The Best 8 Tactical Knife Brands of 2020

By Nathan Thomas
Updated on

The tactical knife is the go-to tool for just about any knife aficionado. As a durable and reliable piece, a tactical knife is a handy instrument to perform a variety of tasks, whenever you need it.

These tools are primarily for daily use – cutting through packaging, taking on hikes and trips, etcetera – and are regularly used by the military. Tactical knives are practical and widely used in military training, so you know this product will get the job done.

Many brands have created unique versions of the tactical knife, making them popular in the wider population. Each adaptation brings something innovative to the table. Read on to learn more about some of the best tactical knife brands in the industry.

Spyderco

For one of the best tactical knives money can buy, you simply cannot go wrong with buying from the Spyderco brand. Having invented the folding knife, Spyderco has had many years to perfect its designs, and it has earned its spot at the top of this review.

Spyderco knives are among the most reasonably priced on the market. With such a large selection to choose from, you can find what you are seeking.

Beginners and experienced users alike have lauded Spyderco for its tactical pieces. These products come in handy when you need a small, discrete blade or a quick tool to cut rope or other items.

The high-quality material of the blades also makes this brand one of the best tactical knife brands today.

The biggest downfall of these knives is the addition of the thumb hole. Spyderco designed this hole to allow users to open any folded knife with one hand – but actually, it’s unnecessary and can be cumbersome.

Despite this small drawback, performance-wise, these blades deliver. If you need durable knives, Spyderco has got you.

Spyderco has remained a top tactical knife company for a good reason. Any knife you choose from them is guaranteed to last you quite a while as long as you care for it. You’re sure to enjoy adding one of these combat-style pieces to your collection.

Pro-Tech

Looking for a durable and reliable tactical knife, but don’t want to break the bank? Unfortunately, you’ll find a lot of expensive knives on the market, and it may feel like you have to sacrifice quality in the cheaper selections.

For a quality blade that is affordable, the brand Pro-Tech is an excellent tactical knife company.

Pro-Tech knives are some of the highest-ranked in the industry and offered blades at a great value.

Their knives are some of the highest-ranked automatic designs in the market. The brand is especially famous for its folding knives.

Granted, you may not have a vast selection to choose from, but there are enough sizes and makes that you will have a fair amount of options.

Pro-Tech has made a name for itself by creating knives that are best for everyday use. They make knives that you can carry at all times and that are super practical. 

If the price point is your deciding factor, you should be happy to know Pro-Tech is the choice for you. 

Kershaw

If you are new to the tactical knife game, the vast selection of brands can be overwhelming. To help narrow down your choices, we have chosen Kershaw as the leading brand for beginners.

Yes, Kershaw also creates knives for the more experienced users, but you are more likely to find basic tactical pieces that serve as a great place to start.

They are leaders in the top brands of pocket knives, and most of their knives have specific safety features. The attention to detail is excellent for any beginner because you want to ensure that you are comfortable handling these tools while getting hands-on experience.

Many of their knives are slim and small in design, meaning they are also excellent for younger users to get familiar with tactical knife usage.

The folding blade model on the Kershaw brand knives is another promising feature for inexperienced users.

Overall, Kershaw will supply you with a great starting point. You may eventually grow out of the simple capabilities that these knives provide and want to move onto something bigger and better. That is great, but you will appreciate the experience that this brand can give you. 

Zero Tolerance

If you already own a couple of tactical knives, you might have a better idea of what you need. For a brand that pays close attention to a high level of quality, you should choose to buy a Zero Tolerance tactical knife.

Zero Tolerance knives are hyper-focused on quality, and you will notice the difference – the blades and handles of these knives consist of only the highest-ranked materials.

If you’re looking for the leading brands of pocket knives, Zero Tolerance also comes out on top. The quality and care that goes into their products shows.

With that said, you may face a higher price point to account for a better quality knife. Believe me, if the quality is what you are going for, it will be worth spending a little extra.

Zero Tolerance makes knives that last and stay sharp even after a lot of use. It is truly one of the best combat knife brands on the market. 

Knife enthusiasts often praise Zero Tolerance for their commitment to high-quality, so don’t just take my word for it.

Microtech

It is safe to say that some knives have better designs than others, and functionality can impede the aesthetics of these pieces. If you are a collector of tactical knives, you might be looking for your next addition to indeed be the best for show.

A leading tactical knife company, Microtech creates knives that are stylish and immaculately designed.

Microtech has a reputation for pushing the industry’s limits by continually chasing the latest and greatest in knife production.

While doing this, the brand has also created some of the most stylish and unique knives you will find.

Looks aren’t everything, though. The knives that Microtech produces are also high in quality and can be of great use! The company sticks to a very high standard of quality and hand-sharpens every tool that it produces in-house.

The biggest downfall is that some aesthetically pleasing designs may not be as durable as the other, tougher pieces. It is up to you and what you plan to use it for when investing in a new blade. If the knife is a collectible and just for show, you don’t need to worry about Microtech.

As a collector of tactical knives like me, you have probably seen your fair share of pieces. With Microtech, you have access to a regularly updated selection of designs and styles. You can always find some great new additions to your collection.

Benchmade

Using a tactical knife daily, for your job or other tasks can be a challenge if you don’t have the right piece.

Benchmade specializes in creating reliable blades that you can count on to help you every day.

If you work in construction or some other hands-on job, you are probably a veteran when it comes to tactical knife usage. You also likely know that having to use one of these pieces can be a pain if the tool is not capable of being in constant use.

Benchmade has managed to create a perfect, go-to tactical knife suited for every day and constant use.

No longer will you have to worry about a dull blade after a short period! Benchmade knives feature sturdy yet simple blades that will quickly cut and slice through your basic materials while remaining sharp.

You also have a vast selection to choose from, and one thing holds – these lightweight pieces exist for the tactical lifestyle.

You can always count on a Benchmade blade to do the job without falling short on its capabilities. 

Make sure to do your research on all of the different designs and models that the brand offers. You are sure to find what you are seeking. 

Ka-Bar

While some of the brands have strictly practical designs, another concern is functionality.

If you want ease-of-use and something simple yet effective, the Ka-Bar brand is the choice for you.

The company is one of the best combat knife brands, proven by their position as the knifemaker of choice by the USMC. They served troops during WWII with the straight-edge KA-BAR. The fixed blade with the notched wooden handle was lightweight, durable, and functional. The company still makes this knife today, some 70 plus years later.

In the military, functionality is everything. When you’re out in the field, you need a versatile blade that can handle multiple tasks. For those field operations and combat situations, you want a Ka-Bar knife.

The company makes its pieces to handle any task you come in contact with and do so with relative ease.

You will have a large selection to choose from, including the option of different blades and handles offered on the many models Ka-Bar sells.

The main issue that stands out is perhaps that in being a functional utility knife for any task, it also doesn’t excel at any specific one. You won’t be able to use their products as easily or comfortably for tasks like cutting wood, skinning game, or self-defense. Other products would serve you better.

You can expect sound performance from these knives. For a versatile and functional knife, backed by approval from the USMC, KA-BAR can definitely check off nearly every item on your list.

CRKT

Many jobs and tasks require a tactical knife to perform large feats. A weak knife wouldn’t stand a chance at cutting through some of the things you come in contact with, so it is best to prepare for the unexpected.

The CRKT brand has made its name by creating durable knives that last the test of time. If you are looking to invest in a knife that will be with you for many years to come, this is the brand for you.

CRKT knives are prevalent among the military and other first responder positions because they design their products for those tough jobs. They are one of the leading military knife brands.

Unlike other brands, CRKT specializes in creating combat-style weapons, and they are indeed in a class of their own. If you work in a hands-on position and have been looking for that extra tool to make the job go a little smoother, this is the brand for you.

You may have to invest a little more money upfront, and you will likely have to put up with a heavier blade. However, you will see quickly why these knives are so popular and chosen by those highly ranked professions.

Durability is a critical factor and often outweighs others if you need something to last on the toughest of jobs. CKRT guarantees it will provide you with a tool that is not only functional and stylish but also lasts for many years to come.

The Ultimate Tactical Knife Brand Buying Guide

If you are purchasing your first tactical knife or expanding your collection, there is a lot more to consider than you may initially think. 

Your overall preference and needs can lead the way when you start looking at the different brands and designs on the market. However, there are many features and materials that you should know before making the purchase. 

First off, you should know what you need out of this tactical knife. Are you a regular hunter or camper, or are merely looking to add a piece to your collection? 

The performance depends on practicality, and you can find one for the exact purpose you need. 

Depending on what you are looking for, you will have to choose between the different sizes of knives, design types, materials that make up the blade, and your purpose. 

Best Tactical & Military Knife Brands
Photo by Віктор Яцук

Blade Size

For starters, you are going to want to consider how large of a knife you would like to get. This decision will depend on your intentions, so be prepared to do a little research where necessary.

If you are looking for a small, practical blade to carry on you at all times, you want to look at short blades, e.g., 4″-blades or smaller. Both fixed and tactical knives are available with shorter blade lengths. 

Depending on where you live, you also may be able to conceal-carry smaller blades on you. Be sure to look into local and state laws.

If you want a longer blade for situations like combat or cutting through heavy-duty rope, you are better off with bigger tactical knives. 

With the longer blades, you’ll also want to make sure the knife comes with a sheath. Longer blades are more likely to come in fixed-blade styles. 

Remember that when the blade length surpasses a certain point, you may have to apply for a concealed weapons permit. You are unlikely to be able to carry it around with you at all locations. 

Type of Tactical Knife

Just as you will have to select a size, you will also have to choose from the different types of tactical knives. 

As always, take your needs and preferences into consideration. 

Two options that will allow you to quickly and easily access your knife are fixed blades and folding knives. 

Fixed blades are self-explanatory. You’ll need to keep the blade in a sheath or some protective layer for safety purposes. 

The benefit of fixed-blade knives is that you can quickly access them from a sheath on your belt or pants, and it is already assembled and ready to go. 

If you opt for a fixed blade, make sure to look at the specs for the knife and whether it is a full or partial tang. The full-tang style means the blade extends the entire length of the knife into the handle’s base. These are more reliable and less likely to snap. 

A partial-tang style means the blade insert is partway through the handle. The tang is where some of the cheaper brands will try to skimp on quality by merely gluing the blade into the handle – a big no-no.

The folding knife is a safer model that can also be ready to go after the simple process of unfolding and releasing the blade.

Narrowing down your knife type preference will help you find the perfect piece suited for you and your needs.

Material of the Knife

Another consideration is the material that makes up the blade. There are numerous metals and materials that go into the blade itself, and they all carry some pros and cons. 

Typically, you will find that many knives feature steel. This metal is incredibly strong, durable, and tends to remain sharp for an extended period. 

However, other options include titanium and carbon mixtures. These materials are lighter weight and popular for that reason.

Any metal can sustain damage and become dull, although at different rates. When choosing a knife based on the metal, think about what qualities you want. Do you want strength, durability, lightweight, etc.? 

In most cases, you want to find something that is rust-resistant and performs to your needs. If you plan on using something daily, the best option is to find the most durable metal mix that will remain sharp even after a lot of use. 

Purpose

The purpose is one of the most significant factors that should influence your decision.

Different knives are useful for different purposes and excel at some tasks while faltering on others. 

For example, hunters and campers will want an instrument that is reliable and durable. On the other hand, a collector may be looking for something flashy that they can display. 

If you’re looking for a knife to use in combat, you’ll need to research the best combat knife brands.

When it comes to a knife being ‘tactical,’ the purpose determines how well a given knife performs in its tactical capabilities.

Based on your needs, you should have a good understanding of the size, blade, and material that will be best to fulfill them. 

Brand History

Doing your research on the companies that produce these knives may also help you to make your decision. 

Many of these brands have been making knives for years and have lots of experience in their areas. 

For example, Ka-bar and CRKT are two brands that have predominantly military backgrounds, making them the best military knife brands. Both companies focused their creation on military use, so many people tend to find credibility in their products. 

Microtech, on the other hand, has made some incredible advancements in the technology surrounding knives. It has helped further the industry and continues to seek the latest and greatest. 

Zero Tolerance offers a very select group of products that you can’t find anywhere else on the market. At the same time, brands like Kershaw and Benchmade work to create a more comprehensive and open selection for the casual viewer. 

If you’re looking for innovation, the history of the company matters as does its vision for advancements in blade material and knife technology. In this regard, both Spyderco and Pro-Tech.

All in all, these brands each bring something different to the table, and it is in your best interest to do your research to find the brand best suited for you.

Conclusion

Buying a tactical knife can be a rather significant investment, and we know just how many decisions go into making this purchase.

The companies I’ve reviewed here rank as the best tactical knife brands. But when choosing the brand for your trusty blade, the ultimate decision is yours. Think about what qualities you want in a knife and the purposes it will serve.

I hope my buyer’s guide has been helpful, and please, folks, if you are interested in reading more, feel free to check out some more buyers’ guides.