A Personal Defense Knife for Women


While women continue to play a significant role in firearms sales—especially as first-time handgun buyers—not all are comfortable with firearms. For those so inclined, a pocket knife may prove to be a more comfortable self-defense tool. After all, a pocket knife doesn’t require a special license and can be useful in a variety of circumstances. In fact, a well-handled sharp blade can, in its own right, equalize a bad scenario and potentially help save a life. While the knife you see here—Spyderco’s Matriarch2 Lightweight Emerson Opener—is marketed toward women, I find it to be a formidable defensive tool to have in my own pocket and unashamedly carry it on a regular basis. What’s in a name?


One of the world’s premier knife manufacturers, Spyderco goes to great lengths to educate its customers (“edge-u-cation”). Check out their website or their 2014 catalog; in addition to the many great knives available, you can learn about steel elements, steel terms, blade shapes, handle materials and terminology, and much more.


The Matriarch2 derives its design from Spyderco’s Civilian knife. The key feature and the one that probably stood out to you first is the curved, serrated blade. The size, weight, and shape of the blade are meant to provide maximum cutting performance no matter how it is held or moved. In other words, in a life or death, last-ditch situation, this knife will cut. While meant as an aid to women for self-defense purposes, the blade serves both men and women equally well.


While the Matriarch2 shares the Civilian’s blade shape, it does not have a full stainless steel liner. Instead the Matriarch2 offers a lightweight, fiberglass-reinforced injection molded handle. With the checkered grip pattern, it offers excellent purchase and is super strong. The attraction for women is that its light weight makes it easy to carry instead of easy to leave at home. I found it to be just as appealing to me to carry all day, every day.

Emerson Opener

The other key feature of this Matriarch2 is the fact that it is an Emerson Opener. Named for legendary knifemaker Earnest Emerson, the hook on the back of the blade is meant to catch on your pocket as you pull it out, automatically opening the knife as it clears the pocket. With practice, the blade opens right up, locks in place, and is ready to go. No need for deployment via thumb or other assisted means. Draw and boom, it’s open.

Keeping the Matriarch2 at the ready in your pocket is a four-position clip—a durable piece of steel that holds the knife at just the right depth in your pocket. Move it to whatever side of the knife is most comfortable, favoring your strong side or your preferred means of deployment.

Wicked looking and wicked sharp, the Spyderco Matriarch2 Lightweight Emerson Opener retails for $144.95 but you can probably find it online for less than $100. If carrying a handgun for self-defense is not for you, but you still want a tool that carries, deploys, and cuts easily, this knife deserves your consideration—no matter if you’re a man or woman.

21 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. I very much agree that knives are a great self defense tool for women. I do not agree that this is the best one for women or anyone for that matter. But that is only my option.

    Christian Swann
    Senior edged and blunt tool instructor

    1. Christian what do you suggest? I have several women in my life that would prefer a knife and I am looking for useful gifts.

  2. I just bought a Matriarch for one of my girls. She likes them due to the ‘intimidation factor’ of that blade – it gives her more confidence in her ability to defend herself – given that she’s about 110 lbs in a wet sweatsuit.

    I own a Civilian and love it. They are perfect as designed – as a ‘last line’ of defense. But I don’t recommend them for a first line of defense. Your attacker still has to be within arm’s reach, so a gun is still much better as a first choice. Personally, I think any woman willing to be soaked in somebody’s blood by slashing them up should be willing to carry a gun.

    1. Wholeheartedly agree. Enagaging in a knife fight for someone who is inexperienced could turn out badly. Most real criminals are NOT going to be intimidated by a blade. Not a wepaon of first choice for self-defense. Recommend something that will keep the attacker at a distance and wil likely have an immediate effect like pepper spray or a taser that fires its electrodes up to 15 feet or so.

    2. I agree with and stress to all that last sentiment. There are women (and probably fewer men then care to admit it) that could handle the bloodletting needed to prevail against someone in a blade encounter. The Matriarch knife has a claw-like shape that can inflict particularly painful and bloody non-lethal wounds if applied away from arteries and veins (please don’t lecture me about the law, I understand that legally a knife is “lethal” force). A woman facing attackers who are grabbing at her could quickly change their minds and get them off of her. A gun drawn sooner would be better only if a wrestling match for control of the gun did not ensue.

  3. Spyderco knives are fantastic. And the Emerson opener feature is amazing! I’ve carried an Endura 1/2 serrated blade with the Emerson opener for two years now. With some practice it’s scary fast how quickly the knife can be opened and ready for use. It’s actually fun when someone asks for a knife…and you can scare them with how fast it’s available for use.

    It’s tough, feels good in the hand and can be held in multiple grips depending on what you’re using it for.

    I’m not sure about the Matriarch blade shape, but whatever works for you then works!

  4. The problem with a knife as a defensive weapon is that in order to use it you must allow your opponent to get within arm’s length of you – a no-no in self defense.
    Stick with a gun or pepper spray. Use a knife to open the UPS package when your ammo is shipped to you each month. :->)

    1. The thing is, it’s all too easy to find yourself within arm’s length, whether or not you want to be in that position.

      I know, I ended up in that position earlier this year, which ended up with me not being hurt due to a good Samaritan coming to my aid. The guy attacking me was high on Meth and took me down like I was a baby, it took the two of us to hold him down till the cops showed up. Frankly, I was lucky.

      Ending up face-to-face happens, even when you think you’ve got things under control.

    2. As i read the above , the knife is for lady’s that may not want to carry a handgun , so an edged weapon may fill the void and save a life .
      Yes training as with firearms is needed .
      Now my pet ” peeve ” , as people keep saying don’t let anyone get close ,
      as in arms reach , think of standing in a checkout line , with others at a bus
      stop , etc on and on , what are we to say , hey get back stay away , think
      of all the times a day we are close to others that we don’t know .
      Stay alert stay safe , just my thoughts .

  5. Most people do not know how to use a knife for defence!! Training is a must if he/she carry a blade for selfdefense use,other wise open boxes with it!!! Cutting someone in not like TV!!! Happy new year to all!!!

  6. While I carry a gun for self defense, I hesitate to carry a knife because, as other’s have said, to use it (unless you are expert at throwing a knife) your attacker has to be within arm’s length. I don’t know about other women, but I know I have less strength in my hands than a man does, and I can see a man getting the knife away from me and using that very wicked blade on ME! I also know someone hopped up on drugs doesn’t go down easily. I earned my brown belt in TaeKwonDo many years ago but believe I could still do some real damage to an attacker’s knees with a stomp style kick since it doesn’t take much to break a knee joint. I also learned general self defense from an former Marine ex-cop and could get out of his grip thanks to the techniques he taught us. And I guess, as a last resort I could use my empty gun as a hammer and beat him to death! ;)

  7. No doubt ladies uncomfortable with firearms will embrace the brutal, bloody, physicality of knife fighting since it’s kind of like ballet to the death.

  8. This looks like a wonderful knife! Good knives cost $$. However I do not use any knife that I cannot sharpen myself and the serrated blade is a problem to properly sharpen. After I sharpen a knife my wife could shave her legs with it if she wished and the “bevel” would be centered in the blade at a 17 degree angle from both sides. Serration causes problems when sharpening and you do have to sharpen a new knife. If you are willing to carry a almost sharp knife and buy a new one when it becomes dull then go for it, besides it looks cool!

    1. I agree with you on some knives you will have to sharpen them out of the box, however, I can vouch for the Spyderco Civilian and Matriarch2. These knives come razor sharp out of the box and do not require another sharpening. If the blade is only used in the event of a life or death situation, the edge will be more that up for the job. For anyone who does carry a knife, please know how to properly use it. Same as handguns, you never rise to the occasion. You only fall back on your training.

  9. better get some training and keep practicing to use a knife. If you don’t know how to use it, I and a lot of others can take it away from you in a half a heart beat and whoever pulls it is the one getting cut!

  10. Serrated knives do not cut through loose cloth or rope; they can get tangled in clothing to say nothing of trying to sharpen them properly. Also, using a knife as a tool vs using it as a weapon usually means holding it quite differently, ie some training!

    1. “Resurrection I know”

      Firstly these knives (matriarch ,matriarch .2 + civilian)…
      All of these knives were designed by experienced MA ,SO practitioners.
      Probably ..likely ..definitely knife guys, designed for extreme circumstance , tailored to their own skill set in very specific circumstance .
      It was most likely that given the tolerances , build quality and steel performance , that they realized in such specific circumstances being only able to move in a very confined space making very restricted movement , anyone holding such a knife had a very capable weapon .
      It’s highly unlikely before you find yourself in one of these positions, you’d have passed up the chance to sink a few bullets into your crack addled attacker.
      But when the proverbial has already left the fan and embedded itself into your eyebrows and you have one move left , well it could be much worse than having one of these knives.
      Grey guy if you happened to get a chance since this post to have a hands on .
      I’m sure you’d have thought of that post, vg10 sharpened by spyderco , with that s curve blade will cut through several layers of clothing loose , tight or unspecified and carry right on through flesh , tendon and rest itself nicely into the sternum .
      In any other usual sd situation a trigger would be preferable..save on energy and dry cleaning costs .
      But when you are locked up about to have your number handed to you one of these knives will be your buddy, wingman ,bff.

  11. From what I understand, these knives (Civilian, Matriarch, and Matriarch2) were designed to be effective, last ditch self-defense for people that don’t have training in knife fighting. From what I understand, they are shaped like animal claws, and are quite effective when the “fight or flight” instincts kick in. If the S has just HTF, what would you rather have: fingernails, or a 3″ razor sharp talon? (3.55″ for the Matriarch, and 4″ for the Civilian)

  12. Im not going to take a knife to a gun fight, but I will take a gun to a knife fight.

  13. I carry both, a gun and a knife, every day….

Add Your Comment (Get a Gravatar)

Get a Gravatar! Your Name


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

All comments will be reviewed by the Delta Defense team before posting. If your comment is in poor taste, or contains profanity or racial slurs, it will not be posted.