The tactical knife market is one of the fastest growing segments of knife retail today. Many folks select one of these knives as a multi-purpose survival blade; or as a backup method of self-defense. And some folks will admit to the fact that they just bought one because it looked cool. I have many of these knives, but not because they seem to be a fad. I use mine often, if not daily. So how do my three favorite tactical knives stack up? Check out our knife showdown and find out.

Browning’s Black Label Stone Cold Tanto
The Stone Cold Tanto with a cord-wrapped handle is just one of the dozen or so members of Browning’s Black Label line. This particular knife features a 5 5/8-inch tanto point blade made from matte black 440 stainless steel with a hollow grind, partial edge serrations, a pronounced front guard plus a squared pommel with a hardened glass breaking point. The finger-grooved handle is a full tang design and is hand-wrapped with desert camo paracord for a good grip and a back-up cordage supply. The knife alone weighs 8.5 ounces, is made in China and retails for about $60.

The SOG Force
The 6-inch blade on the SOG Force is a thick AUS 8 steel, which is razor sharp right out of the box and virtually unbreakable. The handle of the SOG Force is made of glass reinforced nylon, through which the tang of the blade extends out the back into a glass-breaking point. The glass reinforced nylon is incredibly lightweight, making the Force easy to carry. Almost all of the weight (10.5 ounces) on this knife comes from the blade. The handle has contoured shape covered in an aggressive checkering of small points to help the knife stay in your hand, where it belongs. The knife is made in Taiwan and has a MSRP of $180.

The TOPS-Buck Nighthawk
The TOPS & Buck crossover known as the Nighthawk is quickly becoming my new favorite blade. The blade’s length is 6 ½ inches; and it is made from 420HC Stainless Steel with a Black Oxide coating. The handle is a very comfortable reinforced molded nylon with a rubberized grip. It weighs 10 ounces and is made in the USA. The Nighthawk sells for roughly $90.

The matchups
To simplify our comparison, let’s match features and give you a rundown of the pros and cons of each knife.
• Best wood carving edge: 1) Nighthawk, 2) Force 3) Stone Cold.
• Best penetrating point: 1) Stone Cold, followed by Nighthawk and then the Force.
• Best wood chopper: 1) Force, 2) Nighthawk 3) Stone Cold.
• Best value: Nighthawk
• Best Sheath: 1) Force 2) Nighthawk 3) Stone Cold

Do you have a favorite tactical knife? Tell us about it in the comments section.