When shopping for pocket knives and fixed blade knives, it’s helpful to understand the terms used when reading a knife’s description. I did some research on knife terms and came up with a list that should be useful when purchasing a knife.

Ability to Take an Edge

The steel of some pocket knives and fixed blade knives are able to hold a sharper edge than others knives. Blade material such as fine-grained steel is able to be sharpened better than coarse-grain steel.

Blade Alloy

This is a combination of two or more metals that are mixed together which causes the molecular structure to become denser. The combination of the different metals makes the steel stronger and harder to break.

Ambidextrous Knife

This term describes pocket knives or fixed blade knives that are designed to be handled with both the left and right hands.


This term describes the bottom curvature of the blade. Pocket knives or fixed blade knives that have a deeply convex-curved blade are usually found in knives designed for skinning and/or multitasking.

Bolster and fixed blade knives

The bolster is the section on a pocket knife or fixed blade knife that is located between the handle and the knife’s blade. A large bolster helps protect your hand from slipping onto the blade and it helps with the balance of the knife. Large bolsters are used on clam knives to protect you from injury.


This term is used for describing the steel made from compacted carbon. Carbide is also used for manufacturing metal-cutting tools and glass cutting tools.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber is a type of material made of a strong, lightweight carbon weave. This type of material is sometimes used in the production of pocket knives and fixed blade knife handles. Carbon fiber knife handles are considered to be a premium type of material.


This term is used to describe the top or back side of the blade. It’s the unsharpened part of the blade that is sometimes decorated with the manufacturer’s name. The choil is the start of the cutting edge on pocket knives or fixed blade knives.

Clip-Point Blade

This term describes a particular shape of a knife blade in which the back of the blade is “clipped” and has a concave form. This makes the tip of the knife thinner and much sharper and forms an aggressive point.

Corrosion Resistance

This of course is the steel’s ability to resist rusting or deterioration through a reaction called oxidation. Oxidation occurs when the steel reacts with elements in the outside environment.

Diamond-Like Carbon Coating

This is a coating used on knives and is similar to the elements found in diamonds. The similarities between diamond-like carbon coating and normal diamonds are the hardness, the resistance to wear and the reduction in friction. Diamond-like carbon is used on most high quality pocket knives and fixed blade knives.

Drop Forging

This term describes the manufacturing process in which the steel used for knife blades is forged by a process in which a hammer is raised and then “dropped” onto the metal to reform it in the shape of the die.

Drop-Point Blade

This term describes the convex curve of the back of the blade towards the point. A drop-point blade has a stronger point, but is less effective for piercing. This type of blade is common with hunting knives and work knives because of its strong point.