Best Duty Knife: Sara Ahrens Weighs In


Sara Ahrens’s Kershaw Ripcord (image from the Daily Caller)

Sara Ahrens,  Law Enforcement Instructor, Army veteran, writer for Women’s Outdoor News, and kick-ass supermom to boot knows a thing about knives  (ok, I know she was on that silly Top Shot show, but she has bona fide chops nonetheless).  After a full-contact weapons retention training session, she became convinced she needed a knife if she were ever to find herself pinned on top of her primary weapon.

“Carrying a knife became my ‘Plan B’ deadly force option … just in case I can’t get to my gun. I have purchased no less than twenty knives since then, until I finally found a knife that was easy to carry and deploy.” – Sara Ahrens

In this article from the Daily Caller, which is actually about her pistol, holster, and knife choices for her duty gear,  Ahrens explains why a Kershaw Ripcord 3200 is her (backup) weapon of choice:

“The Kershaw Ripcord 3200 is the perfect knife for carrying on my duty belt. The Ripcord has an Out the Front (OTF) design, which means the blade slides out of the front of its handle into a secure, fixed-blade position. The Ripcord comes with a Kydex® belt sheath, which doubles as the OTF deployment/blade-locking system. The Kershaw Ripcord doesn’t look like a knife when it is placed in its sheath on a belt.”

“The blade offers strength and superior edge retention, and the handle is constructed of a lightweight, anodized aluminum with Trac-TecÒ inserts for a secure grip.

My equipment selections are based on both policy and performance. I never hesitate to replace any equipment for better options. This is especially true when it comes to my firearm, holster and knife. I constantly search for product improvements because I know that winning or losing a confrontation may just hinge on the equipment I’ve selected”

In the pinning situation Ahrens describes, I can see where an automatic knife would be useful.  (see Question of the Day: To Switch(blade) or Not to Switch(blade)).  I doubt an automatic knife will ever be my primary EDC blade, but unlike our hoplophobic ruling class – I do not purport to know what is best for other people when it comes to their defense choices.  

If Governor Haslam signs legislation (as he is expected to do) legalizing automatic knives in Tennessee, I might have to check out a Kershaw Ripcord.

[Note from HCA:  It has come to my attention that the Kershaw Ripcord falls in a bit of a grey area.  It was argued (by an anonymous poster) that because the blade deploys on the manual draw, that it is not an automatic knife.  All switchblades are automatics, not all automatics are spring/switchblades .  There is a case to be made that the Ripcord could be classified as a “gravity knife” – a somewhat nebulous term that can be applied to even my Spyderco Native, as it can be deployed one-handed using centripetal force.  What is not in question, is that the Ripcord is a self-deploying Out-the-Front blade, that is meant to be opened with one hand.  Until the TN knife bill is signed into law, I personally would not want to tempt fate or the bored public servant who sees it on my belt.  Feel free to discuss in comments – HCA]


  1. Chris Dumm says:

    Say what you will about the show, Season One winner Iain Harrison is the genuine article.

    1. Hopefully he can save Recoil. It was a cool mag until the editor come down with cranio-rectal inversion.

      1. Chris Dumm says:

        I cannot *believe* the graphics and photography budget that magazine has. Very slick, like GQ with guns. Lots of guns.

  2. anon says:

    If this is supposed to be a hardcore knife site, it might be nice if the folks doing the writing learned what the definition of an automatic knife was before they publish an article. A Kershaw Ripcord is not an automatic knife by any defintion I have ever seen. The knife is deployed as it is drawn from the sheath, there is no spring mechanism involved. That knife should be legal in any state that allows a blade of that length, as it is a manually deployed knife.

  3. MothaLova says:

    I very much appreciate the recommendation. I find myself in the same situation as the author, only 10 knives acquired rather than 20, and it’s helpful to learn from another’s experience. Kershaw Ripcord – here I come.

  4. Joe says:

    As a Police Officer for the State of Texas, I highly recommend the Kershaw Ripcord with OTF deployment system as a duty knife. Its quick and easily drawn from the hard sheath. I was shown this knife by a friend that is also law enforcement and am now showing other officers this exquisite product. Its not only a great idea for a knife but its also a sharp looking knife as well. excuse the pun lol..

  5. Grant Philpott says:

    I designed a knife like this years before Kershaw came up with this one. On mine, the stud for the blade was on a metal loop that fitted over a belt. There was no sheath. I sent it to Spyderco for evaluation. They decided they weren’t interested. Somebody must have liked it…. Having lived in the USA while training as a gunsmith, I ensured this design complied with the law and could not be classified as an automatic knife.

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Best Duty Knife: Sara Ahrens Weighs In

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