Blades and Knives

Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight

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.

Ka-Bar TDI Large Law Enforcement Serrated Tanto Knife DBA-849

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.

Brian D. Hoffner

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.

This Chris Reeve folding knife has a Ti-Lock mechanism, which was originally conceived as a means to isolate the lock from the body of the knife, in order to allow more design freedom for handle and frame.

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.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. Admiring the dedication you put into your blog and detailed information
    you provide. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed information.
    Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  2. Not sure if anyone else thinks this way, but even in the home when I sleep I have a KABAR that I have close by and consider it to be probably more effective than the gun I have ? Chances are an intruder wakes you up and your body is definitely at a disadvantage in comparison to the intruder, who is wide awake, their eyes adjusted to the light conditions. So instead of blindly shooting off a few rounds in that instant, a quick stab or hack might be more effective ? Add that children won’t be handling a gun accidentally. Also a stray bullet won’t hit a bystander/family member accidentally ? Never any guarantees, but I sleep pretty soundly, so I may not be awaken until the intruder is too close or on top of me anyway ?

  3. I have just received my CWP license. I have to walk with a cane,there is no “Flight” scenario for me. I’m studying a book on cane defenses. I’m currently carrying a tactical pen and a Gerber Covert Fast assisted
    opening pocket knife. Now, I will carry the knife in my off hand pocket and become proficient in drawing and opening at speed. My CCW is now a Sig-Sauer P250 Sub compact 9MM with two clips.Since reading this article I will train using all defense tools, I also have a 650 Lumen flashlight for evenings. Thank you very much for this article.We all need our eyes opened for us every now and then.

  4. I agree with Gil, A knife is nice but we need to learn to use any means avalible in an instant. I have lots of knifes, guns and will to live. I have been trained to use sticks of all kinds, shapes and anything else I can get my hands on. I carry a Ruger 380 or Glock 23 when possible but I’m quicker with my hands first then pull the gun. If I ever have to pull the gun I expect to fire it at that point. If I had to depend on fumbeling around for a knife I’d have already have been dead at this time in my life. I have had to damage a few in my life and a knife was never an option. The main object is make sure they can’t get up when you leave. Knifes are to slow usless your the attacker.

  5. Surprise!!! As the old hand to hand instructer at PI told us use the unexpected the most daring and unusual means to disarm or make your atacker let go of your weapon. You are already close and touching the man who has grabbed your firearms and is strruggling to take it from you. You just reach out, grab his junk and squeeze and pull as hard as you can, maybe even to the point that it is jerked away from his body causing permanent damage. If that doesn’t make him let go and release your weapon, nothing will, and it is much faster than trying reach a knife.
    The old instructer started with scene that you are on a “Cat hole” taking a dump, your rifle is leannig against a rock 5 feet away and here comes the enemy charging with fixed bayonet, what do you do? after many unusable answers from the recruits, he said. “You reach down, grab a handful of what you just expelled from your body and throw that at him, if his shock doesn’t give you time to reach your weapon you were dead anyway”. Remember there is no such thing as a fair fight, unless you are in a ring with referees.

  6. I’m in complete agreement with everybody here except my situation is a bit different. I live in one of the two states where concealed carry is illegal. I don’t often travel in bad areas but if I have to, in the past I have carried illegally. Otherwise, I carry a SOG Flash Tanto and a spring coil baton. As long as I’ve been carrying a knife, I’ve never thought to carry a knife and practice with it on my weak side. Great advice that I’ll heed. I do try to practice tactical shooting as much as possible. I’ll definitely incorporate knives into it as well.

  7. I am a CWP holder and I always carry concealed. I also carry a folder with a pocket clip in each front pocket so one can be accessed with either hand. They are folders with a button on the blade to open with the thumb. Very fast and easy to access.

  8. I carry a Smith CS45 in a fanny pack with secret holster, in winter in a Kydex holster. I always carry a folding assist open knife, too. I happen to walk with a cane, made of black locust ( a very hard wood ). In places with a no gun sign, when I cannot legally carry my pistol, I still have the knife and hardwood cane as weapons. I am a retired deputy sheriff and carry under LEOSA, but we are required to abide by local laws. I am aware of my surroundings as I move about. I agree with open carry, I hate it unless done by a peace officer. Unlike concealed carry where the permit holder must take a class, and prove proficiency on the range. Open carry allows anyone to carry a pistol. It scares citizens, shows anyone who wants a gun where to take one, and causes more problems than it solves.

  9. This is one reason why concealed carry is the way to go vrs open carry, the perp does not know you have the gun so he/she can’t try to take it away.

    It is also why you practice, practice some more and even more with defensive carry and shooting at close to very close range. The use of hollow points and or fragmenting rounds help reduce the over penetration danger to others and have more effect on the perp.

  10. over this past summer i was fortunate to purchase one of ernie emersons karambit folders. upon reading up on carry of this fine tool it dawned on me , that in the above scenario, carry in my strong pocket was not very intelligent as i would have my pistol in that hand. being a retired a s e master auto tech, i have become prettty ambidextros, so i moved the karambit to my left pocket, and continue to carry my original m o d pointman as my everything knife in my strong pocket. so after reading the above article i see that i have indeed covered more of the base’s when going about my day as a ccw holder. thanks for the great article, keeep them coming. peace through strength, larry

  11. Well one should always carry a knife for those just in case situations. When the close encounters get too close and there’s no room to safely get your pistol out a knife can give you an edge.

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