What Is a Stiletto Knife and Should I Consider One?

What Is a Stiletto Knife and Should I Consider One?

Jun 18th 2019

Stiletto knives are stylish blades with a history stretching back to medieval Italy. Knife enthusiasts love the dagger-like blade for self-defense due to its razor-sharp edge and wicked profile. Here are a few factors to consider if you are considering adding a stiletto knife to your collection.

What Is a Stiletto Knife?

A stiletto is a knife featuring a long, slender blade and a narrow tip, making it perfect as a stabbing tool. The tapered point and slim profile reduce friction, allowing faster, deeper penetration.

Modern folding or switchblade stilettos often feature a bayonet-style blade with a single saber-grind cutting edge, although some recent models feature a dual cutting edge for added functionality. Despite the addition of a cutting edge, these knives are still primarily used as thrusting weapons rather than for slicing or tactical use.

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History of The Stiletto Knife

Originating in Italy in the 15th century, the stiletto knife evolved from rondel dagger designs and was often used as a secondary thrusting weapon and worn on the hip. Early stilettos were forged from a single piece of metal, created without cutting edges and featuring a triangular cross-section reminiscent of Roman writing instruments known as a stylus.

Stilettos were popular in Italy and France as hand-to-hand combat weapons and were the preferred combat knife for British commando raiding forces in the First and Second World Wars. During the 1950s, the stiletto gained a reputation as a criminal’s weapon after a large import of stilettos reached the U.S. and were involved in gang-related activity.

The majority of stilettos used in the U.S. since the 1950s lost the original fixed blade structure, with manufacturers preferring a folding or out-the-front automatic knife design.

Benefits of a Stiletto Knife

Stiletto knives are often considered one of the best knives for self-defense. Their profile and lightning speed deployment are often enough to intimidate a would-be assailant without resorting to defensive maneuvers. Some of the benefits you can expect from a stiletto knife include:

  • Light and Compact Design - Folding and OTF stiletto knives have a compact design with a slender handle and blade, making them ideal for concealed carry. Modern stiletto handles are often made from anodized aluminum to match the blade's slim profile to create a balanced knife. These materials make for a lightweight knife that is easy to handle while still providing adequate heft.
  • Versatile - Although they are not known for their cutting ability, stilettos can still be used for a wide variety of applications, including self-defense, food preparation, and everyday tasks due to the multiple blade surfaces.
  • Legal in Most Regions - The Switchblade Knife Act of 1958 and its 2009 amendment were created to regulate the manufacture and interstate transport of automatic switchblade knives and stilettos. However, most stiletto knives are legal to use for EDC in most states, as long as the blade length is within legal limits—typically under 3.5 inches long.
  • Easy to Use - With many assisted opening or flipper pocket knives, you need to adjust your grip after deployment. An automatic stiletto switchblade knife ensures you are immediately ready to use the knife once the blade is open, making it a faster knife option that is easier to use.

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Stiletto Knife

There are several important factors to consider when shopping for a stiletto knife, such as:

  • Edge Retention - To get the most out of your stiletto, you need a blade made from steel known for staying sharp. Edge retention is a standard assessment of knife sharpness. The steel types best known for outstanding edge retention are Bohler Uddeholm M390 and CPM-20CV, due to their high levels of molybdenum, vanadium and tungsten.
  • Comfortable Grip - As stilettos are often used for self-defense, you need a reliable knife that won’t slip out of your grip. Opt for a grooved or textured handle made from tough aluminum, G10, or Micarta.
  • Stable Locking Mechanism - A stable locking mechanism is crucial for the performance and durability of the knife. Look for automatic knives for sale that feature a liner lock or push-button lock. The liner lock is considered one of the most stable of all locking mechanisms. It also allows one-handed opening and closing for improved functionality and faster deployment.
  • Balance - The balance refers to the weight distribution between the handle and the blade. For many styles of knife, balance is less important than heft. However, for optimal functionality from your stiletto knife, the center of gravity should be at the center of the open knife.

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The Takeaway

A stiletto knife has a long history as a self-defense weapon, with the bayonet-style blade and slender profile making it ideal for dealing accurate, incapacitating thrusting blows. It is also legal to carry, making it a suitable alternative to many other folding pocket knives that exceed the state limit for blade length.

Stiletto blades also have an element of style about them, so they’re a great addition to your knife collection if you enjoy throwing knives, trick knives, or butterfly knives. But you don’t need to know how to open a butterfly knife to use a stiletto; the automatic opener and staple locking mechanism make them easy and safe to use, even for a beginner.

At eKnives, we carry a wide variety of stiletto knives. Browse our online catalog or contact us at (423) 525-9477 to find out more about adding a stiletto to your knife collection.