What is the True Definition of Tactical?
Recently, Pat Covert from BLADE Magazine interviewed Bob Terzuola, Ernest Emerson, Sal Glesser, and myself about the true definition of tactical knives for the April edition. The magazine can be picked up on newsstands in February, but as my followers, you get a look at all of my answers to this interview.
What is your pure definition a tactical knife and what should be its functions?
The term tactical has been misused since its inception in 1995. Tactical is a marketing term to describe the “look” of a knife: non-reflective blade, bolster made from a lightweight material. Today, the blade material would be primarily Titanium with a non-reflective finish, and the handle material would be of a synthetic type, primarily G-10, Micarta or Carbon Fiber. The functions of a tactical knife should suit the design of the knife no matter what the materials.
What are being called “tactical knives” today that aren’t?
The custom knife competition at the Blade Show features 17 categories, to include Damascus folder, presentation folder, and art folder. A large percentage of tactical folders have evolved into one or more of these categories based on their materials. Today, knives are called tactical but feature materials such as Damascus, Timascus, Mokuti, natural handle materials, etc. If the idea of tactical is supposed to be something that you would carry in the military or law enforcement, not a single knife featuring the aforementioned materials would ever see field time.
How have tactical knives evolved since the early 1990s?
Tactical folders started out as being affectionately being called gray turds. They featured a blade, primarily either 440C or ATS-34, and two pieces of steel or Titanium for the frame, either a liner lock or frame lock and everything bead blasted, hence the aforementioned term of endearment. Today, the blades are made out of the Steel Du Jour, Titanium is the standard for bolsters, frames, locks, and clips and they all contain flipper openers. Zirconium, Timascus and Superconductor have become the leading alternatives for bolster and clip materials. That being said, who knows what will show up tomorrow? Powered metal for the blades, more precision machinery, and perhaps the incredible advancement in sheaths have been the leaders in creating an ever improving fixed blade.
How do you see tactical knives evolving next year, 5 years from now, and 10 years from now?
Today’s tactical knives feature materials borrowed from other industries such as the airline and military. Which have given us materials such as Titanium, carbon fiber and lightning strike carbon fiber. Today the Computer Numeric Control (CNC) tools are becoming more the norm, giving the maker more control over the precision of the knives. CNC combined with powdered metal and better heat-treating gives the maker a better blade to start with. The future of tactical knives, with folders, in particular, will see continued innovation. Pivots, locks, openers and a wide variety of materials to work with will inspire the creativity of makers and make collectors always wanting more.
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