Self-Defense Knife
Next to a firearm, a knife is one of the most deadly tools you can carry. Almost all of us have been cut at one time or another. A deep cut hurts like hell. A memory of a blade slicing skin and nerves will bring shivers. I have a friend who is a Thoracic Surgeon. He has seen all kinds of life threatening damage caused by gunshots and knives. He says that he would much rather be shot then slashed and stabbed by someone who knows how to handle a knife.

The great thing about a knife is that you can carry some form of one almost anywhere, even places you can’t carry a firearm like California, New York City and Chicago. The price of a good entry level self-defense knife is less than $25.

I honestly think that anyone who can legally carry a knife and doesn’t carry one for self-defense is short-sighted or naive. I have heard all the excuses. “I live in a nice, low crime area.” “I could never hurt anyone.” “I wouldn’t know what to buy or how to use it.”

When Shit Hits The Fan (SHTF), there will be a period of extreme violence and looting. In time, law enforcement will establish a kind of peace where life will return to a new normal. In a financial collapse, we will enter a long period of austerity after the initial violence.

The new austere life will push many people who are now on the edge of poverty deep into poverty. There will be a lot of desperate people looking to obtain the essentials of life for themselves and their families. Purse snatchings, muggings, robberies, car-jackings, and other crimes against people will increase beyond belief. It will become a necessity to be able to protect yourself or you will become a victim.

So what do you buy for a self-defense or fighting-knife? Stick with the name brands like Kershaw, Benchmade, Cold Steel, Ontario, Zero Tolerance, SOG, or Emerson. Choose knives made from good or better steel. Choose styles based on proven designs from proven knife makers.

Let’s talk about design a little. For the average person who has just some basic knife skills, a good self-defense knife needs to be able to slash and to stab. The stabbing part is achieved by a sharp tip. The slashing part is achieved by a rounding of the blade. The Kukri design is known to provide devastating slashing power from the rounded blade design.

I like a combo blade (part plain and part serrated). The combo blade seems to really increase the knife’s slashing ability. In a knife fight, slashing takes place at arm’s length, stabbing takes place at very close quarters. It is usually best to stay at arm’s length if possible, so concentrate on good slashing ability.

For people with advance knife skills, other designs like the claw/karambit, stiletto, dagger, etc. can be devastating weapons. For the beginner, these designs will only cause problems.

Once you get a self-defense knife, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use it to do menial, everyday knife work. That is the job of your utility/work knife. You want your self-defense knife to be perfectly sharp if you ever need it for self-defense. So get it, practice deploying the blade until you have it down to a smooth fast action, then carry it but don’t use it unless it is for some periodic deployment practice.

Before I give you my choice for self-defense knives to purchase, I want to suggest getting some knife fighting skills. At a minimum, learn 3 or 4 good simple basic moves and strikes. Become very efficient with the 3 or 4 skills. You don’t need to know many moves and strikes, but you do need to be very good with what you do know. Learn a good balanced stance with your weak side foot slightly forward and your knees slightly bent. I use the same stance for knife, handgun and long gun fighting.

The difference for knife fighting will be that you will tuck your chin to protect your throat, and slightly bend over to make your chest and stomach a smaller target. Lastly you will put up your weak side arm, fist closed, outside of arm facing your opponent for blocking to avoid being stabbed or slashed in a vital area.


Under $50 – Here are my top choices for a self-defense knife under $50.


   Ontario RAT Series Model 1 Satin Combo Edge Knife. $30 with free shipping at Amazon. $24 plus shipping at  The RAT Model 1 Folder Knife features an AUS-8, 3.5 inch blade with a full flat grind and is .120″ thick and a 5″ black Nylon 6 handle. It opens with one hand using a reversible thumb stud and features a liner lock. The RAT 1 is 8.620″ in overall length and has a lanyard hole and pocket clip. The Rat 1 is a well designed, solid constructed, reasonably priced knife that is ideal for everyday carry. Here is a link to Ontario Knife

This is one of my BEST BUY knives.


    Kershaw Tremor Combo Blade Knife. $19.99 with Free Shipping at Amazon.  The full-sized Tremor knife has an 8CR13MOV, 3.75-inch stainless combo edge blade and a textured black G10-handle. Liner Lock with dual thumb studs and a Flipper for ambidextrous one hand opening. The Tremor is 9-inchs open and 5.25-inchs closed. Comes with a lanyard hole and an end to end reversible metal pocket clip. Weights 6 ozs.

A curved handle with inner stainless steel skeleton makes the Kershaw Tremor strong and comfortable to hold. The quick-action tab offers quick deployment. The wide, up-swept blade offers reliable cutting and stabbing power.

This is one of my BEST BUY knives.


  Kershaw Compound Combo Blade – 3 1/2 inch partially serrated, 8CR13MOV Steel Blade, Pocket Clip, SpeedSafe,  Glass Filled Nylon Handle, Liner Lock, Weight: 3.8 oz.  $22 with Free Shipping.


  Spyderco Tenacious Folding Combo Edge Knife. $35 with Free Shipping.  The mid-sized Tenacious knife has an 8Cr13Mov 3.375-inch stainless combo edge blade that is 0.125-inch thick and a black G-10 laminate handle. Liner Lock with skeletonized steel liners which increase the handle’s rigidity and strength without adding non-functioning weight or bulky thickness.

The 8Cr13Mov stainless blade is leaf-shaped and ground flat from spine to cutting edge for cutting performance. The blade’s shape, coupled with an oversized 0.5 Round Hole allows you to open the blade and position your thumb on the spine in slip-proof confidence. The Tenacious is 7.75-inchs open and 4.438-inchs closed. It Comes with a steel pocket clip and weights 4 ozs.


    Kershaw Skyline Plain Blade Knife. $35 with Free Shipping at Amazon.  The mid-sized Skyline knife has a Sandvik 14C28N 3.125-inch stainless plain edge blade and a textured black G10-handle. Liner Lock with dual thumb studs and a Flipper for ambidextrous one hand opening. The Skyline is 7.325-inchs open and 4.25-inchs closed. Comes with a lanyard hole and an end to end reversible metal pocket clip. Weights 2.3 ozs. Made in the USA. One of Kershaw’s most popular knives.


One more Under $50 knife

    Cold Steel Large Voyager Vaquero Folder with serrated Blade. Lock Back, Aluminum Liners. This knife design is made to slash and cut. $40 on ebay.  The Vaquero comes in three sizes.  XLarge (which is huge), Large and Medium.


Under $100
  Cold Steel Recon 1 – G-10 Handle with Clip Point Black Blade, Combo Edge. AUS-8, 4-inch, Teflon Coated Stainless Steel Blade. Weighs 5.3 ozs. $61 Free Shipping at Amazon.


  Spyderco Endura 4 – Lightweight Combination Edge Knife. VG-10, 3.75-inch, Combo Edge, 0.125-inch thick Stainless Steel Blade. 4-way Clip. Skeletonized steel internal liners. 0.5” opening hole. Closed – 5″, Open 8-3/4″. Weight 3.6 ozs. $61 Free Shipping at Amazon.


  Spyderco Manix 2 – G-10 Combination Edge Knife, Black. 154-CM, 3.75-inch, Combo Edge, 3mm thick High Carbon Steel Blade. G-10 Handle. Ambidextrous tip-up Clip. Full Steel Liners. Ball Bearing Lock. 14mm opening hole. Closed – 4.625″, Open 8″. Weight 5 ozs. $61 Free Shipping at Amazon.  One of Spyderco’s most popular knives — hand-built in Golden, CO.


    Benchmade Griptilian Combo – Edge Drop Point Knife. 154-CM, 3.45 inch, combo edge, 0.115 inch thick stainless steel, blade with modified drop point design. AXIS locking mechanism. Overall length 8.07 inches, 4.62 inches closed. Lanyard Hole and Pocket Clip. $80 free Shipping at Amazon.


Over $100

    Zero Tolerance Tactical Response Serrated Knife – 154CM stainless steel with Tungsten DLC coating. Handle: 3D machined, G-10 in matte black. Blade Length: 3 7/8 in. (9.8 cm); Closed Length: 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm); Weight: 7.7 oz.  $126 Free Shipping at Amazon.


What do I carry?

    Emerson Commander SFS Folding Knife – 154-CM, 3.75-inch combo edge stainless steel blade with a drop point design. Black G10 handle. Wave/Dual Thumb Disc opening. Pocket Clip. Weighs 5.5 ozs. You can find these online for $150 plus shipping.

It also available in Mini Commander with a 3.4-inch blade. Online for $125 plus shipping.


Don’t pay more than $150 for a knife. There are plenty of really good knives out there for $150 or less.

I know there are many more good knives out there in each of the price categories I’ve listed. This was not an end all list. As I said from the start, there are many good and really good knives out there. The ones I’ve listed should help you see what features a good knife has and how much you should spend to get a good or really good knife.

In Part 3 we’ll attack Survival Knives.


Ed Rogers

Copyright “Keep It Simple” 2012.  All Rights Reserved.

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