Self Defense Knives: How to Choose The Best Blade for Your Safety

Self Defense Knives
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When you think about self defense your mind immediately goes to martial arts and kicking someone’s ass. Usually this scenario is true; with the right moves you can keep you and your family safe from any attacker. Still, there are situations when a weapon can be of great help, like when you’re dealing with more than one attacker or there is a wild animal trying to put you down and eat you.

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In situations like these, owning a self defense knife can save your life. Today we are going to discuss the issue of self defense knives and how to choose the one that fits your skills. We said issue because opinions regarding self defense with a weapon are divided among survivalists and self defense trainers.

Self Defense Knives

There are two main groups when it comes to owning and using self defense knives or any kind of weapon with the purpose of defending yourself. There are the ones who agree and the ones who disagree (naturally). The matter at hand is indeed sensible but we’re going to discuss a few arguments from both sides and explain why it’s a good thing to consider a knife as a self defense weapon instead of a gun or a bat.

The naysayer’s arguments are mainly these:

  • a knife is a white weapon and is illegal to carry it in public without a good reason;
  • there are several types of knives that are banned and you can get arrested for simply owning it;
  • having a knife with you can lead to unintentionally hurting your opponent;
  • many people don’t know when and how to use a knife during a violent situation;
  • self defense knives are difficult to choose correctly and they are pretty expensive;
  • a knife is a lethal force instrument in the eyes of the law;
  • mistakes happen really fast when you’re in a fight, holding a knife;
  • owning a self defense knife means a higher level of responsibility that many people are not prepared for.

As you can imagine, the main argument sustained by those who are in favor of self defense knives is that you have a superior chance of coming out alive from a life and death situation. This is the supreme argument anyone can bring to this debate but we still have to consider the counter arguments. As a self defense knife owner you have to be a responsible person and realize that the weapon in your hand can take a human life in a matter of seconds.

Holding a knife when the adrenaline is pumping through your veins can give you a false sense of power and can push you over the edge. We can’t stress this enough: there are serious consequences!

Before considering buying a self defense knife, you should consider taking a course on how to use a knife in a self defense situation. Here you can learn in what type of situations to use it and how to make sure that you’ve used all the other possibilities before drawing out the knife. During this training you can learn about most common mistakes people make and how to avoid them. A knife or any type of weapon has to be used only as a last resort!

Knife variations infographic

Another very important thing you need to know when choosing knives for self defense is that you have to be prepared to use it. Some criminals may get frightened by simply seeing the knife but if you’re not ready to use it and the opponent fights back, the knife can be as easily used against you. So, once you have a self defense knife, make sure you are ready to use it properly.

Reasons to choose self defense knives and not any other weapon

When in a life or death situation, anything you can grab may become a weapon but if you could choose, the knife is the best weapon to have. First of all, the knife is a tool. If you are in a survival situation and there has been a global disaster that affected people everywhere, you will need to support you and your family for food, shelter and safety. The knife is useful in every situation:

  • you can use it to hunt and skin small animals or to cut any food you find – for this you should take a look at our reviews on hunting knives and how to use them;
  • you will definitely need a fire so you can use your knife to adjust the size of woods you find for fire;
  • you can use it to cut small branches and twigs for the shelter – for such situations, a survival knife is most recommended and we have a great set of reviews you can check out here;
  • finally, you can use it for protection.

People are interesting beings with an even more interesting behavior. If you meet a person in a civilized place like a supermarket you don’t expect to get jumped and robbed (in most of the cases) but if you meet the same person in the woods, after a major disaster, you will automatically enter in a defense state.

Our brain knows that hunger and desperation alter human behavior and transform us in primordial beings for which basic needs like food and shelter are more important that our neighbor’s life. That’s why the need for self defense weapons is bigger in a time of duress. The knife doesn’t need ammunition and it doesn’t require special treatment which makes it the ideal weapon in desperate times.

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Returning to the main subject, here are a few reasons why you should consider using knives for self defense over other weapons:

  • the knife has multiple uses as a tool, this is a thing that no other weapons have;
  • it’s a close contact weapon that you can use even if your opponent has grabbed you from behind;
  • you can inflict serious damage without fatally hurting your opponent (if you know what you’re doing);
  • a knife doesn’t make noise; if you’re in a situation where you need to put down your opponent quietly, the knife is the way to go;
  • it’s easy to carry and it doesn’t require any special attention. The only thing a knife needs is a sheath and a good sharpening from time to time. A good sharpener will serve you years and doesn’t cost that much which is why we took an in-depth approach of the best products on the market;
  • in case of a zombie apocalypse, the knife is the best weapon to have around as you will have to chop off their heads;
  • you don’t have to carry any additional ammunition.

Beside the reasons mentioned above, knives have a certain level of elegance. They also require a certain state of mind and physical preparedness. A person who prefers knives for self defense usually reacts better under stress and is more likely to stay calm and take the right decisions if attacked. Also, he or she won’t get easily intimidated in front of another weapon and will know how to assess the situation correctly.

A person who is properly trained to use a knife for defense will also know how to defend themselves against an attacker with a knife. This level of preparedness brings other perks like rapidity in movement, fast thinking under stress, great physical development and so on. Using a knife is an art and the ones who manage to master it learn so much more than what knife to choose.

Tips on how to choose the right knife for you

When it comes to categories, there are many types of knives and we are not going to browse through all of them. We’re going to discuss a few tips on how to choose the best knives for self defense. According to your skills and the area you are from there are several options, and you need to know exactly what you’re looking for.

The first step in choosing a knife for self defense is to study local regulations and learn which knives are banned in your area. Regulations differ from one country to another and from one state to another. Usually butterfly knives (a folding type of knife that conceals the blade completely) and other types of knives that can be easily concealed are banned from wearing in public. Find out which knives are illegal in your area and if you travel, make sure you know the regulations in countries or states you are travelling to.

Self Defense Knives

After you learn about local regulations, it’s time to start thinking about the type of knife you want to own. The best knives for self defense are those with a fixed blade. Folding knives are not reliable as they get loose very easy and, in case you get in a fighting situation and you need to use the knife you have to unfold it and then use it. With a fixed blade you just draw it and you’re ready to defend yourself. Be careful though, some states and countries ban fixed blade knives that overcome a certain blade length.

A double bladed knife will help you inflict more damage on your opponent but you can also get hurt very easy. It’s also pretty difficult to use it as a tool as you can’t put your thumb on the blade.

One of the best knives for self defense is the kerambit, a knife with an unusual blade that looks like a claw. The karambit is very efficient as a self defense tool because it is small in size and you can easily carry it in your pocket and offers a very good grip. The unusual shape of the blade allows you to make deadly, deep cuts. The transfer of energy from your muscles to the blade is realized very easy and you can be sure that your opponent will not be able to chase you after a few cuts with the kerambit.

The best tip when choosing a knife for self defense is to consider its use. Even though you choose the knife for defense purposes you will definitely end up using it for different chores in the wilderness. Try to choose a practical knife, one that you can use for both safety and chores.

A few examples of best knives for self defense

Now that you know how to choose a knife and how to get prepared for using it, it’s time to see a few examples of actual knives that survivalists and outdoor adventurers consider their best friends.

Survivor HK-738 series fixed blade knife 9-inch overall

It’s a fixed blade knife with the hilt wrapped in paracord, perfect for outdoor activities. The blade is black and it comes with a sheath that you can hang on your belt or on your backpack. If you need more grip for this knife you can add another layer of paracord that will make it even easier to hold and use.

The entire length of the knife is 9 inches which makes it a solid tool (or weapon) to have around. The blade and the hilt are made from one piece of metal which means the knife will never become loose and there’s no danger for the blade to come off (usually happens when the blade is inserted in the hilt).

Survivor HK-738

If you’re a knife thrower, the HK-738 knife offers great balance allowing you to throw straight and far. This knife has some of the most necessary attributes for a good self defense knife:

  • it’s small in size and it can fit in your glove compartment or you can hang it by the belt;
  • it’s solid due to the fact that is made from one piece;
  • offers a very good grip so you can use it very easy in any type of situation.

If you like this product you can find and buy it on Amazon.

MTECH USA Mt-588 series neck knife 4.25-inch closed

Small, compact and very practical, this neck knife comes with a pocket clip (in case you don’t like to wear it around your neck). The blade is made out of stainless steel and the handle is imprinted with a grenade like pattern making the grip better. There is also a large thumb hole that helps with the grip and makes the knife extremely easy to use. It’s easy to sharpen and the blade doesn’t scuff.

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You also have the option to change the knife’s chain and replace it with paracord but if you wear it around your neck it may be dangerous. If someone attacks you, he or she can use the paracord from your knife to strangle you. Paracord doesn’t break easily which is why you shouldn’t be wearing it around your neck.

The package comes with a sheath where the knife stays hidden until you need it. It’s almost impossible to get it out from the sheath accidentally as the case is reinforced. Given the fact that it’s so small, it is easy to conceal it in your pocket or under a shirt, around your neck. You can use it as a tool too but it won’t do the same work a long blade knife does.

If you like this product you can find and check its price on Amazon.

Ontario 9416BM ranger ready detachment RD6 knife

If you don’t trust small knives, this one will definitely be on your list. This knife is among the best ones you can use for both self defense and survival chores like chopping and cutting down woods. It’s the knife every adventurer should have in its backpack.

Ontario 9416BM

Because it’s a big knife, you won’t have to get too close to your attacker in order to inflict some serious damage. You may as well not have to get closer at all; the Ontario 9416BM is pretty imposing and can intimidate even the most stubborn attackers. The big blade and the sturdy handle make it a very reliable weapon and only a fool would dare to challenge you with this in your hands.

If you like this product you can find and buy it here.

TDI law enforcement knife

Returning to small self defense knives, the KA-BAR is one of the best you can have. Even though it looks weird and kind of small, this knife takes over your muscles’ energy and puts it all in the hit and cut. Cuts made with this knife are going to be deep and painful as it is razor sharp right out of the box.

The knife is designed by the founder and owner of Tactical Defense Institute and was created for law enforcement officers. You can wear it at your belt as it is small and draw it when the situation asks for it. Given the fact that this knife was created especially for protection and self defense, it can be considered a lethal weapon and you shouldn’t use it unless there is no other way.

Ka Bar TDI

The knife was designed so the owner can’t be easily disarmed. The grip is amazing and thanks to the oddly shaped handle, an attacker would have a hard time taking it from you.

If you like this product you can find and check its price here.

There are thousands of options on the market when it comes to self defense knives, which makes choosing the right one even harder. Still, you have to realize that owning a knife for self defense purposes means an increased level of responsibility from your side. You need to learn how to control your emotions and how to asses a violent situation correctly.

Knives are dangerous in the hands of an untrained owner and they can take an innocent human life in a matter of seconds so make sure you train yourself properly.

About the author

David Dawson

David Dawson is a retired security specialist with over 20 years of experience. He worked for a secret manufacturing facilities and hospitals in Illinois. David's responsibility was to protect people in case of any disaster or cataclysm that might occur. Now he keeps on doing it through teaching others about how to prepare and survive flood, earthquake or even war.


  • I think that having a self defense knife is a good idea if you know how to handle it. However, if you have no idea what you are doing, you are the one that can be in danger.

  • I practice FMA, which has a significant amount of knife training, here are some few lessons I’ve learned over the years:

    1. Knives are deadly weapons; one cut deep enough can stop you from training for the rest of your life. One lucky cut across an artery can end your life in minutes.

    2. Knives in one vs. one situation is not a good idea. If your attacker also has a knife, DON’T SIGN UP. Even if he has basic fighting skills, he can still cause severe damage.

    3. The best strategy is to escape. Only engage when you have no other choice. It things go south and you need to engage, the best thing to do is to make sure you slash him in a sensitive spot that will end the fight quickly while ensuring that the cut he gives you is are small.

    Knife fighting is like Russian roulette; you can train to hone your skills but you can never be sure if you can use them all.

    • It is wise to learn how to defend yourself with a knife, and there is no better self-defense weapon than a knife.

  • I have talked with different martial artists and nearly all agree that knives are scarier than guns. There is a reason to that:
    people use knives every day. Knives are necessary to cut food, camp and perform a lot of other activities. That is why random street people are more willing to actually use knives as weapons than any other thing.

  • Nice post. I carry a cold steel pro-guard on my hip. I am a big fan of retention ring forward grip knives. The Ka-Bar TDI looks awesome, thinking of getting that next.

  • Survivalists and self defense trainers see the issue of owning a knife as the best measure towards defending oneself against an aggressor or a threat to life. There are different types of knives like TDI law enforcement knife, Ontario 9416BM Ranger ready detachment RD6 knife, Mtech USA MT-588 series neck knife 4.25 inch closed, etc. Which of them is the best knife for self defense?

  • Whether a self-defense knife is legal or illegal to carry depends entirely on your State Laws, but the best self-defense knife should have a practical size and multiple carry options.

  • Functions of knives are no longer limited to the kitchen. They have been widely known as one of the best self-defense tools carried by both men and women. Though, special knives like pocket size Survivor HK-738 and Ontario 9416BM are called defense knives, their function seems more into offense. It does not have the capability to shield a victim from an attacker, but rather gives the victim the chance to hit first.

  • Self-defense knives are much easier to carry and conceal when compared to guns. In actual fact, they are not strictly bound by the law, and you can use them in multiple situations.

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