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Updated Jul 20, 2022 5:37 AM

Nothing says “operator” like throwing knives at a target to blow off steam at the end of a rough day. OK, so a 19-year-old recruit fresh out of basic may not be anywhere close to being an operator, but even a newly-minted Space Force guardian can start sticking logs with a quality set of throwing knives, some instruction, and a little bit of patience.

Throwing knives is an age-old pastime with a history reaching back millennia. Unlike more recent military traditions such as slapping challenge coins onto a bar, warriors of all kinds have been launching knives through the air in combat, at backyard targets, and everywhere in between, further adding to the practice’s honor and tradition. In fact, this has us wondering if maybe the Army Marksmanship Unit needs to start expanding its horizons.

To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some of the best throwing knives on the market. And remember: the enemy cannot push a button if you disable his hand.

While some may find the Smith & Wesson name a bit unusual on a blade, new and experienced knife throwers alike will find the Smith & Wesson Bullseye 8” Throwing Knife Set to be a pleasant surprise.This set of six throwing knives is well-suited for throwers seeking a well-balanced, lightweight blade. Each knife measures eight inches long and weighs 4.7 ounces and is constructed with 2Cr13 stainless steel for durability and reliability. The blade itself uses a spear point design, and both the blade and handle feature relief cuts to decrease overall weight. The included nylon belt sheath easily accommodates all six knives at once and makes storage and access simple and easy. Since most throwers want multiple knives to minimize trips between the target and their throwing line, this set of six blades is an excellent option for just about anyone. Two things to consider: these knives may be slightly susceptible to being blown off target compared to heavier knives, and some users have reported sharp corners and edges on new sets that require minor sanding before use. That said, this set’s combination of features makes it a tough choice to pass up.

Product Specs
  • Blade steel: 2Cr13 stainless steel
  • Weight: 4.7 ounces
  • Length: 8 inches
PROS

Good length and balance

Lightweight

Made with impact-resistant high-carbon steel

Includes six knives

CONS

Susceptible to wind while in flight

May have sharp edges that need sanding

Looking for the perfect beginner’s throwing knife? Then end your search with the SZCO Supplies Rite Edge Heavy 10″ Thrower Set. This set includes three throwing knives with knife-throwing legend Harry K. McEvoy’s ideal length-to-weight ratio for a new knife thrower. Each knife measures 10 inches long with a 2.75-inch spear blade and a 7.25-inch handle. Constructed with tough 3CR13 stainless steel, these knives were built to last with a head thickness of two millimeters and a four-millimeter base. Each one sports an ergonomic design that is easy to grip and throw, while the design’s balance places the knife’s center of mass right in the middle where it belongs. The black nylon sheath with its velcro strap makes for easy storage, yet the lanyard holes on each knife provide an additional option for creative types. The only noteworthy downside to this knife set is that it only includes three knives, necessitating additional purchases if you start to get serious. Still, this is an excellent value option, making it a great choice for new and budget-conscious throwers.

Product Specs
  • Blade steel: 3CR13 stainless steel
  • Weight: 9 ounces
  • Length: 10 inches
PROS

Affordable

Good length and balance

Great for beginners

Made with thick, tough steel

CONS

Set only includes three knives

Editor’s Choice

Sometimes, the little details can make all the difference, and such is the case with the Boker Magnum Bailey Ziel Set of throwing knives. This set of three knives is constructed with 420J2 stainless steel, an excellent combination of strength, flexibility, and corrosion resistance that any thrower would appreciate. This construction allows these blades to shrug off impacts that would break lesser blades. Each knife measures 13.25 inches long and weighs 14 ounces, giving this set an excellent length-to-weight ratio for experts and beginners alike. These knives have an excellent balance with a center of mass smack dab in the middle of each knife, and the leather belt sheath serves as a show-stopping storage option. In addition to meeting or exceeding requirements for knife throwing clubs, these knives come backed with Boker’s limited lifetime warranty. Unfortunately, this expensive set only comes with three knives, and some throwers might find the knives a bit long at over 12 inches. That said, this set still steals the show and earns its spot on the list.

Product Specs
  • Blade steel: 420J2 stainless steel
  • Weight: 14 ounces
  • Length: 13.25 inches
PROS

Meets or exceeds throwing club requirements

Excellent balance and release

Leather sheath

Limited lifetime warranty

CONS

Expensive

Might be a little long for some throwers

Set only includes three knives

Most Aggressive Throwing Knives

Nothing telegraphs serious knife-throwing like SOG Clip Point Throwing Knives. All three knives in this set look like small Bowie knives optimized specifically for hurtling through the air toward some hapless tree stump. Each knife measures 10 inches long and tips the scales at five ounces apiece, providing users with a good heft without being too heavy. These full-tang knives consist of 420 stainless steel with a hardcased black finish for a combination of strength and corrosion resistance. Each handle sports a black paracord wrap, and the nylon belt sheath holds all three while securing them in place with a velcro strap. Like classic throwing knives, these are well-balanced for easy throwing, but unlike normal throwing knives, these sport sharpened 4.4-inch blades, turning them into practical tools. While not overly expensive, these SOG throwing knives are still a little pricey. It’s also worth noting that the sharpened edge might not be best used by experienced throwers rather than newbies. Of course, if you take care not to slice yourself upon your release, this clip point throwing knives could be quite the investment.

Product Specs
  • Blade steel: 420 stainless steel
  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Length: 10 inches
PROS

Versatile, sharpened blade

Good length and balance

Lightweight

Appealing aesthetic

CONS

A little pricey

Sharpened edge could be dangerous for new throwers

Susceptible to wind while in flight

Drop point blades are incredibly common in the world of pocket knives but not so much among throwing knives. That said, the United Cutlery Gil Hibben Large Triple Throwing Knife Set boasts some impressive drop point blades that fly through the air with the greatest of ease and make sticking the landing feel like a breeze. Designed by Gil Hibben, all three knives measure 8.625 inches long and feature a 4.625-inch blade, yet at just 5.25 ounces each, these knives are far from being heavyweights. In order to minimize breakage and corrosion, these blades consist of 420 stainless steel, and the set comes with a nylon belt sheath with a snap-secured strap and room for all three of the knives it accompanies in the packaging. The balance of these knives is perfect, yet unlike most throwing knives, these come with sharpened blades that are hazardous to new throwers. This Gil Hibben-branded throwing set can cost you a pretty penny if you don’t shop around, but no matter what you spend, these knives are worth bragging about.

Product Specs
  • Blade steel: 420 stainless steel
  • Weight: 5.25 ounces
  • Length: 8.625 inches
PROS

Versatile, sharpened blade

Excellent balance

Lightweight

Snap-secured nylon sheath

CONS

Set only includes three knives

Sharpened edge could be dangerous for new throwers

Susceptible to wind while in flight

Best Large Throwing Knife

Rarely does one come across a throwing knife sold solo, but then again, the manufacturers of the Cold Steel Perfect Balance Thrower are not known for sticking with convention. This knife’s design harkens back to the days when men threw real knives, and the Bowie knife-like blade gives this design a particularly old school feel. The nine-inch blade, 13.5-inch overall length, hefty weight (15.4 ounces!), and sharpened blade further blur the line between “toy” and tool. Constructed with 1055 carbon steel, this knife was built to last, and the black rust-resistant finish increases this knife’s durability. The 4.5-inch polypropylene handle scales add an extra level of functionality, and the nice overall balance makes adapting to the unusual shape easier than expected. On the flip side, few throwing knives earn a price tag to match this Cold Steel offering. This knife is also heavy, and the lack of an included sheath or any additional knives are disappointing. Still, there are few knives that can compete with this big Cold Steel thrower.

Product Specs
  • Blade steel: 1055 carbon steel
  • Weight: 15.4 ounces
  • Length: 13.5 inches
PROS

Versatile

Great balance

Rust-resistant finish

Tough and durable

CONS

Expensive

Heavy

Sheath and extra knives not included

Most Versatile Throwing Knife

Ever wish you could find a knife that does it all: cut, slice, and hurtle through the air on a whim? Then take a closer look at the Down Under Knives Kookaburra Throwing Knife. This sharpened Bowie-style throwing and utility knife is constructed with trusty 440C stainless steel that has been heat treated to a Rockwell hardness of 52, great for withstanding impacts and other throwing-related stresses. That said, this 12-inch blade was designed to hold and maintain a sharp, reliable cutting edge, increasing the blade’s capabilities. At 12.7 ounces, this knife has plenty of heft for the perfect “thump” after a high-speed throw. The low-profile, leather-wrapped handle provides a task-friendly grip without creating excess bulk during throwing sessions, and the leather sheath exudes a certain Crocodile Dundee vibe with plenty of room for a second knife. Want a companion for your new Aussie mate? No worries. Every Kookaburra comes with an identical twin to keep you busy target after target. Besides the eye-watering price tag, the only real knock against this set is that it only comes with two knives. That said, your chances of finding another all-in-one knife like this are about one in a million.

Product Specs
  • Blade steel: Heat-treated 440C stainless steel
  • Weight: 12.7 ounces
  • Length: 12 inches
PROS

Versatile

Leather-wrapped handle

Durable

CONS

Very expensive

Set only includes two knives

Best Throwing Dagger

Looking to raise the energy during your next throwing session? Then snag a set of Kershaw Ion Throwing Daggers. This offering from Kershaw includes three throwing daggers, each constructed with throwing-friendly 3Cr13 stainless steel and each sporting dual sharpened edges measuring 4.5 inches long each. Every Ion’s steel surface (minus the edges) sports Kershaw’s black oxide “BlackWash” finish for a handsome, mottled dark gray look, and the handle sports a black and white paracord wrap and an exposed steel ring pommel, resulting in a sleek aesthetic. Each dagger measures nine inches long from tip to tail and weighs in at a lightweight four ounces apiece, making them easy to throw but also more easily blown off course than heavier daggers. The electric trio comes with a dedicated nylon sheath, complete with a belt loop and retention strap for easy carry and storage. These Kershaw throwing daggers have plenty of potential for fun, but new throwers may want to consider options with unsharpened edges until they get the hang of things. Beyond that simple caution, we’d say to go ahead and snag a set while you can!

Product Specs
  • Blade steel: 3Cr13 stainless steel
  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Length: 9 inches
PROS

Very lightweight

Sharpened, dual-edged blade

Great aesthetic

CONS

Sharpened edge could be dangerous for new throwers

Susceptible to wind while in flight

Set only includes three knives

The next time you’re feeling hungry for some steel-hurtling fun, pick up a set of Smith & Wesson Bullseye 10” Throwing Cleavers. This three pack comes with 10-inch 3Cr13 stainless steel throwing knives sporting the classic profile of a chef’s cleaver minus the traditional wood or synthetic handle. Instead, these kitchen-themed throwers sport a skeletonized full-tang handle complete with a handy bottle opener built into the handle. Just like a chef’s blade, these Smith & Wesson’s blades are sharpened, but unlike a kitchen knife, these throwing cleavers continue that edge all the way onto the “tip”, making these blades functional throwing tools. That said, newbies might want to look at some unsharpened knives to minimize the risk of kitchen(ish)-related injuries. Of course, no set of throwing knives would be complete without a sheath for safe storage, and this Smith & Wesson offering is no exception. The included synthetic sheath hosts all three blades perfectly and features a snap retention closure for increased storage security. Hungry yet?

Product Specs
  • Blade steel: 3Cr13 stainless steel
  • Weight: Not listed
  • Length: 10 inches
PROS

Fun aesthetic

Sharpened front edge

Convenient bottle opener in handle

Snap-secured nylon sheath

CONS

Sharpened edge could be dangerous for new throwers

Set only includes three knives

Why you should trust us

Ever since elementary school, I have lived and breathed knives of one kind or another. It all started with the Old Timer Mighty Mite I received for my eighth birthday, and it’s all gone downhill since. Now, I can’t get enough of knives and other blades. In addition to building my own collection of pocket knives, fixed blades (including throwing steel), and tomahawks, I have sacrificed blood, toil, tears, and sweat for you, dear reader, reviewing knives of all shapes and sizes for their efficacy and have even gone so far as to dive into the deep mysteries of Damascus steel.

Types of throwing knives

To the untrained eye, all throwing knives look mostly alike. Sure, one may have an extra curve here or a skeletonized handle there, but besides those nuanced differences, what’s the big deal? A knife’s a knife, right? Wrong, actually. While most knives look quite similar, all throwing knives can be divided into two separate categories: throwing knives and throwing daggers. While the differences may be relatively small, both categories have their own distinctive features and uses.

Throwing knives

Most throwing knives fall into the category of the traditional knife pattern. Unlike traditional knives, throwing knives often lack sharp edges for safer handling, and their points, while still sharp, may be to be slightly blunted by comparison. That said, some throwing knives do include sharpened blades, although such knives are single-edged, further adhering to the traditional knife pattern.

Throwing knives regularly come in both single-edge and dual-edge patterns and commonly use a spear, clip point, or leaf blade pattern. In addition, throwing knives occasionally take on a unique form factor by employing a unique blade pattern, such as a Bowie-style clip point or a kitchen cleaver (with a beveled or sharpened front edge to ensure your throws stick).

Throwing daggers

The throwing dagger is the next evolution of the throwing knife. Both designs rely on the same basic principles of weight and balance, but the longer, heavier throwing dagger uses a triangular spear point blade with straight lines that lend it an aggressive aesthetic.

Almost without exception, throwing daggers are double-edged, and sharpened daggers always are. Often, throwing daggers feature slim, even rodlike handles capped by a large ring. At times, the handle will feature a paracord wrap or similar lightweight gripping surface, enhancing both your grip and the blade’s overall aesthetic. It’s no wonder this knife style co-starred with Jason Statham in The Expendables franchise.

Key features of throwing knives

As with any knife, many factors go into the making of a quality blade, but as with traditional knives, tomahawks, and other bladed tools, throwing knives have their own unique set of features that make them capable of handling the stress and abuse that come their way. When selecting a throwing knife, make sure to take a close look at its blade steel, weight, length, balance, and handle. From an objective standpoint, little else matters.

Blade Steel

No matter how hard you may try to avoid it, your throwing knives will endure tons of abuse, as in sentry-duty-soldier’s-destructive-fantasies-coming-true levels of abuse. A quality throwing knife is capable of enduring the kind of field-developed torture tests that many traditional knifes blades would easily fail.

Traditionally, top-quality knife blades tend to be tough, hardened customers capable of holding an edge well, yet these same blades could chip, crack, or break under impact stresses. As such, look for throwing knives made of softer steels, such as 1075 carbon steel, 2Cr13 stainless steel, or spring steel. If possible, find your desired blade’s Rockwell hardness rating. Ideally, it’ll be somewhere in the ballpark of 45-50 HRC/RC.

Weight

A throwing knife’s weight directly affects how the knife is thrown. Knife-throwing legend Harry K. McEvoy recommended that beginners look for knives somewhere in the ballpark of one ounce (30 grams) per inch of the knife’s overall length, as lighter blades are more susceptible to being blown off course in flight. For knife-throwing veterans, this is particularly helpful advice, but admittedly, not everyone who picks up such a knife really knows what they’re doing.

Sometimes, it’s best to go with a knife that doesn’t weigh quite so much. Lighter knives may be a better option for younger knife throwers or those with smaller or weaker hands and wrists. Thankfully, many throwing knives tip the scales at less than 0.75 ounces per inch of length, making them a whole lot easier to use, albeit at shorter ranges on gusty days.

Length

Even if you flunked physics (or never even took it), its laws still apply to the world of blade throwing. While it may seem strange at first, a knife’s length can dramatically affect a thrower’s ability to hurl the blade toward a target. Longer blades are easier to throw, as they slow the blade’s rotation rate to a level that is more forgiving of imperfect throws.

Most throwing blades range between eight and 10 inches long, although some suggest beginners use even longer knives, such as a 12-incher. While a longer knife might add a little additional weight, the extra length tends to minimize the effects of the extra weight.

Balance

A knife’s balance describes the center of mass within a given blade, a simple yet critical consideration for knife throwers. As the description implies, balance describes the location of a knife’s center of gravity along its length. A properly balanced knife is easy to throw, while an improperly balanced knife will be difficult to throw with any degree of consistency or accuracy.

A well-balanced blade has its center of mass located in the middle of the knife, making it an excellent choice for new and casual throwers. Blade-heavy and handle-heavy knives transfer their weight to those respective portions of the knife, dramatically affecting how the knife performs as it travels through the air.

Handle

When selecting a knife, consider the handle and its layout. As a throwing knife leaves your hand, the steel will slide along your fingers which affects your release and accuracy. For new throwers and those who go hard on their equipment, a handle with few to no cutouts will tend to stand up best to regular drops, misses, and other impacts. 

A skeletonized handle makes for a lighter knife and/or a blade-heavy knife, but they may be less resistant to constant abuse. If you have limited experience, consider picking up a solid-handled knife. Some knives also include a paracord-wrapped handle, although these wraps often fail relatively quickly.

Benefits of throwing knives

While ax throwing has gained plenty of popularity among millennials, knife throwing is the art original form, and it requires an extra level of skill and finesse to achieve success. Sure, hurling axes at a sawed-off tree stump (or foam target) can look impressive, but sticking a knife into a target with repeatable accuracy can be incredibly rewarding.

Affordable fun

One of Google’s FAQs on the subject of knife throwing is, in essence, “what’s the point?” Let’s start with entertainment. There’s something fun, oddly satisfying, and even addicting about sticking a pointy piece of metal into a solid piece of wood over and over and over again. Better yet, knife throwing is a hobby you can learn with your buddies or your significant other with little effort (but maybe a good bit of patience).

Everyone needs to blow off steam every once in a while, preferably in a non-destructive way. Hobbies are a great way to relieve stress, although some are a bit pricier than others. Compared to modding cars, off-roading, and shooting, knife throwing is an incredibly inexpensive hobby that anyone can enjoy without worrying about putting a dent in their pocketbook.

Enhanced mental capabilities

Knife throwing, unlike some pursuits, can do wonders for your personal development. In other words, sticking pointy metal slabs into a lump of wood can help you grow. Who knew, right?

Due to the patience and precision necessary to land your blade in the target time and again, knife throwing is an excellent way to boost your confidence, discipline, and focus. Confidence comes from knowing you can consistently deliver precise hits on target whenever challenged. Knife throwing helps you develop discipline by demanding patience and dedication to develop your consistency and precision, a valuable asset in any high-stakes situation. Lastly, knife throwing proficiency comes from enhancing your ability to tune out distractions and keep your eye on the prize, all in the name of fun and bragging rights.

Pricing considerations for throwing knives

Throwing knife pricing can be somewhat confusing to gauge due to the fact that these blades usually come in sets of three, six, or a dozen, although a few, usually pricier options can be purchased individually. As such, we recommend using the price per knife to determine the best deal.

Budget

Unlike more utilitarian knives, throwing knives often use softer, more flexible steels due to the unique demands and stresses that such knives must endure. Thankfully, such steels cost a good bit less than other knife steels, making it easy to get started in the sport of knife throwing without breaking the bank.

Many starter sets come with low-end blades that use a soft steel that blunts easily and cost less than $5 per knife, but in many cases, we recommend avoiding these blades, mostly due to low durability, poor tip retention, and/or off-center balance. Good entry-level throwing blades usually run in the $6 to $10 range for a single knife, although they usually come in sets of three which will cost you somewhere between $20 to $30. Start here, and you should be good to go.

Mid-range

In most cases, a price tag between $10 to $30 per throwing knife is the sign of a good, reliable blade. High-quality throwing knives from mass-market manufacturers cost more than $10 per blade, often hitting between $25 and $30 apiece.

These blades tend to be skeletonized, making them a better choice for gentler, more precise throwers. At this price point, you will start to see 420 stainless steel blades and the occasional snap-secured or leather sheath. Paracord handle wrappings also appear fairly often at this price point, although many of them lack durability. Most often, these blades are available in sets of three, although solo offerings do appear from time to time.

Premium

On rare occasions, you may stumble across a single throwing knife priced at or above $30, but such blades are very uncommon. Compared to most other throwing knives, these are in a league of their own. Often, these knives feature sharpened edges which may be intended to double as a more traditional knife. The knives may include handle scales and are almost always sold solo.

Common blade steels in the price bracket include 420 series stainless steel, such as 420C, and 1055 carbon steel. Some of these blades are also heat-treated which increases their edge retention but, on the flip side, may increase their likelihood of breaking if thrown poorly.

How we chose our top picks

When reviewing new gear, we much prefer to go the hands-on route, but sometimes, a lack of resources may thwart our attempts to get our mitts on some cool gear. To make sure we don’t let you down, we take the time to listen to those who have firsthand experience, combing through reviews on Amazon, professional publications, enthusiast blogs, and more to bring you the best intel available. We sift through it all, keep the gold, and toss the rest.

To complete this throwing knives guide, we did some extensive research to make sure we found the best the market has to offer. We gleaned some valuable information from A.G. Russell, American Knife Throwers Alliance, Axeing.org, Blade HQ, and Knife Informer and recommend you check out what they had to say.

FAQs on throwing knives

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: How much do throwing knives cost?

A: A good quality throwing knife usually runs around $10 a pop, but since most purpose-built throwing knives come in sets of three or more, you can expect to drop somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 for a decent set.

Q: Can any knife be a throwing knife?

A: Technically, yes. That said, if you want to hit your target with any degree of consistency or accuracy, skip the Bowie knife, the karambit, and any other knife that isn’t built for throwing. Your knives will also last longer if you go with a purpose-built blade since traditional knives break more easily during high-speed impacts with solid objects.

Q: Which knife is best for throwing?

A: If you plan to throw often, find throwing knives that are tough, lightweight enough for you, and have a good balance. Knives in the eight to 12-inch range are a great option, especially for beginners.

Q: What is a good distance for throwing knives?

A: This depends on what kind of knife you are throwing, what size your knife is, and what technique you use (spin vs. no-spin techniques). In competitive knife throwing, standard distances are 10 and 15 feet. For newbies, though, a good distance usually ranges between eight and 15 feet, again, depending on your chosen knife and technique.

Q: Are throwing knives good for self defense?

A: I don’t care how feasible Hollywood makes it look, relying on a throwing knife to save your life is foolhardy. Even if you manage to stick your assailant in the perfect spot, he won’t drop then and there since he’s already amped up on adrenaline (or meth). That’s bad news for you, especially if he’s armed.

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For over 25 years, Brian Smyth has been neighbors with the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Army’s Ivy Division. He loves the challenge of crafting words and has written for The Drive, Car Bibles, and other publications. Nothing gets him going quite like the roar of dual Pratt & Whitneys overhead, the smell of cordite, and the stories of the Greatest Generation.

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