Tactical or Non-tactical?


Super Moderator and KD Blade Show Boss
The “Tactical Knife” didn’t really come to fruition til around 9/11. With the surge on military activity and beginning resurgence of popularity in quality knives, every soldier (including myself) wanted a great knife to carry into combat. Back then, I thought I knew how to design a knife and sought out Jim Crowell, MS to commission a blade. I was quickly educated about what I didn’t know and why my attempts and designing a “tactical knife” flat out SUCKED. In reality, I probably could have sold a ton of them to Mall Ninjas. The day I met Jim Crowell and commissioned that knife was likely the single most important day in my knifemaking education and the beginning of a great friendship with an amazing knifesmith.

I stopped using the term “tactical knife” as it’s truly lost a professional meaning. Those who followed knives in the 80s and 90s will remember “Fantasy Knives”. Today’s Tactical Knife designs are for the most part nothing more than a resurgence of the Fantasy Knife trend in my opinion. One would assume that Tactical Knife would lend itself to practical combat applications, but most of what is being produced today in the name of “Tactical” would be more likely to injure you in a combat scenario than assist you.

just my $0.02


Well-Known Member
I agree it's common these days for "tactical" to be equated with "military," "survival," or "ninja cool." For me, to be tactical a piece of equipment must be practical, functional, simple, and foolproof as an anvil.

Another aspect of the tactical label, for me at least, is whether the knife is being used for its designed purpose. If I'm in the wilderness for a couple of weeks, a tactical knife would likely be fairly large. If I'm at work, in my office, then tactical is a small folder that fits in my pocket and has 2-3 blades. If I'm an accomplished whittler, then to me a tactical knife would likely be something very specifically designed for carving. I would call a filet knife tactical if being used to dress a fish, but not if I'm trying to carve wood with it. Anyway, that's my take on this "tactical" label.


Super Moderator and KD Blade Show Boss
For me, to be tactical a piece of equipment must be practical, functional, simple, and foolproof as an anvil.
Precisely my point. I’ve been ”down range” a few times. There’s a huge difference between “Tactical” and “Tactical-cool”. To be “Tactical” it must first be Practical for its intended application, it must be safe for the user to wield and should be comfortable for the user. 90° angles and hot spots on the handle should not exist. Funky grinds that are difficult to maintain with simple sharpening supplies should not exist. Most knives down range are tools, not weapons. They’re used to open boxes, cut cordage, cut tape, sometimes used to dig or pry and rarely used as weapons. To date, I am only personally aware of one knife made by a member here which was used to dispatch an enemy combatant. The design is pretty simple/straight forward and if I was asked if I would change it to fit me personally, 95% of the original design would remain.