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While we would never encourage you to get into a fight, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to defend yourself against an attacker.
Although any knife could theoretically be used for self-defense, there are a few exceptional examples of knives specifically built to cause an attacker maximum damage in a combat situation.
A few essential features to look for when searching for a blade to protect yourself and your loved ones include a small profile, speedy deployment, razor-sharp edge, and ergonomic handling.
To take the hassle out of sifting through the hundreds of self-defense knives on the market, we’ve curated a list of the best self-defense knives for your money.
In a Rush?
Get This: Spyderco Matriarch 2
The Spyderco Matriarch 2 is a wickedly intimidating blade designed to slice and dice your attacker when you are in a tight situation.
Best Self-Defense Knives on the Market Today
7 Quality Self-Defense Knives You Need in Your Collection
1. Spyderco Matriarch 2: Best Overall Self-Defense Knife
Just one look at the blade on this knife is enough to send potential attackers running for the hills. Its wicked hooked blade and serrated edge give the knife a deceptively ornate appearance. The shape of the blade is what makes it an excellent knife for self-defense.
The blade is based on the Indonesian karambit blades used for close-quarter combat but features a serrated edge for inflicting maximum damage. The blade is constructed from VG-1o steel, which has a lower carbon content making it rust-resistant and tough. The hollow grind allows you to hone a razor-sharp blade.
The Spyderco Matriarch 2 features an Emerson Wave opener. This style of opener allows the knife to deploy instantly due to the tip-up carry style and the unique hook on the spine of the blade, which catches on your pocket as you retrieve it. This could save you precious seconds in a self-defense situation, allowing you to get the upper hand over your attacker.
For exceptional grip, Spyderco has crafted the handle of the Matriarch with lightweight bi-directional fiberglass-reinforced nylon. The material is virtually indestructible and requires zero maintenance.
2. Benchmade Bedlam: Best Folding Self Defense Knife
You can’t go wrong with Benchmade, but you will have to open your wallet for one of their knives. Benchmade has found the perfect balance between self-defense and utility with the Bedlam. The Bedlam combines the best features of your favorite EDC knife with easy handling and grip of the best tactical weapon.
The blade is 3.95-inches of tough 154 cm steel. The high-carbon content of 154 cm steel provides better edge retention, which allows you not only use it for tasks like rope cutting or bushcraft but also for slicing your way out of a dangerous situation.
The scimitar-inspired blade shape with a fat belly and high saber grind are designed for function as well as sending a message to a potential attacker.
Benchmade’s patented AXIS lock means that you can deploy it one-handed and keep the blade secure, allowing for both slicing and stabbing cuts. The grippy G10 handle features dual thumb studs for ambidextrous operation.
With an overall length of 9.7 inches and a weight of 7.2 oz. this knife is on the heavier side. However, many users find the extra heft allows for more forceful defense strikes.
3. CRKT Clever Girl Fixed Blade: Best Self-Defense Fixed Blade Knife
This CRKT Clever Girl Fixed Blade knife is just as deadly as the velociraptor for which it is named. With a curved, claw-like powder coated blade, this knife will send any potential attackers running.
The total length of the knife is just over 10 inches, which is relatively short for a fixed blade. However, this smaller size makes it lightweight and easy to handle.
The upswept Persian blade shape is built for cutting but with a solid tip that is great for piercing cuts for a more versatile fighting style, and the full tang structure imparts added stability and strength to the knife.
The G10 handle offers superior grip, handling, and leverage, and the lightweight material perfectly balances the blade for an exceptional fighting knife.
The key feature for any fixed blade knife for self-defense is the sheath. The sheath that comes with the Clever Girl fits like a glove, letting you retrieve the blade quickly and smoothly.
4. Kershaw Brawler: Best Pocket Knife for Self Defense
The name says it all. The Kershaw Brawler may be small, but it packs a big punch when it comes to self-defense situations.
The Tanto blade is designed for one thing only: to inflict the maximum amount of damage possible to an assailant. The 8Cr13MoV steel blade is exceptionally tough for inexpensive steel and keeps its edge well.
However, it is also easy to sharpen when you need to. You can also get the blade with a black oxide coating for better corrosion resistance, and a more intimidating look.
The Brawler looks like a folder but acts as an automatic with one-handed lightning-fast opening thanks to the SpeedSafe spring-loaded assisted opening mechanism and easy-glide thumb peg. It also has a fantastic grip with a handle crafted from glass-filled ballistic nylon polymer, textured so you won’t lose your knife in a fight.
5. Kershaw Emerson: Best Carry Knife for Self Defense
When it comes to self-defense, speed is a major winning factor, which is why the Kershaw Emerson is the best EDC knife for defensive situations. The collaboration between Kershaw, known for their affordable, high-quality knives, and Emerson, who patented the revolutionary “wave” technology, offers the best of both worlds.
The hollow grind upswept blade makes it an excellent slicer, and the 8Cr13MoV steel construction gives you durability and corrosion resistance at an affordable price. The curved tip looks menacing enough to visually deter attackers, but it is also strong enough to handle daily utilitarian tasks.
A large handle and pronounced choil make the knife handle feel like an extension of your hand for exceptional control and precision striking. However, the non-reflective G1o coating is only on one side of the handle, so while it still provides a fantastic grip, it isn’t ambidextrous.
The Emerson wave technology allows you to have your knife at the ready before your attacker even knows you’re armed. The hook notched into the spine of the blade catches on your pocket, automatically deploying the knife and locking it in place. This is ideal for situations where your attacker has incapacitated you on one side or comes at you from behind.
6. KA-BAR TDI Compact: Best Neck Knife for Self Defense
The KA-BAR TDI Compact is a small, but mighty, knife and the most common knife used by law enforcement. With its convertible sheath, it works as a neck knife or can be easily clipped to your belt.
This knife is designed for close-combat situations where you may be unable to reach your other weapon. The knife sheath is worn on your weak side, so you need to reach across your body to get it. This makes it perfect for situations in which you are tied up and need to escape.
The overall style is a modified version of a karambit knife with a pistol shape that allows for quick retrieval. The cross-drawing style allows you to make fast cuts at close range while keeping your wrist straight for more powerful slicing to disable your attacker.
The blade is constructed from 2.313 inches of hard-wearing AUS 8a steel that is easy to sharpen and corrosion-resistant. It has a drop-point blade that is ideal for precision cutting and has a fat belly for a quick slash-and-run defensive style.
This KA-BAR TDI handle is made from practically indestructible Zytel, which also offers exceptional grip. It features a unique finger choil that facilitates a range of holding grips for a more flexible fighting style.
7. Fox Emerson Karambit: Best Knife for Female Self Defense
Honestly, we can’t get enough of the Emerson wave. For women who want a reliable, easy-to-handle knife for self-defense situations, the Fox Emerson collaboration is the best choice.
Karambit-style blades are specifically designed for precision slicing cuts, and a nasty hawkbill blade can also act as a visual deterrent for assailants. The blade is constructed from NC690Co stainless steel, which is Teflon-coated for exceptional edge retention and corrosion resistance.
The Emerson Wave opening mechanism makes it easy to open one-handed, and ideal for women who are attacked from behind. The handle is constructed from super-grippy G10, so your grip won’t falter no matter how serious the confrontation.
The grip also offers a comfortable divot for your thumb for maximum control. It also features a unique protruding ring from the base of the handle for added maneuverability.
A Sharp Knife for Your Money
Assailants can attack at any time, so you need a knife that you can wield quickly and effectively in tight spaces.
Spyderco Matriarch 2
The Spyderco Matriarch 2 offers a unique blade shape that is specifically designed to inflict serious damage on your assailant. It features a lightning-fast deployment mechanism that enables you to perform defensive strikes before attackers even realize you’ve drawn your blade.
If you do find yourself with space to move, just flashing that wicked reverse S-shaped serrated blade will be enough to make them run off in the opposite direction.
Ultimately, when it comes to defending yourself and your loved ones, you can’t put a price on safety. The Spyderco Matriarch 2 offers craftsmanship and materials that are second to none.