Sal Glesser once said, “A tactical knife is any knife that you have with you when you need a knife.” I confess that I’m not sure if he said that or not but there is a lot of truth to that statement. You see, for most people, a tactical knife is a deadly knife that military guys use to fight and kill the enemy.
Well, that would describe a combat knife because a tactical knife has more use than self-defense. Yes, it comes with some military-grade features to enable high performance in extreme situations but it is designed for utility use, not as a weapon.
The term tactical knife is used to define utility knives that have military aesthetics and characteristics. They’re very multi-purpose and can be used by the military, the first responders, and civilians alike for performing a wide range of tasks.
As you can imagine there are many tactical branded knives in the market but we’ve reduced the job of combing the internet for you by reviewing some of the top tactical knives in the market for you.
The Best Tactical Knives Are:
|1. Gerber 06 Fully Automatic Folding Knife||Check Current Price|
|2. CRKT Du Hoc Fixed Blade Knife||Check Current Price|
|3. CRKT M16-10KS EDC Folding Knife||Check Current Price|
|4. Benchmade Contego 810 Folding Knife||Check Current Price|
|5. Kershaw Secret Agent 4007 Boot Knife||Check Current Price|
|6. KA-BAR Full Size USMC Fighting Knife||Check Current Price|
|7. Smith & Wesson Border Guard SWBG2TS Folding Knife||Check Current Price|
|8. Spyderco Assist Lightweight Folding Knife C79PSBBK||Check Current Price|
|9. Hogue Sig X5 Tactical Flipper||Check Current Price|
1. Gerber 06 Fully Automatic Folding Knife — Overall Best Tactical Knife
The 06 Auto is a fully automatic military grade folding knife designed for tough tactical situations. Gerber is one of the best tactical knife brands and its products are all designed to cater to the unique needs of specific uses with the quality, reliability, and innovation that is the Gerber heritage.
The 06 Auto comes with either a drop point or American tanto partially serrated blade made in S30V stainless steel with a black oxide coating. This type of steel has excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance as well as hardness and toughness for extreme hard use.
The blade deployment is fully automatic and it uses the proprietary fast action spring technology. The blade opens partially at which point the spring action kicks in to snap it open the rest of the way.
The handles are G-10 textured with finger choils for added grip and safety. It has an extended pommel with a pointed metal tip that can be used as a strike point for self-defense or a glass breaker.
- Blade Length: 3.8-inch
- Overall Length: 8.6-inch
- Weight: 5.7 oz
- Forward Action Spring Technology
- S30V stainless steel partially serrated blade
- G-10 textured handle
- Pommel with strike point and lanyard hole
- A durable knife that will give you a reliable long term service
- Sturdy knife with a good and firm grip
- Blade style and quality for versatile use
- The partially serrated blade comes sharp out of the box
- The oversized release button can be used with gloves
- Sturdy pocket clip and lanyard hole for easy carry
- Difficult to clean without disassembling
This knife is one of the best selling tactical knives in the market because of its design and high-quality construction.
Overall Rating – 4.4/5
2. CRKT Du Hoc Fixed Blade Knife — Best Combat Knife
For CRKT, innovation means developing products that constantly redefine the industry’s creativity and function. To keep raising the bar, they’ve worked with some of the most renowned knife makers in the industry to develop knives that consistently deliver high performance and reliability.
The Du Hoc karambit is designed by Austin McGlaun in memory of his late uncle who was a war hero. The blade is a 5-inch recurved SK5 carbon steel that is tough and sharp to be the best combat knife you can depend on in a combat situation.
SK5 steel has impressive edge retention, wear resistance, and impact resistance. The blade is powder-coated black to improve corrosion resistance but it still needs extra care, especially in wet environments.
It comes with textured G-10 handles that provide a secure grip even when wet. Also included is a GRN sheath that can be strapped anywhere on your gear.
- Blade Length: 5.10-inch
- Blade Thickness: 0.20-inch
- Overall Length: 9.63-inch
- Weight: 9.30 oz
- SK5 high carbon steel blade with black powder coating
- Textured G-10 handles
- Gear compatible GRN sheath
- Handle ring and through holes for lashing
- Karambit style blade offers dependable tearing and slashing action
- High-performance carbon steel with excellent edge retention
- Handle ring provides a secure karambit style grip
- Its big size allows for handling with gloves
- Very attractive military aesthetic
- Too big to carry effectively on a belt.
The Du Hoc is a product of the Forged by War program that uses war veterans to create custom tools that are designed from their experience in combat situations. Design and expertise have made the Du Hoc knife to be a powerful tactical knife.
Overall Rating – 4.5/5
There are few knives in the market that are as highly acclaimed as the M16 series of knives by CRKT. Designed by Kit Carson who was a successful military man and later, a knifemaker, the M16’s original design was upgraded with better quality materials while still retaining all the features that made the M16 so successful.
The Carson Flipper is one of these features whose innovation earned Kit Carson a spot at the Cutlery Hall of Fame. Designed to balance performance and safety, the Carson Flipper quickly and easily deploys the blade and also acts as a blade guard once the blade is opened.
Another classic feature is the handle design which was upgraded to stainless steel material. It has a skeletonized design that also makes the knife easier to clean in the field.
The 10KS features a tanto style blade with the patented Veff Serrations that give it superior cutting performance on fibrous materials. It’s made in 8Cr13Mov stainless steel that holds a decent edge and is easy to sharpen. It features an EDP coating for enhanced corrosion resistance.
- Blade Length: 3.06-inch
- Blade Thickness: 0.10-inch
- Overall Length: 7.00-inch
- Weight: 2.60 oz
- Frame Lock
- Triple Point Serrations
- EDP Corrosion Resistance Coating
- Automated Liner Safety
- Carson Flipper Opening
- Four Position Pocket Clip
- Open handle construction allows for easy cleaning
- Thumb studs double up as a blade stop in the open position
- Blade design offers superior cutting performance
- Lightweight, compact profile and sharp out of the box
- The blade guard is unreliable and unsafe
- The blade hinge is too stiff for one-handed opening
The 10KS is an affordable and versatile knife that has good performance and value for money.
Overall Rating – 4.5/5
The Contego is a large tactical knife designed by renowned knifemaker Warren Osborne. Since it’s inception, the Benchmade brand has become synonymous with some of the best knives in the market. The Contego is a collaboration that created a tactical masterpiece that reflects innovation and the commitment to high standards.
It features a reverse tanto blade which gives it more versatile use beyond self-defense use. Unlike the more common American tanto style, the reverse tanto has a deeper belly and a thicker tip for better performance when piercing through materials.
The shape, the well-built tip, and premium steel construction give this knife the high ability to endure rugged use. It comes with a textured G-10 handle that is ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand and it features a glass breaker on the pommel.
- Blade Length: 3.98-inch
- Blade Thickness: 0.156-inch
- Overall Length: 9.28-inch
- Weight: 5.92 oz
- CPM-M4 reverse tanto blade
- G-10 textured handle
- Carbide tip glass breaker
- Reversible tip-up deep carry pocket clip
- Ambidextrous thumb studs
- Premium CPM-M4 steel blade construction
- Has excellent edge retention and durability
- Hard-wearing and durable for rugged use
- Easy to use manual opening action
- Blade finish wears out quickly
Some users find the heavily textured handles uncomfortable for EDC use but great for self-defense. Benchmade has a very high commitment to quality which you’ll find on this knife.
Overall Rating – 4.5/5
The Secret Agent is a concealable boot knife with a single-edged spear point blade and comes with two carry options. Kershaw is a top brand in the folding knives market but they’re also constantly innovating with new ideas to take their products to the next level.
It’s well known that fixed blade knives make the best combat knives. The Secret Agent is exceptional in design for concealed carry, a function that makes it convenient.
It features an 8Cr13Mov blade that has undergone the Kershaw precision heat treatment for hardness and wear resistance, then coated in black oxide coating for extra protection against corrosion.
The ergonomic handle is made out of glass-filled nylon which is a durable and strong material covered in a textured rubber over-mold for a more secure grip. It also provides a more attractive aesthetic to the knife which will make a stylish addition to your collection.
- Blade Length: 4.40-inch
- Blade Thickness: 0.30-inch
- Overall Length: 8.70-inch
- Weight: 3.0 oz
- Single-edged spearhead blade
- A non-reflective black oxide coating
- GFN handles with textured rubber over-mold
- Dual carry molded sheath with clip and slots
- Rubberized handle design provides a secure and safe grip
- Has good edge retention and easy to sharpen
- The blade is well suited for combat and self-defense
- Sheath offers versatility in carrying options
- Locks securely into the sheath
- Compact and lightweight for concealed carry
- Good value for the money
- Does not come sharp out of the box
The spear point shape of the blade makes sharpening the blunt edge easy to make it a double-edged blade. The handle also features a lanyard hole to add on to the versatile carry options.
Overall Rating – 4.4/5
The KA-BAR is the most famous fixed blade knife in the world adopted by the US Marine Corps for use during the Second World War in 1942.
KA-BAR is also the name of the manufacturing company which also makes a wide variety of high-quality knives and cutlery. The KA-BAR is it’s most iconic combat knife and is still in use today by military people and civilians alike.
The KA-BAR features a clip point blade in 1095 Cro-van which is low-end steel that is hard with excellent edge retention but very prone to rust which is why it’s been black coated to improve corrosion resistance.
It comes with a stacked leather handle with a gold plated brass guard and pommel, and a durable leather sheath that keeps the blade sharp and protected.
- Blade Length: 7.00-inch
- Blade Thickness: 0.17-inch
- Overall Length: 11.875-inch
- Weight: 11.20 oz
- 1095 Cro-van steel clip point blade
- Leather handle and sheath
- Gold plated guard and pommel
- Comes razor-sharp with a good finish
- Tough blade with excellent edge retention
- Clip point blade style offers versatile use
- The leather sheath provides the best storage
- Sturdy metal pommel for pounding
- Large handle that is not ergonomic
- Knife is heavy
The KA-BAR’s blade design has versatile use for stabbing, cutting, and slicing. It has proven itself in the military and is one of the top gift knives in the market.
Overall Rating – 4.8/5
The S&M Border Guard folding knife is an inexpensive tactical knife for heavy-duty use. The Smith & Wesson knives reflect the same quality and prestige as their firearms and are produced for rugged use.
The Border Guard is a huge multi-functional knife with a sharp piercing blade for tactical use. It’s made in 440A stainless steel commonly used for budget mass-produced pocket knives such as this one. Although it is inexpensive, it is reasonably hard and wear-resistant for rugged use and keeps a decent edge.
The tanto blade is partially serrated to improve cutting performance. Combine this tough blade with the seat belt cutter and the glass breaker and you have the perfect knife for first responders.
The knife comes with a black aluminum handle with Trac-Tec inserts that provide a secure grip. Also included is a pocket clip for right-handed carry only.
- Blade Length: 4.4-inch
- Overall Length: 10.0-inch
- Weight: 8.8 oz
- A partially serrated and black coated tanto blade
- Ambidextrous thumb knobs
- Black coated aluminum with Trac-Tec inserts handle
- Glass breaker and seat belt cover
- Large and sturdy multi-purpose knife
- Wear and corrosion resistant tanto blade
- Tough and durable for rugged use
- Ambidextrous thumb studs for easy opening
- Ergonomic handle provides a secure grip
- Tight and solid in the locked position
- Right side only pocket clip
The Border Guard is a tough knife with versatile use. It is easily affordable and durable for rugged use.
Overall Rating – 4.5/5
The Spyderco tactical knives are designed to meet the operational requirements of tactical situations. Spyderco folders introduced features such as the pocket clip, serrated edge and open-handed opening to the tactical folding knives industry and revolutionized the form of the modern folding knife.
The use of high-quality materials and high performance has made Spyderco the preferred choice for armed professionals and civilians alike.
The Spyderco Assist is a lightweight knife created to assist first responders and equip civilians with an emergency response tool that will function reliably under pressure.
It features a high-quality VG-10 blunt-tipped blade that is 80% serrated for aggressive cutting and 20% plain edged. The tough blunt tip is designed to pry and lift and the blade is coated in a non-reflective black carbon nitride coating.
VG-10 stainless steel is high-end Japanese steel that was introduced into the American market by Spyderco. It is reasonably hard with good edge retention and high corrosion resistance. The blade also features the iconic Spyderco hole for one-handed opening.
The handle is a black, lightweight FRN material with bi-directional texturing for added grip and finger choils for ergonomics. It also comes with a high pitched survival whistle, an ambidextrous pocket clip and a retractable glass breaker that comes out when the blade is squeezed into the handle.
- Blade Length: 3.687-inch
- Blade Thickness: 0.125-inch
- Overall Length: 8.438-inch
- Weight: 4.0 oz
- Hollow ground blunt tip VG-10 blade
- Combination edge with 80% serrated and 20% plain edge.
- A bi-directional textured black FRN handle
- Carbide tip glass breaker and whistle
- Ambidextrous pocket clip
- Cobra Hood
- An ergonomically designed lightweight handle
- Plain edge blunt tip for detailed cutting, prying and lifting actions
- Cobra hood feature adds leverage while cutting
- Features the David Boye Lockback safety feature
- Versatile and rugged knife
- Bulky for pocket carry
Spyderco Assist tactical knife is designed for professional use with innovative and functional features that deliver flawless and reliable performance.
Overall Rating – 4.5/5
The Sig X5 is a product of Hogue’s successful collaboration with the brilliant knife designer Allen Elishewitz to create one of the most innovative tactical knives in the market.
It features their revolutionary blade deployment technology that is completely manual but offers the most effortless one-handed opening and secure closing action in its class.
The blade comes in a spear point style made in CPM-154 stainless steel that is cryogenically heat-treated for hardness and finished in black Cerakote for improved durability. This is a tough high-end steel that provides superior edge retention and corrosion resistance that will last you a long time.
The ergonomically designed handle of the X5 is 6061-T6 matte grey anodized aluminum with textured black G-10 inserts for added grip and comfort. The knife also features a manual safety lock that keeps the blade secure in an open position and an ambidextrous tip-down pocket clip for deep pocket carry.
- Blade Length: 3.5-inch
- Blade Thickness: 0.15-inch
- Overall Length: 8.15-inch
- Weight: 4.66 oz
- CPM-154 spear point blade with black Cerakote finish
- Matte grey 6061-T6 anodized aluminum with textured G-10 inserts
- Ambidextrous flipper for manual opening
- Push-button with manual safety lock mechanism
- Ambidextrous tip-down deep pocket carry pocket clip
- Lanyard hole
- Fast and reliable blade deployment technology
- High-quality blade construction and finish
- Superior edge retention and corrosion resistance
- Comes with a spare pocket clip, stylish carry pouch, and knife lube
- Reliable and secure lock mechanism
- The pocket clip is stiff and wears out the pocket
The Sig X5 has an excellent design and build quality. The knife comes sharp out of the box and the blade deployment technology is flawless.
Overall Rating – 4.1/5
Best Tactical Knives Buying Guide
As we saw earlier, tactical knives are multipurpose knives with defined military characteristics that set them apart from regular knives while combat knives are specifically designed for fighting and self-defense.
Let us look at some of the characteristics that define tactical knives:
Tactical blades should have a tough pointed tip and a cutting edge. Tanto style blades feature a high point with a flat grind that creates a strong tip with plenty of metal to absorb the impact of repeated piercing and stabbing. The blade should be at least 0.125 inches thick to endure hard use without adding too much weight to the knife.
It is always better to have the blade constructed in the highest quality metal but there are less expensive quality metals in the market that will also offer good edge retention and corrosion resistance.
Another feature that tactical blades have is the combination edge that is both plain and serrated. Although they are not as convenient to sharpen as the plain edge, serrated edges improve the cutting performance of a knife.
There are a wide variety of materials that can be used to make the handles. The best tactical knives come with a stable handle that endures temperature changes without cracking or shrinking. They should also be waterproof and should give you good traction when using in wet conditions.
When it comes to the handle, ergonomics is a very big deal. Ergonomics means that the knife should feel comfortable when handling it. The handle should have a good grip that doesn’t pinch or feel rough in your palm when using it.
It should fit well in your hand, neither too big nor too small, but it should balance the weight and size so that it feels natural like it was made for you. A comfortable knife will give you good control so that you can use it safely and effectively.
Fixed Blade or Folder
The choice between getting a fixed blade knife or a folder is dependent on individual preference. Fixed blade knives are stronger because of how they are built.
They have zero moving parts and perform better in most tasks and are easier to maintain. However, they are also harder to carry because they are bigger and bulkier than pocket knives though there are small fixed blade knives in the market that you can carry easily.
There are also some very tough knives in the market that perform just as well as a fixed blade knife. Either way, you can get the best in whichever form that you prefer.
The tactical knife you get should be one that you can depend on. Tactical knives are widely used for emergency rescue which means that the performance of the knife could determine whether you save a life or not.
The knife should be dependable and up to the task. Choose knives from reputable brands that will honor the warranty they provide and have a track record of producing quality knives.
Knives are some of man’s oldest tools, used for daily survival and as weapons. The tactical knife is just a recent addition to the long history of knives with enhanced features that allow them to perform several tasks to reduce the number of tools you would need to carry otherwise.
We’ve also seen that there is a difference between the tactical knife and the combat knife which many people think is the same thing.
You’ll get a wide variety of each of these knives in the market but all of the knives reviewed here are top quality knives from which you can choose. Our comprehensive review has tried to narrow down the choices so that you only get from the top brands.
While we are on top brands, our top tactical knife is the Gerber 06 Fully Automatic Folding Knife, and the best combat knife is the CRKT Du Hoc Fixed Blade Knife. These are high-quality knives that will deliver high performance and give you long service.
Hopefully, you now understand what a tactical knife is and how you can buy one for yourself. Do let us know which is your favorite knife and how well it works for you in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.