For my last knife review, I took a look at Browning’s Black Label series, so I though it was only fair to give some attention to Beretta’s selection as well. Yes, that Beretta, and no I’m not pulling a late April Fool’s prank where I end up revealing this knife is actually a heavily-modified M9 pistol.
This is the Beretta TKX 120.
It is excusable if you’ve never heard of this knife; in fact, it’s downright obscure. The TKX is relatively hard to find, and it may take some Internet sleuthing to get your hands on one. At first I was pretty surprised Beretta made products of the sharper nature, in part because I’ve never run across a Beretta knife in the wild. In hindsight it should not be surprising that Beretta makes edged weapons. After all, the company was founded when daggers were still the most common sidearm.
Beretta is one of the oldest and most venerable gun makers in the world, having been founded in the early 1500s. Still owned by the same family that built the company—complex bloodlines aside—Beretta is the oldest active firearms manufacturer in the world. Not a whole lot of people have a sense of what that means, however.
To put everything in perspective, Beretta got its start making arquebus barrels. For those who aren’t history buffs and have better things to do than fawn over gun lore, an arquebus is a firearm so early in the history of gunsmithing that its main competition at that point was halberds.
Now 500+ years later, Beretta made a throwback.
TKX 120 Stats:
- Blade steel: N690Co – HRC 58-60 covered in Black Idroglider Gold finish.
- Sheath: Cordura 1000D molle compatible
- Handle: coarse texture G10
- Packaging: Beretta box
- Blade length: 6.29 inch.
- Overall length: 11.22 inch.
- Blade thickness: 0.23 inch.
- Made in Italy.
- Retail price: $199
- Street price: under $130
The TKX is undeniably stylish. Unwrapping the knife from its cardboard cradle is like lifting a weatherproof car cover from a top-of-the-line Ferrari. I’m not fooled by looks alone though; I’ve been burned before. Being a full-sized fixed blade, I launched into my usual testing regimen of cardboard, rope, pig bone, and tossing the thing around like it didn’t have a hefty price tag.
It must be said that the TKX is large. This is a substantial, Rambo-sized knife. The steel however, may sound foreign to some. N690Co is popular in Europe and is produced from plants in Austria and South Africa. As far as properties go, the steel is comparable to 440C but has a slight edge on durability. It’s a pretty popular material you can find across the board on general-issue knives in European armed forces. I believe the TKX (don’t quote me on this) is made by FOX Knives of Italy for Beretta. FOX knives is a well-respected brand and produces wonderful hunting/tactical knives.
N690Co was a new experience for me and I’ve recently started puttering around with European-made knives more. Some, like Sweden’s notoriously dependable Morakniv, seem to have an edge on American knife makers in certain categories. Others, not so much. The TKX is a bit of a mix.
For my purposes, I found the steel didn’t quite live up to its 58-60 HRC (its hardness on the Rockwell scale). I got the impression that the blade was actually a bit soft and had rather lackluster edge retention. While it has great penetration and cutting ability, the blade is prone to nicking when it meets a hard target. This is a problem, but may be offset by the fact that I’ve been working with D2 steel, so I’m a little accustomed to harder steels.
The TKX also sports aggressive, rear-facing jimping on the blade’s spine. I don’t like this because it can be somewhat painful on a naked thumb.
Sharp lines and edges may be in fashion for just about everything these days, but on knives I’d like the sharpness to stay on the blade. The TKX however, decides to bring sharp lines to the handle as well. The only nod to comfort on the TKX is the small finger grooves carved into each side. This means that repeated use—especially boring chores like cutting meat—can really dig into your fingers. Handguards are also pretty small.
As for durability, the TKX’s coarse G10 is excellent at weathering whatever conditions you throw it into. Its brick pattern ensures a good hold during wet conditions and you’re not likely to lose your grip.
Bonus: a functional glass breaker can be found on the bottom of the hand. Works pretty neatly when you don’t have much space to maneuver around.
The Cordura sheath that comes with the TKX may not be subtle in any sense of the word, but it comes with a lot of goodies. Despite clocking at slightly above 11 inches overall, the TKX apparently merits a leg strap on its holster. Despite what you see in movies, these are generally rare in the knife world. Most people have a mixed opinion of them, citing little use for an extra strap—especially for an 11-inch knife—but I generally like them. In fact, I wish some of my large knives would come with these so they don’t flop around all over the place. There are a number of situations where an extra strap across the thigh comes in handy, but I would be lying If I said the first thought that popped in my head wasn’t “that’s pretty freaking cool.”
The sheath comes with an extra pouch and a rigging system I’m not too familiar with. It’s nothing too complicated and is MOLLE-compatible, which is a bonus.
Here’s the reason why I like medium-sized knives such as the TKX: they’re jack-of-all-trades by nature. Beretta obviously had tactical applications in mind when they designed the TKX, but it can really suit any role with a reasonable degree of confidence. If the steel was harder, I would recommend the TKX as a general-use military knife that can double as a close combat weapon. Contrary to popular belief, members of the US Armed Services actually have a varied selection of knives they press into duty. From the standard M9 bayonet (no relation to the handgun) to the ever-popular KA-BAR fighting knife, the choice is usually up to the specific individual—and how much they are willing to pay.
The Beretta TKX 120 is a well-built knife, but it could be better for its $199 retail price tag. That said, it’s still a knife I want to show off, although I’ll probably refrain from using it in hard-use roles. After all, you don’t really drive a Ferrari into the forest either. Probably explains why I’m more of a Jeep guy: I like running something into the ground and have it keep chugging.
And no, Jeep did not pay me for that plug, I just like Jeep.
Images courtesy Daniel Xu