Everything You Need to Know About Tactical Knives


Tactical knives are one of the many outdoor knives and are used for self-defence. They are growing in popularity in American bladesmithing, and as you would expect, they feature design elements that make them excellent for fights.

Since the law generally permits knives in most states as an everyday carry item as a defense tool, you might want one for safety reasons. You could also get one for hunting and for your outdoor lifestyle. They come in different styles, shapes, and qualities, so you need as much information as possible to get the perfect piece.

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History of Tactical Knives

The history of tactical knives traces back to the 20th century with the introduction of the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife rafted by British officers William E. Fairbairn and Eric A. Sykes during World War II.

Tactical knives were designed for enhanced stabbing efficiency and close combat. It’s safe to say that the Fairbairn-Sykes knife was the forerunner for the modern tactical knives that you can use for utility and combat applications.

While some blades were made with stainless steel, others used brass with titanium guards. Today, carbon fiber and synthetics are the most dominant handle materials. A non-reflective finish is a consistent feature of tactical knives back then and now.

Whether or Not to Get a Tactical Knife

If you are a handy and outdoor person and wondering if you should add a tactical knife to your collection, this boils down to your application and personal preferences.

It is worth noting that tactical knives carry many similarities with survival and fighting knives. What really stands out about them is how they look. They have powder-coated blades, which make them non-reflective, often have flat colors, and have military styling.

If blades matter to you and you are looking for something that stands out, then you definitely want to get a tactical knife.

How to Choose a Tactical Knife

While the best tactical knife will vary depending on your preferences and needs, there are details you might want to consider to get a blade that suits your needs. Here is a guide to help you get the best in the market.

1. Consider the Handle Material

Like most items you purchase, consider the longevity of the materials used to make the knife. Can they survive a bump, or will you have to make a replacement?

Tactical knives come in various handle materials ranging from wood and leather to metal and resin composite such as Micarta.

When evaluating the handle material, consider how hard you must grip it to secure the knife. Does it easily slip when your hands are sweaty or when the handle is wet, and how comfortable is it to hold it during high impact?

Ensure you get a knife with a handle material that will survive high impact and is easy to grip.

2. Blade Material

Knife experts often recommend stainless steel blades. While you may not be an experienced blacksmith, an easy way to tell if you are working with a high-quality stainless steel knife is the price. A five-dollar knife will disappoint you if you subject it to hard use.

When looking for a tactical blade you also want to assess the toughness. Some have high-carbon steel with thick blade stock, and others have soft steel.

The advantage of softer steel is that your knife will have a sharper edge and will be easy to sharpen out damage over time. Carbon steel knives usually give in to harsh elements.

3. Lock Mechanism

The lock mechanism is usually a significant concern particularly because the moving part of the knife is its weakest point. Knife companies are rolling out new lock-up designs, and while the options are many, you should look for something that supports one-handed operation when closing and deploying.

A liner lock release mechanism is placed within the handle and often has a low prospect of accidental release. There is the back lock with its release mechanism on the back. While the lock strength is high with this mechanism, it also has a high probability of accidental release.

The Axis lock, also known as a slide lock, is characterized by a release mechanism with a pin at the top of the handle. The lock strength is high, with a low chance of accidental release, which makes it a good option.

4. Size

Depending on where you will carry your tactical knife, consider its size. Note that some states have limitations on open carry. In such cases, you want a small pocket knife of about three inches.

Your application will also determine the size. It could be handling emergencies such as cutting a rope or cutting through the jungle while hiking. In such instances, you will need a longer knife. Before you purchase a tactical blade, familiarize yourself with your state’s knife laws to get the right size.

Bottom Line

Tactical knives have evolved from the many fighting knives used throughout history. The common features of tactical knives include an ergonomic design, centered weight balance, and non-reflective blades.

Tactical knives not only stand out in their look, but they are also effective survival tools that you will love having in your assembly.


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Linux Certified Engineer, with a passion for open-source technology and a strong understanding of Linux systems. With experience in system administration, troubleshooting, and automation, I am skilled in maintaining and optimizing Linux infrastructure.

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