In this post I share ten cheap tactical knives that are not only good values for the money, but are also well-known knife brands. All of these knives range between $15 and $35, so none of them will break the bank. If you have realistic expectations, cheap tactical knives (by virtue of their price) doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be very functional cutting tools worthy of everyday carry.
The Spyderco byrd Cara Cara 2 features:
Full flat-ground blade for enhanced edge geometry and cutting precision. Textured FRN handle for improved grip and control. The Cara Cara 2 has spine and choil jimping to ensure a secure grip, a four-position clip, skeletonized nested handle liners, and screw-together construction. It features a back lock for more blade security. It uses 8Cr13MoV blade steel with a 3.2 inch cutting edge (total blade length is 3.75″). Size: 8.5-inch open length, 4.75-inch closed length, 0.125-inch thickness, 5.6-ounce weight I own and use this knife regularly.
Final thoughts: It’s on the large size, but it still works well for everyday carry.
The Kershaw Cryo SpeedSafe folder features:
The Kershaw Cryo SpeedSafe has an assisted opening blade with a frame lock. You also have an option to open the blade via a thumb stud. The Cryo features quad-carry (tip-up/tip-down, left/right) pocketclip. The Kershaw Cryo uses 8Cr13MoV with a titanium carbo-nitride coating. The blade length is 2.75 in., closed length is 3.75 in. and the overall length is 6.5 in. The knife weighs 4.1 oz. This knife is part of my EDC rotation.
Final thoughts: If you’ll use this knife in wet conditions, the smooth handle may not give you as much grip as you’d like.
The CRKT Squid Folder features:
The Squid is an everyday carry folding knife from designer Lucas Burnley. Although the blade length is only 2.25 inches this is a tactically inspired knife that’s ready to take on your largest cutting challenges. By keeping it wide at nearly one inch and using the drop-point style, Burnley was able to give the blade a good balance of tip strength and point geometry for utility tasks, packing all the functionality of a full-size tactical folder, into an easy to carry, compact design. The Squid uses 8Cr13MoV blade steel.
Final thoughts: If you need a tactically inspired knife but are dealing with blade length restriction, the Squid may be just what you need for an EDC blade.
The Spyderco Ambitious G10 features:
If you need a good quality knife and you live where you have blade length restrictions this might be the right everyday carry choice for you. The Ambitious uses G10 handles, Walker linerlocks, spine and liner jimping, lined lanyard holes, and a skeletonized, full-length internal liners. The knife is palm-sized, uses 8Cr13MoV steel blade and rugged screw-together construction. The Ambitious is 5.8-inch open length, 3.6-inch closed length, has 2.25-inch blade. The knife has a 0.125-inch blade thickness.
Final thoughts: I’ve enjoyed using the larger version of the Ambitious for about three years (the Spyderco Tenacious) and it’s part of my EDC rotation.
The Kershaw Brawler features:
The Brawler has a modified tanto blade—a shape often found in tactical and rescue knives that may be required to punch through tough materials. The tanto is an ideal shape for these piercing tasks because there is plenty of metal to support the point, making it stronger than many other blade shapes. You’ll notice that the top of the Brawler’s blade has a grind, too. This is called a swedge; it helps narrow the blade, adding to its piercing power. The Brawler’s handle is functional and the angled handle curves into the palm of the user’s hand. There is jimping on the back of the blade offers additional traction. With the blade deployed, the flipper doubles as a finger guard and provides additional hand protection during knife use. The Brawler uses 8Cr13MoV blade steel. The blade length is 3 in., closed length is 4.1 in. and the overall length is 7.1 in.
Final thoughts: This knife has plenty of self-defense characteristics and offers plenty of features for the price.
The SOG SOGzilla features:
The oversized thumbhole makes for fast blade deployment. The SOGzilla features a 3.2 inch half-serrated blade and opens to a full length of 7.35 inches. The straight and serrated blades allow you to tackle most routine cutting applications. The knife uses 8Cr13MoV blade steel. It has steel liners and a Zytel handle. It uses SOG’s patented low-carry clip, which allows the folded knife to ride securely and unobtrusively in your pocket when not in use. This clip is reversible, which means it can be positioned on whichever side of the knife is most convenient for you.
Final thoughts: This would be a good multi-purpose tactical style knife useful for everyday carry.
The Ontario Rat II features:
The Ontario Rat II folder features Aus-8 blade steel and a nylon handle. It has a compact and lightweight design measures 4.1 inch closed. The Rat II has a 7 inch overall length when open. The blade has a 3 inch satin finish, plain edge full flat taper grind blade and a 55-56 hrc hardness rating. The handle features textured nylon scales with an open-built steel linerlock frame. It features ambidextrous dual thumb studs and a 4-way reversible pocket clip. Also available in black.
Final thoughts: A nice alternative to a Kershaw.
The Boker Plus Trance features:
The Boker Plus Trance Knife combines a functionally powerful a AUS-8 blade with an ergonomically shaped handle featuring a fiber reinforced nylon scale. The blade locks open with the framelock mechanism. The stainless steel pocket clip keeps it close at hand. Blade length: 2 3⁄4 in. Overall length: 6 1⁄4 in. Weight: 3.2 oz.
Final thoughts: I like the wider blade and handle of this knife.
The Lansky Willumsen Responder X9 features:
The Responder X9 has been crafted to be an exact representation of Mikkel Willumsen’s custom work. The aggressive Sandvik 12C27 steel blade offers excellent cutting ability, corrosion resistance and edge retention. Mikkel’s extended thumb hole allows for one-handed opening and the deep pocket clip ensures your knife will remain out of sight and mind until you need it. Mikkel Willumsen has gained notoriety worldwide for his innovative and gritty Urban Tactical designs. By bringing his talents and experience to Lansky, you can expect the functionally modern aesthetics that define his work, combined with Lansky Sharpeners’ unwavering dedication to quality.
Final thoughts: I like the aggressive look of this knife and will be doing an individual review of it in the very near future. Please note that this is the longest, heaviest knife in the list and some might consider it too big for easy everyday carry.
The Kershaw Emerson CQC-7K features:
Designed by Emerson, built by Kershaw. Features 8Cr13MoV blade steel with a stonewashed & satin finish. The handle is black textured G-10. Opens via thumb disk or through use of the waved shaped opening feature. This opening feature enables the knife to be opened as it is removed from the pocket. By the time the knife has been fully withdrawn from the pocket, the blade is deployed and ready for use. A small wave-shaped tab on the top of the blade is built to catch on the pocket seam, opening the knife as it comes out of the pocket. This instant-open feature is a favorite among military, rescue and law enforcement knife users. Frame lock with reversible pocket clip. The blade length is 3.25 inches. Closed length is 4.5 inches.
Final thoughts: From a self defense standpoint, you’ll be hard-presses to find a knife you can open faster.
10 cheap tactical knives – conclusion
This finishes up my list of ten cheap tactical knives. In my opinion they are only cheap in price. All of these knives are from well known makers and use blade steel that is very respectable for tactical knives in this price range. Kershaw, Boker, Ontario, Spyderco, Lansky and SOG all have tactically inspired designs that should fit into just about anyone’s everyday carry rotation. This cheap tactical knives list cover a wide range of knife sizes, blade shapes and includes manual, assisted and wave blade opening capabilities.