Whether selecting a tactical knife especially a folding knife for the first time or learning about one that was handed down to you, you need to know the basics so you can have the peace of mind knowing that you have the best one that is right for you.
Also read our post for choosing an outdoors survival kit.
What Is a Tactical Folding Knife?
The tactical folding knives are specialized knives that have one or more military characteristic and multi-tasking features. It basically used for utility, outdoor, rescue, or survival use. Those necessities can outspread from using it as an everyday carry gear for cutting a cable or opening a box or self-defense weapon in any extreme scenario.
Though a tactical folding knife is designed for utility use, not for use as a weapon, the terms tactical knife and fighting knife are frequently used interchangeably in popular uses. But as long as it is designed to meet the mil-spec for toughness and reliability, it’s a tactical knife.
Some critics of tactical folding knives claim that the design of tactical folding knives is not perfectly suited for individuals to fight when it is compared to fixed blade fighting or combat knives.
The very common nature of a tactical folding knife means that its blade will be deployed and generally has to be retrieved during a fight. Some knife fighter students point out that there are always some possibilities of failing in any kind of locking mechanism.
They also point out that a tactical folding knife, regardless of the strength of the lock, is not as reliable as a tactical fixed blade fighting knife.
In an article which was published in Black Belt magazine, Lynn Thompson, CEO of cold steel and a martial artist, mentioned that a tactical folding knife is too short as a fighting knife, though he sells, manufactures, and carries some of the best folding tactical knives. He also mentioned that a folding tactical knife is not the ideal knife for fighting.
What Is the Purpose of Your Best Tactical Folding Knife?
The first thing you want to think about is exactly what you will be using the knife for. Will you be using it for outdoor activities like camping, self-defense or any survival purpose?
Put all these things into consideration and make a list of features that you will want to look for. For every knife you use, you will want to keep its purpose in mind.
Consider the Overall Length of the Tactical Pocket Knife
A knife’s blade can range anywhere from two inches to eight and a half inches, although most of the knives you will find are made somewhere in between six inches and eight inches.
Choose the blade length for how you will be using it, although some find that the best length is around 7.7 inches. However, it depends on what it is being used for.
Selecting the Right Blade Core Material
Knives are generally made out of stainless steel or high carbon steel and will have specific alloy names. Almost every knife will come with a specification sheet that will list what compounds were used when making the blade and will have accompanying numbers.
If it doesn’t state what alloy was used, but instead says surgical or stainless steel, it is recommended that you do not pay more than thirty dollars for the knife.
Selecting the Blade Length
The first thing you have to do is to check what the legal length of a knife blade is where you live. After that, think about what you will be using it for. For instance, small blades are considered anything fewer than 2.75 inches long and are used for more intricate tasks.
Medium blades are anything between 2.75 and four inches long. They are big enough to handle more tasks, but still light enough to be easily carried. Large blades are over four inches long and can be used for self-defense.
Selecting the Blade Edge
There are various types of edges to a blade. There are the plain edge, the serrated edge, and the combination edge, all with their advantages and disadvantages. The plain edge is great for push cuts, and you will maintain better control to make more accurate cuts.
The serrated edge cuts tougher materials and is usually thinner. The combination edge takes the best of both worlds by making it plain at the front and serrated towards the back. Part of the blade can be used for more rigorous cutting and the other for simple push cutting.
Blade Number and its Performance
Depending on what you plan to use it for, the best knife can have one or as many blades as you need. They can come with tools. However, more is not necessarily better. Be sure to look into the knife’s performance first.
When one thinks of multiple blades, a Swiss Army knife always comes to mind. It can have as many as eighty-seven tools. They are among the most multi-dimensional pocket knives on the market today. These are best if you are a jack-of-all-trades.
There is also the multi-blade pocket knife. It can have anywhere from two to four blades and allows you to do more jobs. Finally, there is a single blade knife. These come in many shapes and sizes, they are all-purpose, and the focus is the design of a single large blade. It is stronger and can do more demanding work.
Considering the Best Tactical Folding Knife Handle
The first thing to think about is how big your hands are, and if you intend to wear gloves. This will determine the length of the handle. You want to be able to have a good grip and not have your hand too close to the blade, so make sure you hold it to see how it fits you, and how comfortable it is.
For the classic look, you will want to choose one of plastic, wood, or bone. A more modern look will have a sleek metal design. For a tactical appearance, you will want one made of composite or rubber.
Blade Opening Mechanism
It is important to know how fast the knife will open, because at best it could be a safety hazard, at worst life-threatening if you are using it for self-defense. However, if it is for everyday things, as long as you know how quickly it opens, speed is not that important.
There are many blade opening mechanisms. The manual opening knife is just that – you use your hands or a thumb stud to open it, although some knives have grooves that allow your nail to grip the blade to open it.
Some single-hand opening knives have a small hole in the blade that allows it to open quickly. Two-handed opening knives are generally opened by using your fingernail.
An automatic opening knife looks opens quickly with a press of a button. The assisted opening knife to open with your thumb pressed down, and then a spring releases the rest of the blade.
The Locking Mechanism
The locking mechanism prevents serious injuries by keeping the blade open, which prevents it from shutting accidentally. It also keeps it closed when you are carrying it.
The first of the basic locking mechanisms are the lock-back folding knife, which is one of the earliest and most basic of designs you will find. It is not good for something that requires one hand. There is a small notch in the handle for this.
The frame lock folding knife is easy to use in one hand and is very secure. It uses the handle to aid in folding the knife.
Finally, the liner-lock folding knife is the most common locking mechanism among modern knives now.
Everyone’s experience and preferences with knives will be different.
Whether you prefer an expensive blade or need one to suit the size hands you have, you will need to research every aspect to find the perfect knife for you.
Always remember what kind of purpose you have in mind for it, and that will guide you. When in outdoors you need to be able to protect yourself.