When you’re out and about either in the backcountry or on day hikes, it’s always a great idea to have a handy knife on you. Known as a good tactical knife, this outdoor essential is not your everyday kitchen knife.
If anything, this is a tool meant for different survival or military style situations. It’s a handy device that you can use on your everyday repair tasks, at home or even at work, depending on what you do for a living. And this is definitely the one you want to take with you when you’re in the outdoors.
Tactical knives come in foldable and fixed blade varieties. But all are geared to cut, repair, kindle, prep food and serve as a first aid device when needed.
Best Tactical Knife Comparisons
|Tac Force TF-705 Assisted Opening Series
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|Smith and Wesson SWA24S Stainless Steel Folding Knife
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|Snake Eye Tactical Folding Pocket Knife
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|Benchmade Griptilian 551 Pocket Folding Knife
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|Atomic Bear Survival Knife
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|Smith and Wesson SWFR2S Stainless Steel Knife
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|Smith and Wesson SWBG2TS Border Guard Folding Knife
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|Blade Mate Survival Knives
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Among the best tactical knife brands in the world, a cheap or basic model will only come with a single foldable blade, minus any bells and whistles. The more elaborate ones, though, may have multi-tool features within. In fact, the more complex your needs, the more options you will want in your knife.
If you’re looking for range, then you have quite a few different options to consider for your money. Like survival knives, tactical models can range from no-nonsense fixed blades and compact pocket versions to those specially crafted for woodcarving or even sawing. You can make do with one, but some people like to carry multiple knives since not every knife will suit every task. That said, you can still find that one piece capable of handling most of your needs.
If you’re just going out for a day hike or something less challenging, a basic tactical knife can suffice. Foldable models are not only compact but also lightweight and easier to carry. They keep their sharp edge protected well inside the handle. You can also look for special features like a lock-in-place blade so that it won’t accidentally fold out when not in use.
Some folding knives will also offer a one-hand opening function. What this does is allow you to quickly open the device with one hand when your other hand is busy with something else.
These models will come with a smooth folding mechanism and a stud. There will also be a notch or cut-out on the blade to make it easy to push the knife open with your thumb. If you’re ambidextrous, this will be very handy as you can open the knife easily with either hand.
Fixed Blade Knives
The other way to go is with fixed blade tactical knives. These types usually offer more strength, are bulkier and more ergonomic in design. Having a fixed blade, these knives are easier to clean, making it great for hunting. However, they do take up more space and need a sheath for safe carrying. If you’re out on longer camping trips, then you may want to carry a fixed blade knife with you.
Knife Blade Shapes
If your tactical knife is going to do much more than simply cut, then you need to pay attention to the shape of the blade. The most common types are listed below with a quick look at what tasks they are best suited for.
This type is one of the most popular blade types with the back edge and tip relatively unsharpened. In other words, the blade has a thicker point than usual and allows for plenty of cutting-edge given its somewhat protruding belly. This makes it better suited for slicing rather than piercing.
This blade typically runs straight from the handle to the tip in a gradually curving manner which gives it a lowered point. This feature lends it more control and gives superior strength to the tip. Drop-point blades are very strong and able to hold up to heavy use.
Another popular type, this shape features a crescent drop on the top of the blade which gives it a sharp, thin point. Similar to the drop-point, this blade also runs straight from the handle but stops mid-way up the knife. Here, it turns into a crescent ending in the sharp, thin point. Given this shape, the blade looks like it may just have been “clipped” from the spine and hence its name.
Clip-point blades work well for puncturing and can be found on both foldable and fixed blade knives. It can be used for quick stabbing, less drag, and faster withdrawal. Some models may even have the back edge of the blade sharpened to give it a second edge, improving the function of the tip even more. When compared, the clip-point is weaker than its drop-point counterpart.
This is a very proportional looking blade with double edges and symmetrical points. Its sharp point makes it ideal for survival situations such as puncturing, piercing, and throwing.
The blade also comes with a small belly that can be used for cutting and slicing applications. But its belly is definitely smaller than what you would find on a drop-point or clip-point knife. This blade combines the sharp point of a dagger with the strength of a drop-point knife.
Similar in style to the spear-point blade, this type is very thin with a sharp point. You can best use this kind of blade for all kinds of piercing tasks. It shares the symmetry and double edge of the spear-point style blade that tapers to a very thin sharp point and cuts equally well on both sides.
That said, this style doesn’t have a belly so is not a good option for slicing or slashing. You may also not be able to use it on hard targets given its very sharp and thin tip.
This Japanese sounding blade gets its name from the Japanese word for short sword or dagger. Its design resembles that of a chisel with an angular tip and strong point lending it a lot of power and stability when compared to other types of blade points.
The blades on these models are reinforced to make it possible to puncture, pierce, pry and scrape tough materials. The reinforced blade won’t snap easily, either.
Tactical knives use non-corrosive materials that don’t rust or lose their sharp edges easily. The two main types of materials on these knives include the following:
Many popular blades on tactical knives are made from stainless steel which is both rust and corrosion resistant. The blade is fairly tough, though not the toughest.
Knives accessorized with a stainless-steel blade don’t require any protective coating, so maybe your best bet when it comes to meal prep outdoors. This metal also doesn’t leach any of its metallic properties onto your food.
On the downside, stainless steel is generally softer when compared to high carbon knives. So, while they may be easier to sharpen, they also lose their edge just a tad bit quicker than high carbon blades.
High Carbon Steel
The other option for tactical knives is that of high carbon steel. Carbon is the hardest element and transfers this property to blades crafted from it. These blades are much harder and have better edge retention than their stainless-steel counterparts. The hard blade makes high carbon steel knives extremely effective for precision cuts.
At the same time, they are way more vulnerable to corrosion. This also means that you will have to spend a lot of time cleaning the knife after use to guard it against moisture.
Top 8 Tactical Knife Reviews
So, what is the best tactical knife around? We’ve rounded up some of the top-rated survival, self-defense, and bushcraft models online and compiled them here for you to choose from!
Tac Force TF-705 Assisted Opening Series
- 1x 6x 9 inches
- 4.8 ounces
- 4.5 inch closed length
- 3 ¼ inch blade
Tac Force is a well-known brand in the industry offering a wide range of products. This particular model is a folding knife with a 3 millimeter-thick stainless steel blade that is half-serrated. The aluminum handle and spring-assisted folding on this knife allow an easy one-hand grip. It has a glass breaker and a bottle opener as added features on the end. With the pocket clip at the back and a liner lock, carrying this knife is easy and safe. It closes with an easy to push to one side, making this both functional as well as safer than other knife models.
- Easy Handling
- One Hand Deployment
- Can Cut Through Branches And Ropes
- Screwdriver At The Handle End
- Bottle Opener At The Handle End
- Spring-Assisted Opening
- Some concerns with the locking mechanism
Smith and Wesson SWA24S Stainless Steel Folding Knife
- 4 x 0.3x 1 inches
- 3.5 ounces
- 7.1-inch full open length
- 3.1-inch blade
This is a compact clip-point blade knife that is quite easy to carry. The knife barely weights anything at 3.5 ounces weighing much lesser than some other similar products. It is durable as the material used is 7Cr17MoV Black Oxide and the handle is made of aluminum. Due to the presence of ambidextrous knobs for thumbs and pocket clip, this knife is dependable. The liner lock ensures that the blade does not open or slip when it is in your pocket or backpack. It features a serrated blade.
- Pocket clip for security
- Easy access with index flipper
- Clip Point Serrated Blade
- The opening is not spring-assisted
- No glass-breaking feature
- Liner lock may not always fully lock
- May expose you to chemicals like TDI
Snake Eye Tactical Folding Pocket Knife
- 4.8 ounces
- 4.5 inches closed length
- 5.3x1.8x 0.8 inches package dimensions
The Snake Eye Tactical Knife comes with a spring-assisted opening feature and has a 3.25-inch thick blade for easy cutting of ropes or branches. Made of stainless steel, this knife has a half-serrated blade. A distinctive feature of this product is the seatbelt cutter that can come in handy in the car. Along with that, it also features a glad breaker for escape plans and a pocket clip. This clip makes sure that the knife’s blade does not damage your pocket and stays closed.
- Easy to carry in the pocket
- Comes with a glass breaker
- Sharp blade to cut through ropes
- Seatbelt cutter
- Feels very sturdy in hand
- The orange color is easily spotted in dim-lit areas
- The blade isn’t super-sharp
- No consistency in the spring-assisted opening
Benchmade Griptilian 551 Pocket Folding Knife
- 2x 6.1x 0.3 inches
- 3.45 inches blade
- 0.115 inches thick
- 3.88 ounce
- 0.64 inches handle thickness
The Griptilian 551 is made of stainless steel and features a blade that is not only tough but rust-resistant too. The nylon handle is glass-filled, a feature making it attractive. This knife can be carried around for daily activities as it is well-designed with the company’s AXIS lock which is quite strong as well as ambidextrous. For easy manual operation, the knife opens and closes with a single hand. The design is kept very lightweight with an easy-to-hold grip. With the reversible pocket clip, there is easy access to the knife at all times. Whether it is tactical applications or outdoor activities, this knife, with its versatility, is suitable for everything.
- Pocket clip
- Stainless steel blade
- Single-handed operation
Atomic Bear Survival Knife
- 5.5x 2.4x 0.9 inches
- 7 ounces
- Lifetime Warranty
This model from Atomic Bear is a serrated knife that is very stable. It comes with a comfortable handle for easy grip and is very light-weight for easy carrying. The blade can cut through cardboard, ripe, fishing line and even wood. For car safety, it can even cut through a seat belt. The innovative design makes the knife very versatile. It is made with 420B stainless steel with a coat of oxide. This knife has a fair sized belly which is apt for precise cutting. Also, there are thumb studs on both sides for easy opening with just one hand.
- Can cut through many materials
- Comes with a lifetime warranty
- Had dual-sided thumb studs
- Can be used for car safety
- Has an oxide layer for durability
- Provides a great grip
- A little hard to open
Smith and Wesson SWFR2S Stainless Steel Knife
- 7.5x 5.5x 3.5 inches
- 4.4 ounces
- 8 inches
- 3.3 inches blade
This knife is made with 7Cr17MoV High carbon black oxide and steel. The stainless steel blade can cut through a number of materials because of the serration. The aluminum handle is not only attractive but also very ergonomic. For carrying around, there is a pocket clip. This model also has a glass break feature that comes in handy in times of emergency. The ambidextrous thumb knobs and rope cutters also make this knife a good carrying pocket knife. The liner lock keeps the blade locked when not in use. Anyone with a fancy for such tools would love to have it in their collection.
- Ambidextrous thumb knobs
- Pocket clip for portability
- Daily carrying
- Durability due to the black oxide layer
- Glass breaking feature
- Rope cutting feature
- Liner lock for safety
- Can expose users to TDI
- Hard to open with one easy motion
Smith and Wesson SWBG2TS Border Guard Folding Knife
- 6x 6x 4.5 inches
- 10.4 ounces
- 10 inches
- 4.4-inch blade length
Smith and Wesson promise durability and effectiveness and these features are present in this knife too. It features a pocket clip to make carrying easy. Also, the blade is made up of 7Cr17MoV. Trac-Tec inserts are present on the handles. Since there are a pocket clip and ambidextrous thumb knobs, it is easy to access the knife from your pocket in case of emergency. Like many other models, this one also comes with a strap cutter and glass break feature. People who want a larger knife will really like this one.
- Glass break feature
- Reliable and durable
- Easy access to the knife due to the presence of ambidextrous knobs
- Comes with a pocket clip
- Trec-Tac inserts on the handle
- Slightly larger and heavier than other models
Blade Mate Survival Knives
- 10.8x 5.9x 1.1 inches
- 15.5 ounces
- 420-grade steel blade
- Lifetime warranty
Blade Mate focuses on dependability and quality. This knife features both of these attributes as it is the company’s signature survival knife. Handymen, hikers, hunters and police officers all find this knife helpful. It is made with stainless steel and the blade fortified with alloys so that it can withstand corrosion even in the outdoors. A belt clip is attached so that you can carry the knife on your side every day. The liner lock is added for keeping hands safe. With its sleek design and seat belt cutting feature, this knife is a great addition to your glove compartment. With the lifetime guarantee, you can demand your money back in case you are not satisfied. No questions asked.
- Sleek design
- Coated with alloys to prevent corrosion
- Can break through a window
- Steel-tipped blade
- Can be used for sawing or slicing
- Comes in a 2-pack
To sum up, these are some of the best tactical knives that you can get your hands on. You can evaluate your needs and then choose a model that you think will deliver the best. If you’re a beginner, read up on what to expect on your outing and plan ahead with the right tools. If you’re a veteran outbacker, be sure to top up your arsenal with some of these best tactical knives.