Ever since I was a kid, you could mention knife fighting and my stomach lining would twitch. Thereâ€™s nothing that sours most folkâ€™s combative streak faster than the thought of slender steel probing oneâ€™s innards. Perhaps thatâ€™s one reason that carrying a knife for self-protection can be so effective.
Browningâ€™s Black Label line of tactical blades is the combined effort of renowned knife designer Russ Kommer and martial arts specialist Jared Wihongi. Personally, Iâ€™m no fighting knife expert, but I do know that theyâ€™ve got to be comfortable to carry (or you wonâ€™t), easy to get out of your pocket or wherever else you carry it, and — in the case of the folders that most folks carry — easy to open. Theyâ€™ve also got to be secure in your hand so you donâ€™t accidentally leave your tool sticking in the bad guy.
The upper end of the line is made in the U.S.A.; the standard models are made overseas. All feature more thoughtful lines and dimensions than most so-called tactical knives. For a .PDF of the full catalog of models, click here.
Since the Black Label line was introduced during the 2012 SHOT show, Iâ€™ve had the opportunity to try out three: the â€śPandemonium,â€ť the â€śSliver,â€ť and the â€śTracer.â€ť The first two are pocket folders, the Tracer is a neck knife. In order to give them all a fair workout, Iâ€™ve carried all three non-stop for the past three weeks. My impressions are noted with close-up details of each knife as you click through the additional photos.
This is a big knife, no bones about it. However, it rides comfortably in your pocket and is easy to get out, open and into action. Itâ€™s also very secure in my hand; it would take a great deal of torque to tear it from my grasp. The edge comes good and sharp from the factory.
My only complaint with it: The front point of the forward finger groove protrudes and is rather sharp; so much so that with the knife in my standard corner-of-the-front-pocket location, I couldnâ€™t get my hand into said pocket without getting scraped fairly badly. Moving the knife to the front of my rear pocket solved the issue, but crowded my wallet.