Are Hawkbills versatile ?


May 22, 2014, 02:51 PM
How versatile are hawkbill knives? Do they make decent self defense knives? Or are they just a knife for cutting cord & rope ect. Are they useful for anything else? Would you use one for S.D.?

If you enjoyed reading about "Are Hawkbills versatile ?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
Yo Mama
May 22, 2014, 03:18 PM
Sorry but I'm not looking to use a knife for sd, a gun is with me everywhere I go. With a backup mag, depending on the gun it's roughly 16ish rounds. If I need a knife after using all my rounds, I'm in some doodoo.

A knife maeks you get way to close to an attacker, and at that point it doesn't matter the shape of the blade. If you are truly looking at getting a blade with the mindset of sd, I'd get fixed blade so you don't have to worry about fine motor movement.

May 22, 2014, 04:53 PM
I'm not looking to use a knife for sd I agree. And yet, this subforum is called non-firearm weapons.

Too bad there's not a subforum simply for knives.

May 22, 2014, 05:15 PM
That's why this was posted here. I to would use a firearm instead of a knife. Firearms cannot be carried someplaces knives can. I was woundering what others thought of this style of knife. As the increased interest in them shows. I.E.the Krimbits, Spyderco Hawkbills ect.

Sam Cade
May 22, 2014, 05:40 PM
How versatile are hawkbill knives? Do they make decent self defense knives?

For very small knives a blade with a lot of forward curve is a way of getting more cutting edge into a given length with the added benefit of preventing the medium being cut from sliding away from the edge.

The disadvantage is obvious in that the extreme drop of the tip makes stabbing either difficult or impossible.

You can see how lying supine with an assailant in full mount (hereafter to be known as The Zimmerman Position) it would be more advantageous to administer stabs than offer a back scratching. ;)

Sam Cade
May 22, 2014, 05:46 PM
Too bad there's not a subforum simply for knives.

Y'know,a knife specific subforum would probably draw more traffic than Non-firearm weapons.

Maybe "Knives and Blades" being separate.

I'll float it in Staff.

May 22, 2014, 06:13 PM
I agree! A knife subforum would be nice as they predominant this one. There are so many S.D.items & styles out there. But Gun &Knives seem to be the top 2 items discussed. I agree with your point about stabbing. That is why I asked this question. These knives seem to be becomeing more popular. I am certainly seeing more of them. The Krimbits for one & the Spyderco matriarch 2, civilian ect. Are they a serious knife for what they are S.D.? Or just a fad.

May 22, 2014, 07:17 PM
Pretty versatile for the hawk. For SD I can't see one being useful.

May 22, 2014, 07:27 PM
They are sure hard to sharpen using conventional methods too!

The inside curve is in all the wrong places.


Sam Cade
May 22, 2014, 07:48 PM
For SD I can't see one being useful.

A forward recurve is the optimal blade shape for maximum efficacy on a cut into flexible, unsupported medium.

The real question is, "Do you want/need your knife to do anything else?"

May 23, 2014, 03:14 PM
A friend who was a army Ranger & I decided to try some experiments with some hawkbill knives. We used a cardboard box about 4'long & about 12"14" size. We both took turns We put our backs against the floor & the other person held the box. We used his Spyderco Tasman & a Spyderco Harpy . The object was to see if we could inflect a decent stab wound to the box! But only from the bottom or side! Also slashing wounds! Both of us were able to inflect stab wounds & slashing wounds. We found that as you stabbed into the box, that by rotating your hand as you thrust into the box, we could produce some significant stab wounds! Slashing was also possible & effective. This was by no means a scientific test. But it is interesting & something I will be testing more about. I do think other designs work much better & willnot depend on one for S.D.! That Mayerco looks like it would work.

June 5, 2014, 02:23 PM
I decided to try Spyderco's BYRD line. I know most here believe the hawkbill knives to be just a line cutting tool & not for SD. I am seeing a trend to use them as SD knives. I picked up a BYRD CROSSBILL HAWKBILL KNIFE
It had to be ordered so I should have it by next week & will let you know about it. If I can get someone who knows how to add pictures to my post I will do so.

June 7, 2014, 02:10 PM
I've been using my Spydie Tasman Salt for 9+ years now as a chore knife & EDC. The design is useful and reliable, as it always presents a point & cutting surface towards the task at hand. Hawkbills naturally keep cutting into the object with draw cuts due to the downwards-turning edge, while standard blade profiles have a tendency to want to work itself out unless you keep applying pressure. The hawkbill wants to stay inside the object, which is useful if your hands slip due to tiredness or weather.

It can handle SD applications if you know what you're doing. Don't plan on going for major organs, but my Spydie ought to easily pierce 1-2", which would be the type of control & distraction stabs I'd use with my knife. It certainly will cut & rip. (I'd still prefer 12ga.)

Sharpening? Easy with a rod or Sharpmaker, just draw the blade down the sharpener same as you would a standard profile knife.

June 7, 2014, 10:39 PM
My Mom carried a long bolster Barlow hawk bill in the late 1960's both for general use and with an eye toward SD. Of course we had few experts in those days to tell us that slashing is ineffective.

I knew a guy at that time that toted around a "linoleum knife" which was a fixed hawk bill. It very efficiently opened someone from ear to ear from the front one evening and that assault stopped right there, thank you very much.

Taking your time with a round file or steel worked to sharpen hawk bills and I would bet one of the round ceramic sticks could dress one up right nice.


June 8, 2014, 12:47 AM
I have a old Case linoleum Hawkbill that was my dad's. It was the first one I had ever seen. Dad always kept it sharp & said it would cut someone up bad if you used it for S.D.! He never used it for that reason or carried it.

Fred Fuller
June 10, 2014, 06:32 PM
Some old, old Southnarc stuff here ...

June 10, 2014, 09:48 PM
Thanks for that link Fred! I was looking at some knife pictures online the other night and saw a picture of about 16 knives & saw something that looked alot like those talons. But none were marked. Now I know what they were. That was a great article along with a pretty cool knife! I also saw some BYRD knives that had been modified by people to work in the same manner! I will look around for a copy of that Talon though!

June 11, 2014, 01:13 PM
I know that Spyderco (Civilian one-handed folder ( and Al Mar (Backup 2 fixed blade ( make "hawksbill" style knives specifically for SD use. I believe the thinking behind these blades is that an untrained fighter will normally tend to slash with a knife, and these curved blades tend to make nasty, debilitating cuts when used this way. I've tried such blades slashing against plastic bottles, carboard boxes, and heavy denim and they do seem to work well in that mode.

June 11, 2014, 04:24 PM
They are sure hard to sharpen using conventional methods too!

The inside curve is in all the wrong places.

I use my Spyderco to sharpen a hawkbill gardening knife. Not a razor edge of course but it's adequate.

June 11, 2014, 05:41 PM

June 11, 2014, 07:38 PM
I received my Byrd CROSSBILL knife today! What a deal! It is bigger than the spyderco HARPY. It looks & feels good, & is a good buy if you are looking for a knife like this. This one has the metal handles,but the next one will have the FRN handle. BYRD makes the PELICAN & the FLIGHT also. One is a sheepsfoot & the other looks like the ENDRA. I like this brand as these are well made knives. I will agree that the last thing you wont to do is get into a knife fight! But people have used them for self protection long before firearms came along! And different people used different knife styles & different knife fighting styles . I think that whatever knife style you chose, you should be able to learn to use it for work or S.D.! Yes some knives are more versatile than others! But I do consider the hawkbill to be more versatile than I had thought! And with some of the new blades coming out, I would say I am not the only one! And at this price you can modify them to your own taste! Now if I can just locate one of those Kershaw TALONS w/ can opener!

June 11, 2014, 08:02 PM
I'm new here but I'm going to throw in my $0.02.

The hawkbill and karambit style knives aren't self-defense type blades. They are offensive weaponry. Granted a blade is always useful for other cutting jobs. However a hawkbill isn't my preferred blade style.

Sam Cade
June 11, 2014, 08:05 PM
The hawkbill and karambit style knives aren't self-defense type blades. They are offensive weaponry.

How do you figure that?

June 11, 2014, 08:11 PM
I should have prefaced that with "In my opinion"

The only time I've seen a hawkbill style blade used was in an attack from behind. I can see it being used in a face to face fight. Just the only time I've seen it used was from behind blade tip inserted and the pulled across.

June 12, 2014, 02:50 AM
Welcome to the conversation Mr.Bear. In my looking around on the internet & speaking to other knife collectors, I found that the Spyderco 'Civilian ' was made for undercover work &as a anti-mugging knife. The 'Matriarch' &'Matriarch 2' were made as cheaper & better models. The Kershaw 'Talons' shown in F.F.'s link about Southern Narc useing a knife with similar features, show that these knives were made for 'emergency fighting'! I have carried knives for this reason when I was a police officer in case I lost control of my wepon! We all carried a knife for that reason! Certainly some of the new knives are being made for that type of use. Not all of us are into knives or have knife fighting training! I was taught to end it quick & expect to get cut, because you have to get close! We carried the best knives we could afford & we concealed them! If these designs had been around I am sure some would have used this style. Even back then, everyone had their own style of fighting & knife. I carried a Buck folder on my belt & a 6"combat knife in a concealed pocket inside of my jacket. Or in my boot. Hidden buy my pants. I think all of us has seen different styles come & go. But this style seems to have potential! I learned we can always learn something new everyday!

June 13, 2014, 11:19 PM
Cool Knifes and as Another said Hawkbills can be very nasty in a fight. I saw a guy get cut pretty bad after work one day 30 or so years ago. The little fellow was a carpet layer and the big olf just wouldn't let it go. A fight started and the carpet layers stopped it Real quick with that hawkbilled knife.

June 25, 2014, 04:04 PM
Since looking into these knives, it would seem that there are a number of companies making hawkbills! From the old pruning style to some of the newer S.D. models! I found at least 5 that are making hawkbills for S.D.! The Krimbits being the most popular. A good hawkbill from BYRD knives will cost less & have some good designs.

June 26, 2014, 11:25 AM
For my money, Hawkbills are worthless for anything with
the exception of trimming roofing materials. They are very
hard to sharpen, stabbing is out and in reality, so is
slashing. The shape of the blade makes it to easy to snag
and hold when you hit bone (skin a few deer or hogs with
one {or try} and you'll see what I mean).
Unless you're a roofer, don't waste your money on one. I
own 3 (I'm hard headed) and they are in a drawer. Taken
out and cleaned and touched up now and then and back in
the drawer they go. Worthless. :cuss:

June 28, 2014, 01:58 PM
I guess I have to disagree with you.

I've carried hawkbill knives as part of the rotation for about 10 years, 100% as a utility knife with additional thought given to use as a SD tool, including taking training from Steve Tarani in their use.

But back to your comments:
If you can cut roofing materials, why can't it be used to cut other items? -But I agree that while most are not designed to dress game, but what shape is a gut hook?

As for useful weapon, I don't know if you've heard of traditional weapons such as Kukhris and Jamibya? Kukhris may be better know as chopping tools, but Jambiyas are traditional weapons, used for slashing and stabbing. They have reinforced blades because they used to be used to pierce chainmail.

I have several "hawkbills" and while some are specialized, I also carry one in my pocket to handle daily chores.

Caliche Kid
July 7, 2014, 04:55 PM
Think about the big cats. They carry several hawkbills in each hand, so to speak. They can cause mean cuts but are primarily for grabbing and pulling prey toward those big teeth. If you had a hawkbill in one hand and a dagger in the other you might have a formable team..

Dirty Bob
July 13, 2014, 02:02 AM
I like a big one -- a brush ax -- for cutting unsupported branches. Where a machete would nick them and push them aside, the hooked blade grabs and cuts. As a weapon, such a tool would be pretty scary. That forward hook could penetrate or could hook and damage the limbs of an attacker. A small hawkbill is awesome for harvesting from the garden or for cutting other light vegetation. It can also cut tough materials like plastic, leather, etc.

To see a pretty realistic "use" of linoleum knives, see the sauna scene of "Eastern Promises." Pretty much a worst case scenario assault with knives: naked, on slick floors, unarmed against multiple attackers with blades. Scary.

An unusual blade shape will do some things very well and others poorly. Hawkbills make terrible general-use utility knives. Try using one with a cutting board, or try cleaning up saw cuts with a hawkbill (I use a very simple Mora as a woodworking knife). Hawkbills are specialized, not versatile.

I definitely prefer more conventional blade types for carry knives.

Dirty Bob

July 15, 2014, 04:09 PM
They fit fine in my roundhouse.

July 27, 2014, 01:11 AM
When I was a schoolboy back in the 40's, virtually every boy carried a knife to school. Various types would come into and go out of vogue. Many of the boys worked on farms and the hawk was used for suckering and cutting tobacco plants, so that was the knife that most of the farm boys carried to school. Other kids saw how wicked they looked so the hawkbill became the knife of choice until the boys discovered it was a poor choice for most of the things a boy did with his knife, It didn't whittle worth a damn, useless for mumbly peg and other knife games. Couldn't sharpen a pencil. Worthless for skinning, Couldn't even clean your grubby little fingernails. Didn't take us long to go back to our jack knives and barlows.

July 29, 2014, 08:53 PM
I used them to clean my nails and other things.

If you enjoyed reading about "Are Hawkbills versatile ?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!