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Fixed-Blade Knives for Duty

Check out these blades for times when a folder just won’t do.

June 22, 2011  |  by Scott Smith - Also by this author

5.11 Tactical's Side Kick has a 2.125-inch blade, and retails for $49.99.

Editor's note: View our fixed-blade knives photo gallery with all the photos and information about these knives, as well as a bonus knife that didn't appear in print.

There are those in law enforcement who balk at the idea of using a fixed-blade knife on duty. Not wanting to look like Rambo, fear that the agency will frown on it, and concern about the weight or size of the knife are but a few reasons you will not see many patrol officers carrying a big fixed blade. Most of us carry a clip-it knife of one make or another instead. But what if you need a serious knife for certain situations?

Many of the fixed blades built for law enforcement are designed for heavy-duty applications: cutting seat belts and harnesses, hacking through underbrush, breaking windows, prying open doors (not recommended), or they can even be used to puncture liquid containers. These uses will generally destroy any pocket knife you might carry.

In my research for this piece I found knives that can be carried and used daily, knives for use by game commission/drug eradication agents, or members of SWAT. These fixed blades are built by well-known manufacturers for heavy-duty service under pressure.

5.11 Tactical

5.11 Tactical's Side Kick RT was designed from the ground up for rescue work. It's more a tool than it is a knife, which is what you need to extricate someone from a vehicle or a harness. Because the blade is both a flat point and a partially serrated short single side edge, you can work close to flesh should you need more knife than the shroud/harness/clothing cutter.

This one-piece rescue tool is a hair shorter than six inches with a two-inch blade. It can also be used as a wedge or a small pry bar. The taper of the front flat blade fits easily into a vehicle or house window or door frame. I found it even provides enough leverage to move modern frameless vehicle windows and not cut the door seal.

Not only can you cut and pry with the Side Kick, but you can turn oxygen tanks off or on. This might seem minor to police but if you are an EMT or medical first responder, this tool allows you to quickly swap out oxygen tanks. The Side Kick RT is truly a tool that will serve you well on duty and not take up more room on your crowded duty belt.


If you want a fixed-blade knife, one that fits most agency policies covering knife blades is the Benchmade Nim Cub II. Its 3.5-inch blade and tang are one piece. This makes the Nim Cub II a strong, tough knife. For a solid grip, Benchmade uses Noryl GTX, which is also tough and capable of surviving most chemicals you could come in contact with on duty.

What sets this knife apart from others is the range of blade options. To start, you can choose from a tanto or a drop point, both of which have strong points that will survive duty. Then you can choose from a plain edge or a partially serrated edge. I have found partial serrations work very well on belts, harnesses, or seat belts.

The Nim Cub II is a knife built to meet your needs on duty or off duty. It will survive work on the street or in the field. If you are looking for a working knife, the Nim Cub II is one I would consider.


BlackHawk Products Group was acquired by ATK to bring new products to the tactical market, and the Nightedge is a good example of one such product.

This heavy bladed knife was designed by Allen Elishewitz to serve the end user. You can cut with a back stroke or a draw back stroke and, thanks to the serrated back edge of the knife, it will make short work of most any string or cord. Should you need to pry something open (again, not the intended use), the Nightedge's full tang will supply the strength you need. The special grinding of the blade yields a modified drop point, which is strong and durable.

Because of how far the tang extends past the handles of the grip, it is long enough to become a window breaker or impact weapon, depending on the situation. And should you use the Nightedge to break a window or to defend yourself, the blade guard and textured grip will keep you from sliding onto the cutting edges.

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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Lloyd Reese @ 6/24/2011 8:55 AM

Good coverage of some excellent knife makers and their products.
One excellent company you didn't mention is TOPS which makes some super tactical and survival fixed blades. I have their TOPS Dawn Warrior which is an excellent fixed blade knife. Recommend purchasing at a gun or knife show or via Internet suppliers for the best price. Also, would not ignore BUCK which makes some good fixed blades.

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