Our Picks For The Best Tactical Folding Knives

by D-Poc

COLUMBIA RIVER KNIFE AND TOOL (CRKT)

First up we are going to talk about the CRKT M1614DSFG. The reason we are starting with the M16 style is because, in it’s many styles, it is reported as one of the best selling tactical knives to military personnel.

There are many good, and a few bad, points to this tanto knife. I like the size, it’s bigger than the regular M16 and it has good balance. It is heavier so you may want to keep that in mind if weight is a concern. It is razor sharp out of the box, opens quickly, and comes with CRKT’s autoLAWKS safety locking system that keeps it from closing on your hand. The other thing I really like about this folder is the 4-position pocket clip that you can move to your favorite carry position, left, right, tip up, or tip down. These are also some of the best affordable folding knives as they are in the 45-60 dollar range.

Ok, that’s the good, so here’s the bad. A small drawback to this knife is all the holes in the handle. I’ll admit, I like the way they look. They have a classic retro airplane rivet look to them that appeals to me. However, these holes attract lint and dirt, and I can see them filling up with mud in wet weather so keeping this knife clean is going to be an issue. The autoLAWKS system, while keeping your hand safe from the blade closing on it, is kind of a backup to the liner lock on this knife. You have to flip down the autoLAWKS to disengage it to close the knife and it takes some getting used to. Especially if you’re wearing gloves.

One other thing to remember is that CRKT knives are counterfeited a lot and the counterfeits look and feel real but they are made with lesser products. Be careful where you purchase your knife and make sure that you’re getting the real thing.

Finally I want to address the serrations on the blade of this folding knife. I’m not a fan of the Veff serrations. I have to agree with several other reviewers I’ve seen that the serrations are just too thin and fragile. Too many people have reported too many problems with them bending and chipping for me to order a knife with them on it. I’ve also seen them first hand on my buddy’s My Tighe and his were bent and chipped. I think they look really cool but I would take standard serrations that work over these.

My personal preference for a folding knife in this style is the M1614D. It has most of the same features as the above knife and it has the standard serrations on the blade. It does only have one flipper though, not two. My issue with the second flipper is that it catches on things I’m trying to get out of my pocket but I have to say I love the fact that the M1614DSFG has a true hilt.

For the price range that these folders fall in, all things considered, both of these knives are solid excellent choices in a tactical folder. Yes, I have issues with the serrations, but if the serrations aren’t something you think you’ll use much then I certainly wouldn’t let it hold me back from buying this knife.



SPYDERCO

Next up we have the Spyderco Military G-10. As the story is told by Spyderco, This knife came about after someone asked Spyderco’s owner Sal Glesser, “If your son were going into the military what folding knife would you send him with?” His answer to that question is this knife.

The blade is one of my favorites, CPM-S30V and it comes razor sharp and ready to go to work. The other thing I really like is the texture they put on the G-10 handle. It’s just rough enough that it doesn’t get slippery when it gets wet and not so rough that if you carried it inside your waistband it would be uncomfortable. This knife is also nice and light weighing in at just 4.2 ounces. You can get it in a carbon fiber handle with Crucible Steel’s CPM-S90V exotic alloy blade that weighs just 4.0 ounces as well.

As incredible as this military tactical folding knife is, there is one thing you need to consider before you purchase it. This is a LARGE folding knife, perfect for a bug out bag. The overall length on this big boy is 9 1/2 inches and even closed it’s still 5 1/2 inches long! That means you’re going to have to take into account how deep the pocket is that you want to carry it in.

One final cautionary remark about this knife, there is a number of people out there that have cut themselves learning how to open it. Remember… let’s be careful out there.



KERSHAW

I recently bought a SpeedSafe equipped Kershaw Blur with an S30V blade. I love this knife. The rough texture of the trac-tec inserts really help you keep a good grip. This thing was razor sharp right out the box and when you open it, it has a satisfyingly solid “thwack” sound.

I really like the no-nonsense thumb studs. They have a ribbed pattern cut into them and you place your thumb on the flat part of the thumbstud to push the blade open. Very effective and very secure feeling.

When researching this knife before I bought it, I read some reviews that said they felt that the pocket clip was too tight. I can verify that it is pretty tight, and with the rough texture of the inserts I can see it tearing up the pocket on my jeans with repeated use. I’m hoping that with use it will loosen up a bit.

This knife also comes with a tanto style blade and with different styles of handles. But these have blades made from Sandvick 14C28N steel not S30V.

I’ll be posting an update on this knife the more it gets used in a real world environment so stay tuned.

UPDATE: After a year of use this knife is still holding up great. The pocket clip did loosen up a little over time but it did scar up the back pocket of my jeans a bit. Even though it’s been beat up some it still feels new and the blade stayed sharp a long time. I’ve only sharpened it twice. I highly recommend this knife and now it’s even cheaper than when I bought it.


AL MAR KNIVES

The ALMAR ALS2K Sere 2000 Stainless Steel knife is an excellent choice in a tactical folder. The original design of this knife was done by AL Mar and Col. Nick Rowe in the early 80′s for the U.S. Army’s SERE school.

These came out several years ago but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who owns one of these and doesn’t love it. They may not be as flashy as some of the newer knives, but they still have some excellent features, such as:

  • Smooth action with one handed opening
  • Solidly built
  • Deep pocket clip with right or left carry
  • Dual thumbstuds
  • Razor sharp out of the box
  • A VG10 Steel blade made in Japan

It is a liner lock style, it weighs about 6 ounces and has a blade length of 3.6 inches.

I’ll be adding to this list as I test out other knives, don’t forget to check out our Top Picks For Combat Survival Knives as well!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

lumberjake June 3, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Well, I’m pleased with your choices concidering the vast selection out there. The CRKT was my first decent folder back in the very late 90′s I’m guessing but with a spear point. It was the flipper action that sold me unfortunately they used AUS6 back then which was too soft. At this time I was getting into knives and remember really wanting the SERE but couldn’t afford it. Recently I got the Military after reading so many good reviews and it deserves the praise. This is the best cutting folder out there for the money. The blade geometry lends to a very useable knife. It is huge-bigger than I’d thought, but very light and easy to carry as long as it fits in your pocket. The handle is awesome and big giving lots of holding options. The Kershaw is interesting and again gets lots of great reviews. Great steel and the Speed safe is excellent, might be getting one of these or a ZT soon.

Bryan June 15, 2012 at 3:57 am

My current edc / personal defense blade is a new model cold steel recon 1 tanto plain edge. I own a few cold steel knives and have found them to be of good quality and durability. But, as an aspiring collector/consumer, I am always looking to broaden my horizons. I don’t really nitpick about the weight issue but definately want toughness and edge retention. I want a knife that won’t fail me in a fight if need be and doesn’t mind a little abuse. I owned an older model crkt m16, and other than the holes in the handle getting packed with mud and sand, I loved it. Lost it in Afghanistan. I try to remain loyal to a brand, and am thinking Al Mar is going to be my next selection. Is the SERE knife the best they put out? What are some other good options? Thanks.

D-Poc June 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Hey Bryan,
I really like Cold Steel’s knives. I say some nice things about them in my Combat Survival Knife article. As to a different Al Mar knife you might take a look at the Nomad for a folding knife. I will tell you I have my eye on the Shiva fixed blade though, that’s a sexy looking knife.

Tim April 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm

I have to say I’m biased toward CRKT. Not only is the company from the area I live but I’ve owned a CRKT Carson Design M16 w/ tanto blade for more than 5 years now. It’s a sweet little pocket knife with smooth action. I’ve never used an Al Mar but Kershaw blades are always good.

Dragos July 8, 2013 at 10:31 am

This is indeed a fine selection of knives. I prefer the Al Mar Sere 2000: the reason this knife works so well for me is the size, shape and weight of the handle.

ArmyGrunt86 January 18, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Im kinda surprised that you didnt include Benchmade or Microtech. I been a US Army Infantryman for 10 years and as for s folders I mostly see the Microtech Socom Elite auto and the Benchmade Presidio Auto comes in a close 2nd. I carry the Microtech Socom Elite everywhere I go. I have seen some carrying SOG, Cold Steel, Kabar, and Gerber. As for fixed blades many of us carry the SOG seal pup or Kabar D2.. With that being said I agree with your choice of Kershaw, you cant beat the quality in the same price range of Kershaw

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