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If you are a firefighter, an EMT, or any other first responder you need a knife that can be securely carried and easily opened even with gloves in stressful situations. Finding something that fits your needs can be daunting then, but you need to take your time to find the right unit for all kinds of unexpected situations.
Keep in mind that knife laws in your state may limit your choices. Some states only allow certain blade lengths, some are restrictive about carrying concealed or automatic knives.
What to Look for in Knives for Firefighters, EMTs, and Other First Responders
What is the most important factor that applies to all these categories of people? First, they get involved in all kinds of stressful situations. Second, they need a knife of the optimal size. Third, they require something that can be opened straight away, even with heavy-duty gloves. Finally, the knife must be durable and solid.
Such knives are normally designed with easy opening mechanisms. It makes no difference what types of gloves you wear – you want to be able to open the knife within a second without having to take the gloves off. Automatic knives make a good choice because they can be opened by pushing a button. However, automatic knives are often regulated with strict laws, so double check your country or state laws upfront. Assisted opening knives are the second-best choice in that case.
In terms of sizing, the best knives for firefighters, EMTs, and first responders should not be small. You may need to react to an unexpected situation, such as an ambush. You might have to free someone from a life-threatening situation. You cannot do all these with a tiny pocket knife. Apart from being easy to open, the knife needs a proper size too. The bigger it is, the more solid it becomes in such unusual circumstances. We recommend knives with an overall length of more than eight inches and a blade length of at least three inches.
Such knives are also built with a good grip in mind. If you wear gloves, chances are they add to the grip. But if you are not, you do not want the knife to slip out of your sweaty hands. You do not want to find yourself unable to cut a rope or a seat belt because the pressure is not enough, and the knife keeps slipping. Therefore, these knives often come with handles based on G-10 or FRN materials. They are durable and ensure a perfect grip.
Last but not least, an EMT or firefighter knife for such emergencies must be solid, reliable, and durable. If it squeaks when you open it or the blade keeps moving when you cut something, it will quit on you when you need it the most. A good knife is made with quality materials, but it is also solid and well put together. Such a knife will take a beating in the most unusual situation without showing any signs of wear and tear.
Now that you are aware of the main features of knives for firefighters or EMTs, lets’ discuss what are the top-rated products in commerce.
Best Knives For Firefighters, EMTs, and Other First Responders in 2021
Spyderco Assist Salt
Spyderco’s best action knife comes with a folding profile. It is compact when closed, but it can also be carried in a pocket. It has a solid locking mechanism that will not let it accidentally open. It is mostly used to cut through ropes or seat belts. While razor-sharp, it does not have a sharp tip.
The handle is perfect – ergonomic and textured to prevent slipping problems. It is based on FRN – fiberglass reinforced nylon. Not only does it last for ages, but it is also solid, large, and features a small hand guard for protection. It is just under five inches in length.
When it comes to sturdiness, the mechanism holding the blade and knife together will not show any signs of wear and tear. It will not move laterally but stay in the same position, regardless of what you are doing. The blade measures 3.68 inches and is partially serrated – versatility is a must in emergencies.
Last but not least, it is worth mentioning the high durability standards. If FRN can last forever, so can this blade. It is based on stainless steel, so it is less likely to rust or corrode. You will also notice a concave radius in the bevels.
Benchmade Triage 916
This is one of the best knives for firefighters, EMTs, and other first responders from Benchmade. It is always ready for a fight, and it can take a good beating without showing any weaknesses. You can open it with one hand, and blade deployment takes a fraction of a second.
Featuring a reversible pocket clip, you can have the knife handy in all kinds of situations. It is made with rescue purposes in mind. It has extra enhancements for emergencies, such as a glass breaker or a safety hook. The blunt tip prevents unexpected situations during rescue operations.
The N680 stainless steel blade will last for ages. It is partially serrated – ideal to cut ropes and seat belts. The handle is based on G10, meaning it will resist moisture. Given the textured design, it will never slip out of your hand. Plus, it is suitable for both small and large hands.
The knife is designed to be ambidextrous, so you can use it with any hand. You can open or close it with any hand too. It is incredibly strong, and the blade will never wiggle, regardless of how often you use it.
There is also an automatic version of triage available.
Gerber Hinderer – Designed by a Firefighter
Gerber has been a top-notch choice in terms of tactical and hunting knives, and this rescue knife designed by firefighter Rick Hinderer stands out in the crowd. It is built with a folding profile, as well as an oversized thumb stud. You can open it in less than a second, regardless of whether or not you wear heavy-duty gloves.
Given its purpose, it has a partially serrated knife – ideal for cutting seat belts. It also has a window punch for all sorts of emergencies. A wrench for standard oxygen tanks is built into the handle, so you are literally ready for all kinds of situations.
The 440A stainless steel blade is black coated to prevent reflections. It is razor-sharp out of the box. The blade measures 3.5 inches, so it is long enough for all kinds of applications. After all, you do not need a machete for such situations but a large, sturdy knife.
Finally, the handle also indicates a good application in emergency situations. It has a unique liner lock release built into it. In terms of design, it is ergonomic and textured, so it will never slip out of your wet or sweaty hands.
Victorinox Swiss Army Rescue Knife
Available in different colors, this pocket knife may look a bit too small for comprehensive rescue operations – just a misconception. It is extremely well put together, and it has all the tools you may need – seat belt cutter, punch, disc saw, bottle opener, screwdriver, wire stripper, and so on. There are 12 functions altogether.
The unit is solid yet compact. It is based on Swiss stainless steel. The main blade is just over four inches in length. Every other function carries the same high-quality standards and can take you out of numerous situations.
To prevent slippery problems, the agile knife is encased in durable scales. The design is also resistant and fit for sweaty hands, gloves, or just wet conditions. There is one issue, though – you will find it difficult to open it with gloves. You will basically need to clip blades to take them out.
It is worth noting that the knife has been designed in collaboration with rescue services – not with the fire service, though. In terms of reliability and durability, each knife from Victorinox is thoroughly tested to ensure excellent standards.
SOG has designed one of the best budget knives for firefighters, EMTs, and other first responders out there. The unit is designed as a pocket knife – easy to keep safe inside the pocket. When in need, the blade can be deployed within a fraction of a second. You can open or lock it back with one hand only.
When closed, the knife is 4.8 inches in length – great for both small and large handles. It has a hard-anodized aluminum handle with a textured profile – it will never slip out of your hand. It has handguard protection as well, not to mention the ergonomic shape.
The blade ensures great durability – stainless steel. It is well-aligned with the handle and held in place by multiple bolsters. The clip point blade is razor sharp out of the box but also partially serrated – good to cut ropes or seat belts when needed. Moreover, the knife has a wire stripper and a glass breaker.
The blade is coated and does not reflect light back – great when used for hunting purposes. Other than that, the knife makes a solid and durable option for all kinds of rescue personnel – firefighters, paramedics, military staff, and so on.
Boker Magnum- Best Cheap Firefighter Knife
Boker’s best rescue knife is specifically designed for firefighters. It is available in more colors, yet the live colors sell better because the knife is easy to spot when left in grass or dirt.
The blade is flawless. It is super sharp – careful when you unbox it. It has some sharp serrations close to the handle – ideal for seat belts and wires. The tip is extremely sharp, too, giving the knife much more versatility. It is black coated, so it does not reflect light either.
The handle comes with a tight and durable pocket clip, so you can carry the knife without worrying about losing it. The handle has a glass breaker, too, not to mention the ergonomic shape and handguard protection. You can also open bottled with it, while the unusual shape and textured profile prevent slipping issues.
In terms of design and durability, the pocket knife is well aligned and easy to open. The handle is based on aluminum, while the blade is made of stainless steel. They are both corrosion and rust-resistant in the long run.
Smith & Wesson 1st Response SW911B – Best Budget Knife for First Responders
Smith & Wesson has specialized in survival and tactical knives, and this model makes the ideal choice for first response personnel – from firefighters to paramedics. While it may look relatively small and compact – just under five inches for the handle, it becomes a large weapon once the blade is deployed – over eight inches in length.
The design leaves no room for mistakes. Made of 4043 black oxide high carbon stainless steel, the blade is razor-sharp. More importantly, it has great edge retention, and it can resist rust and corrosion. The handle is made of nylon fiber and features an ergonomic design. It is also textured to prevent slipping problems.
The knife has a solid and durable pocket clip, so it is easy to reach. It also has ambidextrous thumb knobs, not to mention the finger actuator and assisted opening mechanism. You can literally deploy the blade in less than a second.
The blade has a sharp tip and is mostly serrated. Overall, the knife feels heavy and well put together. You will notice that no matter how much abuse it takes, the blade will maintain its perfect alignment over time.
Bottom line, these are some of the best knives for firefighters, EMTs, and first responders. They are designed with rescue and survival missions in mind, and they can deliver excellent performance in all kinds of situations and emergencies.
Again, your personal needs dictate the perfect option. Make sure you double-check the local laws and regulations regarding carrying or using knives, as well as the internal rules associated with your job.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.