After a few years that have brought us just about every bad thing we could have possibly imagined, it’s understandable to be wary of every new day. Life has quite literally proven that we really never know what’s going to happen next. And with violent crime rates rising in every major U.S. city, we want to be ready for anything. If there’s any way we can prepare for an unexpected emergency, we’re going to do so. That being said, it’s important to try and prevent tragedy in any way possible, so snagging yourself the best self-defense knife to keep on you for those “just in case” kinds of situations isn’t a bad idea.
Yeah, we know. For some, carrying the best self-defense knife around at all times seems a bit much, but believe us — you never want to regret not having a knife. There’s a solid chance you’ll never, ever have to use it a single time in your entire life, so you might be thinking why you might need one, to begin with. We at SPY believe that everyone should have the tools to defend themselves, which is why we take self-defense weapons so seriously. You truly never know when life is going to take a turn on you, so you might as well be prepared.
A good self-defense knife doesn’t show itself until it needs to be shown. You don’t want to walk around town wielding, like, an ax or anything. It needs to be discreet so you can easily carry it without anyone noticing or fearing your presence. The knife has to be tiny in size as well so it can easily fit in your pocket and be taken in and out as needed.
If you’re looking to take a step in the right direction in terms of your safety, don’t worry, we have you covered. Down below, you can find the best self-defense knives money can buy in 2022. Just don’t play around with them, as the blades below most definitely aren’t toys.
1. Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S 7.1in S.S. Folding Knife
In terms of safety, folding knives are really your best bet when carrying. Not only will they keep you safe in time of need, but folding knives have the ability to stay hidden by folding inside their own handle until you need them. This self-defense knife from Smith & Wesson is not only our favorite but Amazon’s, too. It has almost 15,000 solid ratings that rave about this knife’s safety measures, quick access and security. At only 7 inches in length and 3 inches when folded, this is a super-compact option to keep on you at all times.
2. Grand Way Black Camping Pocket Knife
This simple yet handy pocket knife is a reliable self-defense knife that prevents any unwanted closure. Because, well, you don’t even want to imagine that. Bye, thumb! It’s coated in black to stay looking sleek and hidden, especially during the night. It’s made from 440C stainless steel to provide total durability and stays sharp no matter how frequently you use it. People love using this pocket knife while camping, hiking and fishing, but as we mentioned, we suggest you keep this on you at all times just in case.
3. Fixed Blade Neck Knife
BEST FIXED BLADE
Although we tend to prefer our self-defense knives folded, fixed options are trustworthy alternatives that come in handy when needed. This fixed blade knife works can slip right into your pocket or be worn around the neck like a necklace in order to provide easy access to it when needed. The knife offers a unique, thin design with a handle that is styled like a grenade. Because it’s fixed, instead of folding in on itself, it hides in a sheath ready to be taken out whenever.
4. KA-BAR TDI Law Enforcement Straight Edge Knife
BEST USED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT
In situations where a suspect is trying to take an officer’s gun when the officer cannot access it themselves, this straight-edge knife is used as a sort of “last option” effort to stop the attacker. People don’t really know about this knife given the fact it is so well hidden on the officer’s body, so suspects will never see it coming. This knife is unique because of its angled approach that’s ready to attack if need be. Like our pick above, this is another fixed knife and will not fold into itself, but there is a hard plastic sheath provided for safekeeping.
5. Leatherman Skeletool KB
BEST POCKET KNIFE
Leatherman has earned a cult following for its crafty multitools, which often make appearances in SPY gift guides for men and dads. However, the brand also has a line of pocket knives, which are multifunctional and finely engineered. So if you’re looking for an everyday pocket knife that can also do double duty as a self-defense knife, then this is our top recommendation. We trust Leatherman’s engineering (and the 25-year warranty), and so we think this knife will serve you well in an emergency situation.
A pocket knife is an essential part of any EDC setup, and at $40, this is an affordable option that will last for years to come. Bonus: it can also be used as a bottle opener.
6. TAC Force TF-705RB Tactical Spring Assisted Knife
While we normally prefer all-black self-defense knives to stay elusive, we can’t leave out this gorgeous rainbow-bladed folding knife. This baby offers a speedy one-handed release when you need it quickly, locking securely into place so it will never close back up during use. The handle is made with aluminum and comes with both a window-breaker and a bottle opener in case you might need it, because having no way to open up your beer is an emergency, too. Also, like most pocket knives, this knife comes with a clip for holding onto your pants.
MORE: Best Survival Knives
7. Cold Steel Urban Edge Push Dagger Fixed Blade Knife
This versatile dagger can have a range of homes. From your pocket to your key chain to hanging around your neck, the Urban Edge from Cold Steel is a super-compact dagger created with a satin-finished AUS-8A stainless steel blade. The blade in itself is quite tiny, coming in at just 2 and a half inches, but the knife can do a lot of damage if need be. It comes with a hard plastic sheath for safekeeping and is the perfect knife for people who don’t need anything too bulky.
8. Smith & Wesson SWHRT9B High Carbon S.S. Fixed Blade Knife
BEST COMBAT KNIFE
For a fixed-blade knife that means business, Smith & Wesson delivers with the SWHRT9B High Carbon S.S. Fixed Blade Knife. This is the type of blade we only recommend using if you have been trained for combat; otherwise, you’re more likely to injure yourself with this weapon than an attacker.
With a total length of 9 inches and a 4.7-inch-long blade, this high carbon stainless steel knife will have no problem piercing anything coming your way. Furthermore, a handguard and rubber-wrapped handle ensure a secure grip on the blade, no matter what conditions you’re in.
9. Snake Eye Tactical Everyday Carry Pocket Knife
Not all knives are straight. Take the Snake Eye pocket knife, for example. This unique blade is curved to make cutting and carving as easy as it gets, so it’s perfect for self-defense when needed. Not that you’re going to carve anybody, but, you know what we mean. It’s both sharp and threatening. This self-defense knife is a folding knife, so it easily folds into itself the way any other folding knife would, but with a catch. Unlike our other choices, because of the design, this one is most definitely on the bulky side. Just keep that in mind if you’re looking for something a bit slimmer.
10. CRKT M21-12G Folding Pocket Knife
The best self-defense knives are the ones you’ll actually carry with you every day, and the CRKT M21-12G Folding Pocket Knife makes for an excellent everyday carry self-defense knife.
It’s lightweight and compact, with a closed length of 4.25 inches and a blade length of 3.125 inches for a total open length of 7.25 inches. It opens easily and locks securely, courtesy of the dual thumb studs and AutoLAWKS system. Plus you can count on the grip, which has black G10 scales for added texture and control.
But most importantly, this knife is razor-sharp and dangerous as hell, with a spear point and Veff serrations on half of the tang side of the blade. If it’s you versus an assailant and you’ve got this folding knife on you, you’ll definitely have more of an upper hand.
11. SOG Small Fixed Blade Knife
For a smaller option to throw around your neck or in your pocket or boot every day, there’s always the SOG Small Fixed Blade Knife. The knife is only 5.9 inches long in total, which we’ll call 6 inches when sheathed.
The G10 handle and the full tang of the blade also mean that, despite this knife’s small size, it’ll handle the force required to stab anything headed your way. And given how sharp this knife is, trust us that you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end.
MORE: Best Boot Knives
12. CRKT CEO Folding Pocket Knife
Misfortune never strikes at a convenient moment, and you don’t want to be without self-defense just because you’re in a situation where you can’t telegraph that you have a knife.
That’s the problem CRKT solved with its 7.625-inch CEO Folding Pocket Knife. While other knives here might be better in a life-or-death scrap, this knife’s advantage is that few people will see it as a knife. When folded and tucked into a button-down shirt pocket, it’s under 4.5 inches long and could easily be mistaken for a pen or a fancy vape pen.
But this knife is highly functional too, with lubed ball bearings in the pivot to reduce friction, a slim thumb stud, a satin-finished stainless steel blade and a locking liner to keep the blade in place in the glass-reinforced handle.
13. Cold Steel Hide Out Fixed Knife
BEST BOOT KNIFE
The huge advantage of a great boot knife is accessibility: There’s no unfolding or pockets to deal with. When you need the knife, you pull it right out of its sheath in your boot.
The Cold Steel Hide Out Fixed Knife makes for one of the best self-defense knives on that quality alone. The 3-inch stainless steel blade is easily long and sharp enough to do quick damage and it will be quick because the 3.5-inch handle makes for fast, easy grabbing. Just be careful not to slice yourself when resheathing the blade into your boot.
14. Mossy Oak Survival Knife
BEST FOR OUTDOOR SAFETY
If you think a person will mess you up, just imagine what a bear or coyote could do if you’re not prepared. While the Mossy Oak Survival Knife is definitely not guaranteed to save your life, it’ll certainly do its part to even the odds. That’s why it’s our pick for the best self-defense knife for the wild.
This knife is 15 inches long, with a 10-inch stainless steel blade, and a razor-sharp clip point blade, which allows for a quicker, deeper puncture in an emergency. The rubber handle ensures your grip is strong and a handguard will help prevent your hand from sliding onto the blade.
Plus this knife can be used for all kinds of outdoor tasks, so it’s a pack necessity if you plan on being in the wilderness for any amount of time more than a few days. Sure, it’d be inconvenient to carry this around in most situations, but the Mossy Oak Survival Knife could be a great addition to your camping kit. .
15. Kershaw Blur Black Pocket Knife
The Kershaw Blur Black Pocket Knife is one of the highest-rated knives on Amazon, with an overall 4.8/5 rating and 88% five-star ratings on over 2,700 reviews. The blade is 3.5 inches long and made from high-quality steel. Thumb studs and an assisted opening make one-handed opening a cinch, the handle promises no slipping thanks to the Trac-Tec textured inserts and the knife will clip anywhere courtesy of the reversible and removable pocket clip.
Overall, the Kershaw knife is lightweight, sharp, durable and opens fast. It’s also relatively affordable for such a widely approved knife. What more could we ask for from one of the best self-defense knives?
16. Microtech Ultratech D/E OTF Automatic Knife
If you’re willing to break the bank a bit for your safety, look no further than Microtech’s automatic OTF knife. This knife boasts double action, which means it opens and closes with a push on the thumb slide. The 3.4-inch blade is made from premium stainless steel, while the handle is crafted from black anodized aluminum. The price tag is surely going to turn off a lot of people, but for knife collectors and people who want a reliable “out the front” knife, this is a safe bet. It’s razor-sharp, functional and beautiful to the eye.
Read More: The Best OTF Knives for Your EDC
This article was last updated on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, when we added an alternative Microtech OTF automatic knife to replace an option that was out of stock. We also replaced a paracord survival bracelet knife with the Leatherman Skeletool pocket knife.