Best Knives For Self Defense – Retention Concealment Access

Knives come in all different shapes and sizes. Some specialize in thrusting and others in slashing. Some are great for concealment and others are great for retention. The best knives for self defense depends on your preference, occupation, environment, training, and usage.

Before we move on I would like to make it clear that this is about self defense. If you are looking for self defense knives for protection its important to research and know your local laws on self defense and the laws around carrying and using knives for self defense. Read my 8 Rules of Self Defense to learn more

Blade Types For Stabbing And Slashing

When choosing a knife for self defense, you should consider the blade type and its capabilities. Each blade type specialize in a different tasks such as carving, stabbing, chopping, or slashing. To find out more about blade types check out this article.

Best Knives For Self Defense

In a self defense situation anything with a point can be used for stabbing. But some blade types penetrate deeper than others and some are designed with specific slashing capabilities. Here are a few blade types ideal for stabbing and slashing:

  • Clip-point knives – ideal for deeper and quicker stabbing. The design makes it easier to insert and retract while minimizing resistance or drag. But the downfall is that the tip of the knife is much weaker.
  • Spear-point knife – also designed for stabbing but with a more durable tip than the clip point.
  • Daggers – are somewhere in between the clip-point and spear-point knives. Designed for stabbing but weaker than spear-point knives, yet stronger than the clip-point knives.
  • Tanto knives – Have stronger tips but least penetration. Slashes may not be as deep mostly designed more for chopping. Another unique characteristic of the tanto knife is that it has a secondary point used for “snap cutting” creating an awkward wound.
  • Drop-point knives – a versatile blade type. It has a stronger tip than most and also capable for  deep slashing.
  • Trailing point knives – meant for deep slicing or skinning. Mostly common in skinning and fillet knives, but can also be found as a tactical folding knife.
  • Karambit knives – meant for slashing and hooking with limited stabbing capabilities.

Knife Retention

When shopping around for the best knives for self defense you should consider the retention attributes of the knife. Will it slip out of your hand (with or without blood) while fighting; will your hand run up the blade when thrusting; or whats the required grip tension in order to keep the knife secured in your hand. Here are some systems to consider.

  • Retention rings – Great when using the index finger, not so much if you use your pinky. Downfall of this system is it only favors one specific grip.
  • Handle Hooks – Great for preventing the knife from slipping out of your hand.
  • Lanyards – Great as a back up recovery when wrapped around your wrist if the knife accidentally slips out of your hand. May not necessarily prevent slippage. Most knives don’t include a lanyard

Knives With Retention Features:

 Cold Steel Pro Guard / Point Guard Knife


Knife Concealment & Access

Concealment is an important element to consider when choosing the best knives for self defense. Also consider accessibility, if it requires two hands or just one and the distance and effort to gain access to your knife.

Types of Knives and Best Places For Concealment & Access

Neck Knives – Great for concealing under your shirt with decent access hanging slightly below the sternum. The downfall is it may requires 2 hands to access the knife.

Folding Knives – Great for clipping it in the front pocket a shirt for concealment. Easy one hand access. This particular one has a snag open feature that deploys the knife automatically as you pull it out of your pocket making it great for one hand deployment.

Best knives for self defense belt knives

Fixed-blade Belt Knives – Great for concealing in the front waist line with easy access and one hand deployment.

Best Knives For Self Defense

Based on my preference when considering the best knives for self defense, I need the knife to first be a thrusting tool, slashing would be secondary, and then everything else follows. Below are some knives i would consider as an EDC and for self defense.

SOG Seal Pup Elite

  • 4.85″ Clip-point Blade.
  • Comfortable grip.
  • Lanyard hole
  • Light-weight.
  • Ideal placement would be on the belt under the shirt.

Cold Steel Spartan

  • Kukuri Style Deep Belly Clip Point (versatile for stabbing & slashing)
  • 4.5″ Blade Length
  • Handle Hook Retention
  • Tip down pocket clip for quick deployment

Spyderco Manix 2 XL

  • 3.875″ Spear-Point Blade
  • Handle Hook Retention
  • Tip down pocket clip for quick deployment

Cold Steel Pro-Guard / Point Guard Knife

 Cold Steel Pro Guard / Point Guard Knife

  • 4″ Blade length
  • Pistol Grip Retention Ring
  • Designed as a neck knife but can be modified to be placed on the belt
  • Easy Fixed-Blade Concealment

Ka-bar TDI Law Enforcement Knife

  • 2 5/6″ Spear-Point Blade
  • Pistol Grip Retention
  • Belt-Clip Sheath
  • Easy Fixed-Blade Concealment

SOG GB1001-CP Gambit

  • 2.58″ Karambit Blade
  • Retention Ring
  • Multi-Angle Belt-Clip Sheath
  • Easy Fixed-Blade Concealment

Spyderco Endura 4 Wave

  • 3-13/16″ Spear-Point Blade
  • Snag Open Feature When Pulled from pocket
  • Tip down pocket clip for quick deployment

Spyderco Karahawk Knife

  • 2.35″ Karambit Blade
  • Retention Ring
  • Snag Open Feature When Pulled from pocket
  • Tip down pocket clip for quick deployment

Columbia River Folts Minimalist Bowie

Best knives for self defense belt knives

  • 2.125″” Deep Belly Clip-Point Blade
  • Finger Choils Grip Retention
  • Belt-Clip and Paracord Neck Knife Carry

So Whats the Best Concealed Carry Fighting Knife?

When picking out a knife for concealed carry, you should consider the retention design of the knife and where and how you like to access the knife from concealment.

Final Thoughts

Its always good policy to check your local laws on carrying knives and the usage for self defense.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I personally believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”











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9 Replies to “Best Knives For Self Defense – Retention Concealment Access”

  1. aoh

    The reality is that coming to the conclusion to carry knives for self-defense, and then selecting it, is child’s play in comparison to the decision-making process and commitment to training that accompanies concealing and deploying the weapon.

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