Best Tactical Knives: Rugged Beasts


Tactical Knives Remain Popular Every Year. A Mix Of Combat And Outdoor Knife, Tactical Blades Have Myriad Uses.

The tactical knife is a relatively new name for an old knife style.

The term “tactical” was first used as a way to describe the look of certain types of knives in the mid-1990s. These fixed blades and folders were knives with synthetic handles and non-reflective blades. Much of the aesthetics and marketing around tactical knives frame them as quick-use self-defense or combat options.

Of course, for the vast majority of people, having a knife fight in close quarters isn’t something that happens often if at all. But the look and feel of tactical knives have made them, and kept them, popular for decades.

Should I Buy A Tactical Knife?

If you’re the type of person who engages in intense outdoor activities like long, intricate hikes or remote camping trips, a fixed-blade tactical knife is a great tool. The knives are designed for hard use so if you live a rugged life then these tools are the perfect sidekick. 

Likewise, many consider them a self-defense tool. To be sure, for most these are not primary arms, but a backup option–more likely a backup to a backup option. Nevertheless, they are viable in this role for those trained to use them properly.

The knives have a military aesthetic and features designed to be used in intense situations. While the true combat role certainly doesn’t apply to civilian life, there are many people with outdoor hobbies that could use a knife designed for quick deployment in tough times. For those people, a tactical knife is perfect.

Best Fixed-Blade Tactical Knives


ka-bar usmc

It is arguably the most famous fixed blade in the world. The Ka-Bar USMC fighting/utility knife has served U.S. troops for decades and is still just as robust a combat/utility piece as it has ever been. At nearly a foot in length, the knife can be utilized as a hard-use camp tool thanks to its large size and cutting edge. 

The clip point blade is excellent at puncturing and slicing, and it’s durable thanks to being treated to a Rockwell hardness of 56-58 HRC. An added feature is the carbon steel butt cap, which is excellent for hammering/smashing thanks to its smooth, flat edge. The included leather sheath allows you to travel easily with the knife.

This is a granddaddy of tactical knives, and it’s still just as useful today as it was 80 years ago.

Ka-Bar USMC Fighting/Utility Knife Specs

Overall Length: 11.875 inches

Blade Length: 7 inches

Blade Material: 1095 Cro-Van carbon steel

Weight: 11.2 ounces

Handle Material: Leather

MSRP: $128.53

Gerber StrongArm

gerber strongarm

Gerber Gear makes some of the most exciting knives and tools on the market, but this fixed blade is a modern classic. The StrongArm has smooth lines and is Gerber’s best-selling fixed-blade knife for a reason.

The corrosion-resistant blade features a black ceramic coating and benefits from full-tang construction. Furthermore, the rubberized handle provides an excellent grip no matter the conditions. The knife is designed to go with you anywhere thanks to its MOLLE-compatible multi-mount sheath system. The striking pommel on the butt of the handle can be used as a glass breaker.

The StrongArm looks great, feels great, and works great. What more could you want in a knife?

Gerber StrongArm Specs

Overall Length: 9.8 inches

Blade Length: 4.8 inches

Blade Steel: 420HC stainless

Weight: 7.2 ounces

Handle Material: Rubberized diamond-textured grip

MSRP: $90

CRKT Ramadi

crkt ramadi

From CRKT, the Ramadi was designed by Darrin Williams Sirois, a retired sergeant major, and it’s the kind of reliable knife you’d expect a former non-com to design. The second-lightest knife on our list, the Ramadi is sleek and shines in all sorts of situations.

The knife’s full-tang construction helps it balance well, and the black powder coat on the blade improves corrosion resistance. The thermoplastic sheath is light and keeps the knife safe in transport.

The Ramadi may not be the biggest, but it is well put together. You feel that in your hand and see it when you work.

CRKT Ramadi Knife Specs

Overall Length: 8.5 inches

Blade Length: 4.37 inches

Blade Material: SK-5 tool steel

Weight: 5.6 ounces

Handle Material: G-10

MSRP: $87

Cold Steel Mini Tac Tanto

cold steel mini tac

We round out our list with a neck knife. The Mini Tac from Cold Steel is a short tanto blade that’s ridiculously light and portable thanks to the neck chain.

The Mini Tac might be small but it is mighty thanks to its Japanese stainless blade. The tanto-style blade provides a fine point and plenty of width for its size. Hence, the knife is quite versatile even though the blade is under four inches in length.

This piece is just as great at being a camp knife as it is being your trusty EDC. The Secure-Ex sheath rides comfortably on the neck chain and keeps the blade from falling out while going about your day.

Cold Steel Mini Tac Tanto Knife Specs

Overall Length: 6.75 inches

Blade Length: 3.75 inches

Blade Steel: Japanese AUS8A Stainless

Weight: 2.7 ounces

Handle Material: Griv-Ex

MSRP: $51.99

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