Looking for a sharper, better, more tactical blade? These 10 will get the job done.
If you can't choose among hacking, slashing, prying or beating, reach for Blackhawk's Small Pry. It was designed as a breeching tool for prying open doors, breaking windows and slashing screens. The Small Pry is made from D-2 tool steel and is 14.5 inches with a 4.4-inch sharpened blade. For $200, you get the tool and an injection-molded sheath that mounts to any combat webbing.
Leatherman took a hard look at their Skeletools, considered some user feedback and decided to trim the widgets and add two models with just a blade and some pliers. Both the Freestyle and the Freestyle CX are compact packages that can handle a lot of everyday cutting and bolt-rounding chores. The $70 CX has a little more panache and uses 154CM blade steel that will stay sharp about three times longer than the 420HC blade steel used in the paycheck-to-paycheck $40 version. Look for them this spring.
Benchmade's new Infidel 3310 has a single-edged utility blade rather than the double-edge dagger blade on its popular older brother, the Infidel 3300. The new knife has the same out-the-front automatic opening as the 3300 but is slightly larger. The 3.95-inch drop point blade is made from S30V stainless steel. It closes automatically into the 5-inch black, anodized aluminum handle. The handle also features a tiny cleaning port so you can flush out grit with compressed air.
It's available with a plain or partially serrated edge. It comes in a satin finish blade for $450 or a blackened blade for $465.
Boker has improved the grip on its Applegate-Fairbairn fighting knife, so it's a lot easier to hold onto in wet conditions. The German company teamed up with famed bladesmith Bill Harsey to create the Harsey 5.5. The new design features a green canvas micarta handle instead of the smoother fiberglass handles used in other models. That and additional grooves on the handle make for a more secure grip.
The design also extends the tang beyond the end of the handle to serve as a window-breaker or skull-crusher (if you're old school). The Harsey has a bead-blasted, 5.5-inch double-edge blade in 440C stainless steel. It's 10.6 inches overall and will come with foliage green SpecOps Brand sheath. It should be available soon for about $320.
Columbia River Knife and Tool
Columbia River Knife and Tool has a way to keep its high-speed, spring-assist knives from opening in your pants. The safety, found on the new Lift Off, has a release built right into the thumb stud. You just press down and push, and the 3.5-inch blade flicks open.
The Lift Off's blade is made from AUS 8 steel, and the handle features Zytel and stainless steel. It retails for $79.99. There is also a small version, the Lift Off 2, with a 3-inch blade. It sells for $69.95.
CRKT's new Kommer Integral Fixed Blade is forged from a single piece of 6168CrV carbon steel. The handle is skeletonized to reduce weight, although it still feels heavier than 7.7 ounces. It has a 3.8-inch modified drop-point blade and a molded Kydex sheath with a detent that grips the knife firmly enough to be carried inverted. The Kommer IFB should be available by April for a retail price of $99.99.
Emerson Knives Inc.
Ernest Emerson has made his biggest folder yet. The Super CQC-8 sports a 4.3-inch blade, so it feels more like a fixed blade than a folder. Opened, it's 10.2 inches long. "It's the biggest knife we make," said Emerson, owner of Emerson Knives Inc.
It's the third in the CQC-8 series. It feels big enough to split kindling and is made from 154CM steel; it's available in black or satin finish blades. Look for it in April for $295.95.
Emerson now has a smaller version of its A100 folder. The A100 Mini, with its 3-inch blade, is a nice everyday-carry knife. It's very streamlined and compact. Overall, it's 7.2 inches long. Like all Emerson knives, it features a 154CM stainless-steel blade with a special thumb-opening disk screwed into the top of the blade. The handle is made from G-10. The A100 measures 8.4 inches overall and features a 3.6-inch blade. The A100 Mini retails for $169.95. Look for it in April.
Spyderco has introduced a new knife designed for jumpmasters in the 82nd Airborne. The Jumpmaster features a fully serrated, 4.5-inch blade and is crafted for heavy cutting. Jumpmasters are responsible for planeloads of paratroopers, and they need a knife that can cut through nylon straps and static lines. The blade is made of H1 steel, which is guaranteed never to rust and has excellent edge retention. It also has a serrated thumb ramp for more controlled cutting. It weighs 5.4 ounces and comes with an injection-molded sheath that locks the knife in place. It lists for $269.95, but you can get it for less online.