Good article on defensive knives


December 3, 2012, 12:27 AM
I got this in an email from the Personal Defense Network. Its a really cool article on EDC folding knives for defensive purposes. Its a good read. I picked up a SOG Sogzilla today for cheap and and cut the wave mod and added a paracord lanyard. It works good! Now I am going to get me a Benchmade Griptilial and do the same so I have one of the best defensive knives out there.

Here is the article:

Here is my modified Sogzilla:

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December 3, 2012, 12:55 AM
I've never heard of Mr. Fry as a knife instructor, but he has some good, and not so good, advice in the brief article.

I've never seen a magazine pocket carrier used for a folder, but I don't know why someone hasn't pointed it out before now. It would keep the knife oriented and less obtrusive riding inside the pocket. Great idea.

The use of lanyards/fobs on folders is a well established technique for enhancing access. He does point out that there is a risk of snagging the fob or lanyard and having your knife pulled out of your pocket. This is the case whether it is a shopping cart, a clown in the line at the mini-mart or the guy with more sinister intent. Keep the fobs/lanyards short.

I've carried folders with clips for many many years and never had any trouble drawing one from the pocket. The use of grip tape on the outer side of a pocket clip doesn't seem to contribute anything while leading to damage to clothing, carried items and objects you would brush up against.

I'll state now that I don't like the Wave. It tears up pants and doesn't always work. Other's are true believers in it and find it to be something they'd bet their lives on. I'll make one point, if it were the ideal solution to rapidly deploying a blade why wouldn't it be on every Emerson? That said, any thumb hole opening knife can be Waved by cutting the hole open OR attaching a zip tie to the hole. I wouldn't have as much confidence in the strength of a blade that had the structure altered by opening the top of the thumb hole so if the idea intrigues you I recommend trying the zip tie modification first.

December 3, 2012, 09:09 AM
Too "jargony" and sometimes just plain incorrect. Even fixed blades do need to be deployed (deployment means to move something to the battlefield), the user just doesn't have the additional step of opening them. I share most of hso's thoughts, too.

December 3, 2012, 05:33 PM
along the lines of the Spyderco 'wave mod'......if you have a thumbhole, and dont want to cut the knife or use a zip can use a few nuts and bolts to make a thumbstud that is large enough to be used in a similar fashion as the wave feature

December 3, 2012, 06:20 PM
I like the wave. It works well for me. I plan on getting an Emerson one day when I have a couple hundred dollars to just drop on a knife. Until then, a modified knife will work just fine. As I will be using this knife for defensive purposes, the structural weakening will not be enough to worry about since it is soft tissue that it will be cutting, not hard substances. Also, the Sogzilla thumbhole is split anyway so it really doesn't cause any difference.

December 4, 2012, 09:23 AM
I was a fan of waved knives, until using a trainer in some force on force and realizing how difficult it is to open from the pocket while being attacked :uhoh:

As far as "optimizing" a defensive folder, the more I learned about fighting with a knife the more I began to focus on optimizing myself, and my knife changed from a very nice and expensive Spyderco Military to a full flat grind Endura or Delica.

:cuss: Grip tape on a knife clip is just too much effort in the wrong direction.

December 4, 2012, 12:13 PM
Only thing that stands out to me in this is the use of a mag holster. This isn't the first time I've heard of that. In James Loriega's Sevillian Steel, he related that the elder knife fighting instructor he trained with in Spain used this carry method, though with an open-topped holder clipped to the belt. Don Santiago, a man who had killed several people in defense over his lifetime, used a mag holder long enough and of a shape that could hold the knife both closed and already open (albeit not very securely). He had sufficient awareness that when he expected trouble or entered a dangerous area, he would surreptitiously take his navaja out, open it, and put it back in the holder blade down, like a sheath knife. I have a fair bit of respect for the Sevillian knife fighters, who's system is focused on folders that requires two hands to open.

December 4, 2012, 05:10 PM
I've seen carry of knives in mag carriers before, but am not certain of their utility in a pocket.

December 4, 2012, 08:15 PM
It's not my thing but I assume the mag carrier is just to facilitate access of a folder without the need to clip it into the pocket.

And while I wouldn't choose it, I can see the utility of using griptape on a knife-clip to enhance concealment (it would blend a lot better with pants than many knife clips) and using the "slap, grip, draw, index, open" type of standardized procedure, I think it would greatly enhance the grip/draw portion.

Full disclosure, I've trained with (not under) Chris Fry at a Southnarc class before. He is a very solid, knowledgeable, and actually to be honest scary (in a good way) guy. I personally think he has written some higher quality knife articles than that one, and a lot of his other articles are also good reads too. He operates a training facility in upstate NY called MDTS training and he upholds the paradigm of being well rounded in martial arts, shooting, and use of contact weapons.

Not a plug, just a testimonial that even if you disagree with a few things he says, he should be regarded as a credible source.

December 4, 2012, 09:19 PM
Well, I appreciate the personal insight, but he works too hard to sound knowledgeable. It interferes, for me at least, with what good he may have to share. It's especially an issue when (as with "deployment") he misuses a word. If you don't understand what a word means, you should avoid using it definitively.


December 5, 2012, 12:52 PM
I decided to be the word geek I am and check out what you are discussing (because I didn't really notice it before).

The phrase in question:

Small fixed-blade knives have become extremely popular because they eliminate the need to “deploy” the blade in-fight.

Emphasis added, quotation marks were already there.
a : to extend (a military unit) especially in width
b : to place in battle formation or appropriate positions
: to spread out, utilize, or arrange for a deliberate purpose <deploy a sales force> <deploy a parachute>

I can see your argument, seeing as how those definitions - especially 1b - might lend credence to the idea that one still has to deploy any weapon. On the other hand I think it was pretty readily apparent from the context clues and the use of quotation marks what he meant.

Since he was obviously not using them to attribute the word deploy to another author, he probably intended that the

quotation marks... suggest to some people that you are using that word in a special or peculiar way and that you really mean something else (Source (

emphasis added. Poor writing? Maybe... but not inconsistent with the message he intended to convey.

Finally - and I post all of this in a grammar/word geek way, not in a confrontational way - there is a very solid bit of evidence on M-W that that particular usage of deploy is acceptable:

Origin of DEPLOY

French déployer, literally, to unfold, from Old French desploier, from des- dis- + ploier, plier to fold — more at ply
First Known Use: 1616


Emphasis added.

December 5, 2012, 03:36 PM
Hee. Sabers at dawn. Bring a second. :D

It would have been simpler, and more correct (in my opinion) to just say "open": Small fixed-blade knives have become extremely popular because they eliminate the need to open the blade in-fight, eliminating an extra step when you most need simplicity and speed. My point was that he worked too hard to sound technical, and the words he used got in the way of the message I think he meant to give. Good writing seamlessly passes on a idea, instead of leaving the reader wondering, "why the hell did he use that word?"

December 5, 2012, 04:23 PM
Man you guys are touchy.

Chris Fry, and MDTS, gets my thumbs up. He's a good teacher. I will train with him again.

You may not like his writing style. The tips he has in that particular article you may or may not find useful. He did say, "One of these upgrades may be useful, or a combination of several working together may help you optimize your personal protection EDC folding knife. Consider each option carefully."

Good to see that folks ARE looking at this stuff critically. That will make him happy.

December 5, 2012, 04:32 PM
Glad you took my geekiness in the right spirit John :D.

Man you guys are touchy.

Man, we grammar guys get no love :(. People don't call engineers debating merits of suspension bridges touchy, people don't call cooks discussing smoke point of oils touchy, people don't call metallurgists discussing % carbon touchy... but you bring a bit of diction into the discussion and you are all of a sudden some sort of overly sensitive, introverted, milquetoast.

I think I'll find a corner in which to situate myself and a tissue into which I shall shed my tears...:D

December 5, 2012, 04:41 PM
Hi All,

I appreciate the constructive criticism of this article. Upon reading comments here and considering, I can see how it would have been better to have stated certain phrases in a simpler way.

In regards to the pocket mag holder, my main emphasis of this carry method is for better concealment of the folder (IF that is what I have to carry). Many times the visible pocket clip gives away information to those interested. Just my take. I prefer, now, to provide as little info as necessary about my preparedness status.

Thanks for reading.


December 5, 2012, 05:27 PM

Do you find the grip tape provides that much utility in drawing and gripping a folder?

December 5, 2012, 08:08 PM
Hso - under pressure I find that the grip tapes stickiness makes drawing the folder from the pocket easier and when in the hand while simply opening the blade it provides a more positive grip. I look at it like this, the more friction (which the grip tape provides) less chance of the folder dropping or being knocked out of the hand. This is just my take based on seeing hundreds of close range pressurized training evolutions.

December 5, 2012, 08:36 PM
I haven't played around with this yet but another way of looking at it is this:

With most folder drawstrokes 4 of your fingers are potentially (all at once, or nearly at once) in contact with the clip, while only the thumb is in contact with the scales.

Most scales are rough to facilitate retention once drawn, but as the thumb presses them (to some degree) into your pocket lining, that friction is actually making the drawstroke more difficult.

By adding potential friction to the clip IMO you are making the most delicate or second most delicate (depending on the knife - could be second to deploying, I mean opening...) part of accessing it much more robust.

Also, while "opening" may be a bit more of a fine motor skill than drawing from the pocket, proper opening is predicated on a stable and consistent grip on the knife. Come to think of it, when my folding knife deployment has failed, it is typically a mixture of inconsistent draw from the pocket and a fumbling before/during the opening part.

December 5, 2012, 10:24 PM
I shy away from lanyards on folding knives that are carried for SD, because I've more than once pulled the knife out of a pocket just to use it for a normal cutting task, and went to flip the blade open and found the tip "snagged" on the lanyard cord, keeping the blade from opening.

December 5, 2012, 11:30 PM

I hear what you're saying, I just haven't experienced it in my training. A knife that was slippery would be replaced by one that wasn't. I'm spoiled in that respect and I can understand wanting a $1 mod to a $100 trade out.

December 6, 2012, 07:40 AM

Welcome to THR. :)

Some states also have laws against "concealed weapons". If the clip of the knife is showing, that *should* avoid such charges (though there have been cases where the citizen was charged anyway). I don't want to advertise, either, but aside from legality, a knife clip serves the same function as an OWB holster. Pocket carry is more stealthy, but slower, and going deeper in the pocket adds more complication, IMO.


December 6, 2012, 08:09 AM

In my humble opinion at contact distance ALL folding knives are slippery if you have one, or worse, two aggressors on top of you. If your experience is different, thats cool.


Thanks for the welcome.

I would submit that if you are doing something that draws the legal systems attention then you are going to have problems either way. As you stated, there are those who get pinched no matter what. It is of course the end-users responsibility to know and understand the laws in the area they live and travel through. Concealed is concealed.

Not in disagreement about pocket carry (inside). It certainly adds another layer of tasking. At the end of the article I mention that training with the knife is essential.

Please note, this article is about optimizing the folder. If these optimization methods don't work for you then don't do them, nothing says its a hard and fast rule.



December 6, 2012, 08:11 AM

I am glad you found the article helpful.

Best of luck,


December 6, 2012, 02:45 PM
If these optimization methods don't work for you then don't do them, nothing says its a hard and fast rule


WHAT?! You mean there is no single one-size-fits-all solution?! Heresy!


The trainers and teachers I respect most are flexible. I appreciate that.

I think I might at least try the in-pocket holster idea. At least that way the knife will be held in a certain position, while still being less visible. I may have to work on looking harmless, though.


December 6, 2012, 04:20 PM
Yep, going to look for a pocket mag carrier this weekend at the local gun show.

December 6, 2012, 08:38 PM
Hi Chris,

that's a well-written article on an important subject. I've seen lots of FMA practitioners who have trained in fancy knife fighting techniques for years, but carry knives that are difficult to access and/or open.

I like that the article focuses a) on folders, which are underrated, in my opinion, and b) on pocket carry, which I find to be the most convenient way of carrying a knife.

I also like the article's emphasis on the wave feature, which I consider a real enhancement. I don't have any Emerson knives, but my waved Endura opens up with extreme reliabilty, and my ziptie-waved Spydies are hardly any less reliable. If someone can't use the wave in a critical situation, I doubt that they could bring up the fine motor skills to quickly open the knife manually.

This may cause some controversy, but honestly, I would prefer carrying a waved folder over a fixed blade. Unfortunately, I live in a country where you're not allowed to EDC most folders, while many fixed blades don't pose a problem (weird, isn't it?).

I'd have to test the idea with the pocket mag carrier before judging it, but it sounds like it could work.
As for the grip tape and the lanyard, I've never felt the need for them on any of my folders. I didn't find these parts of the article too useful, but maybe someone else does, and it's not like these modifications could do a lot of harm.

December 6, 2012, 10:16 PM
Let me know how it works out for you guys.



December 6, 2012, 10:22 PM

I am glad you found the article useful. Not surprised about that law in your country, if I recall correctly, in some states in the US you cannot carry a fixed blade but you can carry a folder in the open position? I want to say California but not positive.

Anyway, have a great night.


December 7, 2012, 12:03 AM

You can carry a folder of any size in CA as long as it is carried closed, but you can't carry a fixed blade under the "dirk or dagger" rules of penal code 12020 and it specifically treats carrying a folder in the open position the same as carrying a dirk or dagger.

In general, if a state prohibits carry of a fixed blade they will treat carrying a folder in the locked open position as carrying a fixed blade and apply penalties as such. The presumption will also be that you're carrying as a weapon and you'll have to deal with any laws against going armed.

December 7, 2012, 07:21 AM
The strange thing about the new German legislation is that it seems to consider folders more dangerous or "evil" than fixed blades.

It is verboten to carry a folder with a locking mechanism (unless you have a "socially adequate" reason to do so... what a wishy-washy formulation).

Fixed blades on the other hand are fine, as long as blade length doesn't exceed 12 cm (4.7") and the knife doesn't constitute a "weapon" (another wishy-washy formulation... which knife is a weapon, and which isn't?).

In the end, no one really knows what you're allowed to carry, but a CRKT P.E.C.K. or a Spyderco Ladybug might get you into trouble easier than a CRKT Dragon.

December 7, 2012, 08:21 AM
I use grip tape on the clip of my factory waved Delica. I own a couple so I have been able to do a side by side comparison of the draw with and without.

For me, the draw is much more reliable with the tape and I won't carry without it. When I first put it on, it is rough and does snag a little. But it wears pretty good and at some point the snagging becomes unnoticeable. I just replace it when it gets too smooth or starts peeling off.

Re: Wave - The factory waved Delica is much more reliable *for me* than any of the other knives I have modded (butchered). It is lightyears ahead of the zip tied knives I've tried to use in the past.

December 7, 2012, 10:49 AM
While I find my ziptie-waved knives quite reliable, I agree that the wave on the Delica/Endura is even better.

I wonder why you don't see the wave feature on more folders. A waved Yojimbo would be great, for example.

December 9, 2012, 08:58 AM

thanks for the clarification on that.


December 9, 2012, 11:16 AM
Among other reasons, Spyderco pays to use the feature.

December 9, 2012, 07:51 PM
Among other reasons, Spyderco pays to use the feature.

I'd be surprised if Cold Steel did the same. They seem to get away with it, though.

December 9, 2012, 08:08 PM
Just about everyone that uses the SpydieHole pays for permission to use it. Cold Steel would as well. Part of that is Sal's standing in the knife manufacturing community, but also because the penalties for having been found to use it without permission could be very painful.
OTOH, it doesn't take much for a "hole" to not be the SpydieHole so you'll see all sorts of variations to avoid licensing it.

Since Spyderco is possibly the most ethically run knife manufacturer in the world I would expect them to honor any patent or copyright. Whether another company would be less scrupulous would depend upon their company ethics and how close their version of a protected design might come.

December 9, 2012, 09:01 PM
The guys from Spyderco are great.
I once dropped them a mail with a few minor questions about their products, and was very surprised to get a lengthy reply from Sal himself.

It really speaks for Spyderco as an ethicall-run company that they pay royalties to Emerson although their waves look different.

Cold Steel, on the other hand, apparently doesn't pay Emerson. Instead, they seem to have patented their own variation of the wave (which I am sure Spyderco could have done as well).

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