No matter the mission, one of these sharp tactical knives can cut it.
Originally conceived for law enforcement and military and rescue personnel, tactical knives quickly found their way into the hands of those looking for a heavy-duty edged tool robust enough to withstand extreme use and abuse—and to do so without falling apart. Modern tactical knives are some of the most refined and precisely manufactured of cutters in terms of ergonomics, edge holding and price points, and the market is saturated with all the big names producing them in most all price ranges.
The CRKT Septimo Tactical Knife
CRKT is among the industry leaders in production tacticals that strike an outstanding balance between affordability and the most modern of designs. What’s more, the company has a great reputation for offering the biggest bang for the buck. Among its many forward-thinking designs is the Septimo tactical folder. Jeremy Valdez of Olalla, Washington, is an Army veteran who served with the 7th Special Forces. The primary inspiration for the Septimo—the name means seventh in Spanish, an homage to Jeremy’s brothers in the 7th—came from his tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2009. While there, he was aboard a helicopter when it crashed. The knife Valdez had on him at the time proved ineffective at cutting through various materials during the exit from the chopper carcass. Soon after, he set out to design a tactical folder that could fulfill multiple roles as a backup weapon and cutting and rescue tool. The Septimo is the result.
Jeremy’s design for CRKT has a 3.6- inch tanto blade of 8Cr13MoV stainless steel with a black oxide coating to bolster corrosion resistance and reduce glare. While it may seem you can thumb the blade open by the oblong hole, it actually is difficult to do so, which is why the blade has a flipper tab opener. A flick of your index finger is all it takes to deploy the blade quickly. The action is very smooth.
The blade’s most noticeable feature is the single large Ve serration close to the tang. The serration’s large tooth helps gather and hold the material in as it’s being cut, so it provides a lot of control. It severs webbing, cord, string, paracord, small diameter tubing and most anything else that fits inside it.
The ergonomic handle has T-6 6061 aluminum scales with textured TPR (thermoplastic rubber) inlays for grip enhancement. Two stainless steel liners provide the knife’s backbone. The linerlock engages securely. The clip is mounted to carry the closed knife blade tip up and as deep as possible in the pocket. Multiple grooves provide comfortable placement to wrap your fingers around the handle. A solid steel spacer anchors the rear of the handle and includes a lanyard hole. The Septimo is an ideal tactical folder for those in law enforcement and the military. Thanks to its distinctly angled tip, the tanto blade has a great reputation for penetration power. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is $69.99, making the CRKT folder an aaffordable workhorse that goes the distance.
SELF-DEFENSE TOOL: Halfbreed Blades CCK Tactical Knife
The Halfbreed Blades CCK (Compact Clearance Knife) series was developed as low-profile bladeware for fast-access self-defense situations. Designed for discreet carry, the series shares a common handle design but with varied blade patterns. The handle is very slender and features a ring at the end, which accommodates an index finger to lock in your grip. The top of the ring has an indentation to seat the thumb comfortably, as well as aiding in applying downward pressure on the blade. The CCK-03 Tuhon Raptor is one of the most distinctively shaped blades in the series.
Designed by Special Operations CQC instructor Jared Wihongi, the blade is designed to be implemented in multiple ways, including to trap and hook. The talon-shaped tip has a devastatingly eeffective ability to slash as well as thrust, with its slight hook implementing a gathering action. The main and top edges offer options of slashing in either direction. While most of the blade is sharp all the way around, a portion is unsharpened to incorporate a feature called a live edge identifier. It can be seen as a raised protrusion on the handle. You can use it to index the knife, that is, determine by feel which way the blade is oriented.
At 8 inches overall and sporting a 3.94-inch blade, the Tuhon Raptor has plenty of length to get the job done while remaining compact in nature. The D2 blade steel boasts a balance of toughness, edge holding and value pricing.The knife comes in three hues: black, desert tan and OD green. Each color permeates the knife with matching G-10 handle overlays. The injection-molded plastic sheath corresponds in color to match the knife. It is a single column design molded as one piece, not halves riveted together. The sheath is MOLLE compatible and there’s a Blade-Tech Tek Lok for those who prefer belt carry. The knife locks into the sheath very securely—no worries about it falling out accidentally. It locks with a firm and deliberate push.
Unlike the other two test pieces, the Tuhon Raptor is a single-purpose modern tactical knife. It is meant for self-defense and not as a utility tool. The handle design is not conducive for lengthy cutting in a traditional grip. However, in a pinch it can be used as a scoring tool or even to open packages and mail. Nonetheless, if you want to use the knife for self-defense, you should not subject it to any sort of utility use to preserve the sharpness of the edge. MSRP: $195. Halfbreed Blades also has a trainer model available if you wish to train with a realistic but unedged version. For an MSRP of $260, you can purchase the standard Tuhon Raptor and trainer together in one package.
SMALL, THICK, TOUGH: Fallkniven’s R2 Scout
Fallkniven’s R2 Scout is a smaller knife designed for users with littler hands, or for folks who just prefer a somewhat undersized blade. Meanwhile, it’s a myth that smaller knives cannot function as tactical tools. Smaller knives are just as capable, or maybe even more so, as their larger counterparts for certain tactical tasks. They can be just as strong as well.
At only 3.1 inches long, the R2’s drop point blade is .196-inch thick, which is quite thick for a short blade. The thickness is intentional to give the knife strength to withstand heavy duty tasks. The blade’s ELMAX Swedish stainless particle steel is known for superb edge holding, and its Scandi grind descends straight down to a sharp edge. This is known as a zero edge because there is an absence of a cutting edge bevel. What results is a blade that’s very sharp and easy to maintain.
The handle is Thermorun, a sturdy, grippy plastic with rubber-like properties. It has a coarse texturedfinish on the sides, which does a great job at preventing the handle from slipping out of your hand in adverse conditions. The sheath is equally well thought out, too. Molded of Zytel, it incorporates a webbing belt loop and an imaginative locking system that holds the knife securely. Activate the lock and the knife is guarded against accidental loss. You also can choose not to activate the lock, as the sheath otherwise holds the knife via an ever-present spring detent.
The sheath carries well on the belt and has freedom to move in case you sit down or snag it on something. The R2 is a workhorse of a compact fixed blade. The zero-grind edge has an incredibly aggressive bite. The blade is well suited for camp chores, food prep and carving/whittling utility jobs. As thick as the blade is, don’t be afraid to use it hard. Dig right in with it without worrying about the blade tip breaking or the blade bending. It withstands batonning well. Full-tang construction lends it a nice balance. Since the tang protrudes a bit through the handle butt, you can use it as a crushing tool. I found the texture of the handle to be just right; it gives a great grip in all conditions. With an MSRP of $273.95, the R2 Scout is pricey for its size but trust me—it’s worth it!