As the name implies, EDC (everyday carry) pocket knives are useful to have by your side on the day-to-day. But, when the going gets tough — like fighting ninjas and defending against bear attacks — a small folding knife won’t do much good. In these demanding times of survival or self-defense, you’re better off opting for a tactical knife built to take on everything from your daily needs to your most challenging tasks. To find the optimal right-hand man — er, tool — for you, we selected the best tactical knives available on Amazon right now.
Benchmade Adamas 375 Fixed Drop Point Tactical Knife
Benchmade has long been a fixture of our knife roundups here at The Manual. The Oregon-based maker consistently delivers top-quality knives that are well-made, handsome, versatile, and priced right. The Adamas 375 is the most skeletonized blade on this list. By manufacturing this showstopper out of a single piece of bulletproof D2 tool steel, Benchmade has made a remarkably durable tactical knife. This design also allows the handle to be wrapped in paracord if you so choose. Other features that add to its versatility include a drop point blade with a serrated spine and a MOLLE-compatible sheath. Plus, it looks so very badass.
- Serrated spine is great for tougher utility tasks like cutting rope
- Simple design makes for easy cleaning
- Lifetime repair or sharpening through Benchmade’s Warranty and LifeSharp Service
Gerber Prodigy Survival Knife
Gerber’s fixed blade Prodigy knife is as sturdy as they come, and it’s equipped with a well-built MOLLE-compatible sheath to match. Created to be the so-called “little brother” of Gerber’s award-winning LMF II design, the Prodigy tactical knife sacrifices no utility in its reduced stature. In fact, its lightweight, compact construction provides more operation on an everyday carry front, supplies a number of non-detection features like a TacHide handle coating to lessen noise and a ceramic blade coat for reduced visibility, and is still equally at home when working outdoors. Other details include a hardwearing 420HC stainless steel blade, a soft-grip, ergonomic rubber handle to reduce fatigue and increase performance, and an accessible thumb lock for maximizing security and minimizing draw time.
- Fixed blade design offers more strike power and control in combat
- Includes leg strap and secure sheath for easy concealment
- Soft grip, TacHide-coated rubber handle is stealthy and firm
- Full tang blade transitions well for outdoor usage
OKC Chimera Plain Edge Fighting Knife
Ontario Knife Company cut its teeth (pun intended) making knives for the United States Marine Corps. So it knows a thing or two about tactical knives. The Chimera Plain Edge Fighting Knife is a straightforward, fixed-blade tool designed primarily for combat. But its design — including an 8.25-inch carbon steel blade and MOLLE-compatible sheath — is the perfect utility blade for everything from EDC tasks to straight-up survival situations.
- Massive blade is useful for just about any medium- to heavy-duty task
- Handle features built-in steel glass-breaking butt cap
- Made in the USA
Kershaw Secret Agent Boot Knife
Unlike most of its beefier brethren, the Secret Agent Boot Knife is designed first and foremost for stealth. The ultra-slim profile means it conceals neatly inside a boot, ready to be drawn immediately when needed. The dagger-style steel blade and tacky polymer handle make it reliable, easy to hold, and ideal as a backup blade for those do-or-die situations where just one knife won’t do.
- Black oxide coating is handsome and corrosion-resistant
- Performance sheath clips to belts, hip packs, or leg carry straps
- Slices through aluminum, plastic, and fiberglass with aplomb
- A bargain at under $30
Cold Steel Recon 1 Series Tactical Folding Knife
This compact folder is loved and relied upon by military and law enforcement personnel around the world. The CPM-S35VN steel is the kind found in premium knives because it’s tough, corrosion-resistant, and holds an edge well. The G-10 handle material ensures that this blade stays put in your hand even when the going gets rough. We also can’t help but love the blacked-out handle and blade that give the Recon 1 a sinister, all-business look.
- Features custom knife-maker Andrew Demko’s popular TriAd lock system
- Folding mechanism makes the already compact knife even more compact
- A steal at less than $90
SOG Escape Tactical Folding Knife
We trust anything SOG touches. Inspired to re-create the Vietnam War-era MACV-SOG bowie knife, Seattle-based designer Spencer Frazer started SOG Specialty Knives to pay tribute to the U.S. Special Forces that came before his time. Its tactical folding knife is equipped with a durable stainless steel clip point blade and a heap of features to help you handle any task at hand, whether it’s cutting cords and seat belts, breaking glass, or protecting yourself.
- Clip point blade for added sharpness when piercing
- Partially serrated for easy cutting and stripping
- In-handle glass breaker for further emergency utility
- Offers prompt one-hand opening
Grand Way Spring Assisted Tactical Knife
Grand Way’s spring-assisted tactical knife is a perfect starter knife. Crafted with a heat-resistant, 440 stainless steel blade encased in black oxide, this tactical knife is durable enough to provide assistance through most activities, from deep in the wilderness to strenuous situations on the streets. It provides a quick draw and blade deployment thanks to its spring-assisted opening; reliable, razor-sharp cutting performance; and an upright pocket clip for added comfort.
- Spring-assisted quick-draw is optimal for self-defense
- Great balance of simplicity and function for starters
- Dependable versatility at a great value
Ka-Bar BKR7-BRK Combat Utility
For the wilderness man, a functional and lasting tactical knife is one of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll carry. You never know when your survival rests on your ability to cut kindling for a fire, stoke a fire, open a can of food, or cut down branches for cover, and the last thing you want is a dull, impractical knife. This slight-weighted and sturdy survival knife from Ka-Bar was designed for soldiers and explorers alike, boasting an unwavering 7-inch, 1095 Cro-Van steel blade; a comfortable and precise, glass-fiber reinforced Grivory handle; and an easy-to-fasten concealed sheath.
- Practical for outdoor adventure use and as a tactical tool
- Strong and reliable Grivory handle to limit fatigue and increase control
- Carbon steel will rust in wet environments so apply proper maintenance
How to Shop Tactical Knives
For the most part, the difference between a folding pocket knife and a tactical knife is multi-purpose use. Typically, tactical knives are used by first responders, law enforcement, and other occupations that require tools that will over-perform and never fail. However, they’re also a suitable option to have on hand in the case of an unexpected catastrophe — car crashes, self-defense, home invasion, etc.
You’ll find that most serviceable tactical knives have specific yet common features to differentiate them from their less-capable counterparts. Some of these characteristics include speedy and accessible deployment systems (think switchblade action); textured, non-slip grip materials on the handle for added support; and purpose-built blade construction.
Article previously published March 2020 by Bryan Holt.
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