Modern knives are offered in such a wide variety of shapes, sizes and potential uses that no one phrase can ever be completely accurate for the entire field. We thought Tactical Knives came closer than most 17 years ago and we still do.

It seems to go in cycles. Every year or two someone either writes the magazine or starts a thread on a popular cutlery web forum questioning the term “tactical” as applied to knives. For reasons I don’t fully understand, many of them seem to take this issue very personally.

After quoting the Webster’s dictionary definition of “tactical,” they almost always hostilely assert, “It’s just a marketing scheme to sell knives!” To a certain extent, they are probably right, but what product isn’t given a name the sellers hope will lure customers? Maybe in the good old days of the Soviet Union you could have gotten away with just calling something “Auto, M2011-2 Door-Mid Size,” but it has never worked that way in the free world. If you want your product to stand out from the pack you first have to give it a name that makes potential customers take a second look. Choice is what makes our world go around even if some of the products are a bit overhyped from time to time.

Study the modern knife industry; you will quickly realize that there are very few new models introduced that are directed solely at hunters or fishermen. Innovative non-locking “slip-joint” pocketknives are even rarer yet. On the other hand, there is also a limited market for out-and-out “fighting knives” as, even in the military, hand-to-hand combat is way down the list of common uses for a blade. This is equally true of “martial arts knives,” as only a small minority of users actually go through any kind of special training with their blades. A few years ago there was a movement to try to make one-hand-opening folders more politically correct by calling them “sport/utility” knives. Needless to say, that was less than a stroke of marketing genius.

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Modern knives are offered in such a wide variety of shapes, sizes and potential…