What’s the Best Tactical Knife to Purchase?

The best tactical knife is designed for versatility, a sort of utility belt for the everyday Batman on the street, to simplify your tasks, be it self-defense or gardening or opening packages. The popularity of tactical knives has increased in recent years because they manage to meet both the fantasy desires and the practical reality that people have for knives.

Tactical knives, moving from the reality realm to the actual real world, are truly designed for use by police and law enforcement, members of the military, security guards, and rescue personnel, but ownership doesn’t end with people in uniform. A tactical knife, quite simply, is the Renaissance blade of the knife world.

SOG Tactical Knife

Perhaps the most famous tactical knife is the Swiss Army Knife. This knife of legend, which is made by Victorinox AG and Wenger SA, was given its famous nickname by American GIs after World War II.

The knife has a blade, a can opener, screwdrivers, and other assorted tools. It was created in 1891 by the Swiss Army so that soldiers could open canned food and disassemble their service rifles. While modern-day tactical knives may not claim the fame of this historic tool, they also have won renown for their versatility.

And below, please use our interactive table to help compare popular tactical knives to one another so that you can best determine which blade will most suit your needs.

Benchmade-GriptillianBenchmade Griptilian$$$
Ka-Bar Fighting KnifeKa-Bar Fighting Knife$$
Benchmade-556Benchmade Mini Griptilian$$$
Mossy Oak Survival Knife$$
Spyderco TenaciousSpyderco Tenacious$$
Spyderco Paramilitary 2Spyderco Para 3$$$

Best Tactical Knives

The traditional hunting knife has a specific purpose for the hunter that is butchering the animal that he killed, but hunters know that there’s more to hunting than killing the animals they’ve caught.

Hunters also cook, clear brush, and need tools that the hunting knife can’t perform, but are easily done by a tactical knife. But if you need to skin your deer, a non-serrated tactical knife can take care of that task for you, too.

  • Camping

The appeal of a tactical knife is its versatility, and campers often run into situations which require a knife that can accomplish multiple tasks, something for which a tactical knife is known.

There is even a “light up” tactical knife that provides a light source for campers who are cooking a meal after the sun has gone down.

It’s much easier to eat with ease around a campfire if you can be confident that you can see what’s going into the pan while preparing the meal.  Camping is the ideal “roughing it” experience, but no one likes surprises on the plate when the restaurant is owned by Mother Nature.

Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling fixed and folding knives currently on sale on Amazon:

1) Cold Steel Survivalist
2) Ka-Bar USMC
3) Kershaw Cryo II
4) Mossy Oak
5) Kershaw Knockout

  • Military Use

Even in today’s elite army, with access to cutting-edge technology, the knife is standard issue. Knives may not be as central to hand-to-hand combat as they once were, but soldiers are issued tactical knives to help with cooking and cutting through overgrowth and brush.

  • Emergency Work

Whether you’re a firefighter, a police officer, or an EMT, you answer the emergency call knowing that you need to be ready to handle the unexpected. With the aid of a tactical knife, rescue workers can cut seat belts and break windshields if necessary in order to save someone’s life.

Tactical knives can even cut through fiber if a victim’s clothes need to be removed on the scene. First responders often prefer fixed-blade tactical knives because they don’t require two hands to open before using them.

  • Self Defense

Boot knives and neck knives can be concealed but easily accessible (think the boot knife of the Joker in “The Dark Knight”), allowing for fast response if a situation turns dangerous.

Before buying your knife, make sure that you’ve researched what’s available. Outdoor Life has a wonderful list of the best 18 knives for self defense, which includes knives made by well known companies like Buck, Cold Steel, Gerber and more.

  • Everyday Carry and Use

But if you’re an ordinary person and you need to open packages or cut a piece of fruit, you may want to consider a folding tactical knife.

The arsenal of a tactical knife that folds may include whistles, lights, screwdrivers, wrenches, and even a light hammer, so there’s no end to the package-opening, signaling, around-the-house tasks that can be accomplished without the need of a tool box.

Before You Buy, Ask Questions

Before you make your purchase, always design a list of questions to ask yourself about the ideal knife you may desire.

Questions like: What are you going to use it for?

  • Will you use it for hunting?
  • Are you planning to use it for self-defense?
  • Will the knife be used near salt water and if so, how will you protect it from corrosion?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • Will the knife need to be sharpened in the field?
  • Is the knife going to be part of your collection or will it be used?

Types of Tactical Knives

1) Boot knives, as mentioned before, are designed to be concealed, and may be attached to the inside of a boot by a clip or strap.

2) Neck knives are also intended to be concealed, and can be carried around the neck.

3) Pack knives, which are too large to be carried in your pocket or on your belt, are attached to a pack so that they are readily accessible.

4) Belt knives are carried, either horizontally or vertically on the belt, according to how important concealment is for your purposes.

5) Throwing knives require much skill in order to be effective in mastering the techniques needed.

6) Dive knives are used underwater by divers.

7) Rescue knives come equipped with tools to cut seat belts and wire, and break glass, in order to bring about a successful rescue operation.

8) Combo sets include both a folding and a fixed-blade knife that are either carried on the same sheath or have more than one of the same kind of blade.

What Materials Make the Best Knife?

The best material for your knife depends on what you plan to use the knife for. Steel such as 1095 HC and DW are prone to corrosion, so you’ll need to be willing to devote regular care to maintaining the peak condition of your knife.

Stainless steel is resistant to corrosion but alloys have a tendency to be brittle. Also, they’re harder to sharpen.

The handle is an important part of your knife and your grip needs to be secure too, whether the handle is made from resin-based materials such as Micarta or G10, or whether it’s made of stacked leather.

Features of a Tactical Knife

Important features to be considered when researching your purchase include the knife’s opening or deployment mechanism; the locking mechanism, which provides security for you in carrying the knife; a hard, sharp blade, whether plain, serrated, or non-serrated; and a handle that’s hard and durable, yet provides a comfortable grip; the tip, which should be sharp and reinforced to avoid the risk of breaking.

Cost of a Tactical Knife

You can pay anything from $10 to $500 for a tactical knife, but as you might guess, the $10 version isn’t likely to do as much as you’d like it to do.

A top-notch tactical knife can be purchased for around $150; the folding-blade tactical knife is more expensive than a fixed-blade version.

If you’re trying to convince your significant other that a tactical knife is the one-stop shopping tool that you need, you might want not want to emphasize the survival aspects of it, if the most dangerous task of your day is driving the kids to soccer practice.

Your partner is more likely to give the okay if he or she knows you’re going to help clear out the winter growth when it comes time to get down and dirty in the garden.

Our Top Five Tactical Knives

 SOG TK-03

1)  SOG TK-03 Toothlock Folding Knife, by Zytel, costs $150, and has a deployment mechanism which lets you push a button to deploy the blade. The blade’s reverse curve is suited for tasks that can’t be taken care of with a straight blade.

 SOG SE14 knife

2)  SOG SE14 Spec-Elite I has a locking mechanism for smooth, swift blade deployment. An added advantage to this tactical knife is that it’s great for lefties because of its double-sided lock release. A Kevlar-reinforced handle makes it resistant to adverse weather. It sells for $76.00.

US Marine Tactical Knife

3)  KaBar US Marine Fighting Knife, priced at $50, has a straight edge blade, 1095 Cro-van steel, and leather handle.  Oh, and this baby is made in the good ol’ USA.

Ka-Bar Kurki

4)  Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete, at under $55, has an 11 ½ inch blade made of carbon steel that holds its edge over time. The knife can be used to clear brush, chop wood, or even tidying up your garden.

5)  Browning Stone Cold Folding Knife, Tanto Blade, G-10 has a grooved handle that provides rest for your grip. This tactical knife’s design is convenient for both stabbing and cutting. This tanto knife sells for $26. The name “tanto” is of Far Eastern origin, and refers to the blade’s geometric shape.

The top tactical knife manufacturers also must include Spyderco, which is known for the fast deployment of its knives.

Others of note are Ontario, which is well known as a supplier of military knives, and Buck, which produces combat, hunting, and pocket knives of high quality.

Although the best tactical knife, especially one that folds, typically fit in your pocket, you can find a hip holster from SOG or Gerber. It’s also possible to have a customized holster made for your tactical knife, if you so wish, as well.

For more on this topic, as well as others, be sure to our pocket knife homepage on Reliable Knife.

You May Also Enjoy:

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  3. What Are the Best Self Defense Knives?
  4. What Are the Best Law Enforcement Knives?
  5. Ka-Bar Fighting Knife review

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