How much defensive blade do you need?


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Carl Levitian
May 21, 2009, 08:50 AM
I like knives as much as the next guy, I guess. Maybe even a bit more since I'm a knife knut. I've collected knives in the past, had some nice customs as well. But now I'm a bit more pragmatic in my taste. I sold off my collection, and now keep only true edc users. It's a pretty mundane handfull.

I don't think of a knife as a good defensive weapon, but I do realize that as a totally last ditch, back against the wall kind of thing, they may have their place. Maybe. Even with my huge personal bias toward sticks in all manner, I do relaize there may be a time that a piece of sharp steel is a good thing. Since Maryland is not a CCw state, and nevr will be, my stick is my main edc weapon, and I maybe some day may need a little something to back it up.

But how much is needed?

Most street guys I know carry a pretty poor collection of cutlery. Odds are, you are not going to be running inot a nice sharp Spyderco or Benchmade in the hands of a street punk mugger. More likely a kitchen paring knife stollen from a local store or his grandmothers kitchen. Maybe a cheap semi dull made in China thing. Most likely a 3 inch blade, give or take a inch. They don't really care about eh knife either. Unlike some of the people on the knife forums, they don't obsess about sharpness, and hone thier pocket pets on things like sharpmakers and ceramic stones. A sidewalk edge may do for them. And they can kill you with it.

In a defense situation, your motor skills are going to be shot to heck, and its going to be a slash event. Under a lot of conditions, there may be alot to be said for the humble box cutter. It's flat and small enough, that it can be palmed if things look a bit dicy. All it takes to get it into action is a bump on the bottom end. With a razor blade in decent conditon, its going to cut well, especialy with a good vigorous swing behind it. And in street culture, it's got respect.

In the mid 1970's, we were a young married couple with two small children, and I would come home from work and my wife would go out to her part time job working for the county parks and recreation department. She was a arobics and exercise instructor at a local county rec center in the evenings. This one night, it was her night to be leading a jazzercise class. What can I say, it was the 70's, and Jane Fonda exercise tapes were the vogue.

This one night, it was a warm summer night, and the wife comes out to get in her car. As she's walking to the car at the edge of the lot, some guy comes out from between two cars and grabs her and starts dragging her into the patch of woods right there by the parking lot. Now Karen is all of 5' 2" and maybe 115 pounds, but she's a Texican. Born and raised in Harlingen Texas, her daddy was a blond haired blue eyed good old cracker boy from Georga ( I don't mean that in any derogotory way, Billy Thomas was the best father in law a guy could have, and I miss him.), and mommy was a raven haired Mexican gal from what they call "The Valley". Harlingen is in a valley where citris is the big money maker, and Karen's family on her mothers side were well aquainted with sharp harvesting tools. The Uncle made sure the girls also knew how to defend themselves. Karen grew up with a Stanley Utility knife in her purse, and knowing how to use it.

This one night, the guy grabs her, one hand/arm over her mouth around her head, the other around her waist, and drags her over toward the woods. Since Karen had already been going to the car, she had been gropping in her purse for her keys. With her hand in her purse, she grabs her Stanley and slides out the blade and openes up the guys arm from wrist to elbow. He wasn't a hard man to find, he was guy at the ER claiming he was mugged, but that story didn't hold too well, and he got sent off to a place in Jessup Mayland where theres a lot of bars on the doors.

But the Stanley has what, a 1 inch blade when fully open? Karen admits that in the heat of the moment, she dosen't know if she got it open all the way or partly. But it didn't really matter in the end because it cut deep enough that blood was all over the place, and some motor tendons got cut as well, and the lowlife that wanted some fun with my wife lost some of the use of his right arm. That thin little blade of the utility knife did some heavy damage.

To this day, Karen still carries a sliding blade utility knife in her purse, or if we're out walking, in her pocket. In light summer clothing, she carries a box cutter. I'd hate to have her mad at me.

So how big does a self defense knife have to be? Do you need something big enough that you can disembowel Conan the barbarian, or just disable and stun an attacker enough to get the heck out of there? Or even maybe give them a second thoght if they want to mess with you bad enough? Even a wolf with back off from a porcupine.

I guess my view of a self defense knife is a little different than most. I want small and flat, easy to carry. I want cheap and easy to get. I want it sharp.

Now since I carry a pocket knife, usualy my sak bantam or a Case peanut for the utility side of things, I don't feel like lugging around much knife. Either in size or cost. I guess thats why I like a box cutter. Plus when I fly someplace, the first CVS drugstore, Home Depot, Lowes, or Walmart, will supply me with a cheap and effective cutter that I don't feel bad about tossing when it comes time to fly home. If something happens, I have one of my blackthorn or hornbeam sticks with me anyway, so they have to make it past that. And the 'ol lady. She's the one with the box cutter watching my back.

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Todd A
May 21, 2009, 10:03 AM
I have many knives to chose from for carry. The knives I have chosen as my carry rotation were picked for many reasons,SD being last on the list of reasons.

Along with a SAK I have four fixed blade users that range from 3 7/8" to 1 1/2" blades. I have one being made for delivery in June with a 2 3/4" blade that will be added to my rotation.

I carry them in pairs , one "large" one "small", depending on what I will be doing. Even the little 1 1/2" pocket scalpel will open up a nasty wound, if that is the only one I can reach.

http://i294.photobucket.com/albums/mm99/toddma/100_0769-1.jpg

While I have nothing against those who choose larger fighter style knives, this range and style of knives fit my uses and lifestyle.

As a last ditch SD tool I am comfortable with my choices.

L-R, Hiker 3 7/8" , Sharpfinger 3 1/2" (almost), BK11 3 1/4", Mini-Nessmuck 1 1/2"

7X57chilmau
May 21, 2009, 10:13 AM
I cant find any bones to pick with what you write. The 10" fighting knife with 3/8" thick blade has always baffled me. Armoured attackers are rather rare these days, and parrying is a pipe dream.

It's the software, not the hardware, as sm likes to say. Sounds like your wife was very well "programmed". I'm very glad that she made out so well that fateful night, and almost as glad that the BG came out badly injured. Had that and more comin' from the sounds of it.

I carry a 2.375" fixed blade I forged myself and a Kershaw Leek CB.... SD is not among the reasons I carry them. I carry a brain, eyes, ears and my spidey senses for that!

J

theotherwaldo
May 21, 2009, 11:20 AM
The only knife fighter that I have known only used about one inch of a three-inch blade.

Poetry in motion... .

HoosierQ
May 21, 2009, 12:56 PM
+1 on the hardware vs. software comment.

The missus obviously had both...excellent software and perfectly sufficient hardware to get the job done.

I am going to say that in the case of knives, the same rule applies as does to guns...the best one is the one you have and can use well. One is not likely to have a fine Randall in one's purse or pocket.

I have a Stanley knive just about everywhere I reach including the console of my vehicle. I have a Mora in there too but in a pinch, I'd probably grab the stanley.

Dimis
May 21, 2009, 02:02 PM
very good post! i have to agree with everything you posted. i have never carried a knife bigger than 3 inch blade and thats very rare.
i do make sure to leave the house with my sheffield pocket-clip folding utility knife and it's faithful in alot of jobs (SD being its last resort) but in an instant that silver can turn red!

The Highlander
May 21, 2009, 08:02 PM
I've been carrying around a spyderco tenacious as of late. Good sized edc that doesn't break the bank.

@Todd A- do you post on /K/ ? I could have sworn I've seen those knives together before.

Limeyfellow
May 22, 2009, 01:16 PM
Really when it comes to stabbing someone, how sharp does a knife really have to be? A paring knife, a cheap bit of Chinese steel, a screwdriver, and a benchmade are all going to penetrate and cause nasty damage to the body.

Most of my knives I carry are in the 3-4 inches range and that gives me pretty much all I need, apart from a few larger knives such as the Khurkri that is used for garden and yard work where I need the chopping power.

Carl Levitian
May 22, 2009, 03:33 PM
[Really when it comes to stabbing someone, how sharp does a knife really have to be? A paring knife, a cheap bit of Chinese steel, a screwdriver, and a benchmade are all going to penetrate and cause nasty damage to the body.]


A cheap paring knife was got me thinking about it all, again. Just a while back, a worker in a local nursing home got into an arguement with another worker on the premisess. The arguement went into a fight right there in the dining room, and one worker grabbed a serrated edge pariing knife off the plate of a patient, and used it on the other worker. Some people including security peronel tried to stop it, and 5 people went to the hospital with very serious/critical wounds. Two were stabbed, three were slashed so seriously the number of stitches exeded 50 per person. They had a pic of the knife on the local news, and it was a cheap white plastic handle 1'99 special from a discount store. I doubt a Spyderco this or Benchmade that would have done more mayhem before the security people got control.

Looking at these knife forums, like the gun forums, it seems like there are alot of people out there over impressed with themselves and their gear because they have a larger disposable income for toys. Good equiptment is a nice thing, but after a certain level, it seems like it gets ridiculous.

It's kind of like the gun thing; the gun nut goes out and spends a fortune on his tricked out Kimber and has faith in his .45 "knockdown" power, and then there's the elderly lady in the Armed Citizen collum of the American rifleman. She hears a noise one night, and takes her deceased husbands 60 year old Iver Johnson .32 revolver out of a drawer and ends up shooting a burgler and killing him. The gun nut Kimber guy can't believe it because the gun shop guru's had assured him nothing that didn't begin with a 4 won't stop an intruder.

I guess it's all mindset; some people don't know or seem to care that they are underarmed in the eye's of the "enlightened" and they seem to get by just fine.

sm
May 22, 2009, 04:07 PM
Carl Levitian,

Thank you for this thread.
We are on the same page.

I have already shared how I was raised to not get into a fight/situation, still if I did , I was expected to end it.
Yes, I have to end a situation and have done so with a "little bit of sharp steel".
No, I never did use a clip on knife, one hand assist, or one that locked.
I do not own any knives of this type.

My EDC consists of a Victorinox Classic SD and Carton Cutter, just the flat, single edge razor blade design.
Some days I am able to include a "cut nail" and/or small screwdriver.



Domari Nolo

glistam
May 22, 2009, 04:36 PM
Thank you for this thread as well.

I'm something of a blade nut who is slowly coming into similar thinking. I don't really think of blades as much for SD these days.

Length doesn't seem to count for much with stabs. I've heard about a few stories around the ER about someone stabbing somebody, and that person keep right on punching for a few minutes or runs for 3 blocks before it even dawns on them that their bleeding. They may eventually die or end up in the ICU, but still. Granted, gunshots can go that way too, but for some reason it is more common to knife wounds.

A interesting observation I made of American police too: They carry guns, OC, taser, and some kind of blunt weapon, and are trained to use their fists. But they don't fight with bladed weapons. Most cops I know carry utilitarian knives, rarely anything particularly large.

hso
May 22, 2009, 04:56 PM
One of the worst cuts I've ever received was from a RKK Snitch. The blade is maybe an inch and a half long and sharp enough to part flesh with the slightest tugging sensation.

You can do enough with a small blade wrt self defense, but clothing and conditions can call for something more than a tiny blade. There's very little practical about most monster sized blades, but let's make no mistake that a thrust to the vitals or cutting through a couple of layers of clothing is much more easily accomplished with a sharp 4" knife than a sharp 1" knife.

That said, the knife you have on you is much better than one your don't and if you will carry a 2" razor sharp blade all the time, but might not carry a 5" one, then certainly carry the little knife, just don't neglect the opportunity to carry a more effective tool.

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