For nearly two centuries, the Wharncliffe blade design has remained a staple of the knife community.
While the function has evolved from a whittling knife to more of a self-defense or EDC purpose, the Wharncliffe continues to be a useful tool.
A few weeks back, I wrote about the History of the Wharncliffe, and now I’m taking it to the next step with a look at the best production knives with Wharncliffe blades.
I’m capping the list at 20, although I will undoubtedly be missing a few essential additions, so let me know in the comments.
1. Spyderco Ronin 2
I wanted to start off with the Ronin because this is is pretty much where the modern interpretation and tactical obsession with the Wharncliffe blade came from.
The origins of the knife are documented in the History of the Wharncliffe, but self-defense expert Michael Janich wanted a superb cutting knife for a self-defense tool. After extensive testing, he found the Wharncliffe blade — with its piercing point and flat edge — was best.
He created the Ronin fixed blade with knife maker Mike Snody. It was picked up by Spyderco briefly but it was ahead of its time. Eventually, it came back in a second iteration.
It features a 4.08-inch blade made from CTS BD1 steel with a Wharncliffe blade that has a slanted spine that tapers to a point. The handle is black G-10.
2. CRKT Delilah’s PECK
Ed Halligan was a master of minimalism. It all started with his KISS (Keep It Super Simple) knife that was barebones but beloved. He took the concept of a minimalist and compact knife to the next level with the PECK (Precision Engineered Compact Knife).
This tiny knife weighs 0.9 ounces and features a 1.75-inch Wharncliffe blade design. What’s interesting about the inclusion of a Wharncliffe blade profile is that it’s functional to the design of the blade. The straight edge means the edge is completely hidden with the knife rather than protruding out of the handle to cause problems.
On top of that, the Wharncliffe is suited for all types of tasks.
3. KA-BAR TDI LDK
The KA-BAR TDI Last Ditch Knife takes cues from Janich’s Ronin. This small fixed blade is made to be used in last ditch self-defense situation. The overall length is only 3.6 inches and it is meant to be put in its sheath in a boot or wallet. The backup knife is great at slashing and piercing.
4. Gerber Razorfish
I wanted to include a few budget knives on here and the Gerber Razorfish qualifies. The Razorfish almost looks like a sheepsfoot blade but turns into a Wharncliffe at the last moment. It has a fishy look (hence the name) and a 2.8-inch blade.
I’ve heard some complaints about the fit and finish on some of these, but it is overall a solid flipper.
5. Kershaw Leek
Wait, the Kershaw Leek? Although Kershaw calls it a modified drop point, I would classify it more as a modified Wharncliffe. Janich says a Wharncliffe must have a straight edge, but the gentle curve of the Leek edge is just subtle enough to be nearly straight.
What else is there to say about the Leek that hasn’t already been said? This is an EDC all-timer.
6. Case Seahorse Whittler
So far, we’ve only seen modern interpretations of the Wharncliffe. The Seahorse Whittler — though a relatively recent pattern — shows the original design and intent of the blade. It is a whittling knife with a thick blade that’s meant to be very durable. The spine curves more gradually to a point than the tactical iterations of the blade style.
This is a solid Case knife.
7. CRKT Swindle
The Swindle is the second of many CRKT models that use the Wharncliffe blade well. Like the Leek, this is a Ken Onion design. Because it has a curve in the edge, this is more of a modified Wharncliffe but it does the job well.
The knife itself has a 3.2-inch blade and a stainless steel handle. It won Most Innovative Import Design at Blade Show.
8. Boker Plus Trigonaut
I really enjoy the Trigonaut. This was a Badass Knife of the Week a while back and very nearly made my list of best EDC fixed blade knives. The modified Wharncliffe blade is one of the major reasons. It has a blade that’s 3.25 inches long and features good-looking milled two-tone Micarta handle scales.
The David Mosier design is tactical but works well on almost anything.
9. KA-BAR Adventure Wharnstalker
Is there a name as cool as the Wharnstalker? Probably, but it’s still a good name and perfectly descriptive of this knife. This is a versatile hunting knife with a long 4-inch blade with a straight edge and piercing point.
The orange handle scales feature the Adventuregrip.
10. SOG Snarl
Jason Brous worked with SOG to bring you the Snarl. Although SOG calls the blade design a sheepsfoot on its site, it’s clearly a Wharncliffe because of the point. This little knife has an overall length of 4.3 inches (with a blade of 2.3 inches). It looks similar to the KA-BAR TDI LDK but has more functionality.
It can make a good utility knife and is a bigger knife than it looks, thanks to the cutout in the handle that fits your fingers. It’s comfortable enough to be used around the house, and compact enough to be tucked away until you need it.
11. CRKT Minimalist
The Minimalist comes in a few different designs, including a drop point and a Bowie blade. But the best is probably the Wharncliffe. Designed by Alan Folts, this is a perfect EDC fixed blade that excels at all types of tasks. The handle is almost nonexistent but somehow still very comfortable and reliable.
12. Case Tiny Trapper
Hold me closer, tiny trapper! OK, I’ll stop. The Case Tiny Trapper has two blades that fold out of the 2.375-inch stag handle. This version has a clip and Wharncliffe blade, which complement one another very well.
It’s hard to beat this combo in a traditional knife. I also appreciate the smaller package vs some of those massive knives you see out there.
13. Spyderco Delica Wharncliffe
The Delica is another one of those all-timers, so you can bet there are a ton of variations of the Delica. The Wharncliffe version came about after a “hard-working end-line user” requested the knife. Spyderco responded with this knife.
It has a 2.87-inch Wharncliffe blade made from VG-10 steel. The FRN handle and backlock are the same as the original.
14. KA-BAR TDI/Hinderer Hinderance
Rick Hinderer is no stranger to the Wharncliffe. He has an excellent Wharncliffe version of the XM-24. The Hinderance combines the knowledge and expertise of John Brenner and Hinderer to create a self-defense tool.
KA-BAR calls it a modified Tanto blade, but it’s definitely a Wharncliffe with its flat edge and piercing point. The blade is 3.5 inches and made from 1095 Cro-Van steel. The Ultramid handle has an interesting shape that almost resembles a pistol grip. The sheath allows you to mount this almost anywhere.
15. Cold Steel Tuff Lite
The Tuff Lite is an unlikely little knife. At a time when Cold Steel was making these huge, massive folders, they released the Tuff Lite. People love this knife.
Cold Steel calls the blade angled but it’s really just a Wharncliffe blade. The length is only 2.5 inches and uses AUS8A steel. The grip allows you to choke up on the blade for more control.
16. CRKT Jettison Compact
Robert Carter is a descendant of knife royalty but has made a name for himself with his own designs, including the Jettison. There are two versions of this knife: a larger model and a compact model. Since the compact model has more of a Wharncliffe blade style, that’s what we’re highlighting here.
The blade is only 2 inches long and uses 8Cr13MoV steel. The stonewash titanium handles houses the framelock mechanism that allows for a reliable lockup when the blade is engaged via flipper.
All this in only a 1.3-ounce package is great.
17. Boker Plus CLB Keycom
This is probably the most radical modified Wharncliffe on the list. Designed by Chad Los Banos, the Boker Plus KeyCom is another small folder. It has a 1.5-inch blade made from AUS8 stainless steel, a framelock, and FRP handles.
18. Spyderco Q Ball
The Q Ball is a relatively new knife with a “dramatic” Wharncliffe-style blade. It is designed by Eric Glesser and takes cues from his early designs. It is a compact yet ergonomic knife with a 2.75-inch S30V blade and a G-10 handle that houses the ball-bearing mechanism.
Although the knife is small in size, it is robust and durable.
19. CRKT SPEW
Like the Minimalist, the SPEW is designed by Alan Folts. Standing for Small, Pocket, Everyday, Wharncliffe, SPEW has a long and narrow 3-inch Wharncliffe blade. The knife is described as a compact utility knife. Its handle is G-10.
20. Spyderco Yojimbo 2
And finally, we come to the Yojimbo 2. The second iteration of the Yojimbo, which is based on the Ronin, is an ultimate folding self-defense Wharncliffe blade. It has a 3.11-inch S30V steel blade and stays engaged with the Compression lock. The G-10 handle scales feature a reliable grip that naturally conforms to the hand.
There’s not much more to say about this knife.
Bonus: There are a host of great discontinued models, such as the Spyderco Urban Safety, Benchmade Gravitator, Kershaw Needs Work, Spyderco Air, Kershaw Ken Onion Centofante, Benchmade Opportunist, Boker Plus Wharcom, BlackHawk BeWharned, and more.