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The Best Tactical Knives of 2024

Known by many names, a tactical knife generally refers to a hardworking, do-all blade. Here, we review the best folding and fixed-blade knives for every budget and use.
Tactical knives aren’t just black on black anymore. Well... A few are; (photo/Nick LeFort)
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If I were asked what knife brands were known for their tactical knives, I would blurt out Spyderco and Cold Steel without even having to think about it.

Spyderco has knives named Military 2, Para Military, and Police 4 Lightweight where Cold Steel likes to fly a little more under the radar with knives like the Warcraft Tanto, Double Agent, and Recon 1. If pressed harder, I would offer up the Benchmade AFO II, an automatic tanto knife that is an acronym for “Armed Forces Only”.

These are classically designed tactical knives, four of which I, as a civilian, have carried as my everyday carry (EDC) in the past. But as things evolve in the military and law enforcement worlds and new knife materials are being introduced, the look and feel of a tactical knife is changing. We are seeing a change in the design of tactical knives. Where these knives were generally just black handled and paired with blades that were treated or coated to be non-reflective (think: stealth), greens, browns, and grays have been added into the mix. Though this adaptation does cause some overlap with survival knives and EDC pocket knives, the need for tactical knives is still two-fold: for utility and as a line of defense.

Below, you’ll find a list of our favorites, and be sure to check out the buyer’s guide for the low down on different types of steel and the advantages of different designs and materials, and head over to our comparison chart to help steer your final decision.

Editor’s Note: This guide received an update on March 28, 2024, naming the Sniper Bladeworks MAMU as our best overall choice for a tactical knife due to its versatility, high-quality construction, and reasonable price.

The Best Tactical Knives of 2024

Best Overall Tactical Knife

Sniper Bladeworks MAMU Fixed-Blade Knife


  • OAL 11.68”
  • Blade length 5.46”
  • Blade steel 420HC
  • Blade shape Drop point
  • Grind Flat
  • Hardness 58-60 HRC
  • Carry Injection-molded sheath
  • Weight 1 lb., 0.8 oz.
Product Badge The Best Tactical Knives of 2024


  • Performs an expanded array of tasks with ease
  • The ergonomics are top-notch
  • The sheath has numerous carry options and can be adapted to carry a ferro rod or other required items
  • Made in USA


  • It will make you do more things with it outside
  • It may cause you to plan expensive outdoor adventures with your friends
Best Budget Tactical Knife

CIVIVI Concept 22


  • OAL 9.88”
  • Blade length 4.8”
  • Blade steel Black stonewashed D2
  • Blade shape Modified tanto
  • Sheath Kydex
  • Weight 7.7 oz.
The Best Tactical Knives of 2024


  • D2 tool steel blade
  • Innovative blade shape
  • Smaller form factor


  • Blade-to-handle ratio is a learning curve
Best Folding Tactical Knife

Benchmade Redoubt Knife


  • OAL 8.29”
  • Blade length 3.55”
  • Blade steel CPM-D2
  • Blade shape Drop point
  • Grind Flat
  • Hardness 60-62 HRC
  • Lock type Axis
  • Carry Reversible, tip-up, deep carry
  • Weight 2.8 oz.
The Best Tactical Knives of 2024


  • CPM-D2 blade steel
  • Lightweight for its overall size
  • Excellent grip and hand feel
  • Designed to be abused


  • Lives in the shadow of the Bugout
  • People hate on Grivory handles
  • Gunk can get encased inside the knife easily
  • Maybe on the larger side for EDC fanatics
Best Small Scale Tactical Knife

Spyderco Subway Bowie 


  • OAL 5.11”
  • Blade length 2.8”
  • Blade steel Black ceramic coated LC200N
  • Blade shape Clip point
  • Sheath Bolatron
  • Weight 1.5 oz.
The Best Tactical Knives of 2024


  • Designed by French knifemaker and martial artist Fred Perrin
  • It’s an itty-bitty Bowie knife
  • ABLE lock


  • May be too large for some users (there’s a mini version for those folks)
Best Automatic Tactical Knife

Benchmade Claymore Tanto – 9071BK-1 Knife


  • OAL 8.60”
  • Blade length 3.60”
  • Blade steel CPM-D2
  • Blade shape Tanto
  • Grind Flat
  • Hardness 60-62 HRC
  • Lock type Button lock
  • Carry Right or left hand, tip-up, deep carry
  • Weight 3.87 oz.
The Best Tactical Knives of 2024


  • Size-to-weight ratio
  • Ergonomics
  • Coated CPM-D2 Steel
  • Red dot blade lock indicator
  • The Morse code easter egg


  • It’s a big knife
  • The spring is intense
Best Bushcraft and Tactical Combo

Zero Tolerance 0006


  • OAL 10.7”
  • Blade length 6”
  • Blade steel Cerakoted CPM 3V
  • Blade shape Drop point
  • Sheath Kydex
  • Weight 10.3 oz.
The Best Tactical Knives of 2024


  • Cerakoted CPM 3V build
  • Simple design
  • Sheath hangs low to avoid interference


  • Belt loop on sheath could be more durable

Tactical Knives Comparison Chart

KnifePriceWeightBlade ShapeBlade LengthSteel
Sniper Bladeworks MAMU$1951.05 lbs.Drop point5.46”420HC
CIVIVI Concept 22$1107.7 oz.Modified tanto4.8”Black stonewashed D2
Benchmade Redoubt Knife$2002.8 oz.Drop point3.55”CPM-D2
Spyderco Subway Bowie $1731.5 ozClip point2.8”Black ceramic coated LC200N
Benchmade Claymore Tanto – 9071BK-1$2603.87 ozTanto3.60”CPM-D2
Zero Tolerance 0006$40010.3 oz.Drop point6”Cerakoted CPM 3V
The Benchmade AFO II (2008) and CLA are an example of how tactical knives have evolved; (photo/Nick LeFort)

How We Tested Tactical Knives

For this year, we relied solely on tester and knifemaker Nick LeFort to work with these knives and get a sense of their worth. Bringing together years of product knowledge as well as a keen sense of what kind of situations we’re going to get into, he worked with our editors to find the right knives that would meet GearJunkie’s standards for such high accolades.

Unlike testing survival knives, you don’t need to go out looking for a fight to test out tactical blades. But a good tactical knife should be able to get you out of your run-of-the-mill Saturday night knife fight. That said, how do we test for that? Well, we don’t. Although he’s got a formidable build, tester Nick LeFort isn’t about to get into a scrap over a knife guide, nor would we expect him to — NOR IS THAT REALISTIC! So, he looked for a few specific traits when selecting which knives earned these accolades:

1. How well does it carry?

With tactical knives, carrying them is all about ease of access. It’s also about concealment. A neck knife like the Spyderco Subway Bowie excels at both. But so does a big behemoth like the Sniper Bladeworks MAMU which can be worn horizontally across your back and concealed by your shirt.

2. How easy is it to control?

You want a good tactical knife to be an extension of your hand. It needs to flow and maneuver in such a way that you know it’ll hit its mark. The ergonomics of the CIVIVI Concept 22 aid in its overall execution and effectiveness.

3. How tough is it?

Tactical situations are demanding, so the knife you’re relying on needs to be tough as nails. The combination of its full-tang construction coupled with the fact that 3V is incredibly strong steel is a major indicator that the Zero Tolerance 0006 is a tough knife that meets the tactical standards.

Additionally, the tactical knife landscape is evolving. Where most folks might think that tactical knives are black blades with black handles, that’s not always the case anymore. It’s not uncommon to see earth tones like OD Green, Coyote, and Wolf Grey — colors commonly used by the military — being used in tactical knives nowadays. This factor has greatly expanded the tactical knife segment.

So, What Did We Do?

After our team at GearJunkie got together and narrowed down a pile of knives for LeFort to test out, and he did just that. LeFort is a bit of a wanderer, by nature. He likes to get outside, get remote, and get to work. But, as we identified earlier in this article, in order to be considered an award-winning tactical knife, it has to be easy to conceal and access. So, LeFort wore these knives, concealed, in public. Seeing that he didn’t call us for bail money — we’re confident that he found that all of the knives on this list can be easily concealed.

In terms of access, he tested to see how easily these knives could be deployed when concealed. But he also tested out how well they could be accessed when openly carried. Regarding fixed blade candidates, LeFort looked for the various ways the knife could be mounted to a belt, or pack strap. Then he tested their pull in those situations; was there a struggle where the belt moved with the knife, or did the clip keep it in place, allowing for the knife to release easily?

From there, it was testing as usual. LeFort is a major contributor to our knife tests, as well as a multitude of these guides, and has found a regime for testing out toughness, corrosion resistance, and ergonomics. A tactical knife might not be one you wear every day. So, it’s important to make sure you are familiar with how it acts and reacts. LeFort found this to be more important with folding knives which have the added complexity of opening and lock mechanisms.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Tactical Knife

The Spyderco Subway Bowie is easy to conceal and access; (photo/Nick LeFort)

With the ever-expanding lineup of tactical knives on the market, picking the right one for you could be a mission of its own. Though we think the list we’ve pulled together for you is top-notch, we also realize that everyone has their own set of wants and needs. Our goal is to show you what we think is the best of the best so you can make an informed decision regarding which tactical knife is the best for you. That said, here are some things to consider when you head out to buy your next tactical knife.

Automatic Folding Knives

For years, one defining factor of tactical folding knives is that a majority of them were automatic. Automatic knives are button-actuated blades that have a variety of laws and regulations surrounding them that determine who can carry them. Being that tactical knives were aimed at military and law enforcement personnel, this makes perfect sense, as they aren’t beholden to the same laws and restrictions civilians are.

What I can say about automatic knives in 2024 is that most of them are still considered “tactical”. However, with brands like CRKT coming out with knives like its Michaca and Minnow that are being marketed as EDC and work knives, even that distinction is loosening up.

Furthermore, laws are changing all the time. Antiquated ideals, like the ones enacted in the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958 are starting to be overturned and updated so that more people can carry automatic knives in more places. Yes, that wasn’t a typo — 1958.

The last thing you need to happen to you is to find yourself on the other side of the law and have your knife taken away from you while you’re getting hauled off to jail. We recommend you download Knife Rights’ LegalBlade App. It’s designed to keep you informed about rules and regulations on a state-by-state basis.

That said, if you do get pinched, Knife Rights has put together a set of guidelines of what you should and should not do.

Blade Shape

Like all knives, the shape of the blade on a tactical knife plays a crucial role in how effective that knife will be. Tanto, drop point, and clip point blades are generally preferred for tactical knives because they can perform tasks like slicing and chopping, as well as piercing and stabbing.

Aside from the benefit of that ability to your success in a combat situation, a blade that can pierce and stab is also well suited for breaching. Tanto blades in particular are great for prying which is the primary movement in breaching.

Knife Steel

The amount of knife blade steel and handle materials out there is pretty impressive. But, where the handle materials seem to have stabilized, there’s new steel coming out every year. As you can see from the above selection of eight knives, there are seven different knife steels. Our recommendation is to consider each steel on a case-by-case basis. But they should still meet or exceed the following requirements:

Corrosion Resistance

The last thing you want is your knife turning orange on you out in the field. Especially if you’re planning on using it to prepare food. All of the steel mentioned in this guide either has exceptional corrosion resistance or has been coated to eliminate the occurrence of rust.

Abrasion Resistance

Some people consider this property to be more form than function. But in all reality, your blade can easily get scrapped up which can lead to chipping, which then could lead to blade failure.

Edge Retention/Ease of Resharpening

No matter what knife you carry, the worst knife you could carry is a dull one. That being said, you want to look for knife steels that either excel in edge retention or can be easily resharpened.

Handle Material

When it comes down to handle material it’s all about grip. Tactical knives don’t usually have a large variety of handle scales. For instance, you’re not likely to find a tactical knife with a wood, bone, or leather handle. They may be out there, but they’re far from common — because they don’t provide the excellent grip the common materials do.

G10 & Micarta

G10 and Micarta are both extremely strong materials. Both excel in grip whether your hands are wet or dry which is why those two materials are so popular with EDC, survival, tactical, and bushcraft-style knives.

Nylon & Plastic

Nylon and plastic are also great handle materials because they’re durable and lightweight, but they’re also generally textured. It’s this texturing and styling that increases the grip on a knife with these materials.

Note: Nylon and plastic handle scales can be called a litany of names. Some of the more popular names are: FRN/Zytel (Fiber Reinforced Nylon), GRN (Glass Reinforced Nylon), GFN (Glass Filled Nylon), and Grivory (Injection Molded).

Ease of Use


A good knife will feel right in your hand. From the shape of the handle scales to the overall thickness, and even texturing, ergonomics can be the difference between you being confident with your knife or leaving it in your drawer at home. When you consider a knife put it in your hand, and give it a good squeeze. Then, push down hard on a hard surface. If everything feels right, that’s your next knife.


For the most part, tactical knife sheaths are made from Kydex or Bolatron. Both materials will outlast every being on this planet, and both can be vacuum-formed. However, Bolatron tends to edge out in form retention and durability over Kydex. That said, they’re both great for the job.


Folding knives are easy to carry — have pocket clip; will carry. If they have a deep carry clip then they’re easier to conceal. In regards to fixed blade knives, which are arguably the most popular of the tactical knife forms, they need to be carried in a variety of configurations.

In the military, they’re generally worn on vests. In law enforcement, they’re generally clipped to a duty belt. But that can change depending on the situation. A good tactical sheath will allow you to mount it vertically, horizontally, and even upside down.

Lock Mechanism

Without fail, you will find yourself in a position where you need to rely on the lock on your knife more than you expected. Arguing that most tactical folding knives are automatics, the locks are usually button locks. These button locks are also how you deploy the blade and can have a lock of your own. Just like you take the safety off your firearm when you’re stepping into the shit, you want to make sure the button is unlocked.

In most tactical situations, time is everything. Having to fiddle around with a button lock takes your focus off of defending yourself and is a risk you don’t want to take.

The tanto blade on the Benchmade Claymore is great for piercing; (photo/Nick LeFort)

A Note on Awareness

We try to keep things light and fluffy here at GearJunkie, which is why we saved this section for last: If you treat carrying a tactical knife like carrying a firearm, you’re putting yourself in the right mindset.

Tactical knives tend to be larger and more aggressive which makes them more noticeable. In terms of automatic folding tactical knives, they are a major bone of contention in terms of who can carry them and where. It is important to know where you are when you’re carrying knives like this and where they are when you’re not carrying them.

Even if you are someone in the military or law enforcement, you need to be aware of laws and regulations unless you wear your uniform everywhere you go. Modern society is more sensitive to guns and knives than it ever has been. When you’re dressed like a civilian, act like one or be prepared to identify yourself if the going gets weird.

Another part of awareness is the condition your tactical knife is in. For fixed blades, that’s as simple as making sure the blade is sharpened and free of imperfections in the blade edge. For folding knives, you want to make sure that the blade is sharp and free from imperfections, but you also want to make sure it’s in good working order. This means making sure the lock mechanism and the actuator button work.

And if you forget all of that just remember this simple equation: Out of Sight = Out of Mind!

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