I often have people who will stop and ask me what should they look for when thinking about purchasing a throwing knife. The opinions that I will be offering are mine alone and come from many years as a knife thrower and over 25 years as a custom knife maker.
This is a story that I tell during my seminars and exhibitions that I do around the country. Most guys who are interested in sports or are avid hunters and outdoorsmen have at one time or another either wanted to throw a knife or have wanted to learn how to throw a knife. This is a scenario that I have heard repeated many times throughout my career as a knife maker and knife thrower from guys who seek me out to purchase a quality throwing knife or to get some tips on knife throwing.
A father and his son get up early on a Saturday morning and head down to the local gun and knife show. The father and son spend half of the day looking at guns and knives with the son mostly looking over all of the shiny knives offered by the different vendors.
The father, after walking around all morning finally finds a gun that he would like to own and as they begin to leave, he looks around an sees his son still looking at the shiny knives and asks if he can buy a couple of the small throwing knives. The father feeling a little guilty about buying the gun, eventually buys his son a set of el cheapo throwing knives and walks out the door.
Once the father and son get home and the guy hide his gun that he just purchased from his wife, his son, who if ready to start throwing knives, is looking for a little guidance from his father.
His father looks around and sees a 4 X 8 piece of plywood laying by the storage shed and then leans the plywood up against the shed and begins to give his son tips on throwing knives that he had heard from one of his buddies.
After a number of failed attempts and a few bounces that almost got him in the foot, the father takes the knife away from his son and begins to throw the knives himself using the same tips that he had just given his son.
After many attempts to throw the small el cheap knives into the plywood target, he gathers up the knives and tells his son the they aren’t good at throwing knives and puts the knives away into the storage drawer never to be seen again.
A few years later, the father and son visit a major knife show where they attend one of my knife throwing seminars. They watch closely how I am sticking the knives into the target one after another.
After the seminar is over, they come up to say hello and to ask as few questions and they relate a similar story about how they have tried to throw knives, but were no good at it. I usually will invite them up to the throwing line and one by one, I get them sticking knives one by one. Now, they are armed with the correct information that they need to be successful at knife throwing.
First of all, I like to tell beginners that you need three things in a quality throwing knife.
You need length for control, it will help if it is center balanced and it needs weight for penetration.
A good rule of thumb is to use the formula created by knife throwing legend, Harry K. McEvoy.
Harry felt that a knife should weight approx 1 - 1 ¼ ounces for every inch in length. A knife that is at least 12 inches in length will be easier to control because the length with make it turn over a little slower and the length will aid you in achieving a better grip.
A center balanced knife will be more stabile in flight and will allow you to throw the knife by either the handle or blade. A knife made with the above McEvoy formula will have sufficient weight for penetration which is crucial to being able to penetrate a target.
Most good throwing knives should be somewhat pointy and they do not need to be extremely sharp. Even throwing bowie knives do not need to be sharp, they only need to be pointy.
I am somewhat biased towards custom throwers because I make custom throwing knives and I’ve owned hundreds of throwing knives. I can honestly say that I’ve thrown some of the best and I’ve thrown a lot of bad ones too.
I know everything comes down to price. My philosophy is to buy the best that you can afford.
For the price that some people will pay for a good pair of sneakers, you can buy a couple of custom throwing knives. A good custom throwing knife will last a lifetime if you take reasonable care of them and you don't lose them in the weeds.
I guarantee all of my knives for life as long as they were not obviously abused or up to the point where I am no longer able to make them. I have people who have been using my knives for over 20 years and I have seen guys throw older Tru Balance knives that are 40-50 years old.
Consider this excellent quote from John Ruskin:
"It's unwise to pay too much but it's unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little money, that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do."
Even though the factories have come a long way in making quality throwers, there are a few out there that will work fine for a beginner, but when you start going to tournaments or hanging around with other throwers, I believe you will see most of the serious throwers using custom throwers.
If you have any questions regarding the purchase of quality throwing knives, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org