The Gun Carrier’s Knife: Considerations

Gun Carrier's Knife


By Salvatore (via

The gun and knife go together like corned beef and cabbage. But while most armed citizens carry a knife, few spend time considering the blade they carry. In this article I wish to address the role of the knife as a must have utility and rescue tool and as a defensive weapon. I would suggest that all handgun carriers invest some thought into their own needs before selecting the best blade for their own daily carry.

Let me say this from the outset: I am not a dedicated knife guy that prioritizes “knife fighting” techniques and I write this for the like individual. Most people who carry a gun as a primary defensive tool do carry a blade, but it usually factors into self-defense only as an afterthought.

For myself, the knife serves a secondary role as a weapon, but it’s an extremely important lifesaving tool that should be carried at all times by anyone who believes in being prepared for crisis, whether that crisis involves fighting or surviving some other unexpected emergency. However, while the knife is secondary as a weapon, the importance of the tool in this capacity is significant and there are certain situations in which the blade can make all the difference.

When I was 12 years old, I got stuck in a seat belt that would not release. Nobody in the vehicle had a blade. That was the last day I ever left the house with no cutting tool on my person.

I learned that lesson the easy way. You may learn the lesson when in a car that’s filling with water, or one that’s burning, or after a wreck when you can’t free your child from a car seat. Capable people carry a blade, it is that simple. Without a cutting tool on your person you are not prepared for the dangers of the world.

The cutting tool does not have to be a dedicated knife to fill the rescue role. It can be a multi tool. In fact, when in extremely restricted environments I will carry a small multi tool with a non-locking blade. Hardly a weapon, but it’s still a cutting tool that will allow you to survive such a situation as referenced above.

My approach to carrying a knife on a daily basis, however, is to carry one that covers the necessary utility and rescue role combined with a defensive capability. I personally carry folders as I find them more convenient. However, deploying a folder from a pocket, even if you train for it extensively, is more precarious than drawing a fixed blade knife and serious knife people often opt for the fixed blade solution. However, most gun people carry a folding knife due to legality or convenience but there is still great defensive utility with this tool even if that is not the primary purpose for carrying the knife.

For those who carry a handgun on a daily basis the most likely defensive use of a knife is going to be in a weapons retention struggle, or simply a contact distance struggle in which you can’t access the firearm. I find most people carry a folding knife on their dominant side, typically clipped to the pocket on the same side of the body as the gun. The issue here is, if your dominant hand can’t access your gun to begin with, your secondary weapon is sitting on the same side and is unlikely to be accessible either.

I realize that most people aren’t very ambidextrous but I suggest keeping your blade accessible to your support hand so that either hand can quickly access a weapon. This means deploying the knife quickly and efficiently, especially a folder with the support hand, is going to demand some training and dedicated practice. I think that all of your emergency tools should receive the required practice, obviously, so if you want to be able to realistically deploy your knife in a critical situation then spend the time training for it.

If the knife factors into your defensive plan, even at a secondary level, then consistency needs to be considered. The knife should be carried in the same body location, similar to your gun, so that you will reach for it in that location naturally when under stress.

I would also recommend always carrying the same knife, or at least carrying knives that are similar in function. I always carry a particular folding knife clipped to my support hand side pocket, and I have a smaller knife that functions and deploys in an identical manner that I will use when dress or environment calls for the smaller blade. This way I have a predictable and consistent force option, always in the same location, always deployed the same way.

While you may be a typical gun carrier who views the knife only as an unlikely backup option for defensive work, you need to be conscious of the legal elements and stereotypes that surround this tool when used for such purposes. Beyond just the legalities of carrying knives — which can be just as complicated as the legalities regarding the carry of firearms — an important aspect for you to consider is this: no matter how you twist it or turn it, the American judicial system typically sees the use of force with edged weapons as being felonious. While absurd, the reality remains that a lot of people have had legal trouble because they legitimately defended themselves, but they used an edged weapon to do so.

I’m not sharing this word of caution to make you hesitant to use a knife if that’s your only means of protecting yourself. I do, however, suggest that this reality be recognized and considered and it’s another reason that I believe the firearm should serve as the primary weapon whenever possible. In circumstances in which you cannot carry a gun, then certainly carry a knife if you can, but be aware of this reality.

Remember that, whatever the situation may be, a blade is considered equal in lethality to a gun and they’re both weapons of lethal force in the eyes of the law. Brandishing a blade is considered threatening someone with a deadly weapon, so all legalities concerning guns apply to knives.

Spend some time considering your needs and choose your tool wisely, but be sure you always carry a blade. The knife is just as important, and perhaps more so, than any other item you carry. It serves as a devastating contact distance weapon in trained hands. Even more importantly, it is an emergency tool for which there is no substitute. However, be conscious of the legalities and consider how your knife factors into your defensive plan accordingly.


  1. Jason says:

    I’ve been carrying a Cold Steel Peace Maker III in my right hand pocket (no pistol) with the sheath clipped to the pocket like a folder. It rides fairly low, with only a couple of inches projecting, so it’s covered with a long shirt. It’s fairly easy to draw in a ice pick grip, and offers a razor sharp (literally, there’s a guy on YouTube who demonstrates using a factory edge to shave his face) four inch blade in extremis. I keep a Leatherman Charge on a pouch on the left side of my belt.

  2. Ed says:

    A Walther PPS, NAA .22 magnum mini revolver and either a Microtech Ultratec or a Paragon Warlock in the pocket everyday.

  3. Hanzo says:

    The spyderco is nice, but might I suggest the ultimate concealable carry knife, the Pro Tech Godson.

  4. Man in the Middle says:

    One surprising consideration when choosing a knife to carry is that it may be best for the knife not to look “mean”, as that may result in more legal trouble after using it even in self-defense. Thus, my Doug Ritter knife has a bright yellow handle rather than a black one, and a plain rather than serrated edge blade. When even that may seem “unfriendly”, I also have a Leatherman Skeletool CX, with similar ease of access when needed, but also many other credible uses as a tool.

    Also be aware of length restrictions. Where I used to work at an Illinois university, any blade longer than 2 inches was forbidden. So I also have a Gerber box cutter, and a tiny Victorinox Swiss Army knife mostly good for trimming my fingernails with its scissors or opening the occasional box.

  5. Sam L. says:

    Linked by Instapundit at 5PM.

  6. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon says:

    A consideration should be whether you can easily deploy your blade *with one hand*.
    I have carried a pocket knife since I was 10 years old. I was a good Scout: Be Prepared!. But in my late 20’s I learned that a pocket knife was not enough.

    Racing a 33′ sailboat off Kingston, Ontario, in a rapidly increasing wind. I was doing the foredeck. We gybed but the skipper was unable to stabilize the boat before a big gust hit. We were proceeding East doing about 8 knots when the rudder ventilated and… we yawed 100 degrees to port, and *rolled* 100 to starboard. Ended up “proceeding” East at 1 knot, with the masthead leading, in the water! I had been on the foredeck but had just enough time to end up kneeling on the port hull, *outside the lifelines*.
    For safety in strong winds, the boom was always secured with a preventer which prevented an inadvertent gybe (and head injuries). And this had been done. But now the preventer held the boom up, backwinded, preventing the boat from righting itself. So I had to cut the stopper knot off the end of the rope where it was cleated.
    Do *you* know how *hard* it is to open a pen-knife *with your teeth*?

    I decided at that instant, that I would thereafter ALWAYS carry a blade which I could deploy with one hand. I carried a small fixed blade for some years. My present daily carry blade is a Columbia River K.I.S.S (about $40.00) which does not require a sheath, has a great clip, and *easily* opens with your thumb. It has a single bevel blade which lies against the handle when closed, so it is very thin.

    1. Hanzo says:

      You should check out the Pro Tech Godson.

  7. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon says:

    Yes, nice looking knife. But illegal in Canada (it’s a ‘switch-blade’) and personally I do not like sharp tips on a daily use blade. They get broken off. That’s what happened to one of my fixed blade EDC’s years ago. I stuck the knife into the deadfall I was sitting on, and the dog jumped up, and broke off the tip!. Ergo, the tanto blade on the KISS.
    Plus, that knife looks a little thick.

  8. Mark Edwards says:

    I’m a Spyderco fan, too. I suggest the Delica or Endura with the Emerson Wave opening feature. Makes one-handed opening a lot easier, important with lummoxes like me trying to use my left hand.

  9. Steve says:

    My EDC is a Kershaw Blur Tanto with a combo edge. Made in the USA and will cut anything that needs to be cut. Spring assist for easy one-handed opening, and it looks scary 😀

  10. cmeat says:

    my identical twin sister in law married into an orthodox family. when a puddle jumper crash landed into a pond near detroit they couldn’t extract the boy, her husband’s first cousin, because seat belt. they have denounced god because no one had a simple tool. sad folks permanently.

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The Gun Carrier’s Knife: Considerations

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