Most people misconstrue a knife as a weapon: a sign of aggression and something to be afraid of. This could not be further from the truth. A knife is a tool to assist you with your daily tasks as well as military combat fighting. Knife discipline is serious and choosing a knife should be based on utility and functionality, rather than “lethality” or “wow factor.”
That’s why we’re sharing our picks for the best tactical knives on the market. We found seven of the top knives that score the highest in the following categories: safety, materials, look, ease of use, and efficiency. We feel these are the most important criteria when scoring the utility of a knife.
Read on to find out our picks for these best tactical knives so you can find the best one for you!
Best Overall: Spyderco Paramilitary 2
- Streamlined look
- Premium Blade
- Tough Grip
- Heavier weight
This handy knife is 3.75oz, with a blade length of 3.44″ and an overall length of 8.28″. It comes equipped with a forward finger choil, which allows you to really maneuver around fine, detailed work. It adds a higher level of control to the tool. It can do both big jobs and small – the ergonomics of the knife make it feel compact and easy to use while completing all the jobs of a bigger knife.
The blade is made of CPM-S30V steel with a stainless-steel lined G-10 handle. CPM S30V is considered premium grade stainless steel because of its high durability, edge retention, and corrosion resistance. This is a great grade of steel at an affordable price ticket.
A G-10 handle is a glass-based cloth soaked in epoxy resin, shaped into the perfect grip handle by heat. The handle has a nice grip to it, but it can be a bit abrasive. That means it may cut holes in your jeans pocket and might snag on clothing. This is easily avoidable by filing down the handle.
We’ll be honest, Spyderco knives won’t win any awards on flashiness or bling aesthetic. It’s not going to wow anyone with its looks, and that’s exactly why it’s a “love it or hate it” kind of design. The people who love it will love its simple, streamlined design, coupled with its EDC functionality.
The handle is comfortable, not too bulky or heavy, with a leaf-shaped blade safely nestled in. It has a carabiner hole built-in for easy carrying. It doesn’t sport any flashy branding – it promotes itself by its quality of function.
It does have some unique, subtle features: A small spider emblem on the blade pays homage to the Spyderco brand. It also features the Spidey Hole on the base of the blade. Otherwise, it just looks like a simple, black knife.
For those who like nice things but aren’t trying to show off, this is the aesthetic you’re looking for—classy, sleek, subtle power.
Ease of use
As mentioned before, the grip is designed to cradle your hand as you hold the knife. It has enough grip not to slip out of your hand, but not enough to dig into your palm or cut up your favorite jeans. As far as ergonomics go, this knife gets a 10/10 for grip curves and finger choil placement.
The PM2 features a Compression Lock System along with the Spydie Hole. You may be wondering what this means for you. This knife can deploy several ways: thumb opening, using two hands (via the Spydie Hole), or the Spydie Flick. You can also press the Compression Lock and swing the blade open that way. The Compression Lock is a fantastic addition because it allows you to open your knife without putting your fingers in the blade’s path. Although the PM2 is right-handed, there is a left-hand PM2 available.
The blade is a bit thicker at the base and thinner and nimbler at the front, especially with the finger choil. This makes it great for both heavy tasks and delicate tasks.
This blade is durable and versatile at the same time. Even after a month of consistent use, the blade remains sharp enough to slice through paper like butter. But if it does happen to get dull, the Spyderco offers a specialized portable sharpener, specifically made for their knives. This knife sharpens to its original edge with ease.
As far as cuttability, this knife primarily focuses on versatility for an EDC knife, with a sharper tip and thicker base. You could find a better knife to do either of those things, but this is a great knife that does both.
This is a great knife that will last a long time and do a great job at whatever tasks you need done. It rates greatly on durability, quality of materials, cutting, sharpening, and even style. It’s easy to use and inclusive for the much-neglected left-handed community.
Don’t neglect this simple knife because it looks deceiving from far away: this little package packs a punch. For a price point of under $150, you can’t get much better than the Spyderco PM2.
Best Auto: Pro-Tech TR-5
- Premium steel blade
- Style options
- Finger locks
- Higher price point for the value
Most of the knives in this category hover around $200, an acceptable price tag for a good, durable knife. Save for a few of the pricier, more “fashionable” models, this knife is generally affordable.
The basic black model is 7.6″ long, with a blade of 3.25″ (however, the cutting edge is only 2.87″). The blade is .13″ thin with a stonewash finish, meaning you won’t have to worry about any coatings wearing off with use.
This blade is made of CPMS35VN steel. It’s stainless steel that is even tougher than CPM S30V (which, if you remember, is pretty dang tough). CPM-S35VN is about 15% tougher than S30V steel.
The toughness of any material indicates how well it can hold up to chipping, breakage, or cracking under impact. Higher toughness means it’s less likely to chip on the edge. This steel also offers much higher corrosion resistance than 154Cm steel.
The grip is made of anodized aluminum, which means the metal has been electrically converted into a non-corrosive, decorative surface. A smooth metal grip is good for several reasons: it won’t have jagged ridges that get caught on fabric or clothing, and it won’t dig into your skin and fingers when you grip the knife. Anodizing the aluminum gives it its color and increases its hardness and durability. This material gives the knife that nice substantial, weighty feeling without actually weighing the knife down.
A downside to consider: since this handle is made of a metal, it will get cold in the winter months, so consider if you’ll be doing a lot of outside work in a colder climate.
Some of the Protech TR5 knives have a Damascus blade, which we discussed previously is a supreme steel blade, which also comes at a higher cost.
The style of this knife definitely falls more into the “tactical tough” category, with several designs featuring skulls on the grip, and the classic finger grip for a more secure and safe hold. This knife comes in 31 grip color and blade combinations from a basic flat black to an American Flag grip with a Damascus blade (which obviously falls under the pricier end of this style).
Each of these knives has a lanyard attachment and a deep carry pocket clip. The deep pocket clip removes the fear of accidentally sliding out of your pocket as you’re walking.
The Pro-Tech is a great option for anyone who wants a functional yet classic-looking knife. As with the Godson, this knife can be as flashy or as subtle as you want it to be. With combinations as simple as a flat black with a black-coated blade, or as showy as a red skull handle with a skull inlay and a Damascus blade, or a rose gold blade with a flat black handle, there is Pro-Tech blade for anyone who wants one (and is willing to dish out the cash).
Ease of use
Protech TR5 has upped the ease of use for this knife by adding automatic deploying action. Not all of the knives in this line are automatic, but Protech has added automatics to the TR5 line. The automatically deploying knives also feature a sliding safety lock to protect the carrier against accidental deployment, especially during pocket carry.
The thinner the blade, the sharper the cut. But, the thinner the blade, the weaker it is, too. At .11″, this blade is thick enough to cut finely, but still sturdy enough to withstand some serious stress and impact.
Because this steel is of a higher grade than other ones, it can be more difficult to sharpen because it requires more effort. However, you can sharpen it to very fine levels, and this type of steel can withstand a lot of wear and tear in all sorts of weather.
The Protech TR5 is a great knife that will work for you as long as you take care of it. While its style is not as “classy and timeless” as a few of the others we’ve showcased here, it is a very functional, basic, utilitarian knife that will last you a long time with a great quality steel blade that won’t quit on you. If you’re looking for an affordable military combat knife, this knife is a great option.
Runner-Up Best Auto: Benchmade Osborne 9400
- Gorgeous, classic design
- Premium steel blade
- Expensive price point
- No options for customization
With 20 years of reliable function to vouch for its functionality, this knife is safe, durable, reliable, sleek, and easy to use. Its design is classy and timeless; it’s totally practical as an EDC knife and is considered the best fighting knife by many.
This blade is coated with a classy flat black to give it that tactical look. With a dark green handle and black clip, this knife is made for subtle and practical use.
The blade is made of CPM-S30V (58-60 HRC), which is a powder-made, hardened, corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Making the steel this way improves durability, toughness, and sharpness.
For those who want the extra details, it’s made of:
- 14% chromium
- 4% vanadium
- 2% molybdenum
- 1.45% carbon
This is premium-grade steel for a knife. While it might come at a higher price-point, it is well worth the money for the longevity this blade will bring.
The handle is made of 6061-T6 aluminum, which is made up of silicone and magnesium. It features higher strength and durability and can be found in boats, furniture, etc. It’s a very commonly used material in items that are built to last, so know that this knife will last you a while.
The blade style is a reverse tanto, which means the knife angles sharply down to the blade, as opposed to having a straight spine. This style of knife not only looks super cool, but it’s incredibly useful.
In addition to being considered the best combat knife, a reverse tanto has more steel bulk at the tip than other knives – other blade styles tend to taper off at the top, while a reverse tanto bulks up to make the angle.
This bulkiness makes the tip of the knife akin to a chisel to pierce items with ease. The angle of the tip of this knife is also the strongest shape known to man: a triangle. This knife is meant to make some deep incisions.
The slim black clip blends in with darker clothing, and the dark army green goes with just about anything. With the only branding on it being a small emblem on the blade, this is a stylish knife that isn’t ostentatious or flashy. You’ll know it’s worth it by how it serves you, not by how it looks.
Ease of use
The 940 is a classic design that has held up to the test of time for the last 20 years.
That being said, Benchmade has added some slight modifications to the design. While the new 940 is true to its original design, the new model features push-button automatic deployment. The original had a manual deployment. Even with the automatic mechanism, this knife retains its old-fashioned charm. It is now, arguably, more practical than ever, with the ability to open with the push of one button.
It comes in at 7.87″ when opened fully, and 4.47″ when closed. The blade itself is 3.40″ and .115″ thin, making it incredibly lightweight and maneuverable at a whopping 2.65oz. It’s weighty enough to feel it in your hand, but not enough to hinder movement. The handle is .43″ thick, making it easy to grip and hold for fine and gross movements.
This is a great sized knife for large and small hands alike. The belt clip is reversible as well, so this knife can be modified to fit your needs.
CPM-S30V steel is easily re-sharpened to its original glory, giving you a nice clean cut every time. The reverse tanto tip is made to pierce into tough materials and chisel its way into the center.
Caution: the black coating may wear off after consistent heavy-duty work, but that will not affect this great knife’s performance.
For those who have a bit more to spend on an EDC knife and want something that will last a long time and keep up with ever-changing styles, The 940 Auto is the perfect knife. With premium-grade steel that will last ages and a tough, durable, neutral-colored handle that will withstand the hardest jobs, you’re sure to get your money’s worth out of this knife. This knife isn’t flashy or showy – its slim profile makes it easy to conceal and easy to maneuver on any job.
Runner-Up Best Auto: Pro-Tech Godson
- Dozens of options for a customizable appearance
- Large price range for affordability
- Comfortable Grip
- Lesser quality steel for the blade
- No finger locks on the grip
This small but powerful knife packs a huge punch. At 7.56″ long with a blade of 3.15″, it’s the perfect length for any sized hand. It’s lightweight, durable, and sturdy. The blade is thin, at .11″, so it cuts fine and smooth. There are about 130 different color combinations, all ranging different price points, so you’re bound to find something you like to look at that will last you a long time.
The blade is made of 154CM steel, a stainless steel made of carbon, chromium, and molybdenum. While it isn’t quite as strong as CPM-S30V and will dull quicker, it is easier to sharpen and is less expensive. 154 CPM holds its own against other knife blade materials and has better chip resistance and better edge retention.
On the more basic models, the handle is made of anodized T6-6061 aluminum. As mentioned before, this is a hearty material used to build things that are meant to last, so this grip is made to withstand anything you put it through. The handle is sleek and smooth and easily fits in a pocket or purse. Its smooth finish means it won’t catch on clothing or jeans and won’t hurt your hand if you grip it for too long.
This blade’s hardness is rated as 59RC. The hardness of the blade means how resistance it is to deformation under heavy use (how likely it is to get bent). Most blades average between 58/60, and this blade is right in the middle. This blade is tough and durable, and not going to bend, chip, or break anytime soon.
Some of the options in the Godson family are made of Damascus steel. This beyond-premium steel comes at a price point that is not for the faint of heart. This steel is so expensive and sought after because it’s made of different types of steel welded together and forged into one steel blade.
Because of this process, it comes out with a gorgeous wavy pattern on the blade that stands out for miles. This blade is incredibly durable and strong, but also beautiful and flashy. If you want people to know you have a great knife, Damascus is the best material.
This knife screams of Italian inspiration, like its parent knife, The Godfather. The Godson is a smaller version of The Godfather, but with the same American craftsmanship. With 130 different color combinations and materials, you’re sure to find a knife that suits you.
The Pro-Tech Godson is THE knife for those who like to show off their style. With prices ranging from $100-$1000, you can find a simple flat black tactical version of this knife, or a marble inlaid handle with an orange peel texture and a Damascus blade to really show off your aesthetic. Regardless of the color combination you choose, this knife is classy, sleek, compact, and efficient.
Each knife has a narrow rectangular grip that sits nicely in your hand’s groove, between your palm and fingers. The rounded edges make this knife ergonomic and easy to hold. The small size, coupled with the blade’s weightiness, gives it a nice svelte feeling in your hand.
The belt clip is unassuming and subtle – all functionality and slim design. The bayonet blade is modeled after “stiletto” blades of the past. With an insanely sharp tip, this knife can pierce through just about anything (and look great while doing it).
If you want a tactical knife with good durability and functionality that doesn’t look clunky or takes up a lot of space, the Godson is a great option. Pay homage to Italian mob bosses with and a by-gone era of strength coupled with style with this elegant yet powerful knife.
Ease of use
This knife is modeled after its parent version, The Godfather, which is modeled after the old-school “stiletto” Italian knives. The Godson has an automatic deployment. This version has a strong coil spring action to quickly deploy your knife, and a strong lockup, so you don’t have to worry about unintentional deployment.
The thin and narrowness of this grip makes it easy to hold in your hand and incredibly convenient to fit into a pocket, boot, purse, or backpack.
The only thing to consider with this knife is its lack of friction: if you’re going to be fist-gripping your knife for whatever purpose you need it for, you run the risk of your hand slipping on this grip and slicing your hand open. However, for the average EDC, that isn’t an issue to consider.
With this thin blade and higher-grade steel, you’re getting a great bang for your buck. The thinness of the blade allows for finer cuts and thinner lines—this is great, especially if you’re doing things that require detailed work. This blade will dull quicker than other steel materials, but it’s easier to sharpen.
This knife is a mashup of functionality and style. It can be and do anything you want it to. If you want a subtle work knife, you got it. If you want a flashy, “look at me” knife that also gets the job done, it’s yours. It’s affordable for any price point and can fit any lifestyle.
Best Assisted: Zero Tolerance 0450
- Premium steel blade
- Great look
- Smooth metal grip with finger lock
- Flipper deployment
- Metal grip can become slippery or cold
This knife is average length, at 7.375″ and a blade of 3.25″. The blade itself is .12″ thick, which hovers around the average of the ones we’ve shown here. The handle is 4.125″ long and .40″ thick. This knife is actually a compact version modeled after its award-winning predecessor, the 0454 folder.
At just under $200, this knife falls in the average price range of the knives we’ve shown here.
This blade is made of CPM-S35VN steel, which, as we’ve mentioned before, is premium-quality steel. It’s tougher, harder, more resistant to corrosion, and has better resistance to breakage and edge chipping. It’s easier to polish and is all-around a great quality, durable steel blade.
The blade itself has a satin finish with no coatings. There is no concern of any coatings wearing off with this natural steel look to match the steel finish of the aluminum handle.
This knife has a nice weightiness to it that feels good in the palm of the hand. It feels substantial enough that it won’t fly out of your hand, but not so heavy that it’s cumbersome.
This knife is all about style and functionality. It’s not overly fancy or ostentatious. This knife is not trying to be anything other than what it is: a great knife.
The stonewash handle features a forefinger grip for security and ease of use when performing tougher tasks. The edges of the grip are smooth and rounded for a comfortable hold. This grip won’t snag on any fabric or clothing.
The blade style is a drop point blade, meaning that the blade slopes on the spine, going from the handle to the tip. This style of blade is great for hunting and other butcher-like tasks such as:
The drop point is thicker at the tip, which makes it stronger and preferable for any task that requires prying something apart with the knife tip. It has a tip-up pocket carry clip to secure the knife to any article of clothing. It also features a lanyard carry hole for ease of carrying.
This knife is your classic work knife: built to last and look good while doing it. The cool metal look of stonewash and satin will never go out of style.
As with the previous titanium knives, consider the climate of where you’ll be using your knife the most: if it’s relatively cold, your handle will feel like ice in your hand. If it’s very hot and humid, you run the risk of your hand slipping and getting cut since the edges are so smooth and rounded.
Ease of use
The Zero Tolerance 0450 is incredibly easy to use. Although this knife doesn’t have an automatic deployment, it features a quick, butter-smooth, one-handed deployment that runs on the KVT ball-bearing pivot. The flipper is easily depressed with one finger on either hand. The handle has a very strong, reliable frame lock, which prevents the blade from sliding open unintentionally.
This blade thickness falls within the average of the knives we’ve featured here. With a blade of .12″, you can expect fine cutting coupled with the blade’s durability due to the thickness of the spine and tip. CPMS35VN is tougher and more resistant to chipping and edge wear. T
When it does eventually wear down, this steel features improved sharpening ability to its other counterparts. However, since this is higher quality steel, it can be more difficult to sharpen and require special sharpening stones.
The Zero Tolerance 0450 flipper is a great option for someone who has a little bit more to spend on a knife but doesn’t want something too intense or flashy. This knife is great for someone who wants a nice-looking knife that does what it’s supposed to do without all the fuss or aggressively tactical appearance.
Without an automatic deployment, there’s no concern about the mechanism jamming with time and wear. This is simply an elegant, classy, functional knife.
Best Durability: Cold Steel Recon 1
- Tough Grip
- Finger Locks
- Tonto blade
- Nothing! This is a fantastic knife for the price.
The Cold Steel Recon knife is the fun, woodsy, survivor-type knife you’ve been waiting for in this review. While most of the other knives have their strengths subtly and elegantly, this knife is unapologetically meant for an outdoor, tactical environment. There are several different models within this line, but the basic black model is rather large at 9.375″ with a blade of 4″ and a handle of 5.375″. This makes it the largest knife we’ve featured.
This knife is unquestionably the most affordable of all the options we’ve showcased here. This line offers several different options differing on price, color combinations, and grip variety to match anyone’s needs.
The blade is made out of what we’ve already established to be premium steel: CPM-S35VN. As we’ve mentioned before, this steel is tougher, more resistant to edge chipping and breaking, and more resistant to corrosion. It can be a bit trickier to sharpen, but with the right tools, this blade will sharpen better than other steel materials.
The handle is made of G-10, a composite material of high-pressure fiberglass laminate, as in the Spyderco knife. G-10 is made by taking fiberglass and soaking it in epoxy resin. Then, pressure and heat are used to compress the resin into the desired shape. The glass fibers within the G-10 are what makes this material so resilient – it’s water-resistant and very durable. Fiberglass is already very strong, but weaving and then covering it with an epoxy resin makes it incredibly strong.
This handle will last a long time and endure any sort of beating. The downside to such a hearty material is that it can damage pockets or clothing by rubbing holes in them. This can be remedied by filing down the areas that come in the most contact with your clothing.
This is a tactical knife, meaning its primarily meant to be functional and utilitarian. It’s not meant to be stylish or aesthetically pleasing – it’s meant to get a job done in the most efficient way possible, and that’s exactly what it does.
The grip features very deep and distinct finger grooves for forward or reverse grips. These grooves won’t allow the hand to slide when applying heavy force, so there is little risk of cutting your hand on the blade. This knife has an ambidextrous grip and a paracord opening at the base of the handle.
There are several blade shapes to choose from, but the most basic model features a tanto blade, which makes a sharp angle down from the knife spine to the blade. The tip of a tanto blade is thicker than that of a normal blade due to the angle. A tanto blade is perfect for stabbing and piercing incredibly hard materials such as wood or metal.
The color options for the Cold Steel Recon 1 are limited: it comes in a few variations of black, green, tan, and steel. The blades are coated in a color finish that will eventually wear off with more use.
Ease of use
This knife is incredibly hefty, durable, reliable, and easy to use. It does not have an automatic deployment, but a standard flipper opening. The Recon 1 features a Tri-Ad lock for extra security and a reversible pocket clip for left-handers.
The deep finger grooves make gripping the knife feel natural, as the hands and fingers fall in their natural position on the knife.
This blade is slightly on the thicker side at .13″, but the sharpness of the CPMS35VN steel keeps this knife fine and precise. The tip of the blade is great for penetrating and prying open, and the belly of the blade is strong enough to wedge through wood and triple-strength paracord. As we’ve mentioned before, S35VN is a little more difficult to re-sharpen than other types of steel, but with a knife this durable, it’s well worth the extra work.
This is a fantastic knife for those of you who are getting out there and going on adventures. While this function well as an EDC knife, its talents would be wasted on such casual usage. This knife is meant to be out in the woods, chopping down branches and hacking away at foliage.
This knife is made for getting out of tough situations and proving its worth time and time again. At such an affordable price point, this knife is a must for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors or is looking for the best tactical knife.
Best Fixed Blade: Ka-Bar USMC
- Great price
- Leather grip with finger guard
- Leather sheath
- Tendency to rust
- Heavier knife
The Ka-Bar USMC knife is a fixed blade knife with a 7″ blade and a handle of 4.84″. At a total length of 11.85″, this is a substantial and sizable knife.
The blade has a thickness of .165″ (which makes it thicker than the other knives featured here) and a width of 1.188″. It weighs in at about 11 ounces, which is significantly weightier than the other knives we’ve featured.
This knife is made of 1095 Cro-Van steel. This is a great quality steel with a sharper initial edge than an S30V. However, an S30V will have better edge retention and won’t dull as quickly.
Don’t get confused by the name. 1095 Cro-Van steel is not 1095 steel; 1095 steel is like its precursor. 1095 cro-van has a higher composition of vanadium, nickel, chromium, and molybdenum.
It’s made up of:
- 1.1% carbon (to improve corrosion resistance)
- 0.6% chromium (to increase edge retention)
- .025% nitrogen (to improve strength)
- .06% molybdenum (to improve machinability)
- 0.25% silicon (to improve strength)
- 0.5% manganese (to increase hardness)
- 0.025% phosphorous (to increase strength)
- 0.25% vanadium (to improve hardenability)
- 0.025% sulfur (to increase machinability)
Machinability is a rating of how easily you can cut metal. The hardness of a knife is how well it can resist wearing over time. This knife has a Rockwell Hardness Rating of 56-58, which makes it about average hardness. Because of its low level of chromium, it’s more prone to rust if it isn’t being cared for properly.
This style knife was initially made for marine soldiers during WWII. With that history, this knife is definitely sure to turn heads, as it looks like it’s ready for a fight. With a 100% leather handle, the grip is comfortable, durable, and aesthetically pleasing. This knife isn’t showy, but it’s strong. Whoever is carrying this knife gives off the air of someone who knows what they’re doing.
This knife isn’t meant for a back pocket or EDC; this knife is meant to be used for a specific purpose, and it surely looks the part. It comes with a 100% leather sheath made in Mexico to protect the blade. The sheath is durable and simple and gets the job done. That is the theme for this knife: durable, simple, and gets the job done.
Ease of use
This is a fixed blade, so using it is as simple as removing the sheath. For quick use, the sheath can be stored conveniently (like in a car side-door pocket), or strapped to your leg. Make sure to check your local guidelines about what sized blade is legal to carry where you live. Since it is a larger knife, it may be cumbersome to carry.
It features a comfortable grip for forward or reverse holding. It has a finger guard to protect against slippage during rigorous use.
Because this knife has a thicker blade at .165″, it isn’t meant for fine, detailed work. The fixed blade design is for hunting, survival, combat, and throwing, which is why the tip features a straight spine and rounded belly for good penetration. 1095 Cro-Van steel has good edge retention and is easy to sharpen.
Considering the price point of $75-$100, this is a great quality knife. It’s made of strong steel, durable leather for the grip, and a quality leather sheath for protection against rust and wear. It may lose its edge faster, but is easy to sharpen. Overall, this is a great hunting or combat knife.
After reviewing these knives, we’ve shown you that just because a knife looks small and stylish doesn’t mean it can’t hold its own. We’ve also proven that just because a knife is cheaper doesn’t mean it is bad quality.
Overall, we believe these knives reflect the best of the best. However, each offers unique features that will suit every user differently.
Which knife you choose should depend largely on two things:
- What you’ll primarily be using the knife for
- What your style of choice is
Oh, and of course, your budget.
While only you can make that decision, we’re here to help:
- For the best bang for your buck, we recommend the Cold Steel Recon 1 or the Spyderco Paramilitary 2. Both of these knives come at a lower price point without sacrificing the durability and quality of the blade, or aesthetic of the knife’s look. These knives are a great pick for an EDC and can even be used for more rigorous projects without breaking down.
- For a flashier knife with a subtle charm that packs a quiet punch, we recommend the Benchmade 940 Osborne or the Protech Godson. While the 940 has stronger steel (at a higher price point), they both share a similarly sleek design with a tough blade, durable grip, and a great reputation in the community.
- For premium-grade steel with the option of flashiness, we recommend the Damascus blade in either the Protech Godson or TR5. This steel is of the highest quality and is sure to turn heads whenever you take it out.
We hope this guide has helped you determine which tactical knife is best for you. Whether you’re looking to cut wood or hold your own in combat like a marine, these knives will do the job.
How We Tested
To pick the best knives to review, we had to test them all to make sure they were up to snuff.
To test these knives, we cut up cardboard boxes varying in size and thickness. We also used these knives in day-to-day functions to see how they held up during daily tasks. Everything that could use a knife, we used one.
This way, we tested durability, functionality, ease of carrying, practicality, and wear and tear on the knife. For some of the heavier duty knives, we even chopped wood with them to see how well they held up.
In addition to our five factors of grading criteria, these seven knives stand up to our standards for:
The Ultimate Tactical Knife Buying Guide
To help you find the best combat knife possible, we’ve narrowed our top picks down to knives that are best for a tactical setting.
Factors we emphasized in our search were:
- Ease of Use
You’ll notice that the knives featured here are foldable as opposed to retractable – this is because the mechanism on retractable knives can easily get mucked up over time and stop locking as well. This can result in storing knives with the tip poking out, or deploying accidentally in your pocket.
The materials that compose the blade and grip greatly factor into the knife’s longevity and efficiency: a knife with a bad blade won’t get you far, and one with a bad grip won’t be comfortable to use for long periods.
While style is never the sole reason to purchase a knife, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a good-looking accessory, especially if it comes at a pretty penny. This is why we included looks and style into our grading scheme as well.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is extremely important: it doesn’t matter how finely a knife can slice if it’s a pain to open it up or unsafe to close. The smoothness of how a knife opens and closes can impact the feel and use of a knife.
We also paid special attention to the grip. Whether you’re just opening boxes or slicing up wood in the forest, you want to make sure your knife of choice has a grippy enough grip that your hand won’t slide down and slice open on the blade.
A good grip has a hefty texture to it and a curved handle, but even this type of grip is somewhat reliant on the strength of your grip. This best protection against your hand slipping would be a grip with finger grooves, which function as the best impingement to slippage. The strength of your grip won’t matter here, as the grooves will stop your hand from slipping.
We looked at deployment mechanisms: opening a knife with one hand is a lot more convenient than having to put down whatever you’re holding to fiddle with unfolding your knife. That’s why some of the knives we have featured here have automatic push-button deployments or single-hand flipper deployment.
Efficiency factors into this too:
- Is it quick to open if you’re in a pinch, or does it take a few seconds to fumble around with?
- Is it easy to re-sharpen (because you will have to eventually?
- Does it get close to its original sharpness?
These are all questions that we’ll be answering in the review of each knife.