Along with everyday home and campsite cutting duties, a quality tactical knife can play an integral part in self defense, just after a firearm and before a capable tactical pen or tactical flashlight. Tactical knives have a long history of being carried by both firefighters and law enforcement, as well as active duty military personnel.
So what’s the difference between a typical everyday carry knife and a tactical knife? The answer to that question is no doubt open to interpretation, but our belief is that a tactical knife tends to be overbuilt — think a heavy-duty construction built for hard use in the field — and can perform a variety of cutting tasks both on and off of the job such as cutting rope or fending off a would-be attacker. The best tactical knife will get the job done day in and day out without fail.
Before you hit the Walmart shelves this summer looking for a tactical knife worth carrying, check out our list of what we consider to be the 30 best tactical folding knives available today. While you may not agree with this list in it’s entirety, there’s no denying that each one of these folders is worth adding to your everyday carry arsenal.
Cold Steel Recon 1 Knife
We like to believe that if the word tactical is attached to a knife, it better be able to withstand the elements as well as years of abuse. The Cold Steel Recon 1 Tactical Knife doesn’t disappoint.
It’s blade is made from AUS 8 stainless steel that has been vacuum heat treated and then cooled in sub-zero temperatures for unmatched strength. Additional features include a black teflon coating on each blade that resists rust and glare while providing a consistent lubrication during cutting tasks, a scaled G-10 handle, and Cold Steel’s Tri Ad locking system. This is one beefy EDC folding knife compared to it’s other tactical knife counterparts. Will it fit comfortably in your pocket all day? Absolutely it will. But you may want to leave your skinny jeans at home. – Buy It
SOG Spec Arc Folding Knife
Expertly crafted for multi-purpose use, this new tactical folding knife from SOG is perfect for everyday pocket carry and is equipped to handle any task regardless of size and intensity. The knife features a 4-inch VG-10 blade, an Arc-Lock for strong and reliable lockup, and a GRN handles made from glass reinforced nylon with stainless steel liners that render it only 4.4 ounces.
The Spec Arc easily slips into any pocket, bag, or can even clip onto a belt for quick access. The Spec Arc was tested at over 1000 lbs. of pressure and prevailed with flying colors, putting it way ahead of it’s competition in regards to strength. This is a cover-all solution for an everyday carry knife that we highly recommend. – Buy It
Benchmade 275 Adamas Tactical Folding Knife
Although larger than most other knives mentioned here, the 275 Adamas Tactical Folding Knife by Benchmade is heavy duty enough to handle even the toughest of everyday tasks. Along with Benchmade’s tried and true AXIS locking mechanism, the Adamas boasts a large, G-10 handle with full stainless steel liners for improved strength and durability that can easily be gripped while wearing gloves, an ambidextrous thumb stud, a black coated steel blade, and a reversible black steel pocket clip. – Buy It
Gerber 06 Auto Knife
By utilizing feedback from United States military personnel, Gerber built this sharp-looking 06 Auto Knife — a fully automatic tactical folder built to stand up in the field or for everyday carry. The knife features a slide safety engaged in both the closed and open positions, a stainless steel pommel with a strike point, and an over-sized release button designed for easier use with regular or tactical gloves.
The blade on the Gerber 06 Auto Knife is made from S30V stainless steel that is prepared to be used and abused without taking any damage or sacrificing sharpness or edge stability. This is the perfect knife for those whose lives demand more than just an ordinary pocket knife. – Buy It
Cold Steel American Lawman
Cold Steel’s Recon 1 still remains one of our favorite everyday carry knives. It’s close relative — the American Lawman — provides much of the same features as it’s Recon 1 counterpart and is indeed a tactical knife worth adding to your EDC arsenal.
The American Lawman sports a CTS XHP Alloy steel blade for better edge retention along with a rust and glare resistant black DLC coating, a contoured G10 handle for a superior grip, and Cold Steel’s Tri-Ad locking mechanism that can stand up to the impact and shock of everyday carry. – Buy It
Zero Tolerance 0095BW Titanium Folding Knife
Smaller than most fixed blades and tougher than a sack of nails, Zero Tolerance’s new 0095 folder makes for one hell of an everyday carry knife. It’s solid titanium handles render it lighter than solid steel models without compromising overall strength, while an S35VN, harpoon-style steel blade maintains a sharper edge for longer than it’s S30V steel counterpart.
Additional features include a titanium frame lock with a hardened lock bar insert that secures the blade during heavy use, Zero Tolerance’s smooth and responsive KVT ball-bearing deployment system, and a reversible pocket clip that makes everyday carry a cinch for both left and right handed carriers. – Buy It
CRKT x Ruger 2-Stage Folding Knife
CRKT recently teamed up with American firearm manufacturer Ruger to create a line of knives purpose built for durability and functionality in a wide range of environments.
The 2-Stage folding tactical Knife in particular was designed by CRKT master knife-smith Robert Carter and features a four-inch, black stonewashed blade made from 8Cr13MoV Hardness 58-59 HRC Steel, a machined anodized aluminum and stainless steel handle, a frame lock, a 4-position clip, and an integrated flipper mechanism for simple, efficient blade deployment. Carry it alongside your Ruger LCP pistol and a versatile pocket tool for a highly functional everyday carry kit. – Buy It
Hardcore Hardware MILF Knife
Known for their blacked-out tomahawks, Australian-based Hardcore Hardware has now thrown their hat into the folding knife ring with the MILF-01 Tactical Folder. The knife features a modified drop point design made from CPM S30V steel for it’s proven strength and ability to hold a sharp edge. Additional features include a frame lock, a stainless steel frame with 3D textured G10 scales, a reversible pocket clip, and a removable stainless steel thumb stud that can be fixed to any one of the three integrated bevelled holes in the blade. – Buy It
Gerber Decree Tactical Folding Knife
The largest of their USA made tactical folding knife collection, Gerber’s Decree is a highly versatile, full-sized EDC knife and features a rugged, glass-filled nylon handle with a rubberized diamond texture for a secure grip in all weather conditions and an integrated steel tip glass breaker. The full size S30V steel modified tanto blade, deployed via a flipper mechanism, is protected by a corrosion resistant, non-reflective black ceramic coating. – Buy It
Tops Covert Anti Terrorism #203 Knife
Top’s tried and true Covert Anti-Terrorism series of knives have been diligently carried by military personnel, law enforcement officers, everyday carry enthusiasts, and fellow bushcrafters. The most popular C.A.T. knife to date, the C.A.T. #203 Knife, features Top’s newest Cryptic Cyber Scales G10 handle pattern, a black coated tanto point blade, and an easily concealable width that makes it a highly versatile tactical knife for everyday carry. Order yours today and see what all of the fuss is about for yourself. – Buy It
Gerber Propel Downrange Auto Knife
If you’ve been on the hunt for a serious knife to carry, this is it. Based off of the popular Propel AO Knife lsited below, the Gerber Propel Downrange Auto Knife sports a slimmer, more compact design without sacrificing durability or functionality.
The Propel Downrange Auto features one-handed blade deployment capabilities for when seconds count, along with a premium-grade, black oxide coated S30V steel blade, a G-10 composite handle for a superior grip in all weather conditions, a reliable plunge lock and safety switch that keeps the blade locked in open or closed position, and a three-way adjustable clip that is customizable to the knife’s orientation in your pocket or on your belt. If you’re serious about what you carry, then you seriously can’t afford to not carry the Propel Downrange Auto Knife. – Buy It
Benchmade BKC Bedlam Axis Folding Knife
Judging on looks alone, Benchmade’s BKC Bedlam Axis Folding Knife is the toughest tactical knife on this list. The specs aren’t too shabby either. It boasts a 154CM stainless steel blade, black G-10 handle scales, a reversible tip-up deep pocket clip, and and AXIS locking mechanism with ambidextrous thumb-stud openers. – Buy It
SOG Pent Arc Folding Knife
Because it was originally for regular carry by military and law enforcement personnel, you can expect that the new Pent Arc Folding Knife from SOG is going to be both reliable enough and more than durable enough to handle even the most extreme of situations.
The SOG Pent Arc Knife is a purpose-built folder with a VG-10 blade and an arc-lock for smooth operation and can handle security and defense tasks as well as your more mundane everyday cutting tasks. The sturdily built GRN handle comes standard with stainless steel liners for grip and durability. And at a weight of only 4.4 oz, this knife is perfect for everyday carry no matter what uniform you happen to be wearing. – Buy It
Smith and Wesson Border Guard 2 Rescue Knife
One of the more truly tactical knives on the list, the Smith and Wesson Border Guard 2 Rescue Knife serves many functions thanks to a 4.4-inch ComboEdge Tanto blade, an integrated thumb knob seat-belt cutter, glass breaker, liner lock, and aluminum pocket clip. – Buy It
Gerber Propel AO Tactical Knife
Gerber wanted to build a knife that would not only satisfy most every man’s everyday carry needs, but would also meet the tactical requirements of field personnel. After collecting input from seasoned military and law enforcement personnel, Gerber created what is now the Propel AO Tactical Knife.
A G-10 composite handle maintains a slim profile, a balanced feel, and houses the full-size 420 high-carbon steel, black oxide coated lockable blade than can be deployed when engaged at only 45 degrees. A three-way adjustable clip is also built into the Propel AO that is customizable to the knife’s orientation when in your pocket or on your belt. Carry it in your pocket everyday or on duty in the field. It won’t let you down. – Buy It
Spyderco Assist Black Blade
Although working in emergency services isn’t a requirement to carrying the Spyderco Assist Black Blade Knife ($84), the desire to be prepared in high-pressure situations is.
This seriously awesome tactical knife features an unbreakable blunt-tipped, toothed blade crafted from VG-10 material that easily slices through seat belts or any other fibrous obstacle, along with a rapid deployment Cobra Hood grip, a retractable carbide tip for breaking glass, and a survival whistle built right in to the handle. For when time is really short, a die-cut pattern on the inside of the handle allows you to quickly cut ropes or lines by simply squeezing the handle and blade together in your hand. – Buy It
SOG-TAC Mini Auto Knife
Sporting a slim, compact, and field ready design, the SOG-TAC Mini Auto Knife features an extremely fast blade travel, a safety button that double locks the blade in either the open or closed position, a partially serrated tanto-style steel blade, and a reversible bayonet style clip for carrying in your pocket. – Buy It
Contrast AO Knife
Weighing in at only 3.3 ounces, the Contrast AO Tactical Knife is comfortable enough for everyday carry in your front pocket, while a lightweight corrosion and rust resistant G-10 handle, Gerber’s advanced one-handed Assisted Opening 2.0 mechanism, and 3-inch smooth or serrated matte black finished steel blade ensure optimum performance when you need it most. – Buy It
Benchmade Mini Griptilian Knife
Benchmade has a solid reputation for crafting some of the best pocket knives available for purchase. A good example of this is their Mini Griptilian Knives. They boast a modified drop-point stainless steel blade with a corrosion and scratch resistant BK1 coating, a durable, spring-loaded AXIS locking mechanism, and a reversible pocket clip for carrying on your belt, in your pocket, or for stashing your folded cash. – Buy It
Kershaw Blur Glassbreaker Knife
This tactical knife by Kershaw is not only extremely functional, but was built to withstand most any abuse you can throw at it. The Sandvik-crafted, partially serrated recurve blade features a durable, glass-breaking carbide tip and is complimented by aircraft grade aluminum handles with Trac-Tec grip tape inserts for an improved grip and a SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism for easy one-handed opening. – Buy It
Al Mar Black Mini Sere 2000 Tactical Folding Knife
The Black Mini Sere 2000 Tactical Folding Knife by Al Mar is one of the more expensive knives on this list. None of us here have any personal experience carrying this particular knife, but we have found nothing but positive reviews from other online sources who have used it. It features a VG-10 Cobalt stainless steel blackened blade with a corrosion and scratch resistant ceramic coating, dual thumb studs, and a top-mounted black stainless steel Deep pocket clip. – Buy It
Schrade SCHA4BG Tactical Folding Knife
Having personally carried the Schrade’s tactical pen, we decided to include their tactical knife folding knife to this list. It features a black treated drop-point steel blade, a thick, aluminum handle with inlaid rubber grips, and a specially-designed spring-assisted opening feature with a backup safety lock. – Buy It
Zero Tolerance Blackwash Hinderer Flipper Knife
If the Zero Tolerance Blackwash Hinderer Flipper Knife wasn’t so well-made, we’d probably buy it anyway just because it looks so incredibly awesome. Made right here in the USA, it boasts a 3.75-inch steel blade with a tungsten DLC Blackwash finish, a titanium frame lock and lock bar stabilizer, a 3D machined, BlackWash finished G-10 handle with a titanium backing, a KVT ball-bearing opening system, a four-way reversible pocket clip, dual thumb studs, and a flipper. Someone mentioned recently that Chuck Norris personally carries this knife in his pocket, which never gets used thanks to his roundhouse kicks. Whether this is true or not, watch out for Chuck Norris, or just carry your own Zero Tolerance knife and learn karate. – Buy It
SL Pro 2 Tactical Knife
Although technically a knife, the SL Pro 2 Tactical Knife can just as easily be considered a multi-tool perfect for becoming lost in the woods with thanks to a solid steel construction, a built-in LED flashlight, an emergency whistle, a 3-inch partially serrated blade, and a magnesium alloy fire rod inside the detachable flashlight housing that can produce a shower of sparks at over 2500 degrees fahrenheit. – Buy It
Spyderco Pacific Salt Black Blade
Built specifically to meet tactical objectives on land or in water, the Spyderco Pacific Salt Black Blade Knife features a plain edged H1 steel blade coated in black carbonitride along with carbonitride treated internal steel parts that render the knife protected against rust and pitting even during saltwater use.
Additional features include a textured black fiberglass handle, an enlarged blade hole for easy one-handed opening, a reversible titanium pocket clip, and a lanyard hole. – Buy It
Covert Double Bevel Serrated Tactical Knife
If you’re going to bring a knife to a gunfight, this is your best bet. Designed by Colonel Rex Applegate of the U.S. Army, Gerber’s Covert Double Bevel Serrated Tactical Knife was designed for self defense applications during close-quarters combat and features a high carbon stainless steel blade with a titanium nitride coating, glass-filled nylon handles, a heavy duty pocket clip, and a patented Rotolock locking mechanism. – Buy It
Boker Plus Subcom Pocket Knife
Its definitely not the largest knife on this list, but what the Boker Plus Subcom Pocket Knife lacks in size, it more than makes up for in functionality and everyday practicality. It sports a fiberglass reinforced nylon handle, an ambidextrous thumb stud, both thumb and palm index ramps, and a black coated, partially serrated 1 7/8-inch long stainless steel blade. It measures in at only 4 1/2-inches long and 2.5 ounces, rendering it ideal as a money clip or as a standalone EDC knife. – Buy It
Gerber GDC Tech Skin Pocket Knife
While it’s small stature doesn’t help it in the tactical sense, many personally carry the GDC Tech Skin Pocket Knife, and for good reason. This little gem features a 2.5-inch drop point blade crafted from rust-resistant stainless steel, a lock back safety function, and a rubberized tech hide handle with additional thumb studs for optimum grip while cutting. When the knife’s blade is closed, there is absolutely no exposed metal, thus preventing it from scratching or otherwise damaging your phone or other gear you may be carrying in your pocket. – Buy It
Spyderco Sage Titanium Knife
Part of a series of knives honoring knife designer Chris Reeves, the Spyderco Sage Titanium Knife features his patented Reeve Integral blade-locking mechanism along with a stainless steel flat-ground spear-point blade, a solid titanium scaled handle that offers an optimum grip during use, a reversible wire pocket clip, and an ambidextrous round hole for one-handed blade deployment. – Buy It
MicroTech Mini Matrix Katana Flipper
The Mini Matrix Katana Flipper boasts a 3-inch reverse tanto blade, a smooth flipper opening mechanism, a blade-locking frame lock system, a special edition Katana two tone finish that gives the knife more of a “tactical” feel, and a weight of only 2.5 ounces that makes it ideal for everyday carry. – Buy It
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