Best Option: Traditional or Tactical?

As a law enforcement officer, your job is hunting down dirt bags. Should you carry a traditional or tactical knife?

 tactical knife


 There is nothing like cold steel to change a felon’s mind about taking your firearm.

If someone attempted to take my service weapon, I could clamp down on my gun and holster and still get to my knife.

Officers always have to consider that the knives they choose to carry may be called into use as backups in a critical situation. Some cops carry a $20 knife and brag about it. I just look at them and shake my head. Then, I ask them, “Is your life worth $20?”

In other words, if you are going to depend on a tool of your trade, invest in something you can count on to work each and every time it is needed.

In my years of law enforcement duties, I have found that most officers carry a single-blade tactical folding knife. But there are also cops who choose to carry a two- or three-bladed traditional knife.

When I find an officer who carries a traditional folding knife, I inquire into the reason for this practice. I have been given reasons that include that they carry their traditional knives because their father or grandfather carried these knives. Some officers believe that bigger tactical knives would be perceived as an offensive weapon, instead of what they consider a tool. Other officers just like the traditional pocket knife, feeling that it is more versatile with multiple blades than the normally single-bladed tactical knife.



Before there were tactical folding knives, I use to carry a 6-inch Italian switchblade knife in my right uniform pocket. My pocket notebook rode in this same pocket, keeping the switchblade sitting upright and accessible. I also carried a Swiss Victorinox Executive in my left pants pocket. I had a leather lace attached to the knife and a moccasin button at the other. I could hook the moccasin button in the corner of my pocket for easy access of the Executive. (I still have both of these knives.)


This was excerpted from a recent issue of Knives Illustrated.


By Clint Thompson

Photos by Clint Thompson