This is an easy to find collection of recommended tactical knives. If you are looking for a folding tactical knife (which is often defined as a self defense knife), and don’t know where to start I have created short list of my recommendations based on knives that I have reviewed. In my opinion these are among the best tactical knives I have reviewed.
A note on prices: I have tried to make the table so that you can sort through by price. The number of dollar signs relates to the price of the knife as follows: 1 ($0-$50); 2 ($50-$100); 3 ($100-$200); 4 ($200-$300); 5 ($300+). Naturally these are all approximations and actual prices are subject to change.
Recommended Tactical Knives:
|Tactical Knives||Overall Length (inches)||Blade Length (inches)||Weight (ounces)||Blade Steel||Price||Made In|
|Zero Tolerance 0562 CF|
|Chris Reeve Large Sebenza 21|
|Spyderco Paramilitary 2|
|Ontario Rat 1|
|Cold Steel American Lawman|
|Cold Steel Recon 1|
|Spyderco Gayle Bradley|
|8.078||3.438||5.5||CPM M4||3 $$$||Taiwan|
|Boker Titan Drop|
Selecting the Best Tactical Knife
There are a number of factors to consider when picking out the best tactical knife. I will run through some of the most important criteria that I consider when selecting a knife.
Please be advised that this list is a work in progress. It’s subject to change as new knives hit the market and as my own thoughts on what make a good tactical knife evolves. My hope is that this will give you some good ideas as to where to start if you are seeking out a good tactical knife. If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment below or sending me an email through the contact page. Thanks for reading!
John Gudger says
Only the Cold Steel ‘s, Paramilitary and ZT are tactical, maybe the Ontario. If someone were to use a Blur in self defense they would likely do as much damage to themselves as the other person. The 940’s aluminum handle and small size are going to make it likely to slip out of your hand,, especially once blood is involved. A Griptillian, really? Have you actually held any of these knives? I do own a Blur, and I can assure you it is the last knife I would want to rely on for self defense. Nice advertisement for the big name companies, little useful information!
You really give no basis for your evaluation of a “tactical” knife (whatever that really means) beyond some abstractions as to grip under wet conditions.
For the record, I have owned and held all of the knives on that list. I still own most of them.
I think the 940 and Blur have some merit on the list. I’ll agree that neither are dedicated fighting knives, but in my mind that’s not necessarily what a “tactical” knife is. The way I see it, a larger tactical knife is a daily carry knife that can be used for utility and self defense applications. It’s not a dedicated fighting knife. In that situation, I’d suggest a fixed blade or perhaps a folding knife that has been especially designed for whatever style of knife fighting you ascribe to.
You are welcome to formulate your own list – in fact I’d be curious to see it at this point.
Dan gives his honest opinion with the experience he has with any of the knives he reviews. He makes it clear he has no real tactical experience or training in an offensive or defensive use of a knife. Lighten up John, your comments are out of context in the style of review Dan gives. Personally I feel their is good value in Dan’s reviews. I understand his comments are his opinions, and I can decide for myself what I choose to take from them. Keep up the good work Dan.
Thanks, JVD! I appreciate the kind words. I am just one guy with a passion for knives and a website, nothing more, nothing less.
I have some reactions to Dan’s list.
First, although I have had paid instruction (please notice that I am trained) in knife fighting, it is an endeavor I hope I never have to participate in.
Each of the systems indicated by Dan have good lock ups. In my opinion, it is the most critical factor. Example – I would not want to carry a folder as a tactical knife. However, if all I had was a Benchmade grip, I would know that it would deploy easily and not fail on the lockup.
Dan spoke about giving an indication of where to start in selecting a tactical folder. If you have no self-defense training and know nothing about knives, a good place to start is the Rat 1. Inexpensive. A bit on the bulky size, but a great EDC knife if you work on a farm, etc. And, even if you had the training, this choice would function as well as the Paramilitary 2, except that the doctor would not be able to stitch up the serrated cuts you would inflict with a serrated blade.
The Bur is also a nice, inexpensive every day carry knife. In a pinch, it could function as tactical. However, the less expensive Rat 1 would be a better choice.
If someone wanted an excellent “tactical” folder, a choice might be the Buck 110. The downsize is that you need two hands to deploy the knife blade. The upside is that the knife does not have to be opened to deploy. You grasp it like a stick in the hand. It will operate like a yawara stick. The folded knife extends out of both ends of the closed palm. You strike with either end and it is like hammer blow to the opposition.
Do you need a great steak knife/rope cutter as well as a tactical knife? Then it is the Buck 110.
Most knife fights are over in about 20 seconds. This isn’t the movies. The defensive body movements are exhausting when resisting a knife attack. Depending upon your technique, you can receive quite a shock when you use a knife against a person.
Most homeless people carry a sharpened flat edge screwdriver. Operates like a fixed blade knife and very, very cheap. Not good for slashing, but nearly fail proof, John!
Brian, Thank you very much for the detailed comment about about tactical / defensive knives. It sounds like you have a great deal of experience and I appreciate your willingness to impart that on the website.
The best (or at least my favourite from this list has got to be the Hogue EX01, the way it sits in my hand a decent way away back from the actual blade. The feel of the knife makes gripping comfortable even after using heavily in one sitting.
Great article, theres a few more on this list I would like to try out.
Thank you, Johnny. I agree that the EX01 is an excellent knife. It is beautifully made, and thoughtfully designed.
What’s your opinion of Emerson knife as tactical?
I am immensely attracted to their Sheepdog version: wave opening, thumbstud and flipping fin on the same knife.
It will deploy fast (wave), new smooth bearing, should be good lock up with liner. Grippy G10 handles on both sides.
Emerson comes from a martial arts background and designs his knives for combat. He caters to the military and law enforcement crowd.
They are quirky knives and not for everyone, but if you like them then I think they can be highly effective. I say if the design interests you then check it out.
Wade Nirey says
The reason why I ended up on this blog is because I am researching for what tactical blade that I should used since I am just starting on my KALI training. I really have no idea what I will be using and thanks to this at least it gives me an idea on what knife that I am going to buy. Thanks Dan! At least I know some specification and prospect on what I am going to choose for my training.