A Guide to Combat Knives

Every soldier trains for the moment when their knife may be the last thing standing between them and death.   Training and technique are balanced by the right knife for the person.  Every knife is different – from weight to balance to sharpness – and a combat knife always comes down to a personal choice – what is perfect for one individual may not be for another.    In modern society – combat knives can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including cooking, hunting, and emergency situations – and of course combat / self defense.


Depending on the reasons that you are purchasing a knife, there are various factors that can make your knife more or less suitable for your desires. Although there are no definitive characteristics that make one knife better than another, there are many factors that can influence the quality of a combat knife as well as its suitability for your needs.    Below, I’ve attempted to outline the most ideal features of combat knifes, including what to look for when purchasing your combat knife and how to ensure that you purchase a knife best suited for your combative and general use purposes.

Additionally, we will provide a brief overview of three combat knives on the market today to help you get a better idea of what constitutes an effective combat knife. Make sure to take a good look at all of the information outlined below to ensure that you make a purchase that will provide you with the type of combat knife for your needs.

KnifePhotoPriceRating Buyer Reviews
Smith & Wesson CKSUR1 Bullseye Search and Rescue Fixed Blade Knife

Ontario SP1 Marine Combat Knife

KA-BAR US Army Fighting

Smith & Wesson CKSURG Homeland Security Tanto Knife


Basic Factors to Consider when Purchasing a Combat Knife

  • • Brand
    • Length (overall length and blade length)
    • Weight
    • Blade type
    • Tang type
    • Sturdiness of tip and pommel

One thing to look out for when purchasing a combat knife is the type of tang, which refers to the part of the knife that extends from the blade into the handle.   There are two types of tangs: full and half.  Full tangs refer to knives with a piece of metal that the handle is mounted to, which is ideal due to the reliability and sturdiness that they provide. When purchasing your combat knife, try and make sure that you purchase one with a full tang. However, if you feel more comfortable with the feel of a half tang knife then feel free to purchase one.

The level of comfort that you have with your knife is also very important, so do not make a purchase that you do not feel at ease with. Another thing to keep an eye out for when purchasing a combat knife is the nature of the point. Always try and purchase a knife with a sharp, sturdy tip. Avoid knives with rounded or angled tips, as they are more for show and are not as effective for combative and emergency purposes.

Basic Combat Fighting Technique

Additionally, when purchasing your combat knife make sure to keep an eye on the type of blade that it has, which is usually either single-edged or double-edged. Although double-edged blades have their benefits and do look aesthetically appealing, single-edged blades are just as effective in terms of performance and provide less of a likelihood of you cutting yourself.

A final factor to consider when purchasing a combat knife is the pommel, which refers to the bottom of the handle. Some handles are poorer in quality than others, and some are even hollow. Make sure you purchase a knife with a solid, sturdy pommel, as you do not want it breaking in a situation where you need to use the pommel for attacking purposes.

The following three product reviews will outline the best and worst features of three combat knifes available on the market.   Take a careful look at these reviews to get a better idea of what to look for when searching for a quality combat knife. Each knife has its own pros and cons, and it is important to get a grasp of what features are most important to you for your ideal combat knife. Although there are plenty of higher priced combat knives on the market, theses three examples are all reasonably priced, with a price range of $20 to $60. This price range is more than enough to give you a decent knife that is effective for your everyday combat knife needs.

KA-BAR #1213 Black Straight Edge Knife Hard SheathKA-BAR Fighting/Utility Serrated Edge Knife

The KA-BAR Fighting/Utility Serrated Edge Knife is a $65 combat knife featuring a partially serrated edge, a blade made of 1095 Cro-Van steel, a 20-degree edge angle and a 7” blade knife. It weighs 0.65 pounds and its overall length including the handle is 11 and three-quarter inches. The best feature of this knife is the quality of the blade, which is very high. Despite the angled tip, this blade is still very sharp and effective. Another great thing about this combat knife is the ability to lock the blade into the sheath without using the nylon restraint. This means you will have no problems comfortably sheathing and unsheathing your blade with the use of just one hand. Conversely, one downside of this knife is the angled edge of the blade tip, which is less effective than blades without an angled edge. Angled edges are less effective for combative purposes and provide less sharpness compared to the alternatives, which decreases the utility of this knife for combat purposes. Additionally, the weight of this knife is quite heavy, which makes it an unlikely choice for light backpackers looking for a protective knife to carry around with a light load. Ultimately, although this is an effective, well made knife, it is not a great choice for those looking for a light, easily used combat knife to take with them on long hikes or travels.

Smith and Wesson SW3B Special Ops M-9 Bayonett Knife

Smith & Wesson SW3B Special Ops M-9 Bayonet Special Force Knife

The Smith & Wesson SW3B Special Ops M-9 Bayonet Special Force Knife is a $60 combat knife that features a coated stainless steel blade, polymer handle and a saw top edge blade. The best thing about this knife is the razor edge, which is fairly sharp and comes with a knife sharpener. Although it is not the sharpest knife on the market, it is effective enough for those looking for a bayonet knife and those who need a reliable soldiers tool. Additionally, the sheath is very high quality and provides many different kinds of mounting options. However, one downside of this knife is that fact this it is not a full tang, meaning the handle is not continuously mounted to the blade. The blade ends about 1 inch behind the muzzle barrel mount, which decreases the sturdiness of the knife and provides more opportunity for breakage during use. Another downside is that the hole is the guard is fairly small, so if you are using a flash suppressor then it will likely not fit over it. Despite these flaws, the Smith & Wesson SW3B Special Ops M-9 Bayonet Special Force Knife is a great, sturdy combat knife that is very reasonably priced and worth the money. For those looking for a combat knife with a bit more strength and utility than the aforementioned KA-BAR Fighting/Utility Serrated Edge Knife, this product is a great choice.

Smith & Wesson SWBG2T Border Guard 2 Rescue Knife

Smith & Wesson SWBG2T Border Guard 2 Rescue Knife with Tanto Blade, Glass Break, and Seatbelt Cutter, BlackSmith & Wesson SWBG2TS Border Guard 2 Rescue Knife is a $20 combat knife that features a 4.4 inch high carbon stainless steel blade, an integrated safety belt cutter and glass breaker and an aluminum handle. This is a great knife for the price and provides a comfortable, heavy duty combat knife with plenty of extra features. These features include the safety belt cutter and glass breaker, which makes this combat knife an ideal choice for first responders. Additionally, the grips on the side of the knife ensure that the knife is easy to grip even when wet, which is another big plus for those seeking a combat knife ideal for emergency situations. The biggest downside of this knife is that it is fairly large and heavy, weighing 8.8 ounces. This is not the most suitable knife for those that want an easy-to-carry everyday combat knife. Additionally, it is most suitable for right-handed knife users, so those who are left-handed will want to look elsewhere.   Despite these flaws, this knife is a great purchase for those looking for a reliable, sturdy knife for emergency situations.Ultimately, each of these three combat knives provides unique benefits and downsides for different types of combat knife users. As you probably know, the wide variety of combat knives on the market can make choosing the right one a daunting task.

Although factors such as tang type, blade type, blade length and weight are all important, the suitability of each variation for you will depend on the kind of combat knife user you are. For example, full-tangs are recommended for their effectiveness, but if you prefer the comfort level and feel of a half-tang knife, then do not hesitate to purchase one. Ultimately, it all comes down to what gives you the most comfortable experience, as in situations where a combat knife is needed your comfort level with the knife is perhaps the most important factor.

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