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Mike Ableson

The Cutlass: From The Sea To The Screen

The Cutlass Is A Short Sword Used For Centuries. Today, It Is Mostly A Ceremonial Blade, But One That Continues To Inspire

A sword can be more than just a weapon of war, the cutlass is an excellent example. For centuries, the cutlass was used by fighting forces throughout Europe as a short, one-handed stabbing and slashing weapon. 

For many, the cutlass is best known as the sword of the pirates in the Atlantic Ocean during the 17th and 18th centuries. In a lesser-known role, it also was regularly used in agriculture throughout the Caribbean like the machete is today. In English-speaking Caribbean countries, the word “cutlass” is used to mean a machete. 

In the modern era, the cutlass has left behind its fighting phase and is almost used exclusively as a ceremonial sword by several navies. However, its popularity endures among collectors and history buffs alike, thanks to its extensive use during the pirate era and the Age of The Sail.

What Is A Cutlass?

A cutlass drill on the HMS Wolverine , 1882 (Public Domain)

The cutlass is a one-handed, single-edged sword used for close-quarters fighting that was the evolution of naval sabers into a more compact, nimble short sword. While the edge does come to a fine point, the cutlass was designed for slashing and swinging at your enemies when fighting hand-to-hand. 

This is why the sword was a popular seafaring weapon. With a slightly-curved blade, usually between 28-32 inches, the cutlass is adept in the close confines of a ship. The straight handle and clipped guards of most cutlasses protected your hand when in battle. Additionally, the cutlass was robust enough to tackle general maritime tasks like slicing through heavy rope or thick fabric like canvas or even wood. And its size made it the perfect weapon for the type of in-your-face fighting that would happen on the high seas.

On land, the cutlass wasn’t as dashing, mostly used to chop sugarcane and clear tracts of land in the rainforest in the New World. Though, the same qualities that made it a great fighting implement made it adept on the farm. The short, swooping blade allowed a great deal of force to transfer from the arm to the material with every swing. 

Who Uses The Cutlass Today?

Today, the cutlass is used almost exclusively as a ceremonial sword. While it was at its most popular centuries ago, the cutlass was still a standard issue sword until around World War 2 before it became wholly ceremonial.

The British transitioned the sword to ceremonial duty in 1936, and the United States followed suit in 1949. Both countries incorporate the sword into military ceremonies today. The Brits issue cutlasses to naval chief petty officers. The United States also offers chief petty officers the ability to wear a cutlass with their formal dress for ceremonies and the like.

Can I Buy A Cutlass?

Absolutely. There are many companies making cutlasses today. While they may not be as pristine as the ones issued by the military, there are numerous companies making these types of blades. 

Factory Cutlass Options

Cutlasses are still made today, but, in general, they aren’t built to the same combat standard as in centuries past. The vast majority of these swords are showpieces meant to be hung on the wall and start conversations. However, if you are a true lover of the Age of Sail, these swords more than fit the bill.

Windlass English Cutlass

This 30.5-inch sword from Windlass is an elegant modern Cutlass, and, for a fee, can be sharpened into a real, proper sword. As is, the high-carbon steel blade is hand forged and mated to a solid brass guard. You’ll really feel like Blackbeard with it in your hand.

The sword comes with a leather scabbard adorned with a brass tip and throat to up the visual appeal of the piece. All told, this is a high-quality replica of the cutlass that will get people talking at your next party and look great in your office or hanging on the wall.

MSRP: $190

Condor Naval Cutlass

The Naval Cutlass from Condor Tool & Knife is a more modern take on the classic blade. The first thing you notice about it is the black epoxy powder finish to the blade. We’re pretty sure pirates of the 18th century didn’t have powder-coating technology, but would have loved to have had the extra corrosion resistance on the high seas.

The blade checks in at 24 inches in length and is made from 1075 steel ground to a razor’s edge. Yes, this sword comes sharpened right out of the box for no extra fees. The smooth hardwood handle is triple riveted, and a powder-coated guard keeps your hand protected when holding the sword. A black welted leather scabbard fits snugly around the blade and keeps everything protected even if dropped.

While it certainly doesn’t look like a sword from the movies, it’s designed to be a true, proper modern cutlass.

MSRP: $148.49

Kult Of Athena Pirate Sword

Complete with a skull and crossbones etched into the scabbard’s throat, the Pirate Sword from Kult of Athena looks like it could have been taken from the set of any swashbuckling movie set.

The 22-inch blade is made from stainless steel and comes, according to KoA, moderately sharp out of the box. That means it might need a more refined sharpening at home if you’re looking for a razor’s edge. However, the blade itself is .16 inches thick, thin enough to slice well but thick enough to hold up to some wear if used for more robust cutting tasks. But be aware, the sword is classed as “decorative”, or for display only, so keep that in mind before playing out your high seas fantasies. 

The cast metal handle is surrounded by a bronze-plated cup guard which features a pirate ship design. The black leather scabbard has a cast tip and throat to complete the look.

MSRP: $49

Kingston Arms Atrim Cutlass

The Kingston Arms Atrim Cutlass shows that not all collectible blades need to be centuries old. Made in the style of a naval cutlass, the Atrim utilizes modern materials and methods to make a truly remarkable sword.

The 9260 spring field falchion-style blade is hand forged and comes in a satin finish. At 25.75 inches it’s a bit smaller than some other cutlasses, letting it move more fluidly in your hand and taking up a smaller display space. The full-tang construction terminated with a stainless steel guard and pommel around a brown leather handle that provides a strong grip.

This is the most expensive sword of all the cutlasses showcased in this piece, and it’s worth every penny for the discerning, high-end collector.

MSRP: $432.95

Cold Steel 1917 Cutlass Sword

When it comes to collector pieces outside of auctions, Cold Steel’s 1917 Cutlass Sword is a prime example of what’s being made today. While it is designed for display and collection, the 1055 steel blade does come with a serviceable edge out of the box. 

In terms of size, it’s exactly what you’d expect a cutlass to be. At just under 30 inches long and 37.6 ounces, it’s a nimble sword that will feel good to hold and wield when showing off all of its intricacies. The wood handle and blued steel hand guard complete the look, and the included leather scabbard keeps the sword looking classy even when put away.

MSRP: $289.99

APOC Survival Cutlass

This option is rated for proper use rather than display. That’s abundantly clear considering it comes with a MOLLE-compatible Kydex scabbard. That doesn’t come with swords meant to be hung on the wall.

The APOC is a tactical sword that has a 21.5-inch black oxide blade made from 9260 spring steel. The black G-10 handles complete the monochromatic look and provide excellent grip in myriad conditions.

At just under 2 pounds, this is a lightweight cutlass meant to be used as a survival tool out on the trail or in more intense outdoor situations. The blade is meant to slice, of course, and the edge comes to a fine point, making this a puncturing tool as well. Versatility is the name of the game in survival equipment, and, while a machete or shorter knife might be a better option, the APOC cutlass is built for the outdoors and to handle the elements.

MSRP: $169.95

Custom Cutlass Options

There are numerous people making custom cutlasses and other swords. Whether it is for the private use and display of an individual or to be used as props in movies, at renaissance fairs, or in other forms of entertainment, there are makers and smiths crafting modern versions of the centuries-old blade.

Even the popular YouTube Series Man At Arms: Reforged did an episode about the cutlass and showed multiple ways to craft them.

Tony Swatton

Swatton runs Sword & Stone in Burbank, CA and makes arms and armor for film and television. He, and his shop, were the star of the original Man at Arms series nearly a decade ago. He’s self-educated and has been making armor since he was 17.

The first movie his work appeared in was Hook in 1991, and since then his weapons have been seen on screen in more than 300 movies including massively popular films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Batman, and Thor. He also designed the cutlass used in Assassin’s Creed 4.

David Lisch

Lisch makes custom knives and swords exclusively from damascus steel. His 26 years of experience in the field are seen in the intricacy of his mosaic patterns and one-of-a-kind blade designs. He’s made landscapes and sunrise designs on his blades.

An example of David Lisch’s damascus work.

His knives have won awards and he teaches classes in blacksmithing and knifemaking with his wife Andrea at their school in Yelm, Washington, about an hour south of Seattle.

Collecting Cutlasses

The cutlass is collected by all sorts: sword lovers, pirate aficionados and history buffs. Specialty dealers help these collectors find the pieces they are looking for, and it helps keep the cutlass alive and in public consciousness.

Additionally, cutlasses have made it to auction houses around the world, sometimes fetching as much as $10,000 before the hammer falls at auction houses like Morphy’s, Sotheby’s, and Rock Island. 

In late 2022, the 1860 naval cutlass belonging to John H. Ferrell, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, went to auction at Morphy’s and sold for $14,760. The sale showed how, even today, the popularity of the cutlass continues to endure in a big way.

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The Provoke EDC Adds Style To The Enduring Line.

Originally A Karambit, The New Provoke EDC From CRKT Takes The Kinematic Technology Into The Realm Of More Casual Knives.

Do you love Joe Caswell’s innovative Kinematic deployment system but don’t need a knife as aggressive as the CRKT Provoke? Say hello to the newest knife in the line: the Provoke EDC. 

The knife takes all the best parts of the original Provoke but with one more casual, but massive difference: a drop point blade–the first in the line to veer from the karambit design. 

Provoke EDC Blade

The drop point is just 2.56 inches long, but it really makes its money thanks to its thickness. It’s .27 inches thick, 22-percent thicker than the blade on the original Provoke and more than twice the girth of any of CRKT’s seven most-popular pocketknives.

This makes for a knife adept at heavy work, be it batoning wood or slicing through rope or even prying open anything short of a manhole cover. 

At 3.6 ounces and 4.66 inches when closed, it’s light and easy to carry. The flush-mounted clip keeps it invisible in your pocket and quick to pop out. When deployed, the knife is 7.25 inches and is easy to control thanks to the handle. The handle is molded, similar to the original Provoke, so hot spots are non-existent as it sits flush in the hand when cutting. 

Kinematic Action

The one-of-a-kind kinematic action is unlike any other deployment system on the market today. When released it’s fast-moving, smooth, and keeps that thick blade securely in place. It’s nearly impossible to flex the blade when deployed, a sign of a strong lock.

The action is powered by two pivoting arms connected to both the handle and the back of the blade. When released the arms swing forward, sending the blade out and locking it in place.

It is a dynamic system and is an excellent fidget, however, it may be a bit cumbersome for those with smaller hands. Since the handle was originally designed for a karambit, which is traditionally deployed in a reverse grip, it could be tricky to securely hold when trying to deploy the knife one-handed. To some, this might not prove as intuitive as a flipper or folder. 

Other Provoke EDC Features

Beyond the blade, the most noticeable feature of the knife is its brilliant blue handle. The anodized aluminum visually pops and perfectly complements the satin-finished blade. And, since it’s aluminum, it is lightweight and can hold up to pretty much anything you can throw at it.

Overall, the Provoke EDC is a fresh take on everyday carry and is going to appeal to knife lovers looking for something that stands out. 

Provoke EDC Knife Specs

Blade Length: 2.56 inches

Blade Steel: D2

Blade Finish: Satin

Blade Thickness: .27 inches

Overall Length: 7.25 inches

Closed Length: 4.66 inches

Weight: 3.6 ounces

Handle Material: Aluminum

MSRP: $175

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Knife Review: CRKT Bamboozled

No Need For Confusion, CRKT’s Bamboozled Shows Itself A Competent Light-Duty EDC Option.

There are so many assisted-opening knives for sale today that to compare them all is a fool’s errand. However, when you come across a good one you know it pretty quickly. The new CRKT Bamboozled stands out from the pack thanks to its classy, sleek lines, quality construction for a casual EDC, and its incredibly fair price.

New for 2023, the Bamboozled comes in under $100 and feels worth a lot more. Designed by Ken Onion Jr, son of BLADE Cutlery Hall of Famer Ken Onion, his first knife for the company looks straightforward because it is. It’s simply an excellent light-duty EDC.

The proof? After a few weeks of using the Bamboozled, I realized I hadn’t picked up any of my other knives. It pushed some truly excellent blades into the bullpen, and I don’t see that changing for a long time. 

The CRKT Bamboozled: The Ergonomics

The first thing you notice about the knife is how nice it feels in your hand. That’s thanks to the G10 handle and stainless-steel bolster. It looks and feels clean right out of the box and even after a few months of use, it remains pleasurable to employ.

Aside from a tidy look, the ergonomics are there in the Bamboozled’s handle. The straight handle avoids any hot spots you might encounter, and fits a medium-sized hand relatively well. The G10 scale is well-textured, yet not overly aggressive. At once, this offers solid control over the knife on light tasks—even when wet—while avoiding the cheese-grater texturing found on some heavy-duty options.

As with many other CRKT models, the Bamboozled succeeds thanks to a good skeleton. The handle is great, and it’s made even better by the steel liner lock that secures the knife upon deployment. It’s easy to close one-handed although the ridges on the lock itself can dig a bit if you open and close several times in quick succession. I’ve tried for months to find a way to loosen the lock with hard use and it hasn’t budged an inch. 

You can open the knife easily one-handed thanks to the assisted-opening flipper. The flipper tab is well-placed, though it does take a touch of force to get it going. But be careful. Once the assist mechanism kicks in the blade fires out at high speed.

A Blade For Everyday 

The blade is made from D2 steel which holds an excellent edge (more on that later) and is known for its wear resistance. In short, it is a fairly common, yet solid choice for blades likely called into numerous roles.

In total, the Bamboozled is 7.81 inches long and has a blade of 3.34 inches in length. For the user, this means having a blade long enough to make somewhat sizable cuts and a handle long enough to keep a relaxed and secure hold while cutting. The handle’s sharp lines and small profile also work to keep you feeling relaxed while cutting as you can position your hand in a way that works for you instead of being forced into a certain grip by a more contoured and bulky handle. 

This is the knife that will serve you well around the house. I wouldn’t use this for something like prying open rusty or locked boxes, though. The blade is just .11 inches at its thickest point and tapers at the tip. It can flex with your fingers.Thanks to being under four ounces, and just 4.45 inches when folded, the knife is a great casual carry option that will easily fit into a pants or a jacket pocket.

Bamboozled Vs Paper 

CRKT Bamboozled cutting paper
The bamboozled cut through the paper blind with ease.

After losing some blinds to our lovable but rambunctious dog I needed to replace a busted one. I was able to get an inexpensive paper blind at a home improvement store, a great light-work test for the Bamboozled.

Nicely the Bamboozled made it through the thicker paper of the blinds–folded over a dozen times–without any frayed or torn edges. However, it took nearly a minute of intense sawing action to chew through using the entire length of the blade. So while I would call it a success I definitely would say the knife had its work cut out for it in this task. 

Bamboozled Vs Leather 

CRKT Bamboozled cutting leather
The 1/8-inch leather belt was no match for the folder.

Wishing to see how the Bamboozled fared against a more robust material, I pitted the blade against leather. An old belt proved the perfect foe.

Interestingly, the Bamboozled made easier work of the ⅛ inch leather than the blinds. A moderate sawing motion with the belly of the knife cut the belt into tidy strips with clean edges. Given I’d already put the blade to use on other tasks and the edge was no longer pristine, I was surprised with the results.

Bamboozled Vs Nylon Rope 

CRKT Bamboozled cutting rope
The nylon rope provided the stiffest test for the Bamboozled.

 A piece of ⅜-inch nylon rope was the most formidable challenger for the knife. It did cut through but it was a process. Push cuts were only good for getting the main length of the knife to bite in, but the ensuing pull cut made quick work of the rope. 

However, it was hard to get a pull cut to bite and one time it took two pushes to get the knife to chew into the rope. Additionally, the cuts weren’t as clean as the paper or the leather belt. A win for the Bamboozled, but we’ll call it a split decision rather than a unanimous victory.

Not Bamboozled By Everyday Chores

My wife and I welcomed our first child a month ago, providing ample opportunity to put the Bamboozled through everyday paces. Boxes, wrappers and packaging of every sort from stacks of diapers to new furniture needed opening–which meant the Bamboozled had a legion of practical work ahead, which let me see what the knife could do.

Its straight-back blade comes to a point that is excellent at piercing, which was a plus as it easily punctured the material. The knife also was great at cutting straight down cardboard of every thickness in clean, even lines.

Beyond the cardboard, the Bamboozled easily cut through tape without taking on much of a residue and it was able to cleanly cut through foam without peeling off bits. The foam, both thick and thin, was no match for the puncturing blade. 

Judging The CRKT Bamboozled

The D2 blade provides a strong edge that resists wear.

Overall, I really like this knife. It’s easy to use and comes at a great price. The edge is no joke and really does hold up against everyday usage quite well. 

This is a great piece for the small speed bumps that come up in day-to-day life in suburbia or the city. Have to downsize a mountain of cardboard boxes at the office after a bunch of new product is delivered? The Bamboozled will get the job done quickly. Just don’t ask too much from this knife. The Bamboozled is well made but it’s not a heavy-use utility knife. I wouldn’t want to baton wood with it, use it for prying, or use it as my main knife in the backwoods.  

What it does well it does exceptionally well; if you keep the knife in its wheelhouse it should serve you well for years. The $75 price point makes this an affordable, accessible knife that’s great for both knife lovers and someone looking to get their first blade. 

CRKT Bamboozled Knife Specs

Blade Length: 3.34 inches

Blade Edge: Plain

Blade Steel: D2

Blade Finish: Satin

Blade Thickness: .11 inches

Overall Length: 7.81 inches

Closed Length: 4.45 inches

Weight: 3.7 ounces

Handle: G10 with Stainless Steel Bolster

MSRP: $75

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SOG Tellus ATK: A Budget Outdoor Knife

The New Tellus ATK From SOG Is Easy To Use And As Rugged As Can Be, And It Won’t Hit You Hard In The Wallet

Looking for an assisted-opening knife that won’t melt your wallet? SOG Knives might have you covered with its 2023 release–the Tellus ATK. The folder is marketed as an outdoor knife, making it a versatile EDC option. 

Interestingly, the Tellus is now the most affordable assisted-open knife SOG now offers. Previously, the Flare held this distinction–a button lock clip point that, at the time of writing, was pulled from the SOG assisted-open page.

Tellus ATK Blade

The blade on the Tellus ATK is made from Cryogenically treated 440C stainless steel. The cryogenic process brings the steel to its optimal hardness to resist wear to the corrosion-resistant steel. Overall, what has become a popular economy knife steel should prove hard enough to stand up to the abuses of outdoor and fairly impervious moisture. 

The clip-point blade comes in a stonewashed finish (a black oxide finish on the Squid Ink varietal), which–besides looking clean–hides scratches and nicks. The spine is thick at the handle and tapers to a fine tip. The small swedge adds to the taper. Furthermore, the blade features jimping on the spine to provide added grip, aiding in certain cutting tasks.

Add in a wide belly and a 3.5-inch length, and you get a multi-dimensional blade, strong enough to attack most jobs demanded of an EDC knife.

Additional Features

Sog Tellus ATK Squid Ink & Yellow
SOG Tellus ATK Squid Ink & Yellow

The knife comes in three colorways. The black & blaze orange is seen atop this article, and you can also purchase versions in olive drab & blaze orange as well as squid ink & yellow. All versions of the Tellus ATK feature a glass-reinforced nylon handle that is impact resistant and stable at high temperatures.

The one-handed nature of the knife is made even easier thanks to the assisted-opening mechanism that fires the blade open in a flash and keeps it securely in place. The Tellus ATK has two deployment options: a kick opener and a thumb stud. Both make it easy to open the knife in myriad situations and get to using it quickly. A frame lock keeps everything securely in place. 

At 4.5 ounces in weight, the piece isn’t too heavy, and it’s easy to carry in either pocket thanks to the reversible low-carry pocket clip. However, the real star of the show is the price with the knife boasting an MSRP of $40.

SOG Tellus ATK Specs

Overall Length: 7.4 inches

Closed Length: 4.8 inches

Blade Length: 3.5 inches

Blade Material: Cryo 440C

Handle Material: GRN

MSRP: $39.95

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Kershaw Heist: An Ambidextrous EDC Option

The Kershaw Heist Offers A Righty/Lefty-Friendly Option, Built Tough For Optimal EDC

Southpaws and righties can both rejoice! Kershaw has you covered with one of its newest additions to its extensive EDC lineup. Shake hands with the Heist.

While every knife—save examples like a traditional Nakiri—are ambidextrous sheerly by being a knife, Kershaw has tweaked the Heist to make it a bit more appealing to sinistral users. In particular, the knife’s bar lock with a release situated on both sides of the handle makes it a smidgen more user-friendly no matter the dominant hand.

Added to this, Kershaw has outfitted the Heist with a reversible deep-carry pocket clip, allowing for safe tip-up carry in any pants pocket, thus keeping it right at hand—left or right. Slightly protruding over the handle, the clip also puts the knife deep undercover when not in use, yet facilitates quick retrieval thanks to a flared end.

Kershaw Heist Blade

As to the makeup of the Kershaw Heist, the Oregon-based company appears to have put together a serious work tool. Sporting a 3.2-inch D2 steel blade, the knife should have respectable edge retention and excellent toughness—especially for a knife at its affordable price point. 

Furthermore, for tool steel, D2 has decent corrosion resistance, nice since Kershaw seems to aim it as a utilitarian option meant for hard use. But it’s still carbon steel at heart, thus requires maintenance to keep it in good shape and absolutely corrosion free. 

The blade has a clip-point profile with a long, wide belly, excellent for long slices. On this, the folder is outfitted with a decent-sized thumb stud. Little surprise here, as Kershaw has stayed true to the opening method, even as flippers have become more popular. And the company has applied a stonewash finish, which gives it a flat, blue-collar look that hides minor dings it’s sure to endure. 

Other Heist Features

The Heist boasts a glass-filled nylon handle, made to withstand a beating. Its Duralock opening system is outfitted with a brass washer, which aids in the knife’s fast and smooth opening. And if you need to tether the Heist to something or want to add a quick-retrieval lanyard, the handle comes with a lanyard hole.

Perhaps the Kershaw Heist’s most attractive asset is its price. With an MSRP $85, the knife falls within almost every buyer’s budget. And at this price point, it just begs for hard everyday use, without worrying about shedding tears if you happen to bust it up.

Kershaw Heist Specs

Overall Length: 7.6 inches

Blade Length: 3.2 inches

Blade Material: D2

Weight: 2.8 ounces

Handle Material: Glass-reinforced Nylon

MSRP: $67.99

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Best Hawkbill Knives: Getting Hooked

The Hawkbill Is An Excellent Multi-Purpose Blade, Great For Cutting, Carving And More.

Of all the blade styles at the modern aficionado’s disposal, the hawkbill may be one of the most peculiar.

As its name suggests, the blade is reminiscent of a raptor’s appendage, namely it’s beak. The point curves around, in most cases to a nearly 90-degree angle from the back, creating a hook shape. Overall, pretty dang cool. But it raises the question, exactly what the heck is it good for and why does it look this particular way?

In this article, we’ll delve into the origins, usage and modern iteration of this blade and what the heck it’s actually good for. Along the way, we’ll also perhaps help you pick out the best hawkbill blade for your needs.

Origin Of The Hawkbill

Many blade styles are rooted in history or evolved from another type of knife. The hawkbill, however, doesn’t have the clearest provenance.

The blade style is widely believed to have started as a farming and outdoor tool, an evolved version of the pruning hook. Somewhere along the line some industrious maker most likely figured a pocket sickle might prove right handy.

Likely it did for a classy vintner out among the grapes who did not want to slum it by asking for the help’s pruning hook. Heaven forbid. But as the greater part of humanity has broken free from its agrarian roots the utility of the hawksbill has expanded.

Modern Uses Of The Hawkbill Blade

True enough, rose growers and avocado ranchers likely still find the hawksbill handy. But the quirky style of knife has found a place for those not tilling their living from the soil.


Today, the hawkbill is best known for its utility role, prized by electricians, roofers, floorers and other craftsmen. The hook shape of blade helps it excel at certain tasks a straight blade might struggle. A few of the obvious are cutting carpet or shingles without scoring the unlaying material. Stripping wire is another area it earns an “A”.

Its curved tip also prevents it from being a hazard to its user in precarious positions—say crammed in a crawlspace or dangling on a rafter—where a clip point or the like might prove a bit pokey.


While not generally the go-to whittling or carving knife, the hawkbill earns its keep in this arena. For those who strictly practice this craft with knives, the style of blade is particularly good a removing large pieces of material at the begining of a project.


Well… there are certainly companies out there selling their version of hawkbill knives with this in mind. Though, with healthy supply of DLC anything can be tactical—including a paring knife.

Given the vagaries of the word “tactical,” it’s difficult to claim it doesn’t fill this role. And certainly, there’s probably been more than one farmworker who’s thrown their hawkbill—or pruning hook—in his back pocket as Friday-night-on-the-town insurance. For the average Joe, however, it might not prove a prime choice in this role.

Unless specially trained, the hawkbill—like the karambit—is not the easiest blade to wield as a self-defense option. Funny thing is, many of the tactical “hawkbills” have nearly lost their defining feature—a truly hooked point. Some might argue, they are hawkbills in name only.

On the other hand, in more specialized “tactical” situations this style of blade could have chops. What comes to mind here is perhaps situations involving ropes—maybe nautical or mountaineering. The idea here is cordage could be cut one-handed in a switch, using the hawkbill to both hook and cut. A similar point on this, some law officers have favored a modified hawkbill given it works well to cut a motorist out of their seatbelt in an accident, without causing injury.

Is A Hawkbill A Karambit?

While there is some confusion in some corners concerning this, definitively, no, the hawkbill is very different from a karambit. While both are curved blades, the hawkbill is a utilitarian cutting tool with the point nearly at a 90-degree angle to its back in its more traditional configuration.

The karambit sports a more claw-like profile and generally a thinner blade. It also has a number of features, such as finger ring at the bottom of its curved handle. All of this lends the karambit to its intended purpose, which isn’t pruning grapes, but assailants.

Trusty Hawkbill Knife Options

Spyderco Hawkbill Byrd

Those wed to the idea of a EDC Hawkbill, Spyderco has among the most time-tested renditions. The Byrd’s modified hawkbill blade lends itself to aggressive cutting tasks and its hollow-ground serrated edge makes mincemeat of anything its pulled against. Yet, there is enough of a tip available to puncture or pry, if the situation calls for it.

Like everything that rolls out of the Golden, Colo., concern, the Byrd is ruggedly made—constructed with a chrome-moly steel blade and fiber-reinforced handle. Its tear-drop shaped thumb hole gets the knife into the fray quickly and its four-position clip allows you to keep it at hand.

Spyderco Hawkbill Byrd
Overall Length: 6.82 inches
Blade Length: 2.875 inches
Blade Steel: Stainless steel
Weight: 2.6 ounces
Handle Material: FRN
MSRP: $47.50

Klein Tools Hawkbill Lockback

klein tools hawkbill

This lockback knife from Klein Tools shows what the hawkbill is capable of as a utility tool. It easily opens one-handed thanks to a thumb stud and the stainless blade holds a mighty edge. It’s capable of being a do-everything tool on the job site or an excellent utility knife around the house.

It’s made with longevity in mind, with Klein utilizing AUS8 stainless steel in the blade, and the impact-resistant nylon resin handle can stand up to the beating of being a work tool. The low-carry pocket/belt clip lets you carry the knife with ease and in a way that best suits you.

Hawkbill Lockback Knife Specs
Overall Length: 6.75 inches
Blade Length: 2.625 inches
Blade Steel: AUS8 stainless
Weight: 2.2 ounces
Handle Material: Nylon resin
MSRP: $49.99

Schrade 16 UH Hawkbill Pruner

schrade hawkbill

Schrade offers excellent knives and the company’s hawkbill folder is no exception. With a rustic, rugged look, the 16 UH, which stands for Uncle Henry, is designed to prune shrubs and cut through wood with ease. Its staglon synthetic handle gives the knife a natural look that you wouldn’t get with G-10, aluminum or other handle materials.

The stainless steel blade makes quick work of a variety of woods, and the 3-inch blade is big enough for longer cutting strokes and small enough for precise, finite work. 

At under $40, it’s well-priced. This is a knife that most any woodworker would want to have.

UH Hawkbill Pruner Knife Specs
Overall Length: 7 inches
Blade Length: 3 inches
Blade Steel: 7Cr17 stainless steel
Weight: 3.4 ounces
Handle Material: Staglon synthetic
MSRP: $31.99

Milwaukee Fastback Hawkbill

milwaukee hawkbill

Milwaukee markets tools of all types and sizes. The company’s hawkbill folding utility knife is just as tough and durable as its power tools. This folder opens with a press-and-flip method that allows for easy one-hand deployment.

Great for pull cuts, long cuts and edge cuts, the Fastback is a multi-dimensional knife. The stainless blade resharpens easily. The tip is excellent for precise puncturing and slicing with confidence. 

It’s an incredibly safe knife as well thanks to the linerlock holding everything in place when deployed. A reversible wire-form belt clip lets you easily attach the knife to your pocket for convenient carry, and it doesn’t damage your clothes fabric.

Fastback Hawkbill Knife Specs
Overall Length: 7 inches
Blade Length: 2.45 inches
Blade Steel: Stainless steel
Weight: 3.84 ounces
Handle Material: Plastic
MSRP: $16.97

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First Look: Off-White/Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

New Limited Edition Swiss Army Knife Comes As A Result Of A Collaboration Between Off-White And Victorinox.

The Italian-based premium lifestyle brand Off-White has collaborated with venerable Swiss knifemaker Victorinox to make a Swiss Army knife for the brand’s Equipment project done with Korean brand Post Archive Faction.

The knife is gorgeous thanks to the white Corian scales with black silhouettes of the tools included in the knife. The Corian material is a composite of acrylic and a mix of natural materials, the majority of which are derived from bauxite. The piece is modeled after the story of Adam and Eve, and the silhouettes of the tools can be positioned to look like the collaboration’s design motif which is a fig leaf.

The knife itself is a gem, and only 3,000 are being made. There are both small and large blades, two sizes of screwdriver, and a bottle opener among many other tools you’d expect to see on a SAK of this size.

The whole construction is just 2.9 ounces in weight, and it is packed with features big and small. However, get ready to pay big for this knife due to its small production run.

Off-White ℅ Victorinox Knife Specs

Length: 3.7 inches

Height: .7 inches

Width: 1.6 inches

Weight: 2.9 ounces

Tools: Reamer, punch, and sewing awl, corkscrew, bottle opener, wood saw, large blade, 6mm screwdriver, can opener, wire stripper, 3mm screwdriver, small blade, key ring

Handle Material: Corian

MSRP: $500

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