Best Brands for Tactical Knives

Some Knife Companies are Better for Emergencies than Others

There are a lot of knife makers out there now, but for some it’s more of an afterthought in an effort to attract and please the troves of wiry “self-defense” fans.

It’s important to make sure that when you’re shopping for ‘tactical’ knives, you don’t wind up with something whose sole purpose was to appeal to a certain demographic with a vaguely military style and a spear tip. It’s true that there are a lot of knives out there that look like they’re tactical, but they’re actually just loose pry bars once you try them out in a situation where you’ve got to cut rope quickly.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of knife businesses out there that put a lot of consideration into their tactical designs, developing a weapon that is actually helpful in a range of emergency scenarios not unique to simply “fighting”.

In my previous article, I wrote about the things to look for in a tactical knife, so I won’t go into it too much here. Basically, you want durable, comfy, and grippy, with rapid deployment, to say nothing of understanding what “tactical” circumstance you’re prepping for in the first place.

These are a few of the firms that prefer to employ trustworthy materials in that manner. Here are our top selections.

  • Buck Knives
  • Cold Steel
  • Gerber
  • Ka-Bar
  • Kershaw
  • Off-Grid Knives
  • SOG
  • Spyderco



An American-made product that is well priced and has a great reputation.


There are not many tactical knives available at this store.

Buck’s tactical knives are not particularly well-known among knife enthusiasts. It gained its name by producing excellent hunting knives and everyday carry (EDC) pocket knives. If you are in the market for a tactical knife, you should be aware that throughout the course of the last few years, the company has introduced a few new tactical knives that are worthy your consideration.



  • Length Over All: 10.5 Inches
  • Blade Length: 5.5″
  • Blade Steel: 5160
  • Style of the Knife: Spear point
  • Length of the Handle: 1.0′′
  • G-10 or Micarta may be used for the handle material (depending on color)
  • Grind: Flat
  • Build: Full tang fixed blade
  • Polypropylene and nylon were used for the sheath.
  • Ranging in price from $100 to $120

Within the little window of time that it has been on the market, the Buck GCK has shown extraordinary levels of demand. This should not come as a surprise given that it is a high-quality tactical knife that also has some respectable qualities as a survival knife. When Buck Knives was creating and testing this knife, they conferred with members of special forces, and the results are clear to see.

After acquiring and putting one of the GCKs through its paces a year ago, here at Nothing But Knives, we were so happy with it that we placed an order for a second one right away. The grips of the GCK are textured and ergonomic, and the blade, which is made of 5160 steel, strikes a good balance between how well it holds an edge and how easily it can be sharpened.

In spite of the fact that its reputation for violence is not in question, this knife performed well in our testing of bushcraft and survival applications.



  • Length Over All: 10.25 Inches
  • Blade Length: 5.75″
  • Blade Steel: S35VN
  • Blade Style: Clip poit
  • Handle Length: 4.5″
  • Micarta is used for the handle material.
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Build: Full tang fixed blade
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Between $189 and 199 is the price range

The first model of the Buck 119 was released more than sixty years ago, and ever since it was first made available, it has enjoyed widespread acclaim among both civilian and military users. Recently, Buck has made the decision to update the 119 by changing the material of the handle to micarta and upgrading the steel to S35VN.

The final product is a fantastic knife with a tried-and-true tactical design that has improved edge retention and a more robust grip as a consequence of this project. In spite of the increased cost, we have been putting the newly enhanced Buck 119 through its paces for some time now, and we must say that we are very pleased with the new version.



Tough builds and grippable handles


Overbuilt and poorly balanced knives are common

They have established a name for themselves in the industry by manufacturing very durable knives and producing humorously inept films about them. Although I take great pleasure in making fun of the firm, there are several of their knives that earn my grudging admiration.

They make the handles out of some of the highest-quality materials that I often come across in other manufacturers of tactical knives. Cold Steel distinguishes out from other knife manufacturers as having handles that are grippier on average than any other brand, particularly for bigger blades. Cold Steel hunting knives are among the best at this.

COLD STEEL BLACK BEAR BOWIE is the band’s name.

  • Length Over All: 17.75 Inches
  • Blade Length: 12.0″
  • Blade Steel: 1055
  • Blade Style: Clip point
  • Handle Length: 5.75″
  • Handle Material: Polypropylene
  • Grind: Scandi
  • Build: Hidden tang fixed blade
  • Sheath: Cor-Ex
  • The price range is from $25 to $30

When proposing this… “knife,” it might be difficult to maintain a straight face. It is not a feasible choice in any circumstance that does not demand you trek into an extremely remote part of the woods. It is difficult to use, the edge is a bit sloppy, and it is difficult to distribute it in a timely manner.

Nevertheless, it is a weapon of coercion. In essence, it is a baseball bat with a blade, and while I wouldn’t want to have it with me for the majority of different types of rescue scenarios, I feel unreasonably safer when I’m hiking with it by my side.


  • Overall Length: 10.75″ Blade Length: 6.0″
  • Blade Steel: SK-5, CPM-3V, or San Mai
  • Blade Style: Clip point
  • Handle Length: 4.75″
  • Kray-Ex polymer is used for the handle’s construction.
  • Grind: Flat
  • Build: Fixed blade
  • Sheath: Polymer
  • $40–$45 is the price range

There are several Cold Steel tactical knives available, and I’m not going to argue that the SRK is the “best Cold Steel tactical knife” since there are so many other possibilities. It doesn’t have any tricks under its sleeve, therefore I’d suggest it.

Cold Steel is an industry leader in the production of very hard materials; nevertheless, sometimes, the company gets carried away with its military hardware and fashions it into bizarre forms that are ineffective. This is a large, sturdy blade with a powerful clip point that may be used for a multitude of purposes in addition to self-defense.


  • Overall Length: 6.75″ Blade Length: 3.75″
  • Blade Steel: AUS-8A
  • Blade Style: Tanto
  • 3.0 inches of handle length
  • The handle is made of polymer.
  • Grind: Flat
  • Build: Full tang fixed blade
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • $20–$25 is the price range.

This is an efficient design that has a robust construction. This is, in my opinion, one of the best tanto blades (although they also make a bowie Mini Tac). The Mini Tac is an excellent choice for a neck knife because of its speedy deployment and somewhat comfortable ergonomics.

In the event that you have your hold on it, and once you are set on it, there is a very small risk that the thing will slip from your hands to the other side, although its aggressiveness may impede you a bit when you’re slapping it against your chest. After you have gotten accustomed to how to hold it, there is virtually no chance that you will slip.



Sheaths with a good design and are very cost-effective


The use of cheaper materials

Gerber has put considerable work into designing knives for the military, and despite the fact that some of their products may be subpar, it is evident that Gerber understands what kind of blades a certain set of individuals desire and utilize. 

They are strong knives that are extremely cost-effective, even if some of their more aggressive designs are only gimmicks. This is assisted quite a deal by the fact that they use a somewhat quality 420 steel on all of their products. It is of much more significance that Gerber gives more consideration to the sheaths and the manner in which we carry knives.


  • Overall Length: 9.75″ Blade Length: 4.875″
  • Blade Steel: 420HC
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Length of the Handle: 1.0′′
  • Handle Material: Rubber
  • Grind: Flat
  • Build: Full tang fixed blade
  • Sheath is made of a polymer that is compatible with MOLLE
  • The prices range from $70 to $90

The Gerber StrongArm is the product that most shows the brand’s commitment to its military look. However, the appearance is about more than simply marketing. This is not a survival knife, it’s a tactical knife (in the sense that you’d call it tactical over survival). You can go through a lot of different predicaments successfully if you have a decent slab of 420 steel with a rubber grip and a versatile sheath.


  • The overall length is 6.75 inches, and the blade is 3.12 inches.
  • Blade Steel: 420HC
  • The drop point is the kind of blade.
  • Handle Length: 3.63″
  • Stainless steel makes up the handle, and the grip is rubber.
  • Grind: Flat
  • Build: Skeletonized
  • Modular GFN sheath: sheath
  • The price range is from $45 to $60

The fact that I dislike this knife cannot be emphasized enough, yet I have no choice but to acknowledge its possible uses. The cliff notes version of this item is that it is capable of doing everything but does nothing particularly well. Because its versatility is one of its selling points, the sheath that comes with the Ghostrike is the one I would suggest most strongly. However, the knife may get you out of a jam when you’re in a bind.



Designs of tough quality and practicality


Designs have a tendency to seem repetitive.

It’s possible to compile a fairly lengthy list of excellent Ka-Bar tactical knives. They rose to prominence as a result of their work designing military knives, and the company has largely maintained the same mentality that led to the conception of the very first USMC Bowie. Since then, they have acquired the Becker Knife & Tool brand and have produced a large number of remarkable fixed-blade knives that are intended for (and often created by) persons performing potentially hazardous tasks in the outdoors.

Many of their designs emphasize functionality while maintaining a minimal aesthetic. Although they produce the occasional knife that is maybe too large or imbalanced for its own good, Ka-Bar and Becker are, on the whole, arguably the most trusted mainstream brands to go to if you’re looking for a tactical knife.


  • Length Along the Entire Surface: 5.625″
  • Blade Length: 2.31″
  • Blade Steel: AUS-8A
  • Drop point is the kind of blade. (there are many different styles)
  • Handle Length: 3.32″
  • Handle Material: Zytel
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Build: Fixed blade
  • Sheath: Polymer
  • Price Ranging Between $30 and $40

This is a back-up blade that was built precisely to be simple to pack and hide, as well as quick to deploy when needed. There are many various ways to carry it because of its small size and the simplicity of the sheath, however I’ve heard that the one that is most often recommended is carrying it within the waistband of one’s jeans.

Ka-Bar has also created dozens of different TDI models with different blade styles, lengths, and materials, making it one of those cool models that is easy to use and adapt. Taking advantage of this neat model that is really adaptable and easy to use, Ka-Bar has designed it.


  • Length Across the Board: 12.75 Inches
  • Blade Length: 7.0″
  • Blade Steel: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Blade Style: Clip point
  • Handle Length: 5.75″
  • Handle Material: Zytel
  • Grind: Flat
  • Build: Fixed blade
  • Sheath: Nylon
  • Price Ranging From: $100

I would consider any of the variations of the USMC Bowie, for which Ka-Bar produces approximately thirty different variants, but recommending It’s a Wonderful Life to someone who is looking for a good World War II movie would be like recommending Saving Private Ryan to someone who is seeking out a good war movie: if you’re seeking a good movie, you already know about it.

The products that are manufactured under the Becker brand are often more focused on adventure and survival than they are on particular forms of warfare; yet, the majority of these products are created by Ethan Becker, who is an enthusiastic outdoorsman and martial artist. They have an extraordinarily durable 1095CroVan steel and MOLLE compatible sheaths to make these knives suitable for use in a variety of environments, the majority of which are found in the wilderness or in deployed military situations.



Rapid deployment, high-quality production


There are no tactical possibilities with a fixed blade

Because Kershaw prefers to build folders, the company does not provide a large number of authentic tactical alternatives; nonetheless, the decent options that they do produce are not only durable and helpful, but also highly cost-effective.

It should come as no surprise that Emerson’s name is featured prominently on all of the excellent tactical designs produced by the Kershaw brand. Kershaw’s production is fairly flawless, particularly for a budget brand, which is surprising given that the real tactical use of the knife may not be on par with something like the Gerber StrongArm.


  • Length Across the Whole: 7.75 Inches
  • Blade Length: 3.25″
  • Blade Steel: 8Cr13MoV
  • Blade Style: Tanto
  • Handle Length: 4.5″
  • G-10 is used for the handle material.
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Create a folder with a frame lock.
  • Tip-up clip is the carrying system used.
  • $30–$50 is the price range.

Given that the CQC designs are, with the exception of size, almost identical to one another, it would be strange to advocate one above the other. The fact that all of them were intended to be quickly deployed is the most significant factor.

Once they are removed, you will still be carrying a folding knife, which is not optimal in the majority of “tactical” scenarios; nonetheless, speed is sometimes one of the most critical elements to consider.



The prices are very good, the designs are very versatile, and the durability is excellent


The fixed blades by off-Grid are not good tactical weapons, but they are excellent bushcraft weapons.

Here at Nothing But Knives, we can’t get enough of the Off-Grid series. They are most known for their hard-use, camping, and bushcraft-style knives, but in recent years, they have expanded their product line to include some really impressive tactical designs as well.

Large ergonomic handles that are comfortable to hold and simple to grasp are one of the design elements that set Off-Grid knives apart from other brands. Because it is simple to maintain a solid grasp on them even when they are wet, they are an excellent option for use in precarious circumstances.

One further advantageous feature of Off-Grid knives is that the blade styles of a number of the brand’s models provide users a choice that is suitable for either military-style or everyday use. They are an excellent option for work knives that, in the event that things go chaotic, may need to double as tactical tools.


  • Length Over All: 9.2 Inches
  • Blade Length: 4″
  • Blade Steel: D2
  • Clip Point/Reverse Tanto is the Type of the Blade.
  • Handle Length: 5.2″
  • G-10 is used for the handle material.
  • Grind: Flat
  • Lock: Liner
  • A Pocket Clip That Can Be Used Either Hand
  • Price Range, Starting at $89

When compared to its current price of fewer than one hundred dollars, the Enforcer XL has some rather outstanding specifications. The blade is made of D2 steel and is 4 millimeters thick; despite its thickness, it cuts like butter. In point of fact, if we want a folding knife for use in the preparation of meals when camping or hiking, we almost always choose the Enforcer XL.

The fact that it is of a bigger size comes with a glass breaker, and has a reverse tanto blade that looks menacing tells you that it was created to do duties that are more difficult than meal preparation.


  • Length Across the Whole: 7.6 Inches
  • Blade Length: 3.5″
  • Blade Steel: D2
  • Clip Point is the Blade Style.
  • Handle Length: 4.1″
  • G-10 is used for the handle material.
  • Grind: Flat
  • Lock: Liner
  • A Pocket Clip That Can Be Used Either Hand
  • Price Ranging From $79

The Off-Grid Caiman is a fun little Bowie-style folder that is a fairly nice alternative for a tactical knife. The Caiman comes in at just under four inches overall. The tactical advantages of a blade in the Bowie style have been shown throughout the course of time, and as a result, we were pleased to see Off-Grid add the Caiman to its selection of knives.

We put the Caiman through a series of rigorous tests over the course of a few weeks, and we were pleased with its resilience, as well as the blade’s easy opening and the handle’s exceptional tackiness. The Caiman is an outstanding tactical and hard usage pocket knife, but in the future we are expecting to see Off-Grid produce a version of this knife with a fixed blade. In the meantime, though, the Caiman is a fantastic option.



Overall, the design is strong, with a clear and practical function


Poor build quality at lower price points, or a high price tag

In general, I find that SOG makes too many claims for me to genuinely put my faith in the majority of their tactical knives. However, none of the other large knife makers make an effort to produce tactical gear as often as they do, which means that statistically speaking, they have to have a few decent designs, right?

When something like this occurs with SOG, it is often due to the fact that they have recruited a military thinker who has an idea based on problems he has seen in the field. Therefore, all of their high-quality tactical knives are designed from the ground up with certain precarious circumstances in mind during the whole construction process.


  • Total Length: 9 5/8 Inches
  • Blade Length: 4.85″
  • Blade Steel: AUS-8
  • Blade Style: Clip point
  • Handle Length: 4.65″
  • Handle Material: GFN
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Build: Hidden tang fixed blade
  • Nylon or Kydex sheaths that are compatible with MOLLE
  • The price range is from $65 to $90

In all honesty, the design of the Seal Pup is not something that really appeals to me, which is why I am drawn to the Aus-8 steel that it is made of. I mean, it’s nice and all, but it just gives off the impression that it’s trying too hard. However, the blade itself is durable and razor-sharp, and the sheath has through a great deal of iteration in order to get a design that is user-friendly and simple to carry.


  • Length Over All: 11.0 Inches
  • Blade Length: 6.4″
  • Blade Steel: AUS-8
  • Blade Style: Clilp point
  • Handle Length: 5.4″
  • Leather was used for the handle material.
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Build: Full tang fixed blade
  • Sheath: Leather
  • The price range starts at $150

Given the asking price, the latest iteration of the combat-proven SOG Bowie should be pretty damn excellent as a knife, but it really is pretty damn good. The sturdy clip point and ample hand guards provide it lots of additional applications, although I believe their aim was more to protect themselves from the elements than to engage in any kind of combat. That is one of the advantages of maintaining the Bowie knife’s shape as closely as possible.



Material and manufacturing of the highest quality, specifically designed and engineered


Often very expensive, but not very tough

Spyderco has a penchant for oddball designs, which, for the most part, does not make for a very effective tactical design; yet, when they do hit the mark, they strike it dead in the middle. They do have a Bowie, and while I was tempted to place it here, I decided against it since it is so pricey that it may be considered a display piece. There is no question that it functions well as a tactical survival tool, but who wants to get a blade that costs $400 dirty?


  • Total Length: 9 5/8 Inches
  • Blade Length: 4.0″
  • Blade Steel: CPM-S30V
  • Blade Style: Clip point
  • Handle Length: 5.5″
  • G-10 is used for the handle material.
  • Grind: Flat
  • Build: Liner-lock folder
  • A tip-up clip is the carrying system used.
  • Between $190 and 200 is the price range.

It is important to note that the Spyderco Military is not the same as the Paramilitary; it was designed to be light, robust, and sharp without much of the fantasy fancies that Spyderco designers sometimes indulge in. The Spyderco Military was supposedly constructed with military deployment in mind. It is designed for crisis situations, but not necessarily for putting down crisis situations.

It is curved to prevent the knife from sliding down the hand while making violent movements, and the large blade and sharp edge make it a rather terrifying weapon to be confronted with, so having it on hand is absolutely useful in an emergency. Given that it is a liner lock and that it is made of a very strong steel, it really shouldn’t be your first option. However, it is resilient enough to withstand an extended period of severe weather, and the rim is not going away in the near future.


  • Length Over All: 9.33 Inches
  • Blade Length: 4.49″
  • Blade Steel: H11
  • Drop point is the kind of blade.
  • Handle Length: 4.84″
  • Material Used for the Handle: FRN
  • Flat with complete serration on the grinding surface
  • Build: Hidden tang fixed blade
  • Sheath: Polymer
  • Price Ranging From 175 Dollars

Because it was intended for use by paratroopers, this knife was made to be lightweight and simple to carry. Its primary use is to cut rope. As such, it is more suited to being used for search and rescue than anything else, but due to the high skeletonization and use of the extremely tough steel H1, it is pure from nature for enduring harsh environments for extended periods of time. When I initially saw it, I assumed it was a diving knife, but even if that wasn’t its intended use, I don’t believe its form would prevent it from being effective in this context.


  • Length of the Whole: 7.875 Inches
  • Blade Length: 4.125″
  • Blade Steel: CTS-BD1
  • Wharncliffe is the blade style.
  • Handle Length: 3.75″
  • G-10 is used for the handle material.
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Build: Full tang fixed blade
  • Sheath: Boltaron
  • The price range is from $100 to $110.

This is just one of the numerous tactical designs that Michael Janich has created for Spyderco. He prefers the Wharncliffe blade because, in his opinion, it slashes more cleanly at speed and either offers a more comfortable stance for the hand or produces more accurate striking as a direct consequence of that posture. That is to say, the focus of this design is mostly on the aspect of battle.

I Since I do not understand the CTS-BD1 steel, I won’t pretend to know much about it. It is said to be very resistant to corrosion and to be melted in a vacuum, according to the report. This, in conjunction with the full-tang construction and the slabs of G-10, results in a knife that is rather robust.

Conclusion of Best Brands for Tactical Knives

There are many different brands of tactical knives on the market, and it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. Generally, tactical knives may be classified as being good for hunting in those that offer a good balance between quality and value. This category includes brands such as Gerber, Kershaw, and SOG.

You should consider what you will use the tactical knife for when choosing one. If you need a knife for self-defense or other aggressive purposes, you’ll want to choose a model with a strong blade and a robust handle. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a knife to use for everyday tasks like opening boxes or cutting rope, a lighter model with fewer features may be a better option.

No No matter what your requirements are, you can find the perfect tactical knife. With so many great brands to choose from, finding the right one is just a matter of doing some research and finding the model that best suits your needs.

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