What to Consider Before Purchasing a Tactical Knife

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Caljack.  If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today!

Our quest for keeping one’s survival equipment in sync for any realistic situation requires constant vigilance to what is going on in the world, credible threats from situations which negativity impacts law and order, learning new skills, training and of course the never-ending need to research new products before shelling out more money, especially if you’re on a tight budget as I am.

Recently, my quest to match my budget to the purchase a good tactical knife led to consider these nine points before purchasing a good tactical knife.


  1. Know the Law:
  2. Defining the criteria
  3. Blade Style
  4. One-Hand Opening
  5. Choosing a lock
  6. Handle Construction and Texture
  7. Clip Position
  8. Blade Steel
  9. Invest in Quality


First things first, the selection of available tactical knives today makes it hard to know if your making the right selection. That difficultly increases on whether or not you plan on carrying a knife at all times or only during a SHTF situation.

Knowing the Law

Selection starts with understanding what you can or cannot legally carry. The last thing you need is to be pulled over on some minor traffic violation or standing outside and a law enforcement officer notices the clip and ask you to take out the knife. That is why you need to understand all levels of the law in your area. A little effort before you carry can save you time, money and may keep you out of jail. There are many good web sites to help guide you.

Yet, knowing what is legal isn’t enough!

It is vital to know how the courts in your area actually interpret the law, especially local law. Keep an eye and ear peeled for upcoming court cases or if you know a lawyer, perhaps they can provide you with information.


Main Knife Characteristics

Now that you know what is allowed for everyday carry in your area, create a checklist that you can use for purchasing the “RIGHT” knife. You will need to list for example the Blade Length; number of edges, folding actions; (there are a variety of clip options on the market today. Single, two-position and four-position) and other criteria that are not only legal but also what best fits your needs.  So, let’s dive into this checklist.

Blade Style

The market seems to have more blade shapes and profiles than ever before. Don’t get seduced by something that does nothing more than appeal to some macho TV action hero. What I mean is unless you’re well-trained it is best to stick with the basics and go with a blade style that you know will cut or puncture and supports your Prepper objectives.


Don’t get seduced by a tactical knife that does nothing more than appeal to some macho TV action hero.

The best blade is one where you can use the entire cutting edge. The grind of a blade indicates how it tapers to the cutting edge.

The research collected goes into more detail but in summary a straighter blade cuts deeper and makes the knife a much better thrusting weapon. Some of you may be concerned about tip breakage.  It is something to keep in mind and consider, but remember, if the reason for carrying a knife is personal defense, you want a blade that penetrates flesh and anything that covers it.  Think strong and prosper, my friend.

One-hand opening

Being able to get to your knife in a tactical situation can make the difference between life and death. Therefore, being able to bring a blade to bear with one hand is vital. Most tactical blades provide blade holes, thumb studs, or disks. But, where they are located is the key.

They need to be high enough above the blades pivot to be accessible and provide you with the opportunity for your thumb to push the blade out.


Therefore, being able to bring a blade to bear with one hand is vital. Your tactical knife would ideally be easily opened with one hand.

There are also flippers, but since they require a person to change your grip. These may be best left to those with increased knife training.

Then there are the spring activated openers commonly called assisted openers. A switch blade might fall into this category. But, current law does not classify them as such-at least not yet. But, many local governments may disagree so if you have one or are considering getting one-be aware.

Generally speaking, Manual opening knives may be the best all-around option. They are quiet to open. I can remember having a switch blade years and years ago. Even now, I can remember that distinct click silencing everything around me, even the darn crickets.

That may have been cool back in the rural Midwest, but today and hopefully more mature and thinking about survival, it would not be my first choice.

Choosing a Lock

This is one of the most important characteristics to consider. It is vital to have a lock that is strong enough to hold the blade open.  This past winter a friend of mine went ice fishing and decided to use a knife to open up a soup can. The force being asserted was too much and the blade folded putting a deep gash into the palm of his hand. It took 9 stitches to close it up.  However, if you excuse the pun, there is a fine edge between having a lock that keeps the knife from closing under stress and having one that makes harder to get a blade out in the first place.  To address this issue there are knives that also have side locks. Having side locks addresses both issues. Less pressure is needed to keep the blade closed and it also makes it easier getting a blade out

Handle Construction and texture

The handle of a knife is just as important if not more so than the grip of hand gun. You may disagree, but that my opinion.  It should be comfortable, no sharp edges and you should be able to have and keep a secure grip on it. Therefore, purchasing one with good traction is a necessity.  The adage of try before you buy should be applied here. Go to a store, (don’t forget your check list) take your time and handle those knives that you may be considering.  Handles must be built strong and be able to take some punishment.


The handle of your tactical knife is just as important if not more so than the grip of hand gun.

Clip position

The clips’ primary purpose is to keep the knife within each reach at the top of your pocket.  Depending on your criteria, on how you’re going to draw and which style you choose to open the blade, the clip position has a direct impact. I also stated earlier that the more carrying options your knife has-the better it should be to fit your needs.

Blade steel

The majority of high quality blades today are good for tactical or defensive use. The main considerations when it comes to blades would be that it holds a good edge and resists rust. This is especially true if this will be your everyday carry knife. In that case resistant to rust is extremely important.

Invest in quality

Take a moment and consider the other items you have or want to purchase for your bug out bag or for personal defense.  Quality I’m sure was at the top of your decision-making process. The purchase of a good tactical knife is no different.  But, beware, price only guarantees the price you pay. It may not guarantee quality. I mention at the beginning, I’m on a budget, so I started doing my homework researching not only what I wanted but what I actually needed.  The final choice will be mine and mine alone.

If you get nothing else from this article, please think, know what you need and then invest in a brand that you feel is trust worthy and will be there when you need it.

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One thing people frequently overlook is scuba diving knives. They are made with very high quality stainless steel or titanium to withstand the elements. Because of the grade of the metal, the blade also holds its edge extremely well. If you are considering the need for a knife that will be exposed to long term harsh conditions, it’s something worth looking into. There is no rule that says you are limited to only one survival knife and, in any case, there is no one knife that is sufficient for every type of need.


I was out in the forest planting potatoes yesterday. No open carry knife and I got tired and shoved my small blade into a deep leg pocket rather than use the clip. Yup it fell out on the way back. I was going slow on easy terrain with fat dogs. I ran back and found it. Lesson for me is use the clip and add paracord. In shtf losing a blade would be dreadful. For defence I’d go full tang every time and I’d never stick my blade into the target until both their wrists have been nicely sliced up… Read more »


For what it’s worth, every diving knife I’ve seen always has a full tang that extends beyond the end of the handle. They are designed that way on purpose.


One folder out of all the pictures of fixed blades on an article focused entirely on folders – yeah, great choice.


Good article. Please consider a follow up post with affordable knife candidates you found. Thx.


For the money i think the becker line is good to go. Made right here and of good quality. I have the BK7 and the Becker necker, BK11. Both are fixed blade.


I’ve heard good things about Becker, but haven’t handled one. I really enjoyed my ESEE4 knife. Only a 4 inch blade, but it was quick wielding.

Dr. Karen

Interesting article about *folding knives* but all the photos included are of fixed blades. Since not all tactical or fighting knives are folders, the title and photos need to change to reflect the content or the content needs to change to reflect the title. While somewhat informative the content is misleading as it neither matches the title nor photographs included.


Funny since i see a folder in the photos as well…


One folder out of all the pictures of fixed blades on an article focused entirely on folders – yeah, great choice. Like the doc said, better if the pics match the words


Two personal choices for knives: Fixed blade: ESEE4 or ESEE5. I lost mine during our strategic relocation, but will target another when things settle down. Excellent quality, decent price for what you get. The ESEE4 felt great in hand. $80-120. I think I paid $105 with the Blade-tech belt clip. Alt fixed blade: Schrade brand. Purchased one for my daughter. The handle looked funky, but felt very good in the hand. It felt a little heavy in hand, but did not affect performance. $28. Folders: Personal choice: a real, old-school Ralph Emerson CQC-7. Purchased 20 years ago, before he went… Read more »


There have been several digs about the pictures. I’ve noticed that Pat adds photos in ‘post-production’.

As far as I’m concerned, a tactical knife is a fixed-blade. Fighting with a folder is a desperation move, because you no longer have a fixed-blade. Hope something doesn’t hit your hand and trigger the blade to come out of the locked position.


The knives put out by CRKT are also a good choice so long as you pay
attention. I agree a fixed knife is best but you may not be able to lug
those around. You need to HAVE a knife….I’m typing this in a local
coffee shop in the main drag where I live so its not so likely the nice
fixed blade fighter sitting at home will be appreciated here,,,, The
CRKT though does not bother anyone and it locks open tight in my


The article is written about folding knives…and every illustration is of a fixed-blade. Nice work.

Graph Man

Gerber Remix-Tactical 31-001098 Serrated Edge / Tanto is the best folding knife I have used in 50yrs of experience. Strongest hinge design won’t snap when you hit a bone. Easy to open with one hand.

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