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The Best Throwing Knives To Hit Your Target

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Photo: Boker Magnum Bailey Ziel Throwing Knife

There are more types of knives in the world than you can shake your fist at — ranging wildly in size, shape, design, intent, etc. However, each and every one of them serves a purpose (and sometimes more than one). Exploring these variations, especially for someone with a penchant for bladed tools, can be rewarding, educational, and can even help increase a person’s skill set in some pretty meaningful ways. Though somewhat common in popular culture (especially blockbuster movies, as can be seen in The Expendables through Jason Statham’s character, Lee Christmas), throwing knives are actually one of the rarer variety of knives — and they require a greater skill level to be used properly and effectively than most other knife types.

That being said, there’s definitely an allure to the idea of whipping a blade across a room and into one’s intended target. Thankfully, though rare, throwing knives are not entirely unapproachable, even for beginners. It’s with this in mind that we’ve put together the following collection of the best throwing knives you can buy right now. And we’ve bolstered said collection with a dive into their historical background, an explanation of the different types, and even some tips and tricks to assist you in learning how to throw knives.

The Best Throwing Knives

What Are Throwing Knives?

It might seem simple on a surface level — throwing knives are, put in the most basic terms, knives that you throw, right? Well, that’s not exactly true. Yes, you can theoretically throw any knife. However, some knives were actually designed to be thrown, just as others were designed for outdoor survival, combat, everyday carry, etc. To help you understand this class of knives, their origins, history, and purpose, we’ve composed the following at-a-glance overview.

Stylistically speaking, there’s not really any definable designs to help you figure out what types of throwing knives there are on the market. Put simply: a throwing knife can theoretically have a design that fits any style — existing or not-yet-invented. However, most tend to conform to straight, rigid shapes (like other styles of fixed blades), as these tend to be better for the act of throwing. Karambits, for instance, have a curved blade and handle shape and, therefore, are far more difficult to throw with accuracy and, more importantly, are harder to score a “hit” with.

The 3 Different Types of Throwing Knives

As such, throwing knives are better organized into three throwing knife-specific categories: blade-heavy, handle-heavy, and balanced. As their names suggest, blade-heavy knives have most of their weight toward the tip of the blade, handle-heavy knives are heavier at the handle, and balanced knives (in theory) have their weight spread evenly between handle and blade. Blade-heavy knives tend to be best for beginners, as they work well with instinctive throwing — meaning you’d throw from the handle either over- or under-handed — and the heavy blade is the likeliest portion of the knife to hit your intended target. 

Handle-heavy knives are typically thrown via the blade (typically with a “pinch” grip, meaning you’d hold the blade between your forefinger and thumb) and are much less suited to use by beginners, as they have a steeper learning curve. Balanced blades can be thrown via the handle or blade, thus making them the most versatile of the three and can be great for users of all skill levels, though we’d still probably suggest that beginners try a blade-heavy knife first.

Projectile Edge Weapon Shopping 101

The Most Important Areas To Focus On When Buying Throwing Knives

As melee hand-to-hand combat weapons that are used as projectiles, it’s not hard to see why throwing knives have long been something of the black sheep of the family in the edged-weapons world. Additionally, a great many of the factors one would normally consider when shopping for a knife simply don’t apply to blades of the throwing variety. Well aware of this reality, we’ve broken down some of the most pivotal areas one should consider before buying a throwing knife or throwing knife set. 

Design: The term “throwing knife” actually encompasses more than just knives, with this segment being made up of everything from throwing knives to throwing tomahawks and hatchets to throwing spikes to Shuriken (ninja stars) to throwing cards. Each one of these thrown weapons offers its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Selecting what type of throwing knife you want to use should ultimately be the jumping off point for your search. 

Rotation: The vast majority of throwing knives are what are called rotational weapons (i.e. items that rotate as they travel through the air). There are also non-rotational thrown weapons that don’t spin and instead simply travel in a straight line. This is another important area to think about when shopping. 

Size: Throwing knives come in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes. Smaller throwing knives tend to be easier to throw, though they lack of weight and power of their larger counterparts. The trick here is to ultimately find a balance between the two. It’s also worth mentioning that several of our favorite throwing knives are sold in multiple sizes/lengths. 

Blade Steel: Just like with any knife, the type of blade steel used will determine how strong the blade will be, as well as how well it will hold an edge (and for how long) — though heat treating also plays a role here. Because throwing knives are fixed blade items, these knives are almost always comprised solely of a single construction— with the alloy making up both the handle and blade in a single full-tang unit. Not unlike with axes, throwing knives are most often made from rugged tool steels — rather than modern powder metallurgy blade steels that are more commonly used on EDC blades such as Böhler M390 and CPM S30V

Balance: One of the most important factors when reviewing a throwing knife is how well-balanced a design is, and this single element contributes more to the performance of a throwing knife than any other. Fortunately, most modern throwing knives are fairly well balanced, though the most surface-level digging on forums and product review pages should give a clear sense of this area. 

Number Of Knives: While there are some throwing knives that are sold individually, it’s far more common to see these items sold in sets of two, three, or four. 

Smith & Wesson SWTK8BCP Throwing Knives

  • Sold in set of 3
  • Offers great value
  • Protected by lifetime warranty
  • Novice-friendly weight & 8″ length
  • Cheap materials & finish

Best Affordable Throwing Knife: One of the most approachable throwing knife sets around, the Smith & Wesson SWTK8BCP kit comes with three handy, well-balanced 2Cr13 knives — each crafted from 2Cr13 steel and weighing just 4.1 ounces in total. Ideal for all experience levels, the kit also comes with its own 3-knife nylon sheath, so keeping them secure and transporting them is as simple as slipping them into said sheath.

Steel: 2Cr13
Total Length: 8″
Weight: 4.1 oz
Type: Balanced

Cold Steel Mini Torpedo

  • Cold-rolled from rugged 1055 high carbon steel
  • Features double-tapered point with impressive piercing power
  • Packs a huge punch thanks to nearly 1lb weight
  • Also offered in heavier 2lb version
  • Takes some adjusting to get use to
  • Sold individually
  • Awkward to carry

Best Throwing Spike: Cold Steel’s Mini Torpedo might not look like a traditional throwing knife, but it’s actually designed like the aforementioned ancient Japanese bo-shuriken. Crafted from a solid piece of cold-rolled 1095 steel, this somewhat hefty 12″ throwing knife is perfect for professionals and amateurs alike — and it serves as both a great practice knife and one that can help those looking for something a bit different. Furthermore, if this one isn’t quite hefty enough for you, for whatever reason, it also has a larger sibling — which is 15″ in length and weighs 2 lbs, but is otherwise the same.

Steel: Cold Rolled 1055 High Carbon
Total Length: 12″
Weight: 15.8 oz
Type: Balanced

SOG F041TN-CP Throwing Knives

  • Super unique throwing knife shape & design
  • Can be used as regular outdoor fixed blade knife
  • Sold in set of 3 w/ included sheath
  • Paracord-wrapped handle offers soldi comfort & grip
  • Nowhere near as well-balanced as some of the other knives on this list

Best Multi-Use Knife: One of the more unique silhouettes of the throwing knives on our list, the SOG F041TN-CP Throwing Knives look a lot like pared-down, skeletonized versions of bowie knives, which gives them bonus points for style in our opinion. But it’s important to note that these are still the real deal when it comes to throwing knives, and they’re made from solid black-finished 420 steel and feature skeletonized handles wrapped with paracord for extra grip (and to serve as an emergency contingency). That means, while they’re intended for throwing, these knives are also useful for general fixed blade usage, as well.

Steel: 420
Total Length: 10″
Weight: 6.53 oz
Type: Balanced

KA-BAR Thunderhorse Throwing Knife

  • Shape inspired by Bowie knives
  • Engineered specifically for throwing
  • Born out of collab between collaboration between KA-BAR & ThunderHorse Blades
  • Super thick blade at nearly 0.20″
  • Strange balance

Best Individually-Sold Knife: KA-BAR only has one throwing knife in its lineup — probably because this sole offering, created in collaboration with KJ Jones of ThunderHorse Blades (who also happens to be a member of the Knife Throwers Hall of Fame), is just that good. Crafted from a single, sturdy piece of 1095 steel, this blade-heavy beauty is a hefty offering beloved by those in the knife-throwing community and trusted by professionals and amateurs alike. We wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is the best of the best on our list, but we’re not going to discourage that line of thinking, either.

Steel: 1095
Total Length: 15.625″
Weight: 19.8 oz
Type: Blade-Heavy

United Cutlery Gil Hibben Gen III Throwing Knives

  • Penned by industry legend Gil Hibben
  • 3rd generation design
  • Perfectly balanced
  • Unique handles designed for pinch-grip holding
  • Not sold w/ included sheath

Best Upgrade Knife: You’d be hard-pressed to find a throwing knife designer more impactful and masterful than Gil Hibben. And that’s probably a part of the reason that United Cutlery’s Gil Hibben Gen III Throwing Knives are so spectacular and beloved. These perfectly balanced throwing knives come in a pack of three, are built from 3Cr13 stainless steel, and measure up at a manageable 11″ each. Crafted for the perfect throw every time, you can’t go wrong with these.

Steel: 3Cr13
Total Length: 11″
Weight: 10.6 oz
Type: Balanced

Spyderco Small SpyderThrowers Throwing Knives

  • Absolutely perfectly balanced
  • 8Cr13MoV stainless steel construction fortified via 2-tone black oxide & satin finish
  • Born out of collab between Spyderco & custom knifemaker Harald Moeller
  • Offered in 9″, 10″, & 11″ sizes
  • Expensive price

Best Overall Throwing Knife: While we’re highlighting the Small version of Spyderco’s SpyderThrowers throwing knives — made in collaboration with master Canadian knifemaker Harald Moeller — this set is actually available in three different sizes. However, apart from their length and weight, these knives are practically identical — built from solid 8Cr13MoV steel and boasting a perfectly-balanced format. As a clever added touch, Spyderco still managed to include its signature thumb hole, albeit a much more tame and tiny version, on the blades of these throwing knives.

Steel: 8Cr13MoV
Total Length: 9″
Weight: 7.1 oz
Type: Balanced

Boker Magnum Bailey Ziel Throwing Knife Set

  • Made for professional tournament use
  • Features an ultra-beefy 0.25″ blade thickness
  • Amazingly well-balanced design
  • Some of the best throwing knives money can buy
  • Expensive price

Best Tournament-Grade Throwing Knife: If you’re interested in getting into genuine knife throwing competitions, you can’t go wrong with Boker Magnum’s “tournament-grade” Bailey Ziel set. These handsome tools are each crafted from a single, solid piece of 420J2 steel and are perfectly balanced from tip to tail. Best of all, they were made specifically to meet the standards set by most, if not all, knife-throwing clubs.

Steel: 420J2
Total Length: 13.25″
Weight: 14 oz
Type: Balanced

The Complete History Of Fighting & Combat Knives

The story of the knife is the story of mankind. So, to better understand ourselves and what is likely our fist, most trusted tool, we’ve put together this comprehensive history of fighting and combat knives to help those interested become more acquainted with our intertwined stories.