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Choosing a Tactical Folding Knife: A Step-by-Step Guide

By Michael Janich

Today’s tactical folding knife market offers more choices than ever before. While choices are typically a good thing, they can also be overwhelming—unless you have a logical, step-by-step method to select a knife that best meets your personal need. This article is intended to provide exactly that. To avoid semantic arguments, please note that it is presented with the premise that “tactical” means a knife suitable for defensive use.

Step 1: Research the Law

The first step in choosing any carry knife should be to research the laws in your area and the areas you frequently travel. This research should include both state laws and county or municipal laws that might apply. Smaller jurisdictions cannot “relax” a state law, but they can create laws that are more restrictive than the rest of the state.

Many concealed carry and knife rights web sites provide guides to state knife laws, as does the Smartphone app “Legal Blade.” These are a great place to start, but the only definitive way to understand the laws in your area is to hire an attorney to research knife case law—how the written laws were actually interpreted in real cases.

Step 2: Define Key Characteristics

Based on your legal research, the next step is to define the key characteristics of a knife that’s legal in your area, such as blade length, number of edges, types of folding knife actions, and any other criteria specific to the laws in your area. Make a checklist of what you’re looking for and every time you consider a knife, compare it against these criteria.

Step 3: Choose a Blade Style

Blades are available in a bewildering array of shapes and profiles. Unless you already have an advanced skill set and strong knife-design preferences, stick with the basics and look for a blade shape that cuts and punctures effectively.

The most efficient way to cut with a knife is to use the entire length of the cutting edge while maintaining constant pressure into the target. If a blade has curve or “belly” to the edge and its point is high in...


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