Picking one of the best tactical knives is no joke. If you’ve ever owned a good-quality tactical knife, you’ll know how clutch they can be when the situation calls for it. Carving out a little time to make sure you pick the best knife for your needs and budget is essential.
This guide will help you avoid the common pitfalls and teach you what important in a quality tactical knife. You’ll find knives suited to different needs and uses, so there’s something here for everybody. By the end, you’ll be informed enough to make an informed buying decision and have 7 of the best knives to choose from. Let’s get into the guide!
Top 7 Best Tactical Knives Reviewed in 2023
In this section, we’ll look in-depth at each of our 7 favorite picks for the best tactical knife. You’ll find all the important information about each knife, what’s unique about it, and how it handles in the real world.
We’ll also cover what we did and didn’t like about each model, to give a more holistic and rounded view of the knife. Our goal is to give you the confidence you need to choose a knife that fits your planned uses and your budget. Let’s jump into our tactical knife review!
RoverTac Pocket Tactical Knife
If you’re after a knife that focuses on being versatile rather than super-specialized, here’s a solid pick. The handle features an upgraded and redesigned multi-tool with a bottle opener, small blade, pliers, and a screwdriver. You also get a 9-in-1 screwdriver bit set for a little extra functionality.
While this might not be the best dedicated tactical knife, it quickly gains back its prowess through its outdoor and functional performance. There’s a lifetime no-reason warranty, so the manufacturer stands behind their knives. This is usually a good sign, but can also be a little misleading at times.
You’ll get a durable nylon pouch to keep the knife safe. Taking the knife out is slow, so you might be better off clipping it to your pocket or belt. Overall, it’s a cheap best tactical knife with a high level of versatility and functionality.
- Unmatched versatility among the other tactical knives on this list
- Its handle is easy to grip and has skid-resistance
- The pouch is very tough and durable
- Good edge retention (but not too easy to sharpen)
- Sometimes the safety lock doesn’t engage
- Pretty heavy for a small pocket knife
Kingmax Multi-Tool Tactical Knife
You’ll save money and space with this knife, especially if you’re interested in the outdoors. It’s a great knife to take with you wherever you go and has the versatility to handle loads of situations. You’re getting a multi-tool kit very similar to the one we looked at earlier.
You’ll have access to pliers, a wire cutter, a small blade, and more. Despite this added versatility, the quality of the main blade hasn’t been compromised much. It’s can still be sharped to a razor edge and features the serrated edge for heavier cutting work.
It’s a little on the heavy side but doesn’t weigh down your pocket too much to be a hindrance. It comes with a handy case that’s easy to attach to a belt or backpack. Taking this knife with you on a hike or camping trip is easy and it won’t get in the way.
- Versatile multi-tool kit adds value and is super-accessible
- Great to use a backup to handle work you don’t want your main knife to do
- Sturdy and durable despite having quite a few moving parts
- 440C stainless steel is very rust and corrosion resistant
- Some locking issues that are common with these multi-tool tactical knives (not every unit)
- The knife comes quite dull and needs work before using it
Gerber Remix Tactical Knife
Here’s a follow-up to the successful Remix series from Gerber. This Gerber knife keeps the ring-handle design. It’s lightweight and maneuverable thanks to the improved ergonomic that the handle brings. The redesigned thumb lift is responsive and adds some much-needed safety when handling the knife. You’re getting a decent 3” blade that’s exquisitely sharp and has awesome cutting power.
Its Tanto design is great at piercing and the serrated edge handles rougher cutting well. It’s not legal everywhere, so you need to check the laws of your state or country to make sure 3” blades are acceptable. Overall, you’re getting one of the best tactical knives, and the iconic look and performance of the Gerber Reflex series
- Lightweight despite packing a 3” blade
- 7CR17 steel is rugged and will take its fair share of damage
- Perfect for swift one-handed use
- The linear lock is well-designed and consistent
- The blade is good quality but a little on the thin side
- Pocket clip often jabs you when you take the knife out of your pocket
KeenStone Tactical Knife
Given the low price for this knife and flashlight, it would be fair to assume they aren’t of great quality. This is what surprised me the most. The flashlight is very bright and has 5 different settings. It’s a robust and powerful flashlight, but long-term durability is questionable.
You’re getting a blade made from 3CR13 steel and it comes exquisitely sharp out the box. It’s easy to hold and gives you enough cutting power to handle basic tactical and survival uses. These aren’t high-quality tactical knives, but it’s well worth the money.
It would make an excellent backup knife and the utility you get from the powerful flashlight is the icing on the cake. It’s a cheap best tactical knife that reliable enough to carry as a backup and save money and space on your outdoor trips.
- The flashlight is powerful and has 5 different settings
- The blade comes extremely sharp right out the box
- Lightweight and easy to hold handle construction
- 3CR13 steel is easy to maintain and sharpen with good edge retention
- Long term durability isn’t the greatest
- Only suitable for support and not as your main tactical knife
Swiss Safe Police Tactical Knife Set
Here’s a value champ knife set. It’s well-suited to police and first-responders and comes with a handy glass-breaker on the rear of the handle. The handle is well-designed and moves from a thicker bottom to a thinner and more rounded shaft near the blade.
I find this helps you better control the knife in various grips, though it’s not for everyone. There’s also a seat belt cutter near the glass breaker. You might be tempted to overlook these tools, but if you’re anything like me, the thought of being trapped in a car that’s sinking or burning isn’t fun. It’s enough to push me to get this knife.
I’m not a huge fan of this style of a safety lock, but it works well. It’s thick enough to avoid getting stuck between the blade and scales, but not so thick that it’s hard to move. Overall, you’re getting a safe and reliable carrier; one of the best tactical knives for the money.
- Great value for money
- Glass-breaker and seatbelt cutter are easy to access
- Has a serrated portion for tough cutting
- The tanto-style blade is excellent at jabbing and piercing
- The seatbelt cutter doesn’t work as consistently as it should – you’re probably better off using the serrated portion of the blade
- Its locking mechanism is a little outdated
BGT Bearing-Style Folding Tactical Knife
The hardened steel blade comes to an exceptional point and is one of the better knives for piercing. The tip has been built for strength and makes a great defensive carry. A strong tip knife needs to have excellent integral locking – and this knife does. You won’t run into the common locking issues like flippers that get in the way.
There’s a large release button and the automatic locking is consistent and reliable. When you consider the price point, this is a steal. While some won’t accept a folding knife as qualifying as a tactical carry, we firmly believe this knife has what it takes. It’s compact and features an ergonomic non-slip grip and thumb notch for extra control under for heavy work.
If you’re looking for a great gift idea, the elegant black box that comes with this knife might be enough to convince you. You’re getting one of the best budget tactical knives with this kind of quality and performance.
- The tactile release button is responsive and the release is snappy
- Clip-on the back of knife aids comfort in the tip-up carry position
- The long 3.3” blade is capable in almost all tactical situations
- 57HRC hardness rating means the blade is easy to sharpen and isn’t brittle
- Spring-assisted opening knives are less reliable in the long run
- Flipper is quite tight and takes a good bit of force to use
SOG Small Fixed Blade Tactical Knife
While this SOG knife leans more towards being a neck knife than the other knives we’ll look at, it’s still an excellent choice. It has a 1.9” fixed blade made from 5CR15 steel. It’s durable and has excellent retention. This isn’t going to be a knife you’ll carry as your primary EDC or tactical use, but it’s great as a smaller horizontal knife that handles smaller tasks so you don’t scuff your more expensive tactical knives.
Once you’re aware of this and have the right uses in mind, this small, lightweight knife is one of the best in its class. I’d have liked a better-designed sheath with a clip that holds the knife securely in place. It’s the best-rated tactical knife if you’re looking for something small, legal, and subtle.
- Excellent quality handle with finger molds for improved ergonomics
- Lightweight and under the legal length limit in most places
- Textured G10 handle fits well and grips well – giving you good control in different hand grips
- Full tang knife design with extremely sharp and durable 5CR15 steel
- Quite small and unable to handle some tactical tasks
- There’s no click holding the knife in the sheath – it’s done by friction only
Crucial Features to Notice While Picking a Tactical Knife
Besides some EDC knives and utility knives that are better off folded, I always suggest getting a full tang knife. While push tang, half tang, or rat-tail tang knives are lightweight, you need the strength provided by a full tang when it comes to a tactical knife. I emphasize this fact because chances are, you’re going to put this tactical blade through vigorous, heavy-duty work.
If the tang isn’t solid and secure, the blade can snap off of the handle. Worst case scenario, you’ll get injured. In the best-case scenario, you’ll be short a knife. Some tactical knives in this list are of the folded type, and some are even multitools. If you pick one of them, keep in mind that you shouldn’t use them as vigorously as you would a full tang, fixed blade knife.
In this case, too, remember that your knife has to endure heavy-duty usage; therefore, it’s best to pick a blade that’s sufficiently thick and robust. Then you’ll need to choose between stainless steel and carbon steel. It’s not easy to pick one over the other when it comes to blade steel.
Many prefer stainless steel when it comes to tactical knife blades because it’s generally resistant to rust and corrosion. It’s also very enduring and will not chip or crack even after taking a thorough beating. However, the downside to stainless steel blades is that it loses its edge much quicker than carbon steel blades and you’ll have to sharpen it regularly.
If you’re comfortable with stropping, honing and sharpening your blades, stainless steel is a good choice. On the other hand, carbon steel holds its edge for a longer time, so you don’t need to worry about sharpening it for a good while. The downside is that carbon steel is a bit more fragile than stainless steel.
Unless you’re careful, you’ll end up with a chipped blade. Moreover, Carbon steel is much less rust-resistant than stainless steel, and it’s more expensive, too. Think a lot about which of these two materials appeal to you before picking one.
Think carefully about what kind of knife tip would be more useful to you. Also, pay attention to the edge. Do you need a completely straight edge? Would you benefit from a partial serration on the cutting edge or the spine? Would a gut hook be more of a hassle?
Moreover, keep in mind that you will have to sharpen the knife sometimes. Picking a tanto tip might sound very good now, but it’ll be somewhat troublesome to sharpen. I prefer a partially serrated, clip-point blade.
In my opinion, a textured, non-slip, and ergonomic handle is non-negotiable when it comes to a tactical knife. Forget about smooth, shiny, or satin-finish handles that strike your fancy. Those would be terrible when you’re frantically trying to cut something with a sweaty, wet, or bloody palm. Comfortable and textured is the way to go, at least for this type of knife.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What Is a Tactical Knife?
Military personnel mostly use tactical knives since they are convenient for hand-to-hand combat and overall wilderness and harsh conditions. Depending on the outdoor activity you will be doing, a tactical knife is available with the appropriate feature.
Q: Do Tactical Knives Come in Different Shapes?
A: When speaking about blade shape, most tactical knives have a similar design. The shape is a straight, single-edged blade with a curved tip. The handle portion, though, can have many variations.
For longer blades, the handle is solid with a handguard. When it comes to folding tactical knives, the handle’s thickness may vary depending on the features. The handle thickness of tactical knives similar to Swiss Army knives is noticeable since it features more than a single blade.
Q: What Main Features Do Tactical Knives Have?
A: A particular tactical knife’s features are based on the following aspects: purpose, mobility, and accessibility. The number of features introduced in the design of a tactical knife is based on using it. If the knife is meant for technical work, then more features are added.
When it comes to mobility, a tactical knife can be folded, extended, or sheathed. Larger tactical knives come with holsters since they have non-foldable blades. Besides, the features included in the tactical knife will determine whether it is accessible or not. For example, if the feature added is a mini-saw for cutting jungle wood branches, the handle must be accessible to one hand comfortably.
Q: What’s Better Between a Fixed Tactical Blade and a Folding One?
A: I prefer a fixed blade as tactical knives. That being said, I don’t carry a knife every day and I don’t travel much. I usually slap in on my belt when I go out and might need the best tactical knives. I’m not too concerned about the extra size. There’s less that can go wrong with a fixed blade and you don’t have to put up with “iffy” locking mechanisms.
If you travel loads or need something constantly by your side, a compact pocket or folding tactical knife might be better for you. Make sure you get one with a very high-quality locking mechanism and something snappy and responsive with a one-handed opening.
Q: How to Sharpen the Serrated Area of a Tactical Knife?
A: Use a high-quality tapered sharpening rod. They can get good contact with the smallest individual bumps in the serrated area. This takes longer and needs to be done on both sides (depending on your knife), but it’s well worth the time and effort.
You should have a firm understanding of what you’re looking for in a tactical knife. Whether it’s a fixed knife, or something compact and lightweight, we’ve covered it all. We also looked at some unique designs and multi-tool constructions that make up some of the most versatile best tactical knives you’ll find for that price.
All that’s left now is for you to make up your mind and order the knife that meets your needs the best. Feel free to go back over the reviews and see if there is anything you’ve missed. Choosing one of the best tactical knives is a decision that can save your life and protect those around you. Take your time and get the knife that’s perfect for you!