Throwing Knives: Ready For A Serious Fling?

Throwing Knives: Ready For A Serious Fling?
A Spyderco Thrower heads targetward.

Ready for a serious fling? We have the throwing knives–some of which are on target–to get you flying right off the bat.

While you’ll never nail an enemy sentry from 87 feet like Skeeter Vaughan reportedly did with a throwing knife during World War II, you can score a number of bull’s-eyes with today’s throwers.

To test some of the latest airborne blades, I visited my buddy’s house. Together with a few friends, we had a good ol’ time flinging the throwers at a wood target.

Unlike many of my other BLADE® articles, I went into this with very little experience or prior knowledge, except that which I learned from previous backyard throwing sessions. None of my friends had additional experience, except for a buddy’s wife who was probably the best among us as far as results went. I feel that this was probably the best-case scenario.

From left: Spyderco Thrower, CRKT Onion Throwing Knife, and Kizlyar Impulse and Kizlyar Ocetp.
From left: Spyderco Thrower, CRKT Onion Throwing Knife, and Kizlyar Impulse and Kizlyar Ocetp.

In testing knives other times I went in with tons of previous experience from hunting, bushcrafting, skinning, fishing and other outdoor activities. The playing field was thus level and I was going to get the purest experience from these knives, as I had no prior notions of what success looked like—other than having fun.

As with most knives, there’s a science that goes into making throwers. I am in no way an expert. I approached the story with the distinct impression this would be more difficult than I thought. Most who are into throwing knives buy for either pure recreation or actual skill-building for competition. While I have no statistical way to prove it, I feel that 99.9 percent of people who buy throwers do so for recreation in the backyard, during cookouts with friends and family, etc.

Throwing Knives Tested

The featured knives are all factory made. The Spydercos are shaped like leaf-blade daggers with a slight crossguard and sharp, diamond-shaped tip. They come in a set of three with a handsome but tight-fitting leather sheath that will require a bit of break-in. While the knives all fit, the overall package is a bit heavy. The Spydercos were easily the favorite of the testing. They can be thrown with good accuracy using a variety of techniques. Out of the reviewed group they are a good starting set and offer the most feature-wise for the thrower looking to gain skill.

Onion Throwing Knives
Minimalist in design, the Onion Throwing Knives are long and thin, with a red-and-black-splatter-finish scheme. They are Ken Onion’s first-ever throwing knife design for CRKT. (CRKT image)

Designed by BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame® member Ken Onion, the CRKT entries likewise come in a set of three, though are far more minimalist in design. They are long and thin, with a red-and-black-splatter-finish scheme. The knives come in a black nylon sheath. The profile of the knives is quite thin with a slender cross section. They are well balanced but have little meat mid-knife, making them have an iffy rotation in flight. The knives did perform well but were more or less hard to index in the hand.

The two Russian-made knives from Kizylar Supreme vary in appearance, one reminiscent of a drop-point field knife and the other a large leaf-blade profile. The knives are roughly finished and have some issues when in use, which I’ll detail more below. The knives are somewhat hard to get these days with the various trade situations with Russia, but I wanted to put them through their paces anyway. They are solidly built and very rugged but are not for everyone. Neither knife came with a sheath or storage case.


Factory-made throwers are, at least in my years of backyard trials, inconsistent at best and largely made to look cool. Most of these knives, including the ones used in this review, were only loosely able to give consistent results. The Spydercos were probably the most consistent among the people I roped into testing them. This was in large part due to the fact that one of my friends employed an underhand throw, using the holes in the handle as pendulum points to help get a consistent rotation.

Spyderco knives
The author stated the Spyderco knives were easily the favorite of the testing, in large part because they could be thrown by the testers with good accuracy using a variety of techniques.

Weight distribution among the review knives was all over the place. The Spydercos were a bit heavy across their entire length, but they did fly true for the most part. The CRKT knives ran into a bit of trouble with their relatively thin profiles. They seemed to easily spin out and rotate along the tip-to-pommel axis if they caught the air wrong. They were also significantly lighter than the rest, which made it just a bit difficult to gauge their feel in the hand when throwing. Most of the reviewers felt the Spydercos were the best, though perhaps a bit too heavy. The CRKT knives certainly look the coolest but were a bit too light and thin overall for true consistency.

The two Russian knives were the poorest performing in the test, mostly because they were just so large and heavy that they seemed to have no point of balance at all. Out of five people, myself included, none made consistent throws with either of the knives. The weight factor was a main issue. The knives are heavy, like throwing a piece of raw bar stock. We tried just about every possible style of throwing: overhand, underhand, tip hold, handle hold, etc. None of us could make them stick with certainty. This toyed with me because, in theory, a heavier knife should be easier to develop muscle memory with and should maintain more energy on impact to drive the tip home.

Ocetp designed by V.S. Kovrov
Along with the Impulse, the Ocetp is designed by V.S. Kovrov, a Russian “Grand Master” throwing knife instructor.

The tip profiles on both Kizlyar knives were wanting. Where the others were actually sharp and very pointy, these knives had a very thick, squared tip that resulted in a good number of bounce-off hits even if we got them to land straight-on. My only thought about this is that some provinces have restrictions on shipping sharp edged swords or specialty cutlery, with some places in Europe requiring a 1-millimeter edge so it’s not too dangerous to exist in their nanny states. If the intent is to sharpen the knives at home, it makes these the only throwing knives I’ve ever encountered that are not ready to go out of the box. My only other idea as to why these knives are shaped this way is they may have been intended to strike softer targets, such as hard foam. When used against wood, which I feel is safe to say is the most prevalent knife target material, they seem tremendously unsuited.

Why Fling Flyers?

Throwing knives is a lot of fun, and you should exercise a reasonable amount of caution when using them. If you want to get into the sport, these knives are a good place to start, and you’ll have a great time learning. You really can’t go wrong with any of these. I would hesitate a bit on the Russian knives, but if you have the time and patience, I’m sure that you would enjoy them as much as I enjoyed the struggle and laughs in trying to use them.

DESIGNER: Harald Moeller
BLADE STEEL: 8Cr13MoV stainless
HEAT TREATMENT: Tough spring hardness
BLADE TIP: Sharpened diamond profile
BLADE EDGE: Non-sharp
WEIGHT: 10.2 ozs. each
SHEATH: Leather three-knife piggyback model w/belt loop
KNIFE TO KNOW: The knives are available in small- and medium-sized sets, too. Each set comes with a copy of Harald Moeller’s book, Knife Throwing: The Knives and Throwing Technique of Harald Moeller.
MSRP: $166

BLADE MATERIAL: 1050 carbon steel
BLADE EDGE: Non-sharp
BLADE FINISH: Corrosion-resistant powder coating
WEIGHT: 5.1 ozs. each
SHEATH: Black nylon w/belt-loop carry
MSRP: $75

DESIGNER: V.S. Kovrov, Russian throwing knife instructor
BLADE LENGTHS: 5.25” (Ocetp), 6.5” (Impulse)
BLADE STEEL: 420HC stainless
ROCKWELL HARDNESS: 42 HRC (edge) and 45 HRC (spine)
BLADE EDGE: Non-sharp
WEIGHT: 8.4 ozs. (Ocetp), 12.5 ozs. (Impulse)
OVERALL LENGTHS: 9.4” (Ocetp), 10.5” (Impulse)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Russian Federation
MSRPs: $49 each

Check Out More Outdoor Knives And Tools:

Download BLADE's Knife Guide Issue!NEXT STEP: Download Your Free KNIFE GUIDE Issue of BLADE Magazine

BLADE’s annual Knife Guide Issue features the newest knives and sharpeners, plus knife and axe reviews, knife sheaths, kit knives and a Knife Industry Directory.

Get your FREE digital PDF instant download of the annual Knife Guide. No, really! We will email it to you right now when you subscribe to the BLADE email newsletter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here