Best Tactical Knife to Buy in 2017 | Comprehensive Guide & Reviews

Which is the best tactical knife? Well, if you ask around, you’ll probably get different answers. A question that contains the word “best” is usually of a highly subjective matter. At the end of it all, it is up to you whom or what to believe, but in order to raise the chances that you get to believe the correct one, you have to know some things about tactical knives.

Bear Grylls said “I don’t look at a knife the way I used to. I’m more aware of what it is. I think twice. This is a key finger. It’s in every chord”. A true survival expert at his best. You probably wonder why he is so good at survival? You feel he is a highly trained professional and it’s not our cup of tea but let me prove you wrong it’s not the way you are thinking, A good equipment can reduce your work efficiency 10x times. A knife is the most profound and lethal weapon both on and off the battle field. There is a misconception that the knife is not for everyone but a tactical knife has its uses depending on how you are able to use it, like a combat tactical knife or a pocket knife.

What is a Tactical Knife?

You probably already know it by now but just to be clear, What is a tactical knife? There are some misconceptions around. Mainly, there are people who think a “tactical knife” has no difference from any combat knife, but this is not true. There’d be no point in labeling something as “tactical” if there’s nothing that actually makes it tactical. More on that will be discussed later. First, here’s the book definition of a tactical knife.

A tactical knife is different from a fighting or combat knife as it is distinguished by having one or more features of a military nature that are designed for extreme situations. These features may or may not include attributes that make it ideal for fighting. Thus, a tactical knife may or may not be a fighting/combat knife. While the two terms may be used interchangeably from time to time, it pays to know the difference.

The definition gives one difference, but there are more. In the following paragraphs, you’ll see some more characteristics that set tactical knives apart from ordinary or other types of knives.

Ultimate Tactical Knife Comparison Guide and Key

  • Knife Pictures
  • Knife brand and name/model – (click to view more details or to purchase)
  • Closed Length
  • Total Length – Combined blade and handle length in inches.
  • Blade Materials
  • Blade Length – inches
  • Blade Edge – Plain/Serrated/Combo
  • Blade point – Drop point/Spear
  • Price – These are approximate prices on
  • Rating – The average user rating on This can be very helpful in deciding if people are satisfied with their purchase.

These change frequently based on availability, special promotions, and more. But generally speaking: $ = under $40, $$ = $40 to $100, $$$ = $100 to $200, $$$$ = $200+

*Click on any of the columns to sort the data to help make your decision easier

Knife Design

First is the design, briefly discussed above. The usability of a knife depends pretty much on its design and the succeeding characteristics all extend to it. When a knife designer designs a knife, he would ask for a list of the tasks that the knife must accomplish. These tasks differ from knife to knife. That’s why even the knives you use in the kitchen are usually assorted. While a good knife would be able to accomplish as many things as possible, there would still be limitations.

The knife may need to cut a variety of materials or be able to withstand different conditions. A tactical knife may need to puncture body armor or cut off ropes made from durable materials. If the knife is not designed to meet these needs, it may break apart. Thus, the knife needs to be made from specific materials, undergo specific processes, and more depending on what you intend to do with it.

Knife Purpose

Related to the above concerns is the purpose of the knife. Would you need the knife for your job? If so, what is your job? A knife that you would be using as a weapon would have different tactical applications from a knife that you would be using as a rescue tool.


Ease of usage is absolutely needed for a tactical knife. Imagine a combat situation. If you and your opponent are quite equal in skills and whatnot, the ergonomics of your knife can spell the difference. Much of this is applied in the knifes handle. When you hold the knife, it should fit nicely. You should be able to just effortlessly hold it. The shape, size, and weight of the knife should have that feel like it was designed just for you, that you can use it as though its an extension of your own body.


The size is an important characteristic to look into. It’s not a matter of big or small. What matters is “Is it practical?” Some knives would be huge and have some additional weight at the base of a handle for non-lethal strikes, but then they would weigh a lot. Now that’s not really practical. Or maybe you have a small knife that fits into any pocket or may be hidden from your opponents view, but having it would be for naught if it can’t hurt anything bigger than a chicken. That being said, the size still extends to the concept of the knifes purpose.

Blade and Handle Material

The material is important for both blade and handle. They should last long and withstand extreme situations if need be. Stainless steel is recommendable. It resists rust and is quite sturdy. It is usually not a good idea to trust cheap steel. It’s more of a waste than investing in a knife that seems to be expensive. W1 tool steel is still great though it’s been in use for a few centuries now. You’ll just have to take extra care because it rusts.

There are a bunch of materials that are in use in making handles. It may be plastic, titanium, or stainless steel. In any case, the handle should be stable, meaning it retains its shape and won’t break easily. The handle must also not absorb moisture such as sweat, oil, fuel, or water. The technology today has enabled making non-metal handles that are of good quality. Only a few companies succeed in this, but that’s good since you won’t have much difficulty in choosing in case you prefer a non-metal handle.

Blade Design

The blade is all important, no doubt. In the simplest sense, the blade has to have a point and a cutting edge. For tactical knives, you’d want a sturdy thick point. If you poke into some material that is a bit hard, a blade with a slim point is likely to break. Depending on your needs, you can choose from straight-edged or curve-edged knives. They are efficient for different situations.


Some other considerations are locks, being fixed or folded, and carrying options. They can make a difference for your purposes but you have to first consider all the characteristics discussed before.

Review of the Top 5 Tactical Knives

Now, here are five of the competing tactical knives on the market today. Each has its own pros and cons. Its up to you to see which one would fit your needs best.

KA-BAR #1213 Black Straight Edge Knife

The KA-BAR #1213 Black Straight Edge Knife has a blade made of carbon steel and a handle made of Kraton. Overall length is 11.75 inches. The design is fairly simple and the knife is pretty sturdy. There is little need for sharpening. This knife offers a good deal of versatility for use in the wild – digging holes, cutting vines and tree branches, cutting up a game kill, etc.

The utility is outstanding, but it also makes for a good weapon for defending yourself like when you get attacked by a wild animal. While the blade is excellent, there is a bit of worry for the handle. Kraton feels good in the hand. However, it deteriorates or pops off at one point. That means you need extra care for that. Aside from that, this knife is excellent.

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Buck 119BR Special Fixed Blade Knife

This tactical knife is meant for hunting. Intended specific uses are detail work, piercing, and cutting. Blade material is 420HC stainless steel and handle is Cocobolo with a polished brass bottom as well as a finger guard.

The blade is 6 inches long straight edge. Like the KA-BAR above, it is also versatile for hunting trips and can also be used as a self-defense weapon. The blade handles well and the material for both the blade and handle gives it a long lifespan. Aesthetics may appeal to people who love the classic look.

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Kershaw Ken Onion Blur Folding Knife with Speed Safe

Convenience is a strong point for the Kershaw Ken Onion Blur Folding Knife with Speed Safe. It is a folding knife with an overall length of 7.875 inches and only over half of that when folded. It fits in the tightest pockets easily. You can open and close the knife safely with only one hand. The blade is of Sandvik steel at 3.375 inches length.

It has a slightly curved edge and a short serrated section near the handle which makes it useful for a variety of situations. You can’t expect it to do the heavy duty cutting that the first two knives offer but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its uses. It is primarily a tool knife for home and light outdoor uses. The handle is made from anodized aluminum.

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Cold Steel 17T Kobun Tanto Fixed

The Cold Steel 17T Kobun Tanto Fixed looks very basic, but don’t be fooled. This knife has nice qualities where it counts. Overall length is 9.875 inches with the blade at 5.5 inches made from AUS 8A stainless Japanese steel. It is lightweight at only 4.4 ounces. It has a nice sharp edge and a reinforced point, resisting bending or breakage.

The uses of this knife range from home tasks (like cutting up meat and sharpening pencils) to outdoor tasks (cutting game, vines, ropes, etc.). It also makes a good self-defense knife. The handle is of Kraton material which means there are the same concerns with the KA-BAR Black.

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Ka-Bar 2-1249-9 Kukri

This is one huge knife in a Kukri style with a blade measuring 11.5 inches and weighing 1.7 pounds. As a machete, it is smaller than average but bigger than the other knives discussed in this article. It is capable of heavier duties beyond the first ones but lacks somewhat in terms of convenience. It has the same material make as the KA-BAR Black.

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Now, choosing the best tactical knife is up to you. This is just a little guide to get you started. Are the best among these five? Maybe you can do a little more research to be able to answer that question.

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