Knife thought

There are some days when carrying a gun, even my super concealable .25 ACP Jetfire just isn’t feasible. On those days, I’ve often toyed around with the idea of carrying a fixed blade knife as a backup, because that I can still manage to conceal. So what are you thoughts on packing a knife as a substitute for a gun on those rare occasions when you just can’t conceal a firearm? Should I carry the knife, or just skip it and pray for the best?

35 thoughts on “Knife thought”

  1. Now, I do carry a knife every day, but I don’t really think of it as a weapon. It’s more of a tool for cutting apples and opening boxes.

  2. Your knife is a tool – outside of very highly trained individuals, it’s not going to be a force multiplier of any significant advantage over what I would recommend: a sturdy, aluminum bodied pen (fountain with a steel tip if you’re feeling fancy).

    Hear me out:

    Anyplace you can’t get a firearm will probably ALSO ban knives, particularly fixed blade knives with a defensive/”tactical” bent. But nobody bans pens, and the wounding potential of a hefty pen stab is pretty similar in effectiveness to small fixed-blade’s stab, and typically it’s stab wounds that are the real wounding/killing blows in knife encounters.

    I think Benchmade et al are a little out there in the pricing of their “defensive pens;” I’d suggest instead you visit your local office supply store and find a large pen you might find useful and add it to your daily carry.

  3. I fully support carrying a knife as a useful tool ( I carry at least 3 on me everyday)but not as a substitute for a gun.It is not a substitute for a gun but I guess it is better than nothing but all else being equal I would take a sturdy stick over a knife for defense.

  4. Options are a good thing. Bring the knife, and also be ready to stab the bad guy with the pen you’re holding while kicking the coffee table into his shin.

    Actually, you’ve already answered this question when you realized you can’t carry a rifle in many places. So you went to a handgun. Turns out you can’t always carry a handgun. So you…

    The only downside I see is option paralysis in a crisis. That scares me. But not enough to give up my options.

  5. A knife is an effective weapon at close range for defense against a firearm in the hands of a person who is trained in its correct application. I addressed this in a commentary that I wrote a while back:

    http://aroundotown.blogspot.com/2008/10/how-close-is-too-close.html

    I also further elaborated on the use of other weaponry in this commentary:

    http://aroundotown.blogspot.com/2008/11/tips-for-surviving-in-dangerous-urban.html

    When given a choice, take all.

  6. “substitute” isn’t the word I’d use, but when I go to places where I can’t or it’s impracticle to carry a gun, I carry a ka-Bar TDI 2″ fixed blade. LOVE this knife, I can hide it just about everywhere, and it’s a very intuative design. Also contrary to Breda’s great advice, a 2″ blade appears to get under most “Weapon” radar, so many places that ban “Weapons” won’t ban my TDI.

    One little suggestion pocket knives are pocket knives (I carry a Kershaw Liner-Lock 4″ most days…I also have a Ka-Bar folder I rather like) but I use my folder for opening boxes, cleaning my nails, prying thing ect. I can’t trust the edge to be defensivly sharp at all times, so My TDI is NEVER EVER used to cut ANYTHING, so it still has its scary-sharp factory edge if ever the SHTF.

  7. Some flippers I know will cut you six ways from Sunday before you could ever hope to draw your .25 and attempt (with the .25, attempt is the correct word) to stop ’em… Given the fact that most encounters take place at sub 6′ distance that isn’t hearkening.

    Some other insights:

    -Remember, the caliber hole that even a small knife makes is ~50
    -They don’t really ever jam, fail to feed etc…
    -To draw and accurately fire and REALLYmove, you might get about to about .80 seconds. It still only takes .4 to draw and slash with movement.
    -I carry a fixed blade, even in Chicago and I’ve never had issues. It is about presentation. (Mind you it looks like an innocuous utility knife)

    While you may have mixed thoughts/impressions about Gabe Suarez, he’s dead on about knives and guns in this vid:

    Another guy – and great instructor – is SouthNarc from ShivWorks. His courses are pretty demanding but insightful. Take a look:

    BTW – I love my TuffWriter pen. It goes everywhere with me and is pretty decent improvised weapon for pikal.

  8. The small, non-serrated TDI is excellent – that’s what I carry!

    The handles are great! Draw is easy and it conceals well…

  9. If there are no legal guns around for law abiding citizens to use for personal defense (ie Canada, England, Australia, Chicago, New York, New Jersey) a knife can do a whole lot of brutal damage:

    http://aroundotown.blogspot.com/2009/02/now-that-they-have-made-you-defenseless.html

    On another note, if you are carrying a pistol right draw, always keep a folding knife that opens with one hand in your left pocket that you can use to help you retain your weapon if someone is on you until you can get enough time/ distance to get it un holstered.

  10. Less said:
    “Some flippers I know will cut you six ways from Sunday before you could ever hope to draw your .25 and attempt (with the .25, attempt is the correct word) to stop ‘em… Given the fact that most encounters take place at sub 6′ distance that isn’t hearkening.”

    Correct you are Less. I studied in the Filipino system (among others), and it is brutal and automatic deadly . Check out some of the links in this article.

    http://aroundotown.blogspot.com/2008/10/surviving-knife-attack.html

  11. My California CCW expires tomorrow and I won’t be renewing until a new Sheriff is elected (CA is a may-issue state and our interim sheriff is making it difficult for current CCW holders to renew.) In the meantime, I will be carrying a knife because I believe it’s better than being unarmed.

    I have some basic knife training, but I could definitely use more practice. IDPA and USPSA have given me a lot of confidence in my ability to quickly, safely, and effectively use a gun in a gunfight. Maybe we could add a knife stage to IDPA, akin to the BUG stage, to practice quick, safe, and effective knifefighting skills.
    Anybody want to start up IDKA with me?

  12. Dan,

    Forget that, just find a decent Escrima/Arnis/Kail studio and start learning the sticks…

    What applies to sticks applies to knives and also applies to hands.

    Depending on where you are in Cali, you could find the Dog Bros. studio. (If you do, don’t get hurt – getting hurt limits your ability to train…)

  13. Even when you have your gun you should still have a knife.

    I’m a fan of having the knife on the weak hand side. If someone gets the bright idea of taking your gun away from you you can use the weak hand knife (strong hand controlling the gun) to help them change their mind.

  14. I think there’s tactical prioritizing (not the IDPA variety), and then there’s practical elimination. Obviously a “real” caliber carry gun is better than a BUG caliber, but some days only the BUG is practical. If the BUG isn’t available, then default to a more stabby option.

    Fixed blades trump folders in terms of tactical and high-stress application, but are mostly on the short end of concealability. If none-of-the-above are options, then I’m gonna +1 the “good, heavy-duty pen” idea, if for no other reason so I can drop a Grosse Point Blank quote.

    “Why can’t you just say ‘kill?’ …You’ve always gotta romanticize it.”

  15. CSFreestyle – The Kabar TDI knives are actually pretty easy to conceal because the handles are offset, like a pistol grip…

    BTW, the pen is pretty easy to deploy: Check out the TuffWriter vid

    Mad Jack:
    I’m a fan of having the knife on the weak hand side. If someone gets the bright idea of taking your gun away from you you can use the weak hand knife (strong hand controlling the gun) to help them change their mind.

    If you’re getting rushed already and are going to lose the gun, going to the knife, unless it is situated very very carefully, is almost a loss every time… I find that in a clinch/smother, controlling the gun is almost most important. The other is not getting KTFO. There is almost no way I can focus on gun, guy and deployment of even a fixed blade under that kind of demand – unless very very lucky you end up more than a few loops behind and that is a real shit sandwich.

  16. Knives are ok but they are not a substitute for a gun.

    Given my work with Okinawan weapons I would rather have a short stick (Kali size) to work with than a knife in a knife fight. With a Kali stick I can block, disarm, and counter much more effectively than I could with a knife. If I don’t have a Kali size stick handy I am much better with my hands at getting in and blocking the strikes and moving that to a control technique than trying to knife fight an opponent.

    Please tell me you don’t intend to draw a knife on a gun toting bad guy. If you do, I want to change my vote in the poll.

  17. Thor, that’s sort of a sticky (or stabby) question. I don’t plan on drawing a knife, or a gun for that matter on anyone. I’m not one of those armchair commandos who thinks that because I’ve watched some MMA on TV that I’m some kind of king badass.

    The scenario I’m referring to is “well, I can’t carry a gun, so should I carry a ‘fighting’ knife?”

  18. Caleb said:
    “I don’t plan on drawing a knife, or a gun for that matter on anyone.”

    I am confused Caleb. Are you saying that you wouldn’t draw your firearm if someone was breaking into your home?

  19. No, what I’m saying is that I don’t really anticipate getting into a gunfight. I train for it, but I don’t plan on it happening. I’ve never gotten up in the morning and said “It’s a great day for a gunfight.”

  20. Now that I carry a firearm on my right side just about everywhere I go, the pocket knife I always carry has shifted over to the left side of my body… but even though I cannot carry a firearm everywhere I go, my knife is always with me, and it is always a back-of-the-mind option if I need it.

    That said, being right handed, I have found the joy of assisted-opening knives. Fixed blades are somewhat tetchy here in TN, but assisted-opening is not a problem at all. I definitely prefer the knives with the “flipper” protrusions that stick up out of the back of the handle when it is closed, but the assisted-opening makes the matter more than easy.

    Is what I carry a “fighting” knife? Well, it certainly is not one of these. But this or this will still make a pretty damned nasty cut if it needs to.

    Is a knife a “replacement” for a firearm? Nowhere near. But is it a good thing to have around when you cannot have a firearm? Well, it beats a pointy stick…

    All this said, I never, ever want to get in a knife fight, but that is a separate matter for a separate topic.

  21. I’ll second Linoge on this – I carry an assisted opening Kershaw folder EVERYWHERE. No replacement for a gun, sure, but I can’t carry at work so…

  22. If I had a knife, I might get confused and think I was armed and do something stupid, whereas if I didn’t have the knife, I would be more likely to do the smart thing and run away.

  23. Personally, I would be more concerned about a knife fighter, because you will never see it coming. If someone is close enough with a firearm, you can disarm them without out worrying about getting cut wide open. A gun can only hurt you where the bang hole is. Also guns often misfire and jam. A slash wound from a knife will lay you open like a side of beef and the blood loss is unreal. A bullet wound in actuality can be less troubling if it doesn’t hit a vital area. Knives are automatic deadly and should be approached with the utmost respect. They are clearly a formidable weapon. Distance is your friend when utilizing a firearm. For up close encounters, a knife is the ticket.

  24. A couple of things in your comment where you’re absolutely wrong.

    If someone is close enough with a firearm, you can disarm them without out worrying about getting cut wide open.

    No, you have to worry about getting SHOT. Have you ever tried to take a gun away from a person who didn’t want you to have that gun? It’s not like in the movies or those silly “Personal Defense Classes” they have at the YMCA – it’s a brutal, violent encounter that will likely result in the person without the gun getting shot.

    Secondly, this:

    A slash wound from a knife will lay you open like a side of beef and the blood loss is unreal.

    Yes, the blood loss is significant from a slash wound. However, slash wounds are often not fatal, because the mechanism of wounding with a knife is the same as a gun – you need to get the knife into something the body needs to survive to stop the fight. And finally, knives are not “automatic” (sic) deadly. They aren’t even automatically deadly. No weapon is. If you inflict a slash wound that opens up my leg, arm, or back, but doesn’t cause blood loss fast enough to make me black out instantly, I’m still in the fight.

  25. Caleb stated:
    A couple of things in your comment where you’re absolutely wrong.
    “If someone is close enough with a firearm, you can disarm them without out worrying about getting cut wide open.”

    No, you have to worry about getting SHOT. Have you ever tried to take a gun away from a person who didn’t want you to have that gun? It’s not like in the movies or those silly “Personal Defense Classes” they have at the YMCA – it’s a brutal, violent encounter that will likely result in the person without the gun getting shot.

    Gun replies:
    I don’t know much about the YMCA or the movies, but I have disarmed people with loaded weapons ready to discharge. If you grab hold of a pistol, there is no fear of getting cut in the grabbing motion. With a knife there is a good chance you will get cut. Action is faster than reaction, and if you are close enough, you can disarm someone with a pistol. Distance is their friend, not yours. With an assailant armed with a knife, distance is your friend.

    Caleb also said:

    Secondly, this:
    “A slash wound from a knife will lay you open like a side of beef and the blood loss is unreal.”
    Yes, the blood loss is significant from a slash wound. However, slash wounds are often not fatal, because the mechanism of wounding with a knife is the same as a gun – you need to get the knife into something the body needs to survive to stop the fight. And finally, knives are not “automatic” (sic) deadly. They aren’t even automatically deadly. No weapon is. If you inflict a slash wound that opens up my leg, arm, or back, but doesn’t cause blood loss fast enough to make me black out instantly, I’m still in the fight.

    Gun Shy replies:
    A trained knife fighter goes directly for areas of major importance such as carotid, femoral, etc. The correctly applied slashes with an edged weapon can bleed out an opponent in a very short time. In a close encounter with an assailant with a weapon, I personally fear a trained knife fighter the most. In these situations guns are overrated in my opinion.

  26. Caleb stated:

    “No, you have to worry about getting SHOT. Have you ever tried to take a gun away from a person who didn’t want you to have that gun? It’s not like in the movies or those silly “Personal Defense Classes” they have at the YMCA – it’s a brutal, violent encounter that will likely result in the person without the gun getting shot.”

    Gun responds:

    There have been situations where trained law enforcement officers were disarmed by common criminals who probably had no training, and then their own weapons were used to shoot and kill the officers. I am sure that no one wanted to retain their weapon more than these officers. Once again, action is faster than reaction. Read these articles:

    http://www.officer.com/web/online/Officer-Down-News/Chicago-Officer-Fatally-Shot-With-Own-Gun/2$42120

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,326148,00.html

    http://www.policeone.com/news/1285543/

    http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/crime/20040916/4/1119

  27. Even a cut to the femoral artery takes about 30 seconds to bleed out. That’s a really long time in a fight.

    With regards to gun takeaways, yeah they do happen, but they’re the aberration rather than the norm. I mean hey, you want to try a gun grab from someone. Who’s fighting for their life you’re welcome to try. But I can link to lots of stories where badguys have tried to take guns away, and gotten killed doing it.

  28. Given the choice between facing a trained gunfighter or a trained knife-fighter, I’ll take the knife fighter any day of the week. The odds are slightly better due to the lowered lethality of a knife, and the requirement of very close range. Comparing an average Joe to a trained knife fighter isn’t fair, you have to compare equally trained people in their disciplines.

  29. That doesn’t really prove anything, other than a gangbanger had poor judgment in the “weapons selection process”. Again, given the choice between facing a trained pistolero and a trained knife fighter, I’ll take the guy who has to get close to me to hurt me.

    If I can’t carry a gun, I’d rather have a sturdy hickory walking stick, so I can beat people like Andrew Jackson did back in the day. Plus, a 3 foot walking stick gives me a distinct advantage over a knife in terms of reach and range.

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