At What Point Does A Knife Become A Sword? The Truth Revealed!

When it comes to the difference between a knife and sword, height is perhaps the best indicator. A knife is typically considered to be six inches or less. A sword is going to be afoot, if not longer.

However, there is no universal answer to this question. In other words, what we have are a handful of differing opinions on where the knife ends, and where the sword begins. There is also some dispute over where a knife becomes a dagger, which is still considered to be smaller than a sword.

I’m going to break down the generally-accepted differences between knives and swords. The obvious one would be that a sword is typically created with the purpose of being a weapon. Knives are generally made with the purpose of being used as a tool.

Which Came First Knives or Swords?

This may seem like a straightforward question, but many still wonder. It is widely accepted that the knife predates the appearance of the sword by at least a couple of millenniums.

Now, let’s take a look at the different ways knives and swords differentiate from one another. In doing so, you should be able to approximate the ability to tell the difference quickly between a knife and a sword.

The Materials Being Used For Knives Vs Swords

Many of the forms of steel that are perfect for a knife are not going to be ideal for a sword. This is one of the first things you’re going to want to pay attention to. For example, stainless steel is good for a knife, but it is much too brittle for a sword.

While there are swords made from stainless steel, they are generally not seen as being very useful as a weapon.

The Sharpness Of The Blade Knives Vs Swords

A good knife has been built to be as sharp as possible. This is not typically an ideal approach when making a sword. This means a good sword needs to have what is known as a convex edge, in order to stand up to being used to deliver a heavy blow.

You don’t want a razor-sharp sword. What you need is something that while sharp, has the ability to deliver its force without chipping.

What Is The Blade Being Used For Knives & Swords?

The purpose of the blade is something we touched on already. It bears repeating that a tool is generally going to be different from something built for combat. A knife is a tactical item. It is used for carving and cutting, which are not things you generally do with a sword.

The only exception to knives with more than non-violent uses would be daggers. While a dagger is considered to be a type of knife, it is designed and used in the same way a sword is.

Obviously, there are also different types of knives created for different purposes. The one thing all of these different knife types have in common is that they are still designed to be a tool of some kind.

How Long Is The Blade Knives Vs Swords?

As I indicated before, the length of anything considered to be a knife tops out at around six inches. Anything longer than that, you start to see the point where it becomes less of a tool, and more of something that can be utilized as a weapon.

The idea behind a sword is to make it long enough to use in the field of battle. Even with the dagger, we’re talking about something that is more specifically created with close combat in mind.

What About The Construction Of The knife Handle Vs Sword Handle?

One of the final considerations, when it comes to telling the difference between a sword and a knife, involves taking a look at the handle. This is another component which frequently sets the difference between something that is designed as weaponry, and something that is meant to be used as a tool for one or more purposes.

The “tang” of your blade refers to the space inside your handle or grip. Paying specific attention to this, we can see that if you have a knife, the tang of the blade will be easily seen along the edges of your handle. If the tang of the blade has been hidden within the handle, then you have a sword.

Handling goes a long way towards defining what a blade should be used for.


Going back to the first sharpened stones used in the earliest days of humanity, knives have been an invaluable part of our lives. While these simple tools no doubt also made for handy weapons sometimes, it wouldn’t be until approximately 3300 BC that blades with an eye more specifically towards combat were developed.

Knowing the difference between a knife and a sword can also naturally influence the experience you have with it. Make sure you have the right blade for your purposes!

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I’m Ahmed, the guy behind I’ve owned several types of knives and sharpeners over the last few years and have become obsessed with everything to do with knives. I’m always trying to improve my cleaning and sharpening process, and always on the hunt for the next best knife. But when I’m not spending time with my hobby, I’m here, writing about Knives and Sharpeners on KnifePulse to share with you what I learn along the way.

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