It seems like the terms ‘tactical’, and ‘survival’ have become interchangeable when it comes to the knives. If you’re looking to get into knives, whether it’s to collect or carry them, you may have heard people talking about tactical and survival knives; and usually average Joes don’t know the difference between the two.
What’s the difference between tactical and survival knives? The key difference is in the purpose. Both are designed for utility, but tactical knives make decent weapons. Survival knives are built to take a beating, but use a softer blade steel that’s easier to sharpen than a harder stainless-steel blade on a tactical knife. Survival knives aren’t made to be weapons, but more like general-purpose tools.
|Feature||Tactical Knife||Survival Knife|
|Blade Length||4 – 8’’||4 – 8’’|
|Blade Steel||Stainless-Steel||Carbon Steel|
|Handle Material||Rubber||G10, Wood, Micarta|
|Usability||Everything and a decent weapon||General outdoor use|
What is a Tactical Knife?
A tactical knife is built for utilitarian purposes to be hard used, and can be used as a weapon – if needed. The blades are usually thinner and are good for piercing and slashing. They’re also usually made of stainless steels which are harder and hold an edge better than most steels; these are coated to prevent corrosion.
Tactical knives are usually very plain in design, and use rubberized grips which have a rougher texture that prevents the user from losing his grip when their hands are wet. The grip on a tactical knife usually has grooves for the user’s fingers to ensure a secure grip. They also may or may not have a guard.
Blades are usually dependent on personal preference, but a good length would be between 4 and 8-inches. The blades on tactical knives are usually longer than survival knife blades.
What is a Survival Knife?
A survival knife is also built for utility with a blade that’s meant to do a variety of tasks – usually apart from fighting. As such, the blades are usually made of carbon steels which don’t hold an edge as well as a stainless-steel blade, but they are easier to sharpen.
Survival knives aren’t balanced the same way that tactical knives are, and they’re not usually coated. This means that they can be either heavy (for chopping) or light for finer work.
The handles of survival knives are like tactical knives in that they’re designed to allow for a good, comfortable grip but with a less aggressive texture. Guards on survival knives are either small or nonexistent but the blades are usually very thick; made for chopping / processing wood.
So, What’s the Difference?
So, now that we’ve discussed tactical and survival knives on their own; what’s the difference between the two? Well, there are a few differences, but the key difference is in the purpose of their designs.
Both are designed for utility, but tactical knives are designed to be a decent weapon. Survival knives are built to take a beating but use a softer blade steel that’s easier to sharpen than a harder stainless-steel blade (which you’d get with a tactical knife). They’re not really built to be weapons but more like general-purpose tools.
So, to recap:
- Tactical knives typically have thinner blades made of stainless-steel and make decent weapons.
- Survival knives are typically made of softer carbon steels and are not built to be used as a weapon but rather as general tools.
- Handles are typically textured to allow for a secure grip, but tactical knives have a more aggressive texture than what you’d find with a survival knife.
- Blade length and profile (shape) are dependent on personal preference.
In closing, I hope you enjoyed the article and that it gives you an idea of the differences between tactical and survival knives. I hope you found the article to be helpful. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one!
In addition to being a huge knife-nut, and good at shooting a bow, Greg has been farming ever since he was a little kid. He’s also a camping and hiking enthusiast.
1 thought on “Tactical Versus Survival Knife: What’s the Difference?”
Thank you gour writing this. I never knew the was a difference in the thickness of the blade. I’m going thi look at all my knives now tti see which is which. That should give me correct expectations about each one. My son actually made one for me that has an 8 inch blade attached to a jawbone. Maybe I’ll just use that as a decoration….