Common Knife Blade Information

Blood and deer hair covered knife in hunter's hand.

 It is common for a hunting knife to cut through animal hide matted with dirt or strike a heavy bone, eventually dulling even the sharpest blade. For this reason we carefully select blade steels that maintain a keen cutting edge and can easily be sharpened by hand in the field. Our blade shapes, edge grind styles and steel alloys will meet the needs of the most discerning users.

Important Details About Steel Performance

  • Hardness or Strength. There is a difference between toughness and hardness. When stress is applied to a knife blade it causes varying degrees of deformation (bending). Hard steels resist deformation. Some sources refer to this resistance to bending as "strength." It is often measured using the Rockwell C hardness scale.  Knife steel (or any steel) can be made so hard that it becomes brittle. You may never notice this as you use your knife, but the blade edge itself may experience more damage. Some knives need a bit of flex, fillet knives for example, and a balance of flex and hardness become important. Most other blades benefit from a high level of stiffness or resistance to deformation. 
  • Toughness or Wear Resistance. When a knife is used, wear occurs along the blade edge in the form of chips or cracks. Toughness is closely related to hardness because as steel gets harder it often is more susceptible to damage along the blade. Chips in a blade are hard to fix, leading to many resources to call chipping "a knife's worst enemy."
  • Edge Retention or "Holding an Edge." There are not really any perfect ways to measure edge retention in a reliable, comparative, standardized way. In general, it is a combination of factors that produce an edge that wears slowly under soft abrasion (such as skinning), yet retains a level of durability needed for cutting joints and deboning. Blades used for other purposes, such as axes and hacking blades are subjected to abuses where the balance of hardness and toughness must be different than a caping knife, for example. 
  • Resistance to Corrosion. The most corrosion-resistant blades are often not the best blades for edge retention and overall performance. Calculating the balance of corrosion resistance to performance is important in getting the best blade steel for the job since rust or corrosion can damage a blade quickly and almost irreparably. 
  • Resistance to Wear. In normal, careful use, abrasion (mainly soft abrasion) is the main cause of wear along the blade edge. Although in general resistance to wear is determined by a blades hardness, there are other forces at play. At the molecular level, there are variations in the actual steel molecules that resist wear, or allow it, depending on the molecules themselves. 
Knife cutting into the hide of elk.
Washing bloody hands and knife off in creek.

Commonly Used Blade Alloys in Browning Knives

420J2  Knife Alloy

420J2 – A tough alloy often used in surgical instruments, 420J2 is easily sharpened and offers a high degree of corrosion resistance.


440C – This classic, proven hunting blade steel produces an excellent balance between sharpenability, edge retention and corrosion resistance.


D2 – A rugged, high carbon steel relied on for heavy-duty cutting tools, this material offers superior edge retention.


7Cr15MoV – An imported, cost-friendly stainless steel that is easy to sharpen and retains an edge.


8Cr14MoV – A durable imported steel alloy that gives great corrosion resistance and edge retention.


9Cr14MoV/9Cr18MoV – A tough imported alloy with impressive edge retention and superior corrosion resistance.

Sandvik 12C27

Sandvik 12C27 – A well-balanced Swedish alloy that provides solid edge retention and is reasonably easy to sharpen.


Damascus – Highly valued by collectors and users alike for its unique and beautiful appearance, this traditional material uses multiple layers of forged steel to provide a high-quality blade that holds an edge and is easy to sharpen.

Blade made in USA logo.

The "Blade Made in USA" logo that is found on some knife pages indicates that, although other components may be sourced worldwide and the knife might be assembled elsewhere, the blade itself is a component that is made in the USA.

Common Blade Profiles

Hunting blade profiles are designed to field dress game animals and perform other chores around camp.

Inspired by our hunting blade designs, our Everyday Carry (EDC) knives are useful tools for a variety of daily cutting tasks.

Drop Point Blade Profile illustration


Versatile and basic with easy curves, the utilitarian drop point blade is well suited to field dressing game, EDC and other chores.

Clip Point Blade Profile Illustration


A traditional shape with the versatility to perform a number of tasks from field dressing to skinning to detail work. It's also a great choice for every day carry.

Trailing Point Blade Profile Illustration


A favorite shape among hunters, the versatile shape of the trailing point combines a curve that makes skinning easy, a nimble profile and a narrow point that slips between joints. 

Deep Belly/Skinner Blade Profile Illustration


As the name implies, the skinner has a deeply curved edge to make removing a hide fast work. The extra heft of the blade shape also contributes to the effectiveness of this design. 

Wharncliffe Blade Profile Illustration


An ages-old shape, the Wharncliffe is a strong shape with a long, straight edge for EDC and utilitarian use.

Spear Point Blade Profile Illustration


Designed to be strong and versatile, the spear point performs a variety of field and EDC tasks with ease.

Tanto Blade Profile Illustration


The Tanto blade shouts "tactical," yet accompishes a variety of EDC tasks with a sturdy blade and keen edge.

Common Blade Edge Grind Styles

Hollow Blade Edge Grind Illustration

Hollow – Ideal for hunting knives and kitchen cutlery. A hollow ground edge is very sharp but does require additional sharpening to maintain the edge, which is easy to accomplish with this style.

Flat Blade Edge Grind Illustration

Flat – Running from the spine and tapering to the edge, the flat grind offers a sharp, durable edge that is suitable for hunting, utility and everyday carry knives.

Convex Blade Edge Grind Illustration

Convex – A heavy-duty edge for cutting tools like machetes, hatchets
and axes.

Serrated Blade Edge Grind Illustration

Serrated – Scalloped teeth easily cut through heavy fiber materials like rope, webbing and sinew.