Self Defense/edged weapons


Hi Conor,

In your bio, it says that you are proficient in edged weapons.  Is there a particular knife or brand that you prefer for self defense?  If so, why?


Kershaw "Needs Work"
Kershaw "Needs Work"  
Hey Andrew,

It's funny, but if you showed me the knife that I currently carry months ago, I wouldn't have categorized it as a preferred 'stopping device'.  

Having said that, I should probably introduce my new traveling companion - The Kershaw "Needs Work".  This little gem has been by my side for 3 months now, and I'm liking it more and more as the days go by.

Specs -  
Model #: 1820
Opening: Assisted
Steel: Sandvik 13C26 stainless-steel (although mine says 14C28N on the blade)
Handle: Polyimide
Blade Length: 3 in. (7.5 cm)
Closed Length: 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm)
Weight: 3.5 oz.
Price: Cheap! ($40-$50 bucks in Canada)

Now I'll go into a bit of what I like about it.  It's a three finger folder, which means that the handle will fit the index, middle and ring fingers comfortably, with the pinky left resting on the butt end for most people.  This doesn't take away from the user's manipulation of the knife...quite contrary, it's extremely functional.  I find that not only is the knife compact for carrying, it allows for greater control when using a sabre grip due to a pronounced wave in the spine of the blade (which is a personal preference).  It won't be effective as an impact weapon when the blade is engaged, but I don't normally consider that feature at that particular time anyhow.  
I'm also partial to the Wharncliffe blade on this knife.  It emphasizes cutting efficiency when slashing (or cutting), without taking a back seat when being used during thrusting motions.  The blade is also a hollow grind, which to me is a bit of a paradox.  It's a meaty little knife that has scalpel-like precision cutting.  You'd think that you could drop it, throw it around, and abuse the sucker...but not so.  The edge is thin and could be prone to chipping if used for heavy duty work.  But here's the thing, I'm not as interested in it for it's utilitarian abilities.  I'm not going to use this for prying, digging, or throwing...I've got a Kabar for that abuse!  For self-defence, I'm satisfied that if I need to call on it, it won't let me down.

I have about 30 knives, and this is the only one that I own that has assisted opening.  I've never been a huge fan, just because I like to have total control over the opening and closing of a folder.  I think it's a nice touch on this one, both functionally and aesthetically.  It makes sense because of it's would have a hard time using inertia to get the blade out and there is hardly any room on the blade for thumb opening.  You would need to 'play' with it and modify/adjust your current opening practices.  

Cons.  When you first look at this thing, you'd swear that it was made for a carpenter or someone who works with plasterboard.  It resembles an ugly box cutter that was fashioned by a knife maker who thought he could do a better job.  Ironically, this feeling dissipates once you spend time and 'get to know it' a little better.
The only thing that bugs me, and it's not just directed at this particular make and model, is that the clip is fashioned for tip-down carry only. Craaaap!  I also know that there are people out there who don't really like the clip (too tight, style, etc.), but it doesn't really bother me, so I'm not going to bother complaining about it.  What I will say, is that the handle is contoured, which makes replacing the clip so that it can be carried tip-up...unlikely.
Almost forgot, I would also create some grooves down the spine for better thumb placement when holding it in sabre grip, but that's something that the user can do on his own with a file or once again, it's a preference issue and one that is easily doable.   

So there you have it.  

When it comes to self-defense, really it is about user preference.  A knife that is carried to your liking (tip up or down); how it feels in the hand (I like a thicker handle and G-10 scales); a good locking mechanism (I prefer a liner lock); blade style (drop-point, tanto, Wharncliffe, etc.); and blade grind (chisel, flat, hollow, serrated, combo-edge, etc.); should be taken into consideration.  Go to a surplus store and handle a few, and if you're really interested on what others are carrying, you can join a knife forum.  Just be careful, because it can turn into an addictive hobby!  

Good luck,

Self Defense

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Conor MacPhee


I am a fully licensed private investigator, security consultant, and bodyguard in the province of British Columbia. I am also a personal security management instructor with over 20 years experience in non-aversive and aversive physical intervention. I have a strong background in impact, edged, and aerosol weapons training; conflict resolution; crisis management; threat assessment and response training; stress/fear management; and personal safety awareness.

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