7 Best Tactical Knives For Combat, Hunting & Survival

By Will Brendza | Last Updated: July 6, 2018

Best Tactical KnivesSkilled Survival’s Tactical Knives Research Guide

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying,

“Never bring a knife to a gunfight?”

And while it holds a seed of truth, it’s an incomplete and misleading statement.

There’s more to it than that.

Sure, I get the point it’s trying to make; how dumb it would be to show up to a gunfight with just a knife (and without a gun).

No arguments here – that would be stupid.

However, you should absolutely show up to a gunfight with a gun AND a tactical knife.

Here’s why:

That’s why a tactical knife is considered a standard-issue item for all military, combat, and survival specialists.

They are incredible self-defense weapons and tools for any survival or combat situation. Be it a:

  • military mission
  • wilderness expedition
  • a combat environment
  • a hunting trip
  • or any survival/rescue emergency

A tactical knife is always a welcome companion and an excellent tool to add to a tactical plate carrier vest.

So today, we’re going to cover the following tactical knife topics:

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older tactical knife

What Makes A “Tactical” Knife…Tactical?

Today, knives fit into a large number of unique categories: survival knives, combat knives, hunting knives, neck knives, military knives, EDC knives – heck, there are even credit card knives nowadays!

And within each of these knife categories, hundreds of size and style options are available.

But what exactly makes a “tactical” knife…tactical?

Simply put, a tactical knife includes one or more military and survival features.

Or, as elegantly put by Wikipedia

It’s a knife designed for extreme situations, which may or may not include a design capability as a fighting or combat weapon.

So they’re designed to handle a lot of abuse and often made to inflict lethal injury upon another living thing.

The best ones tend to offer tactical abilities such as:

  • skinning and gutting wild game (or mortal enemies)
  • cutting through rope, paracord, or fabric like butter
  • prying/opening stuff up without bending or breaking the blade
  • carving, chopping, and shaving wood to make epic survival shelters
  • using the butt to hammer away at inanimate objects
  • plus a million other possible survival uses…

But that’s the same idea behind what survival knives can do. So what’s the difference between a survival knife and a tactical knife?

In my opinion, tactical knives are (and always will be) instruments of death. And they look like it, too.

They are long, sometimes curved, and honed to a razor’s edge. And there’s a psychological advantage to having a nasty-looking knife in combat.

The best tactical knives are intimidating.

They make a potential attacker think twice before they come at you. And these self-defense machines have been part of the human survival toolkit since the stone age.

Back when humans carried knives crafted out of sheared stone and fashioned with leather stripes.

But since those early days, knife technology has been increasingly improving. We’ve altered the shape and style, weight, and materials used.

Today’s tactical knives use high-carbon steel blades. They are honed and balanced to perfection and ergonomically designed to fit in your hand like a glove.

They are the pinnacles of high-tech survival gear.

The tactical knives available today would make our ancient ancestors drool with jealousy.

And if you want a complete collection of survival gear, you must own at least one.

It’s a matter of self-preservation.

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Neck Knife In A Gloved Hand

10 Best Tactical Knife Features

If you’ve done any research at all, you understand there’s an overwhelming number of tactical knives to choose from.

They come in almost any shape, size, quality, and color imaginable, which makes shopping for the right one an overwhelming experience.

That’s why it’s best to boil things down to just a few key features.

That way, you can hone in on the qualities that separate great tactical knives from mediocre ones.

So what makes a tactical knife great? What makes it epic? What makes it worth your hard-earned $$’s?

Here are the 10 key features of a quality tactical knife.

1. Incredibly Rugged

Tactical knives should be built for the harshest and most extreme circumstances. They’re made to get beat up, battered, dropped, knocked, slammed, and sometimes thrown.

The bottom line is:

Your tactical knife needs to be able to take an epic beating without breaking.

2. Ideal Blade Length

Traditionally, tactical knives are not EDC knives (i.e., everyday carry).

Why? Because they tend to have longer fixed blades that are difficult to conceal. Plus, these longer blade lengths are often illegal to carry on the street in everyday situations.

That’s because a long blade extends your reach in combat and increases the lethality of the weapon.

But, an overly long knife becomes heavy and unwieldy.

So, it is about finding a balance.

Too short and it’s less effective in combat; too long and it’s illegal to carry and hard to unsheath at a moment’s notice.

3. Lethal Blade Shape

You must understand all your blade shape options before making a purchase.

The best blade shapes are often clipped point blades or spears but you should understand why.

The following video provides a good overview of your blade shape options and will explain why you want your tactical knife to be spear or clip.

4. Well-Balanced

Whenever you’re buying a bladed weapon, you want to ensure it’s well-balanced.

A well-crafted knife has a handle that rests in perfect harmony in the palm of your hand.

Sure, an off-balance blade is not unusable. They’re certainly better than nothing. But they’re awkward and not as smooth or easy to wield vs. one engineered to perfection.

5. Blade Steel Options

High-carbon steel blades are generally the toughest and most durable steel you can buy.

As a rule of thumb, the better tactical blades are either high-carbon steel or stainless steel. Stainless steel is more resistant to rust; high carbon steel has superior durability.

Here’s an excellent video that does a good job teaching you about your tactical knife-edge and steel options and the pros/cons of each:

6. Tactical Fixed Or Folding Blade Knives

Originally combat knives were all made with fixed blades.

But with the invention of the modern folding blades (in the late 1800s), a second option became available:

The tactical folding knife.

Folding knives are generally lighter, more packable, and a little more covert. But tactical fixed-blade knives are the classic tactical design and offer higher durability.

Folders have a hinge point, which makes them great for EDC but not nearly as durable.

So you get to choose; choose wisely.

7. Handle Material

Handles for knives are made from many unique materials.

From wood, plastic, rubber, and metal…they’ve been made out of just about anything you can think of.

But remember, the better grip your knife provides, the less likely it will slip or get pried from your hands. But the most important thing to consider when looking at the handle is durability.

Function over fashion!

Sure, some wooden-handled knives out there look amazing, but they are not made to survive severe stress.

8. Handle Design

Some tactical knives are designed to fit perfectly into the hand of the user.

Others are more old-school – fundamental in nature.

It is up to you to decide which kind of handle suits your needs and your combat and survival style.

Just remember, you want to be able to hold your tactical knife with a death grip.

That way, it can never be pried from your hands and used against you during a life-or-death grapple match.

9. Survival Extras

Some knives come with a hollowed-out handle. This allows you can pack it with  a few survival extras like:

  • fishing hooks
  • paracord
  • tinder
  • matches
  • band-aids
  • etc.

These items can be lifesavers in survival situations.

But a hollowed-out handle can throw off the balance of the blade. And it can even compromise the durability of the knife itself.

So it can be a pro and a con depending on the situation.

10. Price

The great equalizer of all things – price.

If you want the very best, no matter the price, then it’s fairly easy to find a great tactical knife.

But if you’re like me, price, value, and budgets always come into play.

Because, the way I look at it, the less I spend on a badass tactical knife, the more I can spend on other essential survival gear.

So I am looking for the best tactical knife at the best price.

That means it might not be the “absolute best” tactical knife, but instead, it’s a fantastic, excellent, badass knife at an insanely affordable price point.

So with that said, let’s go over some of the best tactical knives on the market today.

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EDC Knife 1.1

7 Best Tactical Knives On The Market Today

Even with thousands of knife options, only a few are considered the best.

Tactical Fixed Blade Knives

1. The US Military KaBar

This combat knife has gone down in infamy as the meanest, most durable tactical knife ever made.

It’s of the standard-issue USMC.

Making it a favorite among survivalists, hunters, and outdoorsmen.

There is a reason these are the most famous fixed-blade knives in the world.

KaBar is a combat knife company you can trust.

2. Morakniv Bushcraft Survival Knife with Firestarter

This tactical fixed-blade knife is made from high-carbon steel and has a black plastic sheath.

It also has a built-in Morakniv firestarter good for up to 7000 strikes.

Strikes that produce 3000-degree sparks for starting fires in the most adverse conditions.

3. Gerber StrongArm Tactical Fixed Blade Knife

This Gerber Tactical Knife is built for combat and survival.

The Strong Arm features a fine edge, full tang 420HC steel blade.

It includes a ceramic blade coating to protect the blade in adverse weather and a diamond-textured grip with a rubber over-mold for supreme grip.

This knife includes a striking pommel at the base of the handle.

This allows you to shatter glass in extreme rescue or scavenging operations.

The bottom line is:

Gerber makes a solid tactical knife at a fair price.

4. SOG SEAL Pup Elite

First off, this badass SOG tactical knife comes with a lifetime warranty.

So you know SOG stands behind its products.

It has a partially serrated clip-point blade that’s 4.85 inches in length.

It also has a black handle made out of glass-reinforced nylon and deep finger grooves for a comfortable and strong grip.

And, of course, the SOG Seal Pup Elite Tactical Knife comes with a nice black Kydex sheath with a belt loop attachment.

Folding Blade Tactical Knives

5. Masalong Double-Edged Tactical Fixed Blade Knife

No list of tactical knives is complete without at least one karambit knife.

This is one of the best tactical fighting claw knives.

It has a curvature that allows for strategic battling and hand-to-hand close combat situations.

It’s also a pocket knife folder, so you can clip it to your belt or pocket to carry it around discreetly.

A decent tactical blade you can count on.

6. Kershaw Blur Tanto Black Serrated

This speed-assisted tactical folder is designed for quick one-handed opening using the thumb stud.

This Kershaw Tactical Knife also has a reversible pocket clip to carry the tip down or tip up.

It’s a decent tactical folding knife; you can also use it as your EDC knife.

Not a traditional tactical knife, but a worthwhile compromise for some.

7. TAC Force Dagger Style Tactical Folding Knife

Tactical DaggerThis tactical dagger is a fantastic knife for the price.

It’s a spring-assisted, black aluminum-handled knife.

It’s a spear point, double-edged stainless steel blade that’s 4-inch long and 3mm thick.

It also comes with a nice pocket clip.

So if you’re working on a very limited budget, this is an excellent tactical knife to add to your tactical gear stash.

Final Thoughts

No matter what you call them. No matter what kind you end up going with.

Keeping a tactical knife in your survival gear is a necessity.

Do not wait until it’s too late – make sure you get the right knife today.

So, when that tactical moment of truth arrives, you’re prepared to deal with it.

Will Brendza

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