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5.11 Tarani Tactical Knives

A firearm, a radio, a flashlight, handcuffs and a knife are all must-have items for police officers. These five basic items should be carried each day on the job. Of course, all of these should be fully functional and of good quality because lives could depend upon them.

Law enforcement agencies normally supply radios and provide (or at least mandate) which firearm an officer carries while on duty. But the other areas of “must-have” gear afford a wide range of selections for officers. There is a significant amount of confusion as to what is—and is not—appropriate for use by a law enforcement officer.

One of the most trusted names in the law enforcement supply business is now producing a line of high-quality knives at a very affordable price. Each is completely applicable to working officers and their job requirements. In recent years, 5.11 Tactical has greatly expanded its product offerings.

This company, which started making what has become the world’s leading tactical pant, has branched out and diversified into other areas where officials have identified a need. In recent years, 5.11 has expanded its clothing line to include shirts, jackets and other garments, all of which exhibit the outstanding quality that we have come to expect from this U.S.-based company.

5.11 has also begun branching out into areas other than clothing. Recently in partnership with Kyle Lamb, a newly retired member of a national counter-terrorist asset, the company has introduced an innovative selection of load-bearing equipment that is rapidly seeing adoption by a number of different agencies and officers. It has also partnered to design, build and market a variety of cases and bags for use in storing and transporting equipment.

Plus, 5.11 just introduced a technologically advanced flashlight, the only one of its type being offered for sale in the United States. This light, known as the Light for Life, features the ability to operate without any batteries. It functions using a unique method that allows it to be charged in less than 90 seconds for more than 50,000 times.
In their first foray into the world of tactical and utility knives, 5.11 officials realized early on that they wanted to produce a series of knives that would be worthy of their much-vaunted name, so they set about to secure the services of a true subject matter expert to assist in this endeavor. They selected Steve Tarani.

Tarani is one of the few people in the world who can justly be considered a master of the blade. Tarani, who is currently a consultant to the Department of Defense, has spent the past three decades of his life studying various martial arts disciplines, including a lengthy period of time living and studying in Indonesia, the birthplace of many of the blade arts.

Together, 5.11 Tactical and Tarani set out to make a series of knives that law enforcement and military professionals can have confidence in, no matter what situation they might find themselves in. 5.11 currently offers several different series of knives, including the First Responder, Ten Eight, Investigator and the C.U.B.

First Responder

The First Responder series of knives are the top of the line offering and they represent one of the toughest, most hard-use series of knives on the market at this time. This model is available in Tanto and spear point configuration, each crafted using 0.160-inch-thick S30V Crucible Steel. This steel is a favorite for hard-use knives as it offers an extremely resilient blade that can take a huge amount of abuse.

Both of the First Responder models feature a heavy-duty frame lock that is over-sheathed with G10. The First Responders have an overall length of 8.9 inches when opened and 5.4 inches when closed, with a blade that measures 3.5 inches. These knives have a pocket clip that is capable of being set up for either right- or left-handed carry and tip-up or tip-down carry.

With a suggested retail price around $130, the First Responder series is one of the most affordable hard-use duty knives with this top blade alloy currently available to law enforcement. During testing, the officers who used this knife all remarked that it felt extremely solid in the hand.

A variety of materials, including denim, nylon and canvas and various lengths of 9mm rappelling line, were cut using this knife during testing, each succumbing to the blade in a rapid fashion. The knife features a combination edge, which significantly increases its versatility.

Due to the size and thickness of both the blade and the frame lock, the knife simply inspires confidence. The 5.11 First Responder series is one of the best knives currently on the market for law enforcement—particularly for street patrol use.

Ten Eight

Taking its name from the police code denoting “in service,” the Ten Eight series of knives were made with the realization that not all officers need or have the ability to carry a knife as big as the First Responder. The Ten Eight knives are constructed from U.S.-made 154CM steel, which for years has been the industry standard for making tough, razor sharp blades.

The knife is 8.3 inches in length when opened with a blade length of 4.9 inches. Using a liner lock and G10 handles, the Ten Eight models are the epitome of what a good knife should be. Not as large as the First Responder, many officers felt that the Ten Eight models can be carried and all but forgotten in the pocket until needed. They are also offered in both Tanto and spear point.

Delivered from 5.11 in a razor sharp condition, the knife is an excellent all-around, everyday carry knife. It can easily be carried on or off duty. The blade remained almost as sharp as the day it was delivered even after being used to cut a variety of material during testing. It is made of 154CM, so the blade is easily re-sharpened using the most basic tools. Suggested retail price is around $90.


Again taking a step down in size but not performance, 5.11 offers the Investigator series. Like the others, these knives are offered in both spear point and Tanto blade profiles. All models in this line are constructed with the same 154CM blade steel used with the Ten Eight models.

The Investigator series is somewhat smaller and lighter than the other two offerings. It is directed at those who wear sport coats and suits to work with lighter weight pants, which do not support the weight of heavier knives easily or comfortably.

The Investigator series knives are 4.8 inches closed, and have blades that are 3 inches in length and 1/8 inches thick. All models in this series utilize an extremely strong back lock and G10 handles. The suggested pricing for the Investigator is around $80.


The C.U.B. models, or Curved Utility Blade knives, are offered in both Master’s Model and Journeyman’s Model versions. The Master’s Model knife is manufactured from Crucible’s S30V Steel and uses G10 handles and a stainless steel safety ring liner. The Journeyman has a blade constructed from 154CM steel and a textured handle made of fiberglass-reinforced nylon. Both models feature a 2.75-inch flat ground, curved blade with an ambidextrous pocket clip.

While a karambit-style blade has not been commonly found in law enforcement until recent years, it excels at certain functions, including utility and self-defense. It is exactly this style of knife that Tarani has become renowned for popularizing in the United States.

While the C.U.B.-style knives will not strike everyone’s fancy and do not lend themselves to any type of strenuous prying duties, within their own areas of strength, their capabilities are unmatched. The suggested price for the C.U.B. Master’s Model is around $130, and the Journeyman’s Model is around $90.

Scott Oldham is a supervisory sergeant with the Bloomington, IN Police Department where he is assigned to the Operations Division as patrol supervisor, as well as being one of the team leaders for the department’s Tactical Unit. He can be reached at

Published in Tactical Response, Sep/Oct 2009

Rating : 10.0

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