There are many different types of knives. Knowing the difference between types of knives and the applications of each knife variety can help you on making the right purchase. You wouldn’t use a kitchen knife as a boot knife. Neither would you want to bring a folding knife with no lock into a military combat situation. Tactical knives are usually built for military, law enforcement and personal defense situations. There are subtle differences that are unique to each type of knife and knowing the difference between a “regular” knife and a “combat” knife can be instrumental in helping you choose the right type of knife for you. Here is a list of things you should consider when buying a tactical knife:
When buying a knife – for any purpose – you should always look at the reputation of the knife maker. A Bob Loveless blade is obviously going to outperform and outlast a $15 blade imported from China. Check to see if the manufacturer you might be buying from has a good warranty. You’d be surprised how many companies don’t offer warranties or are shady about honoring their products. Get your knife from a company that is reputable and is known to honor their warranty. Your knife might need a service or repair at some point. Don’t get burned.
- Folding knife or fixed blade knives
Some people like a blade that is fixed in place. Some knife owners prefer the portability of a folding blade. Know your applications and your preferences. A point-man or door-kicker is going to have different needs for his blade. A knife collector may just enjoy the hunt for finding the perfect knife. A fixed blade is better for prying, cutting and chopping due to no possibility of damaging the lock on the blade itself. A fixed blade is going to be inherently stronger.
- Knife Locks
This usually comes down to personal preference. I will say this though: if you are going to buy a folding blade, make sure that the company has a fantastic reputation. I wouldn’t trust my finger or hand with a $20 lock. This also goes back to the question: what is the application of the knife? If you are a knife collector looking for a new and exquisite piece to add to you collection, a lock may be exactly what you are looking for. If you are a SWAT officer, having a fixed blade may be more up your alley. Many people in the military will not swear by a lock due to the risk of breakage
- Knife Handles
Handles can be made from plastic to titanium to stainless steel. The list can go on and on. In a tactical knife, you want a handles that won’t absorb moisture. Look for something that won’t shrink, check or crack. Opting for something like a polymer or a composite is a good idea, as it won’t absorb sweat, oil or water.
- Knife Blades
For tactical knives, your best option is a good quality stainless steel.
- Knife Size
Any design of knife should be purpose driven. The size of the knife should reflect the application. A folding knife with a blade 3 to 4 inches long or a fixed blade with an overall length of 8 to 9 inches should be the perfect size to carry on your person.
Refining a design for the most efficient use possible is the point of ergonomics. The way a blade fits in your hand, how it feels, and the design of the handle are all important. There should be no sharp edges or any area that can pinch the skin on your hand. You should also be comfortable with a handle while cutting or under stress. Over-pronounced finger grooves can force your hand into a pre-fixed position. You should always keep asking the question: what is the application of this particular knife?
Knowing what knife is right for you depends on a variety of factors. Are you a collector or a hunter? Are you a SWAT officer or a chef? Not all knives are created equal. I have a fantastic collection of knives available on this site that may suit your needs. In recent years I have tried to specialize in mostly higher end Custom knives for my site. Bill Moran, Bob Loveless, Ron Lake, Buster Warenski and Jim Schmidt are some of my top picks. Lately I have been collecting a number of the newer Italian makers and have been successful in locating those hard to find knives for my customers such as Moran damascus knives and rare Bob Loveless pieces. I accept consignments on a strictly limited basis. Please contact me for more details if you have a knife or knives that you wish me to sell for you.
I greatly appreciate your taking the time to experience my site and personal knife collection.
All the best,
Dave Ellis, ABS, Mastersmith