How To Choose The Right Tactical Knife

Here’s what to take into account to make the best choice when looking to buy a tactical knife.

  • Size
  • Type of Tang
  • Reputable Brand
  • Material of the Blade
  • Overall Weight
  • The Handle

More affordable knives have a separate blade and handle or a two-piece design in place of a tang. The best tactical knives will have what’s called a full tang. This is a knife, the blade of which extends in to the handle of the knife the full length. Experts advise against purchasing a knife with a hollowed out handle that allows you to store matches, for example. There isn’t enough to support the knife if its handle is hollow.


Avoid tang-less knives because they are usually the novelty type. Your tactical knife should survive heavy use. Some knives are even equipped with an extended tang so that the butt of the handle can be used as a hammer.

The Weight of the Knife 

Weight can vary a great deal. When choosing a knife, think about how you’ll carry it. Will it be in your pocket or hanging from your waist? For instance, weight doesn’t matter too much if you are going to carry it separately in a pack. Having the right weight is important to your overall comfort if the knife is going to be on your side for hours. Knives differ greatly in how heavy they are, so maybe test out some various knife weights and see what you like best.


Generally, knife blades are made either from carbon or stainless steel. The latter is great because it is durable enough to be used regularly, won’t rust when exposed to the rough elements, and will generally last a really long time. The disadvantage of stainless steel is that edge sharpness is lost faster than carbon steel and needs proper sharpening more often.

Carbon steel needs more maintenance in the way of blade coating or cleaning to prevent rust because it doesn’t have the corrosion-resistant elements of the other material. Don’t go for ceramic or titanium blades – the best tactical knives are made of either carbon or stainless steel.

The Size of the Knife 

When it comes to knives, bigger is not always better. If a good 5-9 inch survival knife will work, there’s no need to lug a machete around. It also depends on what you’re looking for. Will you store it in a bag or do you need an all around carry knife? For the latter, buyers need to make sure the weight and overall size is suitable for their waists or pockets.

The handle of the knife can be made of a variety of different materials, from plastic and polymer to hard rubber. It should fit in your hand comfortably and naturally. For grip and control, the handle should be grooved or knurled to fit your hand. A smooth or shiny handle makes the knife too slippery when working in wet conditions or with fluids. Again, don’t go for hollow handles and make sure the handle has some sort of texture for control.

The Design of the Blade Point 

Normal blades have a curved edge and a dull flat back. You can use your fingers or hand to apply additional pressure to improve the cutting force because the back is not sharp. Overall, this point is good for chopping or slicing. These knives are a bit heavier because the dull back adds a little weight to the blade.

The drop-point blade uses a convex curve on the back. This curve is less suited to piercing but provides greater strength than a clip point. A lot of modern pocket knives today have drop point blades because of their high effectiveness. The clip-point blade is formed when you clip the back of a normal blade, resulting in a thinner tip. This thin tip offers greater control and can be used to cut in hard to reach places.

The spear-point blade can be sharp on one or both edges, which is common for penknives. Normally, you will find spear-point blades on daggers and other knives designed for throwing or thrusting.

The tanto knive has a chisel edge that offers excellent strength. It was inspired by Japanese samurai swords, which were very good at piercing armor. Tanto knives can’t slice because they have no belly, but they make up for this with impressive tip strength that can penetrate almost anything. You’ll find Tanto blades are becoming quite popular in certain tactical knives.

The needle-point is also symmetrical, but it’s not very strong because it tapers much more sharply. Still, you can use it to pierce or penetrate effectively. This type of blade’s strong point is stabbing. This type of blade is mostly seen on daggers intended for close range combat just like the spear-point.

Finally, pen blade knives are usually smaller folding pocket ones that are similar to the spear point blade in shape, but with a more gradual curve. One side is dull, and the other – sharp, like you find on Swiss Army and similar pen-knives.

>> Further Reading: The Best Folding Hunting Knives: Survive In The Fields Better

Blade Thickness 

The final factor to consider is the thickness of the knife blade. According to experts, the blade thickness should be between 3/16 to 5/16 inches. Strength is great in full tang knives with a thicker than normal blade. They always feel very robust and sturdy. You never want any kind of bend or flex in your blade. Keep in mind a tactical knife is not the same as a fillet knife. Begin by asking yourself what you are going to be mainly using the knife for.

You need a thick blade if you want to be able to chop wood or pry things. Thin, flexible blades are not something you will normally see in a good quality tactical knife.

If you want to learn more about how to choose the right tactical knife yourself, here's a helpful video showing you how:

Our Last Word on Choosing a Tactical Knife 

How to select a tactical knife depends on how well you take all these factors into account. It’s a tough choice with so many different options and vast differences in knives. Understanding all of the features available on a tactical knife and how they combine to fulfill a specific purpose will help you in finding exactly what knife is best to purchase.

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