One of the most commonly used pieces of police gear is rarely issued to police officers—their duty knife. Knives of all price ranges and qualities can be seen in the hands of officers across the country each day. These range from $10 gun show prizes to $500 pieces of custom art, all used in daily patrol tasks.
Truth be told, the vast majority of officers have no idea whatsoever how to choose a duty knife. Few have an understanding of what to look for in the different types of locking systems, blade styles, or other more technical areas such as blade and handle materials, all of which go into making a good knife. Many officers simply pick their duty knife based on what is easily available online or recommended by a buddy who may not be as knife-savvy as he thinks.
Recognizing the reality of how knives are often selected for police use, 5.11 Tactical
was determined to offer a line of duty-capable blades that met its standards for quality of materials and design—while being price competitive. As a result, it is possible for the officer with limited knowledge or funds to go to the 5.11 Tactical Web site, select a knife to his liking, and have the confidence that it has been designed to meet a set of standards which will allow it to perform the required job functions without failing. XPRT Folder
The newest of the 5.11 knife product line, the XPRT Folder is just such a knife. The XPRT is a large knife with many great features which make it a fine choice for a duty blade.
The XPRT Folder features a 3.75-inch clip point blade that is flat ground allowing for an extremely sharp, durable edge. Manufactured using Crucible Steel’s outstanding S30V blade steel, the XPRT is a visually attractive knife of a unique design which sees the blade engaging the handle at a greater angle in relation to the handle than many other folding knives.
While at first the design looks somewhat odd, when taken in concert with the generous recurve blade, this feature generates a cutting stroke that is more efficient at keeping the blade in contact with the material to be cut longer than more traditional knife designs.
Contoured G10 handle scales protect heat-treated stainless steel liners which are used as the locking system for this knife. Not overly thick, the liner lock does a good job of keeping the blade securely open when needed and is easily deactivated, even with one hand, when the blade needs to be closed and secured.
Many people eschew the use of liner lock knives due to the propensity of the locking liner to become weak over time and unlock the blade after an impact or a twisting pressure is applied to the blade or handle during use. While this can happen with some knives, the test XPRT has yet to exhibit any sign of such a malfunction despite repeated attempts during testing to cause such a failure.
The XPRT features a four-way, reversible pocket clip which can be set up according to user preference, allowing the knife to be stored tip-up or tip-down for either right- or left-handed deployment. The XPRT also has a lanyard hole built into the handle, a feature that is invaluable for mounted patrol, maritime or other special duties which see the loss of gear as a substantial possibility. The XPRT has an MSRP of $149.99, due mostly to the best-in-class S30V blade steel.
As good as the XPRT may be, there are times when a folding blade is simply not the best choice for the mission at hand. While many departments forbid the use of a fixed blade knife for “conventional units,” such as patrol and detective functions, specialty units may require a fixed blade knife for a variety of reasons including strength, speed of deployment, etc. Here, again, 5.11 Tactical has the answer. Tanto Surge
At just more than 8.85 inches in total length, the new 5.11 Tactical Tanto Surge features textured G10 scales with a deep choil which offers a great deal of control and contributes to the overall excellent “feel” of this knife. The 4.25-inch American Tanto style blade is made from AUS 8 blade steel. While AUS 8 is a somewhat “softer” blade steel than some others, it has long proven itself on the battlefields of the world and is capable of being sharpened to a razor-fine edge with minimal tools.
This knife is rendered in a subdued black oxide coating with a lanyard hole at the rear of the handle and a very positive set of serrations set atop the blade immediately in front of the choil where the user’s thumb will naturally come to rest. The Surge is delivered razor sharp and comes with a very well-thought-out injection molded sheath which has two Blade-Tech MOLLE locks for easy mounting options.
The knife was designed in conjunction with Mike Vellekamp and Blade-Tech, two names which have long, illustrious reputations within the tactical community. That is a good heritage for an MSRP of $74.99. Side Kick and DRT
Also of interest to officers are two smaller blades within the 5.11 stable—the DRT Folding Knife and the Side Kick Boot Knife. While both are lower cost knives, they go a long way toward adding “insurance” to an officer’s daily equipment kit.
The Side Kick Boot Knife retails for just $44.95 and is designed to be carried in a concealed manner until needed. Provided with an injection molded plastic sheath that can be set up for either belt or boot carry, the 4mm-thick and 2-inch-long blade is manufactured from the same AUS 8 steel as the Tanto Surge. The Side Kick is also coated in the same subdued black oxide finish of the bigger blade.
Very small and lightweight, the modified Tanto blade profile is rendered in a combination edge with a set of razor-sharp serrations residing at the rear of the blade. With a total length of just 5.5 inches, the Side Kick Boot Knife is cheap insurance for those officers whose agencies do not forbid fixed blade knives in a “hideout” role.
For those officers who are forbidden from carrying a fixed blade in this role, 5.11 offers the DRT. The DRT is a very small, easily concealed folding knife with a 2.85-inch, black-oxide-coated AUS 8 spear point blade utilizing a liner locking system similar to the XPRT. The handle is made of injection molded FRN rendered in Moss Green and features a black Teflon®-coated pocket clip which can be positioned to set the knife up for right- or left-hand deployment.
While some might ask why anyone would carry such a small knife on duty, one but has to use his imagination as to the variety of places where such a small blade might be concealed for use in an emergency. With a retail of just $29.99, the DRT is a very cheap security blanket in an unpredictably violent world. Scott Oldham is a supervisory sergeant with the city of Bloomington Police Department where he serves as the tactical team leader for that agency. He can be reached at email@example.com.