Tactical knives are designed primarily for those in law enforcement; police officers, soldiers and security guards. As result, they aren’t your regular old pocket knives. When designing these specialized knives, manufacturers have to take into consideration how the knife is going to be used. In most situations, knife makers will reach out to organizations or government departments to get a basic understanding on what tasks a knife will need to perform. For example, the US Navy might need a knife that needed to be salt water resistant, cut through ropes and other similar tasks that a sailor might require. So design is very important when searching for the best tactical folding knife.
Some of the very first questions asked when considering the purpose of a knife is the following. Will it be used as a weapon? Is this only a utility tool? Are rescuer’s going to be using this blade? Is it going to be an entry tool? Depending on your job and environment, you might need more than one knife to get the job done properly. A police officer involved with the SWAT team will have completely different requirements than a security guard at a office building.
Another consideration when looking at tactical knives is, how does it feel in the hand. Are there sharp corners or pinch points? One important design with tactical knives is how it performs both in a forward grip (with the knife blade sticking out of your closed fist) or in a reverse grip (pointing down out of a closed fist). It should feel like it was made for either grip, again if that fits the purpose.
Size is also important when it comes to selecting a knife. Some designers approach this by creating a small, medium and large version of their product. But again, we go back to the ultimate question, what is the knife supposed to do. It should feel comfortable to carry, enough so that the people intended to use it, will actually do that. If they never use the tool because of size, weight or other issues, then it’s not useful. The ultimate response when you find the perfect knife is, “If feels like it was made for me”.
Materials: Blade and Handle
As for blades, you will want a stainless steel knife. We have a detailed list of the types of steel available on the market today so you can get an idea of what each steel is designed to handle. But with all the competition on the market today, most manufacturers are using really good steel on their knives in order to compete with the other guy. Although, if the knife only costs $5.99, it’s likely not good steel. The cutting edge on the knife should be a few inches in length and I would recommend a serrated blade for this type of knife. A serrated blade will cut, even when dull and if you need to cut through something thick like a seat belt, it does wonders in that application.The next consideration is the materials of the blade and handle. In a handle you want a handle that won’t absorb moisture. If the handle material absorbs moisture, it’s going to shrink, check or crack. You want something that’s going to last and isn’t going to absorb water, sweat or oil. The polymer type handles do really well in this type of design as well as steel handles. The natural materials like wood, bone and ivory aren’t as good in this category. But always keep in mind that the design makes the knife not the materials.
Another consideration with choosing the right tool, is to choose and use the right place to carry it. There are plenty of sheaths available and many knives come with a built on clip. But more importantly you want to always wear the knife in the same place. Whether that’s on your offhand or primary hand, it just needs to be where you can reach for it and find it without really thinking. Especially if you are in a tactical job environment. Your life may depend on it one day and having it where you expect it and easily accessible is vital.
In the end, whatever knife you choose, it should be carefully examined so that it is the best tactical folding knife for your specific situation.