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Defensive Knife - General Questions

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Bobson, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Bobson

    Bobson Well-Known Member

    I searched the forum on this topic and dug up a ton of information, which was super helpful. The information I found also led to a few questions.

    1. HSO and others have recommended that a defensive knife ought to have a straight handle and relatively straight blade/cutting edge. I have yet to learn why that's important, and would appreciate clarification.
    2. Why are assisted-opening knives generally shunned when it comes to defensive knives? Seems to me that this would be a critical trait for a defensive knife to have, because I would think being able to open a folder quickly would be very important in a defensive situation.
    3. Spyderco knives like the Delica, Manix, Tenacious, and Resilience seem to be very popular among those who prefer a folder for a defensive knife. The Spyderco knives I've handled seem to have fairly thin (and I assume brittle) blades, at least at the tip. I've been told that knives with thin blades (like the Kershaw Leek, and others) are poor choices for defensive applications. Why are the aforementioned Spyderco knives great choices (and very popular), while other knives that seem to be very comparable are not?

    Please don't confuse my questions for arrogance or jaded sarcasm. I'm here to learn from you folks with more experience. :) I recently lost my no-name pocketknife that I've had for as long as I can remember. I must have lost it a dozen times over the past 15 years or more, but I always happened to find it later - sometimes weeks later. It's pictured at the bottom. So, I want to find a new knife, and decided I may as well select a knife that will serve in a defensive role at least moderately well. (Yes, I know a cane is a much better defensive tool, but I'm just not too interested in a cane currently :p )

    The following are links to knives I'm considering. Any input on them would be great. Sorry for the long post.

    Spyderco Tenacious
    Spyderco Resilience
    Columbia River (Ken Onion) Ripple - I really love the look of this knife. :eek:
    Columber River M16 - Carson Design
    Columbia River M16-14SF

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 23, 2012
  2. conw

    conw Well-Known Member

    My take...you don't want a whole lot of belly because slashing isn't even a very effective strategy, physiologically speaking (doesn't penetrate much, and it's much more difficult than many people make out to cut "biomechanical" targets, and the physiological efficacy of BMC is not very well confirmed medically or anecdotally). You want an "aligned" tip because stabbing/thrusting is what you do if you aren't slashing.

    AO knives are a poor choice because they frequently require you to totally compromise the knife hold in order to get them to deploy. E.g. you pull it out between thumb and forefinger, reposition to get your thumb or forefinger on the AO mechanism, then totally reposition to get the proper fighting grip. It is "faster" but you are adding in a much more complex and failure prone movement portion.

    Proper technique with a spyderhole - draw, index on grip (by pushing the closed knife against your hip), index on opening mechanism, open, acquire full grip - is somewhat easier.

    Finally still on the spectrum of sub-optimal folders, wave (patented by Emerson) mechanisms are somewhat better because they allow you to forego the indexing and opening phases, and go straight from draw to acquire full grip.

    My own favorite fighting folder is the Spyderco p'kal, which has a special wave-style pin. It opens into reverse grip edge in and has all of the requirements for a good point driven fighting knife.

    Then you get into fixed blades, which are optimal because they can be positioned optimally for access with a good sheath, in the 11 o'clock region for ambidextrous access, and are also orders of magnitude LESS prone to human or mechanical failure. The clinch pick, TDI, la griffe, and similar knives don't require opening or indexing after drawing, and the canted ambidextrous position allows drawing with minimal articulation of the 3 main joints involved (wrist, elbow, shoulder). The first two are also extremely ergonomic which can't be discounted. They're VERY easy to draw and hold onto.

    A lot of the stuff you seem to be listing, such as blade length, opening mechanism, locking, and the differences between something like the kershaws and the spydercos, are overly academic distinctions. If you want a folder it just makes a lot more sense to use a wave opener; the difference between wave and everything else is enormous. Even with a wave, due to the fact it usually has to go in a pocket, it's very hard to deploy a folding knife.

    The difference between a poor quality FB and an excellent quality folder is so incredibly huge that if you can possibly carry a FB it would be advisable. Folders just suck for self-defense knives.
  3. zhyla

    zhyla Well-Known Member

    I think you may have confused the many frequent recommendations to buy Spyderco Delica, Manix, Native, etc as recommendations to use them as a defensive knife. These knives are incredibly useful tools that even an office-dweller like myself uses constantly. That they could be used in a pinch to stab somebody is somewhat incidental.

    Edit: hadn't paid attention to the wave openers until now. Wow, that's pretty clever.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012
  4. saltydog452

    saltydog452 Well-Known Member

    The notion of sharp pointy things, and defense doesn't seem to fit too well in the same box.

  5. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    Not exactly true. In MOST situations, knives are not ideal for defense.

    The exception, is when you are caught. At contact distance, a quick sharp may be the best way to save your life.

    It's also hard to carry your handgun in the shower, while I really, really hope Spyderco starts making a little fixed-blade H1 neck knife. Sexual assault is a major problem here in Afghanistan, and assault on males may happen even more than on females. And we can't take our firearms with us, when we go to the shower.

    Me, I can probably take care of myself, but I would love to be able to give something like that little rust-proof knife to everyone on my team. I've actually just ordered some G10 neckers to test...

    Bobson, the Manix series are not at all delicate.
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    That has not been my experience, and I have used Spiderco Delica's and Enduras off & on for work & EDC since the company has been in business.

    But then again, I don't use my knifes for screwdrivers or pry bars either.

    The most delicate part of a Spyderco with the old molded pocket clip was the old molded pocket clip.

    I have broke them.
    But I have never broken the tip off a blade.

  7. conw

    conw Well-Known Member

    John, how about just having custom sheaths made to carry open (H1) folders? I've always liked this idea because it makes folders more versatile.

    To me the big issue with folders isn't necessarily whether they will stay open once open, but rather how to get them open in a fight.

    Also, neck carry kinda sucks IMO, maybe a decent idea for in the shower, but a similar idea I like better is the "paracord harness" that is available in various iterations.
  8. X-Rap

    X-Rap Well-Known Member

    Dam that is a shocking statement!!!! I'd have an ax leaned up in the stall as well as a knife around my neck.
  9. Bobson

    Bobson Well-Known Member

    I appreciate all the help so far, and for the clarification on the Spyderco knives from JShirley and rcmodel. I didn't mean to say that I've owned them and found them to be brittle or otherwise weak in the blade. I meant that when I had handled them in stores, they just seemed thin to me. Of course, I'm no expert on knives lol. Guess I'm just used to the thick blade my old pocketknife had.

    Anyone have any experience with the CRKT M16 line - specifically either of the two that I linked?
  10. X-Rap

    X-Rap Well-Known Member

    I lose knives at frequent intervals so I personaly like the lower cost of the M16 line, the last one had the Zytel?? handles and lasted a couple yrs before I lost it this last fall hunting. I don't know how they are as a defensive blade and I'm far from a purist but I can say they are pretty tough and I think they will hold up in a fight.
  11. conw

    conw Well-Known Member

    I've always been extremely unimpressed with the CRKT M16 folders I handled. NIB they have really poor lockup and a lot of blade play. They also seem to have chunky spines and an awkward grind. I think you can do much better.

    If you are sold on the shape (fairly long, thin, and skinny, very pointy profile) I think the CS Voyager series would be a step up.

    But again refer back to my previous point. The 3 categories for carryable SD knives are basically: [any folding knife w/o wave]; [any folding knife w/ wave]; and [any fixed blade]. While there is a lot of variation within each category, the biggest differences in efficacy and usability for SD are between categories.
  12. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member


    I have an H1 Dragonfly on the way, so we'll see.

  13. Bobson

    Bobson Well-Known Member

    The information here has directed me toward the Emerson CQC8. Seems to be a great knife with awesome reviews, but its much more expensive than I had planned to spend, at $175+... I may have to pick up something closer to half that price for now, and call that my EDC. Will probably pick up a CQC8 down the road, as a dedicated "SD" folder, and just carry both - that seems to be the most common advice.
  14. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    If you like the WAVE function, I strongly suggest a WAVEd Spyderco Delica. About $70, strong and lightweight, big enough for almost any task, but not so large as to make it seem like you're looking for trouble.

  15. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    I'm not a fan of the "wave", but having it doesn't hurt anything (except the pants pocket as you play with it). My opinion is that most people will fail to effectively use the wave opening technique under stress because they'll have stronger "programming" to manually open the knife or "pop" the knife instead. As such they'll either fumble the wave opening or simply not use it. Having it and not using it isn't a problem in my mind, but having it and fumbling it is.
  16. DNS

    DNS Well-Known Member

    Not big on the knife defense thing but I've carried the Tenacious as my EDC for 18 months now.

    The Tenacious is 8cr13mov (58-59 rockwell 'c' hardness). Its not as hard as Spyderco's other wonder steels so chipping/breakage shouldn't be an issue.
  17. glistam

    glistam Well-Known Member

    Good info all around.

    My one contribution to this is that for defense/high-stress usage I recommend using a two-hand opening regardless of the mechanism it came with. Adrenalin screws up your dexterity, so it's best to be as simple and deliberate as you can, and keep a nice secure grip. With this is mind, a knife you pick should have a blade where it has a easily-grasped surface when closed.
  18. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    I strongly disagree. Some types of one-hand opening DO require more fine motor skills than others- the "forward flick" I once used to open my Buck Crosslock comes to mind- but it's just bad planning to deliberately tie up a hand that could be otherwise engaged in saving your life.

    My Spydercos can all be opened with a single hand if I am able to move at all. The Gerber automatic knife I currently carry- having given away my last Spyderco, and waiting for a replacement in the mail- would also not open in any way more positively if I used two hands. In fact, any way I can imagine to use two hands with it would only make a bad opening more likely. :confused:

  19. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Well-Known Member

    I carried a defensive blade along with all my other duty gear as a uniform cop for many years. Although I had several, the one I favored probably wouldn't be considered a "defensive" knife in the current philosophy. It was a single blade carbon steel locking folder in the same design and size as the standard Sodbuster - only much, much sharper, made by Henckels (good German craftsmanship, no longer in the folding knife business). It was mostly used to cut seatbelts, those super strong FlexCuffs, and other non-defensive chores and it rode in what looked like a single magazine pouch. With a bit of practice it can be opened one handed almost as quickly as a good switchblade, and closed single handed as well.... I travelled internationally with it in a pants pocket as an "ordinary pocket knife" in the years before 9-11.

    This was not a knife for "knife fighting" it was an instrument to be used to disable the hand of your opponent at contact range only. A single cut to the inside of the wrist with a second cut inside the upper arm or elbow (and that second cut will kill in three minutes if you take the brachial artery and the bleeding isn't stopped..). Done properly your opponent only realizes that a knife is in play after they've been wounded.... I never considered it an offensive weapon at all, but having it each day and knowing exactly how it was to be used.... was pre-planned. I'm grateful it was never needed.
  20. glistam

    glistam Well-Known Member

    Maybe I'm wrong. I just had a bad experience with a thumb-stud knife when I had to cut someone's clothing loose from machinery (I dropped my knife). It gave me pause, but maybe I just have not handled enough one-handers under duress. Also, sorry I did not mean to include AOs and Autos in my suggestion. Should have been more specific.

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