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Taylor Tactical Knives

Written by TR Staff

Most knife enthusiasts remember Mick “Crocodile” Dundee’s famous movie line spoken to the mugger in New York City, “That’s not a knife. THIS is a knife.”

That was our response as soon as we took the massive Taylor Extreme Ops tactical folder out of the box. The knife has a 4.2-inch long blade, a 5.7-inch handle and weighs 11.3-ounces. The big brute is bigger and weighs more than many fixed blades. And with a 0.080-inch slab of liner for the lock, it acts more like a fixed blade than a folder. We like it!

The Extreme Ops folders is certainly not a patrol-oriented knife. It is simply too big. However, it has all the right stuff for most police tactical operations.

The Extreme Ops comes with two blade designs, the Clip Point with partial blade serrations and the Tanto Point with a plain edge. The black finish is titanium powder coat. All blades have laser-etched logos and letterings. The Extreme Ops folder uses a hollow blade grind instead of the flat grind. A hollow ground edge is more geared to cutting and slicing and is a surprisingly nice feature of this big knife.

440-C Stainless

The blade is made from 440-C stainless steel. The 440-C stainless is an economical balance of edge-holding and the ability to easily sharpen. This is not just a “440” alloy, but the full 440-C, the classic, high-carbon stainless steel. The high-chrome gives it the stainless characteristics. The high-carbon gives it hardness and edge-holding, although not as much as the non-stainless, carbon steels.

Carbon content, and thus the hardenability of this stainless steel, goes up from 440-A (.75%) to 440-B (.95%) to 440-C (1.2%). The 440-C alloy is not as hard as 154 CM, for example, but is less costly and easier to sharpen. The 440-C has slightly more chromium but is not quite as tough or as hard. The 154 CM is typically hardened to 59-61 Rc. The 440-C is usually heat treated to 56-58 Rc. In fairness, at its best 440-C is a few Rockwell hardness points below 154 CM.

The one area in which this big tactical folder could be improved is, in fact, this blade alloy. Everything else on the knife is indestructible and extra heavy duty. The selection of Crucible’s 154 CM or Hitachi’s ATS-34 would have made a tougher, more durable knife. In comparison, the 440-C will be easier to sharpen but will not hold the edge as long and will be more likely to chip. On the other hand, 440-C was the ultimate blade material until just a few years ago. And 154 CM would have greatly raised the price of the knife. As it is, the retail price is about $50.

The Extreme Ops folder has a half-inch diameter thumb disc bolted to the blade back. You can’t miss it, even when very distracted by the reason that you actually need the knife. The blade opens and closes very smoothly.

Great Liner Lock

We are not big liner lock fans...for all the reasons liner locks fail or otherwise unlock...but the Extreme Ops folder fixes all these concerns.

On most liner lock designs, the failure mode of the lock under stress is frame flex. With dual, full-length, 0.080-inch thick stainless liners bolted in 12 places to themselves and to the rigid panels, this frame isn’t going to flex. Other liner lock failure reasons include the compression failure of the liner lock material. Again, the liner on this knife is about twice the thickness of most liner lock folders.

How many times have you manually opened a liner lock knife and the liner lock spring did not fully engage the blade tang? Right. If it has never happened, try opening the blade while fending off a disarm, the exact reason you carry something other than a seat belt knife. Either just the tiny ball detent engages the blade tang, or just the smallest portion of the liner engages the tang. You know the lock won’t hold!

Every time we opened the Extreme Ops battle blade, the entire 0.080 inch liner slid more than halfway across the 0.220-inch thick tang. That’s right...100% of the thickness of the liner lock reliably engaged the tang. How about an accidental unlock due to twisting? Didn’t happen.

The handle has such a large index finger relief near the lock that the liner lock grip actually felt like a frame lock. The index finger pressure actually forced the liner into the blade tang. Plus, the liner engaged so much of the tang, it would have to move almost the entire thickness of the tang to accidentally unlock. Not this knife.

Like all liner lock and frame lock folders, this Extreme Ops knife locked up with zero play in the blade open-blade close rotation. The big blade did, however, have some side to side play when locked open. It was only slight and did not change our opinion of total robustness for this folder.

Large Handle

The Extreme Ops folder comes in two basic handle designs. One uses thick, checkered slabs of G10 bolted to the stainless steel handle. The other has these same checkered G10 grip panels at the rear of the handle. At the front of the handle are equally thick panels of stainless steel, bolted to the stainless steel handle. This serves to reinforce both the oversize pivot pin and the liner lock mechanism.

The Extreme Ops has heavy and open jimping for the thumb on both the blade back and on the handle over the pivot pin. It has the same open-style knurls where the fingers wrap around the bottom of the frame. The G10 panels, of course, are deeply checkered. Even the gap between the stainless and G10 panels on each side, and the gap between the dual liners on the frame back assist the grip.

The Extreme Ops folder has an exposed pommel, which we like in a tactical fixed blade. You never know when you might need to use this massive folder as a hammer. When using it as a hammer, you can smash the exposed liners flat up to the handle panels, and the blade will still fully close. These exposed liners also double as twin lanyard loop holes.

One of the real clues that this is no ordinary tactical folder is a lack of a pocket clip. Are you kidding? What kind of clip would it take to hold this bad boy in a pocket? Better yet, what kind of pocket would it take?

The Extreme Ops folder comes with a nylon sheath. The knife is held in the sheath with a wide Velcro® flap. The sheath itself has a sewn-in belt loop and two secondary Velcro® fastening tabs. This will fit a number of places on any well-designed load-bearing vest.

We carried the Extreme Ops folder for a while in a LBV where its significant weight simply disappeared. We pried on some stuff, banged on some stuff and actually used it to cut nylon webbing once. We did not actually try to break the point off, and it held up well in normal tactical use.

It would take a 154 CM or S30V blade alloy to withstand real “extreme ops” use and abuse, but this Extreme Ops folder worked fine in police tactical use. In fact, this two-fisted battle blade is probably the most under-valued knife in all of law enforcement. With its features, robustness and price, it ought to be in every load-bearing vest.

Homeland Security Fixed Blade

The big, bad fixed blade we tested from Taylor Brands is the S&W “Homeland Security” knife. While that is an overused, over-hyped name, and seemingly slapped on any product for purely marketing bravado reasons, the knife itself is actually excellent.

The big knife has an 8.1-inch long, 0.25-inch thick blade and is 13.75-inches overall. It weighs in at 17 ounces. With this weight, this S&W knife is at the heavy end in the class of relatively heavy, full-sized fixed blades, i.e., those in the 12- to 18-ounce range, as opposed to the lighter fixed blades weighing 8 to 12 ounces. A heavier knife is easier to hack and chop with. A lighter knife is easier to carry. A heavier knife is like a sharpened crow bar. A lighter knife is like a small sharpened wrecking bar. This S&W fixed blade has a good balance, but it is definitely heavy. Just hefting it makes you want to pry, hack or crush something.

The knife is almost too big for precision cutting. Taylor Cutlery did, however, try to make the blade cut well, i.e., they gave it a hollow ground blade edge. This is the best for sharpness and cutting and slicing. A hollow blade grind is a bit unusual on a hefty, fixed blade that will probably see more hacking than cutting. However, the blade is so thick, it can afford to have the hollow grind and still be stout enough to pry open a car door.

The handle design is simple and low-frill. Checkered, G10 panels cover the full-length tang. It has an exposed pommel with a lanyard loop hole. The handle has a slight index finger groove and a pronounced double guard.

The blade blank has two, 0.240-inch holes near the ricasso, the flat area between the front of the handle and the beginning of the edge bevel. These have two purposes. First, they are alternative attachment points for a lanyard that puts the lanyard closer to the center of balance of the knife. Second, they can be used to lash the knife to a stick to form an improvised spear. (Remember the wild boar scene in “First Blood”?)

The design of the double guard also allows a slightly forward grip position with the index finger in a recess in front of the lower guard and the web of the hand against the upper guard. This greatly improves the balance of the knife, but, of course, is not ideal for all blade uses.

The blade back has a saw-tooth pattern that looks like you could saw the limb for that spear handle rather than hack it from the tree with the big blade. This feature doesn’t work very well and is a bit silly. A version of this same knife with green G-10 handles has a plain blade back. This black handle, saw-tooth version also has the Urban™ titanium camo black and grey (tiger stripe) finish. The green handle version has the same titanium powder coat, except in all-black.

Tanto Point

This big fixed blade is available only in the classic Tanto Point, and that makes sense for this blade alloy, the edge grind and the intended rough use. The Tanto Point is among the strongest, most abuse-tolerant designs. The blade blank remains the full 0.25-inch all the way out to where the secondary point grind starts. This makes for both a strong blade and a strong blade tip.

A tougher blade alloy like 154 CM or S30V would have allowed the more slender Clip Point, but for the 440-C alloy, the Tanto Point is a good choice. This tactical knife comes with an outstanding sheath system. The 8-inch blade fits in a rigid nylon housing wrapped in heavy nylon webbing. That webbing is screwed to the housing eight places, including the use of one metal strap.

In addition to the sewn and bolted belt loop, the sheath also has two horizontal belt loops, a D-ring and molded-in thigh loops. The big knife is held in place with a Velcro® strap, along with some friction pressure from the housing. As an acknowledgement to the use of the 440-C alloy (softer than 154 CM and S30V), the sheath includes a carbide-inserted sharpening stone. This large, heavy and useful tactical knife goes for about $80.


Published in Tactical Response, Jul/Aug 2006

Rating : 7.0


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