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Gold Member
Dec 23, 1998
Joe T., here it is. You asked for it. What would be the one knife blade design anyone would carry if limited to one knife for everything. Is it Tanto, clip point, bowie style, dagger or what about the modified designs. There are so many good designs out there today that I have had a tough time on picking any one style, but I always tend to gravitate to the modified tanto designs. I guess my main reasons are due to higher strength all the way to the tip, better penetration, modified flat grind is typical and I gues to a certain extent , looks. Tanto's have always felt very natural in my hand.

What are some opinions on the blade shapes?
If limited to just one design, my choice would be a droppoint for overall versatility
I like the modified tanto for looks and strength even though I own more clip points than tantos.



For me it's the Wharncliffe it has bin my favroite since day one.
My first knife was one and most of my knives are still Wharncliffe's.
It has the best penetration of any other blade shape and by raising or lowering the edge's angle it can do almost anything.
From 1"uti to 18"choppers it works for me.
What DC/greg said...drop point has it all, better belly than a tanto, more tip strength than a clip. Oh my God..(I am watching the Super Bowl)...Cher is doing the national anthem...What they couldn't find Rosanne Barr in time?

bYeK(the b is silent)
The "classic Bowie", with about 1/4 to 1/3rd of the spine towards the tip sharpened.

I consider the Panther a "modernized Bowieoid".

Jim March
Drop point definitely. Much more versatile than the other types. It would be a Spyderco Tim Wegner BTW.

Okay, grab some popcorn, this might be long

Starting off with what I don't like:

Dagger: The dagger's strengths are penetration ability and point control. Other than the niche use of stabbing, there's not much to recommend it. The lack of a belly makes it not as useful for utility work, and the mid-grind keeps the edge thicker and lower-performance.

Tanto: The tanto's strength is its strong point. Other than that, I see only weaknesses. The high point is difficult to control. The reinforced point is not good for penetration. [Note: That is a very important point, people see the tanto going through a car door and think it is good at penetration. A thick reinforced point is actually the absolute worst at penetration. The tanto point is strong, but is not a great penetrater -- look at a dagger's point or even a clip point if you want to see what a good-penetrating point looks like.] The lack of a belly makes the tanto questionable for slashing, field dressing, and much utility work. And since great point strength can be achieved through proper steel selection or with a drop point blade, I don't see the tanto as anything but a niche format at best.

In summary: bad penetration, bad point control, no belly, but strong point.

Now what I like is:

Drop point & clip point: These two formats share some strengths. The lowered point is easy to control. Plenty of belly makes it an excellent choice for everything from field dressing to general utility work to slashing. For maximum point strength we can go with a drop point. For maximum penetration we can go with a deep concave clip point. To split the middle we can go with a straight clip.
My fave overall format is a long straight clip, which leaves the point very sharp. I like there to be plenty of belly, but not so much that the point's sharpness is too badly compromised. Other blade format features I like are a positive included angle, but no recurve. Full flat grind.


[This message has been edited by Joe Talmadge (edited 31 January 1999).]
For all around utility I like drop points. Good slicers, with plenty of belly to facilitate light scraping. Knives like the Spyderco's Wegner and Starmate, Benchmade's Axis Lock, AFCK, and Pinnacle, and EDI's Genesis make great daily carry companions IMO.

Dexter Ewing
Knife Reviews Moderator

"The keystroke is mightier than the sword"

Ah, I call knives like the AFCK and Axis "straight clip points" rather than drop points. I guess the straight clip is right in between a clip point and a drop point, and can be called either.

Dexter's list of blade examples for folders is excellent, though. In particular I love the Terzuola's general shape -- a little less pointy than the AFCK but a bit more belly.

Jim I agree with on the bowie I have more bowie knives than anything else I love them. But I will stay with my first answer the drop point is better all around.
But I still love the bowie better.

-Greg Johnson

A BIG (8-9") spear point or straight-clip bowie w/gloves. Strong point, sharp point, good belly, thick spine, centered point for control . . .

"You can always choke up but your small knife ain't gonna grow!"
I seem to like some kind of a long clip point with a decent belly the best. Puts the point about where it would be on a drop point, but its, pointier ;-)
The Axis and Genesis blade shapes are pretty nice for a variation on a drop/clip point. The Starmate blade isn't bad either, but I'd grind it a bit higher and thinner.

For some chores an almost-wharncliffe works well, like the blades on the old Al Mar Eagle or Hawk folders, or the a.g.russel one-handers. I just wouldn't use it for field dressing or skinning duties.

I'll put my vote in for the bowie design as well. Straight clip point with a beveled but unsharpened false edge. Good utility point, yet strong.

My choice would also be either a clippoint or a drop point for the above metioned reasons.

There is an interesting piece on the 'Tanto' point at:

Jan Dirk Wijbenga

Gold is for the mistress - silver for the maid
Copper for the craftsman cunning in his trade.
"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall
But iron - cold iron is master of them all.

Rudyard Kipling
Great URL JD! There are a number of interesting statement in that article. Most important is that there is yet another confirmation that the tanto tip -- or to be fair, the Americanized tanto tip -- is NOT good at penetration. This seems to be a common misconception among tanto fans. It is bad at penetration -- what it is good at is being very strong, that's all.

We really have to hand it to Cold Steel for marketing the tanto = penetration myth!

As for blade designs, I think a drop point is more useful - having a sharp point is good if we intend to do a lot of piercing, but most of my knife work is slicing, where the belly of the drop point is better.