A pocket knife is an ideal tool many are gravitating toward in terms of self-defense. They’re small, simple to use, and easy to conceal as needed. The best pocket knife for self-defense is one that also has good edge retention so it stays sharp in the unfortunate event that you need to use it.
To help you find the best knife for the job, we narrowed down 10 top-rated weapons. Afterward, check out our buying guide and FAQ section to learn more about pocket knives and what to look for.
Let’s get started with our reviews.
Pocket Knives for Self-Defense: My Top Picks
Swiss Safe 3-in-1 Tactical Knife for Military and First Responders
Available in numerous colors, the 3-in-1 EMT/EMS Tactical Knife is designed with first responders in mind. It’s multifunctional with its built-in glass-breaking tip and seatbelt cutter. The knife is made with an aluminum handle and a sturdy pocket clip for simple carrying.
As for the blade, it’s half-serrated and made from heavy-duty stainless steel. For security purposes, it has a good built-in safety lock as well as a spring assist opening. There are slight indentions on the handle too for a more secure grip.
Consumers like this as the best self-defense knife because of how well-constructed it is on top of feeling balanced. There’s also much praise for the convenience of the 3-in-1 design so the knife can be used beyond self-defense. The assisted opening works well, and it’s a good size to easily fit in your pocket.
Despite the knife itself seeming well-built, there are some concerns that other parts of the knife aren’t as durable. The pocket clip, for instance, seems lower in quality.
- Well-balanced and easy to use
- The handle offers a good grip
- Helpful 3-in-1 design
- The pocket clip seems low-quality
2. Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S 7.1in S.S. Folding Knife with 3.1in Serrated Clip Point Blade
This Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S is the best folding knife for self-defense that features a quality layout that’s both durable and pleasing to look at. All-black in design, the knife is made with high-carbon stainless steel that’s only partially serrated, and an aluminum handle that features a pocket clip.
Additionally, the handle has finger indentions and some textured material to better control your grip. It’s a good size overall to fit in your pocket or hand for easy carrying.
Consumers speak highly about how sharp the edges of the knife are. They also appreciate the balance of the knife, making note that it feels durable while still being light in weight for easy wielding. Many people also like the overall size and how well it slips into your pocket.
Some consumers did feel that the opening mechanism was a bit stiff at first, so it may need a breaking-in period before you can smoothly open it one-handed.
- Features high-quality, high-carbon steel material
- Designed with a good grip
- Lightweight and easy to manage
- Initial stiffness when deploying the blade
Spring Assisted Knife – Pocket Folding Knife
Deemed the best defense knife by many looking for a way to protect themselves, the Grand Way 6681 is a quality spring assist knife that’s small, simple to carry around, and reliable. The pocket knife is all-black with a stainless steel blade, an aluminum handle with a pocket clip, and thumb studs for ambidextrous use.
It has a good liner lock that’s designed to resist dirt and it also fights off unintended closure. The pocket knife is also made in a handful of different color styles.
Users speak positively about the pocket knife’s secure locking mechanism for safety purposes. They also like how the blade arrives sharp and how well it holds the edge all while still being budget-friendly. There’s plenty of further appreciation of the pocket knife not just for self-defense, but for everyday carry and use.
Although it’s simple enough to use, some users claim that the handle feels a touch slippery, so the knife might benefit from a more textured grip.
- Well-made liner lock with removable thumb studs
- A good deal of sharpness and edge retention
- Lightweight feel
- The aluminum handle features a slightly slippery surface
MTech USA MT-A845BK Spring Assist Folding Knife
The MTech USA MT-A845BK is a spring assist folding knife that features a fast, one-handed opening. Its thumb stud may also help with a rapid blade deployment. For locking purposes, it utilizes a liner lock.
This pocket knife is designed in four different coloring styles so you may personalize your self-defense tool. It features an aluminum handle and a standard pocket clip. Alongside that, the knife is designed with a seatbelt cutter and glass breaker if you need it for an emergency situation.
There are many consumers who see this as the best knife for protection thanks to the extra addition of the seatbelt cutter and glass breaker. Also, the blade itself seems durable and long-lasting. It has a good deployment, and if you need to carry it concealed, the pocket clip is deep so the rest of the knife is well-hidden.
As far as any complaints go, there are mentions that the locking mechanism isn’t as reliable as the rest of the knife. In some cases, it may be stiff or stop functioning properly.
- Heavy-duty spring-assist design
- The pocket clip is deep for ideal concealed carrying
- Blade appears sturdy and sharp
- The locking mechanism seems low in quality
Kershaw Blur Black (1670BLK) Everyday Carry Pocketknife
The Kershaw Blur Black is a tactical defense knife that features a SpeedSafe-assisted opening mechanism so you can deploy the blade one-handed using your left or right hand. It places the thumb stud in a convenient place so it’s quick and easy to reach.
Available in several colors, the pocket knife has a reversible pocket clip and a textured handle for holding in various weather conditions. For longevity, the knife features a diamond-like carbon coating so that it fights off corrosion and has good wear resistance.
There are many consumers who enjoy the overall quality of the blade. It seems to have good longevity with a fast opening system. There’s also an appreciation for the handle design and how good of a grip you can maintain with the knife no matter the circumstance, which also grants the handle some water resistance.
At the same time, some consumers say the heavy texture on the handle can be too abrasive for your pocket and any items you may have that it can scratch against.
- Long-lasting, high-quality construction
- Good amount of weather-resistance
- Feels light and easy to carry
- The textured handle can be a touch too rough
Gerber Gear 22-48485 Paraframe Mini Pocket Knife, 2.2 Inch Fine Edge Blade, Stainless Steel
The Gerber Paraframe Mini Knife is a straightforward, lightweight knife that’s good for everyday carry. It’s designed sleek and as easy to maintain as it is to use. This opens and closes with minimal effort, and the built-in lock safely secures it in place.
The blade has a full fine edge made from smooth stainless steel. There’s a quality clip constructed as well so you can travel with it with ease.
Consumers view this as a good self-defense knife thanks to its simplistic design. It’s remarkably lightweight for easy carrying, and it has a good grip with some grooves for your fingers so it’s comfortable to hold.
There are complaints, however, about folding the knife back in. Some say that the lock is stiff, so you may have to apply a bit of effort to close it.
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Good build quality
- A lightweight frame with a quality grip
- The locking mechanism is stiff
Engraved Personalized Pocket Knife
The TAC-FORCE TF606WS has an appealing look on top of good functionality as a self-defense pocket knife. It has a partially serrated blade and an assisted opening mechanism for fast deployment. The built-in quality pocket clip allows for quick access as well.
This serves as a multifunctional pocket knife too as it has a glass breaker, can opener, and a rope cutter constructed into it. Concerning the appearance, it’s customizable as you can personalize an engraving of up to two lines of text.
Many consumers praise how the knives are around with a good deal of sharpness. They appreciate the smooth finish on the blade as well. There are further compliments about the quality of the pocket clip and how simple this is to carry with you.
On the downside, some consumers note that the knife feels stiff when opening and closing the blade, so it can take some time and effort to get used to using it.
- Quality engraving handle design
- Versatile design
- A sharp blade with a smooth finish
- Feels tight to open and close the blade
CRKT Squid Folding Pocket Knife: Compact EDC Straight Edge Utility Knife
The CRKT Squid Folding Pocket Knife features a low-profile design with a blade length that’s comfortable for carrying around daily. Available in an all-black or all-silver design, the pocket knife is made from quality metal and it features friction grooves on the handle for a reliable grip.
There’s a pocket clip built onto it for concealed carry, and the handle also has a lanyard hole on the end to fit a keychain or fob. The blade is a typical straight edge, and there’s a frame lock handle to properly and safely secure it.
There are mentions that this is a quality knife for women’s self-defense thanks to how effortlessly you can carry and conceal it in a pocket or a purse. There’s a good balance of the weight so that it’s light enough to stash away and use, and it’s still built tough enough to hold up over time. It’s also easy to lock and unlock.
Many consumers did mention, however, that the stainless steel frame handle might get a bit tough to grasp at times even with the friction grooves.
- Holds its edge well
- Ideal size to give you good control
- Quality frame lock
- Some slickness on the stainless steel frame handle
Pocket Knife – Tactical Folding Knife
The Grand Way 6772 Pocket Knife comes in three different color styles, and it features both a pocket clip and a lanyard on the handle. With a thumb stud for fast one-handed opening, the knife is spring-assisted and versatile in its usage. The handle includes a fire starter and whistle so that it’s ideal for self-defense and survival purposes.
It has a stainless steel single blade with a unique cutout design. Overall, the knife is straightforward to use and arrives sharp so you may get used to it right out of the box.
Many consumers enjoyed how well-balanced the blade is so that a multitude of different people can make good use of it. As a personal defense knife, this has good maneuverability, and it’s versatile thanks to the fire starter rod so you can use it in a survival situation.
Some consumers noted that they didn’t feel the handle was as high-quality as the blade construction.
- Balanced well for better maneuverability
- Easy to sharpen
- The spring-assist opening has a good consistency
- The plastic handle doesn’t feel that high in quality
Pocket Knife with Stainless Steel Blade
The Atomic Bear Folding Knife is a versatile pocket knife that’s made with a semi-serrated blade with a fine edge. It features a one-handed operation with dual-sided thumb studs so you can simply flick it open. This is also made with a liner lock system for safety and ease of use.
As for the handle, it’s ergonomic in shape, and it’s made with varying textures so you can grip it high or low as well as in various weather conditions. For its overall design, the pocket knife is both light in weight and slim so you can slip it into your pocket and conceal it well.
Several consumers believe that as far as self-defense knives go, this one is well-built and features a quality clip that hides most of it when you have the knife in your pocket. They also appreciate the ergonomic handle design and that the blade appears durable and with a good amount of sharpness.
Since it isn’t spring-assisted, some consumers note issues opening it with one hand at first, so it may take some practice.
- Ergonomic, textured handle design
- Durable construction
- Sharp with good performance
- Takes some time to learn how to open it fast
Factors to Consider
The overall blade design is one of the most important features to look at when choosing a pocket knife.
It should be made from a hard material that’s durable and long-lasting so you won’t need to replace it anytime soon.
Also, check out the sharpness of the blade. If it’s dull, then there’s little use you’ll get out of it. So, a quality pocket knife features a good blade or a blade that can sharpen well.
Lastly, take a look at the length of the blade. Although pocket knives come in various sizes, the most important consideration is the legality of the knife, how it opens, and especially the length of the blade. In the United States, there are laws regarding knives that vary from state to state.
Before you buy one for self-defense, check with your specific place of residence so you know for sure whether or not you can even carry the knife around.
Ease of Use
What good use is a pocket knife for self-defense if you can’t actually use it? To start, consider the deployment of the blade. As you’re carrying it for self-defense, it helps if you can open it quickly with one hand. This is usually thanks to a spring-assisted opening system.
Beyond deploying the blade, consider how well you can hold the knife. An ambidextrous grip is beneficial so that you can carry the knife in either hand.
Some pocket knives have grooves for your fingers to better fit in for comfort, and some feature textured grips so you may not drop the knife in various conditions like snow, mud, and rain.
Whatever pocket knife you choose for self-defense, it should be safe to handle. As easy as it is for you to deploy the blade, it should go back in just as well without the risk of you cutting yourself.
The knife should also have a quality lock to reduce the risk of any accidental deployment.
Are there laws for carrying pocket knives for self-defense?
Yes, their varying laws about having pocket knives for self-defense purposes. Many areas have laws concerning the length of the blade as well as how you carry it whether out in the open or concealed. Always consult with your area’s specific laws to learn whether or not you can bring your knife of choice out of the house.
How do you use a pocket knife for self-defense?
As with any weapon, it’s important you take the time to learn how to use a pocket knife. You can always search online or around your area to find classes in self-defense that deal with the use of knives.
Also, keep in mind that a pocket knife, if used as a weapon, is considered a deadly force by many courts. So, you must be certain that your life is in danger if you’re ever going to pull the knife out and use it against an assailant.
What’s the best way to carry a pocket knife?
How you carry your knife depends on whether or not you want it concealed or obvious. Since you want the pocket knife for self-defense, some people opt to carry it inside the waistband of their pants as you can easily place a shirt over it to hide it. Thankfully, many pocket knives feature a clip so you can just as easily clip it to your pants either concealed or in the open.
Other knives may be small enough that you can simply slip them into your pocket. Some women even opt to carry a knife in their purses. At the end of the day though, the main thing determining how you’re carrying your knife is the law in your area.
Making the Decision
There are many quality tools you can use to defend yourself and your loved ones, but out of the products we reviewed, we believe the Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S is the best pocket knife for self-defense. It’s a dependable design that’s at a good weight so it’s simple to hold and long-lasting.
The blade is made from high-quality steel, and it has a sharp edge to it with good retention. Also, the handle is designed well so it’s comfortable to hold, and the pocket clip is sturdy. If you want to read more about the pocket knife, feel free to take a look at it along with the rest of the knives on our list.