Thirty years ago if a uniformed cop or plainclothes dick carried a knife on the job, it was probably a small folder in a side pocket or a concealed boot knife of some sort. SWAT guys always operated under different rules, were never particularly sensitive about being seen with actual weaponry by the public at large and nothing’s changed there.
During the past 20 years with the emergence of high quality blades targeted specifically toward the police market, the field is wide open with literally hundreds of excellent choices to back up the badge in all aspects of law enforcement. Covering uniform, SWAT and search and rescue functions, we’ll look at three contenders for consideration.
BlackHawk Crucible II
Following hard on the heels of BlackHawk’s successful Crucible folder, the Crucible II was designed with the same dimensions and function, including a 3.250-inch hollow ground spear point blade with false upper edge, hardened 420J stainless steel liners, textured flat G-10 handle scales, four-position pocket clip and a flush-fitted liner lock mechanism.
Recognizing that cops on a budget may like the ergonomics without having enough wallet to pay $200 for the Crucible’s VG-10 stainless blade and Black TI finish, the Crucible II’s AUS 8A stainless blade and non-reflective black Teflon coating at $90 in either plain or serrated edge is built to offer a high level of performance at a more affordable price.
The Crucible II is sourced in Taiwan, but don’t let that scare you off. AUS-8A stainless is well proven regardless of country of origin and it is a well-made knife no matter where it comes from. The stiff liner lock requires two hands to release, but the Crucible II’s rounded rear handle is comfortable.
Its hollow grind provides excellent cutting ability, the wide blade with thumb serrations on the spine is unlikely to break in hard use, the thumb stud allows rapid one-handed opening and the removable pocket clip gives a choice of tip up or tip down carry on either side of the body. For low-profile uniform carry with quick access, this 6.5-ounce folder deserves a look.
TOPS (Tactical Operational Products) Knives is a busy company with a large number of models to choose from. Workmanship on all samples I’ve seen has been top notch and that includes the rugged Bootlegger.
Set up for leg carry with a black ambidextrous ballistic nylon sheath featuring a hard internal liner, a 3-inch elasticized upper Velcro strap, cord tie-off holes at the bottom and a secure quick-release buckle on the cover flap. The Bootlegger is crafted from trusty 1095 carbon steel properly hardened to RC 58 in a full-tang pattern with a stout quarter-inch spine on the 5-inch blade and an overall length of 9.6 inches, including the “skullcrusher” tang extension drilled for a lanyard.
Contoured black G-10 handle slabs with red liners are sculpted for fingers on the bottom and grooved for thumbs on top, and the non-reflective black traction coated steel has large non-slip thumb scallops roughly 3 inches back from the point for choking up on it if necessary.
One very hefty knife, the Bootlegger is predominantly a weapon and more suited to SWAT where it can be used as a near-unbreakable back-up weapon if everything else goes south. The wedge-like grind on such a thick blade sacrifices a certain amount of cutting ability to sheer brawny strength but the Bootlegger can still cut webbing and rope reasonably well. The reinforced tip will also hold up to impacts, if needed.
The 12.25-ounce base Bootlegger with leg sheath lists at $149 with additional options such as a serrated edge, camo blade finish and deeply scalloped handle materials.
Doug Ritter RSK MK3
Search and rescue units composed of both paid and volunteer participants, cover a wide range of territories and seasonal conditions that extend knife use in other directions than uniform and SWAT needs. Search and rescue may have to perform serious duty on wood, webbing, clothing and various other materials found in downed planes and wrecked vehicles. The Ritter RSK (Ritter Survival Knife) was designed by noted survival expert Doug Ritter for light carry and practical utility.
Made by Benchmade of S30V steel and hardened to RC 58-60 to Ritter’s pattern, the MK3 is also a full-tang construction for strength inside its lightly textured G-10 scales with lanyard hole. The relatively thin and lightweight blade at 4.5 inches in length and 0.140 inches thick has a drop point profile with a stone ground subdued gray finish for additional corrosion protection.
The MK3’s grip is quite comfortable and between the substantial finger guard, thumb serrations and wide-angled tip, the knife can be used for forward impacts should the need arise with little risk to fingers or blade. A price tag of $165 reflects the premium steel used and covers a black ballistic nylon sheath with hard ambidextrous insert, belt carry options, MOLLE (modular lightweight load-carrying equipment) compatibility, snap retention strap with reinforced thumb break release, and leg tie down cord holes.
Where weight on extended all-weather foot searches is an issue, performance a necessity and a crowbar not needed, the MK3 at 9.6 ounces with a sheath has realistic applications for search and rescue.