Hawkbill Blade Advantages

Hawkbill Blade Advantages

Hawkbill Blade Advantages.

The Hawkbill Blade Advantages and disadvantages are something that many blade aficionados can discuss endlessly.  There is no question that it is a unique blade shape and is specifically suited to certain uses.  It also has some disadvantages and we will discuss all of the pros and cons of a hawkbill blade here.

What Is A Hawkbill Blade?

The characteristic shape of a hawkbill blade leaves no question as to where the name came from.  It has an inverse belly and a hooked blade shape that distinctly resembles a hawks bill. 

The hooked shaped cutting edge and sharp point give this blade it's unique shape and makes it very beneficial to certain cutting tasks.

Traditional Hawkbill Blade Uses.

Traditionally, the Hawkbill has been used mainly as a utility knife or work knife. This specific shape is often used for pruning trees or small limbs in horticulture as well as cutting rope, linoleum, carpet, or other tough materials.

The benefit of a Hawkbill as a work knife is that the inward curved belly which makes it very useful for slicing tasks.  Things such as;

  • cutting rope
  • fishing nets
  • carpet
  • sod
  • electrical wire insulation
  • Linoleum

Cutting many more similar materials can benefit from the strong shape of this blade.

Modern Hawkbill Blade Uses.

The modern hawkbill is still very often used for work related tasks.  It has taken on a new life for certain tradesmen such as electricians, carpet layers, linoleum installers.

 It has also become fairly popular among the first responder community. It is a very useful knife for cutting  seatbelts, cords, or other things that may interfere with a rescue in an emergency. 

Hawkbill Blade VS Karambit

The overall shape of a hawkbill blade is very similar to a Karambit blade.  The main difference between the two is that the hawkbill has a mainly straight handle where as a Karambit usually has a very curved handle.

The other significant difference is that the Karambit has a more tapered spine resulting in a narrower blade profile towards the tip of the blade.  Conversely, the hawkbill has an arched spine which gives it a much thicker, and therefore, stronger blade tip.

 While the Hawkbill has mostly been used as a work knife, the Karambit has more of a history as a fighting knife or defensive knife.  While the overall blade shape of these two knife types are very similar, the background and uses are usually very different.

Hawkbill Blade and Karambit Blade

Hawkbill VS Other Blade Types.

The Hawkbill is a fairly specialized blade style.  While certain blades such as a drop point, clip point, or spear point are more traditional blade shapes they are more suitable for delicate and precise slicing tasks.  Conversely, the Hawkbill is more suitable for tougher and less precise cuts.  

Most standard shaped blades have a backward curved main slicing edge, this allows them to be pulled across the material to be cut and the entire length of the blade can be utilized for the cut.

The Hawkbill blade is designed more to catch and apply direct strong pressure toward the cut while hooking the material and not allowing it to slide along the cutting surface.  This makes it very effective at cutting difficult materials.

Check out our post the different blades on pocket knives if you want to learn more about different blade designs.

Are Hawkbill Knives Legal?

As with any knife the legality of carrying them varies  depending on which state, province, or country you are in.  While there are no specific laws that we know of that differentiate the laws around a hawkbill knife we advise that you get to know your local knife laws and how they will pertain to you.

Basically, if it is legal to carry any specific type of knife then it would be legal to carry the hawkbill version of that blade.  In fact, the hawkbill has many specific work related duties and as such could be argued to be more of a tool than a weapon.  

Be aware though that if you are travelling to different countries or jurisdictions that knife laws can change completely from one are to the next.  If you are planning on flying with your knives then check out our post about taking pocket knives on airplanes.

Hawkbill for self defense

While many people tout the Karambit as a great self defense knife i am not sure that the hawkbill provides the same functionality.   Additionally, unless you are highly trained with such a knife, it can be more dangerous to yourself than other types of knives in a self defense situation.

There was a great post on Force Necessary discussing the downfalls of a Karambit as a self defense weapon. While the point on most hawkbills is not the same, it still has comparable issues in an emergency situation. 

How To Sharpen A Hawkbill.

Sharpening a hawkbill requires a slightly different process and tools than sharpening other straight or backward curving blades.  The inward curve of the hawkbill makes it more difficult to sharpen with normal sharpening stones.

The overall sharpening process is very similar to most other blades in so far as you use a sharpening tool with different grades of grit to remove material and produce a well refined cutting edge.   The main difference is that a straight edged stone cannot contour to the inside curve of the blade.

Many of the sharpeners recommended in our serrated knife sharpener article can work very well for sharpening your hawkbill knives.

My favorite tool for sharpening a Hawkbill is an oblong diamond sharpener i got from Bess Pro Shops. It is from Cabela's  and has a diamond oval that is 4 inches long, 1 inch wide, and about a half inch think.  It has a butterfly style handle that folds around the diamond sharpener portion for storage.

Cabela's Folding Diamond Sharpener has a 4 inch 750 grit sharpening surface that is perfectly suited to putting an edge back on your Hawkbill knife.  The sharpening surface folds inside of the handle for transport and storage.

Hawkbill Sharpening With A Stone.

While the curved hawkbill knife sharpener shown above is one of the best tools available for sharpening your Hawkbill blades edge.  It is possible to utilize a standard sharpening stone, although it is not nearly as effective.

The basic premise is that you use the edge of the sharpening stone instead of the face of it.  We did this when i was a young landscaper for sharpening our sod knives.  When the stone is brand new the corners are sharp and make it quite difficult so you can round them over first to make it a bit easier.

After the stones edges are rounded over you would then sharpen the blade using the rounded edge just like the diamond sharpener above and following the normal procedure as sharpening any other knife.

If you want to learn more about how to sharpen a knife you can check out our detailed guide linked here.

Hawkbill Fixed Blade Knives

The downward curved blade and straight handle of these fixed blade knifes make them extremely capable of completing difficult cutting tasks.  Couple this with a nice sheath hanging from your belt and i am sure you will find numerous tasks to use them for.

Premium Fixed Blade Hawkbill

This fixed blade knife from Al Mar is almost 8 inches in total length with a 3 inch blade made of AUS-8 steel.  With it's black Micarta handle and leather sheath this is a great knife for whatever you may need it for.

Al Mar BU2 - 2 Backup 2 Fixed Blade Hawkbill

Electrician Hawkbill Knife

This 2 pack set of electrician knives has a durable high carbon steel edge and highly visible orange handles.  The built in lanyard ring on the end is a nice feature if you are working at heightsd and want to secure your tool.

Jameson Hawkbill Cable Splicing Skinning Knife

Hawkbill Folding Knives

Folding knives make it easy to carry your favorite blade with you anywhere you go.  Any of these folding knives below would make a great hawkbill EDC knife.

Classic Hawkbill folder

No Hawkbill review would be complete without mentioning the Case Hawkbill Pruner.  It was one of the first Hawkbill knives i had ever handled and it a great example of this classic style.

Case Black Canvas Laminate Hawkbill Pruner.

Modern Hawkbill Folder

My favorite modern Hawkbill folder is the Spyderco Tasman Salt 2.  In this plain black style and 100% rustproof H-1 Steel blade this is an extremely tough and capable knife.

Spyderco Tasman    Salt 2 Plain Black

Tactical Hawkbill Folding knife

This knife from Boker has an extremely unique blade shape in this modern style.  It provides for numerous curved cutting surfaces along the main slicing edge.  Combine this with a 12C27 Sandvik steel, liner lock, and G10 scales and you have one really nice knife.

Boker Plus    South African    Hawkbill Knife

Hybrid Folding Blade Hawkbill

This unique hybrid blade style from Boker makes good use of the inward curve of the hawkbill and also utilizes the more popular clip point style for the tip portion.  This knife sports a great D2 Tool steel blade that is almost 3 inches long and has G-10 handle scales.  The reversible pocket clip, ball bearing action and sturdy liner lock make this a great all purpose knife.

Boker Plus

Wildcat Pocket Knife


The hawkbill blade has gone from being a classic workhorse to taking on some new life with new and modern styling.  There is no doubt that no matter what hybrid variations may come about that the overall style and design makes this a very capable style for difficult cutting tasks.

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bluecow - September 28, 2022

The oldest archeological folding knife is a hawkbill. there is nothing “more traditional”.
nice article

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