Why are There So Many Knife Blade Shapes?

Well, the one sentence answer to this is: There are different blade shapes because of all the jobs knives are called upon to do. Some blade shapes are suitable for a number of tasks while others are the best for a single job.

The Clip Point Knife 

The Most Famous Clip Point!

The Most Famous Clip Point!



The Bowie Knife is the most famous of the clip point knives.  Even though it is a very old design, it is still one of the most popular blades for just about anything done outdoors.

Only one side of the blade is sharpened and it can be called the ‘belly’.  On the upper side (spine) of the knife, a portion is ‘clipped’ from the blade.

Generally, the part that is removed causes the tip to be slightly lower than the spine.  This gives more control of the blade when using it to skin an animal or when using the point.

Although the photo shows an upper edge that looks as sharp as the lower one, it is probably a ‘swedge’ – the upper edge is beveled but not sharpened.

Gut Hook Blade 

Gut Hook Knife

An Example of a Gut Hook Knife



This is definitely a specialty knife — this unusual-shaped skinner helps any hunter field dress large game with ease.

Like the Bowie, the blade is a modified drop point (minor curving of blade, so the tip drops a little to meet the sharpened edge – very popular). The kicker is the sharpened “U” or “V.”

The beauty (a term I use loosely in relation to this knife) of this knife is that, after making an incision in a carcass, the blade is pulled backwards (along the spine of the knife) under the skin.  You are literally unzipping the skin from the meat and entrails.

This is an incredibly useful tool, even if it is one of the ugliest knives I’ve ever seen!


This is # 4 in a series:



NOTICE: I no longer sell Gerber knives and Leatherman tools.  I left this article up as educational information.


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com


What do You Know About Knife Blades & the Rockwell Scale?

Naturally, knife makers want to gauge the hardness of their knife blades. Therefore, the Rockwell C Scale was developed.  The range is between 50 and 60, with 60 being the hardest.

Don’t get your knickers bunched if the info offered with a knife says nothing about this scale. Of course, you are more likely to hear the scale value (of a knife blade) if the number is 60!

How the Knife is Rated

The hardest surface, a diamond point, is pressed into the blade with a lighter weight, then with a heavier weight and finally with a lower weight again. What is being measured is the depth of the indentations, and their difference. After calculations, this is compared to the Rockwell C Scale, to determine the blade’s hardness.

Who Cares?

There are reasons for wanting to know the scale of some weapons. First, if you are making your own blade, and your own knife, you would want to know – possibly as a point of pride. Therefore, you would find someone who could do the test for you and give you the score.

For certain tasks, you might need the hardest blade you could find, thus you would want to know the Rockwell C Scale.

How do I Find the Score?

Generally, the sales person does not know the score. It’s just not critical to the general knife-buying public. However, if the score is critical to know for something you plan to do, email or phone the knife producer for this info.

BTW, it may take them some time to find this info! Probably the only person who needed to know the Rockwell number was the craftsman who created the tool!


** As usual, I forgot something. The reason you might want to know the hardness of your blade is that a harder blade keeps its edge better.

Also, some steels are too soft to measure. For instance, you wouldn’t care to measure the hardness of angle iron; it’s soft. Also, you wouldn’t use it as a tool (such as a knife blade).



Notice: I don’t sell Gerber any more but left this up as an information source.


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Please join me!

Why Are Knives Made of Such Weird Sounding Stuff? (1 of 3)

Previous Article: Why Can’t Guys Just Have One Knife for Everything? (Intro and knives made of non-ferrous materials)

Part II – Knives Made of Metals and Alloys


I’m going to skip the history of metal in knives and jump to the info on current metal/metal alloys available to the average “Joe” or “Josie.”   But, first, a word from our trivia sponsors!

Interesting Knife Trivia

Originally, knives made of metals had serious corrosiontn_j0405970 problems. When knife materials were created that helped reduce rusting, they named these knives “stain less” steel. The emphasis was on “less.”  Today, we refer to knives that don’t seem to corrode as “stainless,” with the emphasis on the “stain.”

Actually, ‘stain-less’ (emphasis on ‘less’) is more accurate. The 2 things that keep knives ‘stainless’ – are regular use and maintenance. Even stainless steel knives can develop rust; I’d rather you didn’t ask me how I know this!

Four Main Steel Types of Knife Blades

There are an almost infinite number of steel combinations, which makes for lots of confusion. However, there are 4 main, modern steels used for knife-making: carbon steels, compound steels, stainless steels and Damascus steels.

Carbon Steels

Also known as ‘high carbon steels,’ these blades are a combination of iron and carbon.

Advantages: Excellent sharpness values, holds its edge well and is easy to resharpen.

Disadvantages: Easy to rust, easy to stain.

Compound Steels

Other elements have been added to carbon steels, to make Compound Steels. They always have less than 13% chromium (added to reduce corrosion). In general, these are strong steel blades with a good edge. They retain their edges well and are easy to resharpen.

A-2: Has fair corrosion resistance; used in some military knives.

D-2: Has high chromium, so more resistant to rusting (but not stainless). Can be hard to sharpen.

M-2: Not used as much as A-2 or D-2. Maintenance is necessary to avoid rust.

Next Subject: Stainless Steels


Notice: I don’t sell Gerber any more but left this up as an information source.

This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com


Please note: I’ve added:  (1) Subscription button for feeds, click on RSS Posts for my postings (top of right column) and (2) Subscription link to get my postings via email, click on Sign Me Up! (top right).

Published in: on October 28, 2008 at 4:09 pm  Comments Off on Why Are Knives Made of Such Weird Sounding Stuff? (1 of 3)  
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Why are Knives Made of Such Strange-Sounding ‘Stuff?’ (2 of 3)

Stainless Steels

As a group, these are the most common blade materials used by manufacturers. Because they do not need as much maintenance, the most innovation is occurring in this category (note there are at least 12 combos).

ATS-34 and 154-CM: Currently considered to be the best stainless steel for blades.  The only downside seems to be the fact that it takes more patience and work to resharpen these blades.

ATS-55: This steel is manufactured without molybdenum, which makes it less expensive than the ATS-34. It seems to have the same hardness as the ATS-34; and has an excellent edge.

BG-42: One of the newer alloys; lots of knife makers are starting to use it. Said to be as good as ATS-34.

440C (also AUS-10): Although this combo has been surpassed by ATS-34, it is still the fave material for most knife makers. This surgical steel quality blade gets and keeps a good edge, plus it is easy to sharpen.

440A and 440B: These have qualities similar to the 440C. The differences are: slightly less hard steel, but with better corrosion resistance than the 440C’s. (high chrome content, less carbon content in A & B)

420: This is an average grade of steel with excellent stainless qualities. Its edge-retaining qualities are average. You find knives with this # in economy lines, plus diving knives and presentation knives.

Next Time: New Alloys Tied to a Knife Maker


Notice: I don’t sell Gerber any more but left this up as an information source.

This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com


Please note: I’ve added:  (1) Subscription button for feeds, click on RSS Posts for my postings (top of right column) and

(2) Subscription link to get my postings via email, click on Sign Me Up! (top right).

Published in: on October 28, 2008 at 3:36 pm  Comments (2)  

Why are Knives Made of Such Strange-Sounding ‘Stuff?’ (3 of 3)

New Alloys Tied to a Knife Maker

As new combinations have arrived on the scene, certain knife makers have adopted them as “their” blade of choice.  So, the remaining 6 alloys are mostly used by a particular manufacturer, rather than being seen in the display case of various craftsmen.

Of these, the CPM‘s are the most interesting. Through Crucible Particle Metallurgy (CPM), the components are reduced to a powder, combined and compressed, before returning the blade to its solid state.

CPM 440V AND CPM 420V: Spyderco has adopted this alloy. Advantages: good corrosion resistance and holds an edge well. Disadvantages: Considered to be harder to sharpen.

CPMS30V: Custom knife craftsman, Chris Reeve, likes and uses this alloy. It is a “tough” steel and very rust resistant.

RWL-34: An upgraded ATS-34, with better edge strength and better at keeping its edge. More likely to be used by a custom knife maker.

The next alloy comes in a variety of names: AUS-6, AUS-8, 425-M, Sandvik 12CV-27. KA-BAR uses this in some applications; it’s a great choice. Similar to the 440-A and 440-B. It’s high carbon, high chrome, and offers good rust resistence.

G-2 or GIN-1: Very similar to ATS-34, Spyderco used it for some of their knives and tools.

VG-10: Another of the newer alloys. This one has more molybdenum and more cobalt than the others. These additions increase the knife’s hardness, without making it brittle. Its layers of steel have better rust resistance than most. Used by: Spyderco, some Japanese craftsmen and Fallkniven. In “Only Knives,” they call this “’super steel’ because it’s so ridiculously hard and holds a sharp edge for a long, long time.”

Damascus Steel

Prepare yourself to be dazzled by the beauty of these knives.  They are not as corrosion resistant as the stainless steels above, but they make up for much with their outstanding looks. They also don’t come cheap. These knives are a combo of two steels that are pattern-welded.

The knife on the left is about $500; while the one on the right is about $800. If you’d like to drool too, head over to:   http://purvisknives.com/gallery.html.

As you can see, the variety of material for knife blades is amazing, and improvements are emerging all the time.

Since you know what you want your knife to be able to do, check the advantages and disadvantages carefully to find the blade(s) that will serve you best.



Notice: I don’t sell Gerber any more but left this up as an information source.

This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on October 28, 2008 at 3:33 pm  Comments Off on Why are Knives Made of Such Strange-Sounding ‘Stuff?’ (3 of 3)  

Why Can’t Guys Just Have One Knife for Everything?


We'll Be Talking About Knife Functions

Looking @ Knife Form & Function


Trust me, this is ONE question you never want to pose to a sportsman!  My ears are still ringing from MDH’s* sermon on the importance of a knife collection. (eye roll)  He considers them to be “necessary tools a guy needs and uses.” (double eye roll)

I’ve come to the conclusion that knives are a guy’s answer to women’s shoes. Just as we can’t have just one pair of shoes, most hunters and anglers need a variety of knives!

Let’s Get Started

If you are new to the sport of hunting or fishing, you might have some questions about the best knife for your needs.  Why are there so many styles and types of knives?  That’s easy.  There are so many jobs for knives to do.

According to You-Know-Who 😉 , before buying one of these sharp weapons, know what you want to do with a knife.  A rabbit-skinning knife is a very different choice than one you would use to fillet fish.  In other words: Form follows function.

There are some important points to consider before buying any knife. The blade seems, to me, to be the most important subject after knowing the use of the knife.  When you are staring at an almost limitless variety, it is good to know the advantages and problems with each blade material. Today, I’m going to discuss non-metal weapon materials; next time, it will be the larger group of metal and metal alloy knives.

Knife Blade OptionsNon-Metals (** error; should be Non-Ferrous)

Using ceramic for knives has been a recent innovation.  Although there is no metal in the knife, it is harder than steel, corrosion and stain-free, plus it holds its edge for a long time. However, don’t rush out to buy one. There are several problems.  First, ceramic is brittle and fragile; ‘you drop it, you break it.’ If the blade is exposed when you drop it or you use the point to lever something, generally this knife is history.

You will find ceramic knives in kitchen ware; but the US government has discouraged the use of ceramic in hunting or tactical knives. Because there’s no metal, they do not register on a metal detector.  New alloys have some metal — to satisfy the security industry.

Other Problems:  When their edge wears, they cannot be honed as other knives.  Wikipedia states they must be “sharpened with industrial grade diamond sharpeners.” This is geek-speak for “it costs a lot.”

Titanium is fascinating AND expensive. Because it is stronger than steel, light in weight and corrosion resistant, the US Navy SEALS have adopted weapons of this material for their special operations.  This is a difficult material to work with and it is difficult to take an edge. The new alloys  have reduced these problems. However, you will only find them at the high end of the pricing range.

Stellite is the brand name of an alloy of carbon (strength), chromium (resistant to corrosion) and tungsten (stability). It is almost completely rust-free. However, you will rarely find stellite  – it is only seen in some diver’s knives and custom work.

Talonite is another alloy that is still rare. It will take a good edge, is rust-resistant and the blade is very slick. It is also very expensive.

Plastic is not something that goes together with ‘lethal’ in my mind. Generally, they are mixed with nylon and glass fibers and are mainly found in two areas:  box cutters and ‘self defense’ daggers.

By watching the sales of these daggers, I see the looks of these ’emergency weapons’ seem to be highly marketable!   However, if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not have a plastic dagger guarding my life!  Thanks anyway.


Notice: I don’t sell Gerber any more but left this up as an information source.


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com