Buck's lockback knife was originally marketed as a "folding hunting knife" and while it became popular with sportsmen, it saw use with military personnel as it could perform a variety of tasks. Custom knife makers began making similar knives, in particular was knifemaker Bob Terzuola. Terzuola is credited with coining the phrase "Tactical Folder".In the early 1990s, tactical folding knives became popular in theU.S.A.The trend began with custom knifemakers such as Bob Terzuola, Michael Walker, Allen Elishewitz, Mel Pardue, Ernest Emerson, Ken Onion, Chris Reeve, Rick Hinderer, Warren Thomas, and Warren Osbourne These knives were most commonly built as linerlocks. Blade lengths varied from 3 to 12 inches (76 to 305 mm), but the most typical models never exceeded 4 inches (100 mm) in blade length for legal reasons in mostUSjurisdictions.
In response to the demand for these knives, production companies offered mass-produced tactical folding knives. Companies such as Benchmade, Kershaw Knives, Buck Knives, Gerber, CRKT, and Spyderco collaborated with tactical knifemakers; in some cases retaining them as full-time designers. Tactical knifemakers such as Ernest Emerson and Chris Reeve went so far as to open their own mass-production factories.
There has been criticism against the notion of a "Tactical Folding Knife" when employed as a weapon instead of a utility tool. Students of knife fightingpoint out that any locking mechanism can fail and that a folding knife regardless of lock strength can never be as reliable as a fixed-blade combat knife. Lynn Thompson, martial artist and CEO of Cold Steel pointed out in an article in Black Belt magazine that most tactical folding knives are too short to be of use in a knife fight and that even though he manufactures, sells, and carries a tactical folder, it is not ideal for fighting.