Almost everyone carries a knife. Most of us carry a knife for every day use, but also for "tactical" applications as a weapon if necessary. This is a great idea. Knives are simple, effective and fairly easy to use. Plus, there are many places firearms are prohibited and but you can carry a knife. But, just like with any weapon, there are several things you need to think about. (Remember, you are responsible for knowing the law for carrying and using edged weapons.)
What type knife should you carry? Knives, more so than any other weapon, are very personal. Like a firearm the knife must fit your hand, allowing you to acquire a strong grip that will keep the knife from slipping or moving in the hand while stabbing and slashing against material such as clothing, tissue and muscle and bone. (Yes, this sounds nasty, but fighting with a knife is close, ugly and bloody.)
There are folders and fixed blades. Folders are like granddad carried, except now we have features like Spyderco's "round hole" in the blade, which allows you to open the blade with one hand. According to Spyderco's
website, "This revolutionary feature was granted a U.S. utility patent in 1981 and literally helped define the form of the modern folding knife." With "assisted" opening knifes you start to open the blade then knife's internals finish by "flipping" the blade out to a locked position. Blackie Collins and Ken Onion designed the first assisted opening knives in the mid/late 90's. "Automatic" knifes have been around since the 18th century. You push a button and the blade snaps open, either flipping out or extending straight out from the grip. (Check your laws!)
"Fixed" blade knives are solid; the tang, or "grip," and blade are one piece. For fighting this is hands down the best. All the other types require you access the knife, pulling it from a pocket or sheath, then open the blade – which means fine motor skills. Pull out the fixed blade and it's ready for action. The disadvantage is size, which makes them more difficult to conceal.
Regardless of the knife don't get too caught up in blade length. A three-inch blade is plenty. There's not space enough here to get into specific techniques and theory – and I am not qualified to talk about anything other than the very basics - but the techniques you're looking at are stabbing or slashing. You're in close and tight. As quickly as possible you're stabbing the knife into the upper body. The threat grabs your throat. You slash his forearm, cutting deep into the muscles and disabling the hand. Body tissue gives and stretches when you stab. A three-inch blade will penetrate deeper than three inches. A three-inch blade will slash deep enough to cause serious damage.
You have to know how to use the knife, but becoming proficient isn't that difficult. There's very little "natural" about fighting efficiently with firearms. Weapons such as clubs, spears for thrusting and knives use more instinctive techniques. It's not that complicated to grasp and apply the "basics" - stabbing and slashing. Fighting with blades is an art, and you can take it to any level you desire, but everyone starts at the beginning with basic training followed up with practice.
Being armed is part of being prepared. This doesn't just mean carrying a firearm. "Prepared" means you have a plan "B." You may have a firearm, but you don't have time or distance to draw it, or it has a jam or stoppage. Knives are simple and easy to employ, serve as a good backup, or may become plan "A" because it's easy and faster to get to. You may not be able to carry a firearm, but carry of a blade that meets the legal requirements for that area allows you to be armed. Then, there are always times when you need to cut open a box, cut some rope or perform other daily chores. Get a good knife, learn how to use it and carry it.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of "The Book of Two Guns" - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk's DVD, "Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html McKee's new book, AR Skills and Drills, is available for pre-order: https://www.amazon.com/AR-15-Skills-Drills-Learn-Your/dp/144024720X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1484771081&sr=8-2&keywords=tiger+mckee