There are two types of people: those who just buy, and those who do research then buy.
When it comes to knives, being the second type is very important if you want to end up with the right knife that actually serves your purpose, not just a flashy sharp tool that doesn’t really fulfill your needs.
In this article, we’ve put together a list of all the common knife blade styles and included a comprehensive explanation of what each one does and what you can use them for.
17 Types of Knife Blade Shapes and What They Are For?
1. Spear Point
A spear point blade is a symmetrically pointed blade that’s usually sharpened on both sides. The point of this blade is located at the exact center of the knife in line with the blade’s extended axis.
Featuring an extremely strong and sharp point, this highly controllable blade is perfect for piercing and slashing. You can often see spear point blades on throwing knives and swiss army knives, but combat is just about all this knife is good for.
2. Drop Point
A drop point blade is a wonderful all-purpose blade. It’s actually one of the most common blade shapes used nowadays, especially on a folding knife.
This blade gets its name from the arc of the knife’s back, which slowly curves downwards instead of going straight out.
The whole back of a drop point is unsharpened to better support precision work, allowing for close grips.
Thanks to the controllable point, the drop point blade is often seen on hunting knives to avoid accidentally slicing through internal organs. Piercing, however, isn’t its strongest suit.
3. Plain/Straight Back
The plain or straight black blade is what many people refer to as a “normal” knife. It has the most sturdy structure because it features the fewest curves and dips.
This blade also offers a large cutting surface and it can handle chopping as well as other regular tasks. You can find plain back blades on boning knives and kitchen knives due to their long-lasting service time, or blunted at the tip and used as cheese spreaders.
4. Dagger / Needle Point
Also known as a dagger, a needle point blade is a double-edged blade designed to go through flesh more than anything else.
The two sharp edges minimize the blade’s profile and allow the knife to cut in on either side. Daggers are the ultimate knives to stab and pierce soft targets, so they’re mainly used for self-defense in close combat scenarios.
You can also see a version of the needle point blade on boot knives and oyster knives.
Otherwise, the weak point can break on hard targets and the lack of a cutting edge takes away any slicing capability.
Thanks to its high point and flat grind, the tanto blade is among the hardest to break with an especially strong point. The back unsharpened edge meets the front edge at an angle, instead of a curve.
Since the tanto blade doesn’t have a belly, it’s not used on general utility knives. However, tanto blades excel in heavy-duty work where piercing hard materials such as body armor or hardwood is needed.
With one of the most specific uses for blade shapes, the Hawkbill blade is intended to help you cut cords or strip wires. The long back of this blade merges into the blunted top to create the defining feature of the Hawkbill blade.
The chances of you ever needing this blade is slim to none, but if you do, it’ll serve you well.
7. Clip Point
A clip point blade is very similar to a drop point blade and is equally popular. The difference is that a clip point dips down to a much sharper point and the back unsharpened edge stops at about mid-knife for cutting upward as well.
The dual sharpened sides make clip point blades suitable for stabbing and self-defense, while the big belly is great for slicing, slashing, and trimming.
The clip point is pretty popular on Bowie knives, pocket knives, and fixed blade knives.
The Bowie blade isn’t exactly classified by its shape, but it’s more recognized as a specific style of knives. The Bowie knife is an American standard that’s historically distinguished, even if it’s not always clearly defined.
A bowie blade is technically a clip point blade with a concave clip that may or may not be sharpened, swaged, or ground. In reality, any large, heavy weapon-like knife that resembles 19th-century knives is referred to as a Bowie knife.
It can be used as a hunting knife for skinning, butchering, and cleaning game. Besides being a hunters’ favorite, Bowie knives are also good for self-defense.
A sheepsfoot blade is one of the safest knives you could pack as an EDC (everyday carry knife). It features a straight front edge and a dull back that curves down to join the straight edge and create a false point.
Originally meant for trimming hooves, a sheepsfoot blade is nowadays used for cutting and slicing when a point isn’t needed or wanted. It’s the distinct blade shape found on most whittling knives.
The sheepsfoot blade offers great control since the back spine is blunted, while the absence of a point prevents accidental stabbing.
Many knife enthusiasts consider the Wharncliffe blade to be the same as the sheepsfoot blade. This is true for the most part since both blades have a lot of design aspects in common.
However, there’s a slight difference as the Wharncliffe blade has a less significant drop at the point with a more gradual curve starting about halfway down the blade’s length.
A cleaver blade is typically rectangular in shape and found on large knives. Such knives are widely used as kitchen or butcher’s knives because they’re effective for cutting meat against the grain. Sometimes cleaver blades are even used on sushi knives.
You can also use the blade’s broad face for crushing in food preparation (for example, crushing garlic). The cleaver blade also exists in pocket knife format that’s also excellent for cutting, slicing, and chopping.
There are many variations of Persian blades, but most of them feature a hollow-ground, tempered steel, single-edged full-tang, recurved blade with a thick spine adopting a ‘T’ cross-section to add strength and rigidity.
The earliest versions of this knife had a recurved blade tying back to its Persian origin. The blade is always wide at the hilt, then it gradually but dramatically tapers to a needle-like, triangular tip.
The primary use of a Persian blade is for combat with a substantial slicing, slashing, and cutting performance.
The Kurki is another uniquely-shaped blade originating from the Indian subcontinent. It was traditionally used as a basic utility knife by the Gurkhas of Nepal and India, and in many cases, it still is.
The Kukri blade is usually characterized by a distinctive recurve in the blade and a notch at its base. It has a large handle to let users take a double-handed grip.
This blade is an effective chopping weapon but it can also serve as a multipurpose tool in cutting and skinning.
The cutting edge of a conventional blade has a single curve that starts at the point and ends where it meets the straight section of the edge. A recurve blade means that the edge adds another curve, producing a soft ‘S’ shape.
A recurve lengthens the cutting edge and effectively enhances its slicing performance for an excellent draw-cut. It also works well for chopping and slashing, which is why recurves are popular on vegetable choppers and some defensive knives.
15. Leaf Shape
The leaf blade is essentially what you get when the drop point blade meets the clip point blade, but everything is more amplified.
Typified by the brand Spyderco and known for its true-to-life appearance, this blade looks like the leaves on a walnut tree (hence, its name).
Like the drop point, it has a back curving downwards yet with a more dramatic slope. It also comes to a sharp point that’s far more aggressive than a clip point.
As a result, the leaf blade is even more suitable for attacks and is meant for protection rather than utility use.
16. Gut Hook
A gut hook blade has a special where the spine features a sharpened semi-circle ground into it. The purpose of such a knife is obviously explained in the name as they’re often used by hunters for field dressing.
The hook in the spine is positioned in a small cut in the underside of the animal and pulled like a zipper to open up its abdomen. This is done without slicing into the muscle.
A trailing point blade is a lightweight knife with a back edge that curves upwards. It offers a large belly, so it’s optimized for slicing and skinning. As a result, trailing point blades are popular on filler knives.
As you can tell, there are many knife blade styles available today, and so, understanding what each shape is built for will help you decide which knife is right for your cutting requirements.