A tactical knife is very different compared to a regular knife.
What are the differences that you may notice when you are comparing tactical knives?
Find out in our buyer’s guide below.
Here's The Tactical Knives, Backed By 12+ Hours Of Research
Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife
Why is it better?
5 Best Tactical Knives
With that in mind, let’s now take a closer look at our top picks.
Let’s dive into the specifics and review each tactical knife individually. You can use the list below to jump and review specific models, or you can read along and go through all the information.
Best Overall: Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife
Fixed blades; there’s nothing like them.
Gerber is known for making some of the best camping and general outdoor gear on the face of the planet, and they put all that excellence into making knives.
Fitted for tactical use with MOLLE gear and ankle sheaths, this knife has every bit of precision engineering in it that you need for tactical situations.
With a diamond weave textured grip from hilt to blade, you’ll have complete control and dexterity over the entire thing all at once.
It feels like an extension of yourself, because it very much is.
Gerber makes all of their products right here in the United States, so with them, you’re also supporting American men trying to bring their families up right.
420HC steel is nothing to mess around with.
Built for endurance and longevity, this blade will endure all forms of stress, and only need to be sharpened on occasion. Power is in your hands with Gerber.
- Fine edge makes this blade more aerodynamic
- 420HC steel construction w/ full tang for total power
- Designed to mount on MOLLE and drop-leg sheaths
CRKT SIWI Fixed Blade Knife
Columbia River Knife & Tool might have just made you next favorite tactical knife.
Built with a black powder coating on the SKS carbon steel blade, you won’t have to sharpen this for quite some time.
It comes out of the package loaded for bear, so you don’t have to worry about initial sharpening or anything of the sort.
CRKT includes a limited lifetime warranty with purchase, which guarantees all but sharpening this blade down to a dull little nub.
If you’re able to sharpen this down that much, you’ve gotten your use out of it. The ultralight design gives you the ability to move swiftly without any issue.
You’ll likely never need to tighten the star bolts in the handle, though the grip will need to be cleaned from time to time.
It gives you excellent dexterity, it’s also made of a material that holds onto the natural oils from your hand. A quick wipe down and it’s good to go.
- Ultralight design allows for swift movements during use
- Includes a limited lifetime warranty backed by manufacturer
- Fine SKS carbon steel requires less sharpening per knife lifetime
Gerber Ghoststrike Fixed Blade Knife
Gerber’s back at it again, providing excellent quality without charging you what they honestly could be charging.
The Ghoststrike is personally my favorite blade, though it does come with its flaws.
For one, you’re going to notice the handle with an aerodynamic design. This is what I love and dislike about the blade.
It allows for swiffer movements, but it doesn’t distribute weight like a standard blade does.
You’re going to feel a bit blade-heavy on this one, but if you’ve used knives before, then you’ll know how to right it.
Made from 420HC steel, it’s basically impervious to standard stress and destruction.
With a black ceramic coating on the blade, you’ll endure less of a chance of corrosion.
Much like a black powder finish, it means you won’t have to spend as much time sharpening in between uses.
It’s a trusty, lightweight blade that you’ll be happy you had in a pinch.
- Black ceramic coating on blade reduces corrosion risk
- Aerodynamic handle reduces movement times and optimizes self-defense
- High-end 420HC steel frame won’t bend or quit on you
Buck Knives 0091BKSTP1Buck Tactical Knife
Knives get tricky, especially when you’re carrying them over state lines. Every state has different laws, but on average, anything 3 ½” or under is usually okay.
Buck Knives made this the perfect blade size, and it’s even weighted enough to feel perfect in your hands. Not too light, not too heavy.
Let your fingers rest on the slotted and textured inlays so you can focus on your target.
The hilt includes a belt cutter tool to get you out of a slippery spot, and also includes a zirblast finish to the blade for longer time in between sharpening.
When it does come time to sharpen, that’s 154CM steel that you’re grinding away at.
It’s strong enough to hold a fine 20° edge without requiring too much honing, so you can keep it straight just about all the time.
- 154CM grade steel requires less sharpening on average (finer point)
- Finger inlays for additional grip on the handle
- 3 ½” falls under almost every single United States knife length law
BlizeTec Tactical Knife
BlizeTec should actually call this a multitool, because it’s fitted with a belt cutter and an LED light on the bottom for discreet use.
It’s no tactical flashlight, but it comes in handy for utility purposes.
The blade includes a serrated portion along the bottom of the blade to work better for self-defense, and securing the kill during hunting when things get down to the blade and bare knuckles.
This is perhaps one of the best EDC knives I’ve ever used. It’s strong, durable, and includes far more than I’ve let on at this point.
EDC is all about keeping things lightweight (this knife is 5.5 oz), and multi-functional.
There’s a window breaking pommel at the bottom, and a fire starter that fits inside of the handle.
On top of that, there’s a pocket clip to keep everything secure in a bag or tactical pouch.
All that, and it’s the least expensive option on the list. That being said, it’s also down here for a reason.
It’s made of 420 stainless steel, which is good, but it’s packing an aluminum handle to keep costs down.
It’s more malleable than the blade, meaning that in a tooth-and-nail situation, the handle might break before the blade is up, but a broken handle makes the rest of it useless where this isn’t a full tang blade.
It’s an unlikely event, but not a trade-off I’m willing to make for survival or tactical situations.
- Jagged serrated section ideal for self-defense and hunting
- Belt cutter + mini LED light included in handle
Ultralight, optimal for
- EDC carry at 5.5 oz
Tactical Knives FAQ
WHAT MAKES A KNIFE TACTICAL?
Tactical situations undergo strategic planning, they expect the worst-case scenarios, and require your attention and focus. Your kitchen knife is meant to cut peppers and potatoes.
A tactical knife will not only have a blade that’s durable and ready to use for any situation, but it will also have a sturdy handle with a contoured, ergonomic grip.
You buy a kitchen knife for meats and vegetables. You buy a whittling knife to carve wood. You buy a tactical knife for everything else.
WHAT KNIVES DO NAVY SEALS USE?
United States Navy SEALs are known to use the Ontario MK 3 Navy Knife, which is not available for civilian/public purchase.
SEALs can carry their own knife of choice in most combat situations, so there is no way to tell what trained, professional Navy SEALs will carry on-hand with them.
All we know is that the Ontario MK 3 Navy Knife is basically something you never want to be caught on the opposing end of.
WHAT IS THE BEST MATERIAL FOR A TACTICAL KNIFE?
Steel. Always steel. There are over fifty classifications of steel by the SAE, which define grades based on separate metal contents, like nickel and chromium.
There are a ton of grades to remember, but basically, 304L, 420, 440, and sub-sections of those grades (such as a 440C) are all top-of-the-line for tactical knives.
You have to think: what would you want to have in your hand when the moment called for it?
The best, being steel, or the second fiddle? We’re pretty sure we know the answer to that one.
Alternatively, handles can be made out of less grades of steel, but they should contain some form of highly durable, minimally malleable metal.
Full tang blades will generally be steel through and through. It means the blade metal is cut from one piece, it just has a grip on the outside of it.
Those are generally more reliable than folding knives, which are never full tang.
IS IT LEGAL TO CARRY A TACTICAL KNIFE ON YOURSELF?
If you can prove that you’re fishing or hunting, you can bring a large knife that might fall outside of standard parameters. You would need licenses and permits to prove that, though.
Tactical knives that have a blade length of 3 ½” are usually safe to bring anywhere.
They’re considered pocket utility or EDC knives, but there is a point where it’s no longer for utility, and the knife is looked at as a weapon.
Nobody can prove your intent, but if you have a weapon on-hand that’s outside the scope of self-defense, you might face fines, temporary jailing, and confiscation.
So it a tactical knife legal?
Yes, it is, if you plan it out ahead of time and know the laws of the place you’re travelling to/through.
In a sense, be tactical about how you approach the situation, and understand your legal rights down to every dot and line.
Features Of Tactical Knives
One of the biggest differences that you will notice in a tactical knife is the design choices.
This not only goes for the aesthetics of the knife but also the material selection.
When it comes to the design of a tactical knife, it utilizes the most durable materials that you can find in a knife.
Along with this, it has certain features that will allow it to perform the best in survival and life or death scenarios.
Thus, it has the design choices that make it an incredible option for those that are looking for a knife that can simply do more.
Another area that you will notice differences with tactical knives is in its ergonomics.
Ergonomics is one of the most critical aspects of a tactical knife because it is designed to be used in scenarios that optimal performance is a must.
Thus, it is designed to not only feel comfortable in your hand but also easy to use while under duress or stress.
Because of this, you will notice that tactical knives are some of the most ergonomic choices that you will find on the market in comparison with other knives that are not necessarily designed with the same ergonomics in mind.
Another major difference that you will likely notice is in its size.
You will notice that there are major differences in tactical knife sizes because they are purpose driven.
Because of this, the size is going to be much more reflective of what the knife was intended for and designed for.
As a result, you will find tactical knives to be designed perfectly in terms of size to fit a particular need or task.
Another area that you will likely notice that stands out with tactical knives is with its handle.
Handles can be made from a variety of different materials.
However, with a tactical knife, you want a handle that is not only easy to grip but one that is waterproof and that won’t shrink or crack.
Thus, you will find that tactical knives have some of the best material selection for handles.
Should I Buy Myself A Tactical Knife?
Overall, there are major differences that you will find with a tactical knife than with a regular knife, or with a tactical tomahawk.
A tactical knife is going to be specifically designed to help with a certain task. Thus, the design will be centered around optimizing that specific task.
This will result in a better designed and better-performing knife. A tactical knife will be made up of the most durable and best materials to maximize performance.
Ultimately, a tactical knife is the only option for those that are looking for versatility, durability, and quality in a knife.