In November 2015, an 18-year-old savagely stabbed four people on the campus of the University of California at Merced. The campus police shot the suspected terrorist dead, but fortunately all four victims survived.
Confirmed terrorists have recently launched brutal knife attacks upon innocent passersby in England, Germany and Israel. They killed over 20 people and wounded nearly 100.
Knives have become more and more popular with criminals and terrorists as governments make it harder for them to get and carry guns. However, for the same reasons, I think you should consider carrying a knife for self-defense.
This past January, a robber pulled a knife on the owner of a convenience store in Fall River, Mass. Instead of giving up the money, the owner pulled his own knife and chased the robber out of the market.
Many of you probably carry a folding knife for everyday uses like cutting rope or twine or for opening boxes or letters.
I have been a keen edged-weapons student since grade school. And I have learned how the blade evolved with man over the millennia into the absolute, definitive tool for self-defense. This led me to design and develop my own line of custom knives.
My studies led me to become a tactical, edged-weapons instructor for more than three and a half decades. I teach knife-fighting to Special Forces soldiers, SWAT teams and security professionals.
I also teach civilians. That’s because in a day and age when you may face more and more threats from edged weapons, you need a solid education on how to both defend against and attack with a blade. And so today we will discuss choosing a knife for personal defense.
|Most people don’t understand the true dangers of a blade.|
Why knives are a threat
Knives are easily accessible. You can find them in your kitchen. You can buy a wide variety of specialized blades in your local hardware store. And you can find exotic knives in retailers that cater to outdoorsmen, including army-navy surplus stores.
You can buy them anywhere, here and abroad. Some places may put limits on the kinds of knives you can carry. For example, switchblades can face numerous legal restrictions for their owners. But nobody bans the sale of knives outright.
Knives are easy to hide, so they can be carried almost anywhere without drawing attention to yourself. Folding knives can be either affixed to or stuffed into just about any pocket. Fixed-blade knives, which don’t fold, are somewhat flat so they can be hidden under a jacket or coat, inside a bag or box, or slipped inside a sock or boot.
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Firearms are heavily regulated in most places. But knives are easy to find and easy to buy, which makes them a major threat that can’t be dismissed.
Just for the record, the best way for an untrained person to defend against a knife attack would be to grab some sort of makeshift weapon that can keep the knife and the attacker at a distance – like a garbage-can lid, a long metal pipe, or an umbrella.
In California, a student used a chair to save himself from madman Faisal Mohammad. In England, a street musician broke his guitar over a terrorist’s head.
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The practical side of knives
Yes, knives are a major threat to your safety, but they can also be a great game changer if you are facing an attacker who wants to hurt or kill you.
Most people don’t truly understand how dangerous a blade can be.
If you own firearms, you are probably thinking: “Jeff, why would I bring a knife to a gunfight?” Well, I am not saying that you should, but what I am saying is that knives are extremely dangerous. And you should take that threat seriously when planning for personal defense.
Listen, I just came back from training a SWAT team. And until they saw what a knife could do in an expert’s hands, I don’t truly believe that they understood just how dangerous a knife can be to them or the civilians they protect.
You don’t have to be an expert to inflict serious bodily harm to someone with a knife.
A knife’s job is to cut or stab. And a criminal does not have to be a pro with it to hurt or kill you. By the same token, carrying a legal knife is a great tool to have in the event you are attacked – because you don’t have to be an expert either. Sometimes, just the sight of the knife can discourage an attacker. However, it’s always best to find someone who can teach you how to use your knife properly.
So let’s talk a little about choosing the right knife for personal defense so you are better equipped in an emergency situation.
The first choice that needs to be made is: Do you want a fixed-blade knife or a tactical folding knife? The answer can depend on where you live and what potential threats you expect to face.
For example, if you live in British Columbia or in an area of the United States where you could come into contact with mountain lions and bears, I would suggest you carry a fixed blade… and a firearm!
The length of that fixed blade would also be a consideration. Blade length should be relative to the threat. Here is one critical thing I tell everyone about knives … longer blades less control, shorter blades more control and less chance of it getting twisted out of your hand.
That said, you need a fixed blade that’s long enough to inflict damage and access organs but that’s not too long to control. For human personal defense, I recommend a blade length of 4.25″ to 5″ and for animals, 7″. Anything longer, and you run the risk of giving up leverage or of losing your grip on the weapon in the heat of combat.
In a typical urban setting though, the majority of you will want to carry a tactical folding knife, as it is unobtrusive and expedient.
What are some of the requirements you should look for in a tactical folding knife?
Again, the first decision will be size. And you must check the laws governing your area to find out the kinds and sizes of knives that you can legally carry. However, a blade length of 3″ up to 4″ is what I recommend for personal defense. But any “folder” that you have when trouble comes knocking is better than none at all. So keep that in mind as well.
Next, make sure that the grip on the knife is comfortable in your hand. Get what we call “positive grip”. Think of this like traction for your tires. The grip should be checkered, stippled or have a certain finish that minimizes the risks of it leaving your hand as you stab someone.
For personal defense, I recommend a blade with a straight edge rather than a serrated edge. Serrations are good for fishing or for more survival-oriented situations. But for self-defense, nothing beats a straight edge!
Finally, how the knife opens makes a big difference in how effectively you use it in a jam. After all, the whole idea of a folding knife is that the blade must be unfolded fast to use it. In general, there are several technologies that are available to open folding knives.
Call me old school, but I prefer a good old-fashioned, manual opener with a thumbscrew or thumb cutout. Automatic knives – such as switchblades – are less reliable, especially as they age. The blade is under tension and safety is therefore certainly a concern with these style knives–what if the blade opens by itself in your pocket because the catch is released?
Some of the auto-assisted knives have a safety to prevent unintentional openings, and so these can be considered relatively safe for your everyday carry. There are many other considerations for choosing a personal-defense knife but this article can’t cover them all.
Carrying a knife for personal defense can go a long way to leveling the playing field if you are attacked. It should be thought of as another tool in your arsenal of personal safety. Remember to respect it just as you would a firearm because it is every bit as dangerous. And if you are going to carry a folding knife, do it responsibly… get proper training and check all local laws and regulations in your area.
Until next time, stay alert, check your six, put your back against the wall and stay safe!