Knife carry often goes hand in hand with concealed pistol carry, in as much as most of the people I know that carry a concealed firearm also carry a knife. I carry a knife because it’s an extremely practical tool to have with me, I can’t cut an apple with my J-frame, nor can I open a pesky package of noodles with a .357. Well, I suppose I technically COULD use the J-frame to open the noodles, but I’m guessing that the results would be less than satisfactory.
With regards to the self-defense needs of carrying a knife, I do still carry a knife when I’m not carrying a pistol. However, carrying a knife changes my self defense strategy quite significantly. While a knife certainly qualifies as a force multiplier, it also requires me to get right up on top of my attacker. If my attacker is armed with a knife, we are both going to get cut. That’s what happens. You always get cut. On a side note, if anyone is ever trying to teach you how to get in a knife fight and not get cut, unless their method involves rifles at long ranges that person is a liar. A knife is a very useful tool, even in a self defense situation. If my attacker is armed with a knife, and I don’t have a firearm, there is a pretty long list of weapons I’d rather have than a knife. Some of those would be a collapsible baton, a sturdy oak cane, a baseball bat, a long 2×4, a big heavy tree branch, pretty much any sort of club that allows me to extend my reach and deliver a serious blow.
To get a better idea of the usefulness of a knife in a self defense situation, let’s take a brief look at the advantages and disadvantages of a knife in a fight.
Obviously, we’re looking at advantages as opposed to other methods of self defense, such as a sturdy fighting cane, OC spray, or your bare hands.
- Intimidation – A knife is certainly more intimidating than a can of OC spray or your bare hands. There is something primal and scary about the concept of getting stabbed, no one wants to have it happen.
- Ease of use – A good “tactical folder” deploys rapidly, and when used offensively can inflict seriously debilitating injuries very rapidly.
- Force multiplier – When compared to “unarmed”, a knife will certainly grant you the ability to use an increased amount of force against your attacker, more so than you could use with just your bare hands.
- Concealable – Much more so than a good sized can of OC, or a large fighting stick, the knife just clips to your pocket in an easily accessible position.
- Usefulness – Outside of a combat role, a knife is much, much, much handier to have around than a can of OC, or a fighting cane.
- Lack of reach – A good tactical folder really only extends your reach by 3-4 inches. A good fighting cane or a baton extends your reach by over a foot, which when you’re a little guy like me is quite significant.
- Stopping power – People don’t often “stop” in hurry when they’re stabbed; a blade suffers from similar limitations as a bullet when it comes to stopping power. It has to hit deep enough and in the right spot to incapacitate an opponent. Conversely, the fighting cane (since it doesn’t need to penetrate to do damage) has a much larger target area for strikes.
- Take aways – Perhaps this is a reflection of my own fear, but it seems that at the close quarters necessitated by a knife fight you are in a situation that increases the likelihood of having your weapon taken away and used against you.
If you do carry a knife for self-defense, it is my opinion that it should not be your primary weapon. The limitations on range and stopping power obviously make it a poor choice for a primary weapon; such that I would be more comfortable armed with a stout walking stick than a “tactical folder”. This is again not to say that you shouldn’t carry a knife, as it is certainly better than trying to defend yourself unarmed; not to mention the practical things that you do with a good knife.
If you do choose to carry a knife with self-defense in mind, training is extremely important. A knife has a completely different learning curve from a firearm, just because you can fight well with a pistol doesn’t mean you’ll be a good knife fighter. Practice, practice, practice.
This last bit are a few tactics that I’ve either used myself, or seen used to counter the threat of a knife. Listed in order of effectiveness.
- Run like a little girl – If sprinting away from your attacker like he’s the Devil himself is an option, this tactic has almost 100% effectiveness at avoiding getting cut.
- Shoot the bastard – Not as effective as the RLALG method, the STB method involves increased risk to you, but does still have a fairly high rate of success at Not-Getting-Cut.
- Hit ’em with a 2×4 – A personal favorite of yours truly, the HEWA2x4 method, when administered properly can often stop assailants in in their tracks. Post fight analysis attributes this to the fact that the impact of the HEWA2x4 method rendered the assailant unconscious.
- Give the guy your shit – Personally, this method seems to be the least effective that I’ve observed, as it does nothing to ameliorate the threat to your person, and also does not guarantee that you won’t get stabbed anyway.
Stay safe. Carry a firearm if you can. If you carry a knife, train with it. A lot.