Knives come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, and sizes. And each of those has different functions…but why do some knives have holes in the blade?
In this article my focus will be on outdoor-style knives and why some of these would have a hole in the blade, what the purpose is and how you can use it.
Table of Contents
- Why Are There Holes In Knife Blades?
Why Are There Holes In Knife Blades?
Some knives have holes in the blade for weight reduction, balance improvement, break the surface tension, or a better grip on the blade. In certain types of outdoor knives, a hole may be part of an opening mechanism or a storage feature, or even part of the handle. The holes can have various uses in survival situations.
Outdoor knives, including machetes, bushcraft knives, pocketknives, and skinning knives, are purpose-built for rough, robust work. Given that these knives are made for hard work, if the design incorporates a hole in the blade, it should be there for a particular purpose, right?
While this is often the case, but the holes are not always related to the knife’s function!
When we talk about outdoor-style knives, we immediately think of bushcraft knives, machetes, hunting or skinning knives, and even pocket knives. Some of these knives are designed for survival purposes, while others are intended for everyday use.
We will cover the reasons each of these knife-type designs may incorporate a hole in the blade or handle and the possible uses for that type of knife.
Some uses for the hole in the blade can apply to all styles of outdoor knives, so those are the uses we will cover first.
Weight Reduction Of The Knife
Some manufacturers will use holes in the blade of their knife designs to reduce the knife’s overall weight. This will make the knife easier to carry over long distances and allow the user to use the knife for longer periods without getting hand fatigue due to the knife’s weight.
Reducing the weight is of more relevance to larger outdoor knives such as machetes, bushcraft, and hunting knives. These knives are often carried on the belt, where extra weight can be cumbersome and awkward.
Pocket knives do not usually have holes for weight reduction purposes since these knives are already small and lightweight.
Improve The Balance Of The Knife
Holes close to the ricasso area of the blade, where the blade transitions to the handle, can be intentionally placed in this location to change the knife’s balance.
This could be to balance the weight distribution between the handle and the blade evenly to make the balance point in the middle of the knife, or it could be to make the blade lighter than the handle.
Knives that have a lighter blade will be capable of more dexterous, nimble work with the blade. This is the type of balance you would want in a skinning knife, for example, where the blade must be nimble enough to make delicate cuts and robust enough for heavy-duty carcass processing.
Holes to improve balance can be found on any style of outdoor knife, including the larger, heavier knives. The way the knife’s balance is distributed will depend on the intended purpose of the knife by the maker.
Holes In The Blade To Break Surface Tension
Knives made to cut through soft, wet materials can have holes in the blade to break the surface tension between the blade and the item being cut.
In the context of outdoor knives, a hole in the blade for surface tension purposes would be most appropriate in knives that will be processing game carcasses or meat.
We have all had the experience from time to time of cutting raw meat, and as the knife slices through the meat, it sticks to the blade, resisting the passage of the knife through the meat.
Tension-breaking holes in the blade are strategically placed to break the surface tension between the blade the material being cut, allowing the blade to pass through the material more efficiently and with less resistance.
Hunting and skinning knives are the main outdoor knives that would conceivably have holes in the blade for this purpose, but pocket knives could also have holes with this intention.
Holes In The Knife Blade For Better Grip
In some applications for outdoor knives, it is necessary to pinch up on the blade, gripping the first third of the blade with the thumb and forefinger.
This holding position on the blade gives more control over the blade and is often used by outdoorsmen when skinning an animal. A hole in the blade located in the first third of the blade from the handle gives additional grip on the blade when it is used in this way, especially if the knife is wet or slippery with blood.
This purpose for a hole in the blade is mostly appropriate for hunting knives or skinning knives rather than machetes, bushcraft knives, or pocketknives.
Blade Holes As An Opening Mechanism
This purpose for a hole in a knife’s blade is limited to the folding knife types, such as pocket knives. Some pocketknives have a thumb tab on the blade to allow for opening the blade with one hand.
In some designs, the thumb tab is replaced with a hole in the blade that serves the same purpose. The hole is used to provide additional grip on the blade as you lever it open with your thumb.
In this role, the hole in the knife blade can be multi-purpose, providing weight reduction, adjusting the knife’s balance, and an easy opening mechanism.
A Hole In A Knife Blade As A Storage Feature
As with a hole for an opening mechanism of a folding knife, a hole in the blade for storage is generally only appropriate on one style of an outdoor knife; the machete.
Many machete designs have a hole in the blade towards the tip of the blade. This is not a feature of all machetes, but it is a common feature. The purpose of this hole is as a convenient way to store the blade.
Many machetes are made for gardening purposes as well as used in the wilderness. A convenient hole in the tip of the blade is a good location to hang a machete on a hook in the shed or on a stick on a tree while you are clearing your campsite or gathering kindling for the fire.
While this hole in the blade as a storage feature is appropriate on a machete, it is unlikely that you find any other outdoor knife with a hole for this purpose.
Miscellaneous Uses For A Hole In A Knife Blade
From a survival perspective, there are probably many uses you can come up with to use a hole in a knife blade.
Depending on the edge being 90-degrees around the hole, you could pull your Ferro-rod through the hole to produce sparks to make a fire in a more controlled fashion. You could also pull small branches or sticks through the hole to remove the bark.
The holes in a survival knife blade can be used to securely tie the knife to a stick to use and a fishing spear or other forms of hunting.
The use for a hole in an outdoor knife’s blade is limited only by your needs and your imagination!
There are many reasons an outdoor blade will have holes in it, some of which are more appropriate to certain types of blades than others.
In some instances, the holes in a knife blade serve no other purpose than as a decorative feature or a brand signature!
I hope this article helped, thank you for reading.