In this article, we’re on a mission to find the best tactical knife on the market in 2017. Many people don’t realize the difference between regular and tactical knives – but the two aren’t comparable in terms of quality and construction. They are designed to be comfortable to hold in any situation. They are strong, built to handle specific tasks and made from high-quality stainless steel. If you need a tool you can rely on – even in high-pressure environments – a tactical knife can be a great choice.
A tactical knife can have a number of purposes. Some are designed to be a utility tool and are suitable for a range of tasks. Others are designed for self-defense or rescue situations.
The most important thing to remember is that a knife is going to be used as a tool in the vast majority of situations. Most people should buy a knife that’s great for everyday tasks – rather than looking for the best product for self-defense only.
After reviewing all the top Tactical knives available, we’ve selected our top 7 picks in the comparison table below. We’re confident you’ll find the perfect model for your needs.
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Even though they are designed to be versatile, it’s often not possible to buy a knife that excels in all areas. If you need a knife that can handle multiple purposes, you may need more than one. Some people, for example, have a fixed blade for difficult tasks and a smaller folding blade for when a smaller size is important.
Aside from the purpose of a knife, there are a range of other factors to consider when buying. The blade size affects both the weight and suitability of a knife for various tasks. Other considerations include the handle material, thickness and whether it’s a folding or fixed blade.
The right knife also depends on your personal preferences – it’s important to feel comfortable holding and using your knife. This range of factors, along with the confusing marketing terms used by manufacturers, can make deciding on the best product difficult.
The most important thing is that you trust your knife when you really need it. For this reason, we’ve searched user reviews to find the best tactical knife available (we were able to find four great options). Each is reliable and strong, and has been highly rated by buyers.
Top 4 – Best Tactical Knives
1. Cold Steel Recon 1 with G-10 Handle
The Cold Steel Recon 1 is an outstanding knife that’s received great reviews from buyers. Features such as anti-glare coating, non-slip grip and a lubricated blade mean that it’s one of the highest value options on the market. It’s also a sensible size – this is a knife that’s made for practicality rather than showing off.
The Recon 1 is built with a 3.5mm thick, four-inch stainless steel blade. The blade has a tanto point, which increases the durability of the tip, and the total length is 9-3/8 inches.
Despite the four-inch blade, some folks have reported that the Cold Steel Recon 1 is still relatively large. This makes it great for a variety of tasks – but means it probably isn’t suitable for carrying in everyday situations.
2. Kershaw 1870OLBLK Knockout
The Kershaw 1870OLBLK is a compact knife that’s designed to be fast to use. The SpeedSafe technology means you can quickly unfold the blade when needed. It’s built with a 3.25” blade, making it easy to carry yet suitable for almost any task. Other features include an anodized aluminum handle and deep-carry pocket clip.
One of the downsides of the 1870OLBLK is that the carry clip isn’t as durable as other options.
3. SOG Specialty Knives & Tools E37SN-CP Seal Pup Elite
The E37SN-CP has a sleek 4.85 inch fixed blade that’s highly durable. The blade is straight-edged with a clip point and black coating, so it’s suitable for almost any task. The handle is built from glass-reinforced nylon that’s both comfortable and durable. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense blade you can rely on, the E37SN-CP is a great choice.
4. KA-BAR #1213 Black Straight Edge
If you need a longer blade, the KA-Bar #1213 could be an excellent option. It has a seven-inch blade made from high-quality carbon steel. It also comes with a Kydex sheath for convenient carrying. The total length of the product is 11.75 inches.
One downside to the #1213 is that the guard can dig into the finger when carving wood. This makes it uncomfortable use for debarking or carving wood. The product performs excellently for almost every other survival task though.
How to Choose a Tactical Knife
Before you start looking for a tactical knife, think about what you need it for. Are you buying for specific situations? Or are you looking for an all-around versatile tool? Think carefully about this, as it affects every other decision in the buying process.
A truly tactical knife is chosen for its suitability to a specific situation. A knife for scuba diving, for example, is going to have very different requirements to a knife for a SWAT team member. While some products are designed to be versatile, it’s always important to choose the best option for your desired purpose.
Comfort and Balance
The comfort of a knife depends on a variety of factors, including the design, shape, handle material and weight. Everyone has a personal preference, but in general you should look for a simple product without deep grooves or fancy designs. These may look attractive – but can make a knife more difficult to hold.
When buying a tactical knife, don’t rely on advertising buzzwords or branding to make a decision. It’s much more important to choose a knife that feels balanced and comfortable, than one that looks great but isn’t functional.
The blade size affects the practicality of a knife in different situations. While many first-time buyers choose the biggest blade possible, professionals know that smaller blades are often more practical.
For most tasks, a blade that’s around four inches long is plenty. This length strikes a balance between weight and practicality. There are smaller blades on the market, sometimes as short as two inches, but these are more likely to break when used on difficult tasks.
The shape of the blade also affects how it functions in different situations. Some of the most common options include spear point, clip point, tanto point and drop point.
Again, the best style is both a matter of personal preference and dependent on the purpose of the product. Some blades also have a mixture of edges for different tasks. Having a serrated section on the blade can be extremely useful when you need to cut something – especially if you haven’t had a chance to sharpen the blade.
There are two types of blade: fixed blade and folding blades. As the name suggest, fixed blades are held in position and don’t have any moving parts. This makes them more reliable and less likely to break. If you need a blade that’s strong, reliable and perfect for both tactical and survival situations, a fixed blade is the best choice.
Folding blades are less durable and usually not recommend for difficult tasks. They are, however, more convenient than fixed blades and easier to carry. For this reason, many people have both a fixed and folding blade for different situations.
Handle material. A tactical knife’s handle should be made from strong and durable material. Most knives have a composite handle with grooved patterns to improve grip.
Non-reflective. All tactical products should have a non-reflective design. This reduces the chance of the knife being spotted.
Color. Similarly, dull colors are best for tactical products so that they don’t stand out.
Legality. Each country and state has different laws about the type of knives you can carry. Make sure you understand exactly which knives are legal in your country before buying.
A tactical knife is an essential tool in a variety of situations. If you need a blade you can rely on, tactical knives are durable, strong and designed to be suitable for almost any task.
The most important consideration when buying a tactical knife is the purpose you need it for. This affects the best size, shape and features, so make sure you know exactly what you need from a knife before you buy. Other considerations include the point type, handle material and comfort.
Our top-rated product is the Cold Steel Recon 1 with G-10 Handle. It’s a sleek and attractive knife that’s built with ultra-strong stainless steel. The four-inch blade is ideal for most tasks, and the product has received excellent reviews from buyers. It also has anti-resistant coating, a non-slip handle and pocket clip for extra convenience.