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Sheepsfoot Vs Drop Point – What’s the Difference?

Knowing the different common blade shapes is a must if you want a knife that suits your needs. Today, we will discuss sheepsfoot vs drop point blades.

A sheepsfoot cuts without piercing due to the lack of a sharp tip, whereas drop point blades can pierce, stab, slice, and more. While the drop point is stronger, the sheepsfoot blade is weaker. Also, it’s easier to find drop points when compared to sheepsfoot, which not many brands feature in their knives.

But there are other differences that set these two types of knives apart. If you’re not sure whether you need a sheepsfoot or drop point, you’ve come to the right place.

Sheepsfoot vs Drop Point Blade: At One Glance

SubjectSheepsfootDrop Point
ShapeStraight edge and a convex spine with an abrupt slope near the tip.A spine that curves from the handle to meet the point.
BellySmallerLarger
Blade StrengthLowHigh
Point ShapeNot pointyPointy
AvailabilityLowHigh
Ease of SharpeningHarderEasier

Key Differences Between Drop Point and Sheepsfoot Blade

The differences between drop point vs sheepsfoot boil down to 6 factors: shape, belly, blade strength, point shape, availability, and ease of sharpening. Make sure to read this section thoroughly to know which blade shape to pick depending on these differences.

Shape

The sheepsfoot blade has a straight edge with a curved spine to meet it at the point. This shape creates a pointy tip with a small belly that works perfectly for penetrating tasks. This blade shape is not as common as spear point blades, but popular brands like Spyderco and Gerber feature sheepsfoot in knives like the Spyderco Roadie Non-Locking Folding Knife and the Gerber Sharkbelly Locking Knife.

Sheepsfoot and wharncliffe blades are not the same, people often confuse these two. While a Wharncliffe blade has a curved spine across the length of the blade, a sheepsfoot has a straight or curved spine with an abrupt slope near the tip.

Drop point blades have a convex spine which curves from the handle down to the tip. This shape is the opposite of a clip-point blade, and it forms a more controllable point with a larger belly. As far as blade shapes go, the drop point is one of the most common. You can see it in modern knives with a fixed blade like the Boundary 92738 or folding knives such as the Kershaw Leek or Benchmade Bugout 535.

Read Also: Clip Point Vs. Tanto Point

Belly

Sheepsfoot point blades have a smaller belly. You can hold the knives with sheepsfoot at an angle and still get the tip through the materials. Use this blade shape to outline patterns through cardboard and rubber more easily. It’s less tiring, and you will be precise at following cutting lines.

Drop point blades have a larger belly, which slices well but can’t penetrate materials as effectively as the sheepsfoot blade. If you want to penetrate through materials like cardboard or rubber, you have to hold the knife straight up and down. This motion requires you to have your wrist at a position that doesn’t give you leverage to pull the knife backward. 

You could hold the knife in a reverse grip, but your accuracy may not be as good either.

Blade Strength

Sheepsfoot knife blade is weaker. Since the blade gets narrower towards the tip, sheepsfoot is not as strong nor as durable as the drop point. It’s pretty easy to chip away the narrow sections of the blade after regular use and sharpening.

Drop point knives have stronger blades. A drop point has a strong spine leading up to a solid and fine point. Thus, the blade remains strong and sturdy while cutting and after plenty of sharpening cycles. You can use it for cutting or splitting wood, and the impact absorption will be much better. 

The strength of a drop point is not as good as the tanto blade, but it can still help you in various ways. For instance, you could hit the spine with a solid item to pierce through wood with ease. Unlike sheepsfoot, drop point blades can put up with more abuse and pressure without budging.

Point Shape

Sheepsfoot blades traditionally don’t have a pointy tip because of the smooth curve that abruptly transitions into the tip. A blunt tip gives casual users peace of mind, as it’s easier to focus on the task at hand without risks of accidental stabbing risks. Some knives with sheepsfoot blades like the CRKT Pilar II do have a pointy and sharp tip, but they’re not as common.

The lack of a pointy tip makes sheepsfoot blades ideal for rescuing missions. When cutting through a piece of clothing, the chances of stabbing the individual wearing it are almost non-existent. Other than rescuers, seamen also used this type of blade to work on rigging without puncture issues.

The issue is that a sheepsfoot blade has several disadvantages as well. Primarily, knives with this blade won’t be as versatile as the drop point. While you can use it for a lot of tasks, this type of blade isn’t suitable for piercing or carving.

Drop point blades have a pointy tip: Contrary to sheepsfoot, the drop point does have a more useful point. As such, you won’t have any issue if you intend to use it for piercing. This is why the drop point is the most versatile option out of the two. Like the spear point knife, a drop point knife can pierce and stab through materials and animals.

Availability   

Sheepsfoot is not as common. Knives with sheepsfoot blade shape are not a common sight unless you’re familiar with them. Originally created to trim sheep hooves, the sheepsfoot is now most prominently a blade for rescue purposes. It’s a blade style for heavy work that doesn’t appeal much to casual users.

With that said, there’s a sheepsfoot variation that you may have used before without noticing: The Santoku knife, this type of knife has a blade with a sheepsfoot shape, sporting a combination of German and Japanese styles for kitchen knives. 

Drop point knife is commonly available. If you want a drop point, many popular brands offer unique models. This blade style is prominent in folding pocket knives, with brands like Benchmade and Kershaw offering top-quality options. Compared to sheepsfoot, the drop point makes practical knives for hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing.

Ease of Sharpening

A sheepsfoot is harder to sharpen because the bevel and spine grow wider as it reaches the tip. Thus, you have to remove more metal to get a perfect blade tip. You also have to change the sharpening angle to follow the width of the blade, which takes more skills.

Drop point blades are easier to sharpen because they have thinner spines as they reach the tip. Therefore, the bevel remains in a more consistent width along the entire length of the cutting edge. It’s easier, faster, and requires less work than a sheepsfoot.

Tanto vs Drop Point vs Sheepsfoot

Tanto is a tactical blade with outstanding sharpness and strength, making it ideal for combat-like scenarios. Unlike tanto, sheepsfoot is not as strong, but it’s still useful as a blade for pocket knives during outdoor tasks. Then, there’s the drop point, which makes compact, multi-purpose hunting knives.

If you need to slice or pierce animals, go with a drop point. A tanto is better for stabbing or combat purposes. Lastly, the sheepsfoot is an excellent tool for heavy work, like cutting rope, tents, clothing, and more.

What Is the Purpose of a Recurve Blade?

The recurve blade helps lengthen the cutting edge without extending the overall length of the blade. This particular design is ideal for slicing, as the recurve can also work as a traditional knife belly. It allows you to place the cutting edge at multiple angles to accomplish different cutting motions.

Recurved blades are also similar to serrated blades. So, you can use them to cut tough materials like rope or as a twine cutting tool.

Is a Bowie Knife a Drop Point?

Not all Bowie knives have a drop point blade. The term “drop point” refers to a specific blade shape mostly found in fixed and folding knives. On the other hand, a “Bowie knife” refers to large sheath knives featuring a cross guard and a clip point. Plus, Bowies normally come with fixed blades.

Sheepsfoot or Drop Point – Which One Should You Choose?

Still not sure which one to buy between drop point vs sheepsfoot? 

The drop point is a type of blade designed for hunters. It’s easy to control, meaning you’re less likely to damage the organs of animals while preserving the meat. Additionally, you can use it for slicing and chopping. This blade style makes all-around knives for everyone, which is why most people prefer it.

Unlike drop points, sheepsfoot often doesn’t have a pointy tip, but that could be a benefit. The risks of cutting yourself are minimum, and the cutting edge is sharp enough to cut tough materials. Rescuers use it to cut clothing or belts quickly, but anyone can use the sheepsfoot in knives for camping and hiking.

About Brian M. Casey

As a food lover, Brian M. Casey developed a fascination for cooking at an early age. He soon realized that not only the ingredients matter but also the knives and the accessories used to turn those ingredients into a delicious dish. This way, Brian began his journey on the magnificent world of kitchen knives, outdoor knives, knife accessories, and much more. After years of experience with many ups and downs, Brian now wants to share everything he’s learned during his journey as an avid knife collector, a well-seasoned knife maker, and an all-around knives enthusiast.

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