Question Of The Day: Are SEAL Knives Only For Posers?

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

If you’re a teams guy, you can carry anything you want.

The SEAL trident is earned by few, but seems to be worn or carried by many. It has found its way onto a lot of consumer merchandise, from posters to hats to shirts. And, perhaps inevitably, to knives. Special-edition SEAL blades like this Benchmade Griptilian can be purchased by anybody with a credit card, but who should really be carrying them?

SEALs have always been highly respected in the military world, but their elite fraternity has been accorded a semi-mythical status in the popular culture also in the last few decades. Their extraordinary exploits and general bad-assedness certainly have much to do with this fame. But we can probably also thank (or blame) the hundreds of hours of uninformative Military Channel programming and the glut of mostly-terrible movies that depict their training and operations with varying fragments of realism.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ll watch just about ANY movie with Michael Biehn or Bill Paxton in it, but the inclusion of ‘tiger DNA’ Charlie Sheen made ‘Navy SEALs pretty dreadful. In my humble opinion.

But back to knives, shall we?

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

So whence all the SEAL branded cutlery? Many manufacturers claim to make ‘The Ultimate Knife,’ so it’s perhaps natural to dedicate a few of them to the undisputed ultimate special warfare operators. There are also a staggering number of faux SEALs out there, as any actual teams guy will attest, and it’s these shitbirds that tend to festoon themselves with the most garish SEAL paraphernalia. In keeping with the teams’ ethos, the real guys tend to keep quiet.

But either way, there’s clearly a market for SEAL stuff that goes way beyond the actual buying power (or interest) of actual SEALs.

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAKSIG/Sauer made this very limited-edition P226 MK25 a few years ago to commemorate the SEAL teams’ 50th anniversary. It’s a beautiful gun with a glossy black DLC finish and tasteful engraving, and it was only sold to fully-vetted members of the Naval Special Warfare community. Or their next of kin, as the case may be. It also shipped with a Boker commemorative knife (not an actual Solingen Boker) that was honestly a little bit of a letdown.

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

There are a lot of other SEAL-branded blades out there, although this SOG Seal Pup isn’t one of them. It does have ‘Seal’ in its name, but it lacks the trident or “S.E.A.L.” emblazonry that turns a knife into paraphernalia.

And so back the question: assuming that you’re not a SEAL or an immediate family member of one, would you carry a SEAL-branded knife?

And if not, what would think of someone who did?

In case you’re asking, the SEAL Griptilian in these photos is a souvenir of our Benchmade factory tour a few days ago, and it will soon belong to the bona-fide teams guy who owns that limited-edition P226 MK25.


  1. Jon says:

    No, I would never carry anything with that emblem…I do not know anyone or have any family who was a SEAL to do so. On the other hand I would carry something that had an Army or Navy crest because I do have a long family history of people in those branches.

  2. Jsmith says:

    Posers and wannabes aside… I think it’s more of a branding/fan issue. I like the Redskins and have stuff with their logo, but I doubt anyone thinks I’m part of the team.

    I think it’s the same with miltaria. I think the Marines are pretty bad-ass and that Eagle, Globe, and Anchor logo is cool as all get out. I have a small knife with logo in the handle, but again I seriously doubt anyone thinks I’m a Marine because of a knife.

    1. JoshtheViking says:

      I work with a guy who is a former active duty Marine. He was issued a Benchmade (that he still carries) that looks like a Griptilian, but is an automatic (and it has the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor).

  3. Matt in MT says:

    No. I neither earned nor deserve the right to carry/wear that symbol.

    “We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.” -François Duc de La Rochefoucauld

  4. David says:

    Yes, but the emblem would be a con not a pro. If I liked everything else about the knife and the price was right I would not let the emblem detour me from getting the blade. But heck I would buy a blade w/ a swastika or crescent moon + star if I liked it & thought it would function well. However, I would attempt to get rid of the emblem if I (or someone else) could do it without damaging the blade.

    By claiming to be something that you are not, in order to make yourself look more BA than you are, you are pretty much saying that you are weak. In the animal kingdom, creatures that are weak try to make themselves look larger than they are in order to avoid confrontation. Predators (generally – attack predators are an exception) try to conceal themselves and reduce their signature as they want a confrontation on their own terms. Reference the film: The Color of Money. So yeah, the faux seal thing is lame.

  5. Paul B says:

    The swastika was found in American Indian Symbology.

    I would not get expect a former or current team member to carry such a knife. Most I have known are very low key.

    Personally I buy knives based on function, durability, and ease to sharpen. Anything else will not affect the deciding to buy. If anything branding will shut be down before I assess anything else about the purchase.

    I think you should pay me to advertise your franchise, but what do I know.

  6. MD says:

    I will carry tools with the USMC symbol, because I served in that organization.

    Other military branding (Seal/Ranger/Special Forces/Marsoc/Force Recon, etc) is a turn off for me, because I am not/was not a member of those organizations.

  7. Roger says:

    I have a cousin who served in the SEALs. Never see him rocking any sort of emblem. The way he talks, anyone wearing any emblem needs to take a round in the gut. Same way with ROTC and JROTC kids. He’s a cop now and personally escorts every military recruiter out of high schools whenever he sees them in there.

    1. MD says:

      So by your cousin’s rationale, I should take a round to the gut because I have a USMC emblem tattoo? Seems a bit extreme. 😉

  8. Mike L says:

    In the paranormal field it is known as psychometry. Objects supposedly have wisps of energy from where they have been. Do I believe it? I don’t know. But when I handle my WWII guns and bayonets I think intensely of the history they may have seen. Are they just a hunk of wood and steel? I believe their more than that. I refuse to own an SS Mauser. Or death camp stuff. Now I am not equating the above blade to that. But symbols have power I believe if not the objects themselves. I always try to recognize “good ” symbols from evil and be surrounded by positive good ones. Just me.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      I’ve got a battlefield pickup P38 pistol from World War II. It does have a Wehrmacht eagle and swastika, but it’s got a very different fascination for me because the name of the Italian-American GI from Brooklyn who took it as a prize is also penciled into the holster. It was manufactured in 1943 and if it was surrendered on the Western front to an American GI, chances are pretty slim that was used in any atrocities. The history of that gun is a small part of the history of how America saved Europe, and also Germany, from an unspeakable and voracious evil.

  9. kap says:

    why would an operator carry anything with a Budweiser stamped on it, they have earned the real one! Mostly its a selling gimmick, the quality is cheap, immerse it in a bucket of Salt water everyday for a week, see if its anti-magnetic, will it cut a Hawser
    how many cuts will it give you before it needs sharpening?
    Not being a Seal I do not advertize myself as a want too be either! the best Navy knife I ever owned was my Dads Issued knife when he was in the Seabees in WWII
    and from my own Navy experience a K bar & a TL-29 worked really well

    1. MD says:

      “Mostly its a selling gimmick, the quality is cheap, immerse it in a bucket of Salt water everyday for a week, see if its anti-magnetic, will it cut a Hawser
      how many cuts will it give you before it needs sharpening?”

      In general, I agree with you. However I’m pretty sure the pictured Griptilian is a high quality knife that will provide solid service. I have four of ’em, in different configurations. None of ’em have the Trident though.

  10. AW1Ed says:

    There’s a milblog site devoted to outing posers for “stolen valor” offences. I don’t think sporting a SEAL emblem on a knife blade rises to that level, but it does speak to the maturity of the purchaser.

  11. GC says:

    For me it depends on the knife. If it’s a knife that was developed for the SEALs and the manufacturer is offering a version for the civilian market (like what Extrema Ratio does with its military knives) then I’m fine with it because the military-association is part of the knife’s story. If the emblem is being put on to some random knife then it becomes corny. An example of this is the Boker Magnum Smokejumper which, despite the name, has a generic SWAT emblem its handle.

  12. Roy says:

    No. For the same reason I don’t carry a USMC marked KaBar. I didn’t earn it, and it would make me feel silly/embarassed to carry something marked with something I didn’t earn.

  13. Ben says:

    If it has another purpose behind it like the Adamas series and proceeds go to helping injured S.E.A.Ls or families of fallen members,I see no issue with it. If you are a tacti-douche that runs around with an operator hat with a nametape and morale patch that has the insignia of something you have had nothing to do with YOU WILL BE BERATED by those that do or did.

  14. TZH says:

    No I won’t buy. Its like buying a medal at the mall coz it looks pretty.

    Can anybody who are the real deal chime in on these marketing strategies?

  15. LAES YVAN says:

    I’m a regular guy. Californian. I carry the SIG SAUER P226 and SOG SEAL PUP ELITE for personal defense. No, I’m not a wanabe. I’m only interested in having high quality gear that elite professionals trust their lives with.

    The SIG is an excellent piece. The SOG isn’t impressive; seems to be more marketing hype.

  16. Jonathan says:

    I’ll wear or buy what ever I want because we have those rights. Keep the fight and drama inside the wire. This is what it is. The bottom line is who gives a toss…. have another one for the fallen!
    Bless you all

  17. KenH says:

    While the article is bang on about the “SEAL” marketing hype, it is incorrect about the SOG Seal Pup Knife, This knife (along with the Cold Steel SRK) are known to be issued in BUDs training, which of course is a requirement to become a SEAL,

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Question Of The Day: Are SEAL Knives Only For Posers?

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