Anyone else notice this about Tactical Knives

Aug 22, 1999
I'm not sure what is going on, but the past two issues have featured TOPS knives on the cover, and not just little pictures, they have been the main feature. So I did a little digging and found that their knives were also on the cover of July 2000 and Sept. 1999. Does this seem excessive to anyone else? It just seemed wierd too me.

Perhaps the editor, Steven Dick, merely likes those knives. They certainly make for attractive covers. I like Tactical Knives best of all the knife magazines available.

Love the avatar, by the way. :)
Don't get me wrong, I like Tac Knives, but for the publisher (not the editor) the bottom line is always money. I'll lay odds that TOPS spends a lot - more than many others combined - on advertising in Tac Knives, and that's why they get a lot of play. Not that their knives don't look cool either, but that would be true of many many others...
Matthew hit on my question: do you notice an inordinate amount of TOPS advertising in the magazine? Advertisers do skew trade mags in many cases and in many industries.
I've noticed the same thing myself. I don't know if TOPS advertises any more in TK than in any of the other rags, but almost every issue seems to have either a cover feature on TOPS or at least one review of a TOPS knife. Obviously someone is happy with the company over at TK!
I took a closer look at all of this to see if I could come up with some numbers. Spyderco, REKAT, Boker, Cold Steel, Columbia River and SOG all have two covers to their name. Benchmade and Ka-Bar each have three. TOPS "topped" the competition with four covers, which no other company has done.

To give them credit, TK puts a lot of custom makers on their covers, and not just the well-knowns either.

Here's a couple of interesting tidbits. Busse has never been on the cover (you don't get much more tactical). The last time Spyderco was on the cover was 24 issues ago!

Steven Dick, the editor is a BF member and has posted here before so hopefully he'll see this and join in.
I agree, TK is the best of the mags out there now.

PS-I miss Greg Walker. BTW, he is now the co-author with Dick Marcinko on upcoming Rogue Warrior books.
I sent Steve a link to this thread earlier this morning.

I guess he'll chime in if he feels a need to comment.

I also agree that TK is the best of the knife mags available. It's the one I most look forward to. (Though I do enjoy features like Ed Fowler's "Knife Talk" amongst other features in other periodicals.)

On top of that, I respect both Steve and his judgement.

Despite the advertising factor, I've seen Steve, Jeff Randall and others writing for the magazine express criticism of knives under review. Maybe not scathing, but constructive criticism nonetheless.

I wouldn't be too hard on him or the integrity of the magazine in the absence of any damning evidence.

In what way is Tac Knives better than the rest? At some point I will have to sub to one, but have never seen any of them in the UK (and never will without an International sub).
Here's my breakdown of the various knife mags (all opinion, and I've been reading them for maybe three years):

In no particular order:

1) Blade- nice all around magazine. Good balance between articles, reviews, technical stuff, how-to. Consistently good photos and I like it because it comes out every month, or close to it. Probably my favorite of the bunch.

2) Tactical Knives- usually pretty good photos. Lots of reviews. Feature a lot of lesser known makers, or up-and-comers. Writing isn't always the best, and lots of spelling/grammar errors, but the substance usually outweighs the mistakes, so they're forgivable! Pretty consistent from one month to th next. I wish it came out every month!

3) Knives Illustrated- heavy on photos and interviews/stories on knifemakers. Nice eye candy, but lacks the in-depth stuff that Blade has. Pretty good how-to articles and technical articles when they appear. Photograhy varies from beautiful to horrendous. I have seen a few issues in the past that are of embarrassing quality both visually and from a writing perspective. Of the three, KI is probably the least consistent. If I had to choose one, I would probably buy Blade, but only because it comes out every month. TK is consistently good, and I always read it cover to cover. Steve, you know Microsoft Office has a spelling and grammar check, right? ;) In all honesty, I am grateful to the people who work so hard on these publications. They are truly doing a great service for our addiction/hobby!
Tactical Knives features articles on self-defense and combat applications. The others do not. That makes a big difference, to me.
I like Tactical Knives a lot but it seems like every knife is given a great review. You don't hear too much about bad knives, they should be a little more honest and if they don't like something then say it. I mean I love the magazine, it's my absolute favorite, but they could give a bad review of something every once in a while. Other than that, I love the self defense articles a lot and the photos are great.
To the General - Borders stocks Blade Magazine in the UK. That's where I first saw it. I now subscribe to it and TK and enjoy both their perspectives. I agree that the self defense aspects of TK are enjoyable and useful, that the constant good reviews grate a litte, and that it should be monthly. Some of the pieces are also strangly dated, like Steve's Talon review that recommends an ATS version, when one has been available for ages according to Blade.
I have about all the TK from the earliest. Last year I let my subscription lapse do to lack of content.

It became a catalog of makers. I'm interested in how to better use my knives and creative uses for them. The Jeff Randal article on using sand and a split tree branch for sharpening was real "out of the box thinking".

I look at it every time and only buy the issues that have more than one article of use to me.

One of the last one's I have have a "teaser" headline - "The sabre grip can get you killed" on the cover. Shades of supermaket scandle rags. I'm real turned off by such blatant sensationalism. I'm not the oldest (experienced) guy on this forum, but I've had the green worn off of me quite sometime ago.

Besides, I did some working out with my thumb on the wrong side of the sabre/hammer grip. Its not that bad and can be changed back to the proper side in the blink of an eye.

I too miss Fighting Knives, but only the early days. Toward the end light content reigned supreme. Hell, SOF when down hill when they went monthly. - Give you an idea how long I've been around. -Brian
I knew I missed an issue (Busse on #2). I must say that I prefer TK to all the knife mags, so this post isn't a flame or anything. It's just that there are tons of knives out there to be reviewed that should have the opportunity to grace the cover. The new issue will be out in a couple of weeks, so we'll see what's new.

I like Tactical Knives a lot but it seems like every knife is given a great review. You don't hear too much about bad knives, they should be a little more honest and if they don't like something then say it. I mean I love the magazine, it's my absolute favorite, but they could give a bad review of something every once in a while.

I used to write music reviews when I was getting my BA. They were always positive, but I also had to listen to a lot of music to get those positive ones! Most magazines that do reviews like this take a careful approach to negative reviews, probably for the following reasons:<p>
1) One person's opinion can affect a lot of people's purchases, and that opinion may not be entirely objective.<p>
2) One knife is not a representative sample...even on a production model, you can get a bum knife. Also, a maker/company can send an exceptional blade to the reviewer that is not entirely representative of the model to fool the reviewer into thinking it is better than it is.<p>
3) A positive article is more enjoyable to read than one that bashes everything about the knife. I suspect the knife reviewers wade through quite a few blades before they find one WORTH reviewing in the first place.
One of the last one's I have have a "teaser" headline - "The sabre grip can get you killed" on the cover. Shades of supermaket scandle rags.

The article on the sabre grip was actually very interesting. Even if it isn't negative enough for you, I think Tactical Knives is worth reading.
Hey General, here's my review (ha!) of the 3 major mags in North America.

BLADE: Seems to be an "industry" mag to me. Lots of info for collectors, shows, competitions, knife history, etc. That is what they focus on, in my opinion. Oh, dotted between this industry stuff is great material like Ed Fowler's Knife Talk, and how to's grom Goddard.

Knives Illustrated: took a hit since Bud "left". Counting the typos is a fun game when reading that mag. But that one is more for the custom/maker crowd. If you want to see AMAZING knives, liek with embellishments, international stuff, inlays, gold and jewel work, etc., that mag is for you.

Tactical Knives: focuses on "knife knut" stuff, in my opinion. Each article has info on steel, sharpening, fighting and wilderness survival. Sounds liek bladeforums to me! And those are just departments. The frequent glowing reviews can get a little lame to read somethimes, but oh well. Good maker profiles, AWESOME peopel writing for them. I am leaving people out by accident here, but Jerry Van Cook is funny to read and has great practical info (former cop, so you get a greap perspective), Steven Dick himself does a lot of writing and is former military as well (went to RECONDO school in 'Nam, I like that), Larsen, MSSG Kelly somebody or other (sorry!) writes great reviews, etc. If you liek micarta and g-10, knives designed to open mail one day and turn a tree into kindling the next, Knives illustrated is for you. Now only if it came out every month...
Well I was going to post a reply but lost my whole paragraph when I hit the back button to remember a line from another post. To hell with this new software. Since the change I have decided it's more damn trouble to attempt a detailed reply than it's worth. What was wrong with the old software? Maybe I am a damn dinosaur, but then again I believe 10 dollar machetes are the most valuable knives that can be had.

BTW: The TOPS cover on TK with the Laser Strike is an exclusive knife from us even though TOPS is the manufacturer, so it's safe to say that wasn't their cover. I hear rumors that the next cover is going to be a 5 dollar Chinese folder that Steve Dick bought at a Chevron Food Mart :) .....well at least you will be able to turn the page back to remember something you read.

Personally I think a lid from a tuna fish can makes a great knife, but I can't convince Harris to run my Tactical Tuna Fish Slayer on the cover...oh well :)