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Unusual Suspects: Daggers

One of the oldest blade patterns, and perhaps the most controversial in modern times, are daggers or spear-point blades. Looking back to our Stone Age ancestors, we see that oftentimes knives, spear points, and arrowheads were fashioned from flint, obsidian, or chert. In some time that’s now lost to mankind and well before the Bronze Age, one of these ancient arms makers realized he needed symmetry to improve the aerodynamics and accuracy of his spear or arrow, and this translated well with regard to making knives and swords.

Daggers feature in some religions as well as the crests, standards, and flags of numerous noble houses throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. This tradition carries through to modern times with military units around the world incorporating a dagger as part of their crest, insignia, or even a unit shoulder patch.

Unfortunately, there are modern laws in many jurisdictions prohibiting daggers or so-called double-edged blades. They’re often seen more as a weapon than a tool. For this reason, you may see them referred to as spear-point blades, and some manufacturers offer them with a single edge as opposed to the traditional double edge. They still retain the symmetry and can have the non-sharpened edge reground if need be. In the case of a folding knife having one edge sharpened as opposed to both makes sense, however.

If penetrating with a thrust or a stab is the task at hand, nothing can do the job better than a dagger. They may not be the most practical as a daily work knife, but daggers or spear-point blades can have a role in survival preps and in self-defense.

Benchmade Mini SOCP

Overall Length: 6.25 Inches
Blade Length: 2.33 Inches
Blade Material: 440C
Weight: 3 Ounces
MSRP: $110

Benchmade Mini SOCP daggers

SOCP (Special Operations Combatives Program) is the designated combatives program for all U.S. military Special Operations Forces.

Benchmade Mini SOCP dagger sheath


  • The blade is made from 440C, which is a great all-purpose knife steel that’s tough, laser sharp, and rust resistant.
  • The sheath is MOLLE compatible, and the ring allows the knife to be quickly drawn under stress and to be easily retained even while holding something else.
  • Positive knurling makes this relatively skinny handle easy to hold and manipulate


  • The new sheath is a big improvement with regard to the clip, but probably could’ve been made more compact.
  • The blade on this is extremely short, luckily larger versions are available. Think of daggers like bullets; it needs to penetrate to reach vital organs to stop a threat.

D Rocket Designs Zulu Spear OTF

Overall Length: 7 Inches
Blade Length: 2.87 Inches
Blade Material: Bohler M390
Weight: 4 Ounces
MSRP: $333

D Rocket Designs Zulu Spear OTF daggers

Darriel Caston is an electronic engineer who has been designing and collecting small pocketknives and tools for a number of years. His knives reflect his technical background as they have an almost sci-fi look to them that’s more elegant than tactical. The bronzed aluminum frame on this model looks more like a piece of jewelry or an executive’s cigarette lighter than a knife.

D Rocket Designs Zulu Spear OTF closed


  • The blade is made from Bohler M390 steel, which makes it tough, rust resistant, and able to hold an edge.
  • The machining on the handles is both aesthetically pleasing and very comfortable.
  • High-quality construction and one that fires fast and smoothly


  • Bohler M390 steel is a tough steel that holds a good edge but can be a bear to sharpen properly.
  • This one is a little bit on the small side, and you’ll always think of it as a “dress knife,” despite its capabilities.

Mace Vitale Liver Sliver

Overall Length: 8.36 Inches
Blade Length: 3.35 Inches
Blade Material: 1084 Carbon Steel
Weight: 4 Ounces
MSRP: $250

Mace Vitale Liver Sliver daggers

Mace Vitale was the winner of the first season of Forged in Fire on the History channel. Although many of his pieces are pricey, he still forges a few that are affordable and effective. Liver Sliver daggers are one of these. Forged as a one-piece integral blade from a single piece of steel with no handle scales, liners, or anything else besides a decorative copper bead.

Mace Vitale Liver Sliver sheath


  • Slim and flat, this makes for an excellent concealable fixed blade that was forged by hand.
  • The integral handle has been textured superbly for a nonslip grip.
  • The contours of this knife are perfectly smooth with the right amount of texturing where you need it.


  • Forged carbon steel blades can rust, especially in a humid area.
  • There’s no guard between the handle and blade or any positive checkering for a reference point. Get familiar with the handle if carrying this for self-defense.

Protech Dark Angel

Overall Length: 8.87 Inches
Blade Length: 3.7 Inches
Blade Material: 154 CM
Weight: 3.4 Ounces
MSRP: $260

Protech Dark Angel daggers open


Protech makes some of our favorite side-opening autos, so we thought we’d look at their sole OTF model called the Dark Angel. With a black aluminum handle and DLC-coated blade of 154 CM, this model is built for performance and good looks. It fires well, and the action is smooth. A lot of thought went into this design to make a working knife with high aesthetic appeal.

Protech Dark Angel Closed


  • 154 CM is one of the author’s favorite blade steels, and this knife came to us razor sharp and ready to go.
  • The button is recessed to prevent accidental openings, and the action is fast and smooth.


  • As a single-action OTF, you don’t get the gadget factor of opening and closing it like you get from a double-action OTF.
  • The charging handle can get in the way if your fingers are touching the sides when you push the button to open the knife. It takes a little getting used to.

Slysteel Skeletek Dagger

Overall Length: 8.875 Inches
Blade Length: 3.875 Inches
Blade Material: 1095
Weight: 10 Ounces
MSRP: $195

Slysteel Skeletek Daggers

Skeletek Daggers were designed by Oliver Hannan of Slysteel to be self-defense-oriented daggers or boot knives, but they go a bit beyond that. Hannan has designed a number of survival-oriented designs, some of which have been used on the television show Naked & Afraid. This design sports thick black and red G10 handles, which can be removed to allow a custom paracord wrapped handle or to turn the knife into a spear in a survival situation.

Slysteel Skeletek Sheath


  • A razor-sharp blade and proper thickness make this design very robust.
  • The G10 grips are thick and grippy, but can be removed in order to fashion a spear or go with a paracord wrap for survival purposes.
  • The pommel makes an unbelievably good brake in the forward position and a positive thumb rest in the reverse or icepick position. And can be used for light prying.


  • While 1095 is a good working knife steel, the knives always feel a bit on the heavy side.

Columbia River Knife & Tool Xolotl

Overall Length: 8.9 Inches
Blade Length: 3.6 Inches
Blade Material: 1.4116
Weight: 4 Ounces
MSRP: $270

CRKT Xolotl daggers

The Xolotl (pronounced: show-low-tl) is a compact folder about as thin as a fountain pen. It’s named after an ancient Aztec deity who transported souls to the afterlife and has a skeletal-like handle. Not skeletonized, but skeletal, the pattern on the G10 handle resembles a stylized ribcage. Adding to that, the clip is modeled after a sternum. Designed by Michael Rodriguez as a part of the Forged by War series, this knife is comfortable to carry in everyday gear as it is on a MOLLE vest. It deploys with a lightning-fast flipper. The spear-point blade has a razor-sharp edge and a false edge.

Xolotl closed


  • The aesthetics are tops on this model, the cross guard acts as a flipper.
  • This can act as a capable non-lethal impact tool when closed; it’s almost perfect in this role.
  • The clip is reversible for right- or left-handed use.


  • The knife is only set up for tip-down carry.
  • Factory edge could’ve been sharper

Spyderco EuroEdge

Overall Length: 8.99 Inches
Blade Length: 3.92 Inches
Blade Material: CPM-S30V
Weight: 6 Ounches
MSRP: $349

Spyderco EuroEdge daggers

Two things we’ve always loved about Spyderco is its take on traditional or ethnic knives and their collaborations with custom knifemakers. As part of Spyderco’s Ethnic Series of knives, the EuroEdge was designed by Ed Schempp in a single edge format that retains the symmetrical aesthetics of true daggers. Schempp performed countless hours of dedicated research with the finest museums of Europe to get this one right.

Spyderco EuroEdge closed


  • The blade is made from CPM-S30V, which is a great all-purpose knife steel that’s tough, laser sharp, and rust resistant.
  • Tip-down carry and the Spyderco hole make this one fast to open.
  • The G-10 scales are rock solid and very comfortable to hold.


  • Pocket clip placement makes this one right-handed only for carry. Sorry, southpaws.
  • The polished G10 scales are so smooth they might be tricky to hold onto in a wet environment.

More of the Unusual Suspects and other Knives

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One response to “Unusual Suspects: Daggers”

  1. Chris R. says:

    Are there really no decent daggers in the $75 ti $150 range?

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