A good question when you consider buying one of the best tactical knives is actually a basic one: what should I look for to find the best tactical knives? Because, all companies seem to manufacture tactical knives and everyone seem to carry them. But what is the difference between regular survival knives and the best tactical knives?
Well, it’s the same thing like comparing a regular handgun and a combat handgun. But if you’re not a professional, you probably can’t tell the difference, they all look the same, they have a barrel, a handle and they shoot bullets.
The same story goes when choosing the best tactical knives; one must first educate himself about the real differences between a regular knife and a tactical blade.
Design and Purpose of the Knife
The first thing to have in mind when talking about choosing from the best tactical knives out there is its actual purpose. In a tactical knife, the blade design is a means to an end, it’s like the residue of good engineering. A tactical knife must perform specific tasks, which may be very different.
So you must know exactly what you need it for. You must ask yourself what will be the primary use of your tactical knife: as a weapon, as an utility tool, as an emergency rescue tool, as an entry tool, the list goes on and on. And obviously, you must choose the knife designed for your job requirements.
For example, the tactical knife that a SWAT officer uses is completely different in terms of design from one which is used by an undercover FBI agent. The latter one must not have that “police” design and look, it must be inconspicuous, while the SWAT gear must look as bad-ass as possible. You got the general idea, so let’s move to another issue to keep in mind when choosing the best tactical knives.
Ergonomics of the Best Tactical Knives
The ergonomics in a tactical knife design are very important, this issue can be a deal breaker. Even if you have a high quality knife in terms of materials used and workmanship, if the design is faulty, you should avoid it. Good ergonomics translates in “the knife should feel comfortable in your hand” and that’s all you need to know about ergonomics.
The knife must feel comfortable in your hand especially when you use it under stress, under different types of grips: forward grip, with the blade coming out of the top of your fist or reverse grip, when the blade comes out of the bottom of your closed fist.
The handle must fit nicely in your hand, it must be of the perfect size: not too large and not too small. It must provide perfect grip especially when your hands are sweaty. You must stay away from handles with sharp corners, pinch points or the ones that feel unnatural when held firmly.
These things separate knife graphics from knife designers. The best tactical knives must feel like they were custom made for your hands.
The Size of the Knife
As I already told you, the design must follow the knife’s purpose. Same goes with the knife size, it should be adequate and reflective of the task which is intended for.
A huge tactical knife will rot in your locker, never mind how good it looks and feels in your hand. You must choose a tactical knife that will be with you all the time and you’ll be comfortable carrying around.If you want a tactical knife to carry on a daily basis, I recommend a folder with a blade at least 3 inches long, 4 inches should be ideal.
Materials of the Best Tactical Knives
In this category, we have the blade and the handle. The blade in the best tactical knives should be made of high quality stainless steel. Due to the fierce competition in the industry, almost all major manufacturers are using decent to high quality steel in their knives.
You just have to stay away from Made in China/Made in Pakistan blades, and also keep in mind that you’ll always get what you pay for. A 5 dollar knife is a 5 dollar knife. Don’t get caught in the hype of the “super steels”, it’s pure marketing. For SS steels, you should stick with the good old AUS8/440C types, forget about “NASA approved” stuff.
The handle can be made from a variety of materials, from G10 to ordinary plastic and from SS to Titanium Alloy. The basics of a good handle are: it must be stable i.e. it shouldn’t absorb water, oil, gasoline etc. Also, it must not shrink, check or crack and should provide a good grip in any conditions.
You should avoid wood, ivory, bone or Kraton in your handle. Kraton is pretty cool, with its soft, grippy touch and it can be found in many of the best tactical knives. It feels great, doesn’t last. A metal handle will last you forever, and if it’s textured, it will also provide great grip. There are lots of good handle materials out there besides metal, especially polymers and composites, so you have where to choose from.
Things are quite simple in this department, a blade should have at least one cutting edge and a point. Yes, that’s all. If you need to poke a lot with your tactical knife, you should choose a thick, strong point, because needle points are delicate. Also, if you need to cut through cloth and stuff like seat belts, you must choose a curved edge. The best edge in a tactical knife is a serrated one, it will always cut, even when dull and it goes through a seat belt like it’s made of butter.
Fixed Blade or Folder Tactical Knife
It’s a matter of personal preference, some people like folders, some don’t. Remember one thing: a fixed blade is much stronger by design, a folder will inevitably fold, so you must never depend on the locking mechanism, regardless the marketing campaigns. There are excellent folders out there, but none of them are infallible. Good companies have better locking mechanisms, which are pretty expensive. You must never go for cheap folding tactical knives, especially when your life (or others) may depend on it. It all comes down to what you’re using the knife for.
Selecting Your First Tactical Folding Knife – Video
Selecting Your First Tactical Fixed Blade – Video
Final Words (of wisdom)
Stay away from “Delta Recon” “Army Ranger” “Official Swat” “FBI HRT” and anything like that. It’s pure marketing; I don’t even know what they mean with such pompous names. A black coating on a knife’s blade doesn’t make it tactical. Choose your knife from a reputable manufacturer and always follow this motto: “When Your Life Depends on Your Gear . . . Get the Gear Your Life Can Depend On.”