Article: “Fighting Blade Design Choice”

Interesting article. Keeps it simple, direct, and effective.


Bowie Knife (500x206)(15884 bytes) - a typical...

Bowie Knife (500×206)(15884 bytes) – a typical James Black/Musso pattern S-guard Bowie knife, with its hallmark large blade and unique shape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Fighting Blade Design Choice

Blade design is the next thing I want to talk about. My interest is for anti-personnel use. I don’t care about opening letters, nor peeling oranges, so the blade designs best suited for those uses are of no interest to me. That said, I know that a knife will be used for those things far more than for stabbing terrorists. However, the compromise should be made on the side of the letters and oranges and not on the side of the terrorist. Your opening of a letter or peeling of an orange has no lives in the balance, whereas there is when using your knife to fight.

I don’t want to get into fixed or folding as I think we have discussed that issue sufficiently. Carry a fixed blade when you can, and a folder when you must. Also, for this application we are discussing smaller knives…probably in the 4 inch or less category. The sort of blade that works on a Bowie or barong may not be the same utility on a 3” folder.

There are several blade styles that I see in folder and fixed, SDK (small defensive knives).

Bowie Pattern – Some people, notably in Texas where Bowies are illegal, call it a clip point. It is basically a wide blade with a big belly for slashing and a clipped off front end producing a slightly up turned point and potentially a second cutting edge. This is not a bad blade design, but is best used in a 7 inch or longer knife. It doesn’t really give you much in a small blade. Moreover, some of them have such an upswept point that stabbing is near to impossible.

Double Edged – Never intended as a “sporting knife” the double edge has away been an anti-man blade. As such, it is often illegal in many locations. So many locations in fact, that it has fallen out of favor as a primary carry blade. Still, being able to cut both ways is not a bad thing. Very few folders come this way. I think another reason why it has fallen from favor is that using it as a tool is difficult and like it or not, many people buy knives primarily to use as tools, and only secondarily as weapons. (A good example of this would be the smatchet)

Hawkbill Blade – Popularized by Spyderco and those who teach reverse grip, it is not a bad design, but in my opinion, it is a very limited utility design. The blade shape is a sharply curved hook like the talon of a raptor. The inside edge of the blade is sharpened and works particularly well for reaching out and pulling back while cutting. It is difficult to stab, and use in any other way than blade in/blade up. And it is very difficult to resharpen.

Straight Point – This is a classic knife blade seen in the original Spyderco “Clipit”, and now on the Police, Endura and others. It works well in all grips and for all uses, and is relatively easy to sharpen. The one weakness is the point could be stronger, but having said that I have never seen a broken point on these knives.

Tanto Point – This was popularized in the 1980s by Lynn Thompson of Cold Steel, and later by Emerson with the CQC-7. When mated to a folder, the tanto point looks really cool, but like the bowie, really offers nothing over any other blade design in such a small knife. That one can stab through body armor with a 6” Tanto is irrelevant to a discussion on small knives because the blade design and lock is not nearly as supportive of this. Often the points on these tantos have too small an angle…some as little as 100 degrees…making stabbing impossible.

Wharncliffe Blade – The first time I saw this was when I trained with Knife Master Mike Janich. Mike had just collaborated with Spyderco on his excellent (but as Spyderco is wont to do – now discountinued) Yojimbo Folder. This blade style utilizes a straight edge with a tapering spine. This creates an incredibly strong point as well as a blade cross section which is less subject to lateral flexing. It cuts and stabs well and is very very easy to sharpen. Think of it as a big box cutter.

My favorite…as I am sure guys will ask, for an SDK (small defense knife) is Straight Point or the Wharncliffe Blade with a preference to the latter. 

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Posted in Knives
One comment on “Article: “Fighting Blade Design Choice”
  1. Small and not too heavy, this tool includes more or less everything you will need
    when on a camping, hiking or fishing trip. A bowie, on the
    other hand, is usually no shorter than six inches in length, though they can surpass twelve inches in many cases.

    Pocket Knives are the most valuable and versatile tools, that help you to
    do certain jobs from opening boxes, letters, packages, and even you can use it for self defense.


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