Is promoting "Tactical" knives a good strategy?


Platinum Member
Jun 29, 1999
It seems we are still obsessed with all things tactical. A few years ago years ago it was assault rifles, high capacity pistols, and lethal ammunition. Today its rapidly deployable knives, lethal blades, and knife fighting. As usual everything tactical comes in black with low-reflective metal finish; And, everything seems purposely designed to raise the hackels of the uninitiated.

For the gun enthusiast it was our own hype, our own maketing literature that was turned against us. Our focus and marketing effort centered on lethality spawned an entire anti-gun industry (not to mention what effect it might have had on young people). Are we going to travel down the same road with knives?

Most of our guns were and are used for target practice, a smaller percentage were used for hunting, and an even smaller percentage were kept for self defense (mostly for peace of mind). Most knives today are used in the kitchen, a smaller number are used as field tools, and fewer still are carried for self defense. So why are we focused on self defense? Are we creating another imaginary boogie man that may be turned against us at some point?

Your comments are welcomed.

[This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 18 July 1999).]
Personally, I think that "Tactical" is way over done and could hurt our hobby and industry. A knife is first and formost a tool. Any knife is good for defense if it the one you have on hand. I see many comments saying that a USMC Ka-Bar is still the best all-around combat type knife.

Frankly I see too many over-testosteroned, under educated guys whipping out two Benchmades, flicking them open at the same time, as if that is impressive or something. Naw, I'm more impressed with a well-made hunter, and someone who can actually sharpen. If I have to save someone in a wreck, or defend my life, any one of the modern linerlock pocket clipped knives would be excellent.

Personally, most of my knives have Wharncliff or drop-point type blades because those are what is TRUELY useful in everydaylife; IMHO.

Just my $.02.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

[This message has been edited by Dry Heat (edited 18 July 1999).]
Unfortunately, perception of an issue is often more important than the facts in our society. Any bullet, knife, etc. called a “Talon” will carry a negative connotation despite its intended use. I myself snickered when Benchmade changed the name of one of their most popular knives to the Advanced Folding Camp Knife from a more “tactical” Combat, but it is a solid decision aimed at circumventing the same concerns that you have expressed. The Spyderco Harpy has made an already infamous appearance in the just published sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs”, “Hannibal”, where the blade appears in the hands of the cannibalistic serial killer. Not positive PR, but I have noticed that Spydercos nastiest looking knife is called the “Civilian”, most likely for the same reasons that led Benchmade to make their recent marketing decision.

The term Tactical sets some peoples teeth on edge because they realize the field day the press could have if they get interested. Don't believe me? Think about the press reaction to the word "switchblade".

I have been promoting the Canadian Knifemaker's Guild show to the local press for the last few years and have found that if the show is presented as a demonstration of the knifemaker's art with emphasis on the skill and uniqueness of the product the press coverage is very positive and enthusiastic. I usually encourage the tv crews to roam freely and ask questions about everything BUT WHEN WE COME TO A TACTICAL DESIGN I refer to the knife in terms such as a "tanto bladed pocket knife". "Pocket knives" are not threatening, "tactical knives" are so I avoid the term whenever possible.


The really silly thing in the whole "tactical" market is that people who don't know how to use a knife in a combat situation are doomed if they enter a situation like that! They'll either escalate the situation to lethal proportions unnecessarily, they'll cut themselves on accident, or they'll be disarmed and skewered with their own knife!
People who carry knives for self-defense are more danger to themselves than if they just go with their brains and feet as their weapons, unless they "know how to knife fight." Most tactical folders seem to be aimed at just thisamateur market, and the result is a lawsuit and harsh laws waiting to happen.
In addition to this reason, someone who IS an expert in bladed weapons can turn any knife into a leathal weapon. Look at a href = ""> Sean Perkins knives</a>. They are tiny little things, but Sean, who has taught Tai Chi and sword, can probably kick major ass with one.

My Custom Kydex Sheath page
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels
You know, political correctness is killing us. So what if they are called tactical knives. If the antis want to go after them they will slap thier own label on them. For years I cringed at the words such as tactical, hi-capacity, auto loader and so on, because I figured the liberals would have a field day with the terms. Then I finally gave up caring what the liberals thought. Take the word switchblade, well thats what it is. Then some liberal comes along and says it with a sinister tone in their voice and BANG they are a bad thing. So we resort to calling them auto knives or whatever. Whats even worse is ourselves reacting to all the antis. Benchmade has the advanced folding combat knife and we, the knife buyers start saying, uh gee, we should not call it that, the liberals wont like it. Well big f'n deal. Im not gonna sit and say, oh but my guns are only for shooting targets and my knives are only for box opening. Sure that is what they are used for but if the need ever arises they can also be weapons of defense. Why is it somebody supposed to be on our side pops up and critisizes us for a label. These are the same ones who will let their rights be taken away and whine about it and say, well next time im gonna vote differently and get that guy out. How about the next time a liberal says, eeeekkk!! you have a tactical knife, you just say, well, so what, have I done anything bad with it? Look, lets stop pointing fingers at each other for what our guns and knives are called, In general you are not gonna change the antis minds. I personally am sick and tired of compromising our rights away and letting them do it. It seems the only thing left to do, since it obvious the political scene is not in our favor, it to let the liberals know flat out, we are not violent people and wish to hurt nobody, but if you think you need to take away our guns and knives the go for it, but dont expect it to be an easy undertaking. And then be prepared to use your weapons for one of the reasons we have them, and that it to forcfully protect our rights if need be.

Calling something "tactical" is mostly marketing hype. Many companies sell "tactical" this and that without any consideration of it's tactical usefulness just bacause they make more money in it, just like all those calling their products "SEAL" something. In the long run that can only have negative political consequences for the whole branch if non-enthusiasts see knifes more as weapons than as tool.

Next time you go to rent a video, start in the "Action/Adventure" section. Just look at the pictures on the covers. In at least 50% of them, the hero appears holding a gun -- typically with his finger on the trigger and the gun pointing straight up and held right next to his face. It's amazing that we've only had one actor killed on a set in a gun-related accident recently.

Now, go to the "Horror" section and look at the covers there. On about 50% of them you'll see the anti-hero holding some sort of edged weapon, often a knife held way above his head in a reverse grip.

It's rare to see a movie or TV hero who carries and uses a significant knife. (Yes, there are exceptions. My point is that they are just that, exceptions.)

The public already fears and dislikes knives much more so than guns. I know several people who are quite comfortable handling guns, but consider my AFCK to be a "big" knife and are scared to handle it because "it's really sharp." The rate of gun ownership in the US is significantly higher than the ownership rate for "serious" knives. Overall, I'll assert that the general public is more comfortable with guns than with knives.

I find this even more true when I'm outside of Oregon.

This is an emotional response. We've all been cut by a knife in our life at some time. It may have just been a minor cut with a small kitchen knife. I, a frequent handler of butterfly knives, cut myself the other day with a potato peeler. Just about everyone has been cut with a knife. And, you know what? It hurts! You bleed. Many people are afraid of blood. The blood makes a mess. And then it takes a week or two to heal. But, very few of us have had a first-hand encounter with a bullet. Very few of us has ever been shot. So, our ideas about what it's like to be shot do not come from first-hand experience. Fortunately, we've seen people shot. I saw a statistic the other day that says that before reaching age 21, the average American child has witnessed 12,000 shootings -- all on TV and in the movies, of course. So, we form our ideas about what it's like to be shot based on what we've seen on TV and in the movies. On TV and in the movies, if you're a bad guy and you get shot, you fall down dead immediately. Maybe the camera catches a glimpse of a bit of blood just for show, but he was bad guy, so it's ok. And if you're a good guy and you somehow manage to get shot, don't worry. You grimace a little, but you're ok. You'll go right on and still get the girl in the last scene.

We all know from first-hand experience that getting cut hurts and is a bad experience. But, what we've seen 12,000 times tells us, getting shot doesn't hurt and isn't a serious problem.

This all misguided emotion. Pick up your paper and see how many people were shot in your city in the last week. Compare it to how many were stabbed. As I recall, Portland, Oregon had some 140 shootings last year, and one stabbing. Yet I'll bet that if you stopped the average Portlander on the street and asked him which he feared more, a gun or a knife, he'd pick the knife.

This is very surprising because most everyone uses some sort of knife every day. Very few people use a gun every day. We trade our real-life, first-hand experiences for what the fantasy world of TV and the movies tells us.

There's a lot more negative emotions behind knives. Anti-knife legislation would have much less resistance because the TV and the movies have taught us that ONLY bad guys carry knives (and try being a Bali Song collector (I know of only one movie popular in the US where the hero carries a Bali Song: Streets of Fire, and Tom Cody is sort of a dark hero.)) and we don't have the strong political force that gun supporters do.

I think we are totally bass-ackwards on this issue. I disagree with not2sharp, the vast majority of guns in the U.S. are owned for self-defense, not hunting or target practice. That is the strength of our argument. A couple of million legally owned guns, a relatively small number of shootings. Indeed, more crimes stopped by guns then committed.

Similarly, I think the knife name argument is somewhat fallacious. If, God forbid, you are ever defending yourself in a court of law, when the prosecutor waves that wicked curved blade in front of a jury it doesn't matter if he calls it a Civilian or Death from Above. For the uninformed it won't matter.

And conversely, if you think you will be protected by the fact that your 4" blade is an Advanced Folding Camping Knife, you are mistaken. "And just where exactly were you camping in downtown Dallas, Mr. Donovan, when you felt the need to pull this weapon on a poor, unsuspecting mugger?" Our surest and best defense is in being certain that we are within the limits of the law. That is the only way the law can protect us.

I don't think that we should backtrack on these issues. We still have the right to bear arms and to defend our families. If we don't acknowledge that guns and knives are useful tools for that purpose we are defeating ourselves.

Anybody for a Busse Bunny Hugger?

I don't really see 'Tactical' as being overdone until I see cheap bad quality folders.

Honestly, I think it is a response to a niche market. LEO and Military never hesitate to tell you when some piece of equipment messes up badly or when equipment works perfectly. To stay competitive, companies try to be innovative. How many ways can you innovate something meant to cut objects and not look like everything else?
Openings, coatings, sheaths, steel, handle, design, price, thickness, weight, etc.

Tactical knives present perhaps an unexplored area. Adventure and such, products that can be depended on in emergencies.
JESUS JUMPED UP CHRIST!!!! Benchmade changed the AFCK to the Advanced Folding CAMPING Knife?!?!? What's next, the Cold Steel Butter Axe??? The hype over naming knives has gone too far. Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but if it came down to it, I would, and could stab an attacker to death with a pencil! Knives are tools, just like screwdrivers (BTW, more stabbings are committed each year with screwdrivers than with knives). The Second Ammendment is often viewed as applying only to guns, well, Knives are considered Arms also, you know while we're at it, lets just take away ANYTHING that COULD be used to harm someone. The sad fact is that more people are killed by cars every year than are killed by guns and knives put together.

Situations like these are what AKTI is for, if you want to keep your Second Ammendment rights (and only a fool wouldn't) join the NRA, and AKTI, and any other perservationist group you can find!

Well I'm going to go write Benchmade about changing the Stryker to the Pointy-Paper-Cutter, Stryker is too threatening for me.

From Websters:
Tactical; 1. Of or relating to tactics. 2. Marked by adroitness in maneuvering.

Tactics; The skill or art of using available means to achieve an end

I don't thing the term "tactical knife" is necessarily a negative connotation. And I don't think the tactical knife "craze" has hurt the knife market. Actually I think it, plus the new CCW laws, have actually helped the knife industry. Maybe some long time knife dealers can back up, or refute, this statement. If they are called "fighting" knives or "combat" knives, then yes that would maybe cause some problems. But "tactical"? That's not a bad word, in fact, I thought it was the politically correct word.

Yes, a knife is a tool, but it is a weapon none the less. I consider my guns tools. Tools whose purpose is to protect my family. Most of my knives also are weapons first, tools second. I'm not afraid or ashamed of that.

My biggest concern is the same as Chiro75's above. Many people think that by just having a knife available to them makes them feel protected, without having any formal training. I've seen it quite often with firearms, and that can sometimes be more dangerous than having nothing at all.
If you plan on carrying a knife (or handgun) for personal protection, learn how and "when" to use it. If you are alive, and in the right, it won't matter what it's called.

Remember your brain should be your first line of defense!

Hehehe....."Pointy-paper-cutter! I love it.
"May you live in interesting times"

AKTI - A000389

[This message has been edited by Kingknives (edited 18 July 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Kingknives (edited 18 July 1999).]
You can put me down for a couple of Busse Bunny Huggers any day.

But, there is more to this than just the name. The underlying Issue is whether we should market knives for the specific and expressed purpose of self-defence. Sure, any knife can be used for self defence and most have been. The key word here is "market"; is the knife industry going to encourage people to carry on their person a conceal device specifically created and sold as a weapon?

If John Doe chooses to assault someone (presumably in self defense) with a Spyderco Carpet knife; then John Doe has made a conscious decision to do so. No one could argue that the knifemaker was a party to the decision, nor an influence on that decision; and, would anyone realy want to propose that we ban all carpet knives.

Perception is a powerful thing! You can count on me to stand with you on the Second Amendment. But, do we really want to spark that fight now?

I would suggest it would be prudent to toe the line on political correctness, and exercise due caution with suggestive language such as "tactical knife" and "assualt rifle."
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes

Shakespeare, ROMEO AND JULIET, Act 2, Scene 2

The magic word "tactical" sells a lot of steel to adolescents of all ages.

Desert Rat

"Tactical" sells like a charm- to LEOs, the malitary, young people, old people, heck, to almost anybody... It is a shame that a simple label has this kind of consumer power. It's also a shame that a word has the power to rally the "anti/uninformed types." I agree, we should learn from the mistakes already made by the gun industry, before it is too late.

I don't want the knife industry to make the same mistakes as the gun Industry. Perception is very powerful. And we definitely don't want the word "tactical" to backfire on the knife industry in the years to come even if it does sell a lot of knives. Well, that is my 2 cents.
Knives, when seen as weapons, are hopelessly politically incorrect, and have been at least since Caesar went for a walk in the Forum, and long before anybody heard of a liberal. Swords are the weapons of heros and lawful authority, spears the weapons of soldiers, knives the weapons of spies, assassins, and thieves.

I've been pushing the term, "Sport-utility knife" for some time. It's broader than "tactical," and if somebody doesn't find it threatening, it can't hurt. And I can carry a sport-utility knife around town, just like the folks who drive sport-utility vehicles here in Los Angeles, who will never take them off the paved road or onto snow.

Martial artists will pick the best tool for the ugly job, regardless of what we call it. For example, the Delica has a following. Of course, a serious hoplophobe will jump three feet at the sight of a "Ladybug," and authority figures cast an evil eye upon the butterfly knife. Still, no point in writing their propaganda for them.

Self defense with a knife is controversial. Thare are people who will tell you they would rather die the death of an innocent victim than cut an assailant, up close and bloody. Most of us here may find that attitude quite incomprehensable, but it is the majority opinion and the law of the land in some places, such as the UK. Therefore, it is imprudent to advertise, by "killer nomenclature," that the knives we carry for mundane cutting chores can also slice and dice an aggressor.

The value of an innocent name on a knife, in a murky incident that the police are investigating, or in a legislator's press conference, may be marginal, but it can't hurt, and I would rate it right up there with passing the spinal tap test (where you'll also get an arguemnt on its practical value) in deciding whether I'm going to carry that knife.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet just the same." Nice thought and a factual statement, however the world that we all reside in puts a good deal of precedence on names. Like it or not.You could cut that would-be mugger to ribbons with your handy dandy little string cutting pocket folder, but if you went to court over it, even a half assed lawyer could and MOST certainly would demonize you by association if your little folder was called "The Perpetrator Perferator" or some other mega-macho moniker. A jury will find you guilty by association. What's in a name? Maybe everything you own if the POS that tried to mug you sues you, and you better believe he will sue. A mega-macho name on your knife is simply more ammo for the other side's lawyer if a situation, through bad karma or whatever, goes that far (court).
Let's look at another hypothetical example. say you are stopped by the police because you vaguely resemble a robbery suspect. Your searched and Mr. LEO pulls out your AFCK. Your answer to the inevitable question of "What are you doing with this?" could be the difference between going home or going to the local lockup for a friendly little strip search. Do you tell him it's for self defense or it is simply a utility tool? Now, Cops are not idiots, they know why you have an AFCK on you, but if you answer "self defense" they are basically obligated to run you in. It's illegal to carry a weapon for self defense unless you are LICENSED to do so, or so I'm told by our local PD here in central Fla. Is your knife a "utility" knife or a "self defense" knife? What's in a name? Oh GOD, I'm off on a tangent! Somebody stop me! Sorry to hog so much space on your thread.

[This message has been edited by misque (edited 18 July 1999).]