NOTE: USCCA Customer Engagement team members get a lot of questions, and they pass a good number of them along to Concealed Carry Magazine Senior Editor Ed Combs. If you have a question, you can either ask it below or email it to [email protected]. We, of course, cannot guarantee answers to all questions — Ed’s a pretty busy guy — but we’d love to help you out with whatever’s stumping you.

Jared Blohm
Managing Editor
Concealed Carry Magazine

Should I Carry Brass Knuckles for Self-Defense?

Hard no, and for two very important reasons.

First, what your self-defense tools look like can make a big difference. And in a lot of minds, brass knuckles scream “CRIME.”

Before the complaining starts, yes. I know. I know that President Abraham Lincoln’s security detail carried brass knuckles. I know that “a gun is deadlier, so why shouldn’t I be able to carry brass knuckles?” I know there shouldn’t be any rule against any free person carrying whatever self-defense tool he or she would like to carry. But there’s the world that should exist, and then there’s the world in which we have to live. And a decent number of people will just plain be more skeptical of you if you defend yourself with brass knuckles than if you defend yourself with something — almost anything — else.

In Need of an Update

What’s worse, it would at least seem that many of the molds used to manufacture brass knuckles haven’t been updated for about 90 years. What this means is that many of the units for sale and currently in circulation were cast for men with hands significantly smaller than many modern mens’ hands. This can very easily become a problem.

You see, brass knuckles don’t just put a metallic barrier between your knuckles and your target’s body. They also brace your hand for the strike you’re throwing. Problem is, if the unit in question is too small for your hand, and if you’re wearing them when you punch an attacker, you are all but guaranteed to break bones in your own hand (thus defeating half of what brass knuckles were designed to do). The loops through which you passed your fingers will hold them in place, and as your hand compresses, the lower brace section will be pressed back into your palm. When this happens, an improperly sized unit is likely to break anywhere from one to all of your fingers. Suboptimal, to say the least.

If you somehow find yourself in a situation in which you are forced to defend yourself with brass knuckles and you can feel that they do not fit properly, you will be better served to deliver hammer-type blows or swing your hand in an arc with the knuckles across the second joints of your fingers. Do not throw a normal punch with the metal snugged all the way up onto your third finger joints.

Alternative Self-Defense Tool

If you’re looking for a good impact self-defense tool, you will be better off with a more pedestrian (albeit infinitely more useful) flashlight. Not only are modern flashlights excellent for striking attackers if you’re left with no other force option, you can even use them as a “fist pack” if you have to duke with an attacker like you would if you were wearing brass knuckles. But just to belabor the point, to the average American, even a “tactical” flashlight seems more like problem-solving gear than problem-causing gear. Brass knuckles seem an awful lot more like problem-causing gear than problem-solving gear to the average guy or gal, and they’re best avoided.