Something knife guys know: A solid trustworthy tactical folding knife is a vital tool!

Whether it’s used in an emergency, for work duty, or even everyday tasks like breaking through the impenetrable fortress of plastic packages that are NOT frustration-free, a tactical pocket knife is an absolute necessity.

I admit, I have quite a collection of pocket knives, and I always have room for one more, just in case. They ALWAYS get used and are honestly the handiest tool in my arsenal.

That’s why this year, during my search for yet another tactical folding knife I created this list of the best tactical folding knives of 2023 to get all my research in one place.

I also wrote a quick buying guide that covers tactical knives specifically. Enjoy!

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TOP 10 Best Tactical Folding Knives of 2023

Benchmade Griptilian 551 Knife

The Benchmade Griptilian is one of the best EDC tactical pocket knives you can get. It is sharp enough to shave with, right out of the box, and it STAYS sharp. In fact, it has better edge retention than other knives I have used.

The handle feels secure and has an ergonomic grip and the blade opens easily with one hand, thanks to the axis lock.

This folding tactical knife is mid-sized, about 9 inches opened and comes with a pocket clip. It is used by Army Rangers and is one of the best combat folding knives I know of.


  • Rapid one hand open.
  • Premium steel stays sharp – great edge retention.
  • Ambidextrous, with thumb knobs on each side.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Drop point blade.


  • Pricy – but you get what you pay for.


High-quality American made tactical knife, one of the best tactical pocket knives available.

CRKT M21-12SFG EDC Pocket Knife

The CRKT has a compact build and innovative Veff serrations halfway up the blade that cut ropes and cord no problem.

This knife was designed by Kit Carson, retired Sgt. Major, and member of Knifemakers’ Guild.

My favorite feature of this well designed tactical knife is the Carson flipper, which is a flipper incorporated into the blade that allows you to apply a bit of pressure with your finger to flip the blade open and lock it, so you are ready to go.

I love the dual blade hilt safety feature that prevents your fingers from slipping during continued rigorous use.


  • Veff style serration halfway up the blade.
  • Dual hilt doubles as a blade guard.
  • Liner safety lock.
  • Compact enough for EDC.
  • Drop point blade.


  • The hilts can get in the way when stowing it in your pocket or MOLLE straps.


Designed by and for the military, the best military folding knife out there.

Smith & Wesson SWFR2S Folding Knife

This Smith and Wesson pocket knife is a great bargain. It is compact and has an aggressively cut blade that is serrated on one end for tactical and utility uses.

The blade feels strong and sturdy and I have confidence using it for heavier applications.

It’s the perfect pocket knife for knocking around every day, without worrying about damage or losing it because the price is so low.


  • Very affordable.
  • One hand open and close.
  • Has a built-in seatbelt cutter and glass breaker.
  • Ergonomic handle and well-balanced weight.
  • Serrated Tanto point blade.


  • Stiff to open with one hand, but it’s possible. A little oil will loosen it up.
  • Screws tend to loosen.


If you are looking for a cheap pocket knife, this is one of the best tactical pocket knives in this price range.

Cold Steel Recon 1 Series Tactical Knife

The edge on this blade is sharp and hardy. The Tanto edge means it is thicker at the tip, making it stronger and appropriate for hard use.

This is a larger tactical knife, with a 4 inch blade, the blade action is smooth, and it just takes the flick of a thumb to deploy the blade.

The lock on this knife is secure and you can trust this tactical folding knife with the toughest tasks. That’s why this knife is a favorite with law enforcement, military, and firefighters.


  • 4 inch black Tanto plain edge blade.
  • Tri-ad lock with a lock back.
  • Secure locking mechanism.
  • Grippy comfortable handle.


  • The belt clip is prone to bending and shredding your pocket.


One of the best tactical folding knives for tough jobs.

Buck Knives Tactical Folding Knife

This tactical Buck knife is made with pride in the USA. It has a modified Tanto blade that is thick, piercing, and strong.

The thumb stud on the blade makes it easy to flip open with one hand and the frame lock keeps the blade locked in place so you can feel secure using it for tough jobs.

The handle has a good grip and the finger grooves allow you to get a good handle on it.


  • Made in the USA.
  • Made from 154CM steel.
  • Molle sheath included.
  • Hex tool is incorporated into the handle.
  • Modified tanto blade.


  • Expensive.


Best tactical EDC knife you can get made in the USA.

Spyderco Delica 4 Folding Knife

This Spyderco knife is really light, making it a convenient EDC pocket knife. The trademark Spyderco loophole thumb hole makes it easy to pop open with one hand.

I love the click it makes as it locks into place so I know it’s ready to use, and the blade is strong enough for tough jobs thanks to the VG-10 steel.

The blade is serrated on one half, so it’s versatile and up for whatever job you happen to be doing.


  • Very lightweight, ideal EDC pocket knife.
  • Made from durable VG-10 steel.
  • Serrated on one half.
  • Lock back knife.
  • Drop point blade.


  • This is a smaller tactical knife, but it makes an excellent pocket knife.


Slim, strong, lightweight EDC tactical pocket knife.

Ontario Knife Rat-1 Folding Tactical Knife

If you have not heard of Ontario Knife, you should give them a try. They make folding knives that are surprisingly high quality for the price.

The handles are sturdy and ergonomic, their deploy action is smooth and tight, and the thumb studs make it easy to flick open.

This tactical knife is pretty sharp right out of the box. This knife has serrated edges on one end which are also quite sharp.

This is a larger knife, so be aware of that. It has an overall 8.5 inch length so it’s a tad big for a pocket knife unless you are a larger guy.


  • 4 position reversible clip – carry it how you want it.
  • Partially serrated blade edge.
  • Super sharp out of the box and holds an edge well.
  • Made from AUS-8 stainless steel.
  • Drop point blade.


  • The black coating on the blade easily wears off.


This tactical folding knife is worth way more than the asking price, and if you ask me, it’s a steal.

SOG Tactical Folding Knife

The factory edge on this SOG tactical folding knife cuts very well and holds an edge for a long time.

It is heavy duty and feels like it is made to last.

The blade is of decent length, of 3.5 inches, and pretty versatile with a serrated edge on one side.


  • Built-in tools, seatbelt cutter, glass breaker wire cutter.
  • Reversible clip.
  • One hand open with lock back.
  • Very affordable.
  • Drop point blade.


  • The one-hand open is pretty tight unless you oil it or give it time to break-in.
  • Weak belt clip needs to be improved.


An affordable, mid-sized tactical folding knife.

Gerber Remix Tactical Knife

The Gerber Remix tactical knife has a tanto point that is very helpful for piercing, cutting, and scraping. It holds an edge well and does not need constant sharpening.

Its offered at a great price and is a good choice for EDC.


  • 3 inch serrated Tanto blade.
  • Thumb lift to open easily with either hand.
  • Great knife for the money.
  • A hole for a lanyard, tether, or keychain.


  • The liner lock is too stiff.


An attractive tactical pocket knife for the money.

Kershaw Cryo II Pocket Knife

The Kershaw Cryo II is sharp enough to split hairs, right out of the package. It retains a sharp edge longer too.

It’s a larger folding knife, perfect for tactical use, hunting, backpacking, and as an EDC for those who like a larger knife.

The finger grip gives you confidence when you use the knife for tough cuts, you know your hand won’t slip as you are pushing down on the blade.


  • Spring assisted deployment.
  • Adjustable tension frame lock.
  • Quad reversible clip for left or right carry tip-up or down.
  • Drop point blade.


  • The steel is rather soft, but it does sharpen quickly.


Best value every day carry knife on the market, you will not get a better quality knife for the money.

Buying Guide to the Best Tactical Folding Knives

What factors to keep in mind before buying a tactical folding knife and what should I look for in a tactical knife?

Tactical Knife Blade Points: Tanto vs Drop Point Blades

green military tactical folding pocket knife close-up

Tanto Blade Point

A Tanto blade has a point shape similar to Japanese swords. The point is high with a level grind. The Tanto point is thicker than standard blades and the tip is very prominent.

This makes the Tanto blade robust for forceful stabbing, piercing, point making, and puncturing. There is simply more material behind the point which gives it strength.

Where the Tanto falls short when compared to a drop edge knife is slicing.

A Tanto blade is great for puncturing, but I know a tool that is also great for destroying tires, breaking glass, breaching doors, and looks badass. A tactical tomahawk can do all that. Check out this list of the best tactical tomahawks here.

Drop Point Blade

The drop point is a common knifepoint and is found on many great tactical folding knives.

The drop point has a convex or sloping spine from handle to blade tip. This shape places the blade point in line with the center axis of the knife and makes the point easy to control. It also makes the belly of the blade longer and better for slicing.

Even though a Tanto blade is stronger at the point, many folks still prefer the drop point blade for their tactical knife because it has a better cutting surface and is easier to slice with.

tactical jacket and stainless steel pocket knife

Spring Assisted Folding Knife or Not?

The big benefit of a spring assisted knife is that the spring makes opening it easier.


There are drawbacks to spring assist that you should know about.

Spring assisted open knives cause tension when you close them and are difficult and dangerous to close with one hand.

Plus, the spring is one more part of the knife that can break.

It’s best to get a high-quality knife with no assist that opens smooth so you do not need assistance opening it.

Soft or Hard Metal? Which Blade Steel is Better?

There are many grades of steel out there, as I am sure you discovered if you have been looking for a knife for longer than 10 minutes.

Some steel is harder, some softer, some better for corrosion resistance.

Generally, the harder the steel, the longer it keeps a sharp edge, but it can also be more brittle. Hard steel also takes longer to sharpen.

Softer steel is less brittle and sharpens easily, but it loses its sharp edge faster.

The truth is, each steel type is suited to a specific application. Strength, edge retention, and corrosion resistance go against each other, meaning when you increase one of these factors, the other two decrease, and buying a more expensive knife to overcome this only works to a certain degree.

Most tactical folding knives use steel that is tougher and holds an edge, vs steel that is softer or corrosion-resistant. M4, D2, Carbon Steel, CPM-3V are some types of steel that are quite strong and hold an edge well.

Stainless steel, such as 154CM Steel, has added chromium to prevent corrosion and is softer so it will not hold an edge for as long.

Basically, you must choose your preference, harder steel, or softer steel. Hard steel is challenging to sharpen, especially by hand, but soft steel needs to be sharpened more often.

tactical backpack with folding knife and other everyday carry items

How do I Sharpen My Tactical Knife?

All knives need maintenance, so get ready for that.

I recommend the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker (link to for sharpening your knife. It includes detailed instructions and a DVD and is the best sharpener for novices.

Serrated Blades?

Some of the tactical knives in this list has a partially serrated blade.


Because the serrated portion is ideal for cunning cord, cable, seatbelts, and rope.

But, serrated edges are much harder to maintain and sharpen than a straight edge.

For a knife you carry every day, a straight edge is more versatile and a lot easier to maintain, making it more useful and better as an EDC.

military tactical equipment

Other Tactical Folding Knife Features You May See

The Clip

The clip “muy importante”, so DON’T overlook its quality. I have had friends tell me the quality of the clip on the knife is almost as important as the quality of the blade.

That’s a little over the top, but a weak clip leads to trouble.

For starters, a knife clip made from crappy material will bend, break, and may even shred up your pocket. If the clip breaks, it’s out as a pocket knife because there is no way to secure it unless you replace the clip. What a pain!

Glass Breaker

Many tactical knives have a glass breaker. If you are a firefighter, EMT, Police officer, or first responder, this tool is valuable.

If you are just an everyday Joe trying to help out is the rare instance glass needs to be broken, you can use the handle of a quality knife to break glass and use the knife blade to carefully clear away the rest.

Seatbelt Cutter

The seatbelt cutter has limited value, despite what the ads say. It may be handy for cutting cords and cable, but your knife blade can do the same thing. This feature is overhyped.

Teather or Lanyard Hole

A lanyard or keychain hole is a “nice to have” feature for a tactical folding knife, although I do not consider it a requirement.

It allows you to add a keychain, lanyard, or tether to your knife.

If you work up high, climbing, or on a ladder, it’s a good idea to tether tools to your belt, rig, or tactical vest so they don’t fall and wreak havoc on whatever or whoever is beneath you.

Article Summary

That wraps up the top 10 best tactical folding knives of 2023. If you love tactical gear be sure to sign up for the RiflePal newsletter and don’t miss out on all the tactical gear reviews and news.

If you didn’t find what you have been looking for, take a look at the best concealed carry knives of 2023.

Until next time,

I will see YOU in the field!

Are you still here?

Listen, recently I did a little research on tactical binoculars. Since you are here for tactical gear, why not check out the list I put together of the best tactical binoculars right here?

If you are interested in knives, take a look at our guide to Reverse Tanto vs Wharncliffe knives and keep on learning.