I’ve been using and collecting Spyderco knives for over 20 years by now. And I have settled on a few design features that I particularly like, and some that I dislike. Here’s a rundown of my favorite Spyderco blade shapes. I’m sure it’s not complete or correctly described, it’s just a personal list.
Leaf shape: they’ve become a classic because they work well for all kinds of uses, and often they’re also aesthetically pleasing. I like this blade shape a lot. My current favorites with this blade shape are the Manix 2 and Caly 3 family of knives. Classic favorites with this blade shape for me, are the Lum Chinese Folder and Lil’ Temperance folders.
Spear point: to me this is a relative of the leaf shape blade. I like it, but it also depends on the overall design to me. My favorite folders with this blade shape are the Native designs, and oddly enough to many I’m sure, the Jot Singh Khalsa. Purely as a collector piece, I’d recommend the Ed Schempp designed Euro Edge, such an impressive spear point design.
Drop point: I learned to really appreciate the drop point in the Stretch design. It is amazingly useful. I’ll admit its looks take a little getting used to, but try one out for a few weeks and I’m sure you’ll like it. My vintage drop point picks are the Wegner and Ocelot.
Bowie: I love it, but slightly more for its aesthetics than actual use. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Blackhawk and Reinhold Rhino as very practical carry folders. I can do pretty much of all my regular cutting chores with one. But that Bowie blade shape, especially in a design like the Chinook, make me ‘feel’ like I’m using a cool fighter. 😉 There’s a reason I asked Ed Schempp to create a special left-handed custom version of his iconic Schempp Bowie. It works great and looks awesome.
Clip point: a variant of the clip point is that typical original Spyderco blade shape. You know, like in a Delica, Endura, Military etc. Most people, especially when they’re more visually interested in knives than functionally, think these are ugly knives. The beauty becomes apparent in its use. There a reason Spyderco is still around after 45 years. Sure, the one-hand opening, clip carry, serrations, sharpening savvy, high quality production and good people all matter. But if this blade shape didn’t work, Spyderco simply would not have succeeded like it did. This blade shape is just plain practical. If you place your thumb on the ramp behind the opening hole, the tip becomes a natural extension of your thumb. Turn the knife over to an edge-in grip for peeling fruit for example, and you can ‘anchor’ the ‘hump’ between your index and middle finger. You get a very ergonomic grip for this cutting chore thanks to the hump. You can also easily extend your index finger along the straight spine for fine cuts. It just works really well, once you get over ‘the optics’. And once you figure that out, it actually becomes a very good looking blade shape. One downside of this blade shape can occur when a thinner blade is used. Combined with a distal taper, the tip can get very thin, making it vulnerable to breaking. But this seems to be a rare thing, especially in current designs.
Wharncliffe: looks very interesting to me, and it’s much more practical than you might think. My main office carry is the venerable Spyderco Kiwi. I also like the stylish Des Horn a lot.
Sheepsfoot blade: like the wharncliffe, it’s a lot more useful than you might think. I tried carrying a Rescue jr. for a long time and loved it a lot more than I expected. Still, I missed a nice sharp point after a while.
Hawkbill: looks intimidating, but I’m not a fan. I haven’t encountered many cutting chores that required this design. I still admire the skill needed to make folders like the Matriarch and Civilian though. I did some informal cutting tests, and a sharp hawkbill will not snag cutting through denim or clothing. At least not nearly as much as you’d suspect. For that reason, I like to keep a Cricket or Dodo around. Their cutting power is very impressive for their size.
Tanto: meh, loved it as a kid dreaming of spec-ops folders, but now not so much. I will admit the Lum folding tanto is still a beauty to behold, and with the slight curve in the edge makes it a bit more practical to me. I did learn of one interesting and peaceful use for a tanto blade shape. Back in the day, I think it was James Mattis on BladeForums who extolled the virtues of a tanto blade as a steak knife. With the right angle, only the tanto tip would touch the china plate, preserving the sharp primary edge for cutting.
In the end, it’s -naturally- all about the cutting chore; that determines the best blade shape. At the office, I mainly open mail and packages and cut out articles or photos for mood boards and such. It also has to be discreet because of the many non-knife people around me (before covid 😉 ) . A small wharncliffe is very useful and when you place your index finger along the spine to aid in cutting, it also obscures you’re using a knife at all to most casual observers. Now if I needed to punch a folder through hard dense materials all-day, I might favor a tanto or sturdy spear point blade. My other main cutting chores vary from limited food prep, breaking down boxes for recycling, and opening packages. A nice all round blade shape like a leaf blade shape and the Spyderco clip point, work just perfectly for that, in my experience.
What are your favorite blade shapes? Feel free to leave a comment.