By Roger Eckstine You’ve ended up in a confrontation because someone surprised or tricked or trapped you. You’ve moved to get to your carry gun, but the attacker (or attackers) are trying to take your sidearm away from you. All of this can take place in just a second or two.
So, what are you doing with your non-gun hand? If you’re carrying a back-up gun, now might be the time to put it into action. Then again, introducing a second gun may simply double the odds that one of you is going to have a gun sooner than the other, or worse, simultaneously. Even if you win the battle and get to the trigger first, a desperate shot fired in the midst of a struggle can hit a bystander. And a shot fired with the muzzle in direct contact with your opponent may over penetrate with enough residual force to injure or kill others nearby. There has to be a better way of disabling the would-be gun grabber, or at least inflict a pain-filled moment on him so you can break free. One way to do that: Perhaps you should consider carrying a knife to partner with your handgun.
That’s what more and more police officers are doing in response to what commonly occurs in the line of duty. The partnering of knife and gun has long been a study of practitioners such as Brian Hoffner, a Houston police officer and self-defense instructor who teaches students how to use rifles, pistols, shotguns, folding knives, and empty hands against aggressors. At Hoffners Training Division, he demystifies knife fighting as the exclusive province of martial artists both good and bad. Hoffner’s approach: “We are not knife fighters. We are fighters with knives.” One aspect of Hoffner’s Defensive Folding Knife Training course teaches holding the knife in the “weak” hand, or the hand opposite the gun. This makes it a natural for protecting the gun from takeaway. The right-handed shooter can easily clamp down on the pistol with his right hand, draw the knife and open it, and in a flash, cut the would be gun-grabber. I incorporated a lot of Hoffner’s knife-fighting techniques for the carry and deployment of lock-blade folders in the Shooter’s Bible Guide to Knives. Also, I listed several fixed-blade models that were designed specifically for the purpose of pairing up with one’s carry gun. Many such knives were designed by police and for police. But private citizens will find these new designs just as useful.
For example, the Benchmade 176 SOCP Dagger and sheath are very thin and designed to be carried hidden behind gear such as a radio or magazine pouch. Also, there’s a training version — dulled but otherwise identical — that comes with the knife or can be purchased separately.
Or there’s the TDI Law Enforcement series from Ka-Bar, economically priced fixed-blade single-edged knives that were designed for law-enforcement personnel for close quarters fighting. Cheaper Than Dirt lists several different Ka-Bar TDI knives with different blade shapes and a variety of edges including plain, serrated, and a combination of both.
What you’re looking for is a knife where the handle and blade face off at an acute angle, making them a natural for defense against a gun grab because they’re easy to draw and rake across the hand of a would-be taker. They come with a small Kydex sheath that can be mounted on the belt, vertically or horizontally. These sheaths may also be adapted to MOLLE gear or a tactical vest. The blade is fashioned from AUS 8, a high-chromium stainless steel with a durable non-reflective coating.
I like Ka-Bar’s TDI model DBA817, (Cheaper Than Dirt Item no. DBA-849) because its Tanto point blade and fully serrated edge are features most often favored by rescue personnel.
One thing to take into account when choosing a carry knife is not to pick one with a name that brings ominous behavior to mind. That can lead to trouble in court, should it come to that. Ultimately, the preservation of life is what carrying a knife is all about.
Roger Eckstine is author of Shooter’s Bible Guide to Knives, available from Skyhorse Publishing for $19.95.