The term “tactical knife” is used to market blades that range from ridiculous, impractical junk, to military-grade tools, to overpriced safe queens. Arguably defined as a utility tool that incorporates features making it well suited for self-defense, the tactical knife is now derided by a subset of knife owners who sneer at any design that strikes them as too “something.”

Whether because the knives are too military, futuristic, aggressive or gimmicky, there are many perfectly viable tactical tools that some knife owners simply cannot abide. Such tools have been called the fantasy blades of mall ninjas or tacti-cool rejects. But when people use these pejoratives, what they’re really saying oftentimes is that “any tool you like, I don’t.” Given this hostile milieu of consumers, in which seemingly every knife owner is an expert and everyone is always right, it’s rare that a new tactical knife comes along that perfectly embodies all that is “right” about the concept. It is rarer still that a knife so well executed, in both concept and production, does these things with subtlety. Such are Blind Horse Knives’ BHK-T1 and BHK-T2.

The handle scales of the diminutive BHK-T1 are made of Resiten, a phenolic resin comparable to Micarta. These handle scales are what make the first impression. The knife’s handle-to-blade ratio is excellent, affording a secure and comfortable grip thanks to an ergonomic handle swell. The scales have just enough texture so that they never feel slippery, but the countersunk fish-eye bolts, brass lanyard tube and full tang are so perfectly flush to the handle that you’ll never feel the mating surfaces among them.

All of this translates into a very small knife. The BHK-T1 has a blade just under 3 inches, with a handle just under 4 inches that locks solidly in even a large fist. Once in hand, the knife moves quickly and with authority. Its D2 tool steel and saber-grind blade (including a substantial but unsharpened false edge) make the BHK-T1 an excellent cutter, both for utility chores and for defensive purposes. It penetrates reasonably well and, thanks to its generous belly for slicing, cuts nicely through a variety of test media, including heavy plastic sheeting, rope and stacked cardboard. The factory edge is razor sharp, and the knife holds its edge very well as a result of its 0.125-inch-thick D2 tool steel construction. Even after a morning of light- and medium-duty testing, the blade did not require more than the lightest of touch-ups on a pocket diamond rod. The blade has no guard as such, just a slight flare at the base to help prevent the fingers from slipping onto the edge.

The BHK-T1 was obviously envisioned as a small fixed-blade force multiplier, suitable for use as a primary covert weapon or as backup to a handgun. Its overall envelope is lightweight and compact, so it’s discreet and comfortable to carry. The molded Kydex sheath is no larger than it needs to be, while its slot and grommet holes offer plenty of options for the modular belt lock provided. The knife can be carried vertically or horizontally in any orientation. Retention of the friction-fit sheath is good but not too tight, with no rattle. A tension screw in the slot beneath the sheath’s opening is adjustable, allowing the user to tighten the sheath (for example, if inverted carry on a neck cord or paracord shoulder harness is desired). Perhaps the nicest feature of the sheath is the flared lip at the mouth, which not only facilitates re-sheathing the knife but also gives the thumb purchase for popping the knife out of the sheath.

The immediately obvious applications of such a little blade are for extraction from a grappling scenario, or simply as a means of putting an attacker down before he sees the weapon that is doing him damage. For example, if your wrist is grabbed, the keen little blade of the BHK-T1 can cut you out of that predicament in short order. If you find a pair of hands around your neck, the BHK-T1 can be quickly drawn and brought to bear below the attacker’s line of vision. The small size of the knife drives home its application. It is meant to remain unnoticed until it’s cutting.

There’s no denying that the BHK-T2 is the “sexy” sibling of the T1. Where the latter is short and meant to stay hidden, the former is a full-sized fighting blade with an appearance that alone may serve as a deterrent. What’s most impressive about the BHK-T2, however, is that it avoids a trend so common in tactical blades, of any size: Many of the fighting blades on the market that employ tanto blade shapes use the Americanized tanto, where two severe angles meet at a secondary point. The BHK-T2 uses something different.

The Americanized tanto makes for a very strong tip in a tactical blade. The secondary point is useful for scoring and scraping too. But the severe angles that join at that point make it a less-than-stellar slicer. The BHK-T2, by contrast, has a more traditionally Japanese-style draw-cutting blade. It is almost all curve, from its deep belly to the more subtle sweep of the “straight” portion of the cutting edge. Edge holding is also excellent. The 0.125-inch, saber-ground D2 tool steel blade offers 4.5 inches of cutting edge, while the knife is just a hair under 9.5 inches overall.

The result is a blade that penetrates superbly. It plunges deeply into stacked test media while making wholesale slaughter of whatever it cuts, slicing down and drawing the target through its sweep. It leaves deep, cleaving cuts in whatever it is drawn against. The BHK-T2’s point of balance is right below the lead finger cutout, beneath the base of the blade. While not a true integral guard, it does provide some protection for the fingers. The scalloped, textured Resiten scales provide excellent purchase even when wet, while the knife exhibits the same attention to fit and finish that the BHK-T1 does. The features of the BHK-T2’s Kydex sheath also match those of the T1’s. There is a flared mouth with purchase for the thumb, facilitating draw and replacement of the knife in the sheath, and the modular belt lock can be repositioned for virtually any conceivable carry and draw. Retention is likewise adjustable.

In application, the BHK-T2 can be drawn very quickly. The user can get three or four fingers around the handle while it is still in its sheath. The knife does not rattle or shift in the sheath, pops free easily, and returns with a positive click. In the hand, it is an imposing length of steel, and once applied to an attacker, it gives the defender great leverage and cutting power.

The BHK-T1 and BHK-T2 are relatively new additions to Blind Horse Knives’ lineup. As such, they do the company and its craftsmen a great deal of credit. These are knives that accomplish their intended function well, offering both style and substance in designs that merge the subtly modern with the undeniably classic.

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