The Cutting Edge

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10 Best Tactical Knives

With 2020 behind us, sports enthusiasts, outdoorsmen (and women), and those interested in tactical gear set their sights on the best 2021 has to offer.

In this guide, we take you on a deep dive into the best tactical knives of 2021. From work to recreation and play to even self-defense, the right gear can make all the difference.

Find out why knife enthusiasts are raving about this year’s top picks.

In no particular order, let’s dig in…

1. Spyderco Yojimbo

Conceptualized by Michael Janich, the Spyderco Yojimbo was created with features engineered to make this knife a primary contender in the tactical combat knife category. From tip to heel, this blade delivers reliable and powerful performance, slicing through even the toughest of materials. The ergonomically designed grip enables the user to derive maximum leverage safely and effectively while also accommodating a range of tactical grip options for self-defense.

Notable Facts / Specs:

  • Ergonomic non-slip G-10 handle
  • Generous 3.125” CPM-S30 Wharncliffe Blade 
  • Lightweight, coming in at 4oz on the scale
  • Proudly made in the USA

2. Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K D2

The Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K D2 represents the best of a match made in blade-heaven. The love-child of a collaboration between Kershaw and Emerson Knives brings us a blade featuring some of the best each brand has to offer, all at an affordable price tag.

The blade boasts a classic clip-point reminiscent of a tanto blade, representing a classic and time-tested design that is highly capable and durable. This design offers plenty of edge, a capable tip point, and a good belly, all mated to a hollow grind.

The handle is a standard G-10 scale with a stainless-steel liner and is built with a solid framework, giving it a durable and tough feel. Deep finger grooves enhance grip capability and reduce the risk of slippage during use, while a standard back clip makes the blade easy to strap inside of a pocket or on a belt. 

The biggest complaint we had was its weight and size. The knife is moderately thick and clocks in at around 5oz. For some, this may be a bit much for an EDC (every day carry), but for others, it might not be an issue at all.

Notable Facts / Specs:

  • Ergonomic G-10 handle
  • Solid construction and strong build feel in the hand
  • A bit heavy at 5.1oz (and thick too)
  • Stainless steel frame lock
  • Tanto shaped blade
  • 7.75” overall length (3.25” blade)

3. Cold Steel Recon 1

As knife enthusiasts ourselves, we appreciate when a brand makes an effort to uniquely meld practical features with innovative design elements and tactical specs (just in case). When it comes to versatility, the Cold Steel Recon 1 hits the spot and is deserving of a feature in this ‘best of’ series.

Made from AUS-8A stainless steel, forged with a specialized heat-treating and quenching method, this blade is quite adequate for most user’s needs. That said, for those looking for something stronger, Cold Steel now offers this same blade using CTS-XHP steel.

The grip is ergonomically designed and has a good feel in hand, while the G-10 laminate provides a good bit of resistance to slippage. 

The knife’s two most notable (and innovative) features are the Tuff-Ex blade finish and the Tri-Ad locking system. 

The Tri-Ad locking system utilizes a unique ‘stop pin’ engineered to redistribute force, along with a pressure-reducing tang. Together, these features make lock failure near impossible.

As for the Tuff-Ex finish, this design feature gives the knife a high-tech military special ops appearance while functionally reducing rust and providing an element of lubrication for reduced friction when cutting.

Notable Facts / Specs:

  • Tuff-Ex design finish for style and performance
  • Tri-Ad locking system is virtually fail-proof
  • Versatile and capable
  • Available in multiple blade lengths: 4”, and micro (3” and 2”)
  • Total length 9 3/8”
  • Weight: 5.2 oz
  • Available in tanto, spear, or clip points

4. Spyderco Military


Today’s law enforcement officers, military, private guards, and defense contractors require high-quality gear built to get the job done right, without fail. When life is on the line, these professionals and savvy citizens need a blade they can depend on in a wide range of situations.

With that in mind, Spyderco conceptualized and developed the Spyderco Military knife, designed to meet the evolving and sometimes rugged needs of tactical environments outback survival.

The knife is initially most notable for its size, with an overall length of 9.5” and a blade length of 4”. Yet despite its size, the blade is surprisingly light, weighing only 4.2oz. This unique combination makes it easy to wield in tactical or self-defense situations, yet sturdy and large enough to get the most challenging of jobs done.

The blade features a traditional drop-point design, modified to offer an effective yet elegant cutting surface that is both utilitarian and aesthetic. Other features include a full flat grind, 1/8” blade stock, and an unreinforced tip.

The handle is appropriately large, outfitted with a thumb ramp to create a secure grip and an ergonomic wrist angle that is comfortable for the user.

Early blade material wasn’t the best, but as of 2004, Spyderco started to outfit the Spyderco Military with the highly popular CPM S30V, which really brought up the quality of steel.

One notable aspect of this model is the ability to customize the product to your liking. The model is available in a wide range of options, from steels to handle colors and materials.

Notable Facts / Specs:

  • Signature Spyderhole 
  • Fast deployment via an oversized thumb hole
  • Solid clip
  • Good grip
  • Generous 4” blade
  • Large overall size 9.2”
  • Lightweight (especially for a knife of this size)
  • Good blend of practical and tactical 
  • Made in the USA

5. Kershaw Launch 6


This all-purpose tactical folder brings something new to the lineup of knives in this review: automatic action! 

But fast action and quick access isn’t the only thing the Kershaw Launch 6 brings to the table. Compelling design, a high-performance build, and DLC coated steel blade featuring a generous cutting edge make this knife a must-have.

Despite housing a 3.75” blade, this knife weighs in at a light 3.8oz. thanks to a sleek and ergonomic aluminum handle build. 

Notable Facts / Specs:

  • Made in the USA
  • Push-button blade assisted open
  • Accidental firing ring
  • Machined aluminum handle 
  • CPM-154 steel blade
  • Great edge retention
  • Tough guild
  • DLC coating to prevent corrosion 
  • Overall length 8.7”
  • Blade length 3.75”

6. CRKT M16-10KS

The CRKT M16 from Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT) offers a battle-tested design platform that is simple, efficient, and durable. Affordable and tough, this blade is one that everyone from knife enthusiasts to outdoorsmen will want in their collection.

The knife features a contoured handle shaped to provide a grip reminiscent of true M16 style. With handles finished in a traditional black oxide finish, this knife is available in several blade configurations to meet your needs.

Notable Facts / Specs:

  • Hollow grind
  • Carson Flipper 
  • Blade HRC 58-59
  • Traditional framelock mechanism 
  • 3” blade length 

7. Gerber Prodigy


At first glance, the Gerber Prodigy reveals its hand as a tactically designed blade that is as capable as it is ergonomic. Made from 420 HC Stainless steel, the fixed-blade knife clocks in at 9 ¾”, featuring a black powder-coated drop-point blade with partial serration.  

Outfitted with a soft yet sturdy rubber coating, the handle provides ample grip with a comfortable feel, sporting both a lanyard hole and quillions. 

Notable Facts / Specs:

  • Tactical/survival design 
  • MOLLE compatible ballistic nylon sheath included
  • Sturdy
  • Comfortable rubber grip
  • Full tang design
  • Partial serration 
  • 420 Stainless Steel
  • Full length 9 ¾”
  • Blade Length 4.75”

8. CRKT Clever Girl

A knife that looks as good as it performs. When things get ugly, the Clever Girl gets the job done while looking like it came right out of a magazine.

Featuring a fixed tactical upswept blade, this knife is the perfect companion for tactical situations as a capable blade or a serious psychological deterrent to would-be attackers.

Boasting a sleek black powder-coated blade, the ergonomics of this model scream form and function, while the G10 handle provides ample grip for quickdraws and fast action.

Notable Facts / Specs:

  • Upswept powder coated blade
  • Blade length 4.6”
  • G10 handle
  • Glass fiber nylon sheath included
  • Made from SK-5 Steel
  • Capable and ergonomic

9. Benchmade Infidel


Targeted towards those with tactical experience, paramilitary, military, and law enforcement, the Infidel’s hallmark feature is its fully-automatic classification. It is also what makes it illegal to carry in some states, meeting the definition of both a dagger and switchblade (so check your laws first).

The knife’s double-action mechanism means that it can be both deployed and retracted automatically. If lightning-fast, safe access to your blade is a necessity, this blade has you covered.

Notable Facts / Specs:

  • Weighing just 5 oz.
  • Available in multiple models with varying options
  • Dual plain edge or BK1 tactical black-coated blades available 
  • Partially serrated options
  • 3.9” blade length made from D2 Tool Steel (60-62 Rockwell)
  • 8.9” overall length
  • Machined ambidextrous 6061 T-6 aluminum handle (available in multiple colors)
  • Double-action “out the front” auto-deployment

10. Gerber Covert

The Gerber Covert is an evolutionary step up from the famed Applegate-Fairbairn folding knife, featuring a robust liner lock release.

Engineered to be perfectly balanced, this knife has a great hand feel and a capable partially-serrated 154CM steel blade for handling whatever life throws your way.

An oversized release button makes deployment a breeze even when wearing work gloves, while a front-mounted safety ensures you never have to worry about misfires. As for the grip, users will enjoy a scaled GFN grip to eliminate slippage.

Practical, durable, and comfortable, this knife brings a lot to the table.

Notable Facts / Specs:

  • Impressive balance
  • Rapid deployment
  • 154CM steel blade
  • Made in the USA
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Full length (open): 8.7”
  • Blade length: 3.78”
  • Stainless steel black oxide finished clip
  • Lanyard hole


  1. And what is the best knife for those who have a small hand and are left-handed?

  2. Great guide! Thank you for reviewing the best tactical knives. For the $100-$200 price range, which tactical knife could you recommend? Thanks!

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