The Stiletto Knife [Complete Guide]

As a knife collector, I’ve tried out many different knives over the years. Some knives I’ve tried once or twice and forgotten about them. My time with the stiletto knife wasn’t one of those times. This is a knife that is both practical and a great display piece. It’s a knife that would make for a perfect centerpiece in every knife collector’s collection. More than that, however, the stiletto is a knife that is hard not to love.

The stiletto is a fantastic knife. It may look like a switchblade at first glance, but don’t be fooled. The Stiletto is in a league of its own. Let’s us find out why.

A Complete Guide To Stiletto Knives


What Is A Stiletto Knife?

If you’re familiar with the shoe of the same name, you’ll be somewhat familiar with the knife itself. Like the heel of the shoe, the knife version is long, thin, and sharp. As you probably already guessed, this makes the stiletto a very potent stabbing or thrusting weapon. Unlike most daggers or rapiers, however, a stiletto usually has a double-edged design. The result is a knife that can be used for both thrusting and slashing.

Stiletto Knife

Most modern stilettos usually have a switchblade design. Some are automatic, but most have a manual spring release. This is quite the change in design compared to their earlier counterparts. Originating somewhere in late 15th century Italy, the stiletto started off closer to a dagger than a switchblade.

And for good reason as back then the stiletto had an important role to play in combat.

What Are Stiletto Knives Used For?

Early on, the stiletto found itself in the hands of knights. In the beginning, its primary purpose was as a purely offensive weapon. The thin, needle-like blade allowed the stiletto to penetrate most mail armor or pass through the silts in a knight’s helmet. The stiletto also became the preferred weapon for a “mercy strike”.

Over time, the stiletto soon became the favorite weapon of the medieval assassin. Being silent, easy to conceal, and capable of easily going through leather, it’s easy to see why. For a long time, the stiletto remained a popular weapon among both criminals and political assassins.

Since then, the stiletto started to fall out of use. Aside from a small resurgence in World War II among commando raiding forces, the stiletto quickly fell by the wayside when it came to combat.

How Do Stiletto Knives Work

Most modern stiletto knives are closer to switchblades than their earlier dagger-like counterparts. Even the actual non-blade design is practically the same as a traditional switchblade knife. Most stilettos, for example, are spring-assisted. This means that the knife uses manual pressure to initially open the blade. At this point, a spring propels the blade into an open and locked position.

How Do Stiletto Knives Work

Thanks to this design, the modern stiletto is easy to open with a single hand. The most recognizable style of stiletto is one whose blade is released out the front. A side-opening design, however, is also a popular option to find. As the name implies, this style of stiletto has the blade releasing from the side.

What Separates A Stiletto From Other Knives?

Aside from its rich history, the modern stiletto has very little in common with other types of knives. The most obvious of these differences is its small size. Of course, there are other smaller knives around, but very few of those are thrusting weapons like the stiletto. On the other hand, most trusting weapons are usually quite long. A rapier or even a dagger, for example, are both much large than your average stiletto.

The stiletto also has an iconic look. Many older movies will have the villain pulling out a stiletto and releasing the blade while looking at the hero. On the other hand, having an iconic look also comes with its downsides.

Are Stiletto Knives Good For Self-Defense?

It’s easy to see that a stiletto would make for a great defensive weapon. Unfortunately, things are quite complicated when it comes to the stiletto. Due to its history as a weapon used for nefarious purposes, the stiletto has gained the reputation of being a highly dangerous weapon. Although this may have given the stiletto a dangerous and somewhat cool air around it, it has also caused it to be highly regulated by the law.

In many states across the United States, the ability to purchase or even possess a stiletto can be heavily restricted. In some cases, it may even be outright prohibited. This fact is even more true in other countries such as the UK. Over there, it’s illegal to even carry automatic knives like the stiletto.

The good news for knife collectors, however, is a change of reputation in recent years for the iconic knife. Several states in the U.S. have even gone as far as to repeal several laws that banned the purchase or possession of stilettos and other similar automatic knives. In any case, it’s a good idea to look into your local laws before you think about adding a stiletto to your growing knife collection.

What’s The Difference Between A Stiletto And A Switchblade?

The Difference Between A Stiletto And A Switchblade

A stiletto is very similar to a switchblade. For someone unfamiliar with either knife, they may even be indistinguishable from one another. Truth be told, even I have a difficult time telling them apart if the blade isn’t out. With a stiletto having a long, thin, and needle-like blade, it makes for a sharp contrast to the thick and wide blade that is common to the average switchblade.

The Stiletto Is Popular For A Reason

With a history full of knights and assassins, it’s easy to see why the stiletto is a popular choice of knife for collectors. The difficulty of obtaining one that opens automatically only adds to the prestige and mystique of the knife. When you combine that with its iconic look, you would be hard-pressed to find a reason for not wanting one for yourself.

Last update on 2020-10-20 at 23:37 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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