KA-BAR TDI LE Series Review

Every knife design out there has a specific intended purpose to which the design is geared.  Whether the purpose be for culinary use, skinning, woodworking, fighting, survival, tactical applications, rescue, etc., every design has built in features that make or attempt to make the knife optimal for its primary intended use.  The KA-BAR TDI Law Enforcement series is no exception to this rule.  Their unique design makes them ideal for their intended purpose, which I will be discussing in the paragraphs to come.

The KA-BAR TDI LE Knife was designed by John Benner, a 37-year police veteran and president/chief instructor of Tactical Defense Institute (TDI) in West Union, Ohio.  The TDI LE is intended to be a “last option” knife for law enforcement officers in extremely close quarter conflicts where an officer cannot access his duty weapon.  Intended as an “off-hand” knife that draws like a pistol, the TDI LE can be worn on either side of the body using its reversible sheath system. The sheath is designed to be worn on the inside belt, placing it behind the officer’s duty belt where it can be concealed behind the officer’s other equipment.

I had the opportunity to handle three of the KA-BAR TDI LE series of knives: the “standard” TDI LE knife, the Large TDI LE with the tanto blade, and the TDI LE Folder. The TDI LE has a small 2 5/18” drop point blade at a thickness of 0.125”. The overall length of 5 5/8” makes this little knife perfect for concealment. KA-BAR uses AUS 8A Stainless Steel (HRC 57-59 CR) for this knife. The sheath system comes with a reversible metal belt clip that can be positioned on either side of the sheath.

The Large TDI LE is 7 9/16” overall with a 3 11/16” blade.  The AUS 8A SS blade on this larger version is just a tad thicker at 0.188”.  The sheath system for the Large TDI LE comes with Cordura® straps that may be used to secure the sheath to a belt as well as a tactical vest or other MOLLE compatible gear.

The TDI Folder is a single-handed opening, side-lock folding knife that opens to the same grip angle as the TDI fixed blade knives.  The TDI folder is manufactured with 5cr15MO steel with an advertised HRC of 54-56.  The grip features G10 handle scales and a reversible pocket clip to make this knife easily accessible in the right location for the user.  The overall length of the folder is 7 ½” and the blade length is 3 5/8”, making the folder just a fraction of an inch smaller that the Large TDI.

We have talked about all the specs, so what about the overall design of these knives?  As I mentioned earlier, the TDI LE was designed specifically with law enforcement officers in mind.  Most LEOs do not have extensive training, or in most cases ANY training in edged weapons tactics.  By designing a knife with essentially a “pistol” grip, Benner capitalized on the training that every officer does receive and has practiced thousands of times—drawing their service weapon.

The ergonomics behind the TDI LE allows the user to deploy the knife in the same manner they would deploy their pistol.  No special knife handling skills are required.  This design makes these knives ideal for basic thrusting and cutting strokes, where the handle places the blade in line with the palm heel and forearm.  While it may limit some of the knife’s versatility as a fighting or tactical knife, for its intended purposes this type of design is hard to beat.

The best thing about the KA-BAR TDI LE series knives is that they are decent quality knives for a price that will fit the tightest budget.  A knife from the TDI LE series can be purchased for around $70 or less, depending on which knife you select.  For more information on these and other KA-BAR knives, go to their website.  You can also follow KA-BAR on social media via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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Photo Credits: Chad McBroom

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