When it comes to self defense, there’s no playing around. It’s a serious decision that could be the difference between life and death – which is why you need the best self defense knife for YOU! We’ll help you choose a knife that’s right for your style and needs.
We’ll make sure you get the best possible value for money and a knife you can rely on. By the end of this guide, you’ll know what to expect at different price points, and what non-negotiable features you’ll need on your next self defense knife. Let’s get started!
Top 7 Best Self Defense Knife Reviews in 2023
We’ve carefully selected 7 self-defense knives to show you. They offer some of the best value for money on the market, and performance you could bet your life on. You’ll find what’s unique about each knife and why it’s worth paying attention to. We’ll also cover what we did and didn’t like about each model so that you get a good feel for its real-world performance.
While there’s no perfect knife out there, it is possible to find the knife that’s perfect for you. Write down your needs and the features that stand out to you as you make your way through the reviews. Let’s jump into our best self-defense knife reviews!
Kershaw Brawler Folding Pocket Knife
Kicking it off, here’s one of the most popular self-defense knives on the market. Kershaw is known for creating excellent-quality folding knives at affordable prices – and that’s certainly true here. Kershaw knife is crafted from high-performance 8CR18 steel. Its high-carbon content keeps it from rusting and corroding while holding a sharp edge for longer than you’d expect.
It has great damage resistance and won’t be easily scuffed by abrasive and adhesive wear. These are knives that you can take almost anywhere with you and can survive in almost any environment. You’re getting a sleek profile in a subtle black coating. In terms of blade deployment, you’ll find this knife is as fast as they come. It’s an assisted-opening that can be opened with either hand.
It’s rapid and reliable – exactly what you want in an emergency. You can use the manual flipper if you prefer the control it gives you. The linear lockup is sturdy and relatively easy to unlock. You’ll have robust protection against slipping and accidental closing. We loved how easy the handle is to hold. Its textured surface gives you plenty of grip strength and the glass-filled nylon is durable and long-lasting.
It also helps to keep the knife lightweight and agile. Finally, the 4-position pocket clip gives you a variety of mounting options without going overboard. It’s simple and functional without being a burden. This is especially important if you’re using this knife as your daily carry. Overall, you’re getting one of the best self defense knife options on the market.
- High-quality, lightweight handle
- Subtle and sleek design
- Corrosion and rust-resistant
- Rapid assisted opening and secure lockup
- A little on the small side
- Black coating scratches off over time
Ka-Bar TDI Law-Enforcement Knife
If you’re going to carry your knife with you in challenging or rigorous conditions, then it needs a solid pocket or belt clip. The 1480 black metal belt clip you get here is excellent quality and offers a variety of sturdy mounting options. With AUS-8 steel, you’re getting a durable and sharp knife that doesn’t need a ton of care and maintenance to perform well.
Although the knife’s overall shape is a little unusual, the ergonomic and textured handle feels familiar. It’s easy to control the short and powerful blade and has a comfortable finger mold that suits many different grip styles. It’s small enough to wear as a concealed carry and has a sleek, subtle finish to suit.
The smaller total length makes it less imposing and better suited to use as your EDC. Overall, it’s an agile, subtle, and capable knife worth paying attention to. It’s a unique pick for the best cheap self-defense knife.
- Unique and attractive lightweight design
- Extremely strong cutting edge
- High-quality and comfortable handle
- Excellent quality belt clip
- Black coating can scratch and peel off over time
- Screws strip relatively easily
Spyderco Endura 4 Signature Folding Knife
If your budget can stretch a little further, Spyderco knife offers a fantastic balance between premium quality and cost-friendly performance. You’re getting a larger 3.8” blade and enhanced cutting power. It’s a very capable knife with excellent edge retention and resistance. A unique feature is the hook-style opener.
This dull-hook catches onto the pocket as it’s pulled out and automatically swings the blade open. If it doesn’t lock into place then and there, all you’ll need is a little flick of the wrist to get it done. This makes the knife extremely fast to open in an emergency and allows you to reliably defend yourself when you’re rushed by an attacker.
The Endura handle is light, comfortable, and textured to make sure it doesn’t slip out of your hand. You can use the knife safely when it’s wet or if your hands are oily. Overall, you’re getting a rapid and secure knife with high-quality construction and material build. It’s resistant, razor-sharp, and one of the best self defense knifes in this price range.
- Bi-directional texturing on the handle
- Lightweight and easy to control
- Extremely sharp with great edge retention
- Hook-style opening blade is swift and convenient
- Takes a while to get used to the opening mechanism
- Occasionally won’t lock when opening with the fast-deployment hook
Spyderco Yojimbo 2 Tactical Knife
The incredibly ergonomic handle is the first thing that stands out when you hold this tactical knife. There are contours for each of your fingers and they’re wavy enough to fit even the largest fingers. The knife is designed to suit the forward thumb grip and this gives you extensive and versatile control over the short blade.
We love G10 handles and this one is no exception. It’s textured to keep it firmly planted in your hand without slipping – even when wet or slightly oily. You’ll find the piercing power is excellent and you’ll have no trouble switching between different grips quickly. S30V steel gives the blade a sturdy and sharp cutting edge, along with decent edge retention and corrosion resistance.
It’s a durable knife you’ll keep around for a long time. The compact size and lightweight build let you carry it with you almost anywhere. It’s unobtrusive while still being a highly capable EDC. You’re getting a fantastic knife for self-defense that suits a wide range of potential users.
- Extremely versatile and easy to use
- Sturdy tip with great piercing and cutting power
- High-grade G10 handle with non-slip texturing
- Compact and lightweight
- Unusual blade design that takes a while to get used to
- Doesn’t come very sharp out of the box
CRKT M21 Folding Pocket Knife
Pocket knife is all about safety. You’re getting an automated liner safety lock that gives the blade an extra layer of protection to take the risk out of the equation. You get a beginner-friendly knife that’s built to last. CRKT make fantastic knives – especially in this price range – and this model doesn’t fail to impress.
Despite the lightweight frame and build, this knife is incredibly strong. The aluminum handle does well to balance the knife and has cutouts to give you enhanced grip strength. We love that there’s a serrated portion on the lower half of the knife. It helps with other tactical and field uses, as well as offering robust cutting power (for self-defense too).
The darker profile of the knife is subtle and sleek, perfect for using as an EDC or tactical carry – without drawing too much attention. It’s coated to give you a little extra resistance to corrosion and rusting and helps to reduce light reflections coming off the blade. Overall, you’re getting a top-rated self-defense knife that’s well worth the money.
- Coated to reduce light shimmers and to resist corrosion
- Dual-hilt handle is robust
- Excellent edge retention
- Doesn’t come as sharp as we would have liked
- Black coating scratches off over time
SOG Flash II Tanto EDC Knife for Self Defense
If you’re a fan of super-quick open blade, then you might like this. The assisted opening is lightning-quick and very reliable. It’s the stand-out feature of this SOG knife. You can open and close the knife with one-hand, and it is left-hand friendly too. The 3.5” blade has a tanto-style tip with impressive piercing power.
It’s lightweight and easy to control, despite still packing a punch. AUS-8 steel gives the blade’s straight edge awesome cutting power and respectable edge-retention. This is great for EDC knives as you don’t want to be surprised by a dull edge when you need it the most. A unique and impressive feature is the scratch and peel-resistant TiNi coating.
Many of these coated knives struggle with this and it’s good to see that’s taken care of here. You’re getting a highly-durable and long-lasting knife with top-class performance. It’s affordable considering the build quality and design. In our opinion, this is a top-pick for the best self defense knife for the money in this price range.
- Excellent value for money
- Scratch and peel resistant blade coating
- Super-rapid blade deployment
- Easy one-handed opening and closing
- Safety is a bit of a concern as the blade is extremely easy to deploy unintentionally
- Pocket clip gets catches quite easily
Spyderco Civilian Folding Knife for Self Defense
Here’s an awesome choice if you’re a little style-minded – this knife is exceptionally attractive. Not only that, but it’s also got class-leading durability and top-of-the-line performance. If the hefty price tag doesn’t faze you then this might be the best self defense knife on the market.
It’s incredibly well-designed and finely-crafted. The reverse “S” blade is as unique as it is devastating. You’ll find the downward pointing tip is versatile, powerful, and capable of tactical and defense use. It also lends to different grip techniques and styles. The cutting edge uses Spyderco’s famous two-step serrations.
They’re impeccably sharp and cut cleanly, quickly, and effortlessly. This two-step pattern increases the surface area of the cutting edge by up to 24%. It might not seem like much – but in practice it becomes an extremely efficient blade. This is all made better by the excellent quality G10 handle.
It’s made from rigid and robust epoxy-filled glass fiber that’s texture to be non-slip and easy to handle. You can use this knife in different conditions (cold, hot, wet, oily) without worrying about the knife’s integrity or your ability to hold it. Not everybody is a fan of back-locked knives – especially when it comes to self-defense.
Your fingers won’t be at risk with accidental slips and unlocks. Overall, with a blade length of just over 4”, you’re getting what you pay for. It’s a classy and superbly capably self-defense knife that’s admittedly rather expensive – but well worth it in our opinion.
- Class-leading material and build quality
- Expertly designed serrated cutting edge
- Extremely resistant
- Textured, lightweight, and ergonomic handle
- Very expensive compared to all the other knives on this list
- Back-lock is slow
How to Find the Best Knife for Protection
Self-defense knives are not supposed to be decorations for your wall; they are mean machines with a thirst for protective intimidation. In most cases, a knife is a valuable tool that probably looks good either in a kitchen or on a dining room table somewhere, but not this type of knife. It doesn’t matter what a self-defense knife looks like or feels like – Does it do the job?
If you find yourself in a sticky situation, all that matters is, “will this thing save my life?” There are a couple of crucial points that you shouldn’t let slide when it comes to self-defense; note that appearance is not one of them. Let’s have a look at what you should consider when searching for a self-defense knife.
If you need to protect yourself from a person who is attacking you, to steal or otherwise, and you whip out a tiny little pocket knife, the pursuers might laugh. Now, if you were to yank out a potent dagger-like military-type weapon, then they may leave you alone without starting a brawl.
If it’s too late and you have no other choice but to defend yourself, then you’ll want something made of light materials and high strength so that it’s easy to operate and handle. The handle needs to withstand a large amount of force, with a sturdy grip that will ensure you don’t slip or, even worse, that it doesn’t get taken away and used against you.
When something gets the jump on you, with no warning, you’re going to need to access your knife very quickly, so it’s essential to get something that you can have ready at any moment’s call.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Is a Fixed Blade or Folding Blade Better?
A: A folding blade is easier to conceal, but it might not be as intense or intimidating. A fixed blade will give you a more intimidating presence and will offer you more durability. The problem with fixed blades is that they can be slow to draw, especially if they are in a tight sheath, whereas a folding blade can be flicked open in no time.
Q: Is It Illegal to Have a Knife on Me in Public?
A: If your local laws say so. Most of these knives shouldn’t be a problem to carry around because they are small and concealable. Automatic flip knives are illegal in several different places, so be aware of what you choose to buy in this regard.
Q: Is a Self-Defense Knife the Same as a Military Knife?
A: Army knives are a lot larger and more lethal. They have similar properties but are not equivalent to any of the knives on this list. Special forces usually use fixed blades for effective hand-to-hand combat; folding blades are more for civilian self-defense or multi-utility purposes.
We’ve looked at some impressive knives in this review! Hopefully, you’re a lot clearer on what you’re looking for, what features matter most for you, and the kind of value you can expect at different price points. All that’s left is to make your choice. Getting the best self defense knife is all about choosing what’s right for you. Take your time, keep what we’ve spoken about in mind, and you’ll get a knife that’ll keep you safe for a long time!