Knife Point and Blade Types Guide
Each knife has a distinct point or blade shape. These have evolved over the centuries and now you can find almost any shape or point you could possibly imagine for a knife and while this is a good thing; it can be daunting for first time knife buyers that don't know the lingo. Take a look at our guide below and become a smarter consumer before you make a purchase.
Knife Point and Blade Types
Normal Point (Standard Blade): Comes with a straight back and a curved edge. The back is dull allowing the wielder to use their fingers to concentrate force. The blade is typically strong and heavy allowing it to be used for chopping as well as cutting and thrusting.
Trailing Point: With Trailing Point Blades, the point of the blade is above the knife’s spine. This typically gives the knife a large belly and aids in slashing and slicing. This design is typically found on fillet knives, as well as skinning and hunting knives.
Slight Trailing Point: The Slight Trailing Point is exactly what the name implies, it’s a blade where the point trails slightly higher than the spine. Unlike the full Trailing Point, these blades are most commonly found in tactical fighting knives as the point can deliver powerfully effective stabs if it is strong enough. It also retains excellent slashing capability.
Tanto Point: Tanto Blades are very popular and are typically found on fighting and rescue knives. Tanto’s have very strong points, and were originally designed in Japan to pierce armor. The angle of the tip is less acute, and so has more cross-sectional area and more metal to support the point. Typically (but not always) the blade is straight and the point is actually just a second edge on the blade with a total edge angle between 60-80 degrees. Tanto’s come in two forms Japanese and Kamasu Kissaki (Americanized Tanto). The Americanized version has the front edge meeting the bottom edge at an obtuse angle. The Japanese version has the front edge meet the back edge at a curve.
Clip Point (Slant Point): Clipped Points have the back concavely formed (the point is below the spine) giving them the appearance that the forward third of the blade has been “clipped” off. Clipped Points are one of the most common blade shapes. Being thinner at the spine allows for quicker and deeper punctures, though at the cost of a weaker tip.
Swaged Clipped Point: Commonly found on Bowie Knives, the clipped point is ground with a swage for either a false or real edge. The combination of a Clipped Point and Swage makes for an especially fearsome point.
Spear Point: A very common blade type, the Spear Point is a symmetrically-shaped blade with a point aligned with the centerline of the blade's long axis. Spear points are typically double-edged and have a central spine. Spear Points are designed for thrusting and penetration. The traditional dagger is an example of a spear point. A dagger is simply a double-edged spear point.
The Drop Point: An extremely common type of blade, the Drop Point slopes on the spine of the blade from the handle of the knife to the tip of the blade. The curve on the top of the blade is convex (as opposed to the concaved clip point). The design makes for a very strong point and is often used for hunting and utility knives.
The Drop Point Tanto: Tanto’s typically are on straight blades, but not always. On many utility knives the Tanto is coupled with a sloping Drop-Point, which creates a smaller point but also increases the point’s strength.
Sheepsfoot: The memorable name comes from the fact that these blades were originally used in the trimming of sheep’s hooves. The cutting edge is straight and the spine and point are convexly rounded downward making it excellent for bearing down. The design is specialized and is popular in rescue knives where their rounded point allows for the knife to be used in close proximity to people without endangering them.
Wharncliffe: The Wharncliffe blade is very similar to the sheepsfoot but the curve on the top of the blade is less pronounced. It is similar to the Normal Blade if it were turned upside down. The cutting edge is flat but there is more of a point than on the Sheepsfoot. This means the point is more fragile than the Sheepsfoot, though probably more useful.
Hawkbill (Hawksbill; Beak Blade): A hook-shaped blade with a concave belly. Essentially a reversed trailing point, the Hawkbill is sickle shaped. Commonly used for marine or sailing knives, it’s useful for cutting textiles, rope, and similar materials. Push-cuts and slicing are difficult as the blade shape gets in the way. The only real use for a hawksbill blade is a draw-cut.
Spey Point: So named because this style of knife was originally used in the neutering of livestock, the Spey Point has a sharp, straight edge that curves upwards at the end to meet a short, blunt, straight point from the dull back. The curved end of the blade is closer to perpendicular to the blade's axis than other knives and lacks a point.