AUGUST 13, 2020

Skill Set: Knives for Defense?

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Don’t carry a knife to a gun fight.” However, there are some locations/environments where you can’t legally have a firearm. For these type situations, instead of carrying nothing, you might want to pack a knife. Knives are easy to carry, very effective and simple in application. But, like any other defensive weapon there are serious considerations.

At the mention of “defensive knife” most people think about large Bowies or long Tanto blades. We’re not talking about knife fighting, which from what I hear is no good for either party. For self-defense you don’t need anything large. A 2 ½ to 3-inch blade will do everything needed. It’s legal to carry – in some locales. Check local and state laws concerning carrying a knife. A short blade is very concealable and quick to deploy. Plus, short knives will cut plenty deep enough to cause serious damage.

Folder or fixed blade? Folders are great for common chores. But unless you’re going to practice a lot on presenting a folding blade, and getting it open – which can sometimes require very fine motor skills - you might want to think fixed blade. Again, small is better. Where should you carry the knife? I’m a big fan of carrying a short blade just left or right of the belt buckle – sort of an appendix carry. When you’re back is flat on the ground with someone mounted on top of you this is the only area you might be able to get to; same is true when you’re sitting.

The knife has to fit your hand. Slicing and stabbing on muscle, tendons, bone or heavy clothing against an active threat ain’t like slicing a filet off a piece of tenderloin. Expect the knife to want to twist and turn in your hand. Keep in mind, this weapon is like a “sword of desperation.” When it’s down to cutting you don’t want to lose that knife.

Learning how to use a short blade isn’t difficult. Knives are a little more instinctual as opposed to a firearm but, like any other defensive skill learning to use one efficiently still requires an education and plenty of practice.

Even if you when you carry a firearm having a knife is always a good idea. They’re come in handy for general chores. If you can’t carry a knife, think about a screwdriver. Ultimately remember that being “unarmed” is a state of mind. There are always “weapons” at hand. Someday, this attitude may be the difference between life and death.

Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, which is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. He is the author of The Book of Two Guns, AR-15 Skills and Drills, has a regular column in American Handgunner and makes some cool knives and custom revolvers. Visit Shootrite’s Facebook page for other details.