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Military, Police, and Firefighter Knife Buying Guide

Welcome to the military, police and first responders knife buying guide! This buyers guide is an informative resource for military personnel, police and law enforcement, firefighters, EMT’s, and any other first responders looking to find a rescue knife that fits their needs. These knives have been picked because they are easy to open with gloves in a stressful situation. Let’s start with some great options.

Best First Responder Knives

The following are some of the best examples for anybody with gloved hands that needs an easy opener, such as the military, police, firefighters, etc. Read the knife overviews and see the comparison table at the end for specifications.

Spyderco Military

The Spyderco Military was designed when Sal Glesser, founder of Spyderco, was asked what knife he would send his child with if they were joining the military. The Spyderco Military was born and is made to be virtually indestructible. Premium steel choices, multiple color options, and made in the USA. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Spyderco Autonomy Automatic

The Spyderco Autonomy is next in the lineup with this push button automatic. This model was built with the U.S. Coast Guard in mind and features an oversized firing button, H-1 steel blade, and G-10 handle scales.

Benchmade Triage knife

The Benchmade Triage series is the ultimate rescue tool. The Triage line features Benchmade’s famous AXIS lock combined with a strap cutter and carbide glass breaker. A great knife for any first responder. Available in automatic and manual! Check out the table for the specs.

Gerber 06 auto knife

The Gerber 06 Auto is a given for this category. The 06 was made for gloved use with a large handle, oversized firing button, and big safety switch. Strong, durable, and built to last. Gerber automatic knives have a rich tradition and are always a great choice for anybody in the military, police, or similar industry.

Spyderco Assist Knives

Spyderco Assist side openers. The name says it all. The Spyderco Assist is designed to assist those in emergency situations when the pressure is mounting. It’s easy to open and cuts through the toughest materials. Added bonus: survival whistle. See the table for the specs.

Microtech LUDT Automatic Knives

The Microtech LUDT automatics sport Elmax blades and come in many flavors. The automatic openings are snappy and the quality is real. Their slim profile and simple firing button make these a great knife for anybody that regularly wears gloves.

SOG Spec Elite Knives

The SOG Spec Elite II is a larger version of the Spec Elite I — that means all the quality with more real estate for your hand. These knives rock aluminum handles and new technology springs for thousands of reliable openings.

Zero Tolerance 0620

The ZT 0620 line. A collaboration between Zero Tolerance and Emerson Knives can only lead to good things. Take the wave opener for example. Catch it on the pocket on the way out and it’s ready to rock. Check out the table for the specs.

Protech Tactical Response Knives

Protech Tactical Response automatics, namely the TR-4, are all very snappy automatics. The Tactical Response lineup is unique in that there are many variations. The automatic action on each one hits hard and lockup is solid. The contoured handles fit nicely in the hand even with gloves on.

Benchmade Adamas Knives

Benchmade Adamas automatics come in last but certainly not least. The automatic Adamas line features D2 steel blades, G-10 handles, stainless steel liners, and AXIS locks. These knives are built with the user in mind.

Spyderco Military Spyderco Autonomy Benchmade Triage Gerber 06 Auto Spyderco Assist Microtech LUDT SOG Spec Elite II ZT 0620 Protech TR-4 Benchmade Adamas
Type Manual Automatic Manual/Automatic Automatic Manual Automatic Manual/Automatic Manual Manual/Automatic Fixed/Manual/Automatic
Overall Length 9.50″ 8.625″ 8.20″+ 8.60″+ 8.38″ 8.00″ 8.90″+ 8.50″ 9.25″ 8.70″+
Blade Length 4.00″ 3.75″ 3.50″+ 3.625″+ 3.69″ 3.375″ 4.00″+ 3.60″ 4.00″ 3.82″+
Handle Length 5.50″ 4.875″ 4.70″+ 5.00″ 4.875″ 4.625″ 4.90″+ 4.90″ 5.25″ 4.875″+
Blade Steel 52100, CTS, CPM Steels H1 Bohler N680 CPM-S30V VG-10, H1 Elmax, Bohler M390, ATS-34 AUS-8, VG-10 Elmax, CTS-204P 154CM, D2, Damascus D2
Handle Material G-10, Carbon Fiber, Aluminum G-10 G-10, Aluminum Aluminum FRN Aluminum, Brass, Rubber Aluminum, GFN G-10, Carbon Fiber Aluminum, Stainless Steel G-10, Steel
Pocket Clip Tip-Down Tip-Up Tip-Up Tip-Up Tip-Up Tip-Up Tip-Up Tip-Up Tip-Up Tip-Up
User Right Hand Right/Left Hand Right/Left Hand Right/Left Hand Right/Left Hand Right Hand Right/Left Hand Right/Left Hand Right Hand Right/Left Hand
Weight 4.20 oz. 5.35 oz. 5.10+ oz. 7.00+ oz. 4.00 oz. 3.62 oz. 3.60+ oz. 6.20+ oz. 5.50+ oz. 5.60+ oz.
General Price $160+ $168 $153+ $150+ $89+ $200+ $119+ $159+ $185+ $153+

What to Look for in a Military, Police, EMT, Firefighter Knife

What do the military, police, firefighters, and EMT’s have in common? They all need a knife that is easy to open with gloves, is the right size, and very durable.

Easy Opening

The knife examples in this buyers guide were picked because they can be opened with different kinds of gloves on. Automatic knives are appealing for this type because they are easily opened with the push of a button. That said, automatic knives aren’t legal everywhere, so we included other great examples that are easy to open.


Something that every knife example shared was that they are not small knives. A military soldier has to react to an ambush, a police officer needs a knife for anything unexpected, a firefighter has to quickly draw a knife to free somebody from a bad situation; bigger knives are just easier to handle and open, especially with gloves on.


The handle grip on a knife is very important if it will be used with gloves. Materials like G-10, FRN, and others are durable and textured to have the best grip possible.


Police, military personnel, EMT’s, and firefighters want a knife that’s made with quality materials. These knives have to take a beating and not fail. Every one of the beginning examples have that. Durability is big a factor because they have to be depended on in rough situations.

Brand Names

Knives that have to be relied upon should be made by brand names. Brand names have been tested and proven with their designs and can be trusted. You wouldn’t want your life to depend on a no-name brand with mystery steel, would you? When you buy a brand name you buy tradition and reliability.

Popular Brands

Spyderco has been producing incredibly well-made knives for over 40 years. Their designs are some of the best in the industry and are always easily recognizable. Spyderco knives are built to last with only quality materials.

Benchmade produces top-of-the-line knives that are well known in the industry. Every Benchmade knife is made with quality steel, durable handle materials, and great hardware.

Gerber knives have a long history in knifemaking. Gerber is known to produce products that are tough, which is why Gerber automatic knives are a great choice for this category.

Zero Tolerance is a brand that builds to the strict needs of military and police. Every ZT knife is made in the USA and pushes the envelope on the standards of the knife industry.

Microtech is a popular brand that manufactures their knives from all USA parts and materials. Every Microtech knife is engineered by experts and designed to last.

Protech boasts being one of the top choices of military and police professionals. Protech builds each knife to serve the user by using the finest materials and craftsmanship.

SOG has been crafting knives and tools since 1986 and strives to produce innovative designs. SOG produces their products to be used without any worry of them failing.

Knife Laws

Knife laws can be something that puts a limit to the best options available. Knife laws in the United States vary at the state level. Some states allow concealed carry of all kinds of knives. Some states only allow certain blade lengths and styles. Other states are very restrictive with what type of knife one can even own, let alone carry.

Look up the laws for your state. That’s the only way you can know if what you’ve got your eyes on will be legal to own.


To recap this buying guide, look for these things when buying a knife to use with gloves:Tested productsEasy openingSizeGripDurabilityBrand names

By looking at the details mentioned, you can be sure to find a knife that you can rely on when things get tough. If you’re yearning for more, see the full category or visit our Tactical and Combat Knives page for many more options.Back to Top