Refined taste comes only with experience. The more tactical knives that you use, the better you know what you’re looking for. Still, there are a few things that should be considered with every tactical knife purchase, as we outline below.
Consider length, weight, and overall feel. Also notice the quality of fasteners—look to see how the knife is held together, and where it connects. Frequently used moving parts, such as a blade’s flip-open mechanism, are common areas of failure, so pay extra attention to quality at those points. Research the knife maker’s warranties, if any. Design quality comes with time; check out the manufacturer’s reputation and designers to get an idea of overall quality.
A good handle keeps the user safe by preventing inadvertent slips. When judging a tactical knife’s handle, look out for ergonomic features, such as ambidextrous blade switches. For instance, there are thumb switches on both sides of the
COAST DX355 knife, making it equally easy for right- and left-handed users to open the blade easily and instantly. What features has the knife manufacturer included for maximizing grip? The DX355 has a G10 handle with a checker pattern for grip; we also added thumb grips on the top of the blade, continuing to the handle frame. When shopping for a tactical knife, look for a handle material that won’t crack, swell, or shrink. Absorbent handle materials such as ivory, wood, and even Kraton will deteriorate over time, so it’s best to avoid them.
3. Blade Design.
It’s obvious that you’ll want to pay attention to a knife’s business end, its blade. High-end stainless steel is the industry standard in today’s tactical knife blades. Stainless steel does tend to dull over time, but we prefer it to carbon, which is more prone to rust. A strong tip is helpful, since it won’t easily break off. You may also want a serrated edge, which will continue to cut, even when the blade is dull. Serrated blades are also exceptional seatbelt cutters.
On the other hand, smooth blades are much easier to sharpen on the go. Finally, check the blade’s tang; this is the portion of the blade that extends down into the handle. A short, cheap tang makes it likely that your knife’s blade will break off just when you need it most.
4. Purpose for Knife.
Knife designers create knives according to the intended purpose. A blade for cleaning fish looks very different than a firefighter’s tactical knife. SWAT teams who knock down doors need very different knives than undercover cops. Therefore, when shopping for a tactical knife, it’s important to think about how you’ll want to use it. Will you want something that can flip open and closed for easier carrying? Or will a stronger fixed blade knife work better for your purposes? Once you know what you’re looking for, it will be much easier to narrow down knives. Or, you can choose a well-rounded knife, like the DX355 or the DX340.
You can tell a lot about a knife’s overall quality by analyzing its locks. Because they keep flip-open blades in position, locks are crucial for safe cutting. Recognizing this, we included double locking mechanisms on the DX340 knife. Our Double-Lock Safety Switch is also included in the DX355. A second back-up lock keeps the blade open, even when the Liner Lock has been mistakenly disengaged.
What other features would you insist shoppers look at when choosing a tactical knife? Comment below and let’s get the conversation started.