Category Archives: FAQ

Are Folding Knives Good For Throwing?

photo: SOG Trident folding tactical knife

No.

As much as I’d like to just stop there, it seems kind of rude, so I’ll stretch this out a bit.

I know that a lot of people actually ask this question, because I see that come up in Google sometimes. Plus…I think we all had the thought cross our mind at least once.  If you love to throw knives, you just can’t hold a folding tactical knife in your hand without having the urge to throw it and see how it handles.

Well, the short answer is…NO, folding knives suck for throwing.  They are horribly unbalanced for rotational or spin throwing.  And for no spin throwing?  Well…maybe that’s a little less awkward than spin throwing.  But still.  The handles have all kinds of bumps and grooves and studs and clips and texture all over them, and that is going to impact your release.

But the main reason folding knives suck for throwing is simply that they aren’t designed for throwing.  That hinge is going to take a lot of abuse, even when you stick your target.  But on those bounces?  Ouch.  You can count on your lock being shot to hell.  Plus, the blade is probably thin and hard and is likely to break fairly easily, especially if it’s stainless steel (and most of them are).

Now if you’re interested in throwing a folder for self-defense reasons…well, that’s still not your best move.  If you want to be good at throwing folding knives, then you have to practice throwing them a lot.  And that means you’re going to ruin a lot of perfectly good folding knives.  Pretty much the only effective distance for throwing a folding knife would be from less than 6 feet — basically half spin distance.  In a tactical situation, you might as well just close the distance and do it right.

Okay, I tried to be nice and civil and all, but I’m getting bored with that.

DON’T THROW YOUR FUCKING FOLDING KNIFE!!!

If it’s a self-defense situation…you’ll miss or if you get extremely lucky and somehow manage to stick the guy, it won’t do much damage.  But it’ll sure piss him off…AND it’ll give him a deadly weapon, and he will freakin’ kill you with it!

Okay.  Sorry.

It’s just that common sense tells you that it’s a really stupid idea.  Anyone who actually throws knives will tell you that.  Yet every month there are people all around the world googling “how to throw a pocket knife”.

It’s just a bad idea.

And if you’re in a confrontation that isn’t life and death yet, throwing that knife — or even pulling it out — will instantly escalate that situation into something that you are going to regret.

But what if you just want to throw your pocket knife at wood targets for fun?

Don’t.

Knife throwing is a lot more fun when you use actual throwing knives.

Go buy some.

How To Clean And Store Your Throwing Knives

I recently came across an interesting tip about properly storing your throwing knives (and other knives as well) on an old thread on BladeForums, so I figured I’d share that along with a couple other common sense tips on here.

3 Simple Tips For Cleaning And Storing Throwing Knives

1.  Always scrub and wipe down your knives after each throwing session.  Use a damp rag to get all the dirt off, and then use a dry one so the water doesn’t sit on the blade.  Last, be sure to leave it out to air dry until it is thoroughly, completely dry before putting it away for storage.

2.  Apply some protective oil to the blade to prevent rusting.  Protective lubricants are available in most weapon shops.  Any throwing knife will benefit from this treatment, but those with higher levels of carbon (i.e. non-stainless steel) will benefit most.  However, don’t just stick that oiled up blade back in it’s sheath.  Leave it out for a day and then wipe it down the next day.

3.  Do not store your throwing knife in its sheath for extended periods of time.  This is the tip that I hadn’t really thought of, but I immediately felt stupid for not thinking of it.  It’s kind of common sense, especially if you live in a more humid climate like I do.  Moisture and oils can build up in the sheath and if the throwing knife is in contact with it, then that will promote corrosion.  So store your throwing knives in their box or using some other open air method.  I remember watching a video of knife throwing champion Mike “Alamo” Bainton where he showed some of his throwers hanging on pegs or something like that.  Now I realize the very practical purpose for this.

Okay, I hope that helps you take good care of your knives…

What Is The Best Metal Or Best Material For Throwing Knives?

Several visitors to TacticalThrowingKnives.com recently asked, “What is the best metal for throwing knives?”  There are three main factors that will help you determine the best type of metal for a throwing knife.  They are…

  1. ability to resist bending or breaking
  2. ability to resist corrosion
  3. price

Generally, materials that excel in one of those areas leave something to be desired in other areas.  For the most part, all commercially made throwing knives will either be constructed from some type of stainless steel or some type of high carbon steel.  And as is often the case in life, you get what you pay for.

Stainless Steel

Just about every throwing knife on Amazon and similar sites will be made of some type of stainless steel.  These knives look really nice and shiny, and many of them throw very well, but stainless steel knives are more likely to get bent or broken tips, or even to break in half (certain knives have holes or designs cutout of them, and those are obviously where breaks will occur).

On the bright side, stainless steel knives are usually a lot more affordable, so you can buy more of them for the same amount of money.  Plus, if you are vigilant about it, you can usually bend the tips right back in line without too much trouble.  Broken tips can be reground too.  If a lot of length is lost, that will certainly affect rotation, but you’ll adjust.

So just because a knife is made of stainless steel, that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it.

My favorite stainless steel knives are the Magnum Bailey Ziel II and the large Gil Hibben Cord Grip Throwers.  There are tons of other good ones, of course, but I like those ones best.  The Ziel is freaking awesome!

High Carbon Steel

This type of metal is going to be far more durable and will practically last forever, but it corrodes more easily than stainless steel, and knives made from this material will cost a bit more.  For this reason, throwing knives with higher levels of carbon will usually be coated to prevent rusting.  I have several 1055 carbon blades from Cold Steel, and I love them.

My favorites are the G.I. Tanto, the Perfect Balance, and the True Flight.

Other Materials

Technically, you can also make knives from other materials like wood, plastic or rubber, but they will not have the same weight to them, and that is going to negatively impact their performance.  Training knives might look like the real thing, but using them for throwing practice is probably a waste of time.

Can I Throw Throwing Knives In My House And What Type Of Knife Is Safe For Indoors?

If we’re just talking about throwing knives in your bedroom from less than 10 feet away, then sure it’s okay to do, unless you’re a minor and it’s not technically your house.  But if your parents are okay with it, then go and have fun with it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind…

5 Tips For Throwing Knives Indoors

  1. Get your parents’ (or spouse’s) approval first.  Remember, it’s their house too.
  2. Use cardboard targets (or thick cardboard over wood targets) to reduce bounce back and noise.
  3. Use pure cardboard for small, lightweight throwing knives (5-7 inches) and wood with cardboard in front for larger knives.  That way your big knives won’t travel straight through your cardboard and into the bedroom wall.
  4. And speaking of walls…don’t use your wall as a target board.  Not cool.
  5. Keep the area behind, in front of, and around your target board free of fragile items, pets, etc.

Check out these videos from Youtubers who enjoy throwing knives indoors.  Accidents happen, so be very careful when throwing knives, especially if you choose to throw indoors against wood targets.

 

Xolette — Sad face at the last 10 seconds…

xolette indoor knife throwing

 

 

 

Fast Action Blades — Lucky, dude.  So lucky…

Fast Action Blades - Blade Blooper 5 Youtube video

 

 

 

What Should My Lead Foot Be Doing While Throwing Knives?

A reader asked this question this morning.  I’m sure there are other opinions about this, but my opinion is that when you throw your knife, you should be sure to keep your lead foot (the foot that’s in front, pointed at your target) planted firmly throughout the throw, and keep it there until you’ve assessed how your knife stuck and whether you need to move forward or back or throw from the exact same spot.

Before retrieving your knives from the target, be sure to take one last look down at that lead foot to remember where you want to stand when you come back to throw again.  You may even want to put a marker of some kind (stick, sheath, Snickers bar) on the ground to mark that spot.

Consistency is everything in knife throwing, and “finding your distance” is a key element to accurate throwing.  There is more to it than that, of course, because you can stand in the EXACT same spot and throw six knives, and some will stick parallel, some will stick handle up, some handle down, and you may even bounce one…all from the exact same distance.  So there’s more to it than distance alone.

See also the post on how to stick your knives every time for more info.

Are Small Throwing Knives Safer Than Large Throwing Knives?

No, they’re not.

Here’s why…

Small, lightweight throwing knives are likely to bounce back at you on bad throws against wood targets.  My son actually had one of those cheap 5 1/2″ Ridge Runner knives bounce back from a half spin throw and stab him in the cheek.  His 6″ Perfect Point knives also bounce hard.

But when we throw my big Cold Steel throwers — all of which are 12″ or longer and are pretty heavy — they don’t really bounce at all.

So yeah, it seems counter-intuitive, but large throwing knives are actually much safer than small throwing knives.

 

Hint:  To minimize bounce, always throw small knives (8″ and under) at cardboard targets or cardboard sheets laid over your wood targets.

Are There Throwing Knives That Don’t Spin?

Somebody came to my site searching on Google for “throwing knives that don’t spin,” so I figured I’d answer the question…

“Are there throwing knives that don’t spin?”

No.

Well..yes.

Yes and no.

It’s not really about the knife; it’s actually the way you hold it and throw it.  There are some throwing knives that are better than others for no-spin throwing techniques, but there’s no such thing as a “no-spin” knife (i.e. one that magically doesn’t spin when you throw it).  All knives will spin when you throw them, but if you practice so-called “no-spin” techniques, you can cause them to rotate so slowly in flight that they don’t seem to spin at all and travel straight to the target like a spear.

Check out these links to learn more about how to throw knives without them spinning…

Knife Throwing Techniques:  Spin Vs No Spin

How To Throw A Knife Combat Style (Ralph Thorn’s Style)

UPDATE:  COOLEST THING EVER…

Okay, well it turns out that there actually is a knife that is designed to be thrown like a spear and travel point-first all the way to the target, and it doesn’t require hundreds of hours to master the throwing technique.  In fact, this knife’s unique design makes it incredibly easy to throw without spin with minimal practice.

It’s a Spanish thrower called a “Gyro Dart,” and there’s a folding pocket-knife version called the “Gyro Pocket”  (check it out on YouTube).

gyro dart

Many thanks to Christian Thiel for telling me about this one.  He has a review of it RIGHT HERE on his website.

While you’re there, be sure to spend some time snooping around on the rest of Christian’s site too.  KnifeThrowing.info is a huge, valuable resource for knife throwing enthusiasts.  You’re gonna like it there!

How To Make A Throwing Knife Wood Target Board?

I guess there are tons of possibilities here.  Don’t spend a lot of money on brand new lumber, bolts, nuts, washers, hinges, etc. at Home Depot.  Remember, your goal is to destroy this thing by throwing big, heavy knives at it.  So just use the cheapest wood and nails you can find.

For my first knife throwing target board, I used recycled 2x4s and old, used nails that cost me a fraction of what HD would have charged me.  It was basically like a picnic table that I’d lean up against the back fence along my house.  You can just do the same or lean it up against a tree in the backyard — or living room — or whatever.

Here’s how I made it…

knife target board

Step 1

Lay out six or 8 2x4s side by side, with the edges flush to each other.  Nice and tight.  Cut the ends if necessary to make them all the same length.  Six feet is an excellent length.

Step 2

Cut up another 2×4 into three pieces of equal length for cross beams.  These will hold everthing together.

Step 3

Nail them all together, using plenty of heavy duty 4″ nails, but try not to place them too close to the edges to avoid splitting the wood.

knife target board 2

Step 4 (optional)

Now flip it around and nail or bolt log rounds (4-6″ thick) to the front of the target board.  Use these as your actual targets to spare the 2x4s from wearing out too quick.

Step 5 (also optional)

Paint bullseyes on your targets (while they’re lying flat on the ground).

 

Well, that’s about it, really.  I highly recommend adding the log rounds.  They’re gentler on your knife tips, and replacing them is a lot cheaper and easier then replacing 2x4s.  Bulleyes are a nice touch, although if you’re just starting out, getting the knife to stick anywhere on the board at all is an accomplishment.  My first board had no targets to aim at.  By the time I was good enough to give a rip about accuracy, my board was already shot to hell, so it wasn’t really necessary.

Have fun!

 

Check These Out Too…

Target Training:  How To Not Break Your Knives

What Is The Best Material For A Throwing Knife Target?

 

What Is The Best Material For A Throwing Knife Target?

Answer:  It depends on the throwing knives.

  • Stainless Steel, Under 6″  — Cardboard boxes are fine, don’t use cork — they’ll bounce back at your eyeballs
  • Stainless Steel, 6″-8″  —  Thick cardboard, cork (like a dartboard), or cork w/ cardboard in front of it
  • Stainless Steel, 8″-10″  —  Cardboard, soft “wood” targets (read this post) or wood with cardboard over it
  • Stainless Steel, 10″ and up  — Soft targets or wood targets, log rounds
  • 1055 Carbon Steel or better  —  Wood targets, log rounds

Stainless steel knives are affordable (i.e. cheap) and are great for starting out, but the tips bend when you throw against wood targets.  You can try hammering them back into shape or grinding them if the tips break off, but you get what you pay for.

1055 carbon steel (used in Cold Steel throwers) is much more durable and can withstand lots of abuse.  Your targets will wear out before your knives will (handle scales and paracord wrap are another story, though).  I hate to sound like a commercial for Cold Steel, but their knives are just better then the other popular commercial brands.  If you throw both stainless steel knives and Cold Steel knives, then you know what I mean.

And then of course, you can get stuff much better than Cold Steel from custom knife makers like Rob Crozier, Joe Darrah, Roger Mumford, or even Bo McNees (yeah, I like Bo’s lawnmower-blade knives…got a problem with that?).

See also: Why Do My Knives Stick In Cardboard But Not Wood?

More Tips: Aligning Your Blade With The Wood Grain

Worst:  throwing against the grain…

An example would be having 2x4s or 2x6s aligned horizontally but throwing your knives so that they stick vertically…across or against the grain.  This is really hard on your knife tips and on your target wood.  Expect to see huge chips of wood flying off your target, as well as bending or breaking knife tips (particularly with stainless steel throwers).

Better:  throwing with the grain…

In this case, the planks or 2x4s of your target board are aligned vertically, and when you throw your knives, they stick vertically as well.  This is much easier on your knives and target board and will make them both last longer.

Best: throwing into the grain…

But the best way to prolong the life of your knives is to throw straight into the grain, head first.  Examples of this would be throwing at log rounds or small 2×4 or 4×4 blocks grouped and screwed together.  Some folks glue them or use create other fancy contraptions to hold them in place, but I think screws work the best and allow for easy replacement of individual blocks.

An end grain target is the best way to go to keep your throwing knives from bending and breaking by simulating a log round and allowing your blades to stick straight into the grain.

There are lots of Youtube videos showing how to make such a target, but I like this one the best…

 

 

Why Do My Throwing Knives Stick In Cardboard But Not In Wood Targets?

If you’re wondering how come your throwing knives stick fine in cardboard but bounce off when you throw at wood, the problem is going to be either one of two things:

  1. You’re not throwing your knives properly
  2. You’re using the wrong knives

The second problem is easier to address, so let’s start with that.

Use Larger, Heavier Throwing Knives With Good Points

Butter Knife and Small Perfect Point Throwing Knives Stuck Into Wood Target
5″ Perfect Point knives and a butter knife stuck into our wood target board. Thrown from 1/2 spin (5-6 feet).

To stick into wood, your knives need to be sharp.  Not the edges, of course…those should actually be dull.  But the points should be sharp enough to stick in wood.  If the tip is bent or just really dull, it is more likely to bounce.  But you should know, even a dull butter knife can stick into wood on a good throw (see my photo of my son’s knives and an old butter knife).

My son has a cheap set of small Perfect Point throwing knives that we bought on eBay for 10 bucks or so.  The knives are all under 6″ overall length, and they’re pretty light too.  These are small and light, but when we throw them properly from 1/2 to 1 spin distances, they usually stick okay in wood, because they have really sharp tips.

But if our form is a little off, or if there’s some wind or we’re throwing from farther than 1 spin (8-10 feet or so), they tend to bounce all over the place.  In fact, my son actually stabbed himself in the face with one of these little knives on his first day throwing them.  He threw from 1/2 spin and it bounced back right into his cheek.

Because of this tendency to bounce, I do not recommend throwing small knives at wood targets (especially from as the 1/2 spin distance…too close) — only cardboard or wood with cardboard laid in front of it.

Little knives stick easily into cardboard, even on bad throws (if you throw hard enough, even the handles will stick into cardboard targets).  But to stick these lightweight knives into wood, your rotation has to be just right and you need to put a little power into it.  Heavier knives can stick more easily with less power behind them…their weight alone helps to push them in, even on “easy” throws, but lightweight knives need to be thrown a little harder.

So small throwing knives need to have good, sharp points to stick into wood.  But using larger, heavier knives will make all the difference in the world.  If you’re ready to graduate from cardboard to wood, then you’re also ready to graduate from 6 inch throwing knives to 12+ inch throwers.

Tighten Up Your Form

If the problem isn’t your knives (and if they have fairly sharp points and have enough size and weight to get good sticks), then you just need to work on your technique.  Cardboard is very soft and very forgiving.  You can still get sticks even when your form is off.  But with wood target boards, your form has to be much tighter to prevent bouncing.

Read this other post for help with your knife throwing technique.  Remember, consistency is EVERYTHING…

How To Stick Your Throwing Knives Every Time