why drop point?

Seb

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Oct 1, 2000
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I read that drop point is considered as "the ultimate user blade shape". But I don't understand what should be better with a drop point than, say, a clip point. Belly? Balance? sheeple friendly looks?

so much to learn, so little time
Seb
 
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Seb,

The drop point shines in those instances when you want to use the tip of the blade, as, for example, when slitting open bags or envelopes, or when making scoring cuts--you don't have to elevate your wrist or elbow excessively to pring the point to bear on the material. Also, the drop point configuration can give you more efficient shearing action, as when gutting a fish, for example--the edge engages the material at a more accute angle.
David Rock

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The best way I can explain it, is field dress some game with the various blade designs. For me the drop point is easiest. Followed by the clip point, and skining blade. Then what I see as utility/defence designs... RKBA!
4. Spear Point
5. Tanto/Reverse Tanto
6. Wharncliff
 
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The drop point design became particularly popular when Bob Loveless picked it as his prime fixed blade design. For hunting knives it has the advantage of reducing your chances of poking holes through parts of the hide or gut that you don't want perforated. It is also relatively strong so that you are less likely to break your point.

I think that it is over rated. The drop point design makes the blade tip broader than it needs to be. A medium-sized hunting knife with a drop point works well for deer, but is inconvenient for rabbits. In contrast, consider what a wide range of game that you can conveniently handle with a clip point similar to the blade design on a Buck 110 lockback. Some of the affection for drop point blades is just a fad.
 
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Has lots of "belly" for slicing but not much "poke" Excellent for med to large game where slicing gets the job done and when inside the body your cutting by feel and don't want to "poke" things like organs and intestines which lets nasty stuff out to ruin the meat. But for birds and small game I find that a clip point is better. Don't get one with a "gut hook" as it tends to hang up inside the animal. For opening up a med to large animal to gut it make a cut then turning the blade up and putting your finger along the back to guide the blade just keep sliding it up the belly. Good Luck Weldonk
 
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Especially when camping or travelling, I use my knives a lot for food prep. I find that drop points (for instance that of a large, locking SAK) the easiest to work with and easiest to clean up afterwards.
BuckLite 444 is a good one too and has the added bonus of no finger groove to collect gunk. Try speading cream cheese with a tactical blade or, worse yet, a serrated tactical blade. It ain't pretty. Now, I realize that tactical blades have a different function ... I'm just answering the question: why (do I prefer knives with a) drop point?
 
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My fave all-around blade shape is a clip-point, although I usually like a straight clip. Clip point vs. drop point is basically very sharp but weaker tip (that may get in the way) for a clip point, versus blunter stronger less-in-the-way drop point. Since I tend to do a lot of tip work and enjoy being able to pierce easily, I lean towards the sharper tip, and hence clip points. But I can be hard on the tips at times, so I don't want to go with the needle-tip that a really clipped clip-point gives me. For that reason, I tend to favor straight clips instead of really concave clips.

Joe
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by WKeating:
Has lots of "belly" for slicing but not much "poke" Excellent for med to large game where slicing gets the job done and when inside the body your cutting by feel and don't want to "poke" things like organs and intestines which lets nasty stuff out to ruin the meat. But for birds and small game I find that a clip point is better. Don't get one with a "gut hook" as it tends to hang up inside the animal. For opening up a med to large animal to gut it make a cut then turning the blade up and putting your finger along the back to guide the blade just keep sliding it up the belly. Good Luck Weldonk </font>

The primary reason that Loveless developed the dropped point is discussed in the quote above.

When you skin a medium to large sized animal, one of the easiest and quickest ways to "unzip" the belly of an animal to "field dress" the carcass (remove the guts and lungs and heart) is to turn the blade upside down, edge facing the sky, poke a hole in the hide and run the tip of the knife under the hide using your index finger on the spine to guide the knife. You must have a sharp "belly" on the knife for cleanest, lowest force-applied work.

When used upside down, because the lowest point of a drop point blade is lower than the point, that smooth & lower portion of blade spine can sort of glide smoothly along pushing the innards downward without poking a hole in them, with the sharp tip up and away from poking a hole in the guts.

The belly of the dropped point is adequate later in this dressing process for skinning out the carcass (separating the outer hide from the "meat", which is an exercise in slice fascia connective tissue, pull hide away, slice fascia tissue, pull some more).

Of course a full upswept skinner offers more belly and is better than a dropped point for the actually skinning chore, the the dropped point is a great balance between these two primary chores, while allowing a semi-point to still exist for the poking of holes in carcasses.

The Semi-skinner design is arguably even better than the dropped point, as it often has a sharper point, more "sway" and plenty of clearance upside down, and more belly than the drop point for a given blade width.

And Bob Dozier has a design that is right between the two, a masterful, clean hunter blade design... see his K2 General Purpose Hunting Knife for about the nicest balance of traits you could ask for in a true medium/large game hunting knife.
http://www.dozierknives.com/

I would agree that for small game (squirrels, rabbits), where the skinning chore is often a little cutting and a lot of pulling by hand, you can make better use of a narrower blade, that is, the blade is easier to use at 1/2" or 3/4" wide from cutting edge to spine. Bird & Trout knife is the style ascribed to these. However, see Dozier's little 3" semi-skinner for another great balancing act, and his K7 Slim Outdoorsman as a close example of "Bird & Trout" knife. (although I'd rather have a 4" fillet knife for a trout or other medium fish, these B&T's work well on small panfish).

Another good example of a "Bird & Trout" or small game knife is found here at AG Russell, a B&T w/ drop point:

http://www.agrussell.com/agrussell/agdh-8a.html

... and here at "Gent's hunter"
http://www.agrussell.com/agrussell/agd113.html

... and here as Hunter's Scalpel:
http://www.agrussell.com/agrussell/aghs34.html

For large game, you don't necessarily need a knife longer than 4". I find 5" a practical maximum for me really... past that, the extra blade just gets in the way really and is harder to control, and limits your ability to extend your index finger out along the spine and control the tip of the knife like an extension of your index finger. A 4" dropped point and a 4" skinner profile would do nicely together on big game for me.

Back to the "backyard" so to speak: The dropped point is also useful upside down to open other stuff... boxes, bags full of fertilizer or dirt where getting the cutting edge in the material means dulling the knife unnecessarily, etc. Ever stick your knife too far into a box and cut the valuable contents instead of just tape & cardboard? Try putting the tip of your index finger on the spine of the knife about 1/4" away from the point... use your index finger as a blade "stop" to keep from overpenetrating into the box. Try using your knife upside down too... works like a champ.

If you need a fine point for some reason, stabbing something or creating very small precise holes, then the clip point comes into its own. I like the spear point (see Benchmade 710) better than clips myself. Again, belly + point equals wide utility.

Hope that helps.

[This message has been edited by rdangerer (edited 03-06-2001).]
 
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rdangerer sure knows about hunting knives. I just don't see the drop point as the optimum design for much of anything. When I invert my knife to open a gut and put my finger along the blade to guard the point I find that a drop point is up above where my index finger wants to reach. A straight-backed blade or a semi skinner that is bent backwards is easier to "guard" with my finger. So for game deer-sized and larger the semi skinner would be my choice.

The trick is that many people only carry one hunting knife. Knives with broad points don't work as well for your only knife as ones with narrower points. The narrower-pointed knife can be used for caping on larger animals as well as cleaning on smaller ones. This became all to conspicuous one elk hunting trip when the weather was too warm and the nearest elk was 40 miles away. We passed the time hunting rabbits. Our elk knives were virtually useless for the task of cleaning. You couldn't easily get the point into the pelvic girdle, you couldn't cut the various tissues holding in the guts, and you couln't nicely seperate vertabrae to remove the heads. We all used our folders. This worked fine but got them messy. Not everyone has a good folder to go with his hunting knife. If I'd had a simple straight-backed Swedish Mora-style hunting knife I could have covered elk-to-rabbits with one knife.


[This message has been edited by Jeff Clark (edited 03-06-2001).]
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by rdangerer:
The Semi-skinner design is arguably even better than the dropped point, as it often has a sharper point, more "sway" and plenty of clearance upside down, and more belly than the drop point for a given blade width.

And Bob Dozier has a design that is right between the two, a masterful, clean hunter blade design... see his K2 General Purpose Hunting Knife for about the nicest balance of traits you could ask for in a true medium/large game hunting knife.
http://www.dozierknives.com/

[This message has been edited by rdangerer (edited 03-06-2001).]
</font>

I know that Loveless is "famous" for the dropped point hunter. I believe that Loveless deserves a lot of credit for what IMHO is a better design still, the semi-skinner. I'm not much of a historian, but if Loveless didn't really invent the semi-skinner shape, he refined and popularized it.

What I sort-of said in my original post, and will emphasize to be clear, is that in my mind, the semi-skinner is about the best overall utility and game cleaning shape going. I like it better than a drop point overall.

I believe that would put me partially in agreement with Jeff Clark. I'm not sold on straight backed hunters personally, but yaknow, if I watched how Jeff used one, I'll bet I'd learn something, that's for sure.

I have two Dozier's...his little 3" job, and one I paid Bob another $20 to make based on that pattern but 4" long (a gem). I have a couple other custom semi-skinners. My preferred belt knife for utility and game cleaning chores.


[This message has been edited by rdangerer (edited 03-11-2001).]
 
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One other thing. Jeff makes a good point about versatility afield.

Some hunters carry two or three knives.

There are a bunch of ways to mix & match designs to cover a lot of cleaning bases:

1. something with a lot of belly (skinner, wide straight back)
2. something in 3-1/2" to 4" range for overall utility (semi-skinner)
3. small folder with narrow blade and sharp point, or a small/light bird & trout fixed blade.

Call me a paranoid, but I've just not been tempted to purchase a slip joint folder for any reason (I've been close, Tony Bose, Steve Hoel, Gene Shadley, Terry Davis... wonderful slip joints). I prefer something that locks, just to minimize the chances of a stupid, inattentive, momentary mistake turning into a big issue afield.

Ok, enough already.
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by rdangerer:
And Bob Dozier has a design that is right between the two, a masterful, clean hunter blade design... see his K2 General Purpose Hunting Knife for about the nicest balance of traits you could ask for in a true medium/large game hunting knife.</font>

I figure mine should be showing up any day now (with red micarta scales
smile.gif
). Glad to hear what a great design it is.

I have found that his clip-bladed general utility knife is great for small game but so is the drop point Lean Mean Street. Actually, one of my favorite tools for opening the vent of a small animal is the serrated gutting blade on a Victorinox Hunter. I haven't had a chance to try it on large game but I see no reason why it wouldn't work well. But it's a great little blade and makes gutting small game a piece of cake. I make the initial cut with the Dozier General Utility (or whatever--my small sebenza works well for this), then slip in the gutting blade and presto digitalis! -- no nicked entrails.

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Joe Talmadge mentions on his knife design FAQ (well, one of them anyways!) that when armed with the knowledge you can mix and match features to get the best design you need. I love Wally Hayes' Tac-1 design for a tactical field knife. It has a hollow ground edge for great slicing, flat or convex (I can't remember which) tanto tip for strength and the tip is dropped so that you have better point penetration/control!! Neat-o job.

Moral of the story: Dropped point doesn't mean Loveless Hunter!! It just means that whatever your point design is, it is dropped below the level of the spine. Mixing and matching can produce some interesting results, like the Tac-1!!!!

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Personally I find that a drop point with a recurve blade cuts the best. Clip or spear point would be my next choices.

Keith.
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Crayola:
Moral of the story: Dropped point doesn't mean Loveless Hunter!! It just means that whatever your point design is, it is dropped below the level of the spine. </font>

Almost. It's not that simple.

Here is a list of the types of blade styles commonly referred to in knife lingo that have their points below the spine:
Pen
Curved Pen
Cutoff pen
Coping
sheep foot
spey
long clip
turkish clip
sabre clip
spear point
semi-skinner (some of them)
wharncliffe
sabre grind
cotton sampler
pruning blade
upswept Bowie
straight clip Bowie
dagger
weird $hit by Mike Franklin (HAWG),
etc, etc, etc.

The terms "drop point" or "dropped point" refer to a particular geometry, and in the knife world, that means the point below the spine but the drop to the point involves a smooth radiused (not linear, like most clips) drop from the spine, and the point is usually at least 1/5 the distance to really nor more than 1/2 (symmetrical) the distance from the spine to cutting edge.


 
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The drop point is better for skinning than the clip point, far more usable than a Tanto (American style) and has more belly than a Spearpoint blade. I like the Spear point the most at present followed by a clip point and finaly the drop point. I don't skin much
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Here's a little test that I started using about 4 years ago to test hunting knife designs. As everyone knows you can't eat them with the fur on. There is 5 or 6 cuts that are the easiest to make with a well designed drop point.
Take a peice of cardboard about 12in X 12in. Tape a sheet of 8X11 paper to it really tight on all 4 sides. now stick the point of your knife through the paper only, blade edge up and slit the paper from one end to the other without stabing the cardboard.
Try it with a trailing point , a clip point and then a drop point. If you don't like big gashes in you wild game you will see what I mean.
Once you get good at it try it on the wifes kitchen table without the cardboard!!!!!!
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Jeff: Many a year ago up in northern Michigan we hunted snow bunnies on snowshoes with .22's. All I had was my S&W 3 1/2" fixed blade DP (1st Gen) and it worked great. Cut a circle around the neck (leave the head on for a handle),cut off the paws, peel the hide back and off, spread your legs, grab the ears and snap the insides out (just make sure your buddy isn't standing behind you as you don't want to get guts all over him!)take off the head, trim up as needed, put on a green stick and hold over the campfire. "You make good rabbit pilgrim." Weldonk
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by R Dockrell:
Here's a little test...to test hunting knife designs. There is 5 or 6 cuts that are the easiest to make with a well designed drop point.

Take a peice of cardboard about 12in X 12in. Tape a sheet of 8X11 paper to it really tight on all 4 sides. now stick the point of your knife through the paper only, blade edge up and slit the paper from one end to the other without stabing the cardboard. Try it with a trailing point , a clip point and then a drop point. If you don't like big gashes in you wild game you will see what I mean.
</font>

Hah! A very clever and simple test to illustrate the point (pun... intended?) of the "drop point" and the "semi-skinner" designs.

 
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