What Is a Hawkbill and How Does It Differ from Other Knives?

hawkbill neck knife

The hawkbill knife is one that has been around for ages, used originally for agrarian and fishing purposes. In those days they would have been worn around the neck on a strip of leather. Today you can easily find a hawkbill neck knife at reputable retailers.

What is a Hawkbill Shape?

The hawkbill shape is one where both the spine and the edge curve downward, like a talon, or a hawk’s beak, so the point is facing down. It uses the entire length of the blade and makes cutting simple when pulled back toward the user.

The spine of the hawkbill is always left dull and allows the user to place a finger on it for additional control.

Hawkbill Blade Differences

Blades with straighter spines tend to have more of a belly, and they require more force to cut items. Courtesy of the hawkbill’s curve, it doesn’t take much effort to cut as long as you hold the knife the correct way.

A drop point or a straight edge will have more general uses, like being able to prep food while in the field, or even doubling as a skinning knife when needed. However, the drop point wouldn’t make a good survival or combat knife as it doesn’t have a sharp point and can’t pierce very well.


It’s great for cutting linoleum, pruning, or rope, and does so even in bad weather. It has a nice, sharp point, making it easy to pierce certain materials. It offers a lot of control for specific tasks.

Electricians and home handymen like this knife because it does offer a lot of use around the house, particularly with stripping wires and opening boxes. In recent years, it’s been found to be useful as a fixed blade in self-defense and combat situations, much like the karambit.


The curved shape does limit its uses, so it’s not great as an everyday carry unless you’re doing a lot of renovating. The inward curve also makes it more difficult to sharpen.


Like most knives, the hawkbill is frequently combined with one or more blade shapes to increase its uses in certain fields. Most often, it’s combined with a karambit since the shapes are similar.

Where the karambit forms a half-moon, including the handle, a hawkbill has a straight handle and only the blade curves. This combination usually takes the form of adding safety rings to the hawkbill handle, making it better to use in wet, muddy, or combat conditions.

Another modification is to combine the hawkbill with the tanto. Exactly what this turns the knife into varies from maker to maker. However, what this does is increase the tactical uses of this knife, and adds to the tip strength if done right.

If you find a hawkbill neck knife for sale, you will probably see one or both of these represented in the design. Have a look and see if you can pick it out for yourself.

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