Hard Use Folding Knives

Hard use folders represent the toughest folding knives on the market. We are talking about stout tips built for prying, over-built locks designed to handle chopping and batoning, and rugged handles to hold it all together. These knives are designed to take a beating and are often targeted to military and police applications.

Naturally, they have garnered a lot of interest from collectors of tactical knives as well. These high testosterone blades are designed to push the capabilities of a folding knife, and they only appear to be getting more and more popular. I have a growing collection of hard use folder reviews. Feel free to let me know what you think of these style of knives in the comments section – I know they can be fairly polarizing and controversial.

Hard Use Folder Reviews

  • Cold Steel Ultimate Hunter Review img-cold-steel-ultimate-hunter-thumb

    I have been working on the review of the Cold Steel Ultimate Hunter for some time now. I bought the knife a couple months ago, and took my sweet time carrying the knife, using it, and putting together a review. In tha ... continue reading

  • Zero Tolerance 0620 Review Zero Tolerance 0620

    I have given Zero Tolerance a lot of air time - especially over the past year. So I actually had to pause and think when my BladeHQ pre-order for the 0620 popped into my inbox. I try to feature a variety of knives fro ... continue reading

  • Cold Steel Rajah III Review Cold Steel Rajah III Review

    I almost entitled this review "confessions of a mall ninja". Yup, your buddy Dan has something of a dirty secret: I'm a fan of ridiculous knives from Cold Steel. You may have guessed as much after reading reviews of t ... continue reading

  • Spyderco Tuff Review Spydercu Tuff

    Ed Schempp's designs are something of an acquired taste. The man isn't afraid to try new things, and his "function over form" design philosophy aligns nicely with Spyderco's credo. He has worked on a series of ethnic ... continue reading

  • Buck Marksman Review Buck Marksman Review

    You may have noticed a lack of reviews of Buck knives. I have nothing against Buck. I reviewed the Vantage a couple years back, and haven't gotten around to reviewing anything else because nothing else in their lineup ... continue reading

  • Rick Hinderer Knives XM-18 3.5 Review Hinder XM-18 3.5 Review

    In the past I have compared knife collecting to mountain climbing. Certainly there isn't the element of physical accomplishment, as the only thing that really gets a workout is your wallet, but there is that spirit of ... continue reading

  • Chris Reeve Knives Sebenza 25 Review Chris Reeve Sebenza 25 Review

    How do you improve on perfection? That may have been a question asked by the engineers at Chris Reeve when they approached the Sebenza 25. I wasn't in the room, so I really have no idea. The Sebenza has received incre ... continue reading

  • Zero Tolerance 0566 Review Zero Tolerance 0566 Review

    I have recently been making regular appearances on the GearGeeksLive podcast with Tony and Andrew. Tony and I recently had Thomas Welk from KAI (Kershaw/Zero Tolerance) on the air for an episode about KAI. Although it ... continue reading

  • Viper Start Review Viper Start Review

    I got my first introduction to Viper at the 2013 Blade Show in Atlanta this past summer. A couple of my favorite reviewers, the EdgeObserver and Stefan Schmalhaus, have sampled Viper's offerings quite extensively. It ... continue reading

  • Strider SnG Review Strider SnG Review

    For many knife collectors the Strider SnG is a holy grail of sorts. Much like the Chris Reeve Sebenza, the Strider SnG represents the top of the line for production grade folders. Toss in a Hinderer XM, and you have w ... continue reading

  • Emerson CQC-13 Review Emerson CQC-13 Combat Bowie

    Emerson is one of the most American knife companies I can think of. Their blades are 100% made in the USA with American made materials, and when you thumb through one of their catalogs (or the pages of their website) ... continue reading

  • Zero Tolerance 0560 Review Zero Tolerance 0560 Review

    Finally! A Zero Tolerance 0560 review. It feels like forever ago since the 560 was first announced at the 2011 BLADE Show. Since then I have heard the rumors, ogled the pre-production photos, and even caught a glimpse ... continue reading

  • Benchmade 275 Adamas Review Benchmade 275 Review

    Designed as a tool for law enforcement and military personnel, the 275 Adamas could be the epitome of a hard use folder. The 275 shares the classic lines of many "normal" folding tactical knives, but is massively over ... continue reading

  • DPx HEST 2.0 Review DPx HEST 2.0 Review

    A hard use frame lock with multi-tool capabilities, the DPx HEST is a unique offering from a small company with an interesting pedigree. The HEST is designed by journalist Robert Young Pelton, who is known for traveli ... continue reading

  • Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Review Spyderco Paramilitary 2 Knife Review

    I get reader requests from time to time to take a look at a particular knife. I try to oblige, although it isn't always possible. I really appreciate the feedback and it's extremely humbling to hear that someone wants ... continue reading

  • Zero Tolerance 0350 Review Zero Tolerance 0350 Review

    My Zero Tolerance 0300 got a lot of looks when I carried it around. At over 9" long and with a weight of 8.6 ounces, it definitely raised some eyebrows. The excellent S30V blade was a force to be reckoned with, and I ... continue reading

  • Cold Steel Recon 1 Review img-cold-steel-recon-1-01-thumb

    I love it when knife companies refine their existing designs. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for new and exciting models, but I'm almost more excited when a "good" knife turns into a "great" one. Cold Steel did just that ... continue reading

  • Ontario RAT 1 Review Ontario Rat 1 Review

    These days if you want a high value EDC knife, there are plenty of options. Kershaw and Spyderco make some great knives in the $30 and under category that are easy choices for EDC. If you want something that is both h ... continue reading

  • Benchmade 915 Triage Review img-benchmade-915-triage-01-thumb

    Rescue knives often go unnoticed in the knife community. There are large groups of enthusiasts gathered around tactical, survival and edc blades, but I have yet to see the rescue knife develop such a loyal following. ... continue reading

  • Spyderco Gayle Bradley Review Spyderco Gayle Bradley Knife Review

    The Spyderco Gayle Bradley (C134CF) is one of those knives that was built for use and abuse, but is so nice I wasn't sure if I could bring myself to really scuff it up. I guess the only reasonable answer is to buy two ... continue reading

  • Zero Tolerance 0550 and 0551 Review Zero Tolerance 0550 Knife Review

    Today I am taking a look at the Zero Tolerance 0550, a special collaboration between ZT and Rick Hinderer. Rick has been making knives and self defense weapons for over 20 years. He started out specializing in Damasc ... continue reading

  • Cold Steel AK-47 Review img-cold-steel-ak47-thumb-01

    The original AK-47 rifle was designed by Russian Gunsmith Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1946. These guns were designed to be simple and rugged, and for these reasons the AK-47 design has enjoyed much popularity for over 60 ... continue reading

  • Zero Tolerance 0300 Review img-zero-tolerance-0300-01-thumb

    When Zero Tolerance first came on the scene the 0300 is one of their knives that really caught my eye. The graceful curves reminded me of some deep sea mammal while the construction reminded me of a semi truck. So I w ... continue reading

  • Cold Steel American Lawman Review img-cold-steel-american-lawman-thumb-01

    When I hear the words "hard use folder" it's often accompanied by a mental image of dollar signs. For whatever reason, we have equated hard working blades with titanium, super steel, and triple digit price tags. Those ... continue reading

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    • says


      It’s a liner lock folding knife, so for what it is it’s fairly rugged. I would never substitute it for a fixed blade knife but compared with other folders it will hold up well. I’m not sure if this is a very helpful answer, maybe if you let me know what kind of use you have in mind I can elaborate further.



  1. Fred says

    I wish you would have put the current price that the knife was selling for online and posted this next to the knife so you would have some kind of price reference. There is a big difference between a $200 knife and a $50 knife. A price would reflect whether it’s a knife that a buyer may want and can afford, or doesn’t want and cannot afford.

    • says


      Excellent point. If I had the technical ability or money to pay someone to integrate that feature I certainly would! I’ll keep it in mind for sure.



  2. Markus says

    Firstly thank you for such comprehensive and objective reviews of important durable folders. Absolutely loved the additional links to other folders compared and listed in text. I am a collector of many high end fixed blades: Busse, Fallkniven and Chris Reeves. My best folder is a Fallkniven U2 and I am now looking for something very special. Strength, longevity, portability (EDC) >=3″ and precision are priorities for me. I am after a good slicer and descent skinner too, so drop point blade and flat grind is favoured. You could say class and beauty are also important priorities, but I’m one for form following function! You taught me a bit about lock up rigidity and protection, materials and basic high end construction. A bit like you tactical is not my thing, but its good to know its there. I was surprised to hear some of the high end knifes don’t open like I expected them to. I am having trouble deciding between the higher end knifes and the spiderco’s, which are great too. I dislike jimpink as it causes hotspots. Weight is important too. I respectfully disagreed with CRK Sebenza 25 Blade fail issue, not acceptable to a hard use folder review- I want to know what my knife is capable of if all hell did break loose, ie survival situation. The CS Recon 1 is a great cheap knife used by the Navy Seals, BUT I saw one break in half in a ballistics torso attack test. I discover a long time ago Military issue is not always the best, but you can take some great principles from them in choosing what IS the best. I also thought you could have considered the Fallkniven PXL ‘Workhorse’ in this collection, not just American marketed knifes…

    • says

      Hi Markus,

      Thanks for stopping by and for the honest feedback. I have not considered the Fallkniven PXL because it is very expensive and not many people seem too interested in it. Your comment is actually the first suggesting that I check out the knife.

      I will say that I recently acquired a U2 and plan on reviewing that in the near future. I felt that would be a good introduction to Fallkniven’s folders, and then perhaps from there I would explore some of their other knives.



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