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The Stiletto Knife, also known as the Italian stiletto, is a type of knife or dagger characterized by its slender blade and needle-like point which lends to its stealthy nature. Today it is typically used as an offensive weapon because it offers more control over the point and is capable of inflicting greater damage.
Still, this does not stop other users from using a stiletto for self-defense and utility purposes. It is known for its easily distinguishable and distinct design, although many structural changes have been introduced over the years without affecting its essential features. So let’s find out more about this knife.
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What is a Stiletto Knife?
The term ‘stiletto’ is derived from ‘Stilus,’ which is a Latin word. This Latin word refers to anything that is built like a needle and is thin.
A stiletto is a knife with a sleek design, typical short length, and a slim blade terminating at a pointed tip. The thin and narrow blade ending at a tip contributes to the knife’s slender look. In addition, you can effortlessly hide it because of its light build and compact size.
This knife sets itself apart from other knives through its sharp and narrow blade, slim build, pointed tip, and comfortable grip. Although thin, the blade is pretty sharp and has a blood-stained history.
The blade and tip are responsible for making this knife effective in stabbing, as the narrow design and sharp end aid in curtailing the friction force at the time of the stabbing. As a result, the knife’s penetrating capacity rises despite its short length and enables the blade to enter deeper into the target.
Top Stiletto Knives in 2023
This list includes fixed-blade knives, assisted opening, and automatic folders with stiletto-inspired blade profiles.
Pro-Tech Godson – Best Automatic Stiletto Knife Overall
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Pro-Tech is admired for its automatic knife models having a blend of supreme craftsmanship, high-tech practices, and top-quality materials. Recognized as the winner of the prestigious Investor/Collector Knife of 2014 award, the Godson is still extremely popular and admired by police and military personnel.
It is a superb miniature EDC version of the Godfather auto knife from Pro-Tech. Like the Godfather, the blade is designed based on the Italian-designed stilettos while rendering a modern touch to the classic design. However, unlike the Godfather, this one is affordable. In addition, it comes with a solid locking mechanism, lightning-fast deployment, and precision design.
The far-fetched coil spring action triggered by a push-button is strong enough to keep disappointment at bay when it comes to lockup. This open-side model pushes the blade out with incredible speed.
The spear point 3.25-inch blade is made using 154CM steel reflecting a blasted finish, Italian inspiration, American modernization, and admirable precision. As a result, it comes very sharp out of the box.
The solid black handle is made using anodized aluminum, giving a good strong feel. You also get a tip-up pocket clip for easy carry.
Kershaw Launch 8 – High-End Stiletto Knife
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Based on the classic Italian stiletto design with a modern look and clean lines, this push-button auto knife is truly for tactical and practical purposes. Matt Diskin designed this Kershaw knife with a stonewash finished blade and a gray handle with a carbon fiber insert.
The lightweight Launch 8 features a more symmetrical shape than the classic one. In addition, the pivot pin is concealed below the insert, giving a classic and clean appearance to this spring-loaded knife.
The push-button release or lock on the carbon fiber is beneath the pivot pin. The fast release launches the knife right out of your hand even if you are not ready with a good handle grip.
The 3.5-inch thin but sharp blade is primarily for penetration and slipping between the bone structures. This makes it ideal for self-defense. However, using it for heavy-duty cutting is somewhat challenging due to the blade’s geometry slowing the action.
The spear-point blade is made using CPM 154 steel known for corrosion resistance, toughness, and excellent edge retention ability. Made using gray anodized aluminum, the handle ensures a good grip. For easy carry, a reversible pocket clip (tip-up) is affixed to the handle.
VT Don Italian OTF – Best Italian stiletto switchblade for the money
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This stiletto knife is a great middle choice for a classic stiletto OTF knife. It looks good, and it features an automatic mechanism with super-fast blade deployment. So whether you are a collector or need a convenient knife for everyday activities, this model will get the job done.
The unit comes with a 3.75-inch blade with a total length of 9 inches. There is also an 11-inch version available. It is made of stainless steel and features a bayonet style. It is relatively thin and comes with a sharp piercing tip. It has a satin finish and a super sharp edge. In terms of maintenance, it is easy to sharpen and clean – never in a dishwasher, though.
The handle has a double-action firing mechanism. Slide the button forward to take the blade out and pull it back to hide the blade. It is 5.25 inches in length.
- Super sharp blade
- Skinny profile for more efficient cutting
- Easy to take the blade out and pull it back in
- Handle available in wood, black marble, and white marble
- Non textured handle
13 Inch Big Boy – Cheap Italian stiletto switchblade
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Longer than the average stiletto knife, this big boy features a six-inch blade. When fully open, the knife measures 13 inches in length. It features an old-school design and makes a good choice for all kinds of activities, whether you use it around the home or outdoors.
The blade is based on stainless steel, which is both rust and corrosion-resistant. It has a bayonet-style and a thin profile and features a satin or light mirror finish that will make it look pretty luxurious. The thin profile gives this blade a very sharp tip too.
As for the handle, it is based on Dymond wood and comes in a few different finishes. It has a traditional wood appearance and features hand guard protection.
- Old school appearance
- A sharp and long blade
- Good looking finish
- Handle in a few different finishes
- Easy to deploy the blade
- Feels a bit too long and skinny for more intense applications
Blackhorn Stiletto – Cheapest classic stiletto
Featuring a classic stiletto design, this knife has a beautiful black appearance and silver accents. Bolsters and other small things are based on stainless steel, hence the silver style. Also, the knife is automatic, yet the blade features a nail clip for manual handling.
Made of stainless steel, the blade will be resistant to rust and corrosion. It is durable and easy to sharpen as well. It has a sharp edge, as well as a super sharp thin. Following the classic stiletto style, it is relatively thin. The 9.5-inch length makes the knife suitable for everyday or outdoor operations of all kinds.
Both the blade and the handle feature a black appearance. Unlike other similar knives, this one comes with a wooden design. As a result, it feels soft and less likely to slip out of your hands – a good and comfortable grip. A small hand guard protection is also included.
- Extremely sharp edge
- Beautiful black appearance
- Automatic design
- Wooden handle
- Stable and well put together
- The wooden handle may show signs of wear and tear over time
Canku C228 Pocket Knife – Value for Money Stiletto Knife with Assisted Opening Mechanism
C228 is suitable for many applications and comes with a beautiful stiletto-inspired design that will stand out in the crowd. It is also available in a few different colors, with silver-gray being the best selling one. The tactical folding knife brings in single-hand deployment and locks quickly into place.
The blade measures 3.5 inches, while the handle is 4.7 inches in length. It is made of D2 steel, which has good edge retention and is easy to sharpen. It is also corrosion and rust-resistant and has a very sharp tip.
As for the handle, it offers an excellent grip when you need the knife. The handle carries high TC4 titanium quality standards. It features more holes to ensure the grip will not disappoint you. While it may not have a sheath, the knife has a pocket clip.
- Beautiful design
- Available in more colors
- Excellent grip
- D2 steel Blade
- Quick blade deployment
- The pocket clip is a bit too tight
Boker Plus V-42 with Sheath – Best Fixed Blade Stiletto Knife
The Boker V42 is the modern version of the V42 stiletto knife issued during World War II to the First Special Service Force, also known as Devil’s Brigade, a joint American/Canadian commando unit. This knife is derived from the Fairbairn-Sykes stiletto that British commandos used in England.
The 7-inch long black blade is coated with SK-5 Carbon steel to resist abrasion and sustain the edge. The double-edged design is an added advantage.
The leather handle features thick leather padding and a grooved thumb rest that contributes to an excellent grip. Further, at its end, a sharp, curvy pommel is sufficient to harm the attacker. Your hand is ensured full protection due to the crossguard connecting the handle and the blade.
Furthermore, the total length of 12 inches is both suitable and exceptional.
- Creative design
- Longer and heavier for better efficiency
- Matchless balance
- Quality sheath
- Not very sharp
Kershaw Auto Launch 12 – California Legal Stiletto Version
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Kershaw’s mini stiletto automatic knife is built to deliver. It goes in the all-purpose category and can make an excellent everyday knife. It comes with durable materials, and the carbon fiber inlays add to its beautiful design and its lightweight profile.
The blade features a bayonet style and measures 2.5 inches in length. There is also a California and Nevada legal version of this knife with a blade length of 1.9 inches. It comes with a sharp tip, razor-sharp edge. In addition, It has a flat grind and a stonewash finish. Made of CPM 154 steel, it is likely to last for ages. Yet, it is fairly easy to sharpen.
The handle has a large opening button, while blade deployment from the side is swift. It has carbon fiber inlays, a textured profile to prevent slipping, and hard guard protection to prevent injuries.
- Good looking design
- Fast blade deployment
- Carbon fiber inlays
- Super lightweight
- Sharp blade
- Suffers from the same problems any short-bladed knife faces.
History of Italian Stiletto Switchblades
Stilettos were popular in the Medieval period, during which the soldiers used them to slay down the enemies. They were reliable tools, as they could quickly get through the hard, armored body where a sword failed.
During this era, knights used to keep these knives as backup tools on top of their major swords. This was because of the narrow blade that could effortlessly fit through the gaps in heavy armor.
For several years, stilettos have played the role of a stabbing weapon due to their simple yet efficient design. However, it is essential to note that they are not made for cutting, slicing, or slashing.
Right since its initiation, stilettos have evolved significantly.
Stiletto knives were initially fixed blade knives with a needle-pointed end and a narrow blade. This design restricted its use for offensive and deadly purposes while on the battleground or in a harmful situation.
During the 1950s, many folding stilettos were introduced with automatic blade deploying mechanisms known as stiletto switchblades.
These stilettos were further classified into Out-The-Front (OTF) and Out-The-Side(OTS) knives. In OTF knives, the blade opens by coming out from the handle’s front by pushing a button. The mechanism can be spring-based or take the benefit of gravity (gravity knives). The OTS ones open from the side.
These days, you can find knife designs that incorporate the same basic ‘stiletto’ blade profile with fixed or folding blades with various opening mechanisms.
Benefits of High-Quality Stiletto Knives
The best stiletto knife should be able to meet all your requirements without any hassle. Following are some of the most commendable benefits of stiletto knives:
- Light and small enough to be carried anywhere but powerful enough to hit an attacker
- Cleanly and professionally cut herbs and veggies possible, although stiletto is not meant for cutting
- Legally acceptable in many regions
- Durable enough to work in any rough and tough situation
- Easy to use
- A versatile tool to help you in various situations
- Reliable if the knife has the proper grip, as it will then not slip out of your hand when in use
- Safe, as the knife will not harm you if it is perfect for you.
The Difference between Stiletto and Other Similar Knives
If you search for stiletto knives, most knives that would come up are switchblades because most modern stilettos are switchblades or automatic knives instead of the more conventional assisted opening knives or fixed blade knives.
Switchblades are legal to possess and carry in most American states. However, their interstate trade is still banned based on a law passed in 1958.
It is vital not to interchangeably use automatic knives and assisted-opening knives, as both have separate deployment mechanisms. The former tools are knives in which the blade comes out of the handle when you push a button made for initiating this spring functionality. A spring applies tension to the knife once you close it.
On the contrary, you need to push the blade open by applying your force for using an assisted-opening knife. When closed, nothing exists to hold it.
Well, there are automatic stilettos whose blades are ideal for self-defense, thrusting, and stabbing. Assisted-opening knives cannot perform these tasks efficiently. They are better suited for slashing, cutting, and heavy-duty tasks. These days you should find most stiletto knives use automatic deployment mechanisms instead of assisted opening mechanisms.
Types of Build Materials in Stilettos
Usually, stilettos are made using steel. However, when it comes to stilettos, knowing the type of steel in use does not matter much, as there is no need to retain an edge. Furthermore, as they are not for cutting but stabbing, it is not that important to know about the cutting edge.
These knives need just two features: Not so soft that they bend and not so tough that they get brittle. Just for knowledge, stilettos are made usually of one of the following types of steel:
- SK-5 carbon steel with manganese and higher carbon content for retaining the edge longer than usual. Although the sharpening time is longer than normal and is prone to rust (many modern SK-5 knives come with some anti-rust coating to prevent rusting.)
- Although not meant for heavy-duty tasks, AUS 8 stainless steel has less carbon, and high vanadium content makes it harder and highly resistant to rust.
- 1095 steel with higher carbon content to retain the edge for a longer time and resist wearing out.
Stilettos, initially made in Italy, are available in different designs and variations. Their primary uses these days are collection and self-defense. Before buying any of them, check whether it is legal to use them in your region, as most stiletto knives these days are switchblades.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.