Sometime in the process of purchasing a firearm, it is likely a gun owner will seek out some training before carrying the gun on a regular basis. That is because self-defense is a big responsibility. And most firearms instructors, therefore, concentrate on skills likely to be needed. But when it comes to carrying a knife, almost no one gets training. Most often, people buy a folder (maybe not of very high quality) and clip it into a pocket. Somehow, they feel they will rise to the occasion if the knife is needed and forego formal training. Guns are the weapon of choice by a considerable margin. And since a handgun should be used to handle both gun and knife attacks, we have to wonder if the knife is worth the trouble to master.

The knife isn’t an offensive tool at all but a defensive tool and 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 unless careful strikes to vulnerable areas such as the neck are undertaken. That isn’t defense except in the gravest extreme.

Have Some Familiarity

Though not a needed skill, I urge students to speed load at every range trip to be familiar with the process. By the same token, an edged tool should be drawn every day to maintain familiarity. And knives are more likely to be used on a day-to-day basis, making this “training” easy to manage.

Pocketknives can be used nearly daily to open packages or cut an errant thread. However, some carry a purpose-designed defensive blade and hesitate to use it for mundane chores. I would still encourage users to draw the knife every day, use it when the need comes up and not worry about the edge. Learn to sharpen the edge.

Carefully consider every piece of gear. Don’t be afraid to use the knife for normal chores then re-sharpen it. A fixed blade knife is superior to a folding knife when it may be carried.

While many of us are more formally and better trained with a firearm than a knife, constant handling of your carry knife will result in sure handling.

How to Use a Knife for Self-Defense

If you see an assault coming and are not armed with a firearm escaping is the best choice. If the adversary has a blunt force weapon, such as a baseball bat or shovel, you are at a serious disadvantage with a folder or carry-sized fixed blade knife. However, if you are both armed with an edged weapon, it will be difficult to block a knife thrust and return a slash successfully without being cut. An assailant may retreat from a fast slash, so it is important to learn to strike the opponent and withdraw rapidly so as not to have your hand trapped.

A background in martial arts and boxing would be helpful. If we are forced to defend ourselves, the knife can become a force multiplier. Hold the closed knife in your hand as you strike, enhancing the blow. Without specialized training, mating the blade to the fist is potentially a lifesaver. If need be, use an open knife to defend yourself.

A Weapon Retention Tool

A knife’s most relevant role is as a tactical tool is that of weapons retention. A gun grabber getting control of your handgun would be a nightmare. A fixed blade knife is much easier to draw quickly. However, a fixed blade is classed as a dirk and illegal in many jurisdictions. Check local listings.

Many attacks with the aim of grabbing a victim’s gun are rear-originating and occur to those in uniform or open carrying. But anyone is subject to an assailant attempting to interfere with his or her draw or to gain control of the victim’s handgun. In these scenarios, learn to quickly deploy a knife. A rear-originating attack may be so forceful as to raise you from the ground, allowing only seconds before losing consciousness.

To defend yourself and retain your weapon, quickly move one hand to the handgun and secure it pressing hard to keep the handgun in the holster. The other hand should draw the knife. (Perhaps most of us carry the knife on the wrong side.) Once opened, the knife’s point will run across the attacker’s arm. Pivot and clear yourself from the assailant.

A knife 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.