What is a Tactical Knife Used For?

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Tactical knives are often very cool looking and great tools, but what are tactical knives even used for? This is a common question that both new and seasoned knife owners often wonder, so I did some research to find out the answer.

Tactical knives were originally designed as practical tools for the military, but are also very useful for survival, everyday carry, and tons of other activities. While tactical knives are effective in almost all situations, they are often designed to withstand intensive and extreme conditions.

While the design and look, as well as the overall view of tactical knives, have changed dramatically over the years, below I will talk about the intended purpose of a tactical knife and specific activities where they are really useful.

Table of Contents

What a Tactical Knife is Used for

There are thousands of different knife designs and each has a specific purpose and activities that they are good at completing. Tactical knives were specifically designed for a very specific purpose and use, but recent designs and renditions of the knife skew that clearly defined purpose a little bit.


Tactical knives are really useful in almost any activity and situation. There are tactical knives made just to look cool, there are ones for general use, there are ones specifically made to handle a lot of use, and a thousand other types of tactical knives for almost anything you could imagine.

Generally, tactical knives are really good tools for survival, bushcraft, EDC, camping, self-protection, and really any activity where you need a hardy and durable knife. 

While tactical knives were originally made for military and intensive use, they have spread out and are now considered a very multi-purpose and versatile knife choice.


The original purpose of a tactical knife was to be an all-around great utilitarian knife that could complete tasks in harsh and extreme conditions.

Originally, there was a somewhat clear distinction between a “fighting knife” and a “tactical knife”. Fighting knives were for combat and self-defense, and tactical knives were for utilitarian purposes and used as tools. There were clear design differences beteem the two types of knives that reflected their intended use.

However, more recent designs of tactical knives combine the two types of knives and have made the term “tactical knife” and “fighting knife” almost synonymous in today’s world.

While combining the two different types of knives might not seem like that big of a deal, it really messed with the overall view of tactical knives and has turned them into scary weapons in the public’s and law’s eyes.

While they are seen as dangerous weapons by most people as well as the law, tactical knives were, and still are, versatile utilitarian tools that are good at almost any task that could involve a knife.

Scenarios and Activities Where Tactical Knives Can be Used

As I previously mentioned, tactical knives are very versatile tools that can work in almost any situation and are good for almost any activity where you need to use a knife. 

Below I will go over some of the most common uses for tactical knives, but this is by no means an extensive list. There are literally THOUSANDS of different uses and scenarios where you can use a tactical knife and I simply cannot list them all here.


Many people love to go camping, and a tactical knife is often the perfect tool to assist with the various tasks that go along with this activity. Even if you are glamping (glamorous camping) a tactical knife will almost always come in handy. 

It really doesn’t matter where you are or how extreme you camp, tactical knives make wonderful tools whether you are in a marked off camping spot in a State Park or in the middle of nowhere with no humans for miles in every direction.

Tactical knives can do everything you might need them to do while camping such as cutting food, some whittling, and anything else you might need a knife for.


In a survival situation, a tactical knife—or any knife for that matter—is an almost invaluable tool. Tactical knives are great for survival because many are made for intensive and extreme situations and a real survival situation would definitely fit the bill.

Often times you never know when you will find yourself in a survival situation, which makes tactical knives even better because they make excellent everyday carry knives as well so you can always have a tactical knife on you.

Everyday Carry

Tactical knives make excellent everyday carry knives. They are the perfect mix of versatility and durability which makes them a very popular choice for a daily use knife.

There are so many different designs of tactical knives, that there is probably one for whatever style of everyday carry knife you prefer. Everyday carry tactical knives are good for almost any task you will probably run into on a regular basis. A good everyday carry tactical knife can do everything from cutting open boxes and product packaging to cutting a piece of fruit for a snack and everything in between.


While tactical knives are usually not meant for self-defense, basically any knife can be used for self-defense and protection.

Many people just carry a tactical knife as an everyday carry blade and its there with them in the freak chance that they need to use it for self-defense. Its really not an ideal use for a tactical knife, but when it comes down to it, most tactical knives are pretty sharp and can be used for this purpose in a bad situation.


The main need for a boating knife is a really durable knife overall and the ability to deploy the blade at a moment’s notice. While not all tactical knives will meet the needs of someone that goes boating or sailing a lot, there are plenty of designs out there to satisfy your needs.

Uses for a knife on a boat are nearly endless. As with average everyday carry knives, you never really know when you will need a knife blade to complete a certain task. Tactical knives can be used to cut fishing line, rope, and really anything that you need it to.


While many tactical knives aren’t the most ideal knife to do woodwork with. Many do a pretty good job, especially with tasks like splitting, rough carving, and the heavier and rougher parts of woodworking.

I would not suggest doing fine details or work where you need accurate precision with a tactical knife. However, there are so many tactical knife designs out there that there could be one that would work for more delicate tasks.


Obviously, I am unable to list all the possible uses for a tactical knife that you, or anyone, will ever encounter. There are just too many uses and designs for anyone to actually list all the uses for a tactical knife.

Tactical knives are just really durable, cool, and useful knives to have on you. They can tackle almost anything that you throw at them including the activities and uses listed here, as well as thousands of other uses.

So whatever you need a knife for, look at the different tactical knife designs and options and you are very likely to find a tactical knife that will work perfectly for what you want to get done.


To put it simply, there is not a singular main use for a tactical knife. There are tactical knives that are specifically designed for a particular use, but tactical knives overall don’t have a primary use.

Tactical knives are really for any activity where a strong, durable, and practical knife is needed. They can be used for almost any task and are just great tools to have around for that odd job that requires a tactical knife to complete.

While tactical knife origins go back to a practical and durable knife for military purposes, there are so many different variations and renditions of tactical knives so that they are pretty much good for any task at this point. Now it’s really the question of whether you need a tactical knife or not for the task you want to complete or the activity you are doing.

Townsen Bell

I'm the founder and primary author at Knife Manual. Over many years, I have become proficient at survival and bushcraft skills through lots of practice and many great teachers. I enjoy spending time outdoors, collecting knives, and learning new skills.

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