I like tactical knives. They have a nice clean look and are handy to have around. However, depending on what level of state, federal, or general media outcry you’re looking at, the idea has come up more than once to try to limit or ban the use or sale of tactical knives here in the states. I began to ponder the subject in some depth.
To get a bit smarter about the situation at hand, I first wanted to know what the exact definition of a tactical knife actually is. Herein lies the first issue — there isn’t a hard and fast rule on what makes a TAC knife. One group seemed to think the blade shape was the determining factor; others thought size and handle material was the ticket and one very confused group seemed to state that anything black or camo-colored was lumped in the tactical group as well. This is a small problem.
The closest and most reasonable statement I could find on the subject was the American Knife and Tool Institute (AKTI), which broke the definition of TAC blades down like this.
“… this term is really a broad description of any straight knife or folding knife in a variety of handle materials, blade shapes, blade edges and opening mechanisms.”
That’s pretty broad for my tastes but largely true as far as I can tell. Of course, that encompasses almost every knife I can think of. They went on to lament that about the only thing everyone involved can agree on is that tactical knife is any style or blade that isn’t a sword or a multi-tool. That narrows it down to about half the knives not found in a kitchen or hanging from a suit of armor.
Why all the fuss? Because someone put together a detailed study or two about knife-related injuries and linked a high percentage of stabbings and knife fights to Tactical knives, which I’m sure is completely accurate from a clinical numbers perspective. The question I found myself asking is, “Were those injuries really the knives’ fault or the person wielding them?” It’s here we really begin to get down to it.
I own several “tactical” knives myself and though they aren’t my favorite daily carry blades from a subjective taste perspective, they are cool looking, but the most harm any of them has done is cut a bit of rope or wire. There was the time I used the tip of one to unscrew a battery terminal on a truck but that’s about as exotic an operation I have to pull from. I don’t use them to hurt people so they will never be an unholy threat to anyone.
Others don’t agree; they see the capability of harm as an undue risk to society in general. To be completely fair there is weight to that argument as well. TAC knives can hurt or kill folks if the right person is behind the action.
In my own opinion, that is exactly the point: the entire question of tactical knives lies in the hands of the person holding them, not the knives themselves. These aren’t weapons of mass violence but tools — and almost any tool can be abused or mishandled into becoming a weapon. What do you think? Are tactical knives a significant danger or a tool that a few bad apples give a bad name to? Let us know in comments.
Note: You can also find a great deal more information about current legislation proposals related to knives and knife education in general at the AKTI website.