Definition of a Tactical Folder?

Mr. Mattis,

Further to your point, Massachusetts has NO laws specifically regarding fixed-blades, but does prohibit the carry of "a device or case which enables a knife with a locking blade to be drawn at a locked position." So carrying an open folder is actually illegal here, while carrying a fixed-blade is not (provided it meets our ban on ALL double-edged knives). Odd, right? Well, that's what Mass. laws are known for...

Also, I'm not a martial artist, but I am well-practiced in the opening technique that you mentioned (actually called the "Spyder-drop" at one time). It works well on any largish blade-hole knife, not just the Military (though linerlocks make it much easier than lockbacks) and it gives draw-to-strike times that I feel far outstrip studs, discs, and other methods, at least by comparison with folks I know who are practiced with those types of knives. I would like to shift my grip for hard thrusting, but for slashes it works fine.

I feel this fixed-blade discussion may be a moot point. No folder will ever be as fast or as strong as a fixed-blade in a good sheath, but when you think about it, if we could carry fixed-blades then there would be literally no place for a folding knife, ever. They are by nature inferior in all functional respects except ease of carry and social acceptability. Those are critical concerns, however, and I'm not trying to downplay the role of folders. So lets limit this discussion to folders.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)

I went back and read the law, and you are right. I always just assumed drawing a "locking blade" from a device or case is a reference to a fixed blade. Hmm... Well, I know police in Boston will interpret and act in the most restrictive way possible.

The knife that you have with you is the one you will use if the situation develops.

So, a knife that is convenient to carry sometimes means a folder. I say this even though I carry a Moran religiously, everywhere, all the time, it is under my pillow at night.

Carrying a serrated knife may be the answer to a dedicated tactical knife, then you can flub the lines a little sometimes when the serrations are just the thing for a non-tactical solution.

Want to keep that knife sharp, buy a Sharpmaker and use it regularly, solution found.

The chances that one is going to be in a civilian tactical situation is pretty low compared to the chances you will need a cutting tool for mundane tasks. So I figure you buy a knife that can do the job a fighter that also does the regular stuff.

Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at

"A journey of a thousand miles begins but with a single step" Lao-Tzu

The way the MA law reads, and I had a hotshot lawyer friend down here confirm that my interpretation of the wording is valid, if not necessarily in the spirit of the law, it can be interpreted that _any_ knife with a blade length of more than 1.5" or so is illegal.

To quote the MGL.
"(b) Whoever, except as provided by law, carries on his person, or carries on his person or under his control in a vehicle, any stiletto, dagger or a device or case which enables a knife with a locking blade to be drawn at a locked position, any ballistic knife, or any knife with a detachable blade capable of being propelled by any mechanism, dirk knife, any knife having a double-edged blade, or a switch knife, or any knife having an automatic spring release device by which the blade is released from the handle, having a blade of over one and one-half inches, or a slung shot, blowgun, blackjack, metallic knuckles..."

Note the sentence fragment 'having a blade of over one and one-half inches' and the surrounding punctuation and context. It really can be read either way. Also noteworthy is that it does not specify blade length, but rather a vague 'blade of one and one-half inches'. This, to me (and my lawyer friend concurs) is a law written with the intent of giving LEOs wide discretion in who they decide to arrest.

Sure am glad I don't live up there any more, it gave me the creeps
I used to think I was pretty durn quick to open a folding knife, but eventually I noticed however much I practiced it still takes time, and when someone is trying to kill you NOTHING is fast enough. A second can last a lifetime....

You don't need a gigantic bowie knife to defend yourself; three or four inches (7-10cm) is plenty. There's only one move that requires a blade longer than 3" and it isn't at all essential; you can accomplish the same result other ways.

Jim March's posts have covered California law and enforcement re concealed and inconspicuous open carry much better than I could, but I have to respond to that post about the legislators' intent. Why do you suppose they made mere possession of a lipstick knife a felony? The legislators' intention is obvious: encourage violent crime, discourage self-reliance, because a police state goes all to heck if people ever stop being afraid.

-Cougar Allen :{)
I'm aware of that bizarre sentence structure. For a while it was misinterpreted by my local knife store, leading them to believe you could have a back edge if it was under 1 1/2 inches. They went around sharpening up the first inch or so on the back of all the daggers and spearpoints (in some cases where they had already removed the back edge themselves) until re-reading the law correctly. I am convinced that "correctly" in this case means that fragment applies to autos: automatic knives under 1 1/2" are legal in MA. I carry a copy of this law in my wallet, but I have no illusions that I might debate the point with an LEO who decided he didn't like what I was carrying. And for the record, I think 95% of the time police acting at their discretion is a good thing.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
The word tactical is really too general to be very useful when applied to knives. Anything designed or used to accomplish an immediate or short term goal is tactical, so all knives are tactical as long as they serve the immediate need.

A hard-use folder simply needs to be fast to deploy, strong, and possess a secure and comfortable grip. There are infinite ways to achieve all that. About fifty different ways have been suggested above.

I think a Rolling-lock version of the Military would satisfy all the criteria.

More thoughts on strong:

The blade tip needs to be robust enough so that full force impacts into wood won't break it. The handle and blade stop should be strong enough to tolerate near full bodyweight force behind a cut, day in and day out, as well as many hours of thrust type impacts. The lock should be able to tolerate similar stress with 100% reliability, as well as shock. Forget about prying. I don't know a folder that will tolerate it. The blade will break eventually, it is just a matter of when. Or, the handle will be torn apart.


Making an evergreen bough emergency shelter. Punching your way out of a wood or light metal enclosure. Take the impact of a baseball bat on the spine of the blade without closing while held in a free hand, in other words when some of the shock is absorbed by the arm and wrist. Open light metal food containers (tin cans) without significant edge damage (no prying).

It's been my experience that if you are unprepared for a fight and find yourself in one, no matter how fast you can open your folder, the attacker's action is much faster than your re-action. In other words, if your knife isn't already out, you are going to have to fight unarmed for a moment to make an opening in order to draw your folder and open it.

What this means is that you seperate yourself from your attacker, pull your knife and drop into your gaurd of choice. The knife becomes a stand-off weapon. A threat that he may stop to consider. If the enemy attacks, you reply in kind. But the quick-draw-stab-you're-dead school of self-defense with a knife doesn't hold up to what I've seen at all. You'd have to be blazingly fast, like with cybernetic implants or something.

The upshot is, bladeholes and thumbstuds(did you ever stop to think how pornographic those sound?
) are a nicety but not neccesity. Anyway, I have never had a problem opening any folder one-handed. People were doing this long before these gimicks came along.

If we ignore laws and assume a good example could be found, my first choice in folders for defense and utility would be a navaja, preferably with a Spanish notch and a gaurd formed by the bolster. The navaja has served my people well in these rolls for litteraly centuries, and are still capable of this work where allowed by law. I'll take a big(and pretty I must say) knife over a little one any day, but that's just my preference. More than one right answer.

In the modern political climate, and considering the difficulty of finding a good navaja or someone who can make one, I'll have to stick with my steadfast Buck Titanium.

Strong, great retention and indexing, clip point is good for thrusts, sharp for cuts, cheap to replace, relatively unassuming appearance(compared to wicked serrations), big but within the bounds.

As to not using your defensive knife for utility, I can respect people who do that, but it's not my way. That gets too close to the "one trick pony" issue for me. I'm of the opinion a good knife should be used for both defense and utility. Sharp is good. My knives are always kept sharp. But I do all my serious damage with the point, so I am not so concerned with the "keep it razor sharp" issue anyway.

As has been said, a knife will see a lot more action in utility chores than fighting. I am of the opinion a well designed knife should be able to do either with ease.

I must agree with what was said earlier, "tactical" is a marketing scheme. A way to sell products and put a spin on things. It's just a buzzword to slap on products that do(or often don't do) what a good knife should, and has been doing for litteraly centuries. Kick out the style, bring back the jam!
Quickly accessible, low profile, and capable of saving your life. Oh yeah, you already make stuff like that. I really like the looks of the soon to be out J.D. Smith model. I think some modifications on this would be your ideal tactical knife. Like dual stainless liners and the SecureLock, a blackened blade, and G10 scales instead of the micarta with completed screw-to-insert construction.