Stumped for finding the best tactical knife for you?
Tactical knives are some one of the most important tools or weapons you can own. In the case of an emergency, survival or self-defense situation, they can serve a purpose no matter what.
After all, when survival is on the line, you will only want to have the best and most reliable equipment.
Especially since the world ‘tactical’ is added to pretty much anything you can buy. It can leave you scratching your head wondering whether you are actually purchasing a top quality ‘tactical’ knife.
To help your hunt, we have compiled a guide to the best tactical knives both folding and fixed knives. The buying guide answers all of your questions including what the best features are and the best blade shape for you.
- 1 Reviewing the Best Tactical Knives of 2021
- 2 Best Folding Tactical Knife
- 2.1 Boker Desert Warrior Kalashnikov Dagger Automatic Knife
- 2.2 Pros
- 2.3 Cons
- 2.4 Kershaw Galyean Launch 7 Automatic Knife
- 2.5 Pros
- 2.6 Cons
- 2.7 Benchmade Bugout AXIS Lock Knife
- 2.8 Pros
- 2.9 Cons
- 2.10 Benchmade 4400-1 Casbah Automatic Knife
- 2.11 Pros
- 2.12 Cons
- 2.13 Cold Steel SRK Search Rescue Fixed Blade Tactical Knife
- 2.14 Pros
- 2.15 Cons
- 3 Best Tactical Fixed Blade Knife
- 3.1 Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife
- 3.2 Pros
- 3.3 Cons
- 3.4 Spyderco Para 3 Compression Lock Knife Black
- 3.5 Pros
- 3.6 Cons
- 3.7 Zero Tolerance Sinkevich 0450CF Flipper Knife
- 3.8 Pros
- 3.9 Cons
- 3.10 ESEE Izula Knife Fire Ant Red Survival Knife
- 3.11 Pros
- 3.12 Cons
- 3.13 CRKT Folts Minimalist Bowie Neck Knife Micarta
- 3.14 Pros
- 3.15 Cons
- 3.16 Boker Kalashnikov Reverse Tanto Wharncliffe Automatic Knife
- 3.17 Pros
- 3.18 Cons
- 3.19 CRKT Provoke Kinematic Morphing Karambit Folding Knife
- 3.20 Pros
- 3.21 Cons
- 3.22 Cold Steel Demoko AD-10 Lockback Knife Black G-10
- 3.23 Pros
- 3.24 Cons
- 3.25 Gerber 06 AUTO
- 3.26 Pros
- 3.27 Cons
- 3.28 Benchmade 940 Osborne AXIS Lock Knife
- 3.29 Pros
- 3.30 Cons
- 3.31 Pro-tech Godson Automatic Knife
- 3.32 Pros
- 3.33 Cons
- 3.34 Benchmade Mini Griptilian
- 3.35 Pros
- 3.36 Cons
- 4 The Ultimate Tactical Knife Buying Guide
- 4.1 What is a Tactical Knife?
- 4.2 Why Would You Need a Tactical Knife?
- 4.3 What is the Best Blade for a Tactical Knife
- 4.4 Fixed vs Folding
- 4.5 Blade Shapes
- 4.6 Clip Point
- 4.7 Drop Point
- 4.8 Tanto Point
- 4.9 Steel Used to Make the Blades
- 4.10 Further Considerations of Tactical Knives
- 4.11 Blade Length and Thickness
- 4.12 Materials
- 4.13 Weight
- 4.14 Ease of Use and Convenience
- 4.15 Versatility
- 4.16 Handle
- 4.17 Reputation
- 4.18 Top Tactical Knife Brands
- 4.19 Spyderco
- 4.20 Benchmade
- 4.21 Ka-Bar
- 4.22 Gerber
- 4.23 Kershaw
- 4.24 Frequently Asked Questions about Tactical Knives
- 5 Conclusion on Tactical Knives
Reviewing the Best Tactical Knives of 2021
Kershaw Launch 1 Automatic Knife Black
This is one of our favorite and the most popular and highly rated tactical folding knives around. The Kershaw Launch 1 is very snappy and strong. Right out of the box the blade is razor sharp and ready to go.
You will be taken back by the speed in which it opens, just make sure you have a firm grip when you push the button. The blade shape is suited for any tasks you may have.
It is the perfect size for EDC and fits easily inside your pocket. The knife is comfortable in your hand and the ergonomic handle feels solid. The build is top quality and solid, whilst not being too bulky or cumbersome. It is also made in the USA.
The knife comes with a pocket clip that is great for concealability and a hidden lanyard hole.
The only criticism that we have is that the knife does not have a safety switch.
In summary the Kershaw Launch 1 is an almost perfect knife. It is one of the best automatic knives on the market and is priced extremely well at under $100.
Best Folding Tactical Knife
Boker Desert Warrior Kalashnikov Dagger Automatic Knife
The Boker Kalashnikov is the knife inspired by the Kalashnikov rifle that definitely lives up to its namesake so much so that you’ll want to buy more than one!
This is another automatic knife that flies open when you press the button. The button is sturdy enough that it won’t accidentally pop open. Once open, the knife can be easily closed with one hand.
The blade is also impressive and comes very sharp out of the box. It is an AUS-8 dagger blade with a copper finish and an aluminium handle that is contoured to fit naturally into your hand.
Its grip is comfortable and the jimping on the spine gives you full control of the knife.
It is also the perfect weight and has the solid feel of an expensive knife at a really affordable price. The size is perfect for an EDC knife and fits well into your pocket.
The Boker Desert Kalashnikov auto knife has all the features of a top knife. It has a great quality construction, a razor sharp blade and a very snappy opening all at a budget price of under $50.
Getting this exceptional knife now is a no-brainer!
Kershaw Galyean Launch 7 Automatic Knife
The Kershaw Launch 7 knife is a quality knife with a black finished blade and an aluminium handle. It boasts a unique appearance with a modern looking handle.
The ergonomic design fits comfortably into your hand and is also very lightweight.
It has a quick snap when opening and a strong locking automatic action. The blade is longer than others at 154cm and comes very sharp out of the box. Despite the blade length, the knife is pretty slim and still easily fits in your pocket.
The Kershaw Launch 7 is an impressive knife with a sleek design and smooth action. The quality is outstanding and
Benchmade Bugout AXIS Lock Knife
The Benchmade Bugout knife is a staple for EDC!
It is the perfect lightweight knife that is versatile and designed with everyday carry and outdoor use in mind. It is incredibly versatile and will do the job in most everyday situations.
Its high performance CPM-S30V blade has a partial wedge that gives a finer point and has great edge resistion and is corrosion resistant.
The knife is a great size, lightweight and slim that it basically disappears in your pocket thanks to the deep carry clip. It also has a minimal and sleek design.
The knife’s blade comes very sharp and its AXIS locking mechanism ensures that you don’t cut your fingers when closing the knife. It also has a very smooth action. It is fitted with dual thumb studs for easy one handed operation and is built for ambidextrous use.
Its handle is lightweight yet possesses a smooth and solid grip.
In our opinion there is nothing not to love about this tactical EDC knife. The great action, blade and AXIS lock makes it a must-buy knife for all of your needs. It makes the ultimate lightweight carrying option that is compact without compromising on quality.
Benchmade 4400-1 Casbah Automatic Knife
The Benchmade 4400-1 Casbah is a durable and reliable automatic knife that checks all the boxes for a great tactical knife.
It has a blue Grivory handle that is both lightweight whilst allowing you to have a solid grip. When we tried it, it had some of the best traction and was the perfect weight for EDC.
Its blade is a satin finished S30V that comes sharp out of the box and maintains its shape and sharpness even after years of use.
The action is snappy and prompt. The push button makes operating the knife easy and the reversible top up pocket clip makes it a versatile everyday carry knife. Its integrated safety lock is great for reliable and safe carry.
It also has a deep pocket clip to keep it nicely tucked in your pocket.
The top quality knives from Benchmade inevitably places the 4400-1 Casbah in our list. It is comfortable and lightweight with great grip and terrific blade design. It is sharp even through abuse and over long periods of time and has a lightning fast action.
There is no wonder this Benchmade knife ranks in the top 10 best knives for many knife fanatics
Cold Steel SRK Search Rescue Fixed Blade Tactical Knife
The SRK (Search Rescue Knife) made by Cold Steel is a quality and versatile knife that is built to withstand immense pressure and abuse.
Its versatility means that it can be used for anything from general EDC to combat to bushcraft with equally impressive performance.
The design features a strong clip point that is precise for delicate tasks yet has a good belly size for slashing, cutting and skinning strokes with efficiency. It is easily strong enough for tougher tasks and maintains its edge for long periods without sharpening.
Its handle has finger guard and a checkered grip that allows you to maintain a stronghold in dry and wet climates. The only downside about the handle is that it has a more square shape, but despite this is still comfortable.
The SRK also comes with a Secure-Ex sheath for convenient and comfortable everyday carry.
Overall this is an impressive knife that is easily justified for its cheap price point. The clip point and sharp tip makes it ideal for all tactical uses but it is easily used for any survival and bushcraft needs.
Best Tactical Fixed Blade Knife
Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife
Gerber is one of the most reputable brands and has been making knives for the US Military so you know you are purchasing only the best.
The StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife is a tough fixed blade knife that works great in combat and survival situations.
Prying, chopping, stabbing and batoning are all easy tasks with this knife.
Straight out of the box the blade is razor sharp. The blade has a plain/fine cutting edge and full tang 420HC steel blade that is coated in black ceramic coating. The knife is modelled for military survival training needs and so it is tough and durable enough for any tasks.
It has a solid grip made from black rubberized diamond texture to give you a firm hold. Bonus features include a striking pommel and a lanyard hole at the base of the knife.
It is lightweight and convenient for carrying. The sheath is one of the best parts. It is a versatile modular sheath system that can be adjusted to a whole range of carrying positions. Users are able to vertical carry with the MOLLE, horizontal carry with a standard 1.75” tactical belt or carry it in a traditional drop leg mount.
However we would say that it is too large for easy concealed carry.
This knife really lives up to our expectations and was able to cut through everything we put in its place. It has everything you would want in a EDC fixed blade knife and comes with a great sheath for only $70.
Spyderco Para 3 Compression Lock Knife Black
The Spyderco Para 3 is a compact version of Spyderco’s cult-favorite Paramilitary 2 knife that has many of the same features.
Some of these features include a high strength compression lock as well as a textured G10 scales and a CPM-S30V blade. The blade shape is perfect for cutting and comes razor sharp out of the box. The size of the blade (3”) abides with all state laws too.
It is the perfect size being small enough for EDC but still sizable enough for tough tasks.
The compression lock is fast and smooth and is easy to close and the knife can be deployed or retracted with only one hand. The G10 handle has strong grip strength and is ergonomic for enhanced comfort.
A downside is the low sitting pocket clip means that it hangs out of your pocket but this can be fixed by replacing it with a deep carry pocket clip.
Zero Tolerance Sinkevich 0450CF Flipper Knife
This knife is another compact version of a highly popular knife. This time the Z.T. 0450CF knife is the compact version of the 0454 folder.
The construction is top quality with premium materials and is complete with a S35VN stainless steel blade and a black DLC finish.
Lighting quick one handed deployment is easily done with a flipper and the KVT ball bearing pivot. The action is incredibly smooth with the blade flying out.
The handle is made from titanium and has a strong frame lock and a carbon fiber scale that is aesthetically pleasing.
Its weight and size is also ideal for EDC. The size means that it disappears in your pocket and it is also very slim.
It is exceptional quality and even after years doesn’t require any tune ups and still holds a good edge. The blade also remains dead centered.
If you are looking for a tactical knife that is light yet strong and is still high performance this is the knife for you.
ESEE Izula Knife Fire Ant Red Survival Knife
Named after the Isula ant in Peru - one of the fiercest. Aggressive ant in the jungle, you can expect exactly this from the ESEE Izula knife
It is lightweight, tough and the perfect knife for your survival needs. It is versatile and can be both added in your survival kit or used as concealed carry.
The 1095 steel blade is high performance and can cut, slip and chop with ease. It comes razor sharp and holds an edge well over time and is easy to sharpen.
This USA made knife is made from premium materials and the striking red color is really nice.
The handle is smaller than average and we found the edges to be square shaped which made it uncomfortable. Simply wrapping the handle can improve the grip comfort.
A con with this knife is that this type of steel is prone to rust.
Overall the ESEE Izula knife is a good knife to own in your collection. It is suited for smaller tasks and is compact sized and is perfect for hanging on a bag or belt. The IZULA also comes with a black molded carrying sheath.
CRKT Folts Minimalist Bowie Neck Knife Micarta
The CRKT Bowie Neck Knife is a great fixed blade addition to your EDC gear and one of the best neck knives on the market with the removable lanyard.
It is a small and lightweight knife with 3 finger choils, thumb grooves and hand contoured Micarta scales that lock your hand on the knife and is one of the best for ergonomics.
Even as a small knife, it is great for a variety of daily uses. The blade shape is a deep bellied clip point Bowie style blade which is classic hunting blade shape. It is great for wilderness and survival purposes, it can do an array of camping chores, skinning and dressing to name a few.
The blade comes razor sharp out of the box, sharpens quickly and easily and holds an edge well.
Each Minimalist knife comes with a Zytel sheath and a neck paracord for carrying as a neck knife. The sheath locks at the base of the blade or maximum safety. To give you an insight into how light it is, the knife and sheath together weigh only 2 pounds.
It is also small enough to carry in your pocket and is very concealable that you couldn’t see it under a shirt.
If you are looking for a small, concealable tactical knife that is your choice.
The Minimalist Bowie is one of the best budget EDC neck knives out!
Boker Kalashnikov Reverse Tanto Wharncliffe Automatic Knife
The Kalashnikov is one of the best automatic knives for under $50.
Pushing the button unleashes a super fast snap. It comes extremely sharp and is able to hold a good edge over time. Sharpening is also easily done as the knife has a straight edge.
The blade’s shade is reliable and we would say it is suited for utility needs. The tip of the knife is fine and so wouldn’t make a good digging or prying knife.
Its handle is nicely contoured to your hand and top and bottom jimping gives plenty of grip. Overall the ergonomics of the Boker are excellent.
Its pocket clip is deep carrying which allows you to perfectly conceal the knife.
The button is durable and needs to be pressed with some force which is a good safety feature so it doesn’t deploy accidentally.
This is a great automatic knife for a budget of under $50, and a must-have in any EDC rotation for your utility tasks.
CRKT Provoke Kinematic Morphing Karambit Folding Knife
The CRKT Provoke is a premium designed folding karambit that has the first Kinematic forward opening blade.
This ensures safe carrying and rapid deployment without having to change your grip on the knife. Opening the knife is easy with one hand and it locks tight and disengages pretty easily.
You may need some practise to master closing as it can feel awkward at first, but when you get used to it, this can be done very quickly.
The pocket clip is handy embedded into the handle which is ideal for maximized ergonomics and not compromising on comfort. Its size is marginally too big to fit inside your pocket so it is not ideal for discreet EDC.
Nonetheless the knife is extremely comfortable to grip both opened and closed.
The blade is Hawkbill style and is crafted from strong and durable D2 steel coated in black Ti Nitride. We would say that the blade comes sharper than the average.
Cold Steel Demoko AD-10 Lockback Knife Black G-10
This great EDC knife is a collaboration between Cold Steel and Andrew Demko that produced this AD-10 folding knife.
It comprises a balck G10 lockback handle with a satin finished S35VN steel blade. We have to say that the quality is exceptional for the price.
The handle is long which gives it balance and with the G10 makes it very comfortable and optimises ergonomics . The action of the knife is great. It locks up tightly with the Tri-AD locking and has a very smooth opening.
Expect this knife to come razor sharp straight out of the box and was dead centered. No knife play for this knife at all!
With the knife comes a reversible tip up pocket clip. The most obvious complaint about this knife is the clip which we found to be way too tight. One more complaint is the weight of the knife. It is definitely one of the heavier tactical knives we have used.
Ultimately this didn’t change our opinion on the knife, which just goes to show how good it is!
Gerber 06 AUTO
The Gerber 06 auto knife is a heavy duty knife favored by the military and known for its tough-as-nails characteristics.
The handle is crafted from 6061 aluminium and an anodized coating. It is grippy with finger curves to allow you to form a solid finger guard.
The Gerber 06 auto is available in 2 shapes: a drop point and a tanto. These are both partially serrated. Its blade is made from premium S30V stainless steel so you can expect it to withstand immense abuse and hold an edge like no other.
The blade deployment is fairly quick but by no means as quick as some others.
The release button is large which is great for using with gloves.
It has a plunge lock and a sliding two way safety which locks the blade closed and can also lock the blade open to prevent it from releasing.
With the knife you get a backspacer to form a strike pommel and a lanyard hole at the end of the handle which is compatible with 550 cord.
Made in the USA, this heavy duty tactical knife is hands down one of the best.
Benchmade 940 Osborne AXIS Lock Knife
The Benchmade 940 is a classic locking tactical knife that is well worth every cent.
Made with premium S30V steel blade and a aluminium handle with anodized green and custom ridges for enhanced ergonomics.
The knife has push button automatic deployment, an upgrade from the manual deployment of previous models. The Axis lock locks up very securely and is definitely the best locking mechanism on the market.
It has a nice long blade (Still under 3.5” to ensure legality) with a solid tip. The reverse tanto blade shape is great for a variety of uses and is able to effectively pierce tough materials.
The reverse tanto blade means the tip is bulky which is good for chiseling.
If you are looking for a timeless looking knife that is built to last made from premium grade materials, then the Benchmade 940 is for you. Priced higher than other knives, it is certainly worth the money. It maintains a simple and slim profile whilst still being top of the range for performance.
Pro-tech Godson Automatic Knife
If you are familiar with Pro-Tech, you will be familiar with the cult-favorite Godfather knife. It is large, powerful and innovative.
The Pro-Tech Godson is just a smaller version of the Godfather - great for EDC and concealability.
The Godson features an incredible coil spring action. It snaps with lightning speed and locks up very well.
As you’d expect the blade is sharp straight out of the box. It is thin at only 0.11”, which makes it good for slicing and precision cutting.
Its handle is made from solid black anodized aluminium that is smooth and also good for a firm grip and concealing the knife.
A downside of the handle is that it does not have a guard that prevents your hand from slipping onto the blade. For this reason we wouldn’t recommend it for self-defense purposes.
The Godson is a nice combination of function and style. It has a slick design yet is still a low low-profile knife. Aside from looks it performs well and is priced at an accessible point.
Benchmade Mini Griptilian
Both the Benchmade Griptilian and the Mini Griptilian are the gold standard for EDC knives.
It has everything you need in a daily carry knife. It has strong and lightweight handles with a textured grip. The jimping on the back is also great for gripping.
In our opinion it is the perfect small size, and yet still can be operated well with gloves on.
The AXIS locking mechanism offers fast and secure open and closure for ambidextrous users. One handed opening and closure is also very easy.
The blade shape is a drop point with a plain cutting edge and thumb studs on both sides. It is pretty thick, excellent for piercing and cutting tougher materials. The blade itself is made from 154CM steel that holds a sharp edge and sharpens up well.
We would recommend this EDC knife for users looking for nothing too flashy, yet ticks all the boxes for functionality. It is compact, easily fits in your pocket, durable, easy to open and close. The blade is made from premium steel which is strong and excellent for edge retention.
It is hard to go wrong with a highly reliable Benchmade knife!
The Ultimate Tactical Knife Buying Guide
Tactical knives are available all over the internet. A quick search will bring up thousands of results. Sold by places like AliExpress to Amazon to Independant brands, it is difficult to know where the best one is sold.
What is a Tactical Knife?
As we mentioned tactical tends to be added to preface lots of items, and so a lot of the time can discredit or make you wonder what tactical really means…
Tactical knives are knives that have been designed for emergency and survival situations. They are built with versatility in mind, to assist the user with a whole variety of uses.
These knives are made with lots of tactical features. Features like tanto blades - which are optimal for cutting and piercing objects, grip material or quick deployment are all common tactical features that can be found in a tactical knife.
These knives are durable and well-built. They are great dependable tools that can serve a variety of purposes and kept on hand no matter where you are. These are great items that everyone should consider owning.
Why Would You Need a Tactical Knife?
The two main purposes for owning a tactical knife are your place of work requires one, or for survival and preparedness purposes.
Occupations like first responders, law enforcement, or those on deployment like the army and military will all be familiar with a high-grade duty knife.
Then there are those that own one for preparedness and survival situations. These knives can be used for cutting through objects out in the wilderness, or even freeing yourself in a car accident. It is also a good tool for helping out others in distress.
Carrying a tactical knife can come in handy for the following activities: hiking, camping, hunting and fishing.
What is the Best Blade for a Tactical Knife
The blade is one of the most important aspects of a tactical knife. They can be purchased in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. A blade suited for your purpose can make light work of heavy tasks and save you a lot of aggravation.
Blades will either be curved or straight with a short length handle to give you maximum control. These blades can also be serrated or non-serrated.
Serrated or Non-Serrated?
A serrated blade is ideal for cutting through webbed or rough materials. If you won’t have access to a blade sharpener, then getting a serrated or partially serrated tactical knife will be the best for cutting materials. A non-serrated blade is the best choice for self defense and combat.
Blade length is another consideration. A longer blade is best for outdoor hobbies and activities. They have a greater reach and will be better for harder tasks.
Shorter blade lengths of around 3 inches are sufficient for everyday carry. A short length blade is preferred for finer tasks like whittling.
A great blade is also one that can be sharpened easily and lasts a long time.
Fixed vs Folding
Fixed blades are where the blade extends into the handle of the knife. This makes them far more durable and strong than folding blade knives. These will likely last longer and can handle more abuse.
A downside of fixed blade knives is they are more cumbersome and harder to conceal. They also will not be able to fit inside your pocket.
Folding knives are more compact and smaller than fixed blade knives. These are the preferred choice of many preppers and survivalists due to the greater concealability. They are small enough to fit in your pocket.
The downside is that some take longer to open.
Deciding upon blade shape is crucial as it is common for tactical knives to have all different shaped blades.
The most popular blade shape for tactical knives is the clip point. These are the blades that are unsharpened at the top of the knife and runs into the handle. The underside of the blade is the sharp part and it meets at the point which looks like it has been clipped. Hence, clip point knives.
These are seen most common in pocket and fixed blade knives. They are a versatile blade shape and can be used for numerous purposes such as skinning, dressing and general chores. It can be said that if you are unsure of which blade shape to purchase a clip point won’t disappoint.
Pros of the clip point
- Very versatile
- Sharp blade and can be used for slicing and piercing
- Point of the blade is weak
Drop point knives are your hunting knives but can serve multiple purposes. The back edge of the knife is unsharpened and runs to the tip of the knife from the handle in a concave shape. The point of the knife is lower than the handle which gives it more strength and control. The tip is less sharp than a clip point but is stronger and more durable.
These are the most popular for survivalists and hunters.
Hunters use these as the lower point of the knife decreases the chances of hitting internal organs and ruining the meat.
The large blade makes it great for slicing. The only downside is that the tip of the knife is less defined than the clip point knives and so it is not as good at piercing.
- Great survivalist and hunting knife
- Good for slicing
- All purpose knife shape
- Broad tip makes it bad for piercing
Tanto points are the blade shape that is used by military and law enforcement.
These have long blades with a tip that is sharply angled. The length is usually 10 to 12 inches. The chisel-like tip is great for prying, scraping and digging amongst other mundane tasks.
As such they are popular amongst outdoor enthusiasts. Chiseling wood and hacking saplings are just a few of the many tasks that are made easy.
Its straight edge blade also makes it very easy to sharpen.
- Great for outdoor tasks
- Easy to dig, pry and scrape
- Easy to sharpen out and about
- Larger than other blades
Steel Used to Make the Blades
Type of steel used in the blades is a factor that is often ignored when deciding upon a tactical knife as it can seem less important in buying decisions.
On the contrary, the type of blade steel is important in determining the quality of the tactical knife.
These steels fall into two categories: stainless steel and high carbon plain tool steel. These both determine the strength and toughness of the blade and both have their respective pros and cons.
Toughness describes how a blade can handle cracking and chipping and strength determines how effective it is in bending without breaking the blade.
For stainless steel blades they don’t have the strength or toughness of high carbon plain steel tools and are harder to sharpen. A benefit is that they are less likely to corrode.
On the other hand, high carbon plain tool steels have far greater strength and toughness than stainless steels. The lesser amounts of chromium carbide in this steel makes it much easier to sharpen. They do however corrode more easily than stainless steel.
Further Considerations of Tactical Knives
Appearance is an important consideration particularly if you are looking for a concealable knife. Obviously a pocket knife is more ideal for those with concealability in mind.
Blade Length and Thickness
The blades on the knife range between the 3 and 12 inch range, and getting the biggest blade possible doesn’t always mean the best. The same goes for thickness. A thicker and longer blade will inherently make it more difficult to get a precise cut. Then getting a blade that is too short can be ineffective for chopping materials like wood. The vast majority of blades will be between 6 and 12 inches. The longer blades (over 9 inches) are not concealable blades but can make a good tactical knife in a EDC bag or toolkit.
Materials of the blade and the knife handle are both worth checking out.
Weight also contributes to a tactical knife’s convenience. A light tactical knife can be carried in your pocket without inconveniencing you or be attached to your bag or tactical belt without weighing you down.
Ease of Use and Convenience
How a tactical knife is able to be used is one of the most important factors. If it doesn’t open well it’s not worth purchasing.
Ease of use comes down to comfort when using, ability to grip the knife as well as deployment mechanisms.
Firstly the knife should have a proper grip that is made from non-slip materials. When cutting through the toughest of materials it is essential that you hand will maintain a stronghold on the knife and not slip down the handle and slice open.
A good choice handle would be one with finger rests. These handles ensure your fingers fit securely into the grooves and will not move. You will also want to be able to maintain a firm grip even if the handle gets wet.
In our experience these finger-shaped cutouts are the best deterrent to slipping.
The next objective of ease of use is easy deployment. If the knife is a folding knife, it is ideal that it can be opened with one hand. You won’t want to have to put anything in your other hand down to mess around with opening a knife. The best tactical knives will have push button deployments or a flipper deployment where you can flip the knife with one hand to deploy the blade.
Versatility is key. A tactical knife should easily slice, stag, cut, pry and dig through materials. A high performance knife is needed no matter what the situation and should be able to operate effectively.
The type of handle material and grip are important factors that should be considered. They both dictate the level of comfort you will have in using the knife.
For knife handle materials they can either be made from natural materials or synthetics.
Natural handle materials such as hardwoods are great for water absorbing, meanwhile synthetic materials are stronger and less likely to crack.
One of the most popular materials is kirinite that is a synthetic material that is strong and tough yet is aesthetically pleasing.
You also won’t want to have any sharp edges or uncomfortable corners that can effect the ergonomics of the knife. All of the knives included on our list have been tried and tested to ensure they are comfortable with ergonomic handles.
Brand reputation is important for any self defense or emergency tool. Buying products that are popular amongst buyers are a good indication of quality and have been manufactured using reliable materials.
Top Tactical Knife Brands
Spyderco are the inventors of the folding knife. Their knives are priced reasonably and have a massive selection of knives to cater for all preferences.
They are both beginner and advanced user friendly and use premium materials to create highly durable knives that can withstand abuse.
Benchmade produces some of the most reliable tactical knives. With a whole selection, Benchmade offers the perfect knife for everyone. They value quality and these simple blades will do the job for pretty much anything and hold an edge well over time.
Ka-Bar is renowned for its combat knives and is the favored knife supplier for the USMC.
As being the preferred choice for the Military, you just know these knives are the peak for versatility and functionality. These knives can do just about any task you may encounter with ease.
With Ka-Bar you can expect top quality and sound performance from their knives. Backed by USMC you know you can rely on these knives.
Ka-Bar is hands down one of the most reliable mainstream tactical knife brands.
Gerber has been known to produce some quality military designed knives. Despite some average manufacturing, their knives are still designed to their customers' likings. For a cost-effective solution to a durable, tough knife we would definitely recommend checking out Gebrer.
Kershaw is where we point first-time knife buyers to. They also great knives for long-time experienced knife users, but have a good selection of basic tactical knives.
They are known for their pocket knives and most of their knives are smaller and slimmer. They have good attention to detail and are a good starting brand whilst you get used to using tactical knives.
Frequently Asked Questions about Tactical Knives
Are Tactical Knives Legal in the USA?
It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with your state's laws surrounding the rules and regulations of tactical knives. Owning and carrying tactical knives is legal in most US states, but some with blades over a certain length are deemed as ‘concealed carry’ and required a permit for use/
Other states may ban carrying concealed knives that are over three inches long. To combat this it is best to have a opened knife or just purchase one with a shorter blade.
Do I Need to Maintain my Tactical Knife?
How Often Do I Sharpen my Tactical Knife and What Type of Sharpener Does My Knife Need?
Conclusion on Tactical Knives
Choosing a tactical knife when you are a beginner should definitely be an informed decision.
There are definitely a few considerations you should make such as the knife legalities in your state, fixed vs folding, and knife blade shape to name a few. Price range is also important and there are top picks at prices both ends of the spectrum.
Then choosing a knife from a reputable brand guarantees long lasting quality and other perks such as lifetime warranty and comprehensive customer service.
In our guide we have addressed all these considerations and given all the information necessary to make this decision for you. All the knives we have reviewed are top of the range, reliable tactical knives that can make light work out of tough tasks.
Choosing any of these knives will hold you in good stead whether you are new to tactical knives or a seasoned pro.