Pocket-sized knives (blades less than four inches) are great for “every day carry” (EDC). These handy utility knives are legal to carry in most situations, and are rarely offensive or intimidating. Smaller knives lack the cutting power of larger blades, offering minimal advantage in a self defense situation. However, with proper training, a pocket-sized knife can be a powerful ally in a hostile situation, if it’s carefully chosen to suit your needs and skill set.
Advantages of Small Knives
Small blades are generally legal to carry. In some situations and states, small knives are the only legal option. A pocket-sized knife isn’t going to scare or offend people if you pull it out in an everyday situation such as opening a package. Small knives are comfortable to carry even in lightweight clothing. Some feature a sturdy clip to keep them handy in a pocket or belt. They are also easy to conceal, which is appropriate in most social situations.
Disadvantages of Small Knives
Small blades lack the cutting and thrusting power of large knives. Thick clothing may render a small knife ineffective. Small knives are not visually threatening, and won’t scare away an attacker the way a large sheath knife might. Small knives lack a large blade’s reach, and are easier for an attacker to get past to cut or grab your weapon hand. It takes a higher level of skill to use a smaller knife. More training and practice is required to use one effectively.
How to Pick the Best Small Knife
Does the shape of the handle allow you a firm, stable grip in both saber and ice pick grip? If the knife is a folder, does it have a strong, reliable lock that won’t break at a crucial moment? If a folding knife does not lock firmly in the open position, it cannot be used for self defense. Swiss Army and camping knives that don’t lock are tools, not weapons; they can close and slice your fingers in a combat situation.
Wider blades are stronger and have more cutting power. Curved or serrated blades slice deeper and more effectively. Choose a knife that suits you own training and tactics. A narrow straight blade will penetrate better when thrusting, while curved and wide blades slash and cut better.
Training and Preparation for Self Defense with Small Knives
Seek instruction from a qualified teacher or reputable instructional materials. Make a training weapon out of a dowel or pipe and some insulating material, the same size as the knife you choose, and practice with it. Practice drawing out the weapon, and holding the knife in both hands with various grips. Train with a partner. Use practice time to learn your strengths and weaknesses, and the advantages and limitations of your knife.
Keep your knife sharp. Every day carry knives, especially pocket-sized utility knives, are often used for opening, prying, and rugged cutting tasks. If you spend the day breaking down cardboard boxes or turning screws, your knife won’t be reliable when you need it in a threatening situation. Remember to sharpen it as needed.