If you are looking for a combat knife, there are many things probably running through your mind. How big should the knife be? What kind of steel should the blade be? What shape should the knife be? All of these questions and more are very common questions to ask. This guide seeks to answer these and more, and help you make the best possible decision on which knife you should pick to trust with your life.
Many consumers think that a combat knife and a tactical knife are the same thing. This is not necessarily true. A combat knife is also known as a military fighting knife. It was originally designed for use in hand to hand combat. A tactical knife on the other hand can have one or more military features and intended for use in extreme and varied situations. While not initially designed as a combat knife, some brands do include those features.
If being employed for military use, make sure the knife you choose meets the government standards. Also, some municipalities have restrictions on the types of knives one can own so it’s best to check your local laws before buying.
Finding the Best Combat Knife
Combat knives come in many sizes and styles. Folding knives, boot knives and neck knives were all designed for hand to hand combat. The most important feature of any knife is the blade. Ideally, a blade constructed of good quality stainless steel, carbon steel or a hybrid of those will work best. A blade that resists corrosion and is easy to sharpen is the most desirable.
The most common blade length will be between 5 ½ and 7 ½ inches. This is long enough if needed for combat but not cumbersome. Likewise, consider the thickness of the blade when choosing a knife. If it is too thick it becomes unwieldy. Opt for 3/16 to 1/4 inches for the ideal thickness.
The knife blade should have a somewhat dull surface. A razor edge is traditional though a slightly serrated blade has gained in popularity. A guard between the blade and the handle is a necessity. A single guard the same color as the blade is a good choice. Again, one of the steels listed above are a good choice of material for the guard. You want it strong enough to hold up against brute force.
A knifes handle is probably the most important part of the knife for the user. You want something that fits the hand well and is easily maneuverable. A good quality material won’t crack or shrink and is easy to grip. A G10handle allows for a good grip which makes it a good choice. Micarta is another option and comes either smooth or textured. Leather is a more traditional option and while some prefer it others choose the more modern materials.
Again, you don’t want to call attention to the knife by having a shiny surface so opt for a duller, nondescript finish. Additionally, a handle long enough to grip comfortably that isn’t awkward is best. A handle design that absorbs shock is helpful as well.
Lastly, be sure to choose a good sheath for the knife. A sheath constructed of a durable and weatherproof material works well. You won’t want anything that limits your movements or will get in the way. As with the rest of the knife the sheath will be a neutral color so as not to draw attention. The sheath should make for easy and soundless drawing of the knife.
The Best Four Combat Knives On the Market
The Banner Knives Ti-G10 is a new knife to the market that is turning many heads. It is built with top notch materials and has an excellent full tang design that is perfect for a combat knife. It also comes in at a much more reasonable price than others on this list that are made of the same or similar materials and have similar designs.
- Features a titanium coated steel blade.
- G10 handle with a full tang.
- Comes with a nylon sheath.
The Ka-Bar USMC Knife is one of the most popular and enduring knives of all times. This knife, first issued during WWII, remains a top choice for military personnel today. While it purchasable directly from the manufacturer you’ll likely get a better price from Amazon.
- Features a seven-inch blade with a leather handle.
- Comes with a leather sheath.
- The blade is razor style and constructed of 1095 steel.
- This knife boasts a five out of five-star customer review from Amazon.
The M9 Bayonet is a Government Issue knife from the 1980’s. It is something of a multi-purpose tactical knife. It was originally designed to fit on the end of M16 rifles. Along with the military version it has also been sold commercially and touted as a hunting knife. While you can buy it other places, Amazon again comes in at a lower price than most. It can also be found at U.S. Calvary, Cabela’s, Shot Hawk and Knife Country but will be pricier if bought from a dealer.
- Features a seven-inch blade with a thermoplastic handle.
- Comes with a synthetic sheath.
- The blade construction is 420 steel.
- Has multiple uses such as; wire cutter, saw and utility knife.
- This knife has a 4.3 out of five-star rating on Amazon.
The ZT 0160 Zero Tolerance combat knife is more of a high-end combat knife and not for those looking for something inexpensive. Once sharpened to a razor edge it will hold that sharpness for a long time. It is a great knife for those who are willing to pay the price. While it is obtainable from many dealers, again, Amazon will likely have the lowest price.
- Features a five-inch blade with a G-10 handle.
- Comes with a synthetic sheath.
- The blade is razor style and constructed of 14C28N steel. This type of steel was originally used to make razor blades.
- This knife also boasts a five out of five-star Amazon customer rating.
Using the Knife
One of the most important aspects of owning a combat knife is having the knowledge to use it. Most towns do not have highly skilled combat instructors available. However, those wishing to either learn or upgrade combat skill do have options. Though the first choice would be a live instructor, videos can make a good second choice. Books are also an option though videos are usually a more popular choice.
Before buying a book or video it is essential to know what you want to learn. Whether it be advanced martial arts or a beginner video on self-defense it is crucial to get the right information. If not, one could end up frustrated and no farther ahead on the path to learning what they need to know.
For the beginner, a video or book teaching the properties of the knife and a few basic steps would be a good place to start. Then move on to more skilled instructions. Getting the basics down is key before moving on. More advanced users will select videos or instruction that will increase the knowledge they already have. Here is an example of a good video to start with:
In conclusion, the Ka-Bar is a good solid knife that has stood the test of time. The M9 Bayonet is something of an upgraded version of the Ka-Bar using more modern materials. The ZT 0160, while a solid product, is mainly for those who have a little extra cash to spend. And the Ti-G10 is an excellent option at an affordable price.
Rather than going with one of the above you might find that you have your own preference and that is fine. The most important thing is to find a combat knife you are comfortable with. Often it isn’t the knife but the skill in using it that is more important. So, yes-choose a combat knife that fits your style but choose one that is also comfortable for you to maneuver.