Most efficient blade shape for a big wilderness knife?

Jun 29, 1999
Interesting question... a four inch blade is 'big' for a Finnish knife. A CS Master Hunter would do for handling big game practically anywhere. In North America the Bowie tradition leads to longer edges. I think maybe it depends more on culture than utility. Let's hear some more opinions. Good topic!
Jan 21, 2000
Howdy, Eye--

For 4-6" hunters, drop point blades have better strength than clip points, which to me is more important than the enhanced penetration of a clip, on a knife which may have to perform heavy chores.

If you also carry a large camp knife, in the 7-10" range, I like spearpoint/drop points, for strength in the nose that will hold up to digging and prying.

On machete-class knives, I like the straight-back blade style for clearing out brush, where you may be striking the stems of shrubs at ground level. A dropped or clip point can be damaged by striking unseen rocks in the dirt, whereas on a conventional straight-back style the point is up and out of the way as the belly passes through the dirt. It's much easier to restore a rolled edge than a blunted point. I don't care for "tanto" style machetes, either, because they invite this same kind of damage to the sharp angle in the edge.

Interesting thread--thanks.

Aug 19, 2000
I've been working on a large blade design for some time now. I really like a large bladed knife so I forge quite a few of them. And I always end up with similar shaped blades. When I think of a wilderness type blade I try to give it all the best characteristics I can imagine. Now, the blade I'm going to show you is a pretty good example of what I think a wilderness blade should be. I forged it during my time at the ABS school in the Indroductory course. I took a good bit of ribbing over that design but I've tested it extensively and it satisfies my sensibilities as far as a wilderness blade goes. One of my instructors dubbed it 'The Banana Republic Knife' and it stuck because it would sure make a good banana harvester. I even had it engraved on the blade :D

The blade length is 9 1/4" with an overall length of 14 1/2". I've chopped brush and kindling and find it to be a well balanced knife in the hand with no hot spots. The weight forward blade with the deep recurve gives you precise control when using it for a push or pull cutting stroke or for chopping. Your comments are welcome because I'm still polishing my design and could use your input.


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May 9, 2000
Max, that looks like it would do a great job. It has a bit of a khukuri look to the blade. I am sure that has been pointed out to you before. It should be a marvellous chopper and a darn good cutter as well. I wouldn't want to use it on the more delicate jobs, but it wasn't designed for that.
May 10, 2000
I've seen a number of good comments already. I'm honestly not sure if I can add a whole lot, but nonetheless, here's my spin on things.

In a wilderness blade, I consider tasks I will use it for, and what might work well to handle those tasks. So, let's see here...

Chopping wood - a thick, long blade that employs momentum and energy to give it power. Also requires strength and must be able to withstand torque. A weight-forward design enhances ease of chopping. Comfortable grip and non-interfering guard are a big plus.

Clearing brush - a long blade that can hold and maintain a sharp edge. Also needs to be relatively easy to repair and sharpen.

Draw cutting - bark removal, whether to expose dry wood or harvest building material, the draw cut is common. Therefore, no clip or swedge. Requires a straight back or subtle spear/drop point. Some recurve is nice here.

"Rooting" - tree roots can be a nuisance when they're in the way, and a useful tool as well. Usually, cutting or "harvesting" them requires a bit of digging and prying. Therefore, you need a pretty thick tip that won't easily break when you're rooting around. You also prefer a slightly skinnier blade (that is, measured from edge to spine, no more than 2" or so).

Sharpening stakes - tent stakes, spears, and bed posts are often fashioned with a wilderness blade. Here, a combination of chopping and slicing will handle the task. Again, a slightly forward curved blade is nice, but not requisite, and a good cutting edge is crucial.

Slicing meat - here, a relatively straight, thin edge is ideal. Obviously a compromise must be made between a chopping and slicing design. I'd rather have too much than too little, so I'd simply want a full flat grind on a thicker blade rather than a steep angle. Also easier to sharpen.

So what does that leave me with? Well, I'd say a 8-10" blade, mild spear-point, full V-grind along approx. 1 3/4" blade width, at least 3/16" to 1/4" thick, with perhaps a subtle forward recurve. A comfortable finger guard in front of a well sculpted handle with palm swell would be nice - something grippy but not too coarse (perhaps a rough sanded micarta or maybe ridged/fluted/checked wood grip). A thong hole would be handy, and a solid, hard butt cap would be nice too.

There - that's a start... now what did I leave out?
Oct 8, 1998

Your thoughts have helped greatly to refine my ideas.

I like the looks of a straight clip point, but I think the dropped point may be a little better.

Thank you.
Sep 23, 1999
Max, wild looking blade for sure!!! I bet it is a first class chopper! If you sling it at something does it come back to ya? :D
For an out in the major boonies wilderness your butts on the line survival blade, I'd choose the smatchette or the Rio Grand camp knife like Dixie Gun Works just came out with. The usefulness of the smatchette is obvious, big enough for hard work, and sharp enough for the finer stuff, and pointy enough for a good pig sticker. I love the over all shape a style of the Rio grande camper. It looks like it would be great for the chopping chores as well as the game butchering jobs and being a dagger shaped blade it should make a great self defense weapon, against 2 and 4 footed critters.