Quality Carry Knife
December 2, 2010 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a high quality extremely sharp knife that i could carry and will never be used for anything other than last ditch self defense. The two things that it must be...Under $60 and non-fixed blade.
posted by flipmiester99 to Human Relations (25 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Gerber makes great knives, and has a number that fit the bill.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:33 PM on December 2, 2010

Can you give us an idea of the blade length that is ideal (or what is legal in your area) to carry?

Also, you probably know this, but by the time you're reaching for a knife to defend yourself, you're pretty much already out of luck.
posted by hermitosis at 12:33 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you never use it for anything, it will stay extremely sharp until you use it, regardless of price.

You say non-fixed blade, so I assume you mean folding. I have one similar to this knife (mine is serrated near the base of the blade). It's lightweight and opens easily with one hand (one thumb, in fact). It clips into my pocket and just kind of lives there. I use it for all kinds of things (not defense), so it's not particularly sharp, but it does sharpen up easily and it keeps its edge respectably.
posted by rtha at 12:38 PM on December 2, 2010

Agreed that quality won't really matter if you never use it. Even the cheapest knives are pretty sharp when new. Also, if it's only for defense and you'd be willing to hurt someone you maybe should just get a gun, then you're not the guy bringing the knife to the gun fight.
posted by ghharr at 12:48 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love my spyderco delica, except I use it for *everything*. I don't really consider it as a self-defense tool, though, but I could see someone viewing it as such.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:49 PM on December 2, 2010

I was going to say Spyderco Delica too. You can get them for less than $50.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:52 PM on December 2, 2010

Also, if it's only for defense and you'd be willing to hurt someone you maybe should just get a gun, then you're not the guy bringing the knife to the gun fight.

First, if the other guy is 10 feet away or closer you're not in a gun fight, you're in a knife fight. Even if he's got a gun. Second, it may not be practical or desirable for the OP to carry a handgun in every day situations. (It appears OP is in Texas so legality is less of an issue). One can easily carry a folding knife in one's pocket almost everywhere and attract no attention. Open carrying a handgun into the grocery store or whatever may be a bit off-putting even in Texas.

OP: As others have said, the blade quality is less of an issue if you're never going to use it for anything except emergencies. You want a high quality knife if you plan to use it regularly or semi-regularly and have it keep its edge or not degrade in other ways. But almost any knife will work just fine if you're really never going to use it.

For that reason you might as well get something bog-standard but not total crap like an Opinel pocket knife. They're cool for historical reasons, won't cause any heads to turn as they are perfectly adequate working knives for stuff that isn't very heavy duty, and, hey, they'll stab people just find if you find yourself in a stabby situation.
posted by Justinian at 1:02 PM on December 2, 2010

Oh, I forgot the key part. They're dirt cheap. Like you could buy a bunch of them for the same price as the other knives. No reason to spend any amount of money at all on a knife you're never going to use.
posted by Justinian at 1:03 PM on December 2, 2010

The Benchmade 551-ORG is my current pocket knife. It's a tough blade that holds an edge well. Serrations are a personal taste thing---I've never found them very useful, personally. I love the lock mechanism Benchmade has. The hazard orange is also great. I love begin able to find the damn thing qucikly. The 551 is a bit more than you want to spend, but their 10600, 10750 or 10400 knives are all under $60 and might fit your bill.

I've used Spiderco's and been happy with them as knives, but their signature large thumb hole makes an uncomfortable shape in my pocket, I find.

Mind, I don't carry for defense, but utility. It's a very useful tool to me.
posted by bonehead at 1:06 PM on December 2, 2010

Obviously check your local laws. Also it's vanishingly unlikely that the knife will ever help in that way. Probability if it helping = probability of you needing it X probability of you deploying it X probability of it working.

That said, I love knives, so let me go on...

I would look at Spyderco and Benchmade. They offer (IMO) the highest quality at that price mark. Both also offer cheaper versions which are quite good. Some knives are specifically intended for self-defense (Spyderco Yojimbo, Chinook, and Gunting) but I'd recommend getting a more "normal" knife so that you can use it regularly which would give you the muscle memory to use it in a crisis. You can pretty easily get it and keep it sharp with something like the Spyderco Sharpmaker. (I swear, I don't work for them.) Part of the reason for getting a good knife in the first place is that it takes and keeps a sharp edge!

The Spyderco Endura comes in a "waved" version. A wave is a little catch on the back of the blade designed to hook the edge of your pocket and open itself as you draw it. I don't know how much practice you'd need to count on that working under the kind of stress you'd need it under if you ever did need it, but it's probably a lot. The Endura is also one of the finest utility knives at that price mark.

The Griptillian fills a similar niche for Benchmade. It's heavier, more solid, and less "tactical" but it's really a great knife. I'd prefer to carry the Endura though.

If you'd like cheaper but similar, look at Spyderco's Byrd line.

If you'd like cheaper and smaller, take a good look at the Boker Wharcom. I have one and love it. It's very small and the steel isn't as good as a Spyderco/Benchmade, but it's damn ergonomic, small and very utility-looking, and I think it would work great in a fight despite its size. I carried mine exclusively every day until I lost it.
posted by callmejay at 1:08 PM on December 2, 2010

Response by poster: Ok...I live in Texas...Legal is five and one-half inches or less. Look for those of you interested in the self defense aspect....I would only use this as a last ditch....More as a deterrent and the fact that you can carry a knife just about anywhere.
posted by flipmiester99 at 1:09 PM on December 2, 2010

(The Endura is the Delica's bigger brother, btw.)
posted by callmejay at 1:09 PM on December 2, 2010

Opinels are nice, but have some drawbacks. They rust and tarnish very easily, but more importantly for self defense, can't be opened with one hand (without doing something like this.

I'll 3rd theDelica suggestion.
posted by Crashback at 1:11 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

One final point: I'd consider practicing using two hands to open the knife in a fight. I'm not sure you'd have the fine-motor control to use any one-handed technique (hole, wave, thumbstud, whatever) in a real emergency.
posted by callmejay at 1:19 PM on December 2, 2010

I suggest looking for assisted blades. They are not switchblades and are legal here in Texas. Mine has a thumb stud and after a bit of practice, I can open it pretty quickly. Boyfriend bought one with a flipper on it and I'm extremely jealous! Thing opens even faster, almost like a switchblade.
posted by vilandra at 1:22 PM on December 2, 2010

Knives are fairly useless as a self-defense weapon. Most people are better off running. I hate to answer a post like this, but if you have to even ask what you buy, you are in that latter category. (No shame there, I'm in the same boat.) There are hardly any realistic situations where use a knife and have the authorities believe it is self-defense. I strongly suggest you review your local laws and reconsider why you're looking for a knife.

Instead, buy a knife that will be most useful as a tool to you in 99.99% of real life situations that are likely to happen to you.

That said...

Also bear in mind that a knife does not need to be "extremely sharp" to cause nasty injuries because of the amount of force we expect frightened people to use in a struggle for their life. Almost any folding knife could be useful in such a situation. Also, since locks on most folding knives can fail (either through user error or breakage) making the knife unsafe as an improvised weapon. (Note that even knives that aren't improvised weapons, e.g., combat knives, are unsafe and stupid weapons except when used for outright murder.)

That said I own a lot of tools for cutting things. The ones I carry somewhat frequently are:

Gerber 22-48484 Paraframe Knife w/ serrated edge $11.09

Gerber 22-48445 Paraframe I Knife, Ti-Grey, Serrated Edge $19.23

Gerber 05849 AR 3.0 Knife, Serrated Edge, Black

Both of these address a specific need to be able to cut a seatbelt and break glass in an auto-related emergency. One is in my first-aid kit.

I normally carry a Laguiole pocket knife (about $200) with corkscrew without a serrated blade. It has no lock. It is great for slicing fruits and cheeses, and also for opening letters, cd's, and wrapped gifts.

All of these have in common that they are tools first and foremost. I don't carry weapons, and neither should you. The idea that anyone should is pure fantasy since only people who are stupid as fuck (and destined for prison) would ever dream that ramming a knife in someone's vitals is better than getting the hell out of dodge. In a nutshell, use a knife for self-defense purpose only if you absolutely positively are in a situation where your spending the next ten years in prison is a really attractive alternative.
posted by Hylas at 1:26 PM on December 2, 2010 [5 favorites]

I carry a Benchmade Griptilian, which is a little out of your price range but you might be able to find some of the Mini-Grips for less at a knife or gun show. I purchased mine at a gun show for roughly half the price. Fantastic knife and the Axis lock is smooth as butter, plus it's really secure. Spyderco makes some great knives too, I have a Delica like some of the posters above. Personally, I would stay away from Gerber. The quality of their offerings have gone downhill and you can get a much better knife for roughly the same price from Benchmade or Spyderco.

If you want some more in depth advise (or catch the knife bug like I have), go check out Bladeforums where you can learn more than you want to know about knives. Hope this helps, but also that you never find yourself in a situation in which you need a knife for self-defense. But it's good to have one just in case, because once you start carrying one I'm sure you'll find uses for it that you never thought you would.
posted by friendlyjuan at 1:27 PM on December 2, 2010

If you really think that carrying a knife is going to help you in a self-defense situation, then speed is your only option for practicality. Gravity/butterfly/balisong knives are legal in Texas. Of course, you'd have to educate yourself in blade use for such a knife at which point you may realize that carrying a knife for self defense is a bad idea.
posted by cmoj at 1:44 PM on December 2, 2010

The knife doesn't really matter, and I think others have adequately covered the impracticalities and inadequacy of using a knife for self-defense. A knife is not useful for deterrence since, as you said, they can be carried by anyone, and the aggressor is more likely to have one and be more willing to use one that you are. You live in Texas and you may be able to get a CCW.

That being said, the Spyderco Civilian is designed for only self defense. It is utterly useless for utility.
posted by meowzilla at 2:03 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do not carry a knife for self-defense. If you are untrained, you are going to be ineffective in CQ with it, and you are likely to injure yourself, or have it taken from you. If you are trained, you know that you are better off escaping. Odds are good that any violent confrontation you get into will either involve superior numbers or be unexpected. Neither of those situations are improved by you brandishing a weapon that you don't know how to use. Look at it this way; if a knife comes out in a fight, someone is getting hurt, and if neither party is trained, then it's a tossup who gets hurt.

That said, if you insist on committing the error of carrying a knife, what you want is not a sharp edge but a narrow blade with a strong point. Slashing wounds are minor and unlikely to deter the sort of attacker that escalates beyond being discouraged by the presentation of an edged weapon. In such a situation, you want to generate puncture wounds, multiples of them, and fast. What you want is something solid with a chisel tip, blade length no more than four inches, non-serrated. Practice and training should involve you hugging a heavy bag and stabbing it repeatedly from low on your dominant side, using a dead edge training blade. In live drills, have your partner attempt to bear hug you, and have yourself engage the training blade and strike while so entangled. Prepare to have sore fingers and more than one torn fingernail. A reputable cutlery outfit will be able to provide you with a dead edge blade similar to your choice of knife.

If you choose not to engage in any regular practice, I guarantee that if a time comes where you need your knife, you won't even think of pulling it. In stress, we revert to either what we train for or what comes naturally, and what comes naturally when attacked or threatened is fear and defensive positioning.
posted by Sternmeyer at 2:31 PM on December 2, 2010 [8 favorites]

Seconding Sternmeyer: you are having a bad idea. And for actual fighting you want a fixed pointed blade with a hilt to keep your fingers off it when you stab; the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife has barely been improved on.

But in the spirit of AskMe: The cops I know carry hidden-release switchblades of the type now called "dual-action automatic knives". Example YouTube here. The idea is that they look like manual folding knives, but can be sprung open one-handed very quickly if you are defending with your front arm.
posted by nicwolff at 4:54 PM on December 2, 2010

Yes, Sternmeyer has it exactly right.

If you are set on that sort of thing, I'd recommend a good strong pen. Useful to write with, won't get you hassled for carrying a weapon, but can be stabbed into a face or neck just as effectively as a knife (and hey, no need to unfold it).
posted by Menthol at 5:14 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

I carry a knife to open boxes and cut fruit and cheese. I'm a righty so it goes in my right hand pocket with the clip on the right side with the point down. The tip up carry is what spyderco calls it. It seems that most knives with clips are opposite of this which makes no sense to me. I can reach down, pull it out with my thumb and have it open in a split second with the assisted opening. I can open boxes fast.
posted by mearls at 7:22 PM on December 2, 2010

Total terrible idea, but anyhoo. Seconding (not from a place of expertise, but just parroting what I've read) the importance of a hilt. I'm under the impression it's quite easy under duress to stab so forcefully that your fingers can slide off of the handle and right onto the knife blade and cause considerable damage to your poor phalanges.
posted by BleachBypass at 7:53 PM on December 2, 2010

Sog Flash II is a good knife.
posted by spork at 9:46 PM on December 2, 2010

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