Let’s take it back to the basics with some good, old-fashioned slip-joint knife configurations. If you want to speak your grandpa’s language (or actually figure out which knife will suit you best), you better get to know the difference between your trapper and your Texas toothpick. You’re welcome.

all common traditional knife patterns


stockman pocket knife

The stockman is a knife configuration traditionally used by ranchers. You’ll notice (from left to right) a spey blade, along with a sheepsfoot and a clip point blade.




congress pocket knife
Believe it or not, this knife was not designed with the men and women of Congress in mind. Rather, tobacco field workers in the south are said to have loved the congress knife configuration for its double sheepsfoot blade, which allowed the user to work for twice as long before having to stop to sharpen their knife. In addition to these two blades, you’ll notice the coping blade, as well as the pen blade, which are intended to cover most other tasks. Is it possible that the four-blade knife was named “congress” since it is so great for indecisive individuals…? 


barlow pocket knife
We don’t know who Barlow is, except that he created a timeless classic. Barlow knives became popular in the early 19th century, typically have only one or two blades, and are known for their characteristically longer and oval-shaped handle. If Barlow was around, we’d probably have him on our marketing team, since legendary figures from Huck Finn to George Washington were said to EDC his style.


canoe pocket knife

You won’t get more than one guess to figure out how the canoe knife got its name, but take a look at the handle and we’re confident you can figure it out. It traditionally has a drop-point blade on each side.




whittler pocket knife
The whittler knife style borrows heavily from the traditional pen knife, but adds a coping blade on the same end as the pen blade. The whittler knife was aptly named as a knife that could do all of your wood whittling and scribing needs.



trapper pocket knife

The trapper knife packs two larger blades which hinge from the same side. The clip and spey blades were helpful for skinning hides.




texas toothpick pocket knife
Texas Toothpicks are well-known for their single, narrow blade and two large bolsters in the handle. These are the most popular version of the toothpick style, which are the same, but…well… not quite as big (*cue huge eye roll*). Less well-known are the mini toothpick styles, which are exactly as described. Maybe this style should be called the “Rhode Island Toothpick”? Sorry, had to… 


pen knife pocket knife

This is one of the most common styles among the slip-joint knives. It traditionally has a small blade on one end (the pen blade, used for sharpening quills to write with) and either a larger drop-point blade or scissors on the other end.



copperhead pocket knife

A handle that curves slightly towards the end and has two blades characterizes the copperhead knife style. The two clip point blades make it extremely versatile, and popular among crowds such as soldiers in the mid-to-late 20th century.



muskrat pocket knife

Not to be mistaken for the trapper, the muskrat knife style has two blades (one from each end), but is also used for skinning small game. While some prefer having their second blade fold from the opposite end of the knife, everyone loves having a sharp backup for when the first just doesn’t cut it (ba-dum-CHHH).



swayback pocket knife

Swayback knives were used to fix cotton looms, but are said to originate even earlier than mass production US cotton looms. They are unique in the slip-joint space; you’ll be hard-pressed to find a wharncliffe blade on many other classic slip-joints.




lockback pocket knife

We have Buck to thank for decreasing finger mortality rates in the late 1960’s. Buck popularized locking knives around this time, but didn’t patent the design, so others caught on quickly.