This article was contributed by James Petzke, the founder of Knife Den.
Buying a knife for self defense is a decision worth taking your time to make. After all, you are buying a knife that just might save your life – or the life of someone you love – one day, and you want to feel like you can trust it with your life. Also, a personal knife can serve as an excellent survival tool in other situations – for instance, during natural disasters and power outages. In this post, learn tips on the best way to choose a knife for self defense.
Tip #1: Opt for simplicity of design.
In a self defense or survival situation, you don’t want to find yourself fumbling to open your knife or to find the knife amidst a bunch of other cool gadgets. You want to have it, blade ready, in hand in a few seconds or less. If you decide to go with a folding knife, choose a knife that offers you a one-hand opening so you can be using the other hand to defend yourself.
Tip #2: Choose a fixed blade.
While there is some inherent safety value in having a knife that can fold for carrying, a sturdy knife sheath can accomplish the same and won’t leave you vulnerable in self defense situations. This is important because the fold in the knife can buckle just when you need it most, leaving you defenseless. A fixed blade knife carries no such risk.
Tip #3: Look for a single piece (“full tang”) blade with a firm handle.
When the blade and handle are constructed from one single continuous piece of material, you have a nearly unbreakable knife. You can see if the knife is a single piece by looking at the handle to see if the metal from the blade continues to run all the way through to the end.
Also, make sure the blade is firmly affixed in the handle so that it does not have any “play” (make any movement) when you use it.
Tip #4: Be sure your knife has a very sharp pointed tip.
While a knife with a curved or flat tip might look intimidating, it is much less practical for multi-purpose use. Also, many self defense manoeuvres rely on thrusting or stabbing, which only a sharp pointed tip will give you.
Tip #5: Choose your blade size carefully.
Choosing a knife size is a very personal choice. Your hand size and width, finger length, overall arm and hand strength and carrying preferences will all factor in to what size of knife is most comfortable for you to carry with you.
There is an art to choosing a knife that is not too long and heavy for sustained use, but also choosing a knife that is not to short to do any real damage if damage is called for. The best way to make this choice is to just try different sizes out to see what works for you personally.
Tip #6: Select a single edge blade.
Double edge blades are more dangerous for you to use because of the tendency most people have to rest their thumb on the back of the knife while using it. If you have this habit, untraining yourself will likely be more difficult than you anticipate and you may get cut while in the process.
As well, double edged blades are much less useful for other tasks if you are seeking a multi-purpose knife.
Tip #7: Be sure your knife can be easily concealed.
While you may have the best of intentions for purchasing a self defense knife, there are still those who may act differently towards you if they see you are carrying a knife.
For this reason, it is best to ensure the knife you buy for self defense can be easily concealed in a pocket, under your clothing or in some other way.
Tip #8: Check the warranty and customer reviews before you purchase the knife.
The warranty should cover knife maintenance, any actions that invalidate the warranty, blade sharpening and basic repairs. Any knife worth the money should come with a warranty that at least covers these points.
In the same way, be sure to read user reviews to find out if the knife really is as good as its manufacturer claims. If you are buying a folding knife, you want to know it will stay folded until you want it to open. If you are buying a reputed “very sharp” bladed knife, you want to know it won’t dull out after a few uses.
Tip #9: Be aware of legality issues where you live.
There are some types of knives that are illegal in some geographic areas (a switchblade is a good example of one type). So before you spend money on a self defense knife, be sure you know whether it is legal out of the box to carry it, if you need a special permit or training or if it is flat out illegal.
James Petzke is the founder of Knife Den, a site that is dedicated to being the best resource online for information about knives of all kinds. It has buyer’s guides, reviews, and information about knife laws in every state in the US.