Carrying A Knife: Considerations and Protocols (2022)

Given the current climate, preparedness and being ready for imminent civil unrest is on everyone’s mind. However, if you are reading this, it is a good presumption that you’ve been prepared for some time. You likely carry a firearm (or 3) and have taken some training classes. Hopefully, you’ve taken some TCCC courses as well.

But you may not carry a knife (Or maybe you do). This article focuses on what makes a good carry knife by identifying the differentiation between an offensive/defensive tool and the folder you use to cut open Amazon packages.

First and foremost, if you’re going to carry any weapon, please make certain you are aware of the local laws pertaining to where you live, and stay current, especially if you travel frequently. Let’s get that out of the way first.

Carrying A Knife: Considerations and Protocols (1)

Hard Ready HR1 Knife and Trainer

One of the main things you need to be aware of when carrying a knife is its purpose. As a general rule of thumb, most subject matter experts in self-defense will agree that a folder is not a viable offensive/defensive weapon for a variety of reasons such as like the inability to open it under stress, a high probability of dropping it in a scuffle, and fine motor skills going bye-bye when the adrenaline hits. However, that’s not so say you shouldn’t have a folder to use for day-to-day things; as this is being written, there is a SOG SEAL XR in my pocket that is used to go samurai on packages and cordage as needed.

However, the rituals we go through often ring in our heads with the jingle of wallet, phone, keys, pistol and knife: even if not necessarily in that order. If that knife is part if the defensive EDC routine, it should be a fixed blade, period.

There are ample offerings on the market that can serve this role, and in no order, knives like the Skallywag dagger, Shivworks Clinch Pick or Push Dagger, Bastinelli Picolomako, or Hard Ready HR1 all fit the bill. Many of these have “trainer” options, which is essentially the same exact knife in every way, just with a blunted, inert edge. This is a critical distinction. You practice dry fire with a pistol, why not practice safe “dry-fire” with a blade you carry every day.


Fixed Blade

Self defense and subject matter experts typically agrees that a folder is basically a knife broken in half. Also, aside from Emerson Knives, folders rarely come in trainer versions, which is an issue when putting in the reps deploying and using the weapon to wire it in as practiced skill. Odds are, if you’re pulling your knife, things are already going bad and quick. As referenced, if you're reading this, you probably carry a firearm, and a knife serves as a backup or as a step in an escalation of force continuum. Moreover, many folders on the market do not have trainer versions available, you're forced to train with a live blade at all times.


Make sure the knife is comfortable for you, the sheath fits well, and most importantly, you can access it quickly and without much effort. You should consider how it fits in your hand, of course, but also how it feels against your body in the position you'll be wearing it in. When looking at how it fits in your hand, consider texturing, the size of the grip, the balance or “feel of it” and blade length. You likely don't need anything with more than a 3-4 inch blade for a EDC defensive application. Blade length concerns are double important considering the legally permitted length in your state and city.


Carrying A Knife: Considerations and Protocols (2)

Clinch Pick and Trainer

Whatever you choose, the knife should have some type of active or passive retention to stop it from falling out. The belt clip (or however it is secured) should also be able to stand up to a violent draw stroke. The knife should barely move when it's in both the sheath and clipped to your belt/boot/daily kit.


Like a firearm, you don’t want everybody in Target knowing you have a weapon on you; Surprise is half the battle. Akin to the grip frame on a pistol, you'll want to skirt the line between comfortable enough to use in your hand, and small enough not to print excessively. As Doug Marcaida, knife expert, hauntingly puts it “Knives are meant to be felt, not seen.” It should be hidden until it isn't.

Carry Position

Assuming you have a blade that is comfortable to use, concealable, and has strong retention, you need to have a place to carry it that you can access quickly and that doesn’t get in the way too much. Most experts and trainers suggest it should be close to the centerline (think appendix carry), but wherever you carry, it should be second nature when you need to draw it. Also, another reason to have a trainer is some people practice drawing their knife with their left hand if they're right handed, in the event your dominant hand was tied up with combatives, holding an assailant, or firing a weapon. This is another reason a trainer version is critical; doing anything with your off hand is incredibly awkward and takes getting used to.

Carrying A Knife: Considerations and Protocols (3)

Shivworks Push Dagger and Trainer

Fighting Style

This point is critical. If you are a boxer or striker, perhaps you should go with a push dagger, or a knife that allows you to strike and still retain the weapon, like something with a retention ring. As an aside, some experts are split on the use of knives with a retention ring. If you’re a grappler or Jiu Jitsu practitioner, probably something like the Clinch Pick from Shivworks that lends itself to inside fighting would complement your style better.

In summation, there is no “perfect all-around EDC” knife. You need to think about the above considerations when making your selection, and think critically about the uses, your body type, climate (as in temperature & humidity) and local laws. In fact, you may end up with a couple knives to serve different roles, much like having a Glock 43 for the summer and deep concealment whereas in the colder months you carry a full size Glock or steel-framed pistol. A Clinch Pick can keep your 43 company while a larger blade rides along with your full size.

For the next installment, we'll check in with Clint Emerson, former DEVGRU SEAL Team 6 Operator and CIA contractor, owner of Escape the Wolf, author of the 100 Deadly Skills series; along with self-defense expert and Fit To Fight co-founder, Ryan Hoover to get some expert input on carrying a knife and some key considerations for them in part two of this series.

Stay safe out there.

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