Generally speaking, when we talk about carrying concealed, we’re talking about carrying a pistol. I’ve carried a pistol concealed for years, allowing me to protect myself and my family, and by extension protecting society at large wherever I go. But that doesn’t mean that I think of a pistol as my only weapon, merely my most effective weapon in most cases.
In addition to my pistol, I carry a knife; actually, I carry two. One is a fairly normal pocket knife, which I use like a tool, for everything from cutting food to whittling tent pegs. But I also carry another knife concealed, one that is more suited for use as a fighting knife.
“Why do I do that?” you might ask. Because there are times when a gun might be a bit too much for the need. One such case would be if I was defending myself against an unarmed man. Although I am older and not a prime physical specimen, using a gun if a stronger, younger man attacked me with his bare hands could be seen as unnecessary by the courts.
The knife gives me another option, one that (hopefully) will look good to the courts. My lawyer will be able to argue that I did not use the most deadly option available to me, but met their attack with a more measured response. That may not necessarily work, but then, it might.
Another time when that knife might be useful is if I go in someplace where I am forced to leave my gun in my car. You aren’t allowed to carry a gun into a U.S. Post Office, even with a concealed carry license. So, even though I am forced to leave my gun in the lockbox in my car, I am not totally unarmed.
Using a Knife for Self-Defense
One of the things that keeps more people from carrying a knife as a self-defense weapon is that it takes quite a bit to learn how to use a knife effectively as a weapon. Without sufficient training, most of us feel that a knife could be taken from us and turned against us, making it more of a danger than a help. But unless you are facing someone who is truly trained in using a knife for fighting, chances are they aren’t any better off than you are.
The first rule of using a knife for self-defense is something we all know from carrying firearms concealed; that is, use the element of surprise to your advantage. In other words, carry it concealed and don’t remove it from its place of concealment, until you are ready to use it. This means that you also have to have it hidden in a place where it will be readily available when you are ready to use it.
The second and most important rule is don’t fight your opponent’s body; fight their knife arm. The normal tendency in knife fighting is to try to get past the other guy’s defenses, so that you can stab him in the body. That’s not necessary. You’re really not trying to kill him; you’re just trying to keep him from killing you. So, focus on eliminating his ability to fight, not on taking him out.
In order to do this, what you want to do is cut the other guy’s knife arm. One good cut or even a few smaller cuts will most likely cause him to drop his knife or run from you because he will no longer be able to defend himself. In either case, you’ve won; and you didn’t have to kill him to do that.
What Kind of Knife to Carry
Just as there is no perfect pistol, there is no perfect knife. Literally any knife can be used as a defensive knife; a lot depends on your personal preference. But some knives do provide advantages over others. So let me at least give you some food for thought.
To start with, you’re better off with a fixed-blade knife, rather than a folding knife. Not only is it faster to draw and use, but you don’t have the risk of the blade closing on your fingers or the hinge breaking. Make sure that it has a full tang, so that the handle can’t break off during use.
Generally speaking, fighting knives are double-bladed. However, there are exceptions. As originally designed, the K-bar is a clip point knife, with the back side of the blade tip ground. While it isn’t sharp, this makes it easier for the knife to penetrate, than if it wasn’t ground. However, you can’t really cut with the back side of the blade.
There are two basic double-bladed designs: the dagger point (sometimes referred to as a needle point or a stiletto point) and the spear point. Dagger points are narrow, with the two edges relatively straight. Dagger points are curved, making for a wider tip. This makes the tip stronger and less likely to break. While dagger points look cool and are popular for that reason, a spear point is better for a true fighting knife.
Not all double-bladed knives are fully sharpened when you buy them, because the manufacturer is thinking that they will be used as a stabbing knife. But if you are going to use it for defense, especially in the manner I mentioned above, it would be best to have it sharp.
Carrying a Knife Concealed
There are a number of different ways of carrying a knife concealed, but only a few that are truly effective. By effective, I meant that they truly are concealed, as well as being readily accessible if the knife is needed. You’ll have to decide for yourself which one works best for you.
In all cases, a knife with a thin, flat handle is easier to conceal, than one with a thicker handle. In the pictures below, the black knife handle is about ¾ inches thick, while the silver one is less than ¼. That’s why I carry the one with the silver knife every day.
This is a rather classic concealed knife carry and a very effective one for hiding the knife. It works even better with western style boots than it does with the tactical boots shown here. This can be rather uncomfortable if you position the knife on the ankle bone, instead of behind it. The problem with it, is that it is hard to get to quickly, just like an ankle holster for a pistol can be hard to get to quickly. Still, this is better than not having a backup knife with you at all.
Inside the Belt
Like an inside the belt holster for a pistol, putting the knife sheathe inside the holster makes it sit flush up against the body, making it much more concealable. I have found that the knife tends to shift in this position, requiring repositioning from time to time. The problem is that few knife sheathes allow this, while still making it possible to unsnap the safety strap and draw the knife. As you can see in the picture, this sheathe is designed for this sort of carry, with a tab sticking up from the safety strap, making it easy to undo.
Horizontal on Belt
This is my personal favorite and the one that I use every day. To do it, I had to modify the knife’s sheathe, as I couldn’t find a sheathe that allows this sort of carry. What I did was to sew a couple of lengths of webbing to the back of the sheathe, making belt loops out of them. I am then able to thread the belt through the loops, putting the handle of the knife near the butt of my pistol’s grip (barely visible on the right edge of the picture). I used a knife with a very flat handle. So that it wouldn’t be protruding as much.
Strapped to the Arm
Strapping the knife’s sheathe to the forearm is a favorite of experienced knife fighters. Unfortunately, I don’t have a sheathe set up for this to show you a picture of right now. If you know what an arm guard looks like for archery, it is similar to that. The knife is strapped to the arm with the point on the inside of the elbow and the handle down at the wrist. Concealing it requires a long-sleeve shirt, with wide sleeves, which is what I don’t like about it. Nevertheless, it is one of the easiest places to draw a knife from quickly.
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