You’ve probably heard the term “tactical folding knives” thrown around before. But what exactly is a tactical knife? Do you need one? What are they used for? You’ll likely get different answers if you ask different people. In this article we’re going to cover everything you need to know about tactical knives and what to look for and consider when buying one. At the end I’ll show you some of the most popular tactical knives you can get for awesome prices.
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What Are Tactical Folding Knives?
When talking about tactical folding knives, sometimes called tactical pocket knives, there isn’t always a clear explanation of what that means. Some people consider them to be “fighting” or “self defense” knives. Other people consider them to be utility knives or emergency rescue knives. So what is correct? The answer is all of them are correct.
How so you may ask? Let’s start with a simple definition.
Tactics – the art or skill of employing available means to accomplish an end. In other words, what makes something tactical is the fact a user is using the item for a specific purpose and to achieve a specific result.
Once you understand that, the definition of a tactical folding knife becomes clear. Here’s the definition of a tactical folding knife that we will be using.
Tactical Folding Knife – A folding knife that has been carefully designed to be highly effective for the tasks that the knife was intended for. A tactical knife is a knife that has been created for a specific set of uses. This might refer to a fighting knife, a utility knife, or a rescue knife.
Now that you understand what a tactical knife really is, let’s take a look at what types of people commonly use tactical pocket knives.
Who Uses tactical Knives?
Good question! Tactical knives are commonly used bylaw enforcement officials, rescue professionals, EMTs, and military personnel. Each one of those types of people need a high quality knife with specific features to accomplish a specific set of tasks. Law enforcement officials need a tactical knife to take care of an array of tasks such as self defense, cutting seat belts, breaking windows, and other things they need to do in the line of duty. rescue professionals need a tactical knife that is designed for common rescue tasks such as cutting seat belts, breaking windows, sawing through things, and more. As you can see there is a lot of overlap in the uses of a tactical folder between professions.
The one type of user I didn’t mention yet, is every day people who want a great pocket knife for self defense. I fall into this category and I bet it’s likely you do too. I’m a web designer and would never need a tactical pocket knife on the job, but as a knife hobbyist, I’m very interested in them!
What Makes a Good Tactical Folding Knife?
Obviously the blade is very important on a tactical blade. I recommend a high quality stainless steel blade. Almost all reputable companies are using good to high quality steel in their blade production, you just want to make sure you stay away from low quality blades from China, Japan, Pakistan, and other such countries. Don’t buy cheap, you get what you pay for, and you want the best in a tactical pocket knife. Any stainless steel with a Rockwell hardness of 57-59C will work just fine. Stay away from anything harder than that though because the blade will be more brittle and hard to sharpen.
So what features do you need in a tactical knife blade?
A cutting edge and a point. That’s about it! As for the cutting edge, I recommend getting a tactical knife with a serrated blade. Serrated blades will cut well even when dull and the serrations can come in very handy when you need to slice through something fast. The point should be basic, thick, and strong. A point that is too thin can break easily when you are digging or poking hard materials.
One last piece of advice on tactical folding knife blades. Stay away from all of the strange and fancy blade designs. They may look like cool tactical knives, but they are not good in the field. Keep it on your mantle if you do buy one.
Just like the blade, when it comes to the handle keep it simple. A good tactical folding knife handle should have minimal sculpting in the handle and it should feel comfortable in your closed fist with the blade sticking out the top and the bottom. You want a place for your fingers to comfortably rest without forcing them into finger grooves.
There also shouldn’t be any sharp corners or pinch points when holding the knife. The more comfortable it is in your hand, the better you will be able to wield it, especially under high pressure situations like those a police officer, military serviceman, or rescue professional will commonly be in.
What Are the best handle materials for tactical knives?
Handles on tactical knives come in a wide selection of materials, but as a general rule synthetic materials are better than natural materials found in EDC pocket knives such as wood, bone, or ivory. A tactical knife handle should be stable, won’t erode easily, and won’t absorb moisture. You want a handle made out of plastic, G-10, titanium, stainless steel, or another long lasting man-made material.
One final tip is to avoid knives with Kraton on the handle. Kraton is a soft rubbery grip that feels awesome in your hand! The problem is that it comes off or deteriorates rather quickly, especially on a frequently used knife.
When it comes to locks, although they are important, they’re less important than the blade and the handle. There are a lot of different locking mechanisms found on tactical knives and they all can be broken. A folding knife will never be as sturdy as a fixed blade knife! When browsing different tactical pocket knives, stay away from anything that seems out of the ordinary and stick with liner locks, lock backs, and axis locks.
Just like the blade steel, stay away from cheap knives. Locks on cheap knives break easily and you can loose a finger. Don’t do it.
Why Buy a Tactical Folding Knife?
If you need a high quality knife for self defense, law enforcement, rescue operations, or military operations, and you need a smaller one that will fit into your pocket or gear pocket easily, then tactical folding knives are what you need.
Another benefit of a tactical folding knife compared to a fixed blade, is that it is easier to conceal and carry. Excellent for every day self defense. Always be careful when planning on carrying a knife for self defense! If you are completely untrained, it is likely that in a high pressure situation you’ll end up hurting yourself trying to wield your knife. Be smart, take some self defense lessons, and practice.
Things to Consider When Buying a Tactical Folder
We’ve already covered the blade, the handle, and the locking mechanisms on folding tactical knives. Now let’s take a look at a few more considerations when buying a new tactical folder.
Before buying a tactical pocket knife, think about what you want to use it for. Is it for self defense? Then make sure it’s a tactical fighting knife. Is it for active military duty? Then make sure you look at military tactical knives. Is it for camping and general outdoors activities? Then make sure to look at tactical utility knives.
The Opening Mechanism
The opening mechanism, or deployment mechanism, is very important on a tactical pocket knife. For many people it’s important that the blade can easily and quickly be opened with either hand and only requires one hand to open. This will be essential in those moments when you have to think quick and take action on the drop of a dime.
The most popular method of opening a tactical folder is the “flick” method. You should be able to open your blade with just the flick of your thumb and it quickly snaps into the open position smoothly and securely. Some knives even come with a thumb hole in the blade to make this extremely easy to do. There are also different models that come with assisted opening mechanisms. These are designed to make the knife extremely quick and easy to open in a flash. They tend to be a bit more expensive but if you want ultra fast deployment, this might be what you are looking for.
Learn More About Tactical Knives
Want to learn more about tactical knives, keep up with industry developments, and learn some tips for using such knives? Then you should check out Tactical Knives Magazine. The articles are filled with awesome knives and insider tips.
Here’s a Quick Summary of What To Look For in a Tactical Folding Knife
The Blade: simple, stainless steel or carbon steel, thick point, no fancy curves or features. Stay away from cheap brands and steels that are too hard.
The Handle: man-made material, no fancy contours, comfortable in your closed fist sticking out the top or bottom, comfortable size. Stay away from natural materials such as wood, bone, and ivory.
The Lock: lockback, liner lock, axis lock, stay away from cheap brands.
The Most Popular Tactical Knives at Awesome Prices!
So what is the best tactical pocket knife? While there is no simple answer to this because different people have different requirements in a tactical folding knife, here are some of the most popular ones. You can get any of them at an awesome discount on Amazon.com, just click through the links to see the best deals and read the user reviews!