The 10 Best Folding Knives [2019] For Self-Defense

Benjamin Roussey
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Although it can be somewhat dangerous to carry a knife for self-defense, they can be a sensational and sensible backup for a jammed gun or as a stand-alone weapon and possibly save your life.

A fine folding knife is a sterling choice when you want to protect yourself as you can discreetly conceal it in your pocket or your bag. And the good news is that there are hundreds for you to choose from.

We cannot give you the low-down on each and every one of them, but we have picked out some of the best ones – you can read a little about them later on. First, let us find out how to choose a profound folding knife for protection.

At a Glance: Our Choices for The 10 Best Folding Knives for Self-Defense

Click on one of the links to go directly to our overview, opinion, and features of each knife.

How to Choose a Solid Self-Defense Pocket Knife

With so many different types of self-defense knives around, picking one can be a quite a challenge. However, here are a few tips to help you find the best one to protect yourself in any situation:

  • Study Regulations on Weapons: When you are considering getting a knife for self-defense, the first thing you should do is study local regulations and find out what types of knives are banned in your area. Regulations vary from state to state, so it is an astute idea to know which knives are illegal or banned in your area. Also, if you travel, it is important to make sure that you know the regulations on knives in the state, or country, you are going to. The last thing you want is to be arrested!
  • Think About the Type of Knife You Want: Once you have learned about local regulations on knives and weapons, you should start thinking about the type of self-defense knife you want to buy. While fixed blades are a popular choice, you can press the button for folding knives too. They are compact and easy and discreet to carry. However, you need to be careful as there are places where knives that can be easily concealed, like butterfly knives, are banned from wearing in public.
  • Choose Between Single and Double-Bladed Knives: There are single- and double-bladed knives that you can choose from. It is probably best to go for a single-bladed knife as they are safer. Yes, knives with dual blades will inflict more damage on your opponent, but they can also cause you serious injury. Plus, they are difficult to use as a tool because you cannot put your thumb on the blade.
  • Consider Its Use: When choosing a knife for self-defense, one of the best tips to keep in mind is to consider its use. While you might pick the knife for protection, it is very likely that you will end up using it for other tasks as well, especially when you are in the wilderness. It is a stellar idea to choose a practical knife that works well for both self-defense as well as for performing various chores. You then have a knife to protect yourself with and also handle different tasks when you are out on one of your outdoor adventures.
  • Remember that a Knife is a Tool First: When it is in the hands of a responsible owner, a knife is a tool first and foremost and not a weapon. This means that you should know how to take good care of it and how to use it. Know your knife well, rather than simply getting a knife with the idea that you will use it to protect yourself – this will help you get out of sticky situations and make it less likely to get you into a lot of trouble. Once you become familiar with knives and know how to use them responsibly, you can go ahead and pick a robust knife that you can use tactically, including for self-defense.

Top 10 Folding Self-Defense Knives


Spyderco Sage C123CFPCL5

Spyderco Sage 5 Alzheimers Folding Knife - Black Carbon Fiber Laminate Handle, PlainEdge, Full-Flat Grind, CPM S30V Steel Blade - C123CFPCL

Our Rating:(4.9/5)
Blade:3.03 in
Thickness:0.12 in
Handle Lenght:4.17 in
Overall:7.20 in
Weight:3.20 oz

(+) Top-notch quality
(+) Features a compression lock
(+) Great choice for EDC
(-) Blade finish could be better
(-) Pocket clip feels a bit flimsy

Spyderco, without a doubt, makes some of the most amazing knives. The Sage C123CFPCL5 is no different. Made of materials of the highest quality, this superb knife is sharp, compact and easy to carry, making it an ideal for protection.

This is a compression lock folding knife that ensures that the blade stays secure and you never have to worry about it slipping out and injuring yourself. If you are looking for a compact, folding knife for self-defense, you definitely will not go wrong with the Spyderco Sage C123CFPCL5.

Conclusion about the Spyderco Sage C123CFPCL5

You just cannot go wrong with a knife from Spyderco. The Sage C123CFPCL5 is an excellent example of the craftsmanship that goes into their products. Not too heavy nor too light, this is the perfect knife for EDC, and performs well for tasks in the wilderness too. We like the compression lock a lot and find that it feels very good in the hand.

We think that the blade finish could be improved slightly but it is not a major problem. It opens smoothly and looks seriously elegant – perfect for those who want an awesome-looking folding knife. Sharp and solid, the Spyderco Sage C123CFPCL5 is a superb choice for anyone looking for a high-quality, awesome self-defense knife.

Don’t use this to open up the DVD package to that fantastic Transformers 5 or Sicario movie, that is not necessary!


Benchmade – Bedlam

Benchmade - Bedlam 860, Plain Scimitar, Satin Finish

Our Rating:(4.9/5)
Blade:3.95 in
Thickness:0.13 in
Handle lenght:5.76 in
Overall:9.71 in
Weight:7.10 oz

(+) Super sharp
(+) Can be opened and closed with one hand
(+) Smart design and great design
(-) Axis lock not ideal for a fighting knife
(-) Flimsy pocket clip

The Benchmade Bedlam 860 is a tough and rust-resistant knife with a 154-cm stainless steel blade. It holds its edge very well. This folding knife features a G10 handle that is durable and stable enough for different temperatures, which makes it great for tactical use.

The Bedlam 860 is larger than most other knives out there, but it is comfortable to handle and can be opened and closed single-handedly. With a curved blade inspired by scimitar swords, this knife looks awesome and performs well, no matter what you use it for.

Conclusion about the Benchmade – Bedlam

With its awesome Persian style blade, the Bedlam 860 grabs your attention immediately. What makes it even better is that it not only looks beautiful, but is super-sharp. It is made with high-quality materials to make it last a long time. We cannot argue the fact that this knife is designed and crafted amazingly well.

We do not think that an axis lock is such a wise choice for a fighting knife, but once you get the hang of it, you will find it easy to use. If you are looking for a self-defense knife that feels comfortable in the hand and is durable and reliable, go for the beast that is the Benchmade – Bedlam 860 knife.

This is not a knife you want to use in a restaurant.


Cold Steel Recon 1

Cold Steel EDC Tactical Folding Pocket Knife, Recon

Our Rating:(4.8/5)
Blade:4.0 in
Thickness:0.14 in
Handle Lenght:5.375 in
Overall:9.375 in
Weight:5.30 oz

(+) Excellent blade
(+) Great handle with a nice texture
(+) Rock-solid lockup
(-) Almost too large
(-) A tad heavy for some users

Made of high-quality materials, the Cold Steel Recon 1 is a 4-inch spear-point folding knife that is tough and durable. Tough as a tank and sharp as a scalpel, the Recon 1 is an excellent choice for tactical use by law enforcement, fire and rescue and military personnel and also civilians who want a knife they can depend on for protection as well as use in the wilderness.

The G10 handle with DLC coating gives you a good grip and feels comfortable in the hand. The Cold Steel Recon 1 features a Tri-Ad lock keeps your fingers safe from harm even when you use it in the toughest conditions. Tough, sharp and built to last, the Recon 1 is definitely one of the best folding knives available today.

Conclusion about the Cold Steel Recon 1

The Cold Steel Recon 1 is a ready-for-anything knife that is a great choice if you are looking for something for protection. It is sharp and the blade quality is highly impressive. We can tell that this folding knife will last quite a long time – it is very well-made with top-notch materials.

We really like the aggressive texture on the handle, which makes it feel really good in the hand. Although it might be a little too large and heavy for some people, we still think that the Recon 1 is an awesome self-defense knife that you should check out if you need one.

No, this is not a knife you want to use at Taco Bell!


Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K

Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K Folding Pocket Knife (6034), Manual 3.25-Inch 8Cr14MoV Stainless Steel Blade, Features Wave Shaped Opening Feature, Thumb Disk, Frame Lock, Reversible Pocketclip, 5.1 oz.

Our Rating:(4.8/5)
Blade:3.25 in
Thickness:0.11 in
Handle:4.50 in
Overall:7.75 in
Weight:5.01 oz

(+) The unique wave design allows for effortless opening of the knife
(+) Rock-solid build quality
(+) Great G10 scale
(-) Might rust quicker than you expect
(-) G10 is only on one side

The Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K folding knife is a manual 3.25-inch knife that is made of top-quality steel. It features a dual blade design that offers superb wear retention and edge retention. The Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K has a modified clip-point blade that is great for self-defense as well as opening packages, delicate handiwork, preparing kindle, and cleaning small game in the wilderness.

It also comes with the company’s patented “wave-shaped” opening feature, which is a favorite feature among law enforcement, military and rescue. The Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K is another very well-made knife that is paired with precision engineering to give you a solid, durable knife for protection.

Conclusion about the Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K

The Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K is an awesome knife – in fact, we think that it is better than the full-size version. It is easy to deploy, sturdy, and well balanced. We like the fact that it fits well in large hands too. While the G10 scale is pretty great, it is only on one side.

This makes it awkward for left-handed users to hold it. We also the tough build quality and found that the knife maintains its edge very well. Although some users have said that it rusts pretty quickly, maintaining it well will prevent this issue. All in all, the Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K is a top choice for anyone looking for a budget folding knife for self-defense.

No, don’t buy this for your wife on Valentine’s Day!


Spyderco Matriarch 2

Spyderco Matriarch 2 Lightweight Folding Knife - Black FRN Handle with SpyderEdge, Hollow Grind, VG-10 Steel Black Blade and Back Lock - C12SBBK2W

Our Rating:(4.7/5)
Blade:3.57 in
Thickness:0.12 in
Handle:4.98 in
Overall:8.55 in
Weight:3.50 oz

(+) Superb handle and grip
(+) Deploys with ease
(+) Talon design can do some serious damage
(-) Pocket clip bends easily
(-) Might be too big for some to open with one hand

The Spyderco Matriarch 2 is a popular choice among people looking for a pocket knife for protection as well as use in the great outdoors. When it comes to self-defense knives, it is likely that this knife will be highly recommended. The 3.5-inch blade with a talon design is super-sharp and makes the tip less likely to break any time soon.

The Spyderco Matriarch 2 comes with the Emerson Wave feature, which means that opening the knife is quick and easy in intense situations.

This well-made knife also comes with a bi-directional textured FRN handle that gives you a lighter weight and a secure, reliable grip. Like the brand’s other knives, the Matriarch 2 has an awesome design that looks cool and makes it a superb choice for self-defense whether it is in the wilderness or urban areas.

Conclusion about the Spyderco Matriarch 2

The Spyderco Matriarch 2 is another amazing folding knife for self-defense. It is incredibly sharp out of the box and deploys easily with its wave design. We like how the handle feels in the hand and the grip it provides. It is lightweight, so you will have no problem carrying it every day.

The pocket clip is disappointing and we also think that the knife might be a tad large for some users to open with one hand. However, we have no major complaints about the Matriarch 2 and recommend it to anyone looking for a cool knife for self-defense.

Now if you are about to take on about 10 Al Qaeda or gang members you should probably have something else on you such as a handgun or a shotgun.


Kershaw Kuro

Kershaw Kuro (1835TBLKST), Pocket Knife with Partially Serrated 3.1" 8Cr13MoV Stainless Steel Blade with Black-Oxide Coating; Glass-Filled Nylon Handle; SpeedSafe Assisted Open with Flipper, 3.2 oz.

Our Rating:(4.6/5)
Blade:3.125 in
Thickness:0.12 in
Handle:4.125 in
Overall:7.25 in
Weight:3.20 oz

(+) Excellent grip
(+) Very affordable
(+) Superb all-round EDC value
(-) Could be slightly bigger
(-) Speed-safe unlock mechanism could be improved

This is a partially serrated 3.1-inch folding knife that is an excellent pick for self-defense. The Kershaw Kuro is made with premium materials with a stainless steel blade that is corrosion resistant, strong, and has good edge retention. It features a black glassed-filled nylon handle that makes it look appealing and provides better gripping traction.

Its modified tanto blade has a drop point, so you can easily pierce things while the serrated edge allows for easy cutting of tough materials. Versatile, sharp and durable, the Kershaw Kuro is a superb choice when you need an EDC knife for protection.

Conclusion about the Kershaw Kuro

If you are looking for a well-made pocket knife for self-defense, you will definitely like the Kershaw Kuro. It is sharp, lightweight and versatile, making it great for EDC. One of the best things about this knife is that its quality is superb, but you get it at a really affordable price.

We think that the knife would be better if it was slightly bigger, but it is not a major issue. We also wish the unlock mechanism was more fluid. But overall, the Kuro is a great knife to carry for protection as well as for use when you are out on your outdoor trips.

It is certainly not meant for shaving with; that would be the last resort!


Smith & Wesson SWBG10S Border Guard

Smith & Wesson Border Guard SWBG10S 8.3in High Carbon S.S. Folding Knife with 3.5in Serrated Tanto Blade and Aluminum Handle for Outdoor, Tactical, Survival and EDC

Our Rating:(4.5/5)
Blade:3.49 in
Thickness:0.12 in
Closed:4.77 in
Overall:8.25 in
Weight:5.92 oz

(+) Solid and durable
(+) Awesome design
(+) Very well-made handles
(-) Takes a bit of practice to open and close
(-) Blade needs sharpening out of the box

The Smith & Wesson SWBG10S Border Guard is a folding knife that comes with a stonewashed high-carbon stainless steel, partially serrated tanto blade. It looks awesome and performs incredibly well too. It features well designed ambidextrous thumb knobs that have thumb ramp jimping for ease of use.

The handle is sturdy and feels comfortable in the hand with a good grip. The 3.49-inch blade is very sharp, making it great for cutting a variety of things. The Smith & Wesson SWBG10S Border Guard is slim, compact (but not too small), and tough, making it an ideal choice for EDC.

Conclusion about the Smith & Wesson SWBG10S Border Guard

When it comes to folding self-defense knives, the Smith & Wesson SWBG10S Border Guard is an awesome choice available to you. Apart from looking great, it is light, slim and sturdy, making it a nice choice for EDC and protection.

We like the handle a lot – it is well-designed and very well-constructed. Although the Border Guard’s blade needs to be sharpened a little more after you take it out of the box, it is still pretty sharp. We also found that opening and closing the knife takes a bit of practice, but it is not a big deal. If you are looking for a cool knife for self-defense, we recommend the Smith & Wesson SWBG10S Border Guard.

We don’t recommend this tool for cutting carrots within your kitchen when you have other choices.


Gerber Freeman Guide Folding Knife

Gerber Freeman Guide Folding Knife, Fine Edge, Drop Point [31-000591]

Our Rating:(4.5/5)
Blade:4.0 in
Thickness:0.13 in
Handle:4.375 in
Overall:8.325 in
Weight:4.40 oz

(+) TacHide Onlay for secure grip
(+) Large finger grooves provide comfort and security
(+) Easy to carry every day
(-) Spine is a little too thick
(-) Handle might be too thick and heavy for some

The Gerber Freeman Guide is a folding knife that has a lot of features you should have in a knife for self-defense. First off, it has TacHide Onlay, which gives you a comfortable, secure grip in all conditions. The large finger grooves are designed to provide comfort and security while you are holding the knife. The full nine-edge blade is sharp and great for performing different tasks during your outdoor adventures.

The Gerber Freeman Guide folding knife is simple and not as mean-looking as many other products on the market, but it is very well made with quality materials, ensuring toughness, durability and excellent performance for a good many years.

Conclusion about the Gerber Freeman Guide Folding Knife

Gerber makes excellent products, and the Guide is no exception. This is an affordable yet solid and well-made folding knife that is ideal for personal protection as well as outdoor trips and activities.

What makes this knife awesome is that you do not have to pay a very high price for it. While some users might find the handle a little too thick and heavy, we did not have a problem with it. But we do think that the spine should be a little slimmer. If you want a sharp, affordable self-defense knife, go for the Gerber Freeman Guide.

This certainly should not be shown to any police officer on the road when/if they pull you over for a speeding ticket. That would be imprudent move on your part.


Kershaw 1935 Fatback Knife

Kershaw Fatback (1935) Multipurpose Knife With 3.5 In. Stainless Steel Black-Oxide Coated Blade; Glass-Filled Nylon Handle With SpeedSafe Opening; Liner Lock; 4-Position Deep-Carry Pocketclip; 3.6 oz

Our Rating:(4.4/5)
Blade:3.50 in
Thickness:0.12 in
Handle:4.25 in
Overall:7.75 in
Weight:3.60 oz

(+) Spring assist for easy one-handed opening
(+) Strong and sturdy carbon-dense, steel blade
(+) Corrosion-resistant
(-) Blade needs to be sharpened
(-) Screws might come loose

The Kershaw 1935 Fatback is a multi-purpose knife that makes for an ideal self-defense knife. This is a slim, military-grade, retractable pocket knife that features spring assist for one-handed opening. It has a top-notch steel blade that is super-sharp and reliable.

The Fatback also features a safe locking system that prevents the blade from closing unexpectedly as well as a titanium liner that ensures wiggle-free, stable use. With its stunning, sleek design, the Kershaw Fatback knife also comes with a texturized grip, black oxide corrosion-resistant coating and a long-lastingly sharp and strong carbon-dense blade – definitely a fantastic choice for personal protection.

Conclusion about the Kershaw 1935 Fatback Knife

If you are on the lookout for a solid, sharp, and durable knife for personal protection and use in outdoor adventures as well, the Kershaw 1935 Fatback is a superb choice. It looks awesome and is versatile so you can use it for almost anything (hopefully you don’t have to use it to try to get access to your car if you lose your keys, that would not be a memorable moment!).

The lever mechanism for opening the blade feels solid and is easy to use. We found that the blade is slightly duller than expected so you might have to sharpen it a little more out of the box. Also, some users say that the screws tend to come loose. However, we did not notice any major issues in the Fatback and think that it is one of the top folding knives for self-defense available today.


SOG Escape

SOG Tactical Folding Knife - Escape Pocket Knife, Emergency Knife and Survival Knife w/ 3.4 Inch Serrated Edge Knife Blade and Glass Breaker (FF25-CP)

Our Rating:(4.4/5)
Blade:3.40 in
Thickness:0.13 in
Closed:4.80 in
Overall:8.20 in
Weight:4.80 oz

(+) Awesome design with premium materials
(+) Tough and long-lasting
(+) Lockback features provide additional safety when knife is in use
(-) The blade does not spring tightly shut
(-) Quality could be better

Do you want a knife that will scare off an assailant when they take one look at it? Then go for the SOG Escape. This is a folding knife that comes with a hard-cased black 3.4-inch blade and a quality aluminum handle.

The Escape features extra line cutter blades stored under the handle slab. Its partially serrated, single hand-opening blade has a clip-point shape that makes it ideal for certain tasks when you are in the outdoors. A Lockback feature ensures extra safety while the knife is being used in an open position. The SOG Escape is an amazing-looking folding knife that is superb for EDC and self-defense.

Conclusion about the SOG Escape

The SOG Escape is a mean-looking knife that is sure to keep predators away once you brandish it. It is well-made and looks pretty amazing. While we think that the quality could be improved, you get what you pay for, and it is not as bad as many of the other low-quality knives out there.

You can open the blade with one hand with ease, so no fumbling with both hands to get it open when you need it. Remember that the blade fails to spring tightly shut at times so you need to coax it a little to close it. All in all, we think that the SOG Escape is a fantastic option if you are looking for an affordable pocket knife for self-defense.

Now if you are using this knife to count cash when buying a car that is probably not the image you want to convey at the dealership.

Final Thoughts

When you often walk alone in the dark or might face wild animals in the wilderness, it is a salient idea to have something to protect yourself – something you can use to defend yourself in case of an attack. You should consider getting a folding knife that is lightweight and compact yet solid and tough enough to do damage in case you find yourself in a situation that compromises your safety.

As you can see, there are many folding knives for self-defense that you can choose from, depending on your budget and needs. With a knife in your pocket or purse, you can walk anywhere with confidence knowing that you can defend yourself if the need arises.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Rahul

    My father is a forest officer. And the reason he carries a lot of hunting, skinning and many others knives. Now I’m 25 years old. But he did not give me to use. Just say, that’s been much dangerous. And sometimes he gives an example practically.

  • Tony Long

    Spyderco Yojimbo II

  • Amr ahmed

    Talking about self defense folding knives , I was wondering how i could not find the wicked blade Cold steel Spartan , according to it’s pros and its price , even though its size,its handle , i can figure it is the best for the job

  • D. Brian Casady

    CobraTec with a D2 steel blade. Fast, secure, and gets sharp. Plus, they are local for me. I have played with mine to try to dull it and tried to make it fail to stay locked. No failures and it stays sharp for a long time. Heavy and noticeable to carry. Oh, well. Nothing is perfect.

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