profile allows for a decent belly for slicing.
  • They can either be found on both fixed and folding knives.
  • They are either single- or double-edged.

Cons:

  • They have a sharp fine point susceptible to damage after regular use.

Two examples of Folding Knives with Leaf Blades are the Spyderco ParaMilitary 2 and Spyderco Manix 2.

SPEY POINT BLADE

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WHAT IS A SPEY POINT BLADE PROFILE?

The spey point blade design is not aggressive or intimidating such as the clip point, needle point, spear point, tanto or talon.

This design features a predominantly flat cutting edge with a strong upward curve that leads to a dull point. The spine is primarily flat and curves downward at the tip towards the dull point. Its very design prevents the user from accidentally piercing or puncturing anything they don’t want to when performing a cut.

The spey point is frequently found on multi-blade hunting knives.

They are commonly combined with a clip blade due to the spey blade lacking a sharp point. These blades are frequently used by hunters and trappers. 

DID YOU KNOW?
The spey blade was specifically designed for the purpose of “speying” or neutering female livestock and castrating male livestock. Hence the name of the blade. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A SPEY POINT BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Spey blades are used by hunters for skinning the fur off animals without accidentally damaging the hides. 
  • They are useful when gutting fish without puncturing and piercing the insides.
  • They are definitely more forgiving if you accidentally poke yourself.
  • They have stronger and duller tips, so the user doesn’t have to worry about them chipping or fracturing.
  • They are great for basic chores and quick use both outdoors and around the house.
  • They have a wide design which makes the blade exceptionally strong.
  • They are excellent for carving and stripping insulation off wires.
  • They do not have a menacing appearance.

Cons:

  • Spey blades do not have sharp points for piercing and stabbing. 
  • They are not intended for heavy use tasks.

Two examples of Knives with Spey Point Blades are the Case Amber Bone Trapper and Old Timer Bearhead Trapper.

PEN BLADE

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WHAT IS A PEN KNIFE BLADE PROFILE?

At first glance, the pen knife blade has a trait similar to a spear point blade because of its symmetrical curves on both sides of a center spine.

Unlike the menacing spear point, this blade is only sharpened on one side and features a more gradual curve.

It has a dull spine which allows the user to exert force and control for more precise cutting if necessary.

These blades are commonly used in small folding pocket knives. They are one of the most suited blades for everyday use. 

DID YOU KNOW?
Most Swiss Army and Multi-tools have this blade shape. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A PEN KNIFE BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Pen Blades have a dull spine which allows the user to exercise control and exert cutting pressure.
  • They are compact, versatile and well-suited for everyday tasks (i.e. opening letters or boxes). 
  • They are commonly found on pocket knives such as Swiss Army knives.
  • They do not have a threatening appearance.
  • They are easy to sharpen.

Cons:

  • Pen Knives are not suited for heavy duty tasks.

Two examples of knives with Pen Blades are the Victorinox Swiss Army Classic and Victorinox Swiss Army Fieldmaster

SERRATED BLADE

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WHAT IS A SERRATED BLADE PROFILE?

Serrated blades have toothed or saw-like ridges grounded into the cutting surface or spine of a blade. This feature is intended to be used like a saw with a back and forth motion. If you’ve ever handled a bread knife, you know exactly what’s being described.

The edges on the belly make it easier to cut into harder material. Once the teeth sink in, the cutting momentum allows you to tackle harder material. They are great for cutting through ropes, fabric and other textured material. 

Serrated blade profiles are found on folding and fixed blade knives. 

DID YOU KNOW?
The Ontario 499 Survival Knife was issued to both U.S.A.F and U.S. Army flight crews in 1958 and is still used by the U.S. Military. The serrated spine of the knife allowed the pilot to saw through aircraft skin, wire and acrylic windows. No one can dispute its battle proven history from the Vietnam War to the Middle East. 

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF A SERRATED BLADE PROFILE?

Pros:

  • Serrated Blade Profiles easily cut through tougher materials. (plastic or synthetic). 
  • They are excellent for diving, rock climbing and rescue operations where the difference between life and death can be sawing through a rope in 7 seconds or slicing through that same rope in 25 seconds.
  • They easily cut through harder and uneven material.
  • They are a specialized tool for firefighters, police officers and other professionals in similar trades.

Cons:

  • Serrated Blades cause fraying with ropes and fabrics.
  • They are difficult to sharpen when the blade dulls and require special sharpening equipment or a professional to get it back to factory sharpness. (unless you have a diamond rod).
  • They wear down with sharpening.
  • They do not make clean cuts.
  • They are a more specific type of knife.
  • They are more prone to binding and breaking when used forcefully against a hard object.

Two examples of Serrated Blade Shapes are the Spyderco Tenacious and Gerber Prodigy Survival Knife.

Final Thoughts On Blade Profiles!

If you are looking for the “best” blade shape that is suited for all uses, it simply doesn’t exist. This is why it is important to know the different types of knife blades and the pros and cons of each.

Once armed with this knowledge, then consider what you will be using the knife for. Let your answer guide your final decision.

For example, Drop Points, Spey Blades, Clip Points, Trailing Points, Gut Hooks and Straight Backs are excellent choices for hunters due to the versatility of these blades. Of course, each hunter has a preference on which blade shape best suits his needs.

Other blade shapes are downright tactical and well-suited for law enforcement and military personnel such as the Kukri, Tanto, Reverse Tanto, Needle Point, Spear Point, Talon, and Drop Point.

Some of the so-called “innocent blade shapes” have been modified for military and tactical use such as the Leaf and Wharncliff Blades.

I really want you to be aware of Needle Point and Spear Point blade shapes because double-edged knives are “daggers” and illegal to carry in many jurisdictions. In support, the Talon (A.K.A. Karambit / Kerambit) may also be frowned upon by your state’s legislature due to its menacing appearance. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to research the laws where you live.

My advice is simple, “When in doubt, always exercise caution and purchase a single-edged blade.” I don’t want a $100.00 knife costing you thousands in legal fees. 

The Hawkbill is a well-suited specialty knife designed for cutting carpet and other materials. On the other hand, the Blunt Tip is best suited for divers and for good reason.

Drop Point and Straight Back blades are an excellent choice for survival knives, because of their utility and versatility. They are an excellent blade choice for many situations expected or unexpected.

Remember, never overlook the importance of a knife’s blade. In any situation, it's an important tool that must meet your expectations.

Find a knife that feels most comfortable and works for your purposes. The knife you carry is a personal affair and an extension of your persona. Thus, only you can determine your blade type preference.

My ultimate goal was to assist you in making a well-informed choice. 

How handsome is your blade profile? I would like to know.

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