Knives are an interesting subject. The most primitive tool available to us, they offer a variety of uses and are arguably the most versatile tool at our disposal. Knives today are still just as relevant as they once were. They can be works of art, hardened combat weapons, everyday kitchen utensils or just average box openers. There is a plethora of metal variations to choose from and the quality of their construction reflects the price point. One simple way to break down knives into their identifiable groups is by their grinds; this is a geometric standard that most can be identified by. Primarily there are three different grinds (but there are several others) I prefer to choose from and that is flat, saber, and Scandinavian (scandi) grinds.

Flat grinds are like your standard kitchen knife or meat cleaver, think Michael Myers’ knife. The have a consistently flat surface that continues all the way to the spine of the knife. Flat grinds are often thinner and more prone to breaking under extreme conditions. They also provide a slimmer profile that greatly caters to slicing and finer cuts. This is why most knives intended for cutting meat and produce have this grind. They can usually be made a great deal sharper than other grinds too given their slim profile. This is also their downfall as they are more fragile than the other grind styles.

Saber grinds are a happy median between the three, they offer a decent balance between blade profile and durability. A saber grind has flat profile that tapers off near the top but not at the spine, there’s usually a good 1/8″ of space between the grind’s end point and the spine. The reinforced spine that comes with the saber grind equals a more rigid design while still giving a fairly steep angle to the blade. The saber grind is often the preferred shape for combat and fighting knives given its well-balanced cutting to robustness ratio.

Scandi grinds have no secondary edge and are usually seen on bushcraft knives. They are incredibly robust as they are almost 50:50 split between edge and flat/spine. This gives a super robust spine as well as a much wider edge profile. This means the edge retention is far more inclusive to longevity but equally less capably of a razor slim edge. Mind you they can still be made to be plenty sharp, they’re just not going to be as sharp as a flat grind. This grind is used for outdoor work and primarily woodworking based tasks such as batoning firewood and other camp activities.

I hope this helps a few of you out there who are just getting into knives, or maybe you are just looking for the right tool for the job. Just remember to maintain your equipment and practice safe handling above all else. I would advise you to invest in a good name brand blade as well because Chinese mass-produced steel is often not cut out for the job. Do your research, because there are a lot more options out there. As always, train often to be proficient.

Photo courtesy of the author

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