A tactical knife is designed for use in a range of situations, including camping, hunting, and, in some circumstances, self-defense. A high-quality tactical knife is essential for military personnel, police officers, and survivalists alike.
As all knife enthusiasts will know, it’s important to have a reliable, durable, and effective knife. Very few law enforcement agencies will provide their officers with knives, yet most would view such a tool as essential while on duty. We have compiled a list of 5 of our most highly recommended knives, followed by a comprehensive buying guide to set out what it is you should be looking for.
Best Police Knives in 2020
Below you will find our list of 5 high-quality tactical knives, each with a description and a list of pros and cons to help you find the best knife for you.
1. Gerber 06 FAST Tanto
Blade Length: 9.1″ | Overall Length: 8.6″ | Weight: 5.7 oz
The 06 FAST Tanto is a large, solid tactical pocket knife from Gerber. With a pointed, serrated blade, this tactical knife is ideal for cutting through dense materials such as rope. Equipped with ergonomic finger grooves, an assisted opening mechanism, and a small button to lock the folding knife in an open or closed position, this is a functional knife with all the characteristics of the very best tactical knives. Strong and lightweight, this Gerber model has a stainless steel blade which replicates a traditional Japanese Tanto shape.
- Highly durable and robust.
- Impressive price-to-quality ratio.
- Some Amazon users report that the safety lock can be a little awkward to use.
- Requires frequent sharpening.
2. Spyderco Tenacious Value Folding Knife
Blade Length: 3.39″ | Overall Length: 7.77″ | Weight: 4.6 oz
The Tenacious Value Folding Knife from Spyderco has a sharp, stainless steel blade with a non-reflective black coating. The combination of having a smooth edge and a serrated edge make this model stand out. Featuring Spyderco’s unique round hole on the blade and having the added feature of a textured spine, this knife is easy to use and performs well. Inside the handle are skeletonized steel liners which provide the handle with a rigid feel, all without adding weight and bulkiness. A liner lock and 4-position pocket clip make this a functional and effective knife.
- Has received an average rating of 4.6 stars from over 600 Amazon users.
- This knife is multi-purpose as it has both smooth and serrated edges.
- Several Amazon users view the fact that this knife is manufactured in China as a negative.
- The closing mechanism can initially feel a little stiff to activate.
3. Tactical 5.11 Tanto Surge Knife
Blade Length: 4.25″ | Overall Length: 8.85″ | Weight: 7 oz
The Tanto Surge was designed in partnership with world renowned blade expert Mike Vellekamp so if you’re looking for a high-quality fixed blade this is ideal. The fixed Tanto Surge from 5.11 Tactical has a sturdy black oxide coated stainless steel blade which has a flat grind and a plain edge. The handle is contoured for ease of use while holding and has handle panels to ensure a firm grip with or without gloves. The polymer sheath features two reversible Tek-Loks so that it can easily be attached to a belt, making this is a practical choice for police officers and military personnel.
- Sturdy and practical in its design.
- Excellent price-to-quality ratio.
- Has only received a small number of reviews from Amazon users.
- A small proportion of the Amazon reviews note that the sheath isn’t as good quality as others in its price range.
4. Columbia River Knife & Tool Hissatusu Folder
Blade Length: 3.875″ | Overall Length: 8.75″ | Weight: 5.80 oz
The Hissatusu Folding Tactical Knife from Columbia River Knife & Tool is one of the go-to mission tools used by Special Forces across the world. This knife comes equipped with automated liner safety which sets a pin between the locking liner and the frame to ensure it doesn’t become disengaged when in use. Shaped as a traditional Samurai clip point, the stainless steel blade is strong and resistant to corrosion. Despite its sturdiness, this knife is lightweight and features a glass reinforced nylon handle for durability.
- Has an average rating of 4.5 stars from Amazon users.
- Has a sharp, efficient blade.
- A small number of reviews note that the opening mechanism takes some practice to adjust to.
- Requires frequent sharpening.
5. Smith and Wesson Assisted Black Combo Blade
Blade Length: 3.6″ | Overall Length: 3.6″ | Weight: 3.5 oz
With a blade made from black stainless steel, the Assisted Black Combo Blade from Smith and Wesson is a dependable folding knife. With a lifetime warranty, you know you’ll be purchasing a high-quality product. Weighing 3.9 ounces and having a blade length of 3.2″, this knife is lightweight yet highly effective. Whether you’re a police officer or a hunter, the assisted opening paired with the convenient pocket clip makes this ideal for everyday use.
- Perfect for everyday use.
- Features a blade lock to prevent it from accidentally opening while kept in your pocket.
- Some reviews on Amazon report that this knife is a fairly bulky model in comparison with others in its price range.
- Although a personal preference, some users have disliked the gritty texture of the handle.
What Do Officers Need?
Below we have compiled a list of three pieces of essential equipment, followed by a buying guide for those who work in law enforcement.
Every police officer needs a reliable tactical flashlight. A tactical flashlight must be impact resistant and will generally have a wider and brighter beam in comparison to a regular flashlight. Manufactured using strong, durable aluminum alloy, tactical flashlights are waterproof so that they can be used in all weather conditions. Coming in a range of shapes and sizes, some may wish to opt for a pen flashlight as it provides a powerful light beam while being thin, lightweight, and portable.
Despite few law enforcement agencies providing their officers with knives, many would agree that it’s an essential tool. Although durability is an important factor when selecting a knife, it is by no means the most important feature. Investing in a high-quality tool will mean that it lasts longer, is easier to handle, and more effective when in use. Take a look at our buying guide below to help you work out which features you’ll require.
Some may prefer to go for a multi-tool rather than a tactical knife as this will provide the user with more options. These are also more likely to be in line with your agency’s policies. A multi-tool can comprise of a range of different tools; a cutting tool, pliers, wire-cutters, a bottle opener, and a screwdriver being the most commonly incorporated.
What to look for in a knife?
To make it easier when looking for the best knife for you, we’ve come up with a list of the main features to take into consideration before purchasing.
The blade shape and size is one of the most important considerations when buying a police knife. The tasks you plan on performing with the knife will determine the size; if you’re going to need to use the knife in confined spaces, a smaller blade will be more appropriate. Thinner blades will be ideal for tasks such as whittling if you’re out in the backcountry, whereas a thicker blade is likely to be more practical if you’re going to want to chop through rope, seat belts, or wood. Generally, you’ll find yourself choosing between a smooth blade or a serrated blade. If you’re likely to be cutting through tough materials, a serrated blade will make the task a lot easier.
There are a few factors to bear in mind when picking a knife with a handle suited to your needs. If you’re looking for a lightweight knife, a hollow handle is likely to be more appropriate. However, with a heavier handle, you’re going to have more control over the knife.
A number of the tactical knives we have listed above have a handle made for a good level of gripping. Most knives will have a contoured handle to make it easier to hold and this, combined with materials designed to ensure a stable grip, will make the tool easier to use. Rubber-based materials are beneficial for improving grip so keep an eye out for them.
The type of knife you need will depend upon what you intend on using it for. A switchblade knife is a knife where the blade is opened using a spring mechanism. These folding knives are generally easier to use and are considerably more lightweight than fixed blade knives. A fixed blade knife is thicker and larger in length when compared with a switch blade. The blade will usually be covered with a sheath and is a great choice for hunters.
Can I use the Knife to defend myself?
Many agencies have a zero tolerance policy towards their officers carrying knives for use as deadly force weapons. Depending on the policies enacted, officers may also not be provided with training in using a knife for self-defense. As undercover officers will often opt not to carry a handgun with them, a folding knife may be a good alternative as it’s more discrete. It will also be crucial to speak with the law enforcement agency you’re employed with to find out what their policy on the matter is and, if you’re able to carry a tactical knife with you, you must ensure that you have received adequate training in its correct use for self-defense.