Modern knives with finger holes have their beginning in a centuries-old blade called the karambit that was designed by people in Indonesia who took inspiration from a tiger’s claw. This colorful history has added to the attraction of these special blades that continues today.
In addition to the history, they also provide practical benefits. Knives with finger holes can improve your grip and many are easier to deploy. They also simply look cool and unique. The design of the ancient blade continues to inspire knifemakers today as they modernize the design of karambit knives.
History of Knives With Finger Holes
The first and most famous knife with a finger hole in history is the karambit, which most experts agree originated centuries ago in West Sumatra, a province of Indonesia. Perhaps inspired by the shape of a tiger’s claw, the karambit featured a C-shaped blade with curved handle and a ring at one end.
It likely started as an agricultural tool. Later, it became weaponized, with the blade’s curve increased to give it better cutting dynamics. Interestingly, it emerged as a weapon of the common people as opposed to the elite. According to a book on karambits by Steve Tarani, the warrior class (kesatria) looked down upon the karambit as a weapon of the peasant agrarians. That changed as more fighters used the karambit and proved its effectiveness.
Why Knives With Finger Holes Remain Popular
Most of the reasons for wanting a knife with finger holes falls into one of four areas.
To Improve the Grip
This is the chief reason for knives with finger holes. Holes can improve the user’s control over the knife. Some knives accomplish this with textured handles, but knives with finger holes provide even better grip and control. Some also feel they can withdraw a knife with finger holes faster from its sheath.
Modern blades based on the karambit design now come as folders, making them easier to carry and deploy. This also allows use of the knife as a pain compliance tool before deploying the blade.
To Add To The Aesthetics
For some knife designs, adding a hole in the handle adds a particular kind of aesthetic that helps a knife stand out from the crowd. Knives with holes in the handle are a unique look, often appearing more modern and sleeker. This is important for many knife buyers. All else being equal, a knife buyer looking to get a new blade will choose the one that looks the best.
To Wrap The Handle
This is a much rarer reason, but worth mentioning. Some people use holes in the knife handle to wrap a paracord handle onto the tang of the knife. This is typically popular with survival knives, although it’s something people do with many different knife designs.
Knives with finger holes remain popular because they are useful and have a look unlike most other knives. Based on a design from centuries ago, the modern karambit still appeals to knife owners today.