Defense-Utility? Show of Hands

Feb 22, 1999
Tactical/Combat Knives, Knife Fighting/Training and Self Defense are all topics of interest for a large number of Forumites, myself included.

So much emphasis seems to be placed on the "Tactical" features of a knife when IMO these knives are really just being used as tools to cut stuff.

Can we have show of hands of your total experience as a knife owner/user what percentage you use a knife for utility (to cut stuff) compared to the percentage you have actually pulled out a knife and drawn blood in self defense.

After 37 years on the planet, I have been in a couple uncomfortable situations in major cities where I had the knife palmed and ready, but never opened it or made it visible so this does not count. Military defense use does not count either since you were already in a combat situation. Self defense situations only please.

In response to this my personal experience is 100% utility, 0% defense.


Any one who says a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife has never cut themselves with a Really sharp one.

[This message has been edited by David Bloch (edited 21 July 1999).]
Many folks own a gun, train with it and never have to use it. The same with a knife. It's an issue of preparedness.

In the past years, there have been several fights around my work area where multiple victims were stabbed. Also, muggings with guns and knives. Mostly the latter. I have seven co-workers assaulted in the past 6 years. It's never happened to me but I am generally more aware than they are. I have noticed "ambush" setups and avoided them.

Several weeks ago, I did get hit my an amateur ambush/rip-off attempt by a group of teens while driving home at night. One of them was standing on the street with his foot on a skateboard. Just when I was about to pass by, he pushed the skateboard under my car. The board clanged around underneath the car and I stopped fearing it was ripping something out underneath. I saw two of teems coming my way, I pulled the knife and had it against my right thigh. The kid claimed I ran over his skate board and demanded $85. Without getting into details, I kept my anger under control, maintained a steely demeanor and the kids never approached beyond 6 feet of my car window. When I drove off, the knife was still in my hand.

Awareness and preparedness are the front lines of defense. I love it when people say, after crime, "I can't believe it happened here." or "I can't believe it happened to me." Do we believe it always happens to the other guy, in another place?

I buy and use my knives for utility only.I do feel safer with a knife on me,but I hope I never have to use it in a self defence situation.
scott w
It's nothing really to be proud of, but during my highschool days, there were lots of gang wars, and unfortunately I was caught up in one. I always have my trusty balisong with me.

Draw blood? I think I lopped off a finger or two of someone who was aiming his chain and padlock on my head! Those were the days. I still have the knife with me, but never really brought it out anymore. It was those times when we're still young and rash and not thinking straight.

I've never had to use a knife in self defense. But, like Sing said, it's an issue of preparedness. I have indeed palmed my knife on several occasions, but never needed to open it to defend myself.

I try to be aware of my surroundings and avoid getting into untenable situations. It may just be dumb luck, but I've been here pretty close to half a century (give or take a few years) and never had to use violence against another person in my entire adult life. I would hope and pray this would continue.

In the meantime, I'll train where and when I can to be capable of preventing anyone from harming me or those I love.

Score for me is utility 100%, defense 0%

[This message has been edited by Bob Irons (edited 21 July 1999).]
I use my knives for utility. Some of my friends have had to use knives or guns for self defense. But, it usually easy to avoid the problems if you remain alert, and Know your priorities (Assaulting somebody - even for self defense - can be very expensive.
Yes, I do normally carry a knife that is designed as a defensive tool, (Combat). I use the knife every day, to open mail, cut string and rope, in the kitchen, working around the house, and cutting catnip for the cats, and roses for my wife in the garden. I sometimes use the back of the tip to write notes and measurements on the back of roofing slates, or to mark a slate to be cut for a valley or hip. I even use it occasionally to perform minor surgery on myself, though I generally carry a # 11 scalpel blade in my wallet.

At home, in this state I generally have a firearm on my person or close to hand. (This state has extremely liberal gun laws.) There have been two occasions in the last 20 years when I have touched the but of my handgun in my pocket, an over reaction on my part both times.

The nature of my work requires that travel out of state, sometimes across the country for extended periods of time. I am amused and annoyed that when I am in states where I consider self defense a more likely eventuality, I am not allowed to carry a handgun. At any rate the knife is always in my pocket, and is always a comfort to me when I am worried about "goulies and ghosties and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night", or walking across a dark parking lot at a truck stop in the middle of the night. I catch myself brushing my wrist against the clip at the front of my left hip pocket, to assure myself that the knife is where I think it is.

As far as actually using the knife, cutting someone, Never, Brandishing the knife, Never. It's only defensive function has been the comfort factor. The 7 "C" cell maglight clamped to the side of the drivers seat would be I think a better weapon in most cases, but that too is only a flashlight so far.

The USMC and Navy MK11 is a fighting/utility knife.They may know what they are doing.
I've never had to use a knife in a defensive situation. I have "palmed" it on occasion, but mostly for comfort. I have had to defend my home and family before, but I had a 12ga. to prevent harm to my family. I'll show my hand for the utility part.


a knife is my third chose for defence behind a glock and an asp baton.
only had to defend myself once as an adult and it was empty handed it happed to fast and was to close to use a weapon.
but i agree been prepared is the best thing.
i always carry a knife and carry a gun all but at work.
100% mundane cutting chores. Convenience.

So far, no emergency cutting of inanimate objects.

Zero use so far to cut or otherwise discourage bad guys, thank God!

I have carried a one-hand folder in my hand a few times for short distances, where there was in fact no problem. For instance, the other night when a lady asked me to walk her to her car. If she was nervous, and I was there to "protect" her . . . Having a pocket knife in my hand can't hurt.

But I carry it to cut things. It has cut inanimate objects, and has only cut inanimate objects, and any other use is speculation.

AKTI Member # SA00001
Hi All,
I do not usually pack a blade (except a CS urban skinner) any more for self defense.

Yes, I've used a knife on the street and in my house for defense. I've written about these some in the past on this and other forums. I'll only say this, that when the stuff hit the fan big time: my "weapon" was the large CS Twistmaster, and it did very well. I'm sorry it happened, but I'd rather be here than the opponents.
100% utility. That being said, I've carried a least one knife daily since I was six years old and I've always considered the defensive capabilities of a particular knife design when choosing a new knife. After years of experimenting with various methods of one hand opening of large lockbacks (Buck 110 and all of its copies and variations), I just went nuts when I saw my first Spyderco. I've been buying them ever since, as well as many other one handers. But I think the knife community in general owes Sal Glesser a huge thank you for making the common pocket utility knife a viable defensive tool by allowing immediate easy access via the clip and as a lefty, fast one hand opening by either hand. I just feel safer with a couple of Spydercos in my pocket even though I may never need to use it for defense. Its like what they say about parachutes. If you don't have it the first time you need it, you're never going to need it again.


who dares, wins

95% utility and 5% defense.

Please excuse my comment earlier.

[This message has been edited by maddog2020 (edited 21 July 1999).]
Is the question what do you carry for, or what do you use it for?

I carry for utility first, defense second. It it no real revelation that I will probably never actually use my knife for defense, just as I've trained with a pistol for years and will probably never have to use that either (to use Sing's example). But I feel it's perfectly reasonable to be prepared.

> So much emphasis seems to be placed on how strong, sharp and deadly a knife is
> when IMO these knives are really just being used as tools to cut stuff.

Strong and "sharp" is just as important to utility work as it is to defensive applications. Or by "cut stuff", are you assuming everyone just opens mail when they cut stuff? Of course, other issues such as carryability, ergonomics, lock reliability, edge holding and edge toughness, sharpenability, and performance at different tasks are also important -- and they are pertinent to both applications, to varying degrees. And I see those things being discussed here in detail also.
I carry for utility...sorta....Never drew blood..but I have palmed it alot..

That being said, I think it has been mentioned before by others, that a folder that is ment for severe hard use and utility has many of the features that would make it reliable for defense. (strong, reliable lock etc.)

I admit to feeling a bit vulnerable when I forget my knife at home, even if I remember the gun. My bad habit of late is two or three knives, and finding new and interesting ways to carry then all. Whether for fun or paranoia, I do not know. Probably both.


It is not a matter of whether or not you are paranoid, it is a matter of whether or not you are paranoid enough.
Generally I carry my 3.25" lock-bladed SAK for utility, but it is razor sharp and helpful in a pinch.

A couple stories from my teen years several decades ago:

(1) I typically avoided bad areas, but I was a knife nut. I was strolling along the shore of Newport Beach one night when a buddy and I were accosted by about 6 drunk teens who wanted to fight. I could have gutted the leader with an unobtrusive 4 inch folder I was carrying, but that looked to cause more problems than I expected. I accepted a one-on-one fight which my friend enforced with his shiny 6 inch bladed italian push button. The fight lasted till I had a bloody nose and we could declare the other guy the winner. My life would have been awfully complicated if we had cut our way out of the situation.

(2) I loaned a friend one of my creations while he was traveling. It was one of my "Ice Pick Pencils". These were wooden pencils with all but the last 3/4-inch of the lead drilled out. The pencil was sharpened normally and used as the sheath for an ice pick blade. The back end of the blade was in a 3/8 inch cylinder of steel that had a regular brass pencil eraser sleeve epoxeed over it. The back end of all of this was rubber tipped by a regular rubber pencil eraser epoxeed in place. I put a shirt pocket clip on the assembly. Except for a little excess weight these ice pick pencils were impossibe to distinguish from ordinary pencils.

My friend was assaulted by a gang. He left the ice pick in the thigh of one of his attackers and escaped with his life.
100% Utility, although it is a comfort sometimes to have a knife near for defense if needed. A pistol would be more comfort in those situations, but in my old age I've gravitated away from pistols. If ever in a "situation" hope to be able to avoid it and run if need to. Have carried a knife for over 50 years though.

99.95 percent utility, .05 percent defense.

I've never used my health insurance for major medical hospitalization, either -- but I sure do make sure it's current and I've got the card with me.


AKTI #A000845
And tomorrow when you wake up it will be worse.