The Best Folding Knife for Self Defense – The Ultimate Buying Guide

Folding Knife Example

Small as it is, a folding knife can make all the difference when your life is on the line. As a matter of fact, not many self-defense weapons are as effective as this handy tool. Despite its small, compact and portable design, it can inflict some serious pain on an aggressor and leave them in shock as you run to safety; and that doesn’t matter whether the attacker is a person or animal.

Just in case you are not so familiar with self-defense knives, a folding knife (also known as a pocketknife) is a knife that features at least one blade and a handle. Well, that sounds like every other knife, except for the fact that in this case the blade folds and fits safely inside the handle when not in use. When you want to use it you simply open the blade using a button, knob or any other mechanism. That usually depends on the particular brand of the knife. But generally speaking, the best folding knife for self defense should feature an easy-to-open blade so that you don’t waste time struggling with the knife rather than dealing with the aggressor.

Reasons Why You Need To Have At Least One Folding Knife

Folding Knife

There are so many self-defense weapons at your disposal. The only problem is that not all of them are ideal for every situation. For instance, it might not be prudent for you to use a firearm in a crowded place because you might harm or even kill innocent members of the public. Other weapons like swords are closer to a folding knife but are not as discrete.

With a folding knife, you will have a small, discrete self-defense weapon that you can safely tuck in your pocket or purse for everyday use. Most folding knives are strong enough to help you fight off the bad guys. At times you won’t even have to use one. The sheer sight of a shiny blade might just intimidate the aggressor and save you from a potentially brutal confrontation.

But if you are forced to use it, best believe that a good sharp folding knife can do some very serious damage to your attacker. You can use it for stabbing, slashing or both – depending on the situation. If you are dealing with an attacker who you can scare away easily probably one stab will be enough. But if he/she is very aggressive don’t hesitate to stab and slash him/her repeatedly. After all it is either your life or theirs.

When it comes to effectiveness, a folding knife is right there at the top with all the other devastating weapons. Usually, the best folding knife for self defense should cut a wound of up to 1 inch plus into the flesh. If you stab and twist or slash multiple times the result will be a seriously large wound that will leave the attacker fighting for his/her own safety and probably life. That is especially true if you target soft tissues like the belly.

With that in mind, also note that an effective self-defense weapon is one that can help you protect yourself without necessarily inflicting fatal injuries to the attacker. And that is exactly what you get in a folding knife. The chances of killing the bad guy are extremely slim. That means you can protect yourself without having to worry about dealing with the law (sure he/she is an assailant, but from a legal perspective there’s a very thin line between self-defense and manslaughter). The last thing you want is to be a victim of an attack and then end up defending yourself in court as a villain.

Another advantage of owning a folding knife is that it is very simple to use. There is no reloading required. And while you may require to do some minimal training, it is safe to say that pretty much anybody can use a pocket knife comfortably. It’s a good thing most of the top brands have unisex products for both men and women.

What Should You Consider When Buying a Self Defense Folding Knife?

Now we are on the same page that you do need a folding knife for the sake of your own safety. But how do you go around choosing the best one possible? With all the manufacturers are brands in the market today it might be very tricky choosing a product that will not leave you high and dry. Lucky for you we have this list of everything to consider before you settle for a pocketknife.

The blade
folding knife blade

The blade is definitely the most important part of your folding knife.

In that respect, you have to consider three main aspects; the type of blade, its carbon content and how easy it is to keep it sharp.

There are two types of blades drop point and tanto. A drop point blade is the more traditional type that you see in normal kitchen knives. It is rounded and grows thinner towards the tip. Those two features make it great for slicing and making fine cuts.

On the other hand, a tanto blade is evenly thick and only becomes extremely sharp at the very end. This design originated from Japan and is adored by some users because it makes the blade extremely strong. A tanto folding knife is a perfect pick when you want to do some puncturing and chopping.

The carbon content of a blade determines its quality. That is because virtually all blades are made of steel and carbon plays a major role in the heat treatment of steel. More specifically, it determines the hardness of the blade. You might not be able to know the carbon content of your preferred blade because that process requires special chemistry skills and machines.

But you can inquire its hardness (usually given as a Rockwell Hardness code) and use that as a basis of judgment. Generally, the best folding knife for self defense should be in the range of Rockwell 55 to Rockwell 60. That is a level of hardness that will ensure the blade doesn’t break easily but can be sharpened with ease.

Speaking of sharpening your folding knife, it is wise to always keep the blade appropriately sharp. Danger doesn’t knock and you never know the next time you will be faced with a situation that requires you to use the knife for stabbing of slashing in self-protection. That is why you need to choose one that will not present you with sharpening problems. Be sure to ask the seller or manufacturer such things as the best angles for sharpening.

The handle

Image result for folding knife handleOther than the blade, the next important part of your folding knife is its handle. You need a knife that can fit in your grip very comfortably. That will make it easy for you to manage your hand’s movements when using it. Otherwise you can hurt yourself when using the knife (due to poor handling). Or even worse your assailant can snatch it from you easily and use it against you.

There’s really no special trick to getting the right handle. If you get the chance to test the knife in your hand before you purchase it the better.

Generally, pretty much all the materials used in making folding knife handles (including aluminum, plastic, polymer, titanium, and glass fiber) are equally durable and strong. That makes it easy for you to choose based on your personal preference.

The size and weight

When it comes to size, you need to look at the blade length and the length of the knife when it is closed. A blade length of at least 3 inches will definitely inflict some serious harm to your assailant. The size of the closed knife will depend on the size of the handle, which in turn should depend on the size of your hand. As mentioned already, choose a handle that can fit in your grip perfectly as if it is an extension to your hand.

One thing that makes folding knives very great self-defense weapons is their light weight. Most usually range from 2 to 5 oz., which is a very reasonable weight to carry in your pocket or purse. You won’t even notice the extra weight.

Serrated or straight?

Image result for serrated or straight edge knifeFor self-protection purposes, a straight blade will do the job better than a serrated one. It will cut and stab deeper as long as you keep it sharp. But just in case you are looking for a knife that you can use to cut fibrous materials then a serrated one is definitely better. The good thing is that nowadays there are some manufacturers who offer both options in one blade. You get the first half being either straight or serrated and the other half offering the other option. That should make an excellent pick if you need both types of blades.


Knife Lock Types ChartSimply put, if you can’t open your folding knife during an emergency then it is of no use. That is why all the top brands focus on ensuring that you spend as little time and effort as possible when opening the knife. In that regard, there are three different mechanisms used to open a folding knife.

The first is manual opening. In this case you will have to physically open the blade yourself using either a cut out, thumb stud or some other closely related mechanism.

The second is assisted opening. This type lies between automatic and manual opening. You have to initiate the opening process using a knob or button. These knives are legal in all the 50 states of the US.

The final type is automatic opening. This is the simplest type of opening because you only push a trigger and the blade comes out. That makes such knives very lethal and if not handled properly can lead to self-inflicted injuries or accidental stabbings. That is why it is illegal to own an automatic opening folding knife in all the 50 states of the US.


When it comes to price, there’s practically a folding knife for every budget ranging from as little as $5 to as much $500. But of course you will get what you pay for. Which means that the high-end product will come with premium features like high-grade steel and unrivaled durability. Even so, don’t break the bank in an attempt to get a folding knife. Just go for what you can afford.

The Top 10 Best Folding Knives in the Market Today

You might have noticed that there are so many things to consider when choosing the best folding knife for self defense. In case all that information has left you a little bit confused don’t worry because we have a solution right here. We have a compiled a list of the ten best folding knives for you to choose one or a few from. We don’t want you to get caught empty handed when we can help.

Check out the top 10 Pocket knife in today’s market

Rank ProductFeaturesEditor's RatingPrice
1Kershaw 19208CR13MoV stainless steel blade
2Anodized Aluminium8Cr14MoV Stainless Steel
3Kershaw 1660SWBLKSandvik 14C28N steel blade
4SOG Fielder Folding Knife7Cr17 stainless steel
5Spyderco C28PGRE2ZDP-189 steel
6BenchmadeBarrage 583 Knife
7Kershaw 1760 Skyline KnifeSandvik 14C28N
8Leatherman - Skeletool Multi-ToolHigh-grade stainless steel
9Columbia River KnifeBowie 2387 Razor Edge
10Cold Steel 80PGTKGI Tanto 7" Carbon

1. Kershaw 1920 Select Fire Multi-Tool

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Manufactured by Kershaw

Kershaw is undoubtedly one of the most renowned manufacturers of folding knives and self-defense tools. Which explains why the Kershaw 1920 Select Fire Multi-Tool is adored by many buyers. With its 2 flathead and 2 crosshead bits, this folding knife features ¼ inch hex drive. That is beneficial in the sense that it allows you to open and close the knife with just one hand.

The 8CR13MoV stainless steel blade is strong and durable but easy to sharpen. The blade alone measures 3 3/8 inches. That is a large blade by all means and should give you some much needed confidence when you are facing an aggressor. The closed knife measures 4 ¼ inches. In total, it weighs a mere 6.4 ounces. That shouldn’t be hard to accommodate in your pocket or purse.

  • Opens and closes easily with only one hand
  • Big and very sharp blade
  • Blade locks into place very well for your safety
  • Well-designed and comfortable handle
  • There’s a half serrated version
  • Comes with other tools like bottle opener
  • Bits and bit driver are prone to rust
Final Thoughts

At its price, this folding knife is worth every penny. It is well-built and comes with a high-grade blade that will bail you out of dangerous situations when called upon. Plus it offers extra tools like a bottle opener and ruler. If you take care of it properly you won’t have to deal with issues of rust.

2. Anodized Aluminium Handle Folding Knife by Geralt Precision 8Cr14MoV Stainless Steel Premium Blade

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Manufactured by Geralt

This Precision 8Cr14MoV Stainless Steel Premium Blade earns a spot here on account of its low cost. If you are on a shoestring budget then this is the best folding knife to buy because its low price does not compromise on the quality of the blade or handle.

The 2.68 oz. knife has a multipurpose blade that will come in handy when you need to perform other tasks like cutting ropes or opening cans. In fact, you can even use it for whittling. When closed, the knife measures 3.65″ L x 1.2″ W x 0.66″ D. The stainless steel blade is 3” long; which is a perfect size to fight off aggressors. The handle is made of anodized aluminum for durability as well as comfortable grip.

  • Comes with a 6-month warranty as a guarantee of quality
  • Stainless steel material used is strong and durable
  • Anodized aluminum handle ensures a strong grip
  • The all-purpose blade is easy to sharpen
  • Comes in gray, black and silver
  • May be a bit stiff to open when new
Final Thoughts

This folding knife is a great choice if you are on a budget. The shiny blade is well polished to scare off attackers, and if they don’t back off you can always count on it to do some very serious harm.

3. Kershaw 1660SWBLK Leek Folding Knife with SpeedSafe

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Manufactured by Kershaw

This great offering from Kershaw features a Sandvik 14C28N steel blade that uses Speedsafe assisted opening. The handle is made of 6061-T6 anodized aluminum for maximum quality and a comfortable grip.

In total, the knife measures just 7 inches when open. That reduces to 4 inches when closed (the blade alone is 3 inches); which is well within the reasonable length of a pocketknife. At only 2.4 oz., you will hardly notice that you have a knife in your pocket or purse (of course until you are forced to use it).

  • Backed by the strong Kershaw brand
  • Drop-point blade makes it perfect for cutting and slicing
  • Made of high-quality stainless steel and aluminum
  • Comes with a reversible pocket clip
  • Uses assisted opening which is much better than manual opening
  • Made in the USA
  • If you are left-handed you may find it hard to reach the thumb stud
Final Thoughts

There’s barely any other pocketknife that can match the 1660SWBLK in terms of balancing performance and design. It is sleek and appealing to the eye but scary and lethal when called upon. It is certainly a great addition to your self-defense arsenal.

4. SOG Fielder Folding Knife FF38-CP – Mirror Polish 3.3″ Blade, G10 & Stainless Steel Handle

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Manufactured by SOG Specialty Knives

The very first thing that you will notice about the Fielder G-10 is its eye-catching body. Both the handle and blade are made of stainless steel, giving the knife an amazing, classic design. Additionally, it is strong, sturdy and durable.

It is easy to open the knife with both hands, which makes it great for right-handed as well as left-handed people. That’s made even better by its light weight. At a mere 4.4 ounces, pretty much anybody can handle this piece of equipment.

The total length of the knife is 7.8 inches. The blade alone measures 3.3 inches. It is made of 7Cr17 stainless steel and is straight (not serrated).

  • Excels in aesthetical and ergonomic designs
  • Made of high quality stainless steel (the handle and blade)
  • Sufficiently light in weight
  • Straight edge makes it great for cutting and slashing
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty
  • Fits comfortably in hands of various sizes
  • The thumb stud is a bit further away from the handle and that makes it hard for people with large hands to open the knife.
Final Thoughts

If you are shopping for a folding knife that features a solid construction and physical appeal then look no further than this. The full-body stainless steel means that it is made to last. And that is complimented by the warranty that comes with it. So don’t shy away from ordering this offering.

5. Spyderco C28PGRE2 Dragonfly 2 PlainEdge Knife 

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Manufactured by Spyderco

If you love the classic Dragonfly from Spyderco then you will definitely love this one too. It is an upgrade from the original but retains the popular ergonomic handle and mid-size blade of the original version. It also features the same spine cusp and front finger choil that are synonymous with the classic.

So what’s new with the Dragonfly 2? For starters there is a bi-directional texturing on the handle. The new blade is made using flat-grind ZDP-189 steel for an even stronger knife. The handle features high-quality fiberglass that is reinforced with nylon for durability as well as a comfortable grip.

  • Has a great grip for good traction
  • Very sturdy, will not break easily
  • The steel and fiberglass used make it a high-quality and durable spyderco folding knife
  • Has a total length of 5.5 inches, making it small and easily concealable
  • Comes in 4 color options
  • At 2.2 inches long, the blade is smaller than what you will get in most other pocketknives.
Final Thoughts

Simply put, you will definitely fall in love with this folding knife as soon as you take it out of the package. But note that there are two different versions of this knife a green one and a black one. The green one costs a little more than the black one because its blade is made of superior quality steel.

6. Benchmade – Barrage 583 Knife, Tanto

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Manufactured by Benchmade

Benchmade has been making tactical knives since 1988 so it should not come as a surprise that the Barrage 583 is among the best tanto blade folding knives in the market today. And there is sufficient proof to back that up. First of all, the 58-61 HRC premium-grade steel used for making the 3.60″ blade is made in the USA. It is tough and corrosion resistant.

Secondly, the handle is made using Valox. The material is strong and stiff but very great at offering a good grip. The handle itself is reinforced with stainless steel liners for durability.

Thirdly, in buying this knife you get a straight and serrated blade in one package. The front part is straight while the back end is serrated. That should serve virtually all your knife-related needs.

In addition to that, the knife features a reversible tip-up pocket clip and an AXIS mechanism. Together they make it easy to open and lock the knife. This is undoubtedly one of the safest folding knives because it doesn’t open by accident. And at only 0.28 pounds, you can be sure that you will be able to carry this amazing tool with ease.

  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Features assisted opening
  • Blade has a straight and serrated part
  • Has a pocket clip for your safety
  • Opens very easily. All you need to do is push the knob with your thumb.
  • It’s a high-end product that will cost you more than an average folding knife
Final Thoughts

The amazing features of the Barrage 583 justify why most buyers are giving it a 5-star rating. If you are shopping for a tanto-blade knife this is a perfect place to start.

7. Kershaw 1760 Skyline Knife (Stainless Steel)

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Manufactured by Kershaw

This is yet another great pick from Kershaw and just like the other Kershaw knives that we have reviewed, it is not a disappointment by any means. Made from Sandvik 14C28N, this particular knife is loved by buyers because of how it packs multiple amazing features in a simple design.

First, there is a liner locker and flipper. It is not an assisted opening knife but the flipper makes it very easy to open. Second, it has a reversible pocketclip with tip-to-up and tip-to-down functions. Third, it weighs a mere 2.5 oz. That shouldn’t be too heavy to handle. Finally, the blade measures 3.1 inches long while the whole knife is 4.25 inches long when closed.

  • Perfect size to walk around with on a daily basis
  • Made in the USA
  • Has manual opening but it is very easy to open
  • Features a textured handle for a proper grip
  • Easy to sharpen the blade to razor-sharp sharpness
  • Might not be the best for you if you don’t fancy manual folding knives
Final Thoughts

This knife is a perfect pick if you are shopping around for a manual pocketknife. It is reasonably priced and performs exactly as advertised by the manufacturer. The fact that it is made in the USA should give you some confidence as far as quality goes.

8. Leatherman – Skeletool Multi-Tool, Stainless Steel

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Manufactured by Leatherman

The blade on this tool is half straight and half serrated, so you don’t need to buy two different knives. And while you will have to manually unlock it, the process is pretty simple. You can open and lock it with just one hand. All you need to do is put your thumb in the thumbhole and then rotate it until the blade extends to a straight angle.

The 2.6-inch long blade is made of high-grade stainless steel that is easy to sharpen. Although it is not among the longest blades in the market, it is well-designed for effective cutting and slashing. In total, the whole tool measures 4 inches long when closed.

One added advantage of purchasing this is that it comes with seven other tools, including wire cutters, pliers, large bit driver and bottle opener. Even so, it weighs just 5 ounces.

  • Sufficiently light in weight
  • Comes with a 25 year guarantee
  • It is manual but very easy to operate
  • Has an effective safety lock to prevent the blade from harming you
  • Made in the USA with high-grade stainless steel
  • Has many tools, so it’s not the best pick if you just want a foldable blade only.
  • Blade is only 2.6 inches long
Final Thoughts

If you don’t mind jamming your foldable knife with other tools then we strongly recommend that you pick this piece. It is not just good to the eye but has everything you need, ranging from a straight and serrated blade combo to pliers and many other tools.

9. Columbia River Knife And Tool’s Folts Minimalist Bowie 2387 Razor Edge

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Manufactured by Columbia River Knife And Tool

The Folts Minimalist Bowie 2387 Razor Edge is designed by Alan Folts, one of the most famous knife designers. Like most of his other popular knives, this particular product is a Minimalist designed for hunting. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it for every day self-defense. The 5Cr15Mov stainless steel blade will certainly help you fight off any attacker effectively. On top of that, the knife features a black handle made of fiber scales and braided fob.

The razor-sharp blade is 2.125 inches long while the whole knife measures 5.13 inches. At only 1.6 ounces, it is has virtually negligible weight. You won’t have a problem carrying it around. The package includes a sheath and neck paracord just in case you want to carry the knife on your neck.

  • Guaranteed quality thanks to Alan Folts 20 plus years of experience in knife design
  • Perfect for men and women alike
  • Hand-made handle is of incomparable quality
  • You will get a fitted holster
  • The holster is not so comfortable to hold
Final Thoughts

If you enjoy hunting then this one was made for you. That said, you can still pick it for daily use. It will definitely come through for you when you need it to fight off the bad guys. And at that price it is actually a deal that you won’t get with other folding knives.

10. Cold Steel 80PGTK GI Tanto 7″ Carbon

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Manufactured by Cold Steel

This is yet another affordable folding knife that doesn’t compromise quality for the sake of an enticing price. Its broad tanto blade is made using high-grade 1055 carbon steel, which makes it rust resistant. The polypropylene handle scales are unmatched and work to enhance your grip when handling the knife.

In terms of measurement, the blade measures 7 inches long and the handle is 5 inches, making the whole knife 12 inches long when open. The package includes a sheath that has a nylon loop. There is a Velcro enclosure for you to use when attaching the knife to your belt.

  • Made of high-quality materials only
  • Can be used as a war club or spear by simply removing the blade and attaching it on a stick
  • One of the largest folding knives in the market today
  • Opens and closes very easily
  • At 12 inches long it is a little too big for some people
Final Thoughts

The Cold steel knife might be bigger than your average folding knife but if you know how to handle long blades then this one shouldn’t scare you. As a matter of fact it should be more effective in stabbing and slashing.

In summary, choosing the best folding knife or a best boot knife for self defense might not be an easy task but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. Remember that danger doesn’t announce itself, it is up to you to prepare. One great way of doing that is by choosing the perfect folding knife. Consider factors such as the size of the knife, the material used and how much it costs. If you can’t seem to make up your mind feel free to choose one knife from the ten above.

[Total: 1   Average: 5/5]
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