British Blades: 12 Best Wharncliffe Knives For EDC

Apr 8, 2019

Category: Gear

When it comes to choosing an everyday carry knife, there is a very long list of features to consider. Obviously, there’s a lot of emphasis on materials — especially in regards to the blade. But an experienced EDC enthusiast can tell you that the shape of that blade is also something you should be taking into consideration. This is because, in conjunction with the quality of the steel, the shape of your blade can determine its usefulness for specific cutting tasks.

If you’re the type to put your blade through the paces with heavy DIY work, especially if that includes any kind of wood carving or whittling, then you should probably consider picking up a knife with a Wharncliffe blade. With origins that trace back to the Vikings, this workhorse blade shape — while not as popular as its drop point cousins — is still readily available on modern offerings across the knifemaking industry. We’ve rounded up our favorites on this list of the 12 best Wharncliffe knives for EDC.

What Is A Wharncliffe?

Origins & Purpose

The earliest examples of Wharncliffe style blades date back to before there was actually a name for them. More specifically, there was a style of fixed blade fighting knife used by Vikings and Saxons dating back to before the 11th century called the Seax. Now, not all Seax knives featured a Wharncliffe-style blade, as the style was more generic and varied in shape from blade to blade, but there are a number of documented examples that did. The official name, however, wouldn’t be applied to this blade shape until far later — the 1820s, to be specific.

To the southwest of Leeds, England, there is a small area known as Wharncliffe. And the area’s first Baron was a man by the name of James Archibald Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie. So the story goes, this soldier-turned-politician was unhappy with a lack of innovation in regards to slipjoint knives. As such, he took it upon himself to enlist King George IV’s own cutlers, Joseph Rodgers & Son, in the creation of a new blade shape. Shortly thereafter, the shape was named after the Baron himself and, thus, the Wharncliffe was born.

Despite its royal origins, the Wharncliffe (and its variations therein) would come to be known as a workman’s blade, being especially useful for woodworking. This is likely because of its shape — a long, straight edge with a back that slopes gradually toward a piercing tip, making for a very sturdy cutting surface suitable for carving and whittling. Another, similarly styled and purposed blade is the sheepsfoot. The primary difference between the two is that, while the back of a Wharncliffe slopes gradually toward its piercing tip, the back of a sheepsfoot stays relatively parallel to the edge until a steep dropoff toward the tip (like the cloven hoof of a sheep) — making it far less suitable for piercing tasks. Outside of that, however, their functions are remarkably similar and, therefore, sheepsfoot blades have also been included on our list.

CRKT Pilar

Due to the curvature of the belly of its blade, CRKT’s Pilar actually qualifies as a modified Wharncliffe or sheepsfoot (depending upon who you ask). But that slight curve doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the best budget-friendly frame lock folders presently available. Designed by Jesper Voxnaes, the Pilar has a blade that measures up at only 2.4″ in length — making it tiny but mighty. That’s aided by a sturdy and ergonomic stainless steel handle. If you’re looking for a micro-size workhorse EDC knife, you can’t go wrong here. And that’s bolstered by its limited lifetime warranty.

Steel: 8Cr13MoV
Handle: Stainless Steel
Blade Length: 2.4″

Purchase: $24

Cold Steel Tufflite

Boasting one of the most traditionally-styled Wharncliffe blade shapes of any offering on our list, Cold Steel’s Tufflite is no doubt a modern everyday carry cutting tool. With its large manual-opening thumb slot, the 2.5″ blade is crafted from AUS-8A stainless steel — which is very easily sharpened and maintained — and it is mated to a sturdy and lightweight Griv-Ex (a fiberglass-reinforced plastic) handle. The whole package is completed by a reliable backlock, which will keep the blade deployed through even the toughest of tasks, and an ambidextrous pocket clip for easy carry whether you’re right- or left-handed.

Steel: AUS-8A
Handle: Griv-Ex
Blade Length: 2.5″

Purchase: $27

Kershaw Natrix XL

The original version of Kershaw’s Natrix was already an excellent everyday carry knife. However, it was a bit on the small side for some folks. That’s why the brand beefed it up with this XL version. Of course, it still features the same styling that made the original great. Equipped with a sturdy and durable modified Wharncliffe blade crafted from black oxide-coated 8Cr13MoV, the Natrix XL also has an OD green G10 handle with a unique sub-frame lock — a brilliant in-between option for people who want something sleeker than most frame locks but sturdier than a liner lock. And the whole thing is finished off with a KVT ball-bearing deployment system that makes every flick of the blade quick and satisfying.

Steel: Black Oxide-Coated 8Cr13MoV
Handle: G10
Blade Length: 3.75″

Purchase: $42

OKC Carter Prime

Featuring possibly the truest sheepsfoot blade shape of any of the knives on our list, the Ontario Knife Company’s Carter Prime is unique for its traditional silhouette modified with modern details and materials. For instance, the blade is made from D2 tool steel and the frame lock handle is crafted from high-grade titanium. It also includes a pocket clip for easy carry — but none of that takes away from its ability to be used as a workhorse carving tool. In fact, that construction helps make this one of the best knives in its class, bar none.

Steel: D2
Handle: Titanium
Blade Length: 3.375″

Purchase: $65

KA-BAR 7508 Jarosz Flipper

As you might already know, Ka-Bar isn’t particularly known for their everyday carry knife offerings — specializing more in mil-spec fixed blades and ultra-tough cutting tools made for hardcore outdoor usage. That doesn’t mean they don’t have any, though, as exemplified by their excellent 7508 Jarosz Flipper. Featuring a reliable and easy-to-maintain AUS-8A steel, the blade is a modified Wharncliffe shape with obvious influence taken from more-angular tanto-style cutting tools. And that blade is mated to a handsome sand-colored G10 handle. Designed by Jesse Jarosz specifically for outdoor usage, this is a workman’s blade you can depend upon day-in and day-out.

Steel: AUS-8A
Handle: G10
Blade Length: 3.375″

Purchase: $75

Boker Plus CFM-A1

Equipped with one of the beefiest blades of any knife on this list, the Boker Plus CFM-A1 is an intimidating cutting tool. With an overall length of 8.375″ and a weight of 5.44 ounces, it’s a bit on the hefty side for most EDC enthusiasts, but that’s a big benefit to plenty of others out there. That’s all the truer when you consider its sturdy construction materials — including a blade made from 14C28N steel and a handle that’s a combination of G10 and stainless steel. Not for the faint of heart, this beefy blade also opens via a flipper and a buttery-smooth ball-bearing deployment mechanism for quick work no matter the task.

Steel: 14C28N
Handle: G10
Blade Length: 3.5″

Purchase: $83

Case Copperlock

Having been around for over a century and with a specialization in workhorse blades, it should come as no surprise that Case offers one of the best Wharncliffe EDC knives around. Perfectly sized to slip into your pocket but with an excellent balance when deployed in your hand, this no-nonsense everyday carry knife hinges on a proprietary TruSharp surgical steel 3.2″ blade. And while this particular example has handle scales made from corn cob, it’s also available in a number of different materials and colors — including wood, bone, pearl, abalone, and even synthetic materials. Of course, if Wharncliffe blade shapes aren’t your thing, this one is also offered with a clip point blade — similar to those you might see on a bowie knife.

Steel: Tru-Sharp
Handle: Corn Cob Jig
Blade Length: 3.2″

Purchase: $88

Gerber Fastball

A brand-new, premium, USA-made, everyday carry offering from the folks at Gerber, the Fastball is an exceptional knife through and through. From its unique and modern silhouette to its excellent materials — which include S30V steel for the blade and an aerospace-grade aluminum handle — this is a knife you can be proud to carry. That gets bolstered even further when you consider its Wharncliffe blade is perfect for hard cutting tasks, making this an exceptional meeting point of stylishness and functionality. It also features a three-position pocket clip, has a ball-bearing deployment system that’s as smooth and satisfying as they come, and it comes in three different colorways.

Steel: S30V
Handle: Aluminum
Blade Length: 3″

Purchase: $100

Benchmade Proper 319

While we’d probably not go so far as to say that Benchmade rocked the everyday carry boat when they released their Proper 319 gentleman’s style slipjoint knife, it definitely made an impact. Maybe that’s because its silhouette is one of the most well-refined of any non-locking knife on the market. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that they equipped it with Micarta handle scales and a high-end S30V blade. Perhaps its because this throwback style was such a major departure from the modern and often-tactical blade Benchmade has been releasing as of late. Truly, it’s more than likely a combination of all these factors and more. One thing is for sure: the Proper 319 is one of the finest folding knives to come out in recent days. And if you can get your hands on one, we most certainly suggest you do.

Steel: S30V
Handle: G10
Blade Length: 2.86″

Purchase: $115+

Spyderco Yojimbo 2

A departure from Spyderco’s signature leaf blade shape, their unique 2nd generation Yojimbo is still, unmistakably, a Spyderco knife — exemplified by the brand’s iconic oversized thumbhole in the blade. Of course, it also features the same exemplary materials and sound construction we’ve come to expect from everything they have to offer. That includes an aggressive Wharncliffe-style blade built from high-quality S30V steel and handle scales built from sturdy and lightweight G10. This tactical take on the British blade shape — which was designed by noted self-defense practitioner, Michael Janich — also has several other unique features that set it apart from the competition. For instance, it was ergonomically designed not so that it feels like a comfortable knife to hold, but rather so it feels like an extension of the hand of the user. It also has an ultra-strong compression locking mechanism — the same one found in the ever-popular Spyderco PM2 — for the utmost in safety and security when deployed.

Steel: S30V
Handle: G10
Blade Length: 3.125″

Purchase: $141

Kizer Isham Megatherium

Probably the most aggressively-styled knife on our list, Kizer’s Megatherium looks like it could have been used by a black-clad villain in a science-fiction or superhero movie. And while that appearance is certainly a selling point for some, most will want to pay attention to the tremendously high-quality construction and materials that went into it. Designed by Elijah Isham, a knifemaker with a love for surrealist artforms, this is a cutting tool unlike any other. Part of that is because it is made from titanium and S30VN steel — both renowned materials for their durability, reliability, and more. But it’s also because of some of the more subtle details. For instance, while this knife features a flipper style deployment, the flipper tab is designed so that it hides between the handle scales while the knife is deployed — making for a sleeker appearance and more utilitarian functionality. It also has a massive thumb hole in the blade, an integrated frame lock, and a tumbled finish that really ties the whole thing together.

Steel: S35VN
Handle: Titanium
Blade Length: 3.65″

Purchase: $233

Chris Reeve Sebenza Insingo

Probably no knife designer is more deserving of his long, long list of accolades as Chris Reeve. Everything he has designed has a unique style that is unmistakably his while still remaining subtle enough that we wouldn’t call any of them “showy.” Of course, his magnum opus is, undoubtedly, the Sebenza. Available in large or small sizes (8.335″ and 6.875″ overall, respectively), this blade exemplifies everything EDC fanatics idolize — gorgeous design, remarkably functionality, and timeless style that will look as good as it does today as it will in a century. This isn’t a knife; it’s a piece of functional art. From its S35VN steel blade to its titanium handle complete with the proprietary Reeve Integral Lock, the Sebenza 21 has no excess and is wanting for nothing. And the fact that it comes with the option of a modified Wharncliffe blade shape of Reeve’s own design — called the Insingo — along with two others (a drop point and tanto) makes it all the better. And if that’s not enough, you can even get it with a Damascus steel blade in three different patterns.

Steel: S35VN
Handle: Titanium
Blade Length: 2.94″-3.625″

Purchase: $450

The Ultimate Guide To Pocket Knife Blade Shapes

The Wharncliffe is only one of many different types of everyday carry blade shapes. You can learn about all the other ones, their histories, and their purposes on our ultimate guide to pocket knife blade shapes.

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