What are Armor-Piercing Knives?

You’ve heard of armor-piercing bullets, but what about armor-piercing knives?

The term “armor-piercing” is a little loaded to begin with, something that seems to make perfect sense on the surface but loses ground when the technical layers are peeled back. What type of armor is being pierced? Is it on a person or a structure? How is the piercing blow delivered? Is there a guarantee of it working every time or just some of the time? When does McDonald’s stop serving breakfast on the weekends? These are questions that aren’t apparent right off the bat.

When a company calls a product an “armor-piercing” knife, it’s usually referring to a specific blade tip design, often called a “tanto.” This features a roughly 45-degree angle ideal for delivering a lot of force without breaking – something you’d imagine is necessary for piercing armor.

Here’s an example of a butterfly knife from Bear Ops sporting a tanto design.

B-410-ALCF-AP_72dpi (1)

While it’s true the tanto design makes it easier to jab that blade tip through tough materials, this doesn’t necessarily make it an “armor-piercing” knife. Given enough force, any knife could pierce stab resistant body armor, a car door or other materials.

An “armor-piercing” knife, like many other flashy terms in the world of firearms and knives, is more of a marketing buzzword to attract consumers. It’s sort of like calling Jack Nicholson’s portable log splitter from The Shining a “door-piercing” ax.

Get the Book

The Writers Guide to WeaponsThe Writer’s Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books) comes with everything but the ammo. Pick up a print or digital copy from these fine retailers:

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