25 Best Self Defense Knives in 2020 (Fixed Blade and Folding)

Self Defense Knife Buying Guide

The saying “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight” has a lot of truth to it, but thankfully most fights don’t involve a gun. In most self defense scenarios, having a knife on you will give you a significant advantage.

Along with being a great self defense weapon, Psychologists say that people are more afraid of knives than guns. Long story short, knives scare the hell out of people. Maybe it’s because of the intimacy of being stabbed, or because most people have experienced being cut by a knife. Either way, knives are a great deterrent to crime and really come in handy at random times.

To be honest there really is no one best self defense knife. A lot of things come down to personal preference. That said, If used properly all the knives on this list are great alternatives to carrying a firearm and VERY effective for self defense purposes.

I’ll cover a long list of reasons why carrying a knife for self defense can be better than a gun at the bottom of the page, but the main reason is a knife is more practical, and current laws are much kinder to knives than guns. There are some places you aren’t even allowed to concealed carry, so a knife is a great alternative for personal defense.

Before you start looking at the list of knives below remember, the moment you decide to buy a knife for personal defense it’s no longer a tool, it’s a weapon. No matter how great the knife, it will be limited by the operator’s skill, so after deciding on a knife make sure you practice drawing and handling it! You must also accept the risk that comes with carrying a weapon.

After looking through this list of knives, you might also want to check out my review on the 31 best non-lethal self defense weapons here.

8 Considerations When Choosing the Best Knife for Self Defense

Here are some things you want to keep in mind when choosing a knife.

1. Plain Edge or Serrated Blade?

A lot of this comes down to preference, as both serrated and plain edge blades shine in different areas. My personal opinion is so long as you keep your knife blade sharp, each type will work just fine for self defense applications. Serrated blades look more intimidating which is thought to scare away a would-be attacker, but it’s often recommended to hide the fact that you have a knife as long as possible in a self defense situation. One notable thing about serrated blades is that they are considerably harder to sharpen. For self defense purposes, it is typically recommended to choose a knife at least a 4-inch blade, however, that is not to say knives with shorter blades cannot be effective for self defense. We actually have a very in-depth guide on knife blade types and shapes here if you’re interested in learning more. In that guide, we cover what shapes are best for self defense purposes and the trade-offs of each.

2. What is the Blade Made of?

Take a look at the quality of the blade. Manufacturers will usually list the material and hardness. Blade type, quality, and hardness play a factor in how long the knife stays sharp, how easily it chips, and its ability to be sharpened. We actually have a very popular guide on knife steel types and blade materials here if you’re interested in learning more.

3. How is the Knife deployed?

In a tactical situation, action is faster than reaction. You need to decide if a folding knife or fixed blade knife is better for you. If you want a folding knife I recommend playing around with different opening mechanism to find which is fastest for you. There are some knives with unique opening mechanisms. For example, the Emmerson wave allows the folding knife to automatically open using a clip that catches on your pocket as it’s pulled out of your pocket. No matter what you choose, practice with it as much as possible. While you’re watching TV open and close it 30, 50, or even 100 times to get that muscle memory and making opening the blade instinctive.

4. Do you Plan on Concealing It?

If you have to use your knife for self defense the element of surprise is going to be your biggest advantage. Having a blade you can conceal as long as possible will give you a significant advantage. Ideally, you want a knife that is easy to conceal and that you can deploy quickly to surprise the unsuspecting attacker. In some cases, a self defense pocket knife will be your best option, but in other instances, a fixed blade larger knife won’t be too hard to conceal. If you’re planning on keeping the knife in your home or truck some of the larger fixed blades are good options.

5. Check out the Handle and Grip

Dexterity and fine motor skills are the first things you lose in a fight when your adrenaline starts pumping. You want a handle with a strong ergonomic handle with finger grooves and preferably a blade guard to prevent your hand from slipping off or onto the blade if your hand is wet or bloody.

6. Is it Legal in Your State?

I recommend using the search tool on the AKTI website here to learn more about the knife laws in your state. A knife may be legal in one state but illegal in another. The last thing you want to do is get a fine for just trying to keep yourself safe.

7. Lethality

Self Defense knives aren’t necessarily meant to kill, but rather to incapacitate or neutralize the threat. Typically, a defense knife will utilize a slashing motion to maximize damage to muscle and tendons, rather than to penetrate deeply to damage organs. You want at least a 3.5 to 4 inch blade to maximize reach and effectiveness. You also don’t want a knife that is too large and cumbersome.

8. Do you want it for everyday carry (EDC) as well?

There are some knives on this list that are perfect for self defense, but if you plan on using them for EDC they aren’t the best. You can read the short description of each of the knives below, I’ll let you know what it’s best for.

Here Are the Best Self Defense Knives (Fixed Blade and Folding)

1. Spyderco Civilian Personal Defense Knife

Spyderco Knife for Self Defense

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Price Range: Around $210

My Review: The genesis of this knife came from a request by elite undercover law enforcement agents who found themselves in situations where they could not carry a gun but still wanted an effective means to defend themselves. They needed a slim knife that was easy to conceal, but if needed could cause a devastating amount of damage.

It is a badass looking knife with a reverse S blade that is designed to do only one thing, cut through flesh and bone. The proper way to use this knife is as if it were a claw designed for slashing. It is not a knife designed for stabbing. The most common word I see used to describe this knife is “scary” and I don’t disagree. A single swipe from this knife would be absolutely devastating.

The tip of the knife is razor-sharp and very intimidating. This is one of those knives that if someone pulled it on you it would be an oh shit moment.

It comes with a pocket clip that allows the knife to be carried either tip up or tip down. The tip of the knife is delicate because it’s thin and razor-sharp, so be careful with it.

It has a G10 handle that is strong, comfortable, and ergonomic. It also has a slim profile, so it is easy to conceal.

Although this is one of the most expensive knives on this list, I do feel it is still the best self defense knife on the market right now.

That said, it is not designed as an everyday care knife (EDC knife) and is designed purely for self defense. If you’re looking for a self defense knife that doubles as an EDC knife, I would not recommend this knife. The tip is too fragile and honestly, there are just much better self defense knives that will double as EDC knives on this list.

I attached a couple of good YouTube videos that review this knife below. In the second video you can see exactly how deadly sharp the blade on this knife really is.

Here is that second video I was talking about.

Key Features:

  • Blade length of 4.12 Inches
  • Overall length of 5.18 inches collapsed and 9.18 inches extended
  • Weight of 4.75 ounces
  • Folding Design with mid lock back
  • Blade made of VG10 stainless steel
  • Best Used for self defense

2. Spyderco Matriarch 2

Spyderco Matriarch 2

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Price Range: Around $120

My Review: While the Spyderco Civilian listed above is often thought of as the king of self defense knives, the knives from the Matriarch line have some notable advantages over the Spyderco Civilian. The first and most notable is that they’re about half the price.

The handles of the Matriarch knives have the same fiberglass reinforced handle design from the Spyderco Endura 4 model, which is less expensive to manufacture than the handle in the Spyderco Civilian. This is one of the main reasons the Matriarch 2 is quite a bit cheaper than the Spyderco Civilian.

The Spyderco Matriarch 1 and 2 are very similar, the only difference is that the Matriarch 2 is covered with a black titanium nitride coating that makes it non-reflective.

Another badass feature this knife has that the Civilian knife doesn’t have is the patented Emerson Wave technology that causes the blade to automatically deploy when the wave catches on the edge of a pocket while drawing the knife. In a self defense scenario, where fractions of a second are precious, having a knife that automatically deploys is a big plus.

Bottom line: For self defense specific purposes, for the money, this knife easily fends off its competitors. This is the knife I would buy if I could only own one. That said, if you’re looking for a self defense knife that doubles as an EDC knife, there are better options for you on this list.

Key Features:

  • An overall length of 8.55 inches
  • 3.75-inch VG-10 steel blade
  • Reliable locking mechanism
  • A number of viable grips
  • Reverse S Hawkbill Blade
  • Fully serrated blade
  • Thumbhole makes opening and closing the knife easy
  • Deep carry pocket clip

3. Clever Girl Straight Edge Knife

Comlumbia River Straight Edge Edge Knife Tool

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Price Range: Around $70

My Review: Here is another knife that I would not want to be on the other end of. The Clever Girl is a full tang knife with a trailing tip style upswept blade that is wicked sharp and powder coated.

It was designed by a US military veteran named Austin McGlaun and part of the Forged by War Series, which is a program where veterans design knives and other gear they wish they had on the battlefield. The program donates 10 percent of the proceeds go to a program that benefits veterans (for this knife proceeds go to the Green Beret Foundation).

The name of the knife came from the Jurassic Park Movie. This Persian style inspired knife looks amazing and is a great addition to any collection. The knife feels great in hand and has a good weight (6.30 ounces) and is well balanced. It has a nice belt lock that clamps onto a belt or molle gear.

Here is a good video review of the Clever Girl.

Key Features:

  • Blade length of 4.6 inches
  • Overall length of 10.123 inches
  • Fixed type blade
  • G10 handle with SK5 Steel (54-56 HRC)
  • Weight of 6.3 ounces
  • Durable G10 handle
  • Easily attachable sheath
  • Best Used for self defense, EDC, outdoor utility

4. Ka-Bar TDI Compact Knife

Ka-Bar TDI Straight Edge Knife

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Price Range: Around $35

My Review: The Ka-Bar TDI is one of the most common self defense knives carried by law enforcement. The grip of the knife makes the knife very secure in hand and very difficult for someone to dislodge the knife from your hand.

It is designed to be a weak side knife, meaning the knife sits inside a sheath on your weak side.

So, if you’re right-handed it will go on the left. Reaching across the body can be more comfortable in some instances or if you’re tied up in a fight you can use your dominant hand to keep the attacker off you as you draw the knife with your weak hand.

There are many ways to hold this knife. I recommend searching on YouTube or do a google search for the best ways if you do plan on buying this knife

This is also a good secondary knife for camping or backpacking. You can get it with a serrated blade or straight blade. I attached a video below.

Overall, this is a solid little knife that can be used for EDC purposes and self defense. If you like this knife, KA-Bar also has a model called the Hinderer Hell Fire (reviewed below) that I recommend checking out.

Key Features:

  • Blade length of 2.313 inches
  • Overall length of 6.625 inches
  • Weight of 0.20 pounds
  • G10 and 410 stainless Steel handle
  • Drop point shaped blade
  • AUS 8A SS steel

5. Benchmade Turret 980 EDC

Benchmade Turret 980 EDC

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Price Range: Around $200

My Review: You can’t go wrong with Benchmade as they have ultra high-quality knives for pretty much everything, so long as you’re willing to fit the bill of course.

They claim it’s an everyday “workhorse” but with a knife tip-up deep pocket carry and a very tactical feel, I’m not sure this knife was totally meant to be used as a workhorse but more so a very deadly option for EDC self-defense. Now, it does have a drop point and it does have utility value, but if you’re looking for something to work with, Benchmade has better options. If you’re looking for a versatile self-defense tactical feeling pocket tank, you’re in the right spot.

This knife is a tactical version of a self-defense knife with the attempt of some utility value. It has a partially serrated or fine-edged 3.7″ CPM-S30V blade attached to an Olive Drab Fiberglass G10 ultra-light handle. It comes equipped with that familiar AXIS locking mechanism found on many of the rough and tough Benchmade knives and is a manual release knife, although it’s super smooth and very easy to deploy with a quick snap of the wrist.

Key Features:

  • American made CPM-S30V stainless steel 3.7” blade
  • Fiberglass G10 OD handle purpose-built for resistance to all elements and a sure grip
  • Tip-up carry configuration with a deep pocket clip and AXIS locking mechanism

6. Benchmade Bedlam 860

Benchmade Bedlam 860

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Price Range: Around $180

My Review: There aren’t many blades found in a pocket knife with such an ominous look and equally as lethal capability. The 4-inch scimitar half-serrated blade is sexy and dangerous and I love it!

The blade is constructed from American high-grade alloy 154CM stainless steel which is designed to be a happy middle ground between hardness, durability, and corrosion resistance.  It’s funny that Benchmade upfront tells you that this thing is a bit overkill for a pocket knife but just like their claims, I also found that despite its size (almost 10″ when open), it was rather comfortable and extremely easy to deploy in a snap.

The mechanisms here are a manual-opening AXIS style which is okay, I actually would like to see this model in a spring-loaded assist option but since it’s a Benchmade and it’s silky smooth, the action is great and I have no complaints.

If you’ve got money burning a hole in your wallet and that same wallet also needs top tier protection from hoodlums, this is a solid buy. Yes, it is pretty expensive, but it’s also a very unique and consists of ultra-high quality. If someone still wants to mess with you after you whip this thing out, they have a few screws loose in the noggin as this is probably the most vicious looking pocket knife I’ve ever gotten to review!

Key Features:

  • Sporting a 4” scimitar blade constructed of American 154CM steel
  • AXIS locking mechanism with manual-opening action
  • An open length of 9.76″ with a closed length of 5.76″ and a total weight of 7.2oz
  • Included is a tactical deep-carry pocket clip with a reversible tip-up style carry configuration for quick and easy deployment

7. Kershaw Brawler

Kershaw Brawler

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Price Range: Around $30

My Review: Small, inexpensive, but extremely mighty! The Kershaw Brawler is exactly what its name suggests. The 3” tanto consisting of 8Cr13MoV steel is purpose-built to be used in close contact when things get dangerous and you need a little extra something to get yourself out of a hairy situation. These Tanto blades are made for one thing and one thing only, to cause extreme amounts of damage to an assailant and that’s what this knife was designed to do.

Of course, it has a little utility value but make no mistake, this is a full-on EDC self-defense package and is built as such, but at a ridiculously low price tag for its high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship. Kershaw never disappoints me!

The blade is covered in that black oxide corrosion resistance stuff and is both extremely durable with very good edge retention at this price point. The knife itself is equipped with a spring-loaded SpeedSafe assisted opening feature that is lightning fast to utilize with the thumb peg. Included in the deal is a multi-positional pocket clip and a decent in-line locking mechanism, all completely comfortable and quick to use with one hand. This bad boy is ready for anything in case you’re actually in a brawl and you have to do a little conflict management with the other hand!

Key Features:

  • A purpose-built self-defense 3″ Tanto fine edge blade coated in black oxide for corrosion resistance
  • One-handed operation with the SpeedSafe spring-loaded assisted opening feature and thumb peg
  • The blade is constructed from the reliable 8Cr13MoV steel and the handle consists of glass-filled ballistic nylon polymer for both frame rigidity and a very strong grip

8. Fox479 G10 Karambit with Emerson Wave

Self Defense Karambit

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Price Range: Around $130

My Review: While I don’t usually recommend Karambit style knives for self defense, they can be effective if the knife operator is trained properly. They’re small, easy to conceal, and are very difficult for opponents to dislodge from the wielder’s hand. Plus, everyone needs a badass Karambit knife in their collection.

This knife literally almost turns you into a Velociraptor. A Karambit is a small curved knife that resembles a claw (inspired by the claws of a tiger). If you take a look at knives and other weapons, you’ll find most of the best weapons and blade designs can be found in nature, and a Karambit is no exception.

They are typically used with the blade pointing down but can also be held backward. There are many effective striking methods that can be utilized in self defense. If you have no experience with Karabits I recommend checking out some YouTube videos on them.

This Karambit is quite expensive, you can find a cheaper Karabit below in this review. They are traditionally fixed blade, but there are modern variations with folding blades, and I really like that this one has the Emerson Wave technology that automatically deploys the blade when caught on the edge of a pant pocket.

Here is a pretty in-depth review of this karambit knife you can check out on YouTube..

Key Features:

  • Blade length of 3 inces
  • 5 inches when folded
  • 7.5 inches fully extended
  • Adjustable Clip
  • Emerson wave system
  • NC690Co stainless steel blade

9. Cold Steel Black Talon 2

Cold Steel Black Talon 2

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Price Range: Around $95

My Review: Thin, light, and easy to carry is the name of the game with the Cold Steel Back Talon 2. The cutouts in the handle feel great, especially with a saber grip The 4.25-inch reverse s-curve blade is super sharp. Cold steel manufactures two variations of this knife, one with a fully serrated blade and one without.

For self defense purposes, I would go with the serrated edge, as it allows for deeper cuts. That said, it is harder to sharpen so if you’re buying this as an EDC knife you will have to weigh the pros and cons of each blade type.

Key Features:

  • Overall length of 9.5 inches
  • 4.8 ounces
  • Ambidextrous pocket clip
  • 3.5mm thick blade

10. Cold Steel Spartan Folding Knife

Cold Steel Spartan Folding Knife

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Price Range: Around $65

My Review: The Cold Steel Spartan is an awesome EDC knife for self defense that definitely lives up to its name. This folding knife is tough as nails and one of the most impressive knives I’ve ever tested considering its price. The thick spine and finger cutouts of the handle make this knife feel incredibly tough in hand. The Japanese AUS10A steel blade of this knife is sharp enough to cut through flesh like butter and I’ve even heard of people cutting through the hood of a car with this knife.

While this is more designed as a fighting knife, it will certainly work and as an EDC folding self defense knife.

The knife has a Demko thumb plate, which is basically a knock of the Emerson wave. The thumb plate catches on the edge of a pocket while drawing and automatically deploys the blade. Knock off or not, the technology works great and in self defense scenarios where fractions of a second are so important, it’s nice to have a blade that will automatically deploy.

The knife has a very safe Tri-Ad lock system that Cold Steel claims is the safest system in the world and capable of holding 800 pounds of hanging weight.

The only con I see with this knife is due to the shape of the blade it’s a little harder to sharpen. It’s also a little larger and heavier than most EDC knives but considering its versatility most people have no issues carrying it.

The bottom line is that this is a very versatile knife that is worth well more than its price tag. This might just be the best self defense knife for the money on this entire list.

Key Features:

  • One hand opener
  • 4.5 inch blade and 6 Inch handle
  • Demko thumb plate for automatic blade deployment
  • Non-slip grip
  • Fits medium to large size hands very well

11. Spyderco Endura4 Wave

Spyderco Endura4 Wave

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Price Range: Around $95

My Review: This is certainly not the best looking knife on this list, but what it lacks in looks it makes up with functionality. It has the Emerson Wave style opener which means this blade will deploy as fast, if not faster than an automatic knife.

The super-strong blade is made from VG-10 steel which offers a good balance between edge retention and ease of sharpening. It has a 13mm opening hole for your thumb that makes opening and closing the knife a little easier. The fiberglass reinforced nylon handle is molded with bi-direction texturing that offers an amazing grip

Spyderco also makes this blade with a partially serrated if that is what you prefer.

Key Features:

  • Overall length of 8-13/16 inches
  • 4-4/26 inch blade
  • Made in the USA
  • Wave feature means almost immediate deploymentGreat EDC knife

12. KA-BAR 2486 TDI/Hinderer Hell Fire

KA-BAR 2486 TDI Hell Fire

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Price Range: Around $75

My Review: The TDI/Hinderer collection is a popular series of knives that were designed by tactical defense institute president John Benner and one of the best-known custom knife makers, Rick Hinderer.

It is a personal defense and combat knife that was designed specifically for police, military, and other law enforcement agents. The grip and blade on this model are a little larger than the original TDI model, and Ka-Bar decided to make significant changes to the sheath.

The sheath on this model has a thumb release retention mechanism built-in that just makes the retention that much safer and harder for someone to take your knife from you. That said because this is a unique feature it does take some getting used to. If you do plan on using this knife, be sure to practice your draw religiously. Another notable thing about the sheath is that it can only be carried vertically, with the blade facing the rear, while with the original TDI, you can carry the blade facing forward.

One thing to note is that the recurve tanto blade is hard to sharpen, which is why this probably isn’t the best utility knife, and I would only carry it for self defense. The blade style is perfect for jabbing, slashing, and piercing

Key Features:

  • Hard plastic grip
  • Metal Belt Clip
  • Vertical sheath only
  • Lock release thumb button
  • Awesome combat or self defense knife

13. Spyderco Harpy Single Blade

Spyderco Harpy Single Blade

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Price Range: Around $105

My Review: With a 2.75 inch blade and an overall length of 6.5 inches, this is one of the smaller knives on this list. That said, this little knife has a wickedly sharp VG-10 steel blade that can inflict some serious damage.

Be extremely careful when handling this knife. If you so much brush the blade you will be left with a nasty cut. I can’t even imagine the amount of damage a slash from this knife would do.

Due to the fact that this knife is a little smaller than most self defense knives out there, it is a popular choice among women and guys with smaller hands that find larger knives feel awkward in hand. The clip on the knife allows it to attach comfortably on a pant pocket or on a belt.

Key Features:

  • Fully serrated blade
  • Right hand, tip-down clip
  • Handle drying vent

14. Gerber Mark 2

Gerber Mark 2

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My Review: I just don’t expect Gerber to make things like this so when I see it, I have to check it out and let you guys know! Now, I will say upfront that this is not the most practical way to defend yourself with a knife, however, it will most certainly put down any threat in your way without a doubt if you’re willing to carry the thing around (and it’s legal where you live).

The Mark II is essentially a spear point bayonet-type dagger and features an ominous double-sided 6.5″ blade with half serration on both sides. The grip is a solid one-piece aluminum handle with a hefty “glass breaker” at the end.

This thing will seriously damage anything it comes into contact with and should not be wielded by people uncomfortable with these kinds of knives. In my opinion, this is probably an excellent option for something to be left in your car and deployed only when you really need it most.

The Mark II has very little utility value and is purpose-built to cause massive damage, but it’s not even a hundred bucks so if you’re daughter is off to college, hide this thing away in her center console and have the peace of mind that no one will be carjacking her anytime soon.

Of course, you can’t just throw it in the center console alone as it’ll destroy everything so it does come with an okay nylon sheath. If you’re a sheath enthusiast, you’ll probably hate it and I’d recommend going with something else, but the included sheath is understandable at this price point and will get the job done if its all you got.

Key Features:

  • 12.75″ total length with a 6.5″ double-sided spear point half-serrated blade
  • Die-cast aluminum handle with glass breaker butt cap
  • The entire 420HC steel knife is coated with black oxide to ensure resistance to corrosion

15. Gerber StrongArm Fixed Blade Knife

Gerber Fixed Blade Knife

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Price Range: Around $70

My Review: The Gerber StrongArm is one of the best fixed blade self defense knives out there. It’s perfect for outdoors or backpacking to protect yourself from wild animals or dogs. I like that it has a modular strap and sheath system that can be mounted vertically on a molle, horizontally on a belt or drop-leg on a belt. You can easily attach this knife to a backpack or tactical vest.

This knife was specifically designed for combat and survival applications, but it also makes a pretty good self defense knife. If you don’t know much about the StrongArm, I recommend reading customer reviews on Amazon or checking out some YouTube video reviews (I will be making one soon).

Key Features:

  • Blade length of 4.8 inches
  • Overall length of 9.8 Inches
  • Handle mad of a glass filled nylon with rubber over-mold
  • Detachable belt loops
  • Full tang 420HC steel blade with ceramic coating
  • Rubberized diamond texture grip handle
  • Modular sheath system
  • Made in the USA

16. Spyderco Yojimbo 2 Pocket Knife

Folding Self Defense Knife

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Price Range: Around $140

My Review: The Yojimbo 2 was designed by a personal defense instructor Michael Janich for self defense. It’s also decent for EDC and doing simple tasks like opening boxes or envelopes, but do not it is designed for as a knife for self defense. The blade is thin and does chip easier than knives specifically designed for EDC, but if you really need it it’s there. It’s a nice size knife that easily fits in a pocket and is easy to carry. The blade is good for cutting, slashing, and stabbing.

I like the compression lock and liners on this knife you aren’t going to have to worry about the blade collapsing or breaking off from the knife when you need it most. The Spydie hole in the blade, as well as the design, makes the knife easy to collapse and open without your fingers ever having to be in the path of the blade. You can use the knife with a standard grip but is probably better used in the overhand or ice pick grip.

It has a handy 4 Way Clip for tip-up or tip-down carry. I like how the shape of the knife is thin at the top and wider at the bottom and almost guides the hand into the pocket onto the knife. Overall this is one of the best self defense knives out there and I think at its price point is worth checking out and reading reviews.

Here is a video review of this knife.

Key Features:

  • Blade Length of 3.125 inches
  • Length of 4.5 inches collapsed
  • Length of  7.56 inches fully extended
  • S30V steel blade
  • folding knife
  • Reliable compression lock with nested stainless steel liners
  • Made in the USA
  • G10 handle

17. SOG SEAL Pup Elite Fixed Blade Knife with Sheath

Navy SEAL Combat Knife

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Price Range: Around $75

My Review: The SOG SEAL Pup is just about the perfect size fix knife that was designed for special operators in combat. It’s functionally sets it apart from most other fixed blade knives at this price point. With the elite version SOG decided to slightly increase the handle grip and make the finger grooves slightly deeper for a better grip. The first thing you’ll think when you take this knife out of the box is damn this thing is sharp. This is a good self defense knife to throw in your truck or to attach to your gear when you go camping to possibly use in a self defense situation.

The Blade

Although they’re the same weight, the blade on the SEAL Pup Elite is nice upgrade from the standard Pup. The blade has a clip point shape with that is partly serrated with a longer cutting edge, making a good self defense knife for stabbing, prying, and decent for slashing. It’s one of the sharpest knives out of the box and has good balance. It holds is sharpness well and is also easy to sharpen. The back of the knife has a spine rasp that you can use for notching or filing, or you can even place your thumb on it for better control. Along with better steal it is also a thicker steel at about the same price point. The blade isn’t specifically designed for defense but overall this is still in the running for the best self defense knife of 2018.

It has a full tang design, so you won’t have to worry about it breaking when you need it most. The blade is coated is powder-coated to give it a cool look and prevent corrosion. There is a notch on the back of the knife blade that seems to fit the thumb perfectly.

The Sheath

There are two different sheath styles available for this knife so keep that in mind. The nylon sheath has molle webbing with a button clasp, so you can attach it to other tactical gear or your pack. It has a nylon sheath that is durable and has a front utility pocket that you can put whatever you desire in it like a sharpening stone or multi-tool. The knife is secured in the sheath by a retention strap, and another note is that inside the sheath there is an insert so that the knife doesn’t cut the nylon. There is also a hard Kydex sheath that easily attaches with the belt loop attachment.

The Handle

The handle is made of a glass-reinforced nylon polymer with checkering that gives the knife a good grip even if it’s wet or I guess bloody if we’re talking self defense. The top of the handle gets wider and acts as a blade guard to prevent your hand from slipping up onto the blade in a thrust strike.

Key Features:

  • Blade Length of 4.85 inches
  • Total length of 9.375 inches
  • Weight of 5.7 ounces
  • Multiple Sheath types available
  • Fixed blade knife
  • Glass reinforced nylon handle
  • Ergonomic handle with

18. Kershaw CQC-6K with Wave Opening Feature

Best Self Defense Knife Review

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Price Range: Around $35

My Review: Kershaw is a company known for making some of the best folding tactical knives out there. They partnered with the company Emmerson to make a cheaper version of high-end Emmerson models.

One of the most notable features of Emmerson knives is the deployment. It has a wave feature that automatically opens the blade as you pull the knife from your pocket. In a self defense situation, time is precious having a blade that automatically opens and that you don’t have to think about opening is nice.

The blade is made of 8Cr14MoV stainless steel, which isn’t the best, but still a good budget steel that holds sharpness pretty well without chipping easily. The blade is also easy to sharpen so if you’re planning on using this as an EDC knife for self defense you can easily maintain sharpness. It also has a reinforced tip so you don’t have to worry about the tip breaking off when stabbing and piercing like some of the thinner self defense specific knives on this list.

Its G10 handle has a nice finger groove, jimping, and thumb ramp on the top of the blade to prevent slippage. Below I have attached a video review of this knife.

Key Features:

  • Blade length of 3.25 inches
  • Weight of 5 0unces
  • Material: G10 and 410 Stainless Steel handle
  • Best used as tactical, utility, self defense, or EDC.

19. Grand Way Spring Assisted Knife (Cheap)

Spring Assisted Tactical Knife

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Price Range: Around $15

My Review: If you’re looking for a cheap self defense knife that can be used for EDC this is a good option. The knife has a spring assisted opening mechanism and a pocket clip for easy carry. This is a good knife for camping, backpacking, hunting, fishing, survival, and many other purposes.

The handle is made of aluminum, so the knife is lightweight. It has an ergonomic handle with finger grooves and notches for enhanced grip. The company also offers a 10-year warranty, which is pretty impressive for a knife at this price point. It has an inner lock mechanism and the knife is designed to prevent dirt and grime from getting inside to prevent the knife from jamming or closing unintentionally.

Key Features:

  • Blade length of 3.42 inches
  • Overall length 7.75 inches
  • Weight 4.4 ounces
  • 440C stainless steel blade (57-58 HRC)

20. Steel Tiger Karambit

Steel Tiger Karambit

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Price Range: Around $40

My Review: I listed the Fox479 Karambit earlier in the list and wanted to add another Karambit to this list that sits at a lower price point. The Steel Tiger is a very affordable karambit that I feel is worth well more than its price tag.

As mentioned earlier, karambits were inspired by the shape of a tigers claw, and if the knife operator is trained properly, it can be a very effective weapon for self defense. That said, for most people, I would recommend a standard fixed blade or folding blade knife over a karambit. If you do decide to purchase a karambit, I recommend buying a trainer first and watching videos on how to use them properly before you carry one on you for personal defense.

Key Features:

  • AUS 8A Steel
  • Comes with Secure-Ex Sheath
  • Vertically aligned belt clip on sheath
  • List Item
  • 1-inch handle ring
  • Lightweight and strong

21. Spyderco Ronin 2 Fixed Blade Knife

Spyderco Ronin 2

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Price Range: Around $100

My Review: Named after Ronins, which were masterless Samurai warriors, the Spyderco Ronin 2 is an awesome fixed blade self defense knife that comes with a very nice modular sheath. The CTS BD1 blade holds an edge and resists corrosion well. The deep hollow-ground bevels on each side of the blade nicely define the very thin and sharp blade, while leaving the spine of the knife strong and thick.

The spine of the knife is shaped well for thumb placement and gives the operator a lot of control. Where the spine of the knife and handle meet is flared to prevent the user’s hand from slipping onto the blade.

Overall, this is an awesome knife with an awesome sheath.

Key Features:

  • Skeletonized full Tang
  • Feels very secure in hand
  • List Item #3
  • Very sharp 4.1 inch blade
  • CTS BD1 Steel
  • Lightweight tactical knife
  • Lanyard opening in the rear of the handle

22. SOG Flash 2

SOG Flash 2

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Price Range: Around $55

My Review: If you don’t already know about the Studies and Observations Group (SOG), their company name originates from highly classified special forces from Vietnam called Military Assistance Command Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG).

They carried a new style of combat knife that inspired designer Spencer Frazer to found the SOG company to pay tribute to that military unit. Since its start, the SOG company has developed a number of high-quality knives that widely used by many special forces units, and currently manufacture the very popular Navy SEAL Pup Knife.

The bottom line is the SOG company makes some high-quality knives and this knife has some features that make it pretty good for self defense. The Flash 2 Tanto Spring Assisted Knife is one of the smaller pocket knives on this list, measuring just 4.5 inches in its closed position. The 3.5 inch AUS-8 Stainless steel blade can be found with a straight edge or partially serrated.

While I don’t personally like spring-assisted opening mechanisms, SOG knives are far more reliable than most, and it does allow the blade to deploy quickly, which is a nice feature for self defense purposes. I also like how the knife has a safety switch, almost like a firearm, that when set on safe the blade cannot deploy the blade. Some users do not like this feature, as they feel it can cause the knife to accidentally be set in the safe position and just leaves one more thing to think about in a self defense scenario. If you don’t like this feature you can simply superglue it in the open position.

The pocket clip this knife comes with allows for very comfortable deep carry, but do know that some areas consider a deep carry pocket clip as “concealed carry”.

This is a decent EDC knife, but personally, I don’t like Tanto style blades for self defense. The version with a drop point blade here is much better for everyday carry purposes like opening boxes, cutting rope, etc.

23. Cold Steel Voyager XL

Cold Steel Voyager XL

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Price Range: Around $150

My Review: If you’re someone looking for a large self defense knife to throw in their pack or doesn’t mind carrying a large knife on you, the Voyager XL is an awesome knife and one of the strongest folding knives on the market. They make this knife with many blades types, including the Tanto plain edge style here, the serrated edge linked above, and they also sell the Thompson Voyager here.

As mentioned, for a folding knife this thing is a monster. This is another knife that can be best described as scary, and a good knife for a bad day.

It has a 5.5-inch blade and an overall length of 12.25 inches. The thin edge blade is super sharp and cured along its entire length to maximize slicing action efficiency. The blade also has a sharp swept tip that makes this knife great for stabbing and slashing.

Like many of the knives on this list, it’s not designed for EDC but for personal defense, it’s one of the best knives out there.

Key Features:

  • 5.5 Inch Blade An overall length of 12.25 inches Weighs 6.5 ounces
  • Cold Steel Ad-Lock is very reliable

24. Ka-Bar Fighting Knife (Outdoor and Utility)

Ka-Bar Fighting Knife

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Price Range: Around $75

My Review: During World War 2 Marines and soldiers needed a new fighting and utility knife, and the Ka-Bar was just what they were looking for. The story of how it got its name is interesting. It came from a story about an old man who killed a bear with his knife after his gun malfunctioned. In the writing on the knife, there was a KA Bar, which they deciphered it to literally mean kill a bear. The company that made the knife wasn’t even Ka-bar, but after the war, they changed the company name because it became so well known and liked. If it can kill a bear it can certainly be used for self defense.

The Ka-Bar is one of the best-known knives around the world and certainly in the United States. It’s a fixed blade full tang knife known for its durability.

You can get the knife with the leather sheath that is stitched or the solid Kydex sheath (better for long term exposure to the elements).

The blade is made from 1095 carbon steel that is hard and holds sharpness very well. If you’re looking for a knife you can trust the Ka-bar is one hell of a knife.

Key Features:

  • Blade length of 7 Inches
  • Total length 11.875 inches
  • 1095 Cro-van steel
  • Full tang fixed blade knife
  • Leather handle
  • Weight 0.7 pounds
  • Made in USA

25. Gerber Ghoststrike

Gerber Ghoststrike

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Price Range: Around $45

My Review: Coming in at under $50, the Gerber Ghoststrike could be the poster child for the phrase “good bang for your buck”. It has a full tang fixed blade knife that is perfect for EDC and self defense tasks.

With a deep finger guard, strong sharp tip, and curved blade shape make this blade perfect for stabbing, slashing, and cutting. This knife offers so much utility and is perfect for camping, wood processing,

The sheath on this knife is top quality, too. In can be carried on a belt in the horizontal or vertical position. The knife locks into the sheath in the up or down position and you really have to try to make the knife rattle. It can easily be attached to molle systems on chest rigs or backpacks. I also like that the sheath has two water drainage points. For an extra $10 so you can also get a model with an ankle wrap.

Ergonomic shortcomings

It has a full tang skeletonized handle that is covered in a rubber molding. The only small cons with this knife are ergonomics. Firstly, the handle is that it is a little small when wearing gloves. Also, if you’re someone who likes to wrap skeletonized knives in paracord, you can’t do that with this knife. The way the sheath is designed there isn’t enough space to accommodate the extra thickness paracord will add.

Key Features:

  • Easy to sharpen the blade
  • Lanyard hole
  • Slim and lightweight
  • Many carry options
  • Incredible knife for the money


What’s the Difference Between a Self Defense and Combat Knife?

The simple answer is a self defense weapon isn’t specifically be used on the offense to kill. Its primary job is incapacitated or disabled so you can getaway. Typically, a slashing motion is preferred for self defense because has a higher probability to cut through muscles and tendons. A stabbing motion often only leaves a small hole, which can still be fatal and penetrate vital organs, but not optimal for self defense.

Is a Bigger Blade Better for Self Defense?

Not always, a lot all comes down to how much damage you can do as quickly as possible. It’s kind of like arm reach in boxing. Sure a long reach is great, but when the guy with a shorter reach gets in close he can do a lot of damage. That might not be the best analogy, but you get the idea. With a knife, you’re going to be very close no matter how long the blade. The element of surprise and quickness of deployment is the biggest factor when you’re in a knife fight. A small blade usually means you can slash faster.

Does Blade Shape Change the Way I Should be Using my Knife?

Yes, and you’re going to want to look at the handle and style of knife to determine the best way to use the knife. Once narrow down your search to a couple of different knives it’s a good idea to read about how they are used.

Why should I carry a knife?

A knife can make you feel more secure along with actually making you more secure if practice with it and know how to use it.

Final Thoughts

As you can see there are a lot of styles of knives, it’s hard to say definitively what the best self defense knife is. I think any of these knives are great options depending on the circumstances.

Let me know in the comments if this review helped you or if you think it sucked. If you think it sucked or there are knives I should add to the list please let me know, it will benefit everyone.

Thanks for visiting our website and be sure to check out some other categories before you go.

Semper Fi,

Corporal Wabo

2 thoughts on “25 Best Self Defense Knives in 2020 (Fixed Blade and Folding)”

  1. Corporal Wabo,

    Thank you for the defensive knife analysis. While not a Marine myself, I have and enjoy the use of several types of cutting edge tools. From necktie and lock blades knives to Bowie’s and Tomahawks, I agree with you, choosing wisely when determining which tool would best fit the task has its rewards, especially when the job is complete.

    Almost equally as important is the sheath. I have seen some pretty great hardware toted around by tac not worth the time or effort to stamp out. Leather too thin, cheap retention clips/springs, too much Kydex are all usually replaced by something a bit more conducive to effective deployment. As an example, my prized Ontario SP10 is retained by 2 straps neither of which provides a quick retrieval. I’m still looking for a good custom shoulder harness for that one. In contrast, my Daughter bought me a custom 4” belt knife, whose maker made effective use of a baseball glove digit for a sheath. It rides high on the hip, provides great retention, all while allowing for the knife’s easy deployment.

    Well, that’s enough rambling on my part. Thanks again for the article and the opportunity to weigh in on the subject. I also want to thank you for your service. I hope you don’t get tired of hearing that. I’ve heard some service members tell me they don’t “do it” for the thanks. I understand but, it still doesn’t negate the need for me to state it just the same.

    God Bless You, Sir

  2. Really good reviews, brief yet informative. I found this to be immensely helpful; thank you for taking the time to create it.


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