Folding knives are great for everyday use, but there may come a time when you really need a serious tool. And for a knife that can handle the worst-case scenarios on raids, search-and-rescue missions, you name it, I like the Camillus and Becker Knife and Tool Tactool/BK3.
The Tactool is not your daddy's hunting/survival knife. It has a heavy, solid one-piece blade and tang. This increases the strength of the knife should it be used for prying or hacking through heavy material.
Every part of the Tactool's blade serves a purpose. Partial serration makes the Tactool extremely useful to EMS/SAR/SWAT operators. This feature ensures positive initial cuts and allows the tool to be used as a very short stroke saw.
Designed for prying, the modified tanto-style blade tip of the Tactool doesn't break as easily as a spearpoint blade. The flat of the blade has a built-in rigging/seat belt cutter to keep from adding to victims' injuries by cutting them. In addition, the nearly quarter-inch width of the blade makes it stronger and more durable than a flashy, Rambo-style survival knife.
Because the Tactool is a tactical knife, its blade is black. However, unlike other knives with blackened or painted steel that rubs off with minor wear, the Tactool's epoxy finish will hold up for many moons.
One area oftentimes overlooked on a knife is the grip. Many supposed survival knives are nothing more than repackaged hunting knives. But a real tactical knife must provide a secure grip to prevent the user's hand from sliding to the cutting edge. The grip must also be secured to the tang of the knife so it does not come off during extreme use.
The Camillus Becker Tactool's grip is definitely secure. Three substantial nuts and bolts secure the grip panels to the tang of the knife. The grips are also fashioned in a "pistol" style, and they are lightly textured to give a good purchase when the user is wearing gloves or when his or her hands are wet.
Camillus didn't skimp on design when designing the Tactool's sheath, either. Any sheath for a fixed-blade duty knife is going to take a pounding. The Tactool's sheath appears to be up to the challenge. The sheath is also designed with slots and a built-in friction loop that can be attached to most tactical vests. A friction lock and a thumb break keep the knife in the sheath until you need it.
During our testing of the Tactool, we sawed several branches from maple and oak trees, cut a rappelling harness, and the knife was flexed-or at least we attempted to flex it-but the blade showed little or no wear. Granted, these tests were done in my local woods not a lab, but hacking oak trees takes its toll on a blade, and my 235 pounds pulling and jerking on the blade didn't bend it; so that should say something about the Tactool's strength and durability.
Overall the Camillus Becker Tactool is a great fixed-blade knife. It is on the large size for daily duty use, but would definitely work for SWAT, SAR, and EMS rescue work. The knife is designed for the rigors of extreme use, and whatever the tasks you face on duty, the Tactool can meet the challenge.
Overall Length: 12.5 inches
Blade Length: 7 inches
Weight: 18.6 ounces
Blade Material: 01070-6C High-carbon steel, 58-59C hardness
Grips: GV6H polymer
Scott Smith is a disabled veteran who served as an active duty Army MP and in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as a security policeman.