The United States Marine Corps. The Special Air Service. The Navy SEALs.
They're the elite, deployed to situations that demand the best soldiers in the world. And they need to know that their equipment can handle anything they run into. When the best of the best suit up, these are the knives they choose to bring along.
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1. Ontario MK 3 Navy Knife
Navy SEALs (USA) The Ontario MK 3 Navy Knife is standard issue for the United States Navy SEALs. With a 6-inch stainless steel blade, it's a perfectly compact piece of equipment for this elite and efficient group. Though many SEALs also opt to carry their own knife of choice, this is the one they all receive—a reliable piece of equipment that does its job without getting in the way. Civilian equivalent:$77.90
Special Air Service (UK) It's pure, it's simple, and it's been used for decades. The Fairbairn-Sykes may not be flashy, but it's legendary. First put to use in World War II, it was issued to members of Britain's Special Air Service, one of the most accomplished and recognized special forces units in the world. The Fairbairn-Sykes proved to be such an effective fighting knife that the United States tried to manufacture its own version for the OSS, the precursor to the CIA.
A British classic that was so impressive even the Americans wanted it? Yeah, it's basically The Beatles of knives. Civilian equivalent:$81.67
3. Glauca B1
GIGN (France) For a counter-terrorist unit, simplicity isn't always a good thing. You're gonna run into unexpected situations, and unless you're able to MacGyver a solution in minutes, you'll need tools that can serve multiple purposes. That's why the GIGN, a French special ops group involved in terrorist and hostage situations, worked with Extrema Ratio to design the Glauca B1. Along with a custom blade, the knife features a plastic handcuff cutter and window breaker. It's the multi-tool of badasses. Civilian equivalent: $388.50
GIGN (France) The GIGN doesn't solely go for gadgets like the Glauca B1. They also worked with Wildsteer Intervention Group on the WING-Tactic, an 11-inch knife that gets the job done when you need something simple. If you're an elite soldier, your gear has to be useful when you need it and barely noticeable when you don't. This knife balances those requirements. Civilian equivalent: $326.58
Joint Task Force 2 (Canada) They've hunted Serbian snipers. In 2004, the United States gave them the Presidential Unit Citation. They've guarded major figures overseas. And despite that, there's very little we actually know about Joint Task Force 2, the Canadian special ops unit dedicated to counter-terrorism duties. Most of their missions are classified. All we know is that they're very good at what they do. And rumor has it that at least some of them are fond of using a karambit (or two) in combat. A weapon so old we're not 100 percent sure we know where it came from, this knife is especially useful for self-defense—the grip rests in the hand so perfectly that it is very difficult to disarm anyone holding one. And, well, when you've got two of them... Civilian equivalent: $248.99
Brigade of Gurkhas (Nepal) This centuries-old weapon has been iconically linked with the Brigade of Gurkhas for decades. The unique design of the kukri allows users to simultaneously slice and chop at an opponent, doing the most damage possible with speed and accuracy. It's a knife not to be messed with, used by men not to be messed with. The Brigade of Gurkhas consists of Nepalese soldiers serving the British Army, and each year, they award a mere 200 positions out of around 25,000 applicants. They're badass. Civilian equivalent: $48.99
7. Strider SMF
Marine Corps Special Operations Command Detachment One (USA) When Detachment One was formed in 2003 to fight in the War on Terror, they decided they needed a new knife specifically for their unit. The result was the Strider SMF, a compact folding knife with a titanium frame that guarantees it can not only handle the conditions they knew they'd be facing, but also stands the test of time. Civilian equivalent: $570.00
8. Ari B'Lilah
YAMAM (Israel) When an Israeli counter-terrorism force gives you feedback on how to design a knife, you're probably gonna wind up with one crazy knife. The Ari B'Lilah was created with the help of Yamam, a group that handles everything from hostage rescue to SWAT team duties and undercover ops. They gave their input to develop a knife that combined effectiveness with practicality. They have a lot of jobs to do, and the Ari B'Lilah needs to work for all of them. Civilian equivalent: Extremely Unavailable
9. Ballistic Knife
Spetsnaz (Russia) A knife that propels its blade through the air like a bullet? No wonder ballistic knives are banned for non-military use in several countries. For soldiers, though, these weapons can handle the close-quarters combat of a knife fight, without the limits of most blades. These were first developed for Spetsnaz, the Russian special forces, whose focus on intelligence missions required weapons that could take out an enemy quickly and quietly. Terrifying. Civilian equivalent: Not really legal, dude
Marine Corps (USA) A classic American weapon, the Ka-Bar sums up what special forces usually look for in their blades. The Ka-Bar originally came to be when Marines in WWII found that the knives they were issued didn't meet their needs. Even when they were good for combat use, they didn't do their job as tools. In reality, special forces use blades for many purposes, not just fighting. The Ka-Bar was designed to preserve the lethal elements of previous weapons while also working as wire cutters, crate openers, and just about everything else a Marine needed a knife for. Just like a special forces soldier, it does a lot of jobs, and it does them well. Civilian equivalent: $59.95
Joe Olivetois a staff writer for Supercompressor. He can barely handle a kitchen knife. Follow him on Twitter.