Traditionals and Tacticals

kamagong

Gold Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2001
Messages
10,499
Every day I carry two knives, a Spyderco Military and a Cold Steel large stockman. One is tactical, the other is traditional. I like them both. I appreciate the nostalgia of the stockman and at the same time am fascinated by the technology used to create the Military.

Sometimes I feel that I am alone in thinking this way, at least on this forum. There is obviously a bias here towards traditional folders. I understand that for some it is a matter of preference. From others though I think I detect the occasional hint of animosity towards tacticals. Why is that? Both traditional and tactical knives are descendants of the first obsidian blades. Both are useful, and I for one am glad to even see someone else with a pocket knife as it is one less sheeple to worry about.

Have you forumites here ever tried tactical knives? What are your experiences with them? I have had a few, and while some fall into the sharpened prybar category, there are some tactical knives are superb cutters. The Spyderco Military is just such a knife. It has a flat ground blade that just cuts and cuts. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The same can be said for my stockman. It is not as fun as the Military and it isn’t as beautiful as some of the knives I’ve seen here, but I’ve grown attached to it. I guess given the opportunity I could probably get attached to any knife. That’s just part and parcel of being a knife nut. It’s like Sal Glesser says, “all good, just different.”
 
I carry what may be called a "tactical" knife every day at work and have carried one for years. Thing is, not so long ago they weren't "tactical", they were just new designs using modern materials. I had several of the early Spyderco knives, and now carry either a CPM440V Military or an ATS55 Dyad. Both are large and can do things that would break most of whats considered a traditional slipjoint like a stockman or a trapper. I also carry a smaller Spyderco A G Russell/Jess Horn folder sometimes when not at work. Its not too big, its light, its sharp (the blade is maybe 2mm thick) and easy to open with one hand.
That being said, I've also taken to carrying a smaller folder when not at work, usually something 3-4". There's two in particular, both are old(er), nondescript looking pocket knives. One is a Case trapper of mid 80s vintage with black composition handles and glaze finish blades. The other is an old 3" 2-blade unequal ended jack, single bolster with mahogany handles, a Miller Bros knife dating from about 1920. Its just the right size to do a lot of things you don't need a 4" blade to do in places where you really don't need to be snapping open a big "black knife" to do it.
I guess the moral of the story is there is a time and place for everything, including both traditional and modern designs.
 
I usually have a minimum of two knives on me: a slipjoint (most often a Queen #9 CSB), and a one-hand opener (most often a Buck Mayo or Spyderco Para). There is a place for both in my pockets.
 
I carry "tactical" knives, and the odd traditional knife every once in a while. I'd have to say that the bias against tacticals has to come down to perception. Did your Grandfather ever pull out a knife and have someone look even once at him- let alone twice? Probably not. The knife was just a tool that he used because it was useful to the purpose of cutting. Tacticals tend to have more of a "perception" that goes along with them.

Like it or not we live in a world that has rendered knives almost obsolete in "every day situations." Knives are contextual- you see them where they're expected, and where they are so expected they're generally provided for you. I can't tell you the number of times I've pulled out my knife to fix something, or cut something, and have been accused of a HUGE social gaffe. Between the pre-packaged, pre-perforated world we live in, marketing, and just a general paranoia involving things that can be seen as weapons people today put a lot more "spin" on those who carry tactical knives versus those who are just eccentric and carry more traditional knives.

Then again, I've been to the mall lately, and people are just getting more and more stupid, so it seems.
 
I usually carry benchmades (705, mini grip ), a spyderco delica ss or sometimes a cs voyager or kershaw vapor. I don't consider any of these tactical knives however I'm sure some would. But I really like the traditional folders and find myself wanting to carry some version of these knives more as time goes on. No reason a person can't carry both styles ..
 
I will have to admit to having a sevier lothing of "tactical" knives, but for reasons that may be very different from what you may think.

Having spent the 2d half of my life as a machinist, and the last 10 years of that trade getting more familiar with CNC machine/manufacture techniques, and CAD/CAM engineering linked into that, I'm cursed. Cursed in that its hard for me to pick up something, and see how it was made, and then swallow the huge amount of hype and B.S. in capital letters, justifieing the price tag on them. In my very humble opinion, the "tactical" knife is just one of the most blatent rip offs on the market.

They may be tough, they may be good cutting tools in some circumstances, but I would never in this life stoop to carrying one. They are engineered from the ground up to be a cheap knife to produce. Any other quality they may have is a by-product. They are made possable by the break through in machine technology that occured in the late 1980's and early 1990's. I witnessed this myself as I was in the trade. To someone outside of the machine trade, it would seem very high tech and easy to swallow the bunk that the makers of these knives put out. But once you see a Takaswa machining center in full swing, and what it's capable of doing, you'd be amazed. I've seen it make a large chasis for a comunication device that had many recessed pockets for componants, milled slots, tapped holes in 2-56, 4-40, 6-32, counter bored holes, counter sunk holes, in 12 and 1/2 minutes. The same part on a standard Bridgeport mill would take a good machinist most of a day to complete. The speed of manufacture of cnc parts is unreal. The new generation of machines are capable of runing at 15 to 20 thousand RPM, and with constant coolent flow cuts out parts in sometimes seconds.

Where I worked at the Watkins-Johnson company in Gaithersburg Maryland, we had the engineering dept. on the second floor. They were tied right in to the cnc machines in the model shop on the first floor. When the cad/cam computer models were done, the program was fed right into the mdel shop Takaswa and Harding machines. If there was an error in the first prototype then the program was corrected, and the second was right. From there it went into production.

Now against this backdrop, we have the tactical knife. One single stamped out blade, ground to shape on automatic machines, tumble or bead blasted finished. Handle parts stamped or water jet cut if metal, injection molded if zytel. Either way, a prosses that yields many, many, many, parts an hour. Same thing for any liner material. Automatic machinery taps the holes that are going to be used for the assembly. The parts move to the line where some workers with more high speed machines put the parts together with allen or torx screws. You now have a finished knife that with all the hype is going to sell for more than a four or six blade Swiss army knife or three blade stockman. How much does a nice stockman or trapper from queen go for? With satin or polished blades, cocobolo or bone handles, nickle silver pins set by an experianced cutler and his hammer, as are the krinked blades.

If Case, an American company in an American city can make a traditional pocket knife, with all the hand operations required, with natural materials like jigged bone in just about any shade you want, brass liners, nickle silver bolsters, for 40 bucks, why is a tactical knife with stamped out parts, cnc parts, and screwed together by semi-skilled labor going for sometimes more than twice that amount? The man hours of labor on a tactical is a very small fraction of the traditional. The cost of materials is a fraction of the cost of the traditional. Plastic and stainless steel sheet stock vs brass, nickle silver and cocobolo (or stag, bone, walnut, ...).

So with cheaper materials, cheaper labor cost, where do Spyderco, Benchmade, and dare I say the name, Dork Opps, get off with the prices they charge? Oh I've heard the argument that they have R&D costs. People, this ain't rocket science! Its a knife! With the right people in the design and engineer dept, starting in the morning, you can have a design on the screen by lunch, and by close of buissness have it downloaded to the model shop computer by end of day. By first coffee break the next morning the first parts of the prototypes should be comming off the machines. Like I said, you'r designing a 5 or 6 piece knife, not a new space shuttle. The big differences I see in the tactical knives is they try to come up with something new to keep feeding the atificial market they have created. So they design all kinds of insane swoops and angles in the blade. Concave edges, convex edges, tanto points, even more extreme tantp points, different kind of serrations, blood grooves for contol of blood spray durring "covert de-animation" and other such nonsence and hype.

So I guess you can say I hate tactical knives because they are cheap to produce knife with a much higher price tag than is ethical, designed to reap a very high profit margin for the companies that make them. They are hyped by the knife magazines as the best thing in knives since the flint blade, fueling a market driven by gulable young men who swallow that stuff.

As I stated once before, tools evolve to the needs. If we look back to the past to see what blades people used to depend on in thier everyday life to do the job they had, or even to defend thier life with, you saw nothing in any way that resembled a tactical knife. If someone needed a good knife, sometimes in a hurry, look to the 1700s sailor on a square rigged ship. or a 1800s mountain man who just fired his one shot from his Hawken, or a trail hand pushing a bunch of longhorns up to the railhead in Kansas. Or even in modern times, the regular grunt in Viet Nam, a Cheasapeake bay waterman or New England lobsterman. Theres not many hard working folks I know that are going to spend the high price they ask for these tactical things. The tactical knife is a solution to a problem that does not exist. It did not evolve, it was created for a financial reason.

On the other hand P.T. Barnum said there was a sucker born every minute. So be it, let them spend thier money on what they want, no matter. But it will be a very chilly day in the niether world when I buy a single blade plastic handle, scwed together knife for more money than I can buy a two or three bladed knife made out of far more attractive materials, and giving me far more versitility. I can't help it, its my pragmatic attitude.

If Victorinox can build a 12 blade, 20 function knife, ship it to America, pay import duty, pay trasport to distribute, and STILL sell it for 39.95, and Spyderco sells a single blade plastic handle knife for the same or more, something is wrong. But then Opinel makes a WOOD handle single blade knife, ships it to the U.S., pays import duty, trasports and then sells it for 10 frigging dollars.

In the end it's all a matter of perspective. To me the tactical knife is to knives, what the M3 greese gun is to guns. Ugly, stamped out, it will work, but I don't have to like it.
 
Directly on me, I normally carry a Stockman, but I have a small daypack that goes with me everywhere and in it are a Victorinox Craftsman SAK and either a Spyderco Native or A Buck SBMF.

On rare occasions, like traveling to a city where the crime rate is higher than the rural area I live in, I will switch my EDC to a Benchmade ARES 732BT.
 
On rare occasions, like traveling to a city where the crime rate is higher than the rural area I live in, I will switch my EDC to a Benchmade ARES 732BT.

I know what you mean. When Karen and I travel down to Washington D.C. I take my extra knobby blackthorn stick with me. I like having something right in my hand, but gets no attention going past security at the art gallery, Smithsonian and such. If I could get a ccw I would.
 
I carry, an albeit inexpenive, tactical knife daily in addition to an SAK and Stockman. I like to have something that's ready to go when I need to cut someting. However the traditional knives are better for making fine cuts, and my SAK probably gets the most use. The tactical is also the knife most likely to not be on my person, if I choose to carry only 1 or 2 knives.
 
I'm not really biased against tactical knives, but there are a couple of things that I don't like about them. First of all, the handle materials. I like natural handle materials, wood, bone, stag, and to me G-10 or Carbon Fibre are just as appealing as FRN.

I'm a young guy (24), but I've always found traditional designs more aesthetically pleasing than the newest wonder-folder. I'd rather spend my money on a nice old timer design (or something with a similar feel) than on tacticals. For some reason, even though they are useful, I can't warm up to modern folding knives in the same way I do to older designs.

I do own several folders made by Benchmade and Spyderco, and I carry and use them on a daily basis when I'm in the city. Since I can't have a fixed blade on me, they are the next best thing. When I'm working at the farm, or riding my horse in the mountains, I see no use for a one hand opening, locking folder, I've got my fixed blade on me all the time.

Another thing I don't like about the tactical folder is some of the "mall ninja" following it has, that really pisses me of because it reflects poorly on all knife users. The names some of the manufacturers use for their knives don't help either, even if the knife could be used for self defense, do you need to use an agressive name? And all the claims about SEALs and green beretts using the knives also rubs me wrong.
 
Good points all. But I still think that a man with a knife, any knife, is better than a man with no knife at all.

The problem I see with traditionals nowadays is that too often they focus on aesthetics to the detriment of function. I'll use Case as an example. They have seemingly endless variety in their product lines. The problem is that most of these knives use mystery stainless, not the functionally superior CV steel. To me at least, the meat of a knife is in the blade. If the blade is sub-par I don't want any part of it. If a company is going to spend time and effort making a knife look wonderful, I want it to also spend time making sure the knife works wonderfully.

I guess that I could always get a Queen and be done with it. But I think that semi-stainless and natural handle materials don't quite belong with one another. Same goes for the Old Timers with 1095 blades and delrin handles. I wish someone would make knives with both carbon steel blades and premium handle materials like stag, exotic woods, and jigged bone.
 
I wish someone would make knives with both carbon steel blades and premium handle materials like stag, exotic woods, and jigged bone.

They do. Try Eye-brand. They have carbon steel that is very good with some very nice stag.
 
Jackknife, as always a great read... It is very sad that TRUE machinists are disappearing, and there will never be another generation to learn the trade from the true masters. My great uncle is 89 years old now, about two years ago he finished one of his many projects, a brass 1/4 scale model t ford.
He built this car from original ford blueprints. EVERYTHING on the car was as designed i.e, the motor ran, the trans would shift gears, radiator and lights sfunctioned, well you get the pic. Every piece on the car was made by him. In order to make this car he first had to make all the tools by hand. This car took him 14 years to build. The car is now in a museum. Sorry to get off topic
 
They do. Try Eye-brand. They have carbon steel that is very good with some very nice stag.

jdon't forget Queen, they make lots of knives with D-2 and 1095, and wood, jigged bone, or genuine stag for the handle scales. I happen to like carbon steel also, but I do still like stainless, especially good stainless. The vast majority of people want stainless. That is why it is what the bulk of the knifemakers sell. If they made tons and tons of carbon steel knives, only the traditionalists would buy their products, and everybody else would shy away from the "rusty ol' fogey knives".

Regarding the so called "tactical" knives, I am repulsed by them for several reasons. To my eyes, they are ugly. I hate plastic handles or solid metal handles. I don't like the blades, both for size and shape. They're too long, and have too much depth. That is fine for a combat weapon, but a plastic handled knife with a 5'' long X 1'' high X 1/4'' thick blade with a bunch of stupid curves and swoops in it is absolutely useless for any real life cutting chores. I buy knives to use for tools, not weapons. IF I were looking for a self defense weapon to carry, THEN I would consider one of the "tactical" knives. I'm a fuddy duddy/traditionalists about most other things also, I hate particle board and plastic furniture, I hate glass and chrome modern buildings, and I dislike all the post modern freaky clothing that people are wearing. I don't wear earrings, have body piercings, tatoos, or any of that sort of thing either. I buy blued steel and walnut firearms, you won't find anything plastic stocked and stainless barreled in my home, ever.

I saw one poster earlier in the thread mentioned that this forum carries a bias against the tactical knives. OF COURSE it does, this is the TRADITIONAL KNIVES forum, where what is discussed, traditional knives????? That's what belongs in this section of Bladeforums. If you'd rather talk Spyderco, Benchmade, Emerson or whatever, they why not stick to the Blade Discussion forum. Coming into the traditional forum and posting about "tacticals" is simply placing your thread in the wrong section of the forum, and then getting upset about it is even more silly.

Forgive me if my wording is incorrect, the jist of what I am trying to say is that this IS the traditional forum, where people are SUPPOSED to place their traditional flavored threads, that is why there is a "perceived bias" in this section. Us "traditionalists" could go to the tactical discussion forum and groan that there is a bias there towards modernistic knives, exactly the same thing mentioned previously here, except reversed. Why not just place our posts in the forum sections where they are intended to go, and not try to turn things into "your way versus my way". Too divisive. :foot:
 
As much as I like and carry traditional knives, I have 4 Spydercos that I really really like to use. A delica 4 - which is a plain, but fine knife, and 3 C34 jess horn models which are both pretty and have the feel of a nice traditional knife. In fact, everyone who likes traditional knives should like that model.

If I plan on heavy & hard use, I will always carry the delica 4 because it just has a nice feel to it, and is just the right size to me. Plus it's not very expensive. I packed one in a check bag on and overseas flight - & it was stolen, so... easy replacement.

Nice thing about them, though is the clip - which lets me carry them inside the waistband of my pants and leaves right pocket free for a whittler or a canoe.
 
As I stated once before, tools evolve to the needs. If we look back to the past to see what blades people used to depend on in thier everyday life to do the job they had, or even to defend thier life with, you saw nothing in any way that resembled a tactical knife. If someone needed a good knife, sometimes in a hurry, look to the 1700s sailor on a square rigged ship. or a 1800s mountain man who just fired his one shot from his Hawken, or a trail hand pushing a bunch of longhorns up to the railhead in Kansas. Or even in modern times, the regular grunt in Viet Nam, a Cheasapeake bay waterman or New England lobsterman. Theres not many hard working folks I know that are going to spend the high price they ask for these tactical things. The tactical knife is a solution to a problem that does not exist. It did not evolve, it was created for a financial reason.

I'll be taking a brand new schrade 96OT that I bought this evening on the lobster boat tomorrow. the blade may be a little shorter than I am used to, and there may be no lock, but I'm confident it will do what I want it to;).

And yes, I will have my PE black atlantic salt there as well. :) hopefully by next week sometime I'll have coughed up the dough, and the patience to wait for, a yellow carbon steel sodbuster (locking or not, I haven't decided yet) :)

pete:)
 
I carried a Delica for a while until it fell off my pocket and was lost, I don't trust clips since then. I own three other Spyderco, two SOG, one Benchmade and some others, but truth is they don't see much carry. I'm happy with my Stockman and my SAK though lately I have added a Spanish Navaja (which I would say is really an old tactical blade), I also carry and often use a multitool.

Luis
 
This post describes my carry habits to a T. I carry a Pat Crawford Marauder folder which is considered a tactical style knife of all the newest, modern day materials. In my left pocket rides a Case Barlow pattern that probably sees 90% of my knife needs. So why even bother with the other one? Because I like to carry a big knife that others would never figure is in my pocket and because I'm just a knifefreak like the rest of us here!
 
Why not just place our posts in the forum sections where they are intended to go, and not try to turn things into "your way versus my way". Too divisive. :foot:

Relax. I was just trying to start a conversation. I don't think that I was in anyway disrespectful, and I can tell you that was not my intent. I don't even think that anyone was offended except for you. I was merely curious to know why everyone here preferred their traditionals. They responded in a civil manner like men are supposed to without taking unnecessary offense. You're the one who is being confrontational.
 
I saw one poster earlier in the thread mentioned that this forum carries a bias against the tactical knives. OF COURSE it does, this is the TRADITIONAL KNIVES forum, where what is discussed, traditional knives????? That's what belongs in this section of Bladeforums. If you'd rather talk Spyderco, Benchmade, Emerson or whatever, they why not stick to the Blade Discussion forum. Coming into the traditional forum and posting about "tacticals" is simply placing your thread in the wrong section of the forum, and then getting upset about it is even more silly.

Forgive me if my wording is incorrect, the jist of what I am trying to say is that this IS the traditional forum, where people are SUPPOSED to place their traditional flavored threads, that is why there is a "perceived bias" in this section. Us "traditionalists" could go to the tactical discussion forum and groan that there is a bias there towards modernistic knives, exactly the same thing mentioned previously here, except reversed. Why not just place our posts in the forum sections where they are intended to go, and not try to turn things into "your way versus my way". Too divisive. :foot:

relax. ;) :)
 
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