Exclusive Web Extra: Steel Defenders

What You Need To Keep Bad Guys
And Tough Situations At Bay.

In the good old days, we’d go to the grocery store without locking the doors to our home. In the good old days, we’d pick up a hitchhiker, and never think twice about it. So much for the good-old days. In today’s reality — and especially in the current down economy — trouble lurks around every corner and there’s always someone out there who’d like to, as Brother Dave Gardner would say, “Relieve us of our coin purse.”

knife 1

The SOG Ops — a meaner, leaner version of their popular
SEAL Pup — can handle defense duty and field chores.

Terrorism and crime have given us all a good reason to carry a knife daily as a means of self-protection. While many of us would prefer to carry a handgun at all times, the prospects of doing so dictate otherwise. That’s why arming yourself with a knife and using one as a backup makes good sense. Simply stated, you never know when you’re going to need one, and you don’t want to find out you need one and don’t have one.

Fortunately, we live in a time when the cutlery market is busting at the seams with choices in knives. Never in the history of our nation has the selection been so diverse and the competition so strong. Our occupation and lifestyle often determine what type of knife will best suit our needs on a daily basis. For instance, a white-collar job pretty much demands your carry be discreet, virtually unnoticeable. On the other hand, in most cases a blue-collar worker carrying a knife tends to be widely accepted. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but most options revolve around the type of people you deal with on a daily basis, and it’s up to you to determine your individual circumstances.

Small, easily concealable knives are in abundance in both fixed-blade and folding fare. Many combat experts believe you need at least a 3″ to 3-1/2″ blade in close-quarter combat, and that larger knives can work to your advantage. Alternatively, if you’re not trained for such, a bigger knife may serve you better in keeping someone at bay until help arrives, or you can buy enough time for a quick exit. There’s another case for large knives, in that you may not always be defending yourself against another human, but a large animal. In this case, you would be hard pressed to make a 3″ blade work to your advantage. Here again, we come back to choosing a knife to fit your individual circumstances. We’ll cover a wide range of knives here, large and small, to help you make that decision a bit easier.


Buck’s Vantage Force series is available in three grades. The Select model
(top) and top-shelf Pro (bottom) are pictured here.

AG Russell

Discreet and classy, the A.G. Russell Titanium Button Lock and CRKT KISS ASSist
can be easily concealed in restrictive work places, yet still offer a degree of protection.


A couple of additions to Spyderco’s line of easy-to-conceal tactical folders are
shown here. At top is the Junior, at bottom the Persian Gen 2.

Pocket Savoir Faire

Small- to medium-sized knives make up the majority of tactical folders offered on the market today, and for good reason. After the horrific events of 9/11, US citizens began arming themselves with knives more than ever. Most of these knives come with pocket clips for easy — and quick — access, but for the ladies, they can just as easily be carried in the purse if preferred.

Restrictive work environments may necessitate carrying a small knife with a blade under 3″. While not ideal for self-defense, carrying a small knife sure beats carrying nothing. A.G. Russell’s Titanium Button Lock is a classy looking folder with a 3.5″ bolstered handle (in optional white bone or Cocobolo wood scales) that can be easily carried in the pocket or purse, or you can use the pocket clip to keep the knife at the ready. This knife utilizes the slick William Henry button-lock design, and the 2.92″ drop-point blade has dual thumb studs for ambidextrous opening. The liners and bolsters are machined from solid Titanium, making this a lightweight, easy-to-conceal carry.

CRKT has gotten a lot of mileage out of their unique, Ed Halligan designed KISS folder, and now you can get it with assisted opening. The KISS ASSist has a 2.75″ blade — available in either a drop point or Japanese-style Tanto — and checks in at a very inconspicuous 3.875″ when closed. The company’s patented Fire Safe mechanism keeps the knife from accidentally opening in the pocket (ouch!) and carbon-fiber inlays add a touch of class to this futuristic folder. One note of caution is in order. Once you start playing with the KISS ASSist, you may find it hard to put down!

Aside from their trademark hole in the handle, the lion’s share of Spyderco’s folding knives have had a tendency to be trim in handle width, and therefore easier to conceal. Two of their latest offerings carry on this tradition in grand style. The Ed Schempp Persian 2 (with blades offered in 3″ and 2.5″ lengths) sports a wicked, upswept trailing-point blade and G10 synthetic handles. Blade steel is VG10, a lock-back mechanism secures the blade and skeletonized inner liners help to keep the Persians’ weight to a minimum. The Junior, designed by Romanian tech-wizard Alexandru Diaconescu, combines a wide 3.2″ spear-point blade with a curvaceous handle incorporating an ample finger guard. This knife uses VG10 steel and G10 handle scales as well, but uses Spyderco’s unique patented Compression Lock to firmly ensconce the blade while employed.

Buck Knives’ new Vantage Force series offer straight-forward clout in a stylish, easy-to-pocket liner-lock. These knives are offered in three grades, one to suit any budget. The top dog is the Vantage Force Pro, which features blue-black CNC G10 scales, with a machined tread pattern for enhanced purchase. The blade is a 3.25″ drop point of premium S30V crucible steel, black-oxide coated for low reflectivity and a flipper mechanism for rapid access. Construction on all three knives in the Vantage Force series is beefy, yet easy to manage, thanks to a nice balance of thick liners and relatively thin scales.

If you need a knife that serves double duty as a defender and rescue knife, the Benchmade Triage was made for you. This Axis-lock rescue folder features a 3.5″ no-nonsense Modified Wharncliffe blade, ambidextrous thumb studs, G10 scales (available in orange or black), fold-out safety cutter that cleverly rolls out from the base and a carbide glass breaker on the butt. In essence, the Triage is loaded with features that can handle a wide variety of rescue duties!


Mantis’ hot new Vuja De — seen here at the top — is a wicked blend of the Balisong
and Karambit designs. Below is the diminutive Warren Thomas coin knife.

Pocket Mongrels

Mantis Knives has never been known for walking a narrow path, and their new Vuja De model may just be their most aggressive knife yet. An ingenious hybrid of the Balisong and Karambit — two of the most popular East-Asian fighting knives — the Vuja De is pure pocket fighter. A vicious 2.5″ Hawkbill blade rotates out of a pair of locking-handle rails to form a Karambit-style fighter every bit as wicked as it is effective. These knives require training, but their reputations precede them in their ability to get the job done. Mantis is also offering a nifty “coin knife,” with a Damascus steel blade designed in collaboration with forward-thinking knifemaker Warren Thomas. We’ve pictured it here with the Vuja De for your inspection.

Small doesn’t always equate to being bantamweight in the self-defense department. Last year “runt knives,” — short, little bastards with beefy blades and handles — were all the rage. These knives are still hot, and Boker’s new Pipsqueak model, a slick Neil Blackwood design, carries the torch. This knife features a re-curved drop-point blade of top shelf S35VN Crucible steel with nicely sculpted Micarta handles. The Pipsqueak’s heavy-duty, frame-lock design is virtually bulletproof, and its overall attitude is every bit as pugnacious.


The Benchmade Adamas fixed blade and tactical folder were designed in
conjunction with Major Jeff Struecker and custom knifemaker Shane Sibert.

Benchmade 2

The multi-purpose Benchmade Triage rescue folder features a hard-working
Wharncliffe blade, fold-out safety cutter and carbide glass breaker on the butt.

Thin Is In

Skeletonized knives without handle scales can be easily concealed as neck knives, at the waistband or simply dropped into the pants pocket. The term “skeletonized” refers to cutouts in the handle to lighten the weight of the knife and also allow a para-cord wrap to be applied. Para-cord not only adds a bit of comfort to the handle, it also comes in handy for strapping the knife to a pole to make a spear or for other uses in a survival situation.

Spartan Blades’ 6.5″ Phobos sports a 2.75″ Wharncliffe blade, with a Kydex sheath that can be worn around the neck (a neck chain is included) or on the belt (the sheath has a belt loop too). Slightly larger at 7.5″ in length, Chris Reeve Knives’ Professional Soldier was designed in conjunction with custom knifemaker Bill Harsey. This knife features a 3.375″ drop-point blade with a cleverly designed cutout in the handle that serves as a shackle wrench. A Kydex sheath (adaptable for adding a neck chain) is included with a Para-cord lanyard at the base.

If you like choices, check out the Benchmade Adamas series. Designed by Major Jeff Struecker (a squad leader in the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu) and custom knifemaker Shane Sibert, there are two knives in the series: a skeletonized fixed-blade and a folder featuring the company’s sturdy Axis lock — both with matching drop-point blades in easy-to-sharpen D2 steel. The fixed blade features a 4.20″ blade (with a serrated spine for eating up rope or cord) and an injection-molded neck/belt sheath. The folder has a 3.82″ blade and comes with a MOLLE pouch. Both knives are available in black or desert tan. You’ll cover your bases with this pair!


When it comes to personal defense, Boker always brings something to the party.
At top is their Orca Gen 2 fixed blade, at bottom the Pipsqueak runt folder.


Skeletonized knives are among the easiest to conceal. Shown here are Spartan
Blades’ Phobos and Chris Reeve’s Professional Soldier (top and bottom respectively).


Over 14″ in length, Ka-bar’s Big Brother is a steroid-enhanced version of their
legendary USMC fighting knife.

Trouble Fixers

Sometimes only a multi-purposed fixed blade will do, and there’s plenty to choose from in today’s cutlery market. SOG Specialty Knives & Tools’ new Ops model evolved from their popular SEAL Pup design, and features a meaner, leaner attitude. At an overall length of 9.5″, the Ops is big enough to handle defense and field chores, yet small enough it won’t drag you down. The 4.85″ blade of AUS-8 stainless steel — hard-cased in a durable, black TiNi finish — is a work of art. The handle is made of comfortable GRN synthetic, with checkering and a built-in guard that offers both sure gripping and finger protection. A Kydex sheath is included, along with a guarantee that SOG fans will love this knife!

The Boker Orca Gen 2 fixed blade is one of those knives that just reeks of “bring it on!” At 10.25″ overall, you’re not going to wear it around your neck, but when you need firepower, the Orca will be there chomping at the bit. The steel is top-flight proprietary N690BO steel from Bohler-Uddeholm of Austria, and the handle is comfortable, exquisite, sculpted green canvas Micarta. The Orca’s 5.25″ re-curved blade offers loads of slice with chopping ability to boot. A versatile MOLLE compatible US-made Spec-Ops completes the package in grand form.

What, you ask, is a 14.2″ fixed-blade doing in an article on personal defense? I’ll tell you why. This is my “comfort knife.” This is the knife I want in my hands when all hell breaks loose. Ka-bar’s new Big Brother is a humongous offshoot of the company’s legendary USMC fighter model (with the same traditional stacked leather handle) and comes battle ready with a 9.6″ pig-sticking blade made of field-friendly, 1095 high carbon steel. The Big Brother will also fell small trees in survival situations and serve as a Bowie-style camp knife too. Less isn’t always more!

The selection in personal-defense knives ranges from large and small to everything in-between. Once you determine your needs, you’ll have no problem finding worthy candidates to do the job. The hard part may just be making a choice! For more information on the knives featured here, check out the source boxes below.
Story by: Pat Covert

For More Info:

Benchmade Knives
(800) 800-7427

Boker USA, Inc.
(800) 835-6433

Chris Reeve Knives
(208) 375-0367

Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT)
(800) 891-3100

Ka-bar Knives, Inc.
(800) 282-0130

Mantis Knives
(714) 701-9136

SOG Specialty
Knives & Tools, LLC
(888) 405-6433

Spartan Blades, LLC
(910) 757-0035

Spyderco, Inc.
(800) 525-7770

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