Concealed carry knives have become a vital accessory for those seeking a discreet yet effective means of personal protection. As a tool designed for self-defense, concealed carry knives offer a portable and versatile solution that can be easily integrated into everyday life. 

A concealed carry knife is a purpose-built tool designed to be discreetly carried on someone’s person. Owning a concealed carry knife goes beyond simply choosing a model that suits your preferences. Legal considerations play a significant role in responsible ownership. And, to ensure safe and effective use, owners should partake in self-defense training and knife maintenance.

Types of Concealed Carry Knives: Fixed Blade vs. Folding Knife

Fixed-blade knives have significant advantages over folders in life-threatening scenarios. These knives are easier and quicker to deploy utilizing only gross motor skills, plus there is no locking mechanism that has the potential to fail. A fixed blade allows you to acquire a proper grip during the draw. There’s no need to transition from an opening grip to a different grip for fighting. The differences in speed and gripping ability between a fixed blade and a folder are substantial. They become even more so in a violent, dynamic situation.

However, some argue ease and speed with which it can be employed are also liabilities as it can be used against you should an assailant snatch it from you. It’s the same argument made by anti-gun advocates against the carrying of handguns. Of course, the answer is proper training and discrete carry.

The only real advantage to folders is that they’re convenient. Folders are socially acceptable and legal to carry in more places, as well as being smaller and often more practical to carry than a fixed-blade of comparable size.

How to Choose a Knife for Concealed Carrying

Choosing the right concealed carry knife requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure it meets your specific needs and preferences. There are several key aspects to keep in mind when selecting a concealed carry knife. The USCCA provides knife reviews to help you pick the best option.

Size and Weight

Concealed carry knives come in a range of sizes, and the ideal size for you depends on your intended use and personal comfort. Consider factors such as the knife’s overall length, blade length and weight. A compact and lightweight knife may be easier to carry and conceal, but it’s crucial to strike a balance that ensures the knife is still effective against an attack.

Blade Material

The material of the blade determines its durability, sharpness and resistance to corrosion. Common blade materials include stainless steel, carbon steel and high-performance alloys. Stainless steel is known for its corrosion resistance, while carbon steel typically offers excellent sharpness. High-performance alloys often combine the best of both worlds.

Deployment Mechanism

The deployment mechanism influences how quickly and easily you can access the knife. Common mechanisms include manual opening (traditional folding knives), assisted opening (spring-assisted blades that partially open with a manual push) and automatic opening (spring-driven blades that open with a button or lever). Choose one that suits your preferences and complies with local laws.

Handle Design

The handle design significantly affects the knife’s ergonomics and grip. Consider factors such as handle material, texture and shape. Common handle materials include plastic, metal and composite materials. Ensure the handle provides a comfortable and secure grip, especially in various weather conditions. Some handles also feature additional features such as textured grips or ergonomic shaping for enhanced control.

Concealment Options

The effectiveness of a concealed carry knife depends on your ability to carry it discreetly. Consider knives with features that facilitate easy concealment, such as low-profile pocket clips or slim profiles. An easily concealable knife is more likely to be carried consistently, increasing its practicality as a personal-defense tool.

Concealed Carry Laws for Knives

While there are federal laws governing the possession and carrying of certain types of knives, the bulk of regulations fall under state and local jurisdictions. Federal laws mainly focus on restrictions related to specific types of blades, such as automatic knives, and the transport of knives across state lines. However, the nuances of legality are primarily determined at the state level.

State laws regarding concealed carry knives vary significantly. Some states have clear and permissive laws, allowing the concealed carry of knives with relatively few restrictions. In contrast, others have stricter regulations, specifying blade length limits, permissible types of knives and circumstances under which carrying a concealed knife is deemed legal. Local ordinances may add further layers of complexity.

Some states require individuals to obtain permits for carrying concealed knives, much like concealed carry permits for firearms. These permits may have specific requirements and restrictions. Failure to comply with state and local laws can result in serious consequences, including fines and legal repercussions. To check the knife carry laws in your state, visit the USCCA’s Reciprocity Map

How to Use a Knife for Self-Defense

If you think you are going to stop an attacker with a stab or two to the abdomen, think again. Good knife fighting is about taking away the attacker’s ability to fight. That means cutting the muscle groups that allow your attacker to wield a weapon or move effectively. Take away the assailant’s ability to move and you have successfully stopped the attack.

Cuts to the lower arm impede the attacker’s ability to grab you. Cuts to the upper arm take away the ability to swing an impact weapon. Cuts to the thigh just above the knee impede mobility. Know these target areas and practice your defensive movements with a training blade.

Remember, you may only use as much force as is reasonably necessary to stop the attack. Once the attacker’s ability to inflict harm on you is removed, you must not use any further force.

Carrying a Knife Concealed

You should seriously consider how and where you carry your knife on your person before carrying. If you can’t access your gun, will you still be able to easily access and deploy your knife? Can you access it with either hand? Is it concealed? A concealed knife not only provides the element of surprise but also lessens the likelihood of an assailant grabbing the knife.

The side you carry your gun on and the side you carry your knife are individual decisions. The most natural positioning for most people is on the dominant-hand side. But when carrying a knife as a backup to your gun, could you still access your knife when you cannot access your gun? There are pros and cons to everything. However, you are not limited to only one knife in one position, depending on the laws in your area.

The closer the knife is to the body midline, the easier it is to access and deploy with either hand. It’s also easier to access and deploy from a clinch or if knocked to the ground.

Defensive tactics trainer Mike Janich, who has been studying and teaching self-defense and the martial arts for more than four decades and heads up Martial Blade Concepts (MBC), suggests you carry your tactical folding knife clipped to your strong-side pocket in a tip-up configuration. This gives you rapid access, a good grip on the knife and an extra level of security if the blade should, for some reason, open in your pocket.

Many tactical knives allow you to set the pocket clip where you would like it: either tip-up or tip-down for right- or left-handed carry. Janich suggests tip-up carry because it allows you to get the knife into the fight more quickly and allows for a more natural draw.

Legal Ramifications

There are legal ramifications when using a knife in self-defense. The media, particularly movies, has long portrayed anyone wielding a knife as a violent criminal. We have all heard stories of someone stabbing a victim 25 times. Not only is it further proof that stabbing is not the right course of action, but stabbing an attacker 25 times will give the prosecutor the chance to tell the jury just how violent you are.

If you are using a knife for self-defense, be ready to clearly articulate why you did what you did. For instance, after consulting with your lawyer, you might say, “I cut his arm so he could not grab me, but he tried attacking me with his other hand. So then I cut his leg so he could not chase me. Then I got away and called 911.”

Recognize a Knife’s Strengths and Limitations

The knife is best used as a force multiplier. Understand, knives are lethal weapons, though seldom lethal in a defensive situation. Many strokes would be necessary during an assault to produce lethal effect. Knives aren’t instantly effective by any means.

A knife’s most relevant role as a tactical tool is for weapons retention. Having an assailant wrestle control of your handgun would be a worst-case scenario. Attacks aiming to grab a victim’s gun often happen from behind, typically targeting those in uniform or open carrying. However, anyone is subject to an assailant attempting to interfere with his or her draw or gain control of his or her handgun. In these scenarios, learn to quickly deploy your knife. It can be a valuable self-defense tool when used properly, carried regularly and trained with appropriately.

To learn more about self-defense tactics with edged weapons, see Concealed Carry Magazine’s regular column, Defensive Edge, written by Michael Janich.

This article is a compilation of previous blog posts authored by Kevin Michalowski, Eugene Nielsen, John Caile and Bob Campbell.