Feb 20, 20187255 views

[Ongoing] Tactical Knives Discussion

On Massdrop, there are beginners who are just starting out and experts who really know their stuff. Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, you should always be able to find answers to your questions within the community.
TACTICAL KNIVES There’s a tactical knife for every occasion. Some come with screwdrivers, some come with glassbreakers, and others come with a little of everything. Whether you need a knife for everyday use or emergencies, you can usually rely on a tactical blade.
ASK QUESTIONS Want to know the difference between various grip types? Or what kind of steel is best for which task? Maybe you just want to learn a bit more about the history or development of these utilitarian blades? The best way to find the answers to your questions is to ask the community. There are members who are experts in pretty much every area you can imagine, and they can help you go from beginner to pro.
Ask your questions by posting in the discussion below.
GIVE ANSWERS Many of you in the community know a lot about tactical knives and have great information to share. We encourage you to help out anyone who has questions!

Want to start your own discussion? Click here: www.massdrop.com/blades/talk/new
waaargasm, Estal47, and 7 others

Grips and blades are one thing, but for me one of the most important criteria is having something other than a frame/liner lock that can be operated one-handed. Frame/liner locks IMHO are a great way to cut yourself.... Back locks (or whatever they are called - basically what Buck knives use) are nice but impossible to close one handed. Push-button or side-slider is the way to go unless you enjoy folding a blade back onto your fingers.... I currently carry a Gerber Obsidian, which has both a push-button lock and a 'hard lock' (basically a switch that locks the button). Both of these are nice, but the knife overall is kinda crappy, so I've been looking for something better and perhaps smaller. Also with a wire clip that won't scratch things..... Right now the only thing I have found that fits the minimum requirements is the Gerber US-Assist, which is a tad expensive for something I beat on and am likely to loose. I'm not exactly sure what a 'Tactical' knife is - I don't think my knife is capable of creating any sort of tactic or strategy. Perhaps if it had Machine Learning or AI added to it's name it might be able to help with that, but that would add a lot of cost. Edit: just noticed @48thRonin2 basically said the same thing, frame/liner locks suck and will injure you....
Just to clarify, IMHO, frame locks are problematic under stress. All of my current EDC's are liner locks (Artisan Waistline, Bestech Kendo, Cold Steel Ti-Lite, Boker Plus FR). All have two ball bearing detents milled into the blade - one just after you release the liner lock, and the other to help keep the blade closed. I don't find closing any of the above one handed problematic - but I purposely and slowly PRACTICE closing the blade 40 times a day (10 in the morning, 10 in the evening with each hand). While I can imagine several situations where deploying the blade rapidly might be necessary, I cannot think of a situation where CLOSING the knife RAPIDLY would be necessary. Knock on wood, I have yet to slice myself open while closing a liner lock in the over 20+ years I have been carrying some variation of the same. But I slowly and purposely close the blade, giving it full attention until it is back in my pocket. Again, if rapid deployment is the primary consideration, my choice is still a small (4"?) FIXED blade. In the gunfighting arena, I recall a famous quote from Bill Jordan, legendary Border Patrol agent, veteran of many gunfights, and designer of the iconic Smith and Wesson Model 19 "K" frame: "Draw real fast, shoot real slow." There's a time to be fast, and a time to be slow. I try not to confuse the two.
Along with my knife, I carry a tatical potato, (uncooked, of course). You have the element of surprise. I can throw and hit a perpetrator from eight feet away, right between the eyes and stun him long enough to disarm him and do what I have to do. Yams are more dense than Russets, so use with caution; large ones can break a cheekbone. I do recommend spray painting them black if they are to be used at night, they are more stealthy that way. For day use, go with the unpainted, they are very unobtrusive. I take unpainted ones of different sizes in my carry-on luggage, no problem. I look forward to the day when I can push small potatoes through a terrorists eye sockets.
I have broad palms and have found fingerling potatoes useful in slowing down would be assailants, as they fight for their footing I’m able to subdue 1-2 which generally evens the odds a bit. I haven’t really given any thought to painting my tactical potatoes but I’m intrigued by the notion now.
The most important thing to consider in selecting a tatical knife is the name. A name with the word Tactical in it is important. Combining key words makes a better knife. Anything with Ops in the name is a good knife, so something with the words Tactical Ops is better. If there is a Black in the name, even better. Tactical Black Ops would be a better knife. Anything with Special in the name is good, so a Special Tactical would be a good choice. If there is Special in the name combined with Forces, such as Special Forces Tactical, it would be superior to the knives previously mentioned. However, if there is Elite in the name, such as Special Forces Elite Tactical, then get that one. Unless of course, they change the name around and call it a Mk2 model, such as Elite Special Forces Tactical Mk2, that would be more impressive. The only other name to consider is the Extreme combined with the other names. So the “Elite Special Forces Extreme Tactical Black Ops” is the one to get. :) I think the knife manufacturers have columns of adjectives and they pick from descriptive words in each column to fit the price of the knife.
Makes sense!!!
Well, I had to spend some money and work with the design for two months before I came to the conclusion that:
I purchased two Chinese made D2 steel flipper tab folding knives, both with titanium handles / integral "frame locks". (Don't ask what brand / make / model, etc., it's the frame locks that I'm focusing on.)
I carried one or the other, or both, every day for two months.
Every time I accessed / withdrew the knife from my pocket in a simulated exigent fashion (that's an ed-u-ma-ca-ted way of saying as if my life depended on my deploying the blade quickly), my fingers pressed on the frame lock bar and I could not generate enough force on the flipper tab to open the knife.
Same result with my non-dominant hand. Every day for two months. (No I'm not ambidextrous, I just think that you should be able to operate all of your daily tools - pens, pencils, cell phone, keys, flashlight, etc., with either hand.)
Possible contributing factors:
1. I have large hands, so regardless of shape or contour of the grip, my fingers always fell onto the lock bar. (The President doesn't have this problem, according to the FLOTUS.)
2. Under stress and adrenaline dump, the second motor skill you lose is fine finger coordination, so you tend to grab objects with your fist, not with your fingertips.
3. Interlimb sympathetic response: Or, what one hand wants to do, the other hand mimics. To simulate some of the time, I punched a heavy bag as hard as I could with one hand while withdrawing the knife from my pocket with the other hand and attempted to deploy the blade. Zero percent success. Each time, my blade hand brought the knife out of my pocket in a fist, and I had to reposition my fingers before I could flip the blade open.
Any of you familiar with edged weapon martial arts are probably familiar with this as well.
My first choice for a defensive blade? A short bladed, full tang FIXED BLADE. (CRKT Stiff Kiss or Obake.) I can get the blade out and working in about half the time it takes an experienced Filipino butterfly knife practitioner to deploy that blade.
My first choice for a folding knife that deploys quickly? The original Cold Steel Ti-Lite. The spur on the back of the blade near the pivot point is perfect for hooking on the edge of the pocket as you withdraw the knife from the pocket. Push down and back, and the blade locks into place with a satisfying "snap". It's faster than most automatics, because you don't have to find that tiny button (again, gross motor skills versus fine finger coordination) and worry about pressing the button before you clear the pocket (at best, you just sliced your pocket open, at worst you just sliced your thigh / femoral artery / naughty bits open).
The bitch of it was that I spent more money on those two Chinese made D2 / titanium frame locks than my CRKT Stiff Kiss, CRKT Obake, and Cold Steel Ti-Light Zytel put together!
Not "sexy" or a "grail" knife made of unobtanium, but very real. That's what works for me.
Hope I saved someone some time / money / skin!
I had a similar knife (to the one pictured) that I got on ebay - it was a Boker. Nice compact knife - a bit shorter than the one above. I lost it in my carryon luggage and the TSA took it! :( Anyway, I would definitely like to know where to get one of these - perfect pocket piece...strange that a thread like this would not have a link to buy the knife pictured!
Even though experts recommend a solid handle on a fixed blade, I have found that a hollow handle allows me to carry a lot, much like Rambo. It is amazing what he fit in there. In mine, I carry fire starter, paracord, snare line, fishing line and hooks, a first aid kit, a flare, a compass, a reflector mirror, a space blanket, some snacks, water purification, a toothbrush, dental floss and C-4 explosive with blasting caps. ;)
Cold steel, I’ve wondered about them. Heard mixed reviews. What’s their best model in your opinion?
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I have a couple of Cold Steel knives I keep in cars & tool boxes. They are nice, but nothing special.
I'm a Cold Steel fan, I bought my first 30 years ago. To quote my knife guy "When your life depends on it, depend on Cold Steel." My EDC are the Recon 1 spear point, it's virtually indestructible and a ti-lyte. For the bush I add my Recon Tanto.
My research does indicate that military and police tend to lean towards some folder as back ups, understanding that straight edges are the go to tactical preference. For example, the benchmade Adamas was carried by some soldiers in Iraq war. I am building a pretty cool list of knives which soldiers personally testify to what folders they carried during war. Some rescue and police preferences I also keep track of.
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When I was in the military I carried the cold steel recon 5 tanto in carbon 5 great knife held a edge great I was part of ranger bat. So there is a war knife for you mine was a factory second because on a private pay all I could afford
I like the kit designs, have a few in my collection.
Hi guys, does anyone know where I can purchase the Maserin knife featured at the beginning of the Tactical Knives Discussion. I looked through the online Maserin folders but couldn't fine the exact knife. The Nimrod model was as close a I could find. Cheers, koochykoo52
I am an active duty Green Beret and can tell you honestly that the term “tactical” should only apply to fixed blades. I carry 2 knives when in kit. One is a pocket folder and the other is a fixed blade mounted discretely on my plate carrier. The pocket folder is used for general tasks like opening MREs, cutting cordage, etc. The fixed blade is for use when firearms aren‘t an option. “Tactical” is marketing and nothing else. A sharpened butter knife would be more useful to me in a “tactical” situation than a Reeves Sebenza. But I still carry a Sebenza in my pocket and it gets more use than my fixed blade. There are characteristics that are better suited to “tactical” situations though. Long enough to reach vital organs, corosion resistant, strong but not overbuilt, strong retention in sheath/holster, quickly deployable, double edged, has enough grip to fill your hand, handle material that resists environmental deterioration, subdued in color.
Tactical Knife/ Knives is a term that, to me; is like the term Assault Rifle. More of a concept than an actual thing. Any knife can be a tactical knife in a given situation. For those of us who operate professionally or otherwise as armed individuals a tactical knife is one that can be a tool or a backup weapon. In this respect I prefer the inherent strength and immediate readiness of a fixed blade. Folders are convlenient and come in a plethora of sizes and configurations, but one must practice in order to quickly deploy one. As a practitioner of FMA and Japanese combative arts I find fixed blades much more suited to my personal and professional protective doctrine.
I’m more in the Nick Shabazz camp of ”tactical.” Most likely even further than him. I prefer to avoid the term altogether have real disdain for people who are way too ensconced in tactical culture. They are why we can’t have nice things (Like being able to carry a balisong in my state). But that’s just me
I agree with you, but to be fair, balisongs are illegal primarily because somebody needed a convenient excuse to arrest people, and "because they are a minority", or "because they look sketchy" wasn't really cutting it.
Knives are tools and like all tools, their purpose is to facilitate a specific task or tasks. If we look at the definition of tactical, we find, “relating to or constituting actions carefully planned to gain a specific military end.” Having established that, when people need “tactical” blades, they either intend them for military, LE, or self-defense OR they want to collect them. Other than collectors, a tactical knife would suggest some level of tactical training if the tool is to be effective, otherwise it’s like giving a book to someone who is iliter. It’s cool to collect but if a tactical blade is chosen to be used as such, the user should choose it to best meet its expected use.
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I don't know if I would agree with that. With the exception of companies like Cold Steel, a lot of companies are moving away from the tactical moniker. Manufacturers like Spyderco and Benchmade tend only to attach tactical these days to their stuff that is pretty obviously meant for cutting people rather than things.
Cold steel knives are seriously hard use, reliable knives. First folder I would turn to in a life and death situation, aside from a straight edge knife, would be my recon 1. (for example, in case of a zombie apocalypse.)
While we are on the tactical subject, let's not forget the Ka-bar tactical spork.
I've tried every common knife brand, type, blade and lockup system. To date I haven't found anything that can rival the Mel Pardue Axis Lock found on Benchmade knives for every day carry. One hand flick open/close is better on this than anything else I've found, including automatics. Lockup is solid and safe vs many alternatives. I sold off many of my other knives and now just use a variety of Benchmade models... usually the tried and true Griptilian and Mini Griptilian because they're so light, fit the hand well and if you lose or break it it will be upsetting but not the end of the world.
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I'm a big fan of Spyderco's Compression Lock as well.
They're great knives I'm sure but I use and abuse knives and don't want anything I will be too upset about if I either damage it, lose it or forget in a bag and have TSA take it away at an airport. Benchmade griptilian and minigriptilian are perfect for my needs and much lighter weight in the pocket than most customs.
So who on here has questions and not snark involving judgement on mall ninjas? I’m a serious user and budding collector and I would love to help others in their hobby through discussion and experience, and would like the same in return from others. Let’s try that?
Good! When people see the number of blades I have, their first reaction is, "Oh! You collect knives!?" Then I let them handle a few, and the reaction turns to, "Oh! You use ALL of these knives????" My reply is, "I don't have any "safe queens" ... of anything." Serious users welcomed! A blade is only as good as the task it solves!
If I fall in love with a knife I will typically buy another for a few reasons, 1. I might lose the one I have and need a replacement 2. If I like it others probably do as well and most of the knives I own are discontinued or sprint run.
I subscribe to newsletters from many knife manufacturers and distributors. Apparently, there are more makes and models of knives used by Navy Seals, than there are Navy Seals.
Each seal team member would have to be carrying 67+ knives each for all the " used by US Navy Seals" knives out there
If you have a tactical knife, you might as well buy a can of tactical bacon. You can start a fire with your tactical fire starter, open the can with your tactical knife and cook it on your tatical cooking pan. I highly recommend getting bacon in a black can. It is more stealthy and it gives you an advantage over the guy carrying his bacon in a ziplock baggie. ) https://www.amazon.com/CMMG-Tactical-Cooked-Bacon-9-Ounce/dp/B003RC5FQ2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1525218645&sr=8-1&keywords=tactical+bacon+in+a+can
And don't forget my patented Tactical Toilet Tissue, or T3! (Search under my previous handle 48th Ronin.)
OMG... I thought you were just shittin’ all of us... There really is tactical bacon!!
for anyone starting to collect knives, be careful of 'buzz words' like tactical, hard-use, super steel, super-coatings, high carbon stainless, surgical steel, etc. the thing to note is every knife design choice, steel type, price point, etc. all have advantages and disadvantages, so do your own research.
the goal of the knife hobby is: to use and experience all type of knives, and try to find the best one that fits you.
a few sub-goals: dont go broke, dont scare people, dont hurt anyone, dont screw up your knife too badly
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i said it was 'blurry' and this is more for beginner knife collector/users, so they have some reference point
i'm not going to talk about carbide tearing, the difference between rockwell and brinell, and all the other weird stuff knife people think way too much about. (and also part of the fun)
It is blurry
Tactical stuff is only for ridiculous mall ninjas to carry and feel like a bad ass. The majority of it isn't actually practical to use, and I can't help but laugh at people who own 'tacticool' crap
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A normal folding knife meaning a knife that's just designed to cut things well like say a spyderco delica as opposed to something like a ZT 0452 that's obviously designed to look all murdery and appeals to mall ninjas who don't care too much about a knifes ability to actually cut things
That‘s a fair way to look at it, the ZT0452 is large and impractical for most people but I wouldnt call it a tactical piece of crap, it cuts well, is made of higher end materials over the delica, and has a better warranty than a Spyderco (fast service and blade replacement as an option over having to buy a whole new knife if something bad happens). At the end of the day, I’d like to think that someone who purchases a Spyderco or ZT probably did a little research into what they were buying, as they are getting something that cuts well.
Any Tacticool knife must have blood grooves or you loose 5 tactical points automatically. It's in the rulebook. Some guy told me at the last Pokemon match.
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I grew up hearing about “blood grooves” in knives, bayonets and swords. Only as I began learning more about knife making did I learn the they were more for weight reduction and strength, especially in swords and bayonets, than for ease of removing from bodies. Anymore I think fullers, as they are known now, are primarily more a design element except for perhaps on the hi-speed low-drag tacticool behemoths where weight reduction could be important. But they do deserve extra points in the mall.
Carbon fiber gets you +5 points.
Tactical operations off to a rough start this morning. Had to DIY mod my coffee. Sarcasm levels are particularly high this delightful Thursday at 5:30am.
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I would’ve used a fixed blade... the steam could compromise the locking mechanism.
👍😁 always error on the side of caution...
Although lots of knives seem to beg for a label like "tactical", the concept itself turns out to be just marketing. As far as I can tell, actual soldiers, even special forces, mainly use knives for utility jobs, just like you and I, and they usually use the same multitools and plain folders. Even the legendary Fairbairn–Sykes dagger - surely the most "tactical" knife ever - apparently got its tip snapped off too often from opening food cans. And anyway, unlike the romantic ideal, carriers of those knives hated getting into the rare situations where they needed to use them - it was a dark part of their lives even if they lived to have nightmares about it. What about OTF autos, that are sold only to "military and LEO" in many areas? As far as I can tell, they aren't really much more than a novelty. Since soldiers and police aren't doing a lot of stabbing in the line of duty, perhaps the real tactical knife would be a cheap, medium size kitchen knife. That seems to be the most common weapon for actual stabbings.
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I agree and disagree. The leg grunt will carry whatever is issued to them, and not have it on or about their person when they really need it. (Think enough water, a spare magazine, or another frag.) The real Tier One operators usually carry a heavy duty EDC (think Strider) for daily FOB tasks like opening MREs, etc. and a rather long, strong blade for when they run out of ammo or a "battlefield pickup" isn't readily available. (Think Randall.) I keep coming back to the scene in the most excellent movie, "Blackhawk Down" when they get the green light for the mission, and the newbie Airborne troops are pulling their back plates out of their armor (Nobody's gonna shoot me in the back, yo.) and the CAG operators are taping their blood type to all of their limbs, straightening the pins in their frags, packing extra batteries for their night vision, etc. The inexperienced grunt will carry what they think they need for the fight, because they already know (or think they know) what the fight will be like. The experienced operator will carry so much gear that they waddle to their sled on the airstrip. I had a chance a while back to chat with a LittleBird jockey (yes, he was there) and he said, "If I had trouble dusting off, I knew may passengers were fully loaded out. If I didn't, I told them that they weren't carrying enough gear."
Duncan, I agree with the use of traditional, modern, folding, fixed, etc. or I I can make a suggestion, EDC (meaning something that can actually be folded and carried comfortably in a pocket without fear of self-mutilating) and "hard use". (Thicker steel, more robust lockup, stronger tip weighs more than 4 ounces). Oh, and please have your website gurus write an Al Gore Rhythm that find the word, "tactical" without the quote marks and automatically flags it as "Loser"!!!! Thanks!
if you want an affordable over built knife I would recommend working with Zero Tolerance, a brother company to Kershaw. They are the higher end and over built side of their product spectrum. Although higher end and quality products they are still reasonably affordable from 150-200 range. Maybe Massdrop can make a Product with then even more affordable
ZT makes some cool knives, but a lot of them have a pretty high scare factor. That's kinda typical of the Tac Knife idea anyway, looking imposing and dangerous.
Exactly, it's Scare Tactic(als)s Lol
Tactical, in my eyes, is synonymous with being overbuilt and with ugly blade coatings. Rescue knives are a bit in between that, and if I'm going the direction of overbuilt I'd head toward something like a Hinderer (The Eklipse is quite nice outside of the idiotic proprietary pivot screw). Their bent is toward first responders and thus they have some features outside of a standard EDC knife.
Blade steel on a tactical knife should account for conditions not exactly conducive to frequent cleanings and heavy maintenance. The aforementioned coatings help with that, but in the steel itself you're looking at rust resistance as a higher factor than edge retention. You're also looking for a softer steel that will take an edge more easily (something you can run through a field sharpener). D2 and VG-10 are great for Tac knives for this reason.
On something that will have dirt, grime, and potentially blood and viscera on it, you absolutely want to a pair of PB washers. Bearings won't hold a decent action with too much crap in the pivot. I'm personally not a fan of assists but if you are, you can skimp on the washers (teflon will work fine).
Opening mechanisms can vary and are primarily at the users preference. An exception to this would be something like the Emerson Wave. It's designed to hook on the pocket as you're pulling it out, causing it to instantly deploy on the draw. I've personally found little use for it myself, a nice flipper tab is just as useful.
Others have mentioned the angle on the edge can be a bit more wide as it's not about slicing cleanly for long distances. The types of cutting tasks associated to Tac knives do not translate well to light use EDC (my use is light in that I use it primarily for opening boxes and letters). Tac knives are designed typically around cutting cord, being used as offensive/defensive weapons, or for quick cuts in rescue situations (such as cutting seat belts). Tac knives are one of the few places where a serrated edge can actually be useful.
The blade shape should come to a point. You wouldn't expect to find a Tac knife with a sheepsfoot. Typically they fall into standard drop point or spear point. Swedges are nice. No one needs a fuller or speed holes. As mentioned with the overbuilt quality, most have thicker blade-stock than would be found on the average EDC knife.
I personally think adding tools to a knife (with the exception of a tasteful glass breaker) is pointless. Lets let multitools be multitools and knives be knives.
As far as grip, textured G-10 is fine for the job. It's easy to clean, durable, and (if the texture is done right) extremely grippy. Keep in mind you might be using gloves when handling a Tac knife so make sure the ergonomics work for you with and without gloved hands.
In Summation: - Coated Blades (for rust resistance) - VG-10 or D2 - PB washers (Teflon are alright with an assist on the action) - Any opening mechanism - Wider angle on the blade edge - Drop or Spear point - Thicker blade-stock
Bravo, Sir!! (Applause emoji.)
To me, the word tactical in the category, means that it is a specific purpose built knife (as opposed to multi function tools/knives or EDC) where the purpose typically have a military or police purpose.
Military tactical would have an easy to maintain steel, where toughness is more important than hardness. I'd expect an edge of 25-30 deg for strength rather than cutting prowess. I'd expect the blade to come to a fine point with a swedge to increase penetration. Possibly even a sharp false edge part way along the swedge for even more penetration power. I would expect a tactical knife to be slightly overbuilt, but not so much that it becomes clumsy. I would expect that the COG of a military knife to be somewhere in the handle as to suggest thrusting instead of slashing. And I wouldn't be surprised to see a partially serrated edge.
A tactical police/rescue knife, I would expect similar functions, but possibly a harder steel since you are unlikely to use the knife for actual fighting. I would expect the tactical police knife to not have a sharp point for stabbing, but a slightly stronger point, like a reverse tanto etc. I wouldn't be surprised to see a belt cutter (gut hook) and a glass breaker on the knife. A partially serrated edge may well be helpful here as well. I'd expect it to be over built to withstand years of hard use.
Id expect all tactical folders to be operated with gloves on. A tactical blade should have a reasonably grippy texture to it so it isn't slippery even when wet. A fixed tactical blade should come with molle compatible sheath (or similar) attachment options.
If your tactical knife comes with a compass, hydrodipped patterns, super advanced and expensive steel that you need a jig sharpener system to maintain, slick carbon fibre scales and a blade the size of a machete with a style that would impress your local Nazgul or Klingon, it is probably not a tactical knife. It is probably a tacticool safe queen for the mantelpiece.
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Mine has a blade steel of Vibranium, stolen, er, obtained from Wakanda. When I flip it open, it sends a sonic pulse charge that atomizes anything within 100 meters of the tip. When I use it to cut, it will cut a battleship in half. No maintenance needed. A bit pricey, though. Had to destabilize the sub-Saharan African continent. It should all balance out in a century or two.
That is some pretty tactical shit right there. 🤙
"beginners who are just starting out"...... don't fall for the marketing term "Tactical knife".
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Fair enough. We will take that feedback to heart. Would still like your thoughts on these types of knives as well as other topics we could raise within the Blades Community. Anything you guys think would make sense?
I've been hedging on getting involved with this discussion, but I gotta ask; what the hell is the point of a karambit other than to hurt someone? Only the bad guys in action movies would use one. It would be hard to quarter an apple or whittle a tooth pick with one. It bothers me that they are offered here because then people will buy them a figure they might have to use them.Seems bogus.
Grayman Satu. The Satu is a extremely overbuilt robust folder. It seems to fit the term tactical very well.