Serrated Edge on Knife or not?


August 2, 2008, 10:51 PM
For a self defense knife, like the TDI Kabar, would a serrated edge be better or not?

If you enjoyed reading about "Serrated Edge on Knife or not?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
August 3, 2008, 12:32 AM
Opinions vary.

My opinion is if you know how to sharpen a knife properly, serrations are superfluous.

August 3, 2008, 12:36 AM
^ ^ ^ What he said ^ ^ ^

August 3, 2008, 12:52 AM
If-IF you are going to carry something designed as a last ditch defensive tool that is used in a punching motion into an attackers body possibly through clothes or 'gear' then YES I would recommend a serrated blade in that narrow window of usage.

However, if you are planning on using this same knife for general cutting chores then 'no' it is not better than a plain edge.

Considering the design of the TDI it is something that I would rarely use unless I *really* had to. If it were me, I would go with serrations on a knife like that and keep a small folder in pocket for when I needed to cut something.

August 3, 2008, 01:33 AM
I would personally suggest serrations on a defensive knife if you think attackers will be wearing rope.

Otherwise, no.


August 3, 2008, 01:35 AM
Serrated edges belong on the boat, in the climbing gear or in the kitchen. They work wonders on rope and bread.

Just my 2˘ :p

August 3, 2008, 01:56 AM
I would personally suggest serrations on a defensive knife if you think attackers will be wearing rope.

:D funny!

Until you run into a Mall Ninja wearing an LBE vest for a tshirt and need to punch through webbing...-:rolleyes:


Please don't tell me my reply was interupted by a COMMERCIAL FOR SOVEREIGN ARMS? What's up with that?


August 3, 2008, 01:58 AM
Well, I would agree that cutting rope/gear is usually more easily done by serrations. I just don't see that stabbing is easier. :)


August 3, 2008, 01:58 AM
haha-that was fast!

Thanks John!

August 3, 2008, 02:00 AM
NP, Anthony.

August 3, 2008, 11:48 AM
Thanks for the responses :)

The Tourist
August 3, 2008, 11:57 AM
Until you run into a Mall Ninja wearing an LBE vest

LOL. You don't need a serrated knife for that, just find a fountain and yell, "Boo!"

My opinion of serrations is similar to JShirley's with one proviso. Not only should your job entail wet rope, but obtaining timely sharpening services is not an option.

For example, let's say you're one of those crab fishermen on that cable show. You're going to out at sea soaking wet for several weeks. Unless you're a whiz with a small whetstone, a new serrated knife is a good idea. Myerchin makes a dandy B300.

A trucker is another exception. Day upon day on the road, and that includes rain, snow and slippery tarp. To be fair, one of my friends from church is an over-the-road trucker and I got him a Buck 110 Ionfusion. He cut the bumper off his truck doing road modifications from a minor wreck.

There is a need for serrations. But if you're just "a guy" and you carry a jackknife like 99% of us idiots, learn to sharpen or carry my business card.

August 3, 2008, 03:46 PM
Their's nothing a properly maintained plain edge wont do better or just as good as a serrated knife except possibly rope. Their was a test on serrated edge vs plain edge in a defensive situation a long time ago on bladeforums which they covered a large peice of meat in denim and sliced at it. The plain edge caused much more deadly wounds. Only if I could find the test again...

Green Lantern
August 3, 2008, 04:04 PM
Their's nothing a properly maintained plain edge wont do better or just as good as a serrated knife except possibly rope.

How about seatbelts?

Eh, I've had to cut twine at work and home before. Most of my knives are half-serrated. I figure, "better to have it and not need it," et cetera. :D

August 3, 2008, 04:08 PM
Why not both? My Gerber has a 1/2 of each. Seems to me that's a perfect combination.

Tom Krein
August 5, 2008, 10:30 AM
I think you guys are WAY off the mark on serrations!

IF it is just for self defense get the serrations! Do you only see yourself stabbing with your self defense knife... no didn't think so. The slash is a much more common move.

Actually MOST people I encounter do have "rope" on them... its called clothing! IF you are going to be in a Nudist colony you can skip the serrations... and the pocket clip. :neener:

Properly sharpened serrations are MUCH more aggressive than a standard edge. Especially if the edge is a polished one! A polished edge tends to slide off of what you are intending to cut. In my opinion what you want for self defense is an extremely toothy edge or a serrated edge.

Not all serrations are created equal! I feel that Spyderco's serrations are the best in the industry. They are also pretty easy to sharpen on the Spyderco Shparmaker.... although IF it is only for S.D. you shouldn't have to sharpen it, EVER!


August 5, 2008, 10:52 AM
My first experience with serrated edges out side the kitchen where with the Goober Toad Stickers. The ones on the famous wasp waisted combat knife were a total waste and looked like an acciedent of the termanal kind waiting to happen, a punch into a heavy winter coat resulted in those "teeth" getting well and truely fouled.

The later Mark I design (why Mk II before Mk1?) WHich was basically a M3 fighting knife type blade (and I once handled a Sinister from the Atochia wreck that was remarkably similar) but with that short tang in the aluminium handle. I thought this was a better knife, but the serrations were not of much use out on the upper "false Edge"

Truth to tell I felt better off with the two knives I carried earlier instead of either of the Goobers. An F-S knife (early 1970s British made) and a German Kampfmesser of the early 1970s (kissing crane). Fortunately I never got to use the F-S for anything but weirding out new guys and and honing my honing skills. The Kampfmesser which some of the guys dubbed my big German butter knife, did a great job as a camp knife. Imagine that a five+ inch flat single edge with a screw on handle performed about like a Green River knife. GO figure.

I avoided Serrations until I started training for our local Community Emergency Response Team and took a First Responders course. Watching both a Spyderco fully serrated edge with a blount tip (forgot the title, designed for first responders) and then one of the Endura half and halfs slice through seat belts I decided I needed one. It was also lighter than my Buck in a Belt pouch and as it fit in a pocket and clipped on it mean less pouches on the belt.

I freely admit I have used the normally cut portion of the blade a biggilion times more than the Serrations, but if I need them they are there. The onehandedness of the knife is darned useful as well.

The serrations are a tool for some specific problems, Whether they are a good thing on a personal defense weapon or not depends on the user, the condition of the knife, how the knife is used and the conditions surrounding the target.

For me the Endura is just a handy tool. Whether the serrations make it "better" or "worse" if it is forced to be used as a weapon is less important than how well it parts seat belts or much more likely hay bale twine.

-Bob Hollingsworth

The Tourist
August 5, 2008, 11:09 AM
The best way to solve this issue is to consider what my Father taught me fifty years ago. "The right tool for the right job."

(Of course, as a Harley mechanic we used to teach, "Don't force it, use a bigger hammer.")

Sharp knives cut anything. They cut seatbelts, seafood, wet rope, foolish muggers, Thanksgiving turkeys, and UPS boxes.

There are jobs for serrations. If you're standing on a fishing trawler right now, let me sell you a Myerchin.

If you feel that you must rely on serrations on a daily basis, get your knife sharpened.

August 5, 2008, 11:23 AM
No serrations will stab better, and at the same time are easier to keep razor sharp.

Serrations are little edges, and little edges grab at things you slide them against. That means more resistance during stabbing as those edges catch on tissue or bone.
That means more force will be necessary just to accomplish the same thing, stab to the same depth, move the blade while enveloped in tissue and clothing, or retract the blade.
Normaly when you cut with serrations the blade is gliding across the item being cut. It has give and can ride out the serrations as needed. When you envelope the blade though like in stabbing a target, the blade is held more rigid and you must fight against the resistance of those serrations more. The surface area creating resistance is also much greater, including the entire blade's surface and not just the cutting edge.

So if it is purely for self defense then you do not want serrations for a stabbing weapon.
Imagine your surprise when you are in a fight and your knife is catching and getting stuck in the target's tissue or clothing, preventing you from inflicting additional wounds as quickly.

When your hand is covered in oil slick blood the last thing you want is the knife to be catching on things, pulling at odd angles. Additionaly many modern serrations are so fine that they will easily get disfigured and bend impacting bone. That could turn your knife into something that does not move through tissue with easy any longer as pieces of metal are sticking out at angles from the blade at the most inopportune of times.

August 5, 2008, 12:13 PM
Few years back, the consensus seemed to feel that serrated edges have a better chance to get snagged in clothing. Don't hear that anymore, but most still seem to be against serrations in a SD knife.

While I partially agree, it still doesn't prevent me from carrying my Spydie Civilian.

August 5, 2008, 01:45 PM
While I absolutely agree that a super duper sharp knife can do everything as well as or better than a serrated knife......I do not normally carry about on my person the tools to put a new bevel on a blade or sharpen it as well as I can in the shop and can not do so in a New York miinute.

It's nice to think about sharp edges, but guess what? You might not get to choose when or where you need to cut something.

Folks might note my experience with the Goober fighting knife and the heavy wool coat and the tiny Gerber teeth getting snaged in the material. I said there are many factors when a knife is used in defense. I carry a cutting tool not a weapon. I doubt the presence or absence of serrations will make much difference on a defensive knife here in North Central Florida for eight or nine months of the year. YMMV.

Besides, I might have to drop my cane to pull a knife for defense. <wry grin>

BTW I saw a neat laminated cane at the hospital the other day and when asked the lady said she got it on the internet, she thought on Overstock.con (Sic), oh well. Sturdy, the thing was sturdy. L shaped handle would make Ayoob happy as well. Darn the ones that got away.

-Bob Hollingsworth

August 5, 2008, 01:46 PM
Not usually a fan of serrations, although the Spyderco hanging from my climbing harness is fully serrated. I've taken the same knife (old Rescue model with the carabiner-type clip) SCUBA diving as well. Works great if you get into some fishing line.

A couple years ago, I gave some of my relatives Spyderco Dragonflys. They're not "knife people" and will probably never, ever sharpen them... so I got the serrated model.

August 5, 2008, 02:49 PM
While it's true that you never know when you're gonna need to cut something, you will pretty much always know -- AFTER cutting something -- whether your knife is still sharp.

I've taken to hauling a small stone around (thanks, Steve) so that if, after cutting something, the edge needs a touch-up, I can do it before I put the thing away.

That way, it's always sharp for next time.

Later, when I'm home in my Bat Cave & Secret Laboratory, I can re-finish the edge if I've done anything abusive to it earlier.

I figure if I ever get caught with a dull knife, it's my own damn fault.

Odd Job
August 5, 2008, 05:56 PM
I've seen a few stab wounds and I don't believe it makes a difference in terms of penetration, whether the blade is serrated or not.

The best I saw was a very slim, petite female who stabbed her ex-boyfriend with a bread knife in the chest. This was a traditional round-lipped knife and this small woman got it between his ribs and into his heart, with her first and only stab at him. The knife was in situ when he arrived.
Amazingly the guy survived after they cracked him open in the resus bay.

If you get enough force behind that point and it is not obstructed by bone, it is going in and the serrations won't make a difference. I've seen folders, kitchen knives, carving knives and cylindrical tools, all embedded in the patient. There is no problem with penetration: if you miss bone, you can get that in up to the handle, and I've seen it done many a time.

August 5, 2008, 11:21 PM
My thinking is like this. If you have a plain blade design and cut someone with it, it's more like a surgical cut. Yes it can go deep an and yes your goal is to cut muscle and tenden in an attempt to incapacitate that appendage or other body part. But! surgical type incisions don't tend to hurt very bad in the beginning and that person under heavy adrenaline can and will continue to pumle you.

Serated edges will give a more jagged type incsion. Yes, it may not cut as deeply but you will feel it more.

If I had to cut you, I think I'd want you to know you've been cut.

That being said, when givne the option, I always opt for the plain blade instead of the serated. I know how to sharpen a balde and keep a keen edge on everything I own. It's just what I like. I do have a few serated or partially erated blade knives but rarely use or carry them.

Aka Zero
August 10, 2008, 06:21 PM
I never liked serrations. Have a crkt m-16 edc I never carry because it has serrations. I think serrations shorten the effective cutting surface. of a knife blade. A sharp edge will be far better than any serrations.

But if you want a wicked serrated knife, buy a sypdeco civilian. scary enough you will never need to use it. made for SD only.

Or get a good sharpening setup. Look around online to learn what you are trying to do microscopically to the edge. And pretty soon will will be getting knives hair shaving sharp.

August 13, 2008, 12:03 AM
For a defensive knife? Not especially.

For a general use knife? Absolutely.

People here are getting stuck on using serrations for rope and string only.

Doesn't anyone have No. 2 pencils anymore that need sharpened? Doesn't anyone find a need to strip a wire now and then? Serrations do a teriffic job in those roles. Try it sometime.

August 19, 2008, 04:44 PM
In the Middle Ages, midwives used to use broken pottery shards to cut umbilical cords. Due to the jagged serrations on the shard, the cord would clot and stop bleeding quickly.

As doctors and metal, plain-edge knives took over, the number of mothers & infants who bled out after cutting the umbillical cord drastically increased. So serrated knives (and later scissors) were used....and lives were saved.....

Applicable? decide..... :cool:

August 19, 2008, 08:26 PM
In the Middle Ages, midwives used to use broken pottery shards to cut umbilical cords. Due to the jagged serrations on the shard, the cord would clot and stop bleeding quickly.

As doctors and metal, plain-edge knives took over, the number of mothers & infants who bled out after cutting the umbillical cord drastically increased. So serrated knives (and later scissors) were used....and lives were saved.....

I'll bite...

Please provide documentation for this assertion. :rolleyes:

(You don't even have to explain why the cord was not tied off....)

Applicable? :confused:

Hmmm...last time I cut an umbilical cord

Don't think I've ever done that with my EDC.



August 20, 2008, 12:10 AM
His point is that a jagged cut may not bleed out as quickly as a... more exact cut, methinks. Fairbairn said something similar, if memory serves...

August 20, 2008, 04:11 PM
In the Middle Ages, midwives used to use broken pottery shards to cut umbilical cords. Due to the jagged serrations on the shard, the cord would clot and stop bleeding quickly.

As doctors and metal, plain-edge knives took over, the number of mothers & infants who bled out after cutting the umbillical cord drastically increased. So serrated knives (and later scissors) were used....and lives were saved.....

I did get the 'point' I only questioned the 'source'. I was unable to locate anything even remotely suggesting a 'jagged' cut was in anyway superior in a medical situation however, and was curious where this idea came from .

I did find the information shown below, which supports the idea that a 'cleaner' cut (incision) would be the better way to go from a healing standpoint. Why in the world a cleaner 'incision' would cause the death of *more* women was my 'point'.

From "Intro to Anatomy 7: The Integumentary System"

"Injury and Repair of the Skin:

An incision is a slender, straight cut made with a sharp object. An incision typically heals fairly rapidly, since there’s relatively little tissue damage. This is the sort of “wound” a skilled surgeon makes.

A laceration is a jagged cut or tear of the skin. It damages considerably more tissue than does an incision of the same length and depth, and so takes longer to heal. "

August 20, 2008, 10:57 PM
It was just information I received in an anthropology class taken many moons source to cite....just thought it was interesting and relevant....

...don't get a bug in your shorts on my account.... :D

August 20, 2008, 11:56 PM
...don't get a bug in your shorts on my account....

Dogs don't wear shorts....


August 21, 2008, 12:48 AM
As doctors and metal, plain-edge knives took over, the number of mothers & infants who bled out after cutting the umbillical cord drastically increased. So serrated knives (and later scissors) were used....and lives were saved.....

I have a problem with this. Doctors did not take-over from midwives until maybe the last 100 years. I seriously doubt that they and steel knives contributed to more deaths during birth. OTOH, I can see how broken pottery was probably cleaner than a dirty rusted blade that typical peasants would have in the home.

Was this class perhaps taken in a liberal arts college with a feminist agenda? ;)

August 21, 2008, 12:50 AM
Not. I don't like them on any knife. I can cut rope, string, or crusty bread with a very sharp, normal edged knife. How do you get a nice cut on a wood pencil with serrations? What a pain that must be.

Normal, simple, but very sharp edges.

August 21, 2008, 01:37 AM
I prefer half-serration because I use my knife a lot at work to cut heavy plastic wrapping on pallets. It's much easier to saw at big clumps of it with the serrations than the straight blade. That or opening the danged sealed hard plastic packaging that everything seems to be in these days.

Seems to be to be a decent mix for me. Now, if someone comes out with a knife that had two blades, where one blade is fully serrated and the other was a plain edge that would definitely go to #1 on my to-buy list.

August 21, 2008, 02:08 AM
Now, if someone comes out with a knife that had two blades, where one blade is fully serrated and the other was a plain edge that would definitely go to #1 on my to-buy list.
Had a look at the Leatherman Wave or Surge?

One plain blade, one serrated blade.

And other cool tools, too.

August 21, 2008, 09:18 AM
Now, if someone comes out with a knife that had two blades, where one blade is fully serrated and the other was a plain edge that would definitely go to #1 on my to-buy list.

Spyderco's Byrd line: Byrd Wings

Jim Watson
August 21, 2008, 12:04 PM
I like the concept, but the way the Spyder blade has to hump up to show the thumbhole makes it uncomfortable to handle. I played with a cheap copy at a gun show and if it had felt better in the hand, would have bought a real Spyder.

I visualize something like the conventional pocket knife Muskrat pattern, with opening studs on the blades. With a pocket clip you would know which blade was up and could open the smooth edge or turn it for serrations without having to look.

August 21, 2008, 12:57 PM
Agree with Jim Watson-

The idea is great, the execution is lacking. Spyderco tried it years ago with the Dyad series of knives. Same thing-the 'humping' of the blades makes it awkward to carry and when that happens, it doesn't get carried.

By far the best iteration of this thought was done by Buck-albeit crudely-in their Crosslock series of knives. They offered them in several different versions, but believe it or not, I'm not sure they ever offered it in a two bladed plain\serrated configuration (I'm WRONG ON THAT-SEE BELOW). And, as I said, the Buck version was a thick handled rather crudely executed attempt, but it was superior to the Spydercos in that the blades opened on opposite sides of the *flat* of the handle and not opposite end-to-end. They also used thumbstuds which eliminated the 'humps'.
What we need is the Buck's basic design, but executed in G-10 or aluminum scales and a narrower profiled blade.

That second one doesn't look too bad now that I look at it. Much improved over the original version in the handle department...

Well, look what I found...

August 21, 2008, 01:36 PM
Well I love the utility of the serrations on my Gerber. Serrations are definitely more useful when it comes time to hack through something with a dull knife. I would definitely reccomend a 1/2 serrated knife to someone that plans on ignoring their knife until they need it.

But I can see how serrations can be a bad thing, as they require a special tool to sharpen. The only sharpening tool I own is a Speedy Sharp, which is only useful for doing straight blades.

Of course I don't really use my folders very often and typically just use razor and kitchen knives for opening and cutting things. Economically, it's cheaper for me to just get the blades free from work than it is to buy sharpening tools. My next knife is probably going to be a folding razor-knife for this reason.

Honestly though, after buying several knives, my absolute favorites are the 1" swiss army knives and Swiss Cards. A blade, a Screwdriver/Nail File, and a pair of scissors are all I need in a knife. My Swiss Card is so old, I have to keep it in a photo sleeve to keep the tools from falling out. Ironically, the Blade, SD/Nail File, and Scissors are the only pieces I haven't lost out of it.

August 21, 2008, 01:58 PM
I've noticed that serrations are a love/hate thing with a lot of people. My EDC knife is a serrated Gerber EVO. I find serrated edges to be very useful for sawing(Yes, I abuse my knife) and the serrations on Gerber knives are not so aggressive as to get in the way when performing other tasks. Of the 3" blade length, about 1 1/4" is serrated. If I got a knife purely for self-defense I would get a straight blade, but for utility my current setup is perfect for me. (Especially since my cheap $30 Gerber can shave hair when I'm done sharpening it :D)

August 21, 2008, 02:19 PM
Arfin, it's ironic you bring up the Leatherman tools as my birthday is next month and I put a Leatherman Wave or Blast as the first thing on my list.

Woolfam, good concept, but I agree with everyone else, that just looks plain uncomfortable to carry.

September 2, 2008, 01:04 AM
This is a little late but on the topic of surgical incisions and the use of pottery shards. It's actually the opposite.

A clean incision tends to bleed less.

Blood vessels are layers of tissue, one of those layers is muscle. Thats what causes the the vessel to dilate or constrict. When a vessel is cut cleanly, the muscles tend to constrict and close themselves off. When a jagged cut is made on the same vessel, the end of the blood vessel is left with loose tissue on the end and it is unable to close off completely.

Think of a cinch bag. It's capable of closing off completely on the end. That's essentially what a blood vessel does when cut cleanly. Think of bags with that cover flap just inside the top. If you left the flap out and tried to close the bag. You can't close it all the way.

That's the best I can come up with at 1am. I work in the OR as a surgical nurse and believe it or not, Surgery is not as bloody as you would expect.

September 2, 2008, 02:35 AM

Aka Zero
September 2, 2008, 03:17 AM
Pottery dust probably caused clotting, not the jagged edges. Any fine powder causes clotting to increase. try it sometime.

I still say go plain edge, learn to sharpen it well. I have seen no serrations that could cut anything as fast as a good edge.

September 2, 2008, 12:32 PM
Check with the Cold Steel site -- which is pretty over-the-top on use of knives for defense, but nonetheless reliable information.

In a "defensive knife" you want large, long, heavy, single edged, and a FIXED blade. Serrated blade, folding pocket-knives are not designed nor intended for any sort of serious defense.

The fundamental defensive move with a knife is slashing. Slashing with a straight edged blade produces a clean cut -- deep, smooth, fast.

Slashing with a serrated blade tends to "catch" on whatever material it's cutting. You don't want "catch" when you're swinging and slashing in defense.

Serrated blades are for cutting line (marine application), fabric, synthetic material (like plastic pipe).

Besides which -- they're hell to sharpen.

September 2, 2008, 05:44 PM
I like a little serration on my everyday pocket utility knife. Its good for cutting certain things like rope. But for self defense knives, etc I prefer no serration.

September 2, 2008, 06:05 PM
For a self defense knife...would a serrated edge be better or not?

Wouldn’t a gun be even better? :evil:

September 2, 2008, 10:47 PM
as far as umbilical cords go tearing them(or letting them break naturally) allows it to clot faster the ragged edges(of the vessel) give the platletts more surface to stick to. that being said if you cut it just tie it off.
I like a knife with serrations but thats mostly cause I suck at sharpening and buy mostly cheap knives

September 2, 2008, 11:49 PM
My Dad, God rest his soul taught me if the is any chance of a knife fight bring a gun.:D He also taught me how to sharpen a knife. He would ask to see my knife and keep it for a while if it was not reasonably sharp :mad:. serrated edges are for people who won't take the time to learn to sharpen a knife If you want a saw carry a saw.if not learn how to sharpen a knife. gut hooks suck too!

September 3, 2008, 12:29 AM
I love my Civilian dearly, but the brochure that came with it claims that it would be extremely difficult to cause fatal wounds with it.

The thing has the size and sharpness to reach all the major arteries. How is it less lethal?:confused:

Aka Zero
September 3, 2008, 09:29 AM
Wait.... civilian.... I thought that was designed to be a defense tool and that's all. Purpose made for being stabby, sharp, and all those other things that knives do.

September 3, 2008, 09:46 AM
You are correct. It comes with a warning that says it is not for utility purposes. So SD only.

But it also comes with a brochure that states by virtue of its design, it is not a killing knife, and in fact it would be difficult to kill with.

I know something about knife fighting/ defense, and a stabbing knife, no, it isn't. But as far as slashing, this knife will reach out and grab. And as I said, it has the size to reach all the important cables.

As it bears on this discussion, I can only surmise that Spyderco feels that since the Civilian doesn't stab, that the ability to do so is what makes a knife lethal. If that's the case, serrations or not aren't a factor for a self defense knife as much as a sturdy point.

As far as every day tasks go, sharpening serrated edges has always been a pain to me. A couple of companies make unique serrations that can be sharpened on a regular stone with no special technique. I'd go with one of those.

September 4, 2008, 06:03 PM
I personally prefer non-serrated blades for combat/survival knives. Just learn to sharpen them well and they can slice up pieces of loose paper held by only one hand. I believe that a non-serrated blade will last much longer and will perform at top notch much longer than a serrated blade will.

September 4, 2008, 06:45 PM
the only thing I have ever cut that cut better with a serrated blade than a plain blade was a waterlogged palm frond that got wrapped around my boat propellor late one night !I had to cut by feel and the serrated edge went right through the strands of wet palm !Kevin

If you enjoyed reading about "Serrated Edge on Knife or not?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!