When it comes to tactical knives, we’re not talking about a little fold-up pocket knife that grandma keeps in her purse, no-no-no. We are talking about a tough, dependable knife that is for use in combat situations.
Whether it’s to keep hidden for self-defense, part of your army gear or to kill a wild boar with, a tactical knife is something you can rely on that gives you an added sense of security.
Most tactical knives will be inconspicuous, deploy quickly, have a combat blade shape, and above anything else, be hard as nails rather than practical. They’re there to save your life, not to slice some cheese while camping.
At A Glance: Our Top 3 Tactical Knives
It’s not very easy to know which tactical knife is any good, especially when browsing online where you can’t hold or feel them. Luckily, you’ve found this review. Here, we take a look at some of the best tactical knives around and compared them against each other, so you find the one for you.
Best Of The Best
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Best On A Budget
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The Spyderco Military Folding Knife is quite famous in the knife world and has been dubbed a few times as ‘the knife to have if you could only choose one’.
To start off with, let’s take a look at the blade. At a size of 4 inches, it’s long enough for heavy work and small enough to get intricate with. The blade is made from superior CPM S30V steel which keeps a sharp edge for a long time and is excellent at resisting rust and corrosion.
The blade is a full-flat grind and features Spyderco’s signature 14mm round hole that stays above the handle when folded so that you can open the knife easily. It enables quick, ambidextrous, one-hand opening so you can have it ready when you need it most.
Once opened it cuts exceptionally well and is held in position by a Linerlock mechanism. This makes it safe and effective, you won’t have an accident due to the knife unlocking and if you hit your target, it’s going to stay strong and penetrate.
The handle is made from G-10 scales that are exceptionally grippy even when wet or blooded. It also comes with a tip-down pocket clip that makes the knife immediately available.
This is an excellent Spyderco tactical knife and although it’s expensive, it is worth every penny.
The Gerber 06 FAST Knife is one of the more affordable options in the review while still being a pretty solid tactical knife.
The blade is 3.75 inches long and is made from 7Cr17MoV stainless steel, which is tough as nails. It is serrated at the bottom and comes in a Tanto shape that is designed for combat. It is especially good for thrusting movements and piercing anything it hits.
The main selling point is the FAST forward action spring technology) opening, which is a spring-assisted opening mechanism that allows you to get your knife at the ready very quickly. This used to be a push-button mechanism but these days it’s been altered to many a customer’s disappointment.
To open the blade you’ll need to unlock the safety button and then deploy with just one hand. Once opened it’s locked in place by a plunge lock so that you’ll be safe from the blade closing by accident.
Like most firearm safety buttons, there is a red dot for when the safety is off. It comes with a G10 handle that is super grippy even when wet.
Overall it’s a solid tactical knife that’s very affordable and comes with a limited lifetime guarantee. There are very few complaints about this knife but very rarely the spring mechanism can fail and the blade can wobble a bit.
The Columbia River Knife CRKT M16 comes in a variety of shapes and sizes but we’re going to focus on the CRKT M16-10KS. This knife is often everyone’s first tactical knife. It’s cool, effective, and very affordable.
The blade is made from high-quality steel and arrives super sharp. It’s in a tanto style, excellent for combat, and arrives with an EDC coating to make it inconspicuous and protect it from the elements. The base of the blade features Veff Serrations which are excellent for cutting through tough fibers like a thick rope.
The blade opens using the Carson flipper. Simply flip the lever and the blade opens exceptionally quickly, meaning you’re always at the ready for any surprise situation. The flipper can go off by mistake, as there isn’t a safety button. This can cause accidents, so be careful.
The handle is made from stainless steel with holes to reduce the weight and polymer scales. It’s very grippy and will stay stuck in your hand through rain and grime. Weight reduction is key to being able to use the knife in a quick manner during a tactical situation.
Overall, this is a slim knife that is super sharp, quick open, and reliable.
The Boker Plus Anti-MC Folding Knife is designed in Germany and has been around for almost a century. This tactical knife is a little different from the rest and here’s why.
The blade on this knife is ceramic rather than stainless steel. Some would say that this makes it less effective but that’s not always the case, although it is true that it’s difficult to sharpen to the point of stainless steel. It’s also not the best for heavy-duty tasks but that’s not always necessary.
The ceramic blade while being sharp, makes this knife extremely light. This means that at kind of cutting movement can be done at speed, perhaps a little faster than usual, give you the advantage.
The handle is made from carbon fiber, making the knife even lighter, just 2.5oz. You’ll barely notice it while it rests on the pocket clip and when you go to use it, you’ll notice the scaled handle that’s grippy no matter what.
The blade is easy to open and close, and once opened or closed is held in that position securely by the frame lock mechanism. It’s tough and rigid when you use it and held closed when you’re not.
Overall a very pretty and affordable tactical knife that is super light.
No tactical knife review would be complete without an Emerson knife in the lineup. We have chosen the CQC7-BW-SFS a knife that’s been designed for close-quarters combat, or CQC.
The blade is in tanto design with a grind chisel serrated bottom and a stonewash finish. It’s made from CPM S35VN stainless steel which is one of the highest-quality steels a knife can have, and this is also reflected in the price, man it’s expensive.
The blade can become extremely sharp and will hold its edge for a long time.
There are three different deployment methods on this knife, a bit overkill but handy nonetheless. The quickest is the wave, which is one of the fastest methods of deploying a knife from closed and concealed to open, locked, and ready.
There is a hook that clips onto your pocket as you draw the knife and pulls the blade open by itself, so you’re ready to go in one movement. You can also open it with a thumb disc and a flipper tab.
The handle is made from titanium liners cover with grippy G10 scales to give you ultimate control while using the knife. The knife is also very easy to service and can be undone using a simple Philips and flat screwdriver.
Overall an exceptionally well thought out and high-quality tactical knife.
The Cold Steel Recon 1 is tough as nails but without all the frills. It’s a knife for heavy-duty work and is very dependable but it struggles a bit in the quick deployment department.
Let’s start with the blade. It’s a tanto design with a serrated edge at the base, making it excellent for combat thrusting and for cutting through tough fibers.
It made from CTS-XHP steel that has very high performance, is much harder, and wears far less easily than other steels. The blade is super sharp, and when combined with the super-strong lock design, is great for heavy work.
The Recon 1 features a tri-ad lock that holds the blade open very solidly. It’s so solid that you can use the knife for tasks such as batoning without damaging the blade.
The handle is quite thin thanks to the thick G10 scales which don’t have the need for liners. It feels nice in the hand and fits easily in your pocket. The handle is very grippy and you’ll be in control no matter the weather.
The only place this knife struggle is in quick deployment. You’ll need two hands to get it open and locked. Great for heavy-duty work but not so great in a surprise situation.
Overall an awesome tactical knife that’s very affordable.
The Smith & Wesson Border Guard is an excellent tactical knife for those on a budget who want something a little safer than a spring-loaded opening mechanism.
The blade is long at 4.4 inches with a pointed tip and serrated bottom. It’s not the best style for combat but will still be excellent in terms of piercing and cutting through fibers.
It’s made from 7Cr17MoV high-carbon stainless steel with a black oxide finish that protects it from corrosion. The steel can be sharpened to produce a very sharp edge and will hold its edge well.
The handle is made from aluminum with Trav-Trec inserts for grip. It’s comfortable and ergonomic in the hand. There are also two blood grooves to ensure your hand stays dry and attached to the knife while in use.
Unfortunately, there is no spring mechanism or one-hand opening with this knife, you’ll have to use two hands. This means quick deployment is lacking but it’s great for other uses. It’s also a little on the large and heavy side at 8.8oz and 10 inches long.
Overall, it’s a great knife for the money and if you’re on a budget is worth a try. Plus it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
The MTech USA Xtreme is the first tactical knife in the review that has a fixed blade. This makes it a bit more rugged and suited more to heavy work in the outdoors. It’s not suitable for everyday carry needs, as an 11-inch knife sitting on your hip is a little obvious.
The blade is long at 5.5 inches and is made from 440 stainless steel. 440 steel has a high carbon content that makes the blade a bit harder and gives it great edge retention, so you don’t have to keep sharpening it too often.
The blade is a tanto design for combat combined with a serrated saw on the back, along the spine. It’s pretty heavy-duty at 5.5mm thick and thanks to the fixed blade design will be very robust in the field.
The G10 handle is grippy in all conditions and the ergonomic finger grooves make it comfortable to use. There is also a guard at the front of the handle for some extra safety.
Overall a solid tactical knife for use in the field. If you’re into hunting or are deploying, it’s a good bet.
The Benchmade Contego 810 is a high-grade tactical knife that’s been made to top specifications. It’s a folding knife with a tough locking mechanism that’s suitable for EDC and heavy-duty tasks.
The blade is of average length at 3.98 inches and is in a reverse tanto style that makes it very effective at piercing. It’s made from CPM-M4 stainless steel which is of very high quality and has excellent wear resistance.
The knife can be deployed with one hand and once deployed is held in position by an excellent Axis lock. This keeps the blade in position for safe and effective use.
The handle is again made from G10, so it’s very durable and grippy. You’ll be able to have a tight, controlled grip no matter the conditions. It also features ergonomic finger grooves for comfort, especially useful during long cutting tasks.
Overall this is an excellent tactical knife for all occasions.
The Gerber Contrast Tactical Knife is another affordable choice if you’re looking for a light, quality EDC tactical knife. It’s small and will slide into your pocket with ease, and no one will be the wiser.
The blade is a little shorter than others at just 3 inches. It’s made from 3Cr13 stainless steel that’s great against wear and tear and keeps a good edge.
The blade is coated to give it a low contrast for tactical situations. and protect it further from the elements. It’s small enough for intricate tasks but also tough enough for those heavy-duty ones too.
There is an assisted spring-loaded opening mechanism for quick deployment in a time of need. It’s a bit tricky to get used to and it’s worth practicing to ensure you don’t open it up in your pocket by mistake.
Once opened the blade is held tightly by a tough plunge lock so you can use it effectively and without worrying it might close on you. The handle is G 10 and grippy for use in all weather conditions, also adding to the safety side of things.
Overall a super light and affordable tactical knife with a tricky deployment mechanism.
Finding the right tactical knife isn’t very easy and you’re probably wondering how to make the right choice. There are a few options to choose from in terms of style, blade type, and handle grip, and here is what you need to know.
There are a few different types of tactical knives in the review and each type has its own positives and negatives. Here we’ll cover all the options available in the review, so you can match the right knife type to your needs.
A folding knife is exactly as it sounds, a knife that folds up into itself. They are incredibly useful as they can slip into your pocket unnoticed and are always on hand when you need them. They vary in blade type and size but can be used for both light and heavy-duty work.
All the folding knives in the review have a locking mechanism to hold the blade in place. These are all robust but they will never contend with the strength of a fixed blade knife.
Fixed blade knives are made for heavy-duty tasks and are usually longer and thicker than a folding knife. They are far more durable due to this and there is a lot less to go wrong once you remove the folding mechanism. If you’re a hunter, then this is the kind of knife you should be looking for.
The only drawback of a fixed knife is that it’s very obvious and is not something to carry around in public. If you’re looking for a knife for everyday carry purposes, stick with one of the other two options.
Then assisted open knives in the review are essentially folding knives with a mechanism that helps you get the blade out faster, for immediate and quick deployment in an emergency situation.
They are very useful in self-defense situations or when you need a knife quickly because you’re tangled in something that needs cutting.
The mechanisms can be a little tricky and fail on occasion, so be aware of that. Also, you don’t want a knife opening of its own accord in your pocket, as it can cause a serious injury.
The size of the blade is an important consideration and all the blades in the review are small to medium in length. We have chosen these purposefully, as they’re more practical for tight situations and heavy-duty ones. Plus, you don’t need a concealed-carr permit in order to use them.
A good blade is not big and brutish. The most effective blades are the best because of the quality of the metal they’re made of and how sharp they are. A sharp blade made from tough stainless steel will get any job done.
All the blades in the review are made from quality stainless steel, some with higher quality than others. If you’re looking for the best steel, then look at the higher-priced options, as the costs are indicative of the quality of the ingredients.
A lot of the blades in the review are a tanto design. This is ideal for piercing and combat and is the go-to shape for tactical knives. You’ll also notice that a lot of them have a serrated part, which is ideal for cutting through tough materials like a thick rope.
In the end, it’s all about the point though. Be sure to pick a blade with a straight or drop point for maximum tactical effectiveness.
The handle and grip are as important as the blade. No one likes a slippy, uncomfortable knife handle as it will cause accidents in the end. All the handles and grips in the review are excellent and are made to stay grippy no matter the weather.
One choice you do need to make with a handle is whether to have a hollow one or not. A hollow handle is ideal if you’re looking for a lightweight knife but a heavy solid handle will give you more control and can be used as a hammer.
Here are our top choices from the review.
The best tactical knife in the review is the Spyderco Military Folding Knife. This knife is light, durable, opens quickly and easily, and has the best quality blade in the lineup. If you had to choose one knife for the rest of your life, pick this one.
The best allrounder tactical knife is the Gerber 06 FAST Knife. It’s very affordable while being awesome at everything a tactical knife should be good at. It opens quickly, the blade is a tanto design and made from high-quality steel. It’s also light and ideal for a combat situation.
The best tactical knife on a budget is the CRKT M16-10KS. It’s super affordable, high-quality, quick-opening, and grippy. It’s made with a tanto blade that serrated at the bottom and opens at the flick of a lever.