Tactical Knife Buyer’s Guide

Nowadays, there are so many tactical knives available in the market, making it hard to choose the right one. If you’ve tried shopping for one, you’re surely going to have a hard time making the right choice. If that’s the case, then remember that features are the most important thing that you need to consider when buying a tactical knife, not the appearance, brand (though choosing a well-known high-quality brand can be very useful) or coolness. You can also take a look on the specifications, though this requires a good understanding of tactical knives. But setting everything aside, the most important thing is that your tactical knife can do its job right and flawless.

Double-edged Tactical Knife
Double-edged Tactical Knife

Types of Tactical Knives

There are two main types of tactical knives – they are fixed and folding. When buying a tactical knife, it is important to determine your purpose for them to make sure that they can do their job easily and perfectly.

Folding Knives – are also called pocket knives. There are different kinds of pocket knives but the most common are: single, double, multi and Swiss army knives. They vary greatly in shape and size.

Fixed Blade Knives – are stronger and more durable compared to folding knives. They are also stronger and thicker. Like folding knives, there are various kinds of fixed blade knives, some of them are:

  • Hunting/Camping Knife – as the name implies, they are primarily used for hunting purposes such as skinning, boning, gutting, cleaning and stabbing. They can also cut through ropes, camping food, etc. with ease making them a great camping utility.
  • Skinners – they often have short but very sharp blades.
  • Gut-hook – if you’re hunting an animal, it’s the perfect tool to carve a hole through its belly.

If you are looking for a survival knife these are also some of the important things to keep in mind.

  • Full Tang – yes, they are great thirst quencher, but we’re not talking about the juice drink here. Tang is the part of the knife that extends to the handle. If you removed the handle, you can see a smaller piece of steel extending towards the handle for gripping, that’s the tang. Generally, a full tang knife is sturdier than other tang types, which makes a full tang the strongest in terms of cutting and stabbing.
  • Solid Pommel – the handle’s butt. A solid pommel can be used to hammer things down in case you forgot to bring a hammering tool. But there are other kinds of pommel that can store sticks, matches, etc. which provides additional survivability tool, but they can break easily when used as a hammer.
  • Knife point – pick a pointed knife which will make poking at things easier.
  • Edges – there are two types – the single and double-edged blades. A single edged blade is safer to use than a double edged blade, unless the double edged blade features a sharp and serrated edges – making it highly flexible.

What is Tameshigiri?

Have you heard about Tameshigiri? If you are a fan of swords, especially Japanese ones, you must’ve heard of it. Tameshigiri means test cut or the art of cutting, literally the art of test cutting. It became popular in Japanese Edo period as a way of testing a sword’s quality. However, as time passed by, Tameshigiri became a martial art, which, instead of focusing on the sword quality, it focuses on testing the skill of the cutter. Let’s delve deeper and learn more about Tameshigiri.


Origin of Tameshigiri

During the Japanese Edo period, swords were tested by sword masters for their quality. It is important to note that only chosen swordsmen were allowed to test the swords to make sure that it is indeed the sword was being tested and not the cutting skill of the wielder.

The materials used for testing varies greatly during that time. Some of the common materials used were wara (rice straw), goza (top layer of tatami mats), bamboo and thin steel sheets. A well-crafted sword should be able to cut these materials with ease.

However, those cutting materials weren’t really the center of attention for sword testers. The most popular testing material was a human cadaver, especially of a convicted criminal. Yes, you read that one right. When a sword is tested using a human cadaver, they would acquire a “saidan-mei” or cutting signature. Nowadays, there are still swords marked on their nakago (tang) which says things such as “5 bodies with Ryu Guruma (hip cut)”. Take note that those inscriptions greatly add to the value of the sword.

However, not all human cadavers can be used as a test target. As you may have known, the Japanese are very ritualistic, and thus, they carefully inspect each cadaver for any signs of diseases or any signs of diseases. In addition to that, they don’t use bodies of lower caste or of priests because they believe that it will warp the blade’s soul.

Modern Usage

With the reformation of the Japanese law, Tameshigiri slowly removed and ultimately banned the use of human cadavers. It’s replaced by wara, which is proven to be of the same consistency and density as the human body.

Then, moving on to the present day, Tameshigiri changed from being a way to test a sword to being a way to know how skillful a swordsman is. Modern targets are usually tatami omote (which consists of the outer covering of a tatmi mat popular in Japanese homes), also known as goza or wara. They are bundled or rolled into a tubular shape – and can be soaked to add density. The additional density makes it sure to have approximately the same density as of human bone and flesh.