• The Wait Is Over. From this thread, orders for the 2023 BladeForums Traditional Knife are open & here's your handy order button.
    OPEN TO ALL MEMBERS $200 ea, one per household, must have been a member prior to 3/2023
    User Name

The "First" Tactical Folder ???

Jan 18, 1999
This thread is probably geared to the more matured forumites.
Lately, I've been trying to think of what was the first example
of what we now call a "tactical/defensive folder".
Basically a lightweight, one-hand opening, locking blade
with a pocket clip. The first one-hand opener I remember
was the Blackjack Mamba (a great knife),
but, no pocket clip.
Could it have been the Spyderco ??
I'd appreciate your walking back memory lane for me.

"It is wonderful to be here
in the great state of Chicago"
- Dan Quayle -

I thought the first "modern" tactical folder was the Bob Terzoula ATCK
Back in the haze of the 1970s, there was an advertisement in Soldier of Fortune magazine for a folding knife with aluminum handles that had a retractable wire saw in the handle. I've seen one since then, in pretty bad shape, but in my eyes, that was the first tactical folder, because it was a purpose orientied knife, albeit a little more survival oriented then tactical, I guess. If anyone else remembers these knives, PLEASE pass on the information. I was about twelve when I saw it, but it was one of the sparks that has lead to this passion today. Yeah, I know, SOF PROBABLY isn't the most politically korrect magazine for a twelve year old to read, but it hasn't had any effect on me. Honestly

Take care,
John Johnson
OOPPPS, missed the part in the original posting about being a "mature forumite"
Hey Doc, I seem to recall the SERE folders from Al Mar as the first really military-style tactical folders...despite not having the one-hand opening or pocket clip adaptations. Although, you may be correct with Spyderco's first appearance. Anybody know the correct chronological introductions for the "first" true tactical folder?

I expected to get flak from the "Buck110 Clan",
the "James Dean Italian Switchblade Gang", even
the "Gypsy Navaja Family", I didn't expect to hear from you
"Terzuolians" (neat name, huh?) till much later in the game.

I used "matured" cause "older than dirt" doesn't spark
a lot of responses.

I remember those ads, (I also remember 15 cent pizza). If anyone responds, if possible, try and remember a date.

Even, skip the clip. What was the first one-hand opener???

Thanks again
IMHO the Buck 110 was the DADDY of the Tactical folders. It did not have one hand opening, but those of us who had them worked to make them one handed openers. ( rouge on the back of the lock, a little Dremel here and there,) and a few of the more adventurious drilled the top of the blade and put a small stud in for thumb action.

I got my 110 in the '70's when I was in the film business and used it EVERY day. That knife was the ONLY knife you saw on the set of every grip , gaffer, and asst. camera man.

We often talked about I wish Buck would put a stud or hole or something to make this knife a one handed opener.

Anyway that my story and I'm sticking to it !

In the mid 1970's , custom maker Bob Hayes mad the first one hand openeing and closing
knives (flipper), with microscrew construction.

Paul Fox was not far behind.

Bob T is widely acknowledged as being the grandaddy of the genre because he was the first to use G10 for handles and the opening disk.
Hmmm...I'm probably way off thinking it was the Spyderco Worker (one-hand, pocket clip, locking, etc).
The GERBER PARABELLUM deserves mention!

It had a carry rig that could be adapted from folder carry to "fixed blade open position carry". It's lockwork was solid as hell (the old Blackie Collins bolt-action) and while it was "only" a 4" blade, there was so much blade heft snapopens were a breeze OR you could "thumb it open modern style" with just thumbfriction on that huge fat blade surface.

To me, it's STILL a contender for "finest production combat 4" folder made". The steel was "only" 440C if I recall right but for a fighter, it's fine.

A *great* knife.

Jim March
Anyone remember the "puma" lockbacks that looked like buck clones? I think Spyderco has the clip wrapped up however.

have to agree with wll....the first guy who stuck one of those little metal clips with a lip sticking out on the top of a buck 110 created the first tactical folder....its been downhill ever since (joke)....actually the ingenuity of some of these guys reminds me of what bob loveless said a few years back.."if these guys had been around when i got started...i wouldnt have started.." or something like that.....
Jerry, I remember those. They were pretty decent knives as a matter of fact I still use a couple of them and they have seen some pretty rough usage.

Randy Gilbreth was making (and still does) some interesting one handers in the late 70's with a tactical look, if I am not mistaken. I have always liked his work.
Navaja fan here;

The navaja is not light by modern standards, they run from 16 inches open and up. You can quite easily open them one-handed, but they don't have a thumbstud.

They WERE a folding knife designed for combat. They Were in use 300-400 years ago.

I hate the term "tactical" as it now is just a catchphrase, and it all depend on how you define a "tactical" knife, but the navaja is a competent weapon in skilled hands and is remarkably concealable. I will say it's the oldest purpose-designed fighting folder I know of.

Oh yeah, and they were as much Spanish as they were Gypsy, and indeed quite popular throughout Europe.