First "tactical" folders?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Chris Pierce, May 28, 2011.

  1. Chris Pierce

    Chris Pierce

    Nov 15, 2006
    I've been wondering about this for a while now. I define a "tactical folder" as a medium/large (3-5") single bladed one handed opening knife with a pocket clip. So let's please use this as a working definition for this thread.
    When did these knives arrive on the scene? The first one I remember seeing was a spyderco in my uncles pocket when I was about 6 or 7 which would make the year 1991-92 or so. I also remember growing up my father had a spyderco worker(?) that was fully serrated with a spyder-hole of course and a pocket clip, the handle was stainless steel. As a child I carried cheap gas station knives with plastic thumb studs and serrated blades.
    What was your first "tactical" folder? Does anyone have pictures of the earliest ones?

    Thanks for your input
  2. freedoom


    Jan 31, 2010
    well spyderco invented both one handed opening and the pocket clip. their first knife with these features was the worker and it was introduced in the early 80s.
  3. flatface77


    Oct 3, 2007
  4. XanRa


    Apr 13, 2011
    Mine was the original frost dragonclaw- still got it somewhere but I dont know
  5. Austinaftermath


    Sep 2, 2009
    The first would be the Spyderco Worker with slab handles and a two screw clip; I believe it came out in 1981. Myfirst was som chinatown cheapo Gerber ripoff in 2001.
    Last edited: May 28, 2011
  6. TheCarbideRat

    TheCarbideRat Banned BANNED

    Sep 10, 2008
  7. Matador


    Jul 16, 2006
    Spyderco micarta Wayne Goddard did it for me.

    Attached Files:

  8. XanRa


    Apr 13, 2011
    I like it!
  9. H2H907


    Dec 30, 2007
    I'm gonna pre-date your definition a bit, and say that the first "tactical" folders were Buck 110s, and various Gerber, Al Mar, etc. locking folders that were usually carried in belt pouches.

    Thank GAWD for Spyderco, who changed the game entirely. While I did not always strap on my Gerber or Leatherman belt pouches, I did always clip on my Spyderco Mariner, which was a gift when I was in the Coast Guard. Following that was a Spydie Police model, followed by an Endura, then a Delica, then a Benchmade AFCK, then a CQC7, then a 710... the rest is a blur.

    Nothing half as bulky as the Buck 110 package that was ubiquitous in my Boy Scout days. Sal Glesser is the Sam Colt of folding knives.
  10. Lord Bear

    Lord Bear

    Dec 28, 2009
    Please forgive me if I'm picking nits...should the definition of "tactical folder" INCLUDE a locking blade? (Fr'insntance should the UK series be considered "tactical"?) Just wondering. :cool:
  11. MTHall720

    MTHall720 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    First one I became aware of was when I was in the private security field in '97. The blade was a Spyderco Military.
  12. Joshua J.

    Joshua J.

    Feb 27, 2005
    I thought that Cold Steel did it with their car hood stabbing when they popularized the American Tanto.
  13. Lord Bear

    Lord Bear

    Dec 28, 2009
    H2H907 I agree about the pocket clip also being essential (as well as the locking blade) to a folder being considered "tactical". (In a historic view of the evolution of tactical folders of course.)
  14. TheCarbideRat

    TheCarbideRat Banned BANNED

    Sep 10, 2008
    Wasn't the original SOG Tomcat the one that kicked it all off?
  15. kreole


    Jul 23, 2009
    I believe the Tomcat came out in 1988. IMO that's a little too late in the decade to be considered the beginning. It definitely has that tactical look, though.
  16. elkins45


    Jun 17, 2006
  17. Charlie Mike

    Charlie Mike Sober since 1-7-14 (still a Paranoid Nutjob) Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 1, 2000
    I'd say the Buck 110. Many soldiers still carry them today.
  18. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Well, there's the Schrade automatic that was issued to airborne troops in WW2, as was the German made gravity knife the paratroops carried.

    Then you have the folding daggers of the 1800's, like the example John Wilkes Booth had when he was killed at Garrets barn.

    But the term tactical is just a late 20th century marketing plyo to sell knives. Look back hard enough, thre's nothing new under the sun.
  19. viva la

    viva la

    Jan 13, 2010
    Cold Steel invented the tactical folder. its true, and you have heard it here first
  20. Gunny Bob

    Gunny Bob

    Jan 21, 2006
    The Romans in 50 BC had gravity knives. The ancients certainly made far more complicated devices than a folding knife that locked open. As throughout all history, if there's a call for something, particularly something as relatively easy to design and manufacture as a knife, some artisan will be there to answer. In modern times it became far more important for even the law abiding to be discreet when it came to carrying a somewhat potent blade and I do suppose Sal Glesser had a big hand in answering that call. They'll most likely be legislated out of existence as well, until braver men take a stab at it somewhere down history's timeline.
    Last edited: May 29, 2011

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