Today, there are plenty of options if you are looking for a good cheap pocket knife. Although knife manufacturers seem to have turned their attention more toward the high-end knife market, before that was the case, most of the big names were putting out some really incredible blades at low prices. Some standouts are the CRKT Drifter (probably the best knife to be had under $20), the Kershaw Cryo (in particular the G10 model), and, of course, the Spyderco Tenacious.
It makes business sense, of course: introduce non-knife people to some of the features that make modern folders such useful tools, and you may end up with a customer for life. I can easily imagine someone picking up a Drifter on a whim, and then being led down the rabbit hole that is knife collecting.
But before, during, and after this segment of the market blew up, there were plenty of bad cheap knives. Pocket knives have a rich heritage of low-end garbage: Jarbenzas next to the novelty lighters at seedy truckstops, late-night Home Shopping Network Frost Cutlery catastrophes, and, of course, Tac-Force’s endless parade of horrible knives, available widely online and in practically every flea market I’ve ever been in.
As affordable and excellent as something like the Drifter is, you are much more likely to see a Tac-Force in a non-knife person’s pocket. They are ubiquitous, extremely cheap, and, with their pseudo-military and tactical vibe, appealing to a large swath of people. Of their many, many models, the Tac-Force 705 is emblematic of what one expects from the brand as a whole: shoddy design, workmanship, and performance.
Below, please take a moment to use our table to compare the Tac-Force 705 to other worthy blades in its class:
|SOG Flash II||$$|
|Spyderco Paramilitary 2||$$$|
|Gerber Bear Grylls||$$|
|Kershaw Shuffle II||$|
Tac-Force is actually a brand under the parent company of Master Cutlery, a wholesale manufacturer responsible, it seems, for nearly every bargain-bin knife brand imaginable:
- Fantasy Master
- Femme Fatale
- Jungle Master
They are remarkably prolific, churning out 50 new models a month, according to their website. This profligacy makes it hard to find a definitive list of in-production models. It also makes it hard to say what models, if any, are their flagship ones. The 705, the model discussed in this review, is one of many very similar knives, but, as mentioned above, if it isn’t the most popular or common model, it is certainly representative of what you can expect from Tac-Force.
It is hard to discuss provenance or history with a knife like this. The 705 is a medium-sized knife. It features a 3 3/8” partially-serrated blade. Its distinguishing feature is that it features a bottle opener integrated into the handle, similar to something like the Kershaw Shuffle. It is also a spring-assisted knife, like the Kershaw Leek. It has a liner lock and several locations to which a lanyard could be attached.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling pocket knives currently for sale on Amazon:
|1) Spyderco Tenacious|
|2) Kershaw Cryo II|
|3) Opinel No.7|
|4) Gerber Paraframe|
|5) Kershaw Knockout|
The bone headedness of the 705’s design is apparent the minute you hold it—or really, even before that: the heavy-handed look of the knife, with all the grooves and runnels and holes and curves, is, to my mind, ugly. I am absolutely amazed that Tac-Force had the restraint to forego the standard finger groove nonsense so many tactical knives feature; even the Kershaw Shuffle, a knife comparable to the 705 in terms of price and purpose, couldn’t leave the factory without being scalloped for a “comfortable” grip.
The 705 has other ergonomic issues, however. Holding the knife as you would when using it reveals a critical flaw: the bottle opener digs into your hand when you’re using the knife. Although I would never recommend you use this knife in a hard-use scenario, if you did, that bottle opener would bite into your palm.
And then there’s the bottle opener. In a design choice so strange that it boggles the mind, it can only be properly used when the knife is open. That’s right: when the knife is closed, the spine of the blade occludes the bottle-opening notch. That means that the ideal way to use the bottle opener is to deploy the blade first.
That is madness. If a company like Spyderco or Kershaw did it, the knife community would explode at the stupidity. If that isn’t enough to turn you off the 705, there are going to be plenty of other reasons below, but that by itself disqualifies this knife from even the most desperate knife purchase I can imagine myself making.
The Tac-Force 803— by no means a quality blade–at the very least has a straightforward handle, with no bottle opener, and a comparatively tame look. If you wanted a bottle opener on a knife, I would direct you first to the Victorinox Cadet, which is a much smaller blade but leagues better as a tool. If you wanted something more modern, I’d say the Kershaw Shuffle is something to take a look at: it features a bottle opener (on the appropriate side of the handle), is of a much higher quality, and almost as cheap as the 705.
The 705’s blade is an unremarkable drop point affair. There are some unnecessary facets and a swedge, but nothing that critically affects performance.
I do take issue with the serrations. This can be seen as a personal preference, but I see no reason to have serrations on an EDC blade (and, despite the tactical stylings of the 705, that is the only purpose it is suited for): you likely aren’t cutting up yards of rope every day, and the serrations affect the rhythm and effectiveness of slicing cuts, making this knife perform below par on food and packaging and such—the things you are likely to use your knife for every day.
Moreover, serrations are hard to sharpen; they do retain a degree of cutting ability even when totally dull, but that is not a worthwhile tradeoff in my mind.
Even if we were to accept the serrations, they are poorly done: the teeth are much too long, meaning that it is likely they will break off against hard material or misuse. Also, because serrations are so hard to sharpen, you do rely on them coming sharp from the factory; I’ve never seen a Tac-Force that was sharp out of the box, so upon purchase you already have a suboptimal edge on those serrations.
Kershaw does excellent serrations and, although I don’t think there is a serrated version of the Shuffle, there is a serrated model of the Kershaw Chill, another similarly priced knife, albeit one without a bottle opener. The 803, again, outstrips the 705, with a plain edge spear point blade.
The default steel for budget knives is 8Cr13MoV. Although it has its detractors, I tend to like the steel quite a bit: it doesn’t rust too easily, sharpens without any problems, and holds a useable edge for a decent time. If the 705 came in 8Cr13MoV, there would be little to complain about here.
But it doesn’t. Although many of their models are not stamped with the steel they use, the 705’s blade, like the 803’s, is made of 440 type steel. This is a family of three steels, one of which, 440C, is decent. Again, Tac-Force doesn’t list which type of 440 is being used, but given the dismal performance of the 705 I’m fairly certain it’s 440A, the worst of the bunch.
If it is 440C, then it is very poorly heat treated.
This would be a bad steel 15 years ago. Terrible edge retention, mediocre sharpness in general, and pretty rust-prone for a stainless steel. Granted, the 705’s blade is coated with some sort of cheap, flaky paint, so rust isn’t the primary concern here, but the fact remains that 440A is just a bad steel, even for the money; the Shuffle uses 8Cr13Mov, as does the Chill. The Drifter actually uses 8Cr14MoV, the slightly better version of that steel; the performance difference over 8Cr13MoV is probably negligible, but I appreciate the upgrade nonetheless.
The clip on the 705 is fine. It is reminiscent of that of the Drifter, in that it is a wider, almost money clip-like clip. It isn’t bad on its own. Not great, but not bad.
What is bad, however, is the positioning of the clip. It is oriented so that the knife carries with the blade’s tip facing downward, into your pocket. Some people consider tip-up carry to be superior, although I am not one of them. I don’t really care as long as the clip is functional and strong.
The issue here, though, is that the 705 is an assisted-opening knife, and with the clip positioned the way it is, the flipper tab is situated against the back seam of your pocket. And while it is unlikely that you would accidentally deploy the knife when pulling it out, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
The knife is also wide and heavy: it weighs almost 5 oz., which is just not acceptable for a knife of its size and class. The G10 Drifter model weighs just over 2 oz. The Shuffle weighs 2.8 oz. The Chill weighs 2.2 oz. The Spyderco Paramilitary 2, which has a similar blade size and a bigger handle, weighs less than 4 oz. The 803 weighs less, coming at around 2.2 oz. if you opt for the aluminum-handled model. The 705 is an utter failure in many ways, and the weight and carry is yet another.
The 705 utilizes a liner lock, and a terrible one at that. Out of the box there was blade play, and the liner traveled almost all the way over to the opposite scale. Blade play doesn’t inherently mean that a knife is unsafe to use, nor does a lot of lock travel, and on budget knives you tend to expect a little slop, but this is one instance where I would strongly discourage you from using this knife hard. Opening a package or breaking down a box probably isn’t an issue, but if you were really wrenching on this blade, I wouldn’t be surprised if the lock totally failed.
The 803 doesn’t fare any better; it uses the same lock, made to the same loose tolerances by the same company, so how could it? The Shuffle, Drifter, and the Chill all use liner locks, and all are summarily better than the 705’s.
Just don’t buy it–it’s as simple as that. The TF 705, like all Tac-Force knives, is just bad. The steel is bad, the design is asinine, the carry is poor, and the knife is heavy. It is definitely cheap at around $10, but it is just really isn’t a great product in my opinion, and for $5-10 more there are some really affordable, awesome pocket knives from other companies.
I understand the appeal of knives like this. And I also understand that money is always a factor here, and you might only have about $10 of disposable income that you can spend right now, but the fact remains that, if you do just a little research before you make your purchase, you’ll find other great knives that will serve you much better for years, as opposed to a knife like this that isn’t really worth the $10 it costs.
Rating: 1/5 stars
But don’t just take our word for it on this knife and assume it’s gospel. We encourage you to take a look at a variety of different reviews and YouTube videos, as well. Below is one knife fan that uploaded his thoughts on the 705 to YouTube:
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