Knife Blade Shapes

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Provides an overview of the main blade shapes and the advantages and disadvantages of each

Clip Point, Drop Point, Trailing Point? Confused yet? Let Knife Depot help by providing an overview of the main blade shapes and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Some knife blade shapes are designed for a specific purpose, such as skinning an animal, while others aim to be more utilitarian and useful for many purposes. By reading the brief overview below, you can decide which knife blade shape is right for your intended use.

Clip Point

clip point blade

A clip point blade is one of the most popular blade shapes in use today. The back (unsharpened) edge of the knife runs straight from the handle and stops about halfway up the knife. Then, it turns and continues to the point of the knife. This "cut-out" area can be straight or curved, and is referred to as the "clip". The clip point is used on many pocket knives and fixed blade knives, and is especially popular on Bowie knives. Read more about clip point knives.

Advantages of the Clip Point

  • Very sharp and controllable point
  • Good for piercing
  • Plenty of cutting edge ("belly") for slicing

Disadvantages of the Clip Point

  • Point is narrow and weak

Drop Point

clip point blade

A drop point blade is is another great all-purpoes blade and is one of the most popular blade shapes in use today. The back (unsharpened) edge of the knife runs straight from the handle to the tip of the knife in a slow curved manner. The drop point is very popular on hunting knives because of the controllable point (to avoid accidentally nicking internal organs) and large slicing area ("belly"). Read more about drop point knives.

Advantages of the Drop Point

  • Strong point that is sharp and controllable
  • Plenty of cutting edge ("belly") for slicing

Disadvantages of the Drop Point

  • Point is not as sharp as a clip point
  • Less suitable for piercing

Tanto

clip point blade

The tanto blade has a high point with a flat grind, leading to an extremely strong point. The front edge of the tanto knife meets the back (unsharpened) edge at an angle, rather than a curve. The tanto blade does not have a belly, which is sacrificed in exchange for a stronger tip, so it is not useful as a general utility knife. However, it's extremely strong point allows it to be used in tough situations where piercing hard materials is needed. Read more about tanto blades.

Advantages of the Tanto

  • Extremely strong point
  • Great for piercing hard materials

Disadvantages of the Tanto

  • No cutting edge ("belly") for slicing
  • Hard to control point

Sheepsfoot

clip point blade

A sheepsfoot blade has a straight front edge and a dull back spine that curves down to meet the straight edge and make a false point. The main purpose of a sheepsfoot is for cutting and slicing where a point is not wanted or needed and is the distinctive blade shape used on santoku chef's knives. Because the back spine is not sharpened, you can hold it with your fingers, providing a great degree of control. Read more about sheepsfoot blades.

Advantages of the Sheepsfoot

  • Well suited to giving a clean cut while slicing
  • Very controllable
  • No point exists (avoids accidental stabbing)

Disadvantages of the Sheepsfoot

  • No point exists

Dagger / Needle Point

needle point blade

A needle point blade (also known as a dagger) is a double-edged blade used for stabbing or thrusting. It has two sharp edges which reduce the profile and let the knife cut in on both sides. Daggers are primarily used for self-defense in close combat situations. Read more about needle point blades.

Advantages of the Needle Point

  • Very thin and sharp point provides the ultimate in piercing soft targets

Disadvantages of the Needle Point

  • Weak point that can break on hard targets
  • No cutting edge ("belly") for slicing

Spear Point

clip point blade

A spear point is a symmetrically pointed blade with a point that is in line with the center line of the blade's long axis. They can be single or double edged, although the tip is only sharp if both edges are sharpened. A spear point provides a very strong tip and is often used in throwing knives. Read more about spear point blades.

Advantages of the Spear Point

  • Strong point
  • Sharp point (if double edged)
  • Very controllable

Disadvantages of the Spear Point

  • Small cutting edge ("belly") for slicing

Trailing Point

clip point blade

A trailing point knife is a lightweight knife that has a back edge that curves upward. Trailing point blades provide a large curved cutting area ("belly") and are optimized for slicing or skinning. They are most common on skinning and fillet knives. Read more about trailing point knives.

Advantages of the Trailing Point

  • Large belly is perfect for slicing or skinning
  • High point is out of the way

Disadvantages of the Trailing Point

  • Weak point

Gut Hook

clip point blade

A gut hook blade is a special type of blade in which the spine has a sharpened semi-circle ground into it. Often used by hunters for field dressing, the "hook" in the spine is placed in a small cut in the the underside of the animal and pulled like a zipper. The small hook opens the abdomen of the animal without slicing into the muscle, possibly affecting the quality of the meat. Red more about gut hook blades.

Advantages of the Gut Hook

  • Field dressing wild game
  • Large belly is perfect for slicing or skinning
  • High point is out of the way

Disadvantages of the Gut Hook

  • Trailing edge cannot be sharpened
  • Difficult to sharpen the "hook" in the spine