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There is no denying the cutting power of a Cold Steel tactical folder. Here Robert Vaughn severs 2" of hemp rope in a single stroke with our 3.4oz Land and Sea Rescue Knife. Besides its obvious rescue potential, this knife makes a terrific low key, politi- cally correct, tactical knife as well. We think every fireman, ambulance driver, EMT, etc., in the world should carry one. It is a life saver.

rope. This graphic illustration of cutting power verifies that a tactical folder can, with a single blow, sever all the major muscle groups of the human body and take a hand off at the wrist.

Stabbing Power

When used to attack soft targets, the stabbing power of a tactical folder is equal, if not greater than, that of a conventional boot knife. How can you say that, you ask? After all, we are talking about a folding knife here. The answer is simple. Most tactical folders utilize a relatively thin blade that seldom measures more than 1/8" thick or 1" wide. A blade like this, when equipped with my original tanto point, is a stabbing machine. The reason is that it’s only half as thick as most boot knives so there just isn’t much resistance to slow the progress of its point. What is more, this lack of resistance means less physical effort is required to insert and withdraw the blade as well.


While a folder with a short, thin blade can admittedly deliver effective slashes and thrusts, it still leaves a lot to be desired when used to confront an opponent of equal stature and skill who is armed with a longer, heavier fixed blade knife. Here’s why.

Lock Letdown

As I have said before, the only thing between your irreplaceable fingers and the razor sharp blade of your tactical folder is the strength of your locking mechanism. If the lock on your knife fails for any reason, you may suffer a wound so serious it will cause you to drop your knife. If this happens when you are engaged in a knife fight, you will in all likelihood lose your life as well. But, you say, what in the world could cause my lock to fail. After all, I bought it from S....., B....., G...... The answer is plenty. But, due to space considerations, let’s look at the three most common causes of lock failure.


Using your tactical folder for chores not suited for even fixed blade sheath knives is one of the best ways to cause your lock to fail. There isn’t a lock made that will stand up to the abuse of using your knife blade as a chisel, ax, wedge, pry bar or screwdriver.

Sudden shock to the back of the blade

All it takes to defeat the lock of some of the world’s most expensive tactical folders is to give the backs of their blades a few hard raps on the edge of a sturdy table. Eventually the shock of the blows will jar the locking mechanism open, causing the blade to fall.

If I can smash a concrete block to pieces with the back of my Trail Master blade, what do you think will happen to your 3-5oz. folder when I hit it with my Bowie. Do you think your knife will fly out of your hand or will you be able to hang on and see your lock collapse.

While I freely admit that this is a pretty severe test, similar situations may occur in combat. For example, you may find yourself fighting an opponent armed with a long, heavy knife like the Cold Steel Trail Master Bowie. If this is the case, he may choose to ignore you for the moment and attack your puny tactical folder with a hard “beat” to its blade. His goal, of course, is to knock your knife right out of your hand. But, what if he doesn’t succeed and his heavy blade merely smashes down on top of yours, causing the lock to fail and....cutting off 3 of your fingers!

Impact with hard, unyielding surface

As I have said before, people do not stand still when you try to stab them. Instead, I have found that they are highly motivated to move out of the way. This means you may end up slamming the point of your knife right into a post, concrete block wall, steel door or even a car. Now, if you are armed with a stout fixed blade knife like a Cold Steel Tanto this unexpected impact is unlikely to cost you the fight. However, if all you have in your hand is a puny tactical folder you could be in serious trouble.

The problem is that the locking mechanism on many tactical folders can be defeated if the points of their blades make hard contact with an unyielding surface like a brick wall. Now, this problem doesn’t occur every time. But if the angle of contact is just right, the force of the stab can break the lock outright or stress it to the point that it disengages and allows the blade to close...you guessed it, cutting off 3 of your fingers!

Taken Lightly

Anyone who has done a lot of knife sparring will tell you there are times when your opponent is just too alert and wary to attack. In moments like this it often makes sense to attack his knife blade instead, since it can be reached with a greater margin of safety and “beaten” out of his hand by using the back or flat of your blade. If you are armed with a tactical folder, this valuable attack is lost to you. Why? Because a 3-5 ounce folder with a 4" blade just doesn’t have the weight or leverage to smash a full sized fighting knife out of a man’s hand.

Another disadvantage of using a tactical folder in a knife fight is that you may not have the time or physical space to employ evasive footwork and counter slashing techniques to compensate for your smaller, lighter blade. For example, suppose you find yourself backed into a corner and facing an incoming chopping attack from a Bowie knife. With no room to move, do you think you could reliably stop this attack in mid-air with your 3-5 ounce tactical folder and avoid being cut? I wouldn’t bet on it.

On Guard

One of the dangers of most tactical folders is that they have no guard to protect the fingers. This means that if you make a hard, stabbing attack and your point meets stiff resistance from an AK-47 magazine, your hand could slip forward onto the edge and be injured. Some companies have tried to compensate for the lack of a guard by building a thumb shelf on the top of their blades. The idea is that the thumb can be braced against this shelf to prevent the forward movement of the hand under hard impact. The problem is that few people’s thumbs are strong enough for this idea to work, and the hand slides forward anyway. The only safe way to make a hard thrust with any guardless knife is to employ a palm- reinforced grip.

Get Shorty

A 4" blade is too short to reliably reach some vital targets buried deep in the human body. We know from FBI reports on stopping power that the agency requires a handgun bullet to pierce 14" of human tissue before it is pronounced acceptable. Do you honestly think you can drive the 4" blade of your super

Continued on next page.

If you can grow new fingers skip looking at this photo. But if you can’t, then pay attention. Our Gunsite folder offers the maximum insurance against lock failure available. It is the only Tactical folder we know of that can hold 130 lbs. 41/2" from its pivot point and not collapse.


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