On Guard: The 6 Best Self Defense Knives

If you haven’t thought about defending yourself, then you are just begging to be a victim. Criminals make their living off of people who think that a mugging, a robbery, or an attack can’t happen to them. Whenever you leave the house, unless you’re Jon “Bones” Jones, you’re painting a target on your back by not having training and proper weapons to protect yourself. One of the best choices for protection is a self defense knife. Psychological studies show that people react with more fear to a knife than they do to a gun, plus it is easier to use and laws are kinder to a person with a concealed knife than a guy with a gun.

Before we give you our choices for our favorite knives, you should familiarize yourself with the laws of your state. Some places frown on concealed folding pocket knives or switchblades, but will allow a tactical knife or fixed blade. In addition to knowing the law, you should also decide what you like. Do you prefer something hefty or light? Do you plan to stab or slice? Will you need it for more than just personal security? However you like to cut your jib, one of the 6 best self defense knives will provide you with the cleaving power you require.

Kershaw Cryo Knife

Kershaw Cryo

Pro: Extremely durable
Con: Opening knob mounted very close to the handle

Everyday Carry: A self defense knife should be able to stand up to whatever battles or trials you put it through, no matter what the cost. Just because you don’t have hundreds to drop on a blade doesn’t mean you should settle for something that’s going to snap the minute it hits bone. The 8Cr13MoV steel is similar to Aus-8 and comes with a coating of titanium carbo-nitrade on both the blade and the handle to keep the elements from wearing it down and pump its fortitude up whether fighting, skinning, or gutting for fun and profit. It’s a smaller knife with a blade that doesn’t break the 3 inch mark, but it’s ability to retain an edge through work at a campsite, in a hunting blind, or turf battles on the mean streets make it a favorite entry-level knife and an exceptional backup. The ability to carry it point up or point down allows for versatility in where and how you tuck it to draw. [Purchase: $30]

KA-Bar TDI Law Enforcement Knife

KA-BAR TDI Law Enforcement Knife

Pro: Very concealable
Con: Can only be used for self defense

Close Call: Made by Ka-Bar with the intent of giving police officers a knife for those times when they can’t get to their firearm, this is built for extremely close quarters fighting. It breaks the mold of traditional fixed blade knives by using a 45 degree angle that gives it the ability to be drawn easily, even if your arm is twisted around your back. The pistol grip allows you to use it inverted or straightforward with equal efficacy. You’re not going to do much stabbing with it unless you are jabbing in a hook-style, but for gutting and cutting, there are few self defense knives that give you more leverage for opening up an attacker like he’s the big box under the tree. You’ll probably want a larger primary knife, but when speed, reliability, and discretion are your priorities, this will do you proud. [Purchase: $33]

Cold Steel Counter TAC II Fixed Blade

Cold Steel Counter TAC II Fixed Blade

Pro: Can be secured anywhere
Con: Thick blade for a secondary knife

Playing Footsie: We love Cold Steel’s entire line of self defense knives (the Recon 1 was just barely hedged out) but the TAC II is hands-down our #1 choice when it comes to boot knives. This makes an outstanding backup that is big enough to do the job, but small enough to be easily strapped to your leg, the small of your back, or even hung around your neck. At just under 7 inches, it is a little large for a true boot knife, but once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to the smaller competitors. The balanced weight also makes it capable of being used as a throwing knife, if you just can’t let someone get away. Constructed with AUS 8A steel, you can use this as an EDC without worrying about corrosion. The highly textured handle and rippled design make it easy to hold and to use smoothly. Especially handy for quick stabs, it is also facile enough for twisting to ensure any wounds you inflict don’t close. Comes with a Secure-Ex sheath with strap slots. [Purchase: $50]

Spyderco Matriarch Spyder Edge Knife

Spyderco Matriarch Spyder Edge Knife

Pro: Fully serrated
Con: Weak clip

Karambit Style: It’s surprising how few people know about karambit knives. This style works differently than standard knives in that you can’t really stab with it, but instead can gut and rip using an underhanded technique or hamstring an opponent, even when working from the front. The raptor claw design is intended for very close quarters combat, making it ideal for large, crowded cities where space is at a premium. If you’re headed to New Delhi, Tokyo, London, or New York, where you’re always going to be within arms reach of someone, the Matriarch will make it easy to maximize damage just by pulling up or down. A fully serrated VG-10 stainless steel blade rends flesh horrifyingly well and the Emerson feature makes it snag on your pocket for easy deployment from a tip-up carry position. To complete the beautiful craftsmanship is a double textured, ambidextrous handle. [Purchase: $70]

SOG Seal Pup Elite Fixed Blade

SOG Seal Pup Elite Fixed Blade

Pro: Maximum intimidation
Con: Black coating scratches easily

Soldier Elite: As far as fixed blade self defense blades go, you might as well pick up the best. The menacing build of this knife coupled with the heavily textured grip and finger notches make it an incredible tactical knife that will also work if you’re in danger. The blade is almost five full inches of AUS-8 steel with a matte black finish that won’t catch the light. The included nylon sheath can secure easily to your belt and allows the knife to slide free easily and quickly. Due to its slightly enhanced size, it won’t be ideal for times when you are extremely close to your attacker, but rather works better when you have more room to maneuver. The handle itself is nylon reinforced with glass that is comfortable for extended use if you’re backpacking, hunting, or fishing so even if you never intend on getting into a knife fight, this is still a quality investment. [Purchase: $70]

Benchmade 8600BK Bedlam Knife

Benchmade Bedlam

Pro: Automatic open
Con: Expensive

Quick Draw: You can’t go wrong with a Benchmade product, so it was hard to pick our favorite among their excellent range of knives, but the Bedlam is a special kind of animal. Known as flip knives, automatic knives, Italian stilettos, and, of course, switchblades, self defense knives of this kind are some of the most dangerous due to their very easy deployment. You’re really going to need to check your local laws, since this kind of automatic knife is usually loathed by the police. If you can get away with it, it’s a great thing to have. With just a flick of your thumb the 4 inch, 154CM Stainless Steel blade jumps out from the handle like a rattlesnake. When opened, it is nearly 10 inches long with an upswept, scimitar design that is downright frightening. The switch runs through the middle and can be deployed from either side. The ergonomic handle with finger ridges makes this hard to lose or drop and facilitates slicing and stabbing motions. [Purchase: $240]

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