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With the world appearing to fall apart around us, investing in the best self-defense knife may just save your life. That’s why we did the digging for you and compiled all of our research here. These are some of the best in the industry, all for easy choosing.

We have a total of 10 entries for your consideration. And after you’ve read our thoughts on each knife, there’s a handy buyer’s guide that immediately follows. It will help you better determine which model is right for you.

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Spyderco’s Matriarch 2 took the top spot as best overall. This lightweight weapon of choice is well-balanced and reliable. It’s both quick and effective in defending yourself if you’re the victim of an attack.

Looking for a knife that makes slicing easy? Check out the Fox Karambit. This one’s blade sports a unique curvature that makes it a breeze to defend yourself with. It’s lightweight, too, with a handle that has incredible grip.

Top 10 Best Self Defense Knives

Didn’t see anything you like? We have plenty more ahead, so read on to see the knives that ranked the best in our guide.


1. Spyderco Matriarch 2 Review - Best Overall

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  • Tough handle
  • Great design
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Pricey
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With its steel blade and fiberglass handle, you’re getting the perfect balance of quality and versatility. This knife is tough, reliable, and very classy.

The serrated blade sports a unique curve at the tip, making this one both beautiful and deadly. You’re sure to be well-protected in the event of an attack.

We appreciate the speed in which the blade locks into position. It’s fast, effective, and if its looks don’t kill, the blade just might.

And although it’s best served for defense, the Matriarch 2 is an attractive knife. It’ll look great on a stand when not in use.

Features

  • Fiberglass handle
  • 6 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Steel blade
  • 4.6 ounces

Ease of Use

The lightweight body makes this a very easy knife to carry. The handle feels great, too, providing you with a nice grip.


2. Fox Karambit Review - Best for Slicing

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  • Comfortable grip
  • Ambidextrous
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • A bit pricey
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Lightweight, excellent grip, and sharp. Fox checks all the boxes for a versatile fighting blade. This knife is designed with combat in mind, if it wasn’t evident from its design.

The handle is contoured with space for your fingers to tightly grip. We like the loop at the end for your pinky to slide into. This ensures the knife stays with you in a scuffle.

The curved blade makes the Karambit ideal for swinging. That being said, you should avoid trying to lunge or stab with it.

Anyone who is familiar with knives knows that Fox is a well-respected company. The Karambit serves as further evidence to support that fact. It’s a finely-crafted knife that’s sure to protect you if need be.

Features

  • Emerson Wave deployment
  • Tiger claw shape
  • 7.5-inch length
  • 3-inch blade

Ease of Use

The shape of the Karambit makes it a clear winner for comfort and usability. It’s very comfortable when gripped, giving you confidence to defend yourself.


3. Spyderco P'Kal Review - Best for Fighting

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  • High-quality
  • Secure grip
  • Durable
  • Sturdy
  • Expensive
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Spyderco makes a return with the P’Kal. This lightweight entry is sure to impress with its formidability. It uses high-quality components to deliver a blade you can count on.

Used in Filipino martial arts, the P’Kal makes an excellent companion, regardless of whether you know any form of fighting or defense.

An Emerson closing system makes the knife easy to close with one hand. And it ensures that the blade doesn’t accidentally spring open.

Holding this short-bladed weapon is comfortable. You feel in command at all times, which is indicative of a good knife.

Features

  • Stainless steel blade
  • Ball-bearing lock
  • 6 x 1 x 1 inches
  • 3.2 ounces

Ease of Use

This is a highly-versatile knife. Although the blade is quite short, you feel powerful when wielding it. The handle is stout, too, giving you exceptional grip during use.


4. Ka-Bar TDI Review - Best Knife Under $40

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  • Tough and sturdy
  • Comfortable grip
  • Close-range
  • Affordable
  • Short blade
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Looking to save some money in your quest for defense? You should give Ka-Bar’s TDI a look. It won’t break the bank, and it gives you plenty of protection when you need it.

This knife is pretty popular, as it’s been around for a while now. It’s made for law enforcement, with a design that favors use with a handgun.

The curvature of the blade and handle act as one when opened, making it a seamless weapon for slicing or stabbing.

Unlike some other self-defense models, the TDI can be used for other purposes, as well. The blade is pretty stunted compared to others, but it will certainly put a hurting on any would-be attacker.

Features

  • 8.4 x 4.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Drop-point edge
  • Stainless steel
  • 6.4 ounces

Ease of Use

This is a knife that’s easy to draw quickly in combat. Its shape makes it perfect for close-quarters attacks, although you might have trouble at a distance.


5. Emerson Combat Bowie Review - Best for Close-Range Attacks

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  • Comfortable grip
  • Good handle
  • Sturdy blade
  • Well-crafted
  • Expensive
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Designed for close-quarters combat, Emerson’s Combat Bowie is excellent for surprise attacks. Your mugger likely wouldn’t know what hit them.

The blade is short, but sharp. It’s a knife that is great for thrusting and slicing. It’s lightweight, but it commands respect.

The G-10 handle provides excellent grip. It’s made with a liner lock for quick and easy closing. When the blade is out, the knife measures 9 inches in total length.

Defense aside, this is a great-looking weapon. It has more uses than just inflicting damage, too. So you can carry it as an everyday knife if you wish.

Features

  • 7.83 x 3.46 x 2.36 inches
  • Stainless steel blade
  • G-10 handle
  • 8.7 ounces

Ease of Use

The texture of the handle makes the Combat Bowie easy to wield and use. For close-up attacks, there are few others that do it as well as this.


6. Al Mar SERE 2000 Review - Best Durability

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  • Excellent grip
  • Sharp blade
  • Well-made
  • Attractive
  • Pretty pricey
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The Al Mar SERE 2000 is known for its toughness and durability. It features a spear-like tip that makes it great for thrusting in an attack. And its lightweight body helps to improve your control over the blade.

The handle also makes a great defensive weapon in a pinch. It can be used to strike your attacker on the noggin if you can’t open the blade fast enough.

The handle features exceptional grip, too, ensuring that it doesn’t slip from your grasp. The build-quality is also amazing, making this one of the toughest knives among our rankings.

Features

  • Stainless steel edge
  • 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • 7.2 ounces
  • Satin finish

Ease of Use

Lightweight and versatile, you’ll have no trouble brandishing this weapon. The blade is short but stout, ensuring you are well-protected in an attack.


7. Gerber Mini Covert Review - Easiest to Carry

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  • Fast deployment
  • Tough blade
  • Affordable
  • Great grip
  • Serration isn’t very pronounced
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Gerber’s Mini Covert is designed for quick deployment in the event of an attack. The titanium-coated blade ensures longevity while reducing the chance of breakage.

We love the design of this model, as it is very sleek. It fits easily in your pocket without drawing attention. Muggers won’t have a clue when you quickly draw this knife.

The blade flips open without hesitation, giving you the jump on a surprise ambush. And the G-10 handle provides you with excellent grip that you can rely on.

The Mini Covert looks great, too. You can use it in many other applications besides defending yourself, making it a great companion to use around the house.

Features

  • Titanium-coated blade
  • 5 x 5 x 5 inches
  • G-10 handle
  • 3.2 ounces

Ease of Use

You won’t have to worry about this knife slipping out of your hand in a fight. The textured handle stays well in your grasp. And the serrated blade ensures you’ll have the upper hand if you’re jumped.


8. Gerber Paraframe Tanto Review - Best Knife Under $30

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  • Excellent grip
  • Great design
  • Inexpensive
  • High-quality
  • Handle takes some getting used to
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The Paraframe Tanto is a highly-versatile knife that will serve you well during an attack. The open frame design helps make this one lightweight and easy to wield.

Coming in at a total of 7 inches when opened, you can create plenty of distance between you and your attacker. The blade is just a little under 3 inches, but the large handle makes it easy to swing away.

And although the handle isn’t solid, it provides exceptional grip. This allows you to take control of the fight with confidence.

And it’s made in a way that makes it easy to open with one hand. You’ll have no trouble whipping it out of your pocket and brandishing the blade in a sudden ambush.

Features

  • Titanium-nitride coating
  • 0.75 x 5.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Dual thumb studs
  • 3.52 ounces

Ease of Use

The compact design when closed makes this one a breeze to carry. And it sports a clip if you prefer to have it in easy reach.


9. CRKT Provoke Karambit Review - Best Grip

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  • Great handle
  • Nice grip
  • Effective
  • Durable
  • A bit pricey
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With a name like Provoke, you know this knife means business. The handle is designed in a way that provides you with excellent grip.

It’s well-crafted, too. It feels tough and durable thanks to its titanium-nitride coating. You’re getting a blade with longevity and exceptional protection.

The steel blade is short, but highly-effective in a fight. Those jumping you will be the ones surprised. And although it’s curved, the blade is good for both thrusting and slicing.

We appreciate the loop at the end of the handle. It gives you that extra bit of confidence when held. You know this handle isn’t leaving your grasp.

Features

  • Titanium-nitride coating
  • 7.2 x 1.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Steel blade
  • 6.1 ounces

Ease of Use

Some may not like the blade-to-handle ratio. But we found it to be just right. It gives you perfect control over the knife at all times.


10. Schrade SCHA4BG M.A.G.I.C. Review - Easiest to Use

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  • Opens quickly and easily
  • Great for beginners
  • Attractive design
  • Affordable
  • Low build-quality
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Need a hand opening your blade? The Schrade SCHA4BG M.A.G.I.C., works like, well, magic. It takes just the push of a button for rapid deployment of the blade. It’s fast, effective, and just what you need in an attack.

You can also open it up via a small knob, if you desire. The aluminum handle features a nice texture to it that helps ensure your grip remains intact, even if you’re sweaty or it’s raining.

The lightweight body makes this knife an easy one for everyday carrying. And the short but sharp blade is perfect for close quarters combat.

And although it’s an affordable weapon, it looks great. This is a knife anyone would be proud to have for defensive purposes.

Features

  • 3.9 x 4.7 x 2.8 inches
  • Aluminum handle
  • Assisted opening
  • 4 ounces

Ease of Use

It doesn’t get much easier than pressing a button. That’s all it takes to start defending yourself with this knife. If you’re new to cutlery, you may want to give this one a look. It’s great for beginners and makes learning the ropes easy.


Buyer’s Guide for the Best Self-Defense Knife

As you can see, not all blades are made alike. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to pick out any 2 that are identical. While many are designed for defending the same way, it’s up to you to decide which one is right for you.

Let’s take a moment to look at a few things you should consider when shopping. This will help you better determine which kind of knife fits your style the best.

Accessibility

This might be the most important factor of any blade you choose. You need a knife that you can wield quickly and safely. One that’s difficult to get out of your pocket or purse is a waste of money.

Regardless of which one you ultimately decide on, make sure it is easy to get to. If you carry a purse, don’t just stuff it down in the bottom. Use its clip – if it has one – to secure it on one of the inner pockets. This will make it easy to brandish.

Many times, simply flashing a knife is enough to deter an attacker. But if you can’t get it out in time, you won’t even have a chance to find out.

Size

This falls in line with accessibility. You obviously don’t want to be walking down the street with a huge knife strapped to your hip. But you also don’t want something small and ineffective. There’s a fine balance to finding the right blade.

But it’s also important that the size is right for you. Since you’re going to be the one using it, the knife needs to be something you’re comfortable with.

Yes, a bigger blade might intimidate an attacker more so than a tiny one. But if you have trouble using it, or it’s too heavy, you’re only hurting yourself.

And you never know when you might need it. So it’s important that you feel confident when it’s in your hand.

Concealment

Like we touched on above, you don’t want a knife that is easily seen. The last thing you want is getting stopped by law enforcement when you’re just minding your own business. In the times we live in, you could be in for a world of trouble.

Choose a knife that can be concealed easily, yet also brandished quickly. Again, it’s all about balance. It’s best to get your hands on as many as you can to test their weight, size, and feel. You won’t know what you’re capable of using until then.

FAQs

Is It Legal to Carry a Knife?

This is a tough one. Some knives, like switchblades, are illegal. Other knives depend on which city and state you live in. Check your local laws to ensure you aren’t breaking any. Remember, even if your state says it’s OK, your city might disagree.

How Well Does a Knife Work for Defense?

It all comes down to the carrier. A well-trained person could easily take out an attacker with little trouble. The better-trained you are, the better off you’ll be.

But make no mistake, if you are jumped and you start swinging wildly, woe to the person in front of you. It is always best if you can just get away. So if you flash your blade and your attacker runs off, leave it at that. Never think that puts you in a position to turn into the attacker.