Choosing a Self Defense Knife

Shinkengata

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This is an article i wrote for those who are fairly new to knives and knife defense.

Choosing a Self Defense Knife

First off, I would like to preclude this article by saying that it will always be in your best interest to first find a school of formal knife combat instruction, and that I HIGHLY suggest it before carrying a knife for self defense purposes, otherwise you may just be giving the attacker a weapon with which he can take away from you and kill you. Furthermore, unless you want to spend your life in prison, or at least a large chunk of it for murder, attempted murder, or assault with a deadly weapon, I suggest you deeply research your state's laws on knife and knife-related defense. There are many schools and systems of knife fighting and defense out there, and it will be up to you to find out which one is right for you, so again, do your research. This article is geared towards modern, multi-use knives rather than specialty blades for legal reasons pertaining to the carry and use of such weapons. For this purpose, I will not be including such implements as the Karambit, the Balisong, or other fighting system-specific weapons. So without further ado, let's jump right in.


There are many things to consider when choosing a knife to carry for self-defense purposes. This article is written to serve as a general guideline for knife quality, design, and legal compliance, but ultimately, in order to find the perfect knife for you, it is necessary that you spend a decent amount of time in a school or system of knife combat to better understand how you are going to be using the knife, and what kind of knife would best suit the techniques and principles of said system. Furthermore, your needs in terms of design and features will change the more familiar you become with the system and techniques in which you are training.

DESIGN

The design of your knife is extremely important in determining a good self-defense knife. All good self-defense knives are well made from good, tough steels, have sturdy handles, and reliable mechanisms. However, I don't suggest that you just go out and buy something made with what is considered the strongest and most roughneck steel at the moment. You are not going to be putting this knife thru any kind of phenomenal, Rambo-like abuse. Remember, it's a Self-Defense knife, not a knife you're going to be using to take apart a space shuttle. There is no urgent need for a Titanium Alloy handle or Frame with an S90V blade, or materials of that nature. These materials may very well be extremely tough, but they are also very expensive, and losing a knife can be somewhat easy when it travels with you everywhere you go. Plus, if you ever have to use it, chances are you will never see it again because it will become property of whatever law enforcement agency is handing your case. So let’s stick with something that’s easily replaceable.

There are two basic types of knife. The first type is the folder knife, which is characterized by a blade that folds into the handle-frame, where it is housed. When it is unfolded from the frame, a locking mechanism secures the blade in the open position to prevent it from folding or moving freely until you are ready to fold it back into the handle-frame again. The second type is the fixed-blade knife. This type of knife is characterized by a blade that is permanently set into the handle, and does not fold or move. A fixed-blade knife is housed in a sheath, or protective carrying and housing device, with much of the same principle as the holster of a pistol; to protect the carrier and others, as well as the knife itself. Your choice of folder or fixed-blade depends on your personal preference and/or needs, and may also depend on your local laws.

There are many steels very suitable for knife blades out there, and there are also steels that have no business being used to make knife blades. Some good tough steels are D2, ATS-34, AUS-6, AUS-8, O-1, ATS-55, 1085-95, and 440C. Many will read the last steel in that list and scoff, but rest assured, with proper heat-treating, 440C is some damn tough steel. I've seen it myself. The bad rep that 440C gets stems from the fact that most manufactured items made from 440C are made from annealed 440, and are hence soft and easily bent. Properly heated 440C rivals ATS-34 in toughness. Let’s take a look at each one of these steels I have listed.

D2: Or it’s full name, BS4659 BD2, is a high carbon, high chromium, molybdenum, vanadium tool and knife steel which possesses good wear resistance, excellent surface hardness, and good edge retention in knives. Although somewhat more corrosion resistant than 1085 and 1095 carbon steel, it still needs periodic inspection to ensure cleanliness and should be cleaned and coated with a thin layer of machine oil or water displacement solution(WD-40) after submersion or considerable exposure to moisture.

ATS-34: The Japanese stainless steel produced by Hitachi Steels®, which exhibits excellent corrosion resistance and very good edge retention. Blades with this steel will vary in toughness from medium to very tough depending on which individual or company makes or manufactures the knife, and how expensive the knife is.

AUS-6: Is another Japanese stainless steel used in low-medium to medium priced knives. With a carbon content of .65%, it’s a little softer than ATS-34, but can be a bit tougher and more resistant to chipping or breakage.

AUS-8: Is basically the same as AUS-6, but with a slightly higher carbon content of .75%, making it potentially a little harder.

O-1: Is mainly a custom knife maker’s steel. It is very tough, is easy to sharpen, and holds an edge very well. Its only drawback is its high susceptibility to rust. Regular cleaning and coating with oil is required to minimize corrosion.

ATS-55: The molybdenum-free version of ATS-34. It also has some other elements added to the makeup of the steel, giving it the edge retention of ATS-34, with slightly increased toughness.

1085-1095: Simple carbon steels with high carbon contents of .85% and .95%, respectively. They perform well, but rust easily. Again, maintenance cleaning and care is necessary to avoid corrosion. They can be quite brittle due to the high carbon content, which is why differential tempering is important to maintain toughness. Differential tempering is a process which hardens parts of the blade (usually the edge) to a higher RC rating than other parts, yielding a harder edge for cutting and edge retention, and a softer back or other region to allow for shock absorption and break-resistance.

440C: Is a stainless steel with a carbon content of roughly 1.2%, and a high chromium content that makes it very rust resistant. Properly hardened 440C is ideally rated at 56-59RC, and is an excellent utility steel. It resists breaking quite well despite its high carbon content.

One or two manufacturers, such as Spyderco, most commonly use some of these steels, like the ATS-55,®. 1085-1095 is mainly used to make fixed blade knives, so it will be hard to find a folder with a 1085 or 1095 blade.

The handle material of a self-defense knife is not so important as the handle SHAPE of a self-defense knife. I do, however, suggest something good and sturdy, such as G-10 (G-10 is an epoxy based laminate) or another material that is reasonably tough with a good gripping surface. The reason why the handle SHAPE takes priority over the handle material is simple. Fit and Safety. How well does it fit your hand, and how likely is your hand to slide onto the blade during a stab or thrust? Is it easy to get the proper grip on the handle without having to consciously pay attention to it? Since every person’s hand is different, this is something you will have to figure out on your own.. I will say, however, that a good indication of a practical handle shape for this reason will be one that has a finger groove for the index finger. The reason for this is that the groove will provide support, or a sort of “no-slip” zone for either your index finger during a thrusting motion, or your pinky during a stabbing motion, both of which respectively take the majority of the force of the stab during these motions. To say it a little more clearly, your index finger will bear the majority of the energy in the thrusting motion, and your pinky will bear a majority of the force in a backwards-grip stabbing motion, although not as much if you are using your thumb over the end of the handle for support and power. The gripping quality of the handle is important, also. Some handle materials have natural gripping qualities, whereas the surface of others needs to be checkered or altered to make them more graspable. Some knives even have grip inserts, such as textured rubber or a material similar to skateboard tape. Handle Length is also an issue, and this is another thing you will have to determine on your own, since hands come in all shapes and sizes. Generally, the handle butt should protrude ½ -1 inch from your hand, to allow for adequate finger room and maneuvering.

Next is the Blade Design. A good blade design will be one that is decently thick, with the tip being wide enough or strong enough to resist breaking if you were to, say, accidentally punch it into a hard surface such as a brick wall or asphalt. However, the tip should also be able to easily pierce any part of the human anatomy, so design is important here. I don't recommend Chisel-like, or box-like tanto shaped tips. They don't pierce quite as well as other types of tips, plus real tanto kissaki (blade tip) did not and do not look anything like what you see in these Pseudo-tactical blades of today, so my advice is to avoid them. I advise that you treat a knife fight as a life-and-death situation, because that is exactly what it is. You want to end it as quickly as possible, and if you do not have a good tip on your knife, or if the tip is broken, you will probably have to rely strictly on slashing, which is basically the hard way. Generally, the choice of blade shape and design is dependant on how you intend to use it. Certain blade shapes and styles are better employed by some knife combat systems than others. For instance, a claw blade, such as that on a Spyderco Harpy (pictured below), is better employed in slashing and ripping techniques rather than stabbing and thrusting, whereas a dagger is more suitable for stabbing and thrusting techniques.

harpy-clawblade.jpg

The Spyderco Harpy

Blade length is something that depends heavily on your local laws. Most states have a length law, meaning that you cannot legally carry and/or conceal a knife with blade that is longer than the established regulation length. I recommend a blade length of at least 3.5-4 inches, if allowed. If your state has lower length limits, go with the maximum length allowed. The longer the blade, the deeper the stab and the more able it is to hit vital organs and arteries. Blade-to-handle length ratio is something to consider also, since a longer handle provides you with more leverage.

Edge is something that has been up for debate for some time. It's basically a situational choice. If you are a skilled knife-sharpener, then you may want to go with a plain edge. If you have trouble putting a keen edge on your knives, you may opt for a serrated or partially serrated blade. Many prefer the “combo-edge” or a knife with an edge that is half plain, and half serrated. Either way, you are going to want something that will cut VERY easily and VERY deeply. If you have to use this knife on somebody, then chances are you intend to kill them. And let's be realistic, you want to be able to cause as much damage as possible with every contact the blade makes with flesh.

The sheath, or scabbard, is another thing to take into account when choosing a knife, if you are choosing a fixed blade. The sheath should be able to fit comfortably and discreetly in the place of your choice, and should allow for quick release and access to the knife. The sheath should also fit the knife well. It’s not the most desirable thing to have a knife what wiggles around and moves freely within it’s sheath, especially if you are carrying it on a day-to-day basis. It can be uncomfortable, and in some instances, it can make noise. Many prefer sheaths made from KYDEX®, a durable thermoplastic that can be heat-molded around the blade and guard of the knife for a perfect, glove-like fit. The tactical advantage of KYDEX® is that there are no security straps to hold the knife in, hence the knife can be pulled from the sheath with minimum delay, and the knife can be worn in positions with a KYDEX® sheath that would normally cause the knife to fall out of a leather or nylon sheath without a security strap of some sort. KYDEX® is also used in making gun holsters for this very same purpose.

The last major factor for consideration in knife design is only applicable on folders. That is the locking mechanism. This is particularly important, because without a strong locking mechanism, you run the risk of severe personal injury to yourself should the mechanism fail or collapse. All Locking mechanisms have their drawbacks and weaknesses, and should each be examined carefully. There are 3 basic types of locking folders.

-Lockback
-liner lock
-frame lock

Many Lockbacks can be eliminated completely from your options for the simple fact that it takes two hands to open and close them, and with speed and ease of deployment being a priority in your choice of knife, it's easy to see why you would generally want to avoid these types of knives. The knives you want to avoid in this category of locking mechanisms are knives such as W.R. Case’s pocketknives, and Buck’s Folding Hunters. They require two hands to open and the entire folding mechanisms are quite stiff. There are,of course, lockback knives that are quite easy to open with one hand, given that you can master the technique of “snapping the wrist”. Gerber’s first incarnation of the Gator, the 650 model, can be opened easily with a snap of the wrist.

lockback.jpg

The Gerber Gator Lockback

The Liner Lock is used on many folders today, and often requires only one hand to open the blade via thumb stud or hole in the blade. The only drawback is that Liner Locks tend to malfunction after a while, usually causing some degree of injury to it's user. Regular utility use of a liner lock is discouraged to avoid wear and tear that would increase the likelihood of such an occurrence, if you wish to use it for self-defense.

linerlock.jpg

Kershaw Liner Lock

The Frame Lock is my personal choice for a self-defense folder. It is important, however, that you take a few things into consideration with a frame lock. There are good and bad frame locks. Simple common sense will serve you well here. Look at the lock. Does it LOOK sturdy? A good frame lock is just as thick if not a little thicker than the rest of the handle. A good frame lock should have a handle made from a sturdy material, since the lock is part of the frame (hence the name). If this is not the case, the lock should then at least be reinforced in some way. When examining a frame lock, look at the lock when it is engaged. Does it line up well with the blade when engaged? A good frame lock will line up very nicely, if not perfectly, with the blade. A frame lock can be very sturdy, but regular inspection is needed to ensure that the lock is in good condition and still lines up well with the blade when engaged. When the lock is no longer lining up well with the blade, or displays signs of questionable wear, either replace the knife, or have the manufacturer repair or replace it.

framelock2.jpg

Microtech Mini-SOCOM Elite Frame Lock

Some manufacturers have chosen to design and implement their own proprietary locking mechanisms, but I have yet to see any quantifiable proof that any of these locking mechanisms are vastly superior to the 3 basics I just covered.

Another feature on many folders to consider is the pocket-clip. The pocket clip is a small steel or other metal clip attached to the side of the handle frame of a folder. They come in many different styles and materials, varying from model to model. 300-303 Stainless steel seems to be the most popular material of choice for pocket clips. They are reasonably sturdy and resist bending. The most common two types of clip are the normal clip, where the opening of the clip points toward the end of the handle frame, and the backwards clip, where the opening of the clip points toward the folding mechanism of the blade.. This is also an area of choice based on preference. I personally prefer the backward clip because it’s quicker and more convenient for my deployment technique.

LEGALITIES

A knife is classified as a deadly weapon by all 50 states in the USA, and rightly so. A knife can kill people. It can kill people VERY easily. Thus, it would only make sense that in order to consider carrying one for self-defense, you need to know your law. Research your state and local laws on knife defense, carry, size-limits, and general usage before deciding to carry for the purpose discussed in this article. Failure to do so will almost surely result in serious legal trouble for you should you ever use it on someone, and depending on what kind of knife you have and whether or not it’s concealed, failure to research your local law may even result in legal trouble if you are just carrying it on your person.That being said, let me explain a couple of things to consider that are not written in law books.

Earlier in this article I wrote extensively on the design of a knife for practicality purposes. What many may not know is that design applies as much to the legal side of carrying and using a knife as it does in the practical and effective use of it. Of course, it's common knowledge to anyone familiar with knives that length and opening mechanisms are legal issues, but let's look a little deeper than that.

Let’s say you used your knife in a self-defense encounter. The cops show up, arrest you, and the attacker is carted off to the hospital for treatment. When the case goes to trial, your knife will be evidence presented before the jury. The look and name of your knife are very important here. An aggressive looking knife with an aggressive sounding name may be perfectly legal by the books, but it may not go over very well with the jury deciding your case of self-defense. You are much more likely to get off on a self-defense ruling if you defended yourself with a "Remco Model 3 Fisherman" with a plain, non-coated blade and simple handle, than if you were to use a "Falcon Deathstalker X" with the skullbuster pommel.

My point is that a jury is going to take a look at a simple, inconspicuous utility knife with a simple non-threatening name, and be more inclined towards a self-defense ruling. If they look at a knife that has a malevolent look and name, they will be more inclined to view you as a violent and unstable person who was just looking for an excuse to cut or stab someone.

My suggestion is to choose a general utility knife that has an inconspicuous name and appearance. This will save you a lot of grief in the long run, and could very well make the difference in you spending time in jail or getting off on a self-defense ruling.

A fight involving a knife is most always ugly, quick, and messy. The knife you choose to employ if such a situation occurs can have a direct impact on whether you live or die. A knife that is comfortable to handle, easy to hold onto, and easy and fast to access and deploy is what you should look for.

Always remember that arming yourself with knowledge before arming yourself with anything else is the most important preparation for effective self-defense that you can make.

-Eric
 

Floating Egg

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That's a really great article. One of the things that surprised me was your tanto tip comment. You learn something new everyday. Thanks a lot!
 

KenpoTex

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Couple of questions...

Why do you feel that the tanto style blades are not as effective as the others? Yeah, to some extent I agree; a tanto isn't going to be as "needle-sharp" as a spear-point. However, with any design you have strengths and weaknesses, the nice thing about the tanto is that it is a very strong design since the blade maintains its thickness for almost the entire length. I really don't have a huge preference I've owned and carried knives with a variety of blade styles (clip, drop-point, tanto, spear). Just wondering why you don't care for them.

I personally prefer the backward clip because it’s quicker and more convenient for my deployment technique.
Tip-up?
 
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Shinkengata

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kenpotex said:
Couple of questions...

1.)Why do you feel that the tanto style blades are not as effective as the others? Yeah, to some extent I agree; a tanto isn't going to be as "needle-sharp" as a spear-point. However, with any design you have strengths and weaknesses, the nice thing about the tanto is that it is a very strong design since the blade maintains its thickness for almost the entire length. I really don't have a huge preference I've owned and carried knives with a variety of blade styles (clip, drop-point, tanto, spear). Just wondering why you don't care for them.

2.)Tip-up?
1.)I've owned several "tanto" style blades, both folder and fixed blade, and i always had a harder time stabbing into things(yes, i like to play with my knives) with the "tanto" style blades than other styles. I've found that you can have a blade with a good strong tip without having to significantly compromise it's piercing capabilities. With the Tanto tip, it always felt like i was trying to pierce something with an angled chisel.

2.) Correct. I've owned nearly 30 folders, and out of all of them, the "tip-up", as you refer to them, were the most comfortable for me.
 

Cruentus

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Good overall article and effort. Covers the basics nicely. I liked the coverage of steel types and materials, which isn't usually covered in an article like this one.

I also liked the first paragraph of the "design" section; some very good points were made there regarding quality vs. expense.

Also a good point about serrated, combo, or plain edge. I used to be adament about plain edge being the only way to go for self defense, and if one needs serrations for utility then go with a combo edge; but that full serrated is never the way to go (and of course as my experience grows I am realizing that it isn't really good to be adament about anything). In fact, I believe I have said that on this forum. Yet, that is my own bias because I keep very sharp knives. So, when I did some cutting drills and test cutting exercises on meat wrapped in cloth, my sharp plain edge knives far outperformed my serrated edged knives, without question. This, naturally, would make one adement about this issue. However, one day not too long ago, a friend pointed out that although I am correct, most people aren't freaks like me who carry shaving sharp (or just under shaving sharp) knives. For people who don't keep their knives as sharp as they should, serrated may be the way to go.

As my experience grows not just as a combatant, but as a teacher and researcher, I realize more and more that there are really no absolutes. I thought that you handled the issue of which edge to carry very truthfully and diplomatically.

That said, you may want to revisit your opinion on Tanto tiped blades. Although I agree with much of your commentary on this, I find that just like most of this stuff, there are no absolutes. Although it is true that the american tanto generally is not the most effective stabbing tool compared to a spear, drop, or clip point, it happends to be the most resilient of tips on the market. If one is using a knife for utility, or for hard use, tanto or chisle might be the right tip for that person. Plus, it depends on the actual knife design. I have used tanto's that have been shaped for combative use, and work very well for stabbing and slashing compared to other tanto's not designed as well. So although I don't discredit your point (no pun intended ;) ) each tip and design has it's advantages and disadvantages, so one has to weigh these out and choose what is right for them.

Overall, though, nice job.

Thanks for sharing!! :partyon:

Paul
 
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Joe Talmadge

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Very nice! It takes a lot of work to put something like this together. I have some constructive criticism, which might make your already-strong piece even stronger (or, you could decide I'm full of it and ignore me :) ) Some comments:

Shinkengata said:
However, I don't suggest that you just go out and buy something made with what is considered the strongest and most roughneck steel at the moment. You are not going to be putting this knife thru any kind of phenomenal, Rambo-like abuse.

Good point, this is strictly a self-defense knife you're talking about, and not something that's doing double-duty as a hard-use utility knife as well.

There are many steels very suitable for knife blades out there, and there are also steels that have no business being used to make knife blades. Some good tough steels are D2, ATS-34, AUS-6, AUS-8, O-1, ATS-55, 1085-95, and 440C. Many will read the last steel in that list and scoff, but rest assured, with proper heat-treating, 440C is some damn tough steel. I've seen it myself. The bad rep that 440C gets stems from the fact that most manufactured items made from 440C are made from annealed 440, and are hence soft and easily bent. Properly heated 440C rivals ATS-34 in toughness. Let’s take a look at each one of these steels I have listed.

Nice steel section. I have some technical quibbles. For example, well-done 440C doesn't rival ATS-34 in toughness, it beats it nicely. And you describe 1084/1095 as "brittle" -- which may be true when compared to steels like 5160 and tool steels like L6, but the only steels on your list that 1084 wouldn't blow away in terms of toughness is O1. Also, I might include some of the current popular steels, like S30V and VG-10, which are really sound choices and are showing up on some of the best-designed defensive folders, and steels like INFI and 52100 and 0170-6/50100B, which are showing up on a number of great fixed blades.

Be careful to square your initial good advice about not worrying too much about the steel, with this steel section. Let's face it, kitchen knives with horrendously bad steel are probably responsible for more edged-weapon deaths than any ATS-34 blades out there. And a typical defensive situation shouldn't last more than a few thrusts. Generally speaking, while it's never a bad idea to go with better quality, for a knife that's strictly self-defense, even a lower-end steel might hold up fine. For a strictly self-defense knife, steel choice wouldn't be incredibly high on my priority list, once I hit a basic level of steel performance.

Next is the Blade Design. A good blade design will be one that is decently thick, with the tip being wide enough or strong enough to resist breaking if you were to, say, accidentally punch it into a hard surface such as a brick wall or asphalt. However, the tip should also be able to easily pierce any part of the human anatomy, so design is important here. I don't recommend Chisel-like, or box-like tanto shaped tips. They don't pierce quite as well as other types of tips, plus real tanto kissaki (blade tip) did not and do not look anything like what you see in these Pseudo-tactical blades of today, so my advice is to avoid them.

I'm with you. Technically, you could grind an American-style tanto to have a thin high-performing tip, or grind a drop-point blade to have a thick reinforced tip. But generally speaking, tanto tips sacrifice penetration ability for tip strength. I could sort-of understand that for a utility knife, or if people were going around wearing hard armor. But for a modern self-defense knife, I'd advise choosing penetration over steel-piercing strength in a split second. If the bad guy is wearing armor, it'll be soft armor, and thick leathers and denims and winter jackets function as a soft armor of sorts.

Edge is something that has been up for debate for some time. It's basically a situational choice. If you are a skilled knife-sharpener, then you may want to go with a plain edge. If you have trouble putting a keen edge on your knives, you may opt for a serrated or partially serrated blade. Many prefer the “combo-edge” or a knife with an edge that is half plain, and half serrated.

Ya, you're right, serrated blades are easier for people who can't sharpen. Serrated blades cut rope and stationary material under tension really well. But in more realistic tests, the serrations can and do get hung up in tough material that is not under tension, which is what you'd have in a defensive situation. Plain edge works better for defensive use, IMO, and it's worth spending a little time with a sharpening jig to learn how to sharpen it.

Either way, you are going to want something that will cut VERY easily and VERY deeply. If you have to use this knife on somebody, then chances are you intend to kill them.

My defensive mindset is always to stop, not to kill, not to wound (no difference whether I'm defending myself with a knife or firearm -- shoot to stop).

The sheath, or scabbard, is another thing to take into account when choosing a knife, if you are choosing a fixed blade.

Yes! It may be worth mentioning the complementary issue when it comes to folders: ease of carryability. A folder is riding in or on your pocket, normally. Pick one that rides easily, or you'll be tempted to leave it home.

Many Lockbacks can be eliminated completely from your options for the simple fact that it takes two hands to open and close them, and with speed and ease of deployment being a priority in your choice of knife, it's easy to see why you would generally want to avoid these types of knives. The knives you want to avoid in this category of locking mechanisms are knives such as W.R. Case’s pocketknives, and Buck’s Folding Hunters. They require two hands to open and the entire folding mechanisms are quite stiff.

That's less a function of the fact that they're lockbacks, and more a function of the fact that these knives are not designed as one-hand openers. The big point should be that it should be a one-hand opener. A discussion of opening mechanisms might work really nicely here: holes, thumb studs, thumb disks, waves, etc.

The Liner Lock is used on many folders today, and often requires only one hand to open the blade via thumb stud or hole in the blade. The only drawback is that Liner Locks tend to malfunction after a while, usually causing some degree of injury to it's user. Regular utility use of a liner lock is discouraged to avoid wear and tear that would increase the likelihood of such an occurrence, if you wish to use it for self-defense.

Not only do I think you're right, but you've understated the problem a bit. Despite the liner lock's popularity, it is by far the lock format that is most difficult for makers to manufacturer in a consistently reliable manner. As a result, many of us have seen way more reliability problems with liner locks than with other locks, under conditions that could reasonably be expected in defensive use (e.g., failures under torques). There's a large and growing number of knife folks who avoid liner locks for hard-use knives, and I'm solidly among them.

Some manufacturers have chosen to design and implement their own proprietary locking mechanisms, but I have yet to see any quantifiable proof that any of these locking mechanisms are vastly superior to the 3 basics I just covered.

Just a quibble here, your opinion is reasonable enough. There's no real source of completely scientific proof on locks -- no one is doing double-blind controlled testing, right? But where knife folks who have lots of knives gather, and test among their collections, it's pretty clear that some of the proprietary locks (most noteably BM's axis, and also Spyderco's compression lock) are at least as good as the ones you've mentioned. "Vastly superior"? Hard to get vastly superior to a well-done lockback as on a Chinook, or framelock as on a Sebenza. But as good, and so worthy of being included on your short list? Yes, definitely.

The most common two types of clip are the normal clip, where the opening of the clip points toward the end of the handle frame, and the backwards clip, where the opening of the clip points toward the folding mechanism of the blade.. This is also an area of choice based on preference. I personally prefer the backward clip because it’s quicker and more convenient for my deployment technique.

I think your forward clip is what most of us call "tip down", and backward clip is what most of us call "tip up". There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to each ... it may come down to personal preference, but I do think that tip-down draw tends to be faster, but that's offset by the fact that tip-down draws always include a pinch grip at some point during the draw, and not everyone is comfortable pinch-gripping in a high-adrenaline life-threatening situation (I know I'm not).
 

Cruentus

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My defensive mindset is always to stop, not to kill, not to wound (no difference whether I'm defending myself with a knife or firearm -- shoot to stop).

That's wise Joe. Saying that you were stabbing "to kill" lines you up for legal trouble; I advocate that whatever your self-defense tool is, you defend to "stop."

Nice post.

:)
 
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Shinkengata

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Very good point. I was always told by my instructor that you should resist the urge in your excitement to explain your situation to the cops in the aftermath of an attack by saying something such as "He put my family in danger, he was coming after us, and i HAD to stop him." instead of saying something such as "That S.O.B. tried to come in my house and get to my family, so i F***ed him up!"

But as i see it, stopping someone if you have to deploy a knife, under justifiable circumstances, will most likely mean you having to kill them, because their adrenaline will be pumping at such a level that they are not going to give in to pain easily at all, and it will take disabling or stopping a bodily function, such as the ability to walk, or breathe, or live....to stop them. Some tend to underestimate how the human survival instinct kicks into high gear when they are confronted with a situation that poses a very clear threat to their lives.
 
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Joe Talmadge

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Shinkengata said:
Very good point. I was always told by my instructor that you should resist the urge in your excitement to explain your situation to the cops in the aftermath of an attack by saying something such as "He put my family in danger, he was coming after us, and i HAD to stop him." instead of saying something such as "That S.O.B. tried to come in my house and get to my family, so i F***ed him up!"

But as i see it, stopping someone if you have to deploy a knife, under justifiable circumstances, will most likely mean you having to kill them, because their adrenaline will be pumping at such a level that they are not going to give in to pain easily at all, and it will take disabling or stopping a bodily function, such as the ability to walk, or breathe, or live....to stop them. Some tend to underestimate how the human survival instinct kicks into high gear when they are confronted with a situation that poses a very clear threat to their lives.

I hear ya. But I do think the "stop him" mindset is important. When I first learned defensive shooting, I asked myself whether the "shoot to stop" discussion was just politically-correct silliness. I came to the conclusion that it really isn't, that it embodies the mindset and ethics that a defensive shooter has to have. Now, we all know that sending two rounds C.O.M., which is the most likely to stop the bad guy, also poses life-threatening risks to him (and if a failure-to-stop drill is further required, it's even worse). But, my mindset is, if he stops attacking, I don't administer a coup de grace. Let the bad guy worry about killing and wounding, I'm focused on stopping the attack and getting safe. I think you could embody a "shoot to stop" spirit in your document, while still getting across the necessity of a high-performance knife and the dangerousness of the techniques.
 

KenpoTex

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Joe Talmadge said:
Now, we all know that sending two rounds C.O.M., which is the most likely to stop the bad guy, also poses life-threatening risks to him (and if a failure-to-stop drill is further required, it's even worse). But, my mindset is, if he stops attacking, I don't administer a coup de grace. Let the bad guy worry about killing and wounding, I'm focused on stopping the attack and getting safe.
Well said. When weapons are involved, techniques that will "stop" someone are potentially lethal in nature. With a firearm, it's 2 to COM or the "zipper" or 2 and 1, or whatever particular method you prefer. With a knife, you're looking for the "high pay-off" targets such as the throat/neck region, subclavian artery, femoral, or torso. A cut or thrust to any of these areas stands a good chance of inflicting mortal damage. However, as you said, you don't finish him off if he goes down and no longer poses a threat.
The problem arises because many people don't understand the subtle difference between acting to end the threat by the most effective means necessary, and acting with killing the person as the goal.
 

ginshun

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Good article overall.

As far as the tanto blade, it would seem to me, that if you are talking about stabbing it into a person, a tanto point is going to work just as well as any other. For self defense purpose, I think it is really just a matter of personal preference. To each his own.

Also in the lock section it may be worthwhile to mention a couple others such as the Axis lock found on a lot of Benchmade's or the LAWKS lock on a lot of the CKRT knives. While, like you said, they may not be better than the framelock, it would be a shame for people to overlock some of the great knives out there because they have a locking mechanism that they don't recognize.

The steels section was great, something that people normally don't put into articles like this. I would have added a few more though. At the very least 154CM, VG-10, and 420HC. Maybe S30VG and the like, although that is probably outside of the price range of most people looking for a simple self defense knife.
 

ginshun

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Jason L

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Cool, I'm glad you think so.

I noticed that the second link doesn't take you to the actual technical description, if anyone is interested, click on the merchandise link, then the weapons manual link, then click on the pic of the knife manual.
 

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Those look like good knives. Have any tsts been done on the locks of the folders? As a side note, I used to carry a tanto style knife for utillity and self defense untill I had problems pushing the point through carpet I was cutting. It was a well made knife by a major manufacturer so I was very disapointed. I know carry a clip point knife as from the evidence I have seen the Bowie style clip point is the best for insertions into a soft medium (IMHO).
 
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Shinkengata

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ginshun said:
The steels section was great, something that people normally don't put into articles like this. I would have added a few more though. At the very least 154CM, VG-10, and 420HC. Maybe S30VG and the like, although that is probably outside of the price range of most people looking for a simple self defense knife.
I excluded 154CM because it is basically the American steel maker's answer to Japan's ATS-34. Both are pretty much made the same and are equal in performance and properties. 154CM is made by Crucible Steels, Inc. in the US, and ATS-34 is made by Hitachi Steels in Japan.

VG-10 is a good steel, but often very expensive. It's considered one of the "supersteels" so it's a hot item at the moment.

420HC would be worth mentioning in an objective sense, but as far as personal reasons, i wouldn't include it because BUCK uses a lot of 420HC and i am thoroughly unimpressed with virtually every Buck knife i've ever handled, including the Alpha Hunter and the Strider.

I haven't had much of an opportunity to work with S30V, but im not one to jump on the bandwagon of fad and trendy materials, so im not going to recommend it or not recommend it until i've had plenty of time to evaluate it.
S30V and VG-10 are two steels that are what i would consider overkill, as far as pricing goes. Yeah, sure, they may be tough, but of course you're not going to be defending yourself against a person with soft flesh, bones, and muscle, not a cement monster. A good strong blade is an asset, but it's best not to go beyond your budget.


I've read much reasoning stating that the americanized tanto tip designs lend durability to the tip of the knife. However, the one thing that i do notice is that many tips have a very boxy angle right where the blade begins to point, as illustrated below:


The Emerson CQC-7B

I don't like this little angle. It doesn't provide for the best penetration capabilities. You can still strengthen the tip and not have this boxy type angle. For example, Just take a look at this knife:

WAVELESS%20COMMANDER-BT.JPG
The Emerson Waveless Commander​
Very strong and durable tip construction, and yet it doesn't compromise piercing capabilities as much.​
Part of my apathy towards the tactical tanto design comes, admittedly, from my own personal bias, as i am a fan of traditional Japanese blades, and most TRUE tanto looked like this:​
That image is from The Bugei Trading Company's website, a company many of you may be familiar with, that produces historically accurate Japanese weapons. As you can see, the kissaki, or tip, of the tanto shown in this picture bears little or no resemblance to the chisel-like blades claiming the tanto name in many of today's modern knives.​
 

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Jason L said:
Curious what you guys think of these knives. The head of our association designed them. I think they are remarkable, curious what other "knife guys" will think.
Looks like some nice stuff, I really like the AKKI/Mills Fighter, and the Comanche Fighter.
 

ginshun

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Shinkengata said:
I excluded 154CM because it is basically the American steel maker's answer to Japan's ATS-34. Both are pretty much made the same and are equal in performance and properties. 154CM is made by Crucible Steels, Inc. in the US, and ATS-34 is made by Hitachi Steels in Japan.
Yup, that is pretty much all I would have said about 154CM, but it is common enough to be worth mentioning.




Shinkengata said:
VG-10 is a good steel, but often very expensive. It's considered one of the "supersteels" so it's a hot item at the moment.
Spyderco makes a bunch of knives in the $50 -$100 range that use VG-10. That might be a little on the high side, but not out of most peoples range I dont' think. I am probalby willing to pay more for knives than most, but I don't really ever expect to get waht I consider a nice knife for less than a about $70.


Shinkengata said:
420HC would be worth mentioning in an objective sense, but as far as personal reasons, i wouldn't include it because BUCK uses a lot of 420HC and i am thoroughly unimpressed with virtually every Buck knife i've ever handled, including the Alpha Hunter and the Strider.
Fair enough, I never really liked there folders either, but the Buck 110 is a standard, and I believe that is the steel it uses. I do like there fixed blade hunting knives though. As far as the 420HC goes, I don't think that it is a particulatly nice steel, but the heat treat that Buck does to it is amazing. There knives really hold an edge better than they should, at least that is what it seams like to me.


S30V is pretty damn expensive, you are right, probably overkill.
 
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The completed and final revised draft of my article will be posted within 24 hours. :)
 

shesulsa

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I'm bumping this thread because some new knives have come on the scene and wondering if anyone has changed their preferences?

Also wondering if that article was ever released, Shinengata?
 

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