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Getting The Point

No piece of non-issue duty gear is more critical than a good, sharp knife.

July 01, 2002  |  by Scott Smith - Also by this author

When you go to look at a knife don't get locked into the idea you have to buy it at your local police supplier. Mass outdoor retailers such as BASS Pro Shops, Cabela's, Gander Mountain, Turner's Outdoorsman, and a number of Websites all carry a wide variety of clip-it knives often at attractive prices.


Emerson makes a line of tough duty knives for police and military operations, including the PSARK (Police Search and Rescue Knife), SARK, and Commander.

These tools like others in your arsenal can keep you alive and make the job easier. Choose the one you want with the features you want, but be sure to follow your agency's policies and all local laws.

Fixed Blades

There's no rule that says a duty knife must be a folder. Some officers choose to carry fixed-blade knives.

Folders are of course lighter and easier to carry than fixed blades, which require sheaths, but fixed blades have their advantages as well.

Because a fixed blade doesn't have to be opened, it can be easier to use than a folder. Also, fixed-blade knives are generally tougher than even elite folding knives because of their one-piece construction. This is especially important for knife owners who-against all rules of knife safety-like to pry things with their blades.


Some of the more popular models in the Benchmade line include the Griptilian and the Stryker. The red-handled model is a training knife. Blunt training knives let you practice your knife skills without fear of injury.

Some of the more popular makers of duty-quality fixed blades include: Cold Steel, Glock, KA-BAR, and Kershaw.

Training Knives

Many makers of duty knives produce training models of their products that have the same feel and function but house blunt blades.

Training blades are showing up in many anti-rape training classes for women. Since rape is a contact crime, a clip-it folding knife can be a powerful deterrent in the hands of a properly trained would-be victim.


The Dieter CQD from Masters of Defense (MOD) can make short work of a rappelling harness, car seat belt, or climbing rope.

But don't think training knives are just for civilians. If you carry a knife on or off duty, a training knife can be an important investment. After all, the difference between mastering a tool or weapon is practice and a training knife lets you practice without worrying about cutting yourself or anyone else.

Stay Sharp

No matter the knife or the style of blade you choose to carry, maintaining its edge is as important as making sure that you have fresh batteries in your portable radio.

Knife sharpening can be accomplished several ways. You can send it out for professional honing or you can do it yourself with an Arkansas stone, a diamond sharpener, or one of the new sharpening kits. The new kits from companies like Smith's come with multiple grit abrasive rods that attach to a base for precise refinishing and sharpening of the blade without the need to take a course in sharpening and honing. These kits maintain your knife like a cleaning kit does your sidearm and they are a worthwhile investment.


Columbia River Knife and Tool’s clip-it folding line includes the Prowler, M16FD, Falcon, and K.I.S.S. SST.

Assisted Opening Folders

Because of fears of juvenile delinquency and the association of delinquents with switchblades, laws were passed in the late '50s to prohibit the sale of spring-opening knives in the United States. Despite the fact that a trained knife fighter can open a well-oiled folding knife as fast as any automatic switchblade, the "West Side Story" laws stand.

But knife makers are starting to push at the edges of the switchblade laws with assisted opening folders. An assisted opening folding knife is a hybrid between a manually operated folder and an automatic knife. Assisted opening folders do not open with the push of a button like a switchblade. Instead, the operator must partially open the blade, and then an automatic mechanism takes over and the blade is ready for business. An easily manipulated safety prevents the blades from engaging accidentally.


Spyderco was once one of the only options for duty folding knives, and the company remains a major player in the market.

Assisted opening folding knives are now being developed by several different manufacturers, and at least two knife makers have launched assisted opening product lines.

Kershaw's Boa folders feature the company's Speed Safe system. Speed Safe is a torsion bar built into the knife's liner that automatically engages the blade once it is partially opened. Boa knives feature 33/8-inch stainless blades with heavy-duty anodized aluminum handles. They retail for about $185.

SOG's new Flash line of S.A.T. (SOG Assisted Technology) folders offer very fast assisted opening action. The Flash I features a 2.5-inch stainless blade and the Flash II boasts a 3.5-inch stainless blade. The handles come in Zytel and anodized aluminum. Retail prices range from $44.95 to $99.95.


Scott Smith is a former military policeman and U.S. Army Ranger. He is a frequent contributor to POLICE.

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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Patrick @ 6/14/2014 8:29 AM

what kind of kabar is in the first picture with the glock knife and the Kershaw ive looked everywhere but cant find anything on it

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