As a senior knife instructor for both Mil and L/E as well as a combatives practitioner for over 37 years I think this idea of a usable backup knife is vital. By usable I mean too often we get comfortable with having a folder on our person and don’t realize getting that folder into play is a lot harder than you might think. Also, being able to deploy with you’re non dominant hand for use in a weapon retention cut away situation is crucial.
Try this exercise: Put your folder in your standard carry location. Do 5 circular pivots with one hand on a ball or object on the ground then do 5 up downs and deploy your edged weapon. Do this exercise 10 times, if you can get your blade into play 8 out of 10 quickly then you have a solid base line to work from. If you find yourself fumbling with your blade and have to do 2 handed openings you should either a) learn a new deployment technique, b) buy a new folder that you can deploy quickly without fail, or c) get a fixed blade that you can get a positive grip on and deploy in a wet, dark and a startled personal state.
Often I’m asked what type of knife I carry or recommend for field and off duty carries. We are all different so I believe it should be a personal choice from what looks, feels and works the best for you. However keep in mind that research and testing shows us the best folder deployment times are just under 3 seconds while fixed blade deployments of the fair are just under 1 second.
In answering the question, “what type of knife should I carry for field and off duty work?” When recommending folders I highly suggest a blade that either auto-deploys or has a catch that hooks on your pocket lip and opens when the knife is being deployed from your pocket such as the Emerson and CRKT series. Recommending a fixed blade I prefer the TDI-KaBar, an excellent knife for duty and personal carry, small, has a curved blade angle, strong and very affordable between $35 -$40 including the sheath. You can purchase the TDI at www.kabar.com .
Remember the usable backup knife is one that should be personally functional and used to keep you coming home at night.
Author Bio: Hank Hayes is a 37 year veteran of the combat arts and a senior instructor for both L/E and Mil. He is also the CEO of NLB Defensive Measures the inventors of No Lie Blades training knife and NLB combat systems. www.nolieblades.com