Choosing a self-defense tactical knife can be a tough decision. It’s important to be safe and know your weapon well. With so many knives on the market, it can be challenging at best to understand the variances and make an educated decision on which is the best self-defense knife to choose. We’ve prepared this guide based upon expert reviews so that you don’t have to go all over the Internet reading them on various sites. Now, it’s easy to read the important details of the top 7 self-defense knives on the market today and make an educated choice on which one will best suit your specific needs and situation. You’ll learn about blade sizes, handle grips and more with this handy guide.

Comparison of 7 Highest Rated Self-Defense Knives

The table below will help you to compare the top 7 self-defense knives on the market today. You’ll be able to see what they have to offer you side by side.

PictureModelPriceFeaturesOur Rating
KaBar Full Size US Marine Corp Fighting Knife$$$$-Leather handled USMC Fighting Style Knife
-7 inch serrated edged blade
-Made in the USA
-Sheath is made in Mexico
-1095 Cro Van Steel
-Weighs just 1 pound
Spyderco Matriarch$$$$$-4 Way Clip Screws
-Bi Directional Textured Handle
-Emerson opening featured blade
-Ideal for military or personal use
TDI Law Enforcement Knife$$$-5 and 5/8 inches in length
-2 5/16 inch blade
-Stainless Steel
-Limited warranty
-Sheath is included
-Made in Taiwan
Columbia River Folts Bowie$$-Fixed blade
-Stainless Steel
-Razor sharp edge
-Zytel Sheath
-Comes with para cord to carry around neck
Cold Steel Recon 1 Tactical Knife$$$$-Tactical knife
-Stainless steel blade
-Contoured laminate scales for non-slip grip
-Thumb disc allows for easy opening
-Pocket clip so it's easy to carry in your pocket
-4 inch blade
-Weighs just 5.3 ounces
-Made in Japan
Benchmade Socp Dagger$$$$$-Ribbed ring easy to grab with either hand
-Comes with a sheath
-Thin design
-Easy to hide
Kershaw Cryo$$-2 and ¾ inch blade
-Folding (best folding knife for self-defense)
-Reversible pocket clip
-Stainless Steel titanium carbonitride coating
-Frame lock
-Ideal for lefties
-Lifetime warranty
-Free sharpening for life

Top 7 Self-Defense Knife Reviews

When it comes to self-protection you can see what the various knives have to offer you. From blade designs and sizes to handle grips and ways to carry you’re sure to find the best self-defense knife for the money.

KaBar Full Size US Marine Corp Fighting Knife

#1Considered the ‘most famous fixed blade’ this is a renowned knife that many love. Designed to serve the troops in World War II, it’s still a great choice in self-defense knives today and quite popular. You’ll appreciate the attention to the finer details in this quality knife. Whether you’re in the military and seeking a quality knife for work and self-protection, or you’re simply a civilian seeking a great self-defense weapon, KaBar Full Size US Marine Corp Fighting Knife is an ideal choice.

Special Features

  • Leather handled USMC Fighting Style Knife
  • 7 inch serrated edged blade
  • Made in the USA
  • Sheath is made in Mexico
  • 1095 Cro Van Steel
  • Weighs just 1 pound

KaBar is one of the more popular manufacturers out there and they make a very high-quality knife. The cylindrical hand grip is excellent and easy to hold on to. This is one of the best self-defense knives on the market today.

Customers ranked this knife 4.9 out of a possible 5 stars.

Pros and Cons

  • Easy grip handle.
  • 7 inch serrated edge.
  • This knife doesn’t do as well for hunting as the blade is too large.

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Spyderco Matriarch Spyder Edge Knife

#2The Spyderco Matriarch is ideal as a knife for self-defense, it’s easy to carry and keep handy. You’re sure to appreciate the quality craftsmanship and care that’s gone into the making of this knife. The reverse “S” profile make this a unique knife to carry. Well suited to be versatile for self-defense as well as for other outdoor purposes.

Special Features

  • 4 Way Clip Screws
  • Bi-Directional Textured Handle
  • Emerson opening featured blade
  • Ideal for military or personal use

Pros and Cons

  • Very lightweight.
  • Unique designed reverse “S” blade.
  • No jimping on the thumb ramp.

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TDI Law Enforcement Knife

#3The TDI Law Enforcement Knife is designed as a ‘last option’ self-defense knife, it’s perfect for intense close contact situations. It’s considered an ‘off-hand’ knife and draws similar to that of a pistol. The sheath is reversible so you can wear it on either side of your body. Many have been concerned that it is made out of the USA however, it appears to be very well made and there have been few complaints as to the country of origin for this self-defensive knife.

Special Features

  • 5 and 5/8 inches in length
  • 2 5/16 inch blade
  • Stainless Steel
  • Limited warranty
  • Sheath is included
  • Made in Taiwan

Pros and Cons

  • Easy to carry on either side of the body.
  • 2-inch blade.
  • Not easy to conceal due to the curvature of the blade.

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Columbia River Folts Minimalist Bowie

#4Columbia River Folts Bowie features clever finger grooves for carrying in your hand. It has a paracord that allows you to wear it around your neck so that you can have your hands free for other things if you need them. Nicely designed and for many, this is a go-to knife that is ready for action at a moment’s notice. The biggest complaint of this knife is that the paracord appears to be flimsy. Most customers state that they have replaced it with either a thicker type of paracord or a leather lanyard.

Special Features

  • Fixed blade
  • Stainless Steel
  • Razor sharp edge
  • Zytel Sheath
  • Comes with paracord to carry around neck

Pros and Cons

  • Very reasonably priced.
  • Finger grooves.
  • Paracord for carrying around the neck is kind of cheesy.

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Cold Steel Recon 1 Tactical Knife Tanto Point

#5With a combo edge many find that it is useful for all outdoor type activities as well as a personal self-defense knife. Cold Steel Recon 1 Tactical Knife can be carried in a pocket or on belt. The thumb disc means you can easily open it in an emergent situation. Lightweight it is comparable to the weight of a cell phone.

Special Features

  • Tactical knife
  • Stainless steel blade
  • Contoured laminate scales for non-slip grip
  • Thumb disc allows for easy opening
  • Pocket clip so it’s easy to carry in your pocket
  • 4-inch blade
  • Weighs just 5.3 ounces
  • Made in Japan

Pros and Cons

  • Performs like a chainsaw.
  • Triad lock.
  • The coating on the blade can easily be damaged.

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Benchmade Socp Dagger

#6While neither a double nor a single edge, only the tip of this self-defense knife is sharp. Ideal as a stabbing knife but not what you’d want for a slashing tool. For this reason, it’s not as useful for outdoor activities. You won’t have much use for this particular defensive knife while hunting or fishing although it will be helpful if you’re needing to stab something. Benchmade Socp Dagger is more of a pure ‘last resort’ self-defense knife.

Special Features

  • Ribbed ring easy to grab with either hand
  • Comes with a sheath
  • Thin design
  • Easy to hide

Pros and Cons

  • Easy to conceal.
  • Easy to grab.
  • Not great for slashing.

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Kershaw Cryo Knife

#7Reasonably priced and easy to carry, the Kershaw Cryo is an ideal choice for self-defense. Easy to fold closed and open up. Ideal for either pocket or side of your body. Stainless steel titanium carbonitride coating means you’ll have a quality knife ready at all times. Lefties can rest assured that this is the right defensive knife to have on hand, it’s easy to use in either hand. With a lifetime warranty, you simply can’t go wrong with this version of a folding self-defense knife.

Special Features

  • 2 and ¾ inch blade
  • Folding (best folding knife for self-defense)
  • Reversible pocket clip
  • Stainless Steel titanium carbo-nitride coating
  • Frame lock
  • Ideal for lefties
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Free sharpening for life

Pros and Cons

  • Excellent customer service.
  • Free lifetime warranty.
  • Some of the torsion bars break however the company will replace them (with a $10 shipping and handling fee).

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Guide to Choosing the Best Self-Defense Knives for the Money

Clearly, there are many great self-defense knives to choose from. With so many choices many are wondering where to start. The first place to start is by sorting through the main types of knives on the market today. Let’s take a look at the various types of knives and examine the myriad of uses for them. Be sure to ask yourself the questions as you go so that you can decide on the best type of self-defense knife for your specific needs. You may wish to grab a pen and paper to jot down your answers so that you can easily refer to them as you go.

Main Types

There are two main types of knives on the market; those that have fixed blades and those that are folding. Both clearly have their own special purposes. You’ll have to look over the above-mentioned knives and determine if you prefer a fixed blade or a folding blade.

A fixed blade is just that, fixed. It won’t fold down flat for storage and you won’t be able to put it into your pocket unless it’s sheathed. Many fixed blades do come with their own sheaths so that does help when deciding which type to get. You’re sure to find pluses and minuses on each type so examine your purposes for carrying a knife carefully.

Folding knives are the type that folds like a pocket knife. While this may mean the knife is handier to carry around, it will take some getting used to on being able to safely open and close it. If you’re in an emergency situation you may wish to practice your opening and closing ahead of time so that you’re ready. Even if you have the best folding knife for self-defense, it’s important to remember, it’s not going to be of any use to you if you can’t get your knife out in time to prevent an attack.

A fixed blade is considered more stable than a folding blade and thus is often preferred. Both work well for different reasons. Some people prefer to have both a fixed blade as well as a folding blade for personal protection. This is fine as long as they are comfortable using either kind of knife. As always, be sure to be comfortable using your knife before you rely upon it for personal protection. Get used to how it handles, how it carries and getting it out and ready for action when needed.


Many people simply grab a knife and consider it good. That’s not the right way to go about finding your self-defense knife. Take the time to consider your personal preferences and needs before you buy. You’ll be much happier with your purchase if you think about things. Answer the questions honestly and really consider your purposes in finding a great self-defense weapon.

There are many great features to consider when you’re looking for the best self-defense knives. You’ll want to consider the shape of the blade, the length of the blade and the purpose of the blade (some are pointed and some are sharp on both sides). What are you most comfortable with? Asking yourself these questions ahead of time can help you to understand why one knife may be more beneficial to you over another type.

Another thing to consider is the construction of the blade. Is it made from stainless steel, carbon steel or something else? Will it rust easily? Will it be difficult to care for? Will it require extensive cleaning? Must it be cleaned immediately if it gets wet? Understanding that different blades require different care is important in determining which type of blade construction to get.

Full tang is a term you’ll hear often. What this means is that the blade and the handle are constructed from one continuous piece of metal. This is preferable when considering a reliable knife. You won’t want your knife to separate from the handle in a critical moment.

Sharp pointed blades are important. Many opt for this over a fully sharpened blade. However, there are distinct advantages to having a knife that is both sharply pointed and has a fully sharpened blade to use for slashing and stabbing. When considering self-defense, you’ll want to have both attributes in your knife.

Lanyard holes are an option that many don’t consider. If you’re one of those who prefers to carry your knife around your neck this is a great feature that you’ll appreciate. It’s just so much easier to put the lanyard on a knife if the hole is already there.

The color of your knife is important. You want to easily find it if you drop it. Many people opt for a camouflage color however, this can work against you if you drop your knife. Camouflaged knives are much more difficult to find in a pile of leaves or amongst twigs and sticks. Keep this in mind when you’re selecting your knife color.

The blade itself has some options to consider as well. You can opt for a curved or “S” shaped blade or a straight blade. To make it even more complicated there are also double edged and single edged blades and serrated and non-serrated edges. There are many pros and cons to each type and style so you’ll want to evaluate your specific uses and go from there when selecting your knife.

Finger guards are a welcome addition to many knives. If you’re prone to cutting yourself by accident you may well wish to invest in a knife that offers finger guards as opposed to one that doesn’t have this option. It may just save a finger.

You may also wish to consider if you’ll be using the knife up close and personal, or if you prefer to use it as a throwing knife type weapon. There are advantages and disadvantaged to both types but you’ll want to ensure that you’re choosing the knife that will work for your desired action.

If you’re a lefty you’ll want to select a knife that you can readily use in your left hand. Not all knives are well adapted to lefties so be sure to try out a few before you decide. Lefties use a different angle and different hand hold so these are very important factors to take into consideration.


There are a variety of construction materials when it comes to handles. It’s wise to consider how much use your knife is going to get when considering the handle construction. You’ll want to have something that is durable if you are going to be using your knife on a daily basis.

Bone and antler handles are a great option for both durability and attractiveness. Other options to select from are rubber, micarta, and plastic. You may wish to go to a weapons store and try out the various options to see what feels right in your hands before you make your final purchase.

You’ll want it to fit your hand easily and comfortably, especially if you’re going to have it in your hands a lot. The handle should be of a weight that is easy to handle as well. A heavy handled knife may throw your balance off if you’re attempting to use it.

Some handles are easier to grip than other types. Choose one that feels right in your hands and is comfortable to hold. If the handle construction isn’t comfortable, move on to another type of knife. Some have handle grips that make them easier to use than others. Get the feel of the various types of handles before you purchase the knife you’re going to use.


There are many different materials that knives are made from. You’ll want to select the material that you prefer for your blade (stainless steel or carbon steel). Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to the handle you’ll want to choose the one that is most comfortable for your specific use. Those with handle grips seem to be more preferred over those that don’t have handle grips.

When it comes to choosing a self-defense knife take your time and get to know the features that you’ll want in your knife. It’s important to be comfortable carrying your knife and be able to easily access your knife if you should need it. You’ll want to take time to get to know your knife and become familiar with it.

By using this ultimate guide you’ll be able to determine which knife will work best for you and why. You’ll be able to see the features that you’re seeking at a glance and know which knives to check out before you buy. You can readily narrow the list down and decide what will work best for you. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to let us know. We’re here to help you.

Self-Defense Technique