Emerson Knives has served the world's most select special operations soldiers in all global conflicts and secret missions for more than 20 years. As an Amazon associate, I earn a commission for qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. A lot of people wonder what knives Special Forces units like Navy SEALs carry, and if you look at online forums, people are constantly arguing about it, but the truth is that Special Forces guys prefer pretty much the same things as everyone else. They want something that works, that is durable, and that has favorable characteristics for the specific mission in question.
Now, that's not to say that there aren't knives that are more common than others found on the MOLLE panel of a Special Forces operator's vest and there are certainly some knives that have earned quite a reputation, such as the Emerson CQC-7, the knife carried by the sharp man during Operation Neptune Spear, the mission that resulted in the death of the most wanted man on earth. In addition to knives that have high utility usage, most operators will carry the same things as most civilians, including sturdy fixed blades, reputable pocket knives, and anything in between. Keep in mind that there are no specific knives used by Special Forces because, like Special Forces units themselves, their missions and tasks are quite specific, but they're always evolving, which means they'll probably choose to equip themselves with the right tools for the job, which is rarely same as the previous work. This means that Special Forces don't just buy a specific knife and then always rely on that specific knife, since sometimes they may need a knife with totally different attributes than the one they used the last time they packed.
The CPM 3V is going to be the snob knife option, obviously being the most expensive, but also the most versatile and the most premium of the steels available. CPM 3V is among the best in the industry in terms of tactical use, so if you can afford it, do it, it's a steel option that will give you a blade that will last a lifetime. The Cold Steel SRK 5 has been delivered to the Navy SEALs during training B, U, D, S and obviously, many of them continue to use these knives long after graduating in the field. The reason special forces operators love these blades is simple: the design is simple, the weight is enough to give the blade a little strength, but it doesn't unnecessarily burden the operator, and the steel options are excellent and purposely designed for use in extremely demanding environments.
The SRK 5 is a workhorse that will resist and prevail against intense abuse across the board. First of all, the choice of steel here is excellent and consists of 154 cm. The 154 cm drop point blade found here is one of the easiest to maintain, while being incredibly strong and durable enough to rely on your life. You may have noticed that I chose the drop point version for linking, but don't let that stop you from choosing the Tanto variant, as both are extremely viable options and, really, the shape of the blade will depend on what you need most.
Personally, I like blades so much, but I usually choose drop points because they are much more useful for a wider range of non-combat use cases, but they are still very lethal and usable in a difficult situation. Sure, this gives a little less leverage and stuff like that, but overall it makes the knife feel a lot easier to use for smaller tasks, like cutting food or just using it as a general purpose knife. These knives are much lighter than most of their competitors, with virtually the same strength, if not more in some cases, which is why they are so incredibly popular with military personnel. This particular design was originally based on the design of the Fairbairn-Sykes dagger that we see in the era of World War II, which was designed by Col.
Rex Applegate, who was also a personal guard and good friend of President D. Yes, that is quite an impressive story behind this knife and, really, a lot of knives that are carried by enthusiasts in the military have these great little stories behind them that make them fun to carry and are a great topic of conversation. Boker's Apple Gates have become a little hard to come by, but if you do, expect to pay around two hundred dollars and you'll get a beautifully designed spearhead knife consisting of 440C attached to a FRN Delrin handle. These knives are ergonomically great for the spearhead design and are equally visually amazing.
This 10-inch monster is an excellent all-around knife that many have enjoyed due to its incredible versatility and overall durability. The Gerber LMF II is a knife that has fought in every region of the Earth and has been battle-tested and tested time and time again. Obviously, the design was precisely tuned and created with the needs of a special forces operator in mind throughout the development process. The StrongArm is purpose-built to be a pretty fantastic intermediate point between rough capacity and strength, yet compact enough to be considered part of a heavy backpack for a long hike.
So how can you choose between the two? The LMF II is a little heavier, although it is a good type of heavy, but this makes it less advantageous to say, someone who faces a long walk or who works in tight spaces when it comes to the StrongArm. At about 3 ounces lighter, the StrongArm is definitely much easier to pack and maneuver in tight spaces, but it harbors almost the same amount of general utility as the LMF II. So is almost double the price worth an additional 3 ounces of steel? Well, to be honest, the LMF II feels great, it has a character that StrongArm lacks, but overall, it's really going to depend on your needs. For large, heavy tasks where you have no weight restrictions, the LMF II is undoubtedly a big beast but comfortable to handle, while the StrongArm certainly feels compact, both in a good way that it allows it to be easier to transport, but also feels cheaper and less threatening overall than its big brother stocky.
At the end of the day, for most people, the choice will come down to personal preference, as both knives will perform excellently across the board and are undoubtedly trusted companions in hostile and hostile territories. OK, maybe a little exaggerated, but the blades are really super thick and ultra durable. No, 440A isn't exactly my favorite steel I've used, but come on, I can use supersteels whenever I want, so I think my expectations are a little higher than the average person's. These knives have long been issued and used by the United States Navy and, in Special Forces terms, OKC has a long reputation for dealing with several different units and there are countless stories that they are purchased both as a unit and as stand-alone options for operators, not just in EE.
In the US, but all over the world. From the SEALs to the secret narcotics units operating in the jungle, these knives have earned their reputation as a fantastic, versatile and exceptionally reliable fixed blade. SOG is an American company and manufactures some of its knives, like most of its knives, in the large United States of America, however, the SEAL Pup Elites have a level of quality and performance that I think almost anyone with basic knife knowledge can learn to respect and appreciate. Are they the best knives ever made? Well, no, but they don't cost a hundred dollars and they certainly give the best knives in history a fair run for their money.
One thing anyone will tell you after having a SOG SEAL Pup Elite is that these things are incredibly light compared to other knives of similar sizes. At first, it may seem that the lightweight properties are the result of being of poor quality, but the AUS-8 blades that come with them can be incredibly sharp and generally perform quite decently across the board. This knife really has quite an interesting tradition behind it and even if you're not interested in its links to the Green Berets, it has been designed by Chris Reeve and William W. Chris Reeve is, well, Chris Reeve, he makes some great knives, especially titanium folders, but William Harsey is a legend in the knife world and has designed countless knives used by the military.
The Green Beret consists of S35VN, which is a super steel similar to 154CM, but with a touch of vanadium and niobium carbides that greatly improves its wear resistance and overall toughness. The S35VN is a fairly rare steel, especially among long fixed blades, but that's not due to its poor performance, but more so because of the high cost involved. If you're willing to pay supersteel prices, you'll get a blade that will last a ridiculous amount of time, and while supersteels are generally quite known for being quite difficult to sharpen, they have incredible levels of edge retention, so you won't sharpen them very often. What's really great about this steel and the overall blade design is how versatile these knives can be.
From cutting to slicing in both survival and combat, the Chris Reeve green beret excels in all areas. Is this knife the best thing for your money? Hey, no, not really, but it's really cool and has a lot of history behind it, so if you're interested in a knife that's actually used and loved by the people in Special Forces, then maybe it's a great addition to your collection. As a final note here, I will say that this knife has a reputation for being gifted to those who graduate from their Special Forces qualification classes and as such they are usually left at home as a reminder and reminder of their exceptional achievement, yet some guys take them straight to the belly of the beast, but seldom. However, this knife is not just glamor and fame, as it is a completely monstrous knife.
Of course, its primary function is to be used as a CQC tool, so it lacks a bit in the general purpose department due to its unique chisel sharpening and blade style So much, but in terms of being lethal and becoming a reliable weapon and part of a special forces operator's equipment, this is one of the most reliable and the most sought after options on the market. This is one of the most popular special forces folding knives out there. One thing you'll notice immediately after opening the box and taking the knife out of that Benchmade sheath is how this knife feels like a feather in your hand. The handles especially feel like they are almost weightless, however, the blade is a strong 3.38-inch CPM 3V monster capable of hard use and heavy abuse.
I would say that the Rescue is one of the best versatile knives to carry with a bunch of other equipment because it's incredibly strong yet impeccably light, and apparently adds nothing to your already heavy load. Sure, they're quite expensive for a pocket knife, but when it comes to trusting your equipment, the Benchmade Barrage is an excellent piece of hardware to take to harsh environments. These knives were designed by Kit Carson, a famous knife maker, but also a sergeant major with a lot of military history. I can tell you from first hand experience that these knives are heavy and weigh quite a bit compared to the other pocket knives on this list, yet they are perfect for heavy use and daily abuse.
You'll find a wide variety of ZT knives in the military personnel payload, so be sure to look further than the 0452CF, but with that said, this knife is an incredible workhorse. With a thin but incredibly strong CPM S35VN blade, they will last a lifetime of abuse in any environment and, of course, carbon fiber scales make these knives exceptionally light yet incredibly durable. Hollywood aside, the Combat Troodon is by far one of the most notorious and respected “Out the Front” knives in general, and with that great reputation it comes at a fairly high price. Despite being incredibly expensive, these things are great, and more than just the genius factor, they come in some of the best steel technologies offered so far.
Now, I haven't gotten to work with the Elmax version yet, but what I've seen in the M390 variants is more than impressive and, of course, works on par with what you'd expect from an ultra-expensive supersteel. OTF knives are interesting little creatures. On the one hand, they seem to be pretty cool in a tactical sense with how quickly you can deploy the sword and, let's face it, the sound is horrifying for your enemies. It's hard to tell them apart because they're so much fun to use, but in real life, they suffer from trouble getting tangled up and they don't even make me start using them in the desert.
As soon as they get gritty, they get in a bad mood. As long as you can keep them clean, they shouldn't disappoint you, but you should keep in mind that they're really only specifically designed for combat use and aren't great knives for outdoor use. The Gerber Mark II is a complete combat knife, it was never designed to be used as a camp knife, axe, widdler, etc. I don't know why so many people expect a 6.5 dagger to be useful for far beyond eliminating enemy threats and for most ordinary people, that's not something that's dealt with on a daily basis.
These knives are generally going to be more of a collector's knife or a showcase queen for most of those who buy them. For the rest of us, the Mark II is a fairly robust but reliable defense mechanism. Gerber is known to be everywhere when it comes to quality control for the Mark II, which is probably its only drawback. If you get a bad one, well, you return it, but for almost everyone today, the Mark II is an excellent dagger that will get the job done and Gerber has really come a long way in terms of delivering consistently decent products.
Is this the right knife for you? I can't answer that, but I can say with confidence that our military personnel have taken thousands of these knives into combat and have been pleasantly satisfied with their overall shape and performance. Yes, they're a little expensive for some of us, at three hundred dollars or more, but what you get here is a monster knife with supersteel, all packed so you don't realize it. The CPM-3V covers ridiculous levels of strength and, at the same time, is a steel that ranks among the best in the market for reliability and durability. The micarta handles these knives come with are of incredible quality, they feel great in the hand, they don't lend themselves to being flashy, but they are as durable and resistant to damage as the super steel that these knives come with.
Sure, the price is high, but these knives have what it takes to survive several lifetimes of cheaper knives, so is it really that expensive? Well, if you're tough on your equipment and demand the integrity of some of the best materials the knife world has to offer, I'd definitely say yes. These knives will last a lifetime if taken care of and can be used in almost any situation. The Field LT version of this knife is a slightly lighter overall package and has achieved lower weight by making the blade a little thinner, which is perfectly thin considering how hard and strong CPM-3V steel is. Overall, a lot of military guys really enjoy the LT versions and that's what I would recommend to most people looking to take a Bark River Bravo.
Those ruthless looking splines on the back of the knife aren't just because of how they look, they're among my favorite sawteeth on any knife I've ever owned. This combines with the ever-versatile drop point blade and you'll have an excellent tool, weapon and battle partner ready to go at any time. I love how raw the Adamas feels in the hands, it's like it's a small knife tank that can go anywhere, do anything, and be used in virtually any scenario, which is why it's probably so accepted among some of the world's leading operating units. Of course, a knife like this is going to need a home, and Benchmade also has it covered with a very good injection-molded jump sheath that encompasses 8-point Tek-Lok technology.
The best thing about these covers is that they have tension adjustment so you can get that perfect release and capture feel. This knife is so well known among operators that Benchmade has created a program in which a portion of the sale of each Adamas sold is donated to the Navy SEAL Foundation and the Three Rangers organization. This particular knife is named after the Colombian special command police force that worked to search for drug operations in the dense jungles of South America. These design attributes, which include a very versatile 8.38-inch drooped blade that is a little heavy in the front and gives an excellent boost to cut through brushwood at any given time, make the knife especially useful for those trapped behind enemy lines who need something strong and tough to navigate dense foliage and move.
fast. I'll say that one thing a lot of people are surprised about when they put on their OKC M9 bayonet is how boring they are. I think this stems from a misunderstanding of what a bayonet is designed for. They're not cutters, skinners or shavers, they're designed to be submerged in your enemy's sternum and you don't really need a sharp blade to do it, but a thick, sturdy blade.
They are incredibly thick and sturdy, serve their purpose exactly as delivered, and if you really want, you can always sharpen them and get a sharp edge. The M9 bayonet system was originally designed to fit AR rigs like the M4, M16 and AR-15 style rifles, but, if you take a look at the World Wide Web, you'll find people placing these bad boys on all kinds of boomsticks. Now, of course, word of mouth and reputation are not the only thing Winkler knives offer. These knives are made with extreme care and attention to detail, and many of those who carry them will tell you that they are the only knives they will ever wear again.
Do they use the latest and greatest supersteel? Not exactly, but the shape, ergonomics, edge geometry, weight and overall design are specifically designed to be ideal for use in combat situations. This type of detail and thought isn't commonly found among popular retail knives, but it's more of a special consideration from an enthusiastic knife craftsman. Buying a Winkler knife is like buying a high-end brand garment. Could you get something similar in quality at a significantly lower price? Yes, you could, but the peace of mind of knowing that each piece is made with you in mind, unlike profit margins, and the little extra care and thought put into its design so that it not only stands out but really appeals to those who have a need to turn attention to the little things makes them a special type knife whose reputation exceeds the standard knife market that most people carry.
I linked myself to a specific knife, the WK001, and while it's an exceptional knife, I really implore anyone to take a look at the other knives Winkler has to offer as well, since most of them are made with a specific use case in mind that will obviously vary depending on who they are and what they do. Bowie knives and their combat utility go beyond what you see in the movies and this knife works well specifically across the board. The blade feels a little heavy on the top, but in many cases that favors the Bowie, this is really good. Unlike some of the Ka-Bar line, the BK9s are actually full tang, making them considerably more reliable.
Sure, it's expensive, especially by Ka-Bar standards, but I think the extra money spent is worth it for the exceptional performance these knives encompass, especially for difficult situations a Special Forces operator might find themselves in. The Ka-Bar combat knife is not the best at anything, especially in fighting, but it has a long tradition of being used by the military and not just by the Marine Corps, but everywhere, and it is good business for both enlisted and civilians alike. What's pretty good about the relatively inexpensive 1095 carbon steel is that it's actually quite soft compared to most other high quality steels used in blade making, and while this has its drawbacks, it actually makes a lot of sense for a combat knife because will resist breaking or breaking if it comes in contact with something like hard body armor. It is true that harder steels have advantages, such as much greater edge retention, but in the event that you have to use this knife against another living being, it doesn't really matter if the edge is perfectly sharpened, what matters is that the blade remains intact throughout the fight.
In this section, we'll discuss the attributes of a knife that can make it attractive for use in special operations. If you would like detailed information about knives, I would like to direct you to the Navy-approved guides on knife steels, knife shapes, knife blade sharpenings, and knife handle materials. After reading our knife guides, you should have a great idea of what makes a knife good for your specific applications and what attributes could affect a Special Forces operator's decision on which knife is used in their loads. Never take someone else's opinion, not even someone in the Special Forces, about which knife is best for you.
Learning about the attributes of a knife and choosing a knife whose attributes match your specific use case is the only way to find the perfect knife. Knives used in any type of combat have to be tough, but resistance is somewhat subjective and there are many other attributes one should consider before choosing a new knife to add to their equipment. Many of the best knives found in combat consist of a reputable high-carbon steel or powder metallurgy (CPM) steel. In a combat environment, knives will almost certainly get wet and exposed to the elements, which makes many steel options that resist corrosion, such as H1, VG-10 or N690, but many of the CPM steels also perform well in this category.
The shape of a knife found in a special operator's knife must be of both utility and lethality. You won't find many tracking points, Sheepsfoot, Wharncliffe or Assist blades, simply because they're specifically designed for tasks that the average special forces operator won't endure during a combat operation. The blade shapes you can expect to find on a special forces operator's knife are going to be the drop point due to its exceptional versatility, the spearhead or needle tip due to its incredible piercing and pushing capabilities, both for its long history of combat performance especially against vests bulletproof, or Talon swords found in Karambits that, although rarer than those mentioned, are a favorite among highly trained CQB operators. For the most part, the choice of handle material is going to be a choice of personal preference.
Many types of handles, such as Micarta, G10, or any fiberglass based handle, will be among the most popular due to their strength, reliability, and durability. Nearly all special forces operators will use reputable, strong synthetic handles, as they are the obvious choice for longevity and weather resistance. All images on our website are the property of their respective owners. Reproduction of any part of this website without direct permission is prohibited.
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