Knives are excellent backup weapons if you’re carrying a pistol. They also make good primary weapons for an everyday carry if you are unable to carry a pistol. Often when traveling abroad, I have found it exponentially easier to obtain a good knife than a reliable (or affordable) pistol. They are usually cheaper and easier to conceal. However, they have their limitations, but if you work around them, a knife is often more than adequate for personal security provided you stay out of sight, out of mind. Of course, without some degree of training, their usefulness also decreases significantly. I usually carry a dagger or something that accommodates stabbing motions but also has some level of slashing capability. Many times in life I have turned to a ringed knife or karambit style configuration and not just because you can have a great time twirling them on your finger. There are many variations of these available at a reasonable price for a solid product.
There are some serious benefits to ringed edged weapons; some are obvious while others are less so. I suppose the benefit that stands out to me first and foremost is the added retention. The ring gives the end-user the ability to retain the knife if their hand is open for whatever reason. This allows the user to grab things with the knife-wielding hand but also to strike. The first situation I can think of here is using the knife to create space during a close quarters encounter so that a pistol may be drawn while maintaining control of the knife until it can safely be re-sheathed.
The ring gives the end-user an excellent point of physical purchase when employing or drawing the weapon from concealment. With a simple slip of a finger, the user can securely pull the blade from its sheath. This also gives the user a consistent reference point on the grip; the hand more or less goes to the same place every time the knife is employed. This negates the risk of an improper grip which may cause the user to cut themselves or lose control of the knife. Being able to draw the knife through the ring alone, makes the knife cater to deep concealment exceptionally well given that only the rings needs to be exposed to achieve a positive extraction by the user.
The ring also often provides an excellent surface for use as an impact weapon. The ring can give the user’s strikes a much-needed boost during a violent confrontation. This also has the added benefit of a less than lethal option although I usually won’t advocate such a course of action unless you have no other choice due to it not being a sure-fire method of disabling the immediate threat.
The detriments of ringed knives are limited but also rather serious. While the ring offers incredible retention, this also makes it hard to drop in a hurry should the knife become seriously irrelevant to the situation. If the knife is employed incorrectly, the knife can be used against the user via the ring. Injuries such as a finger being broken or even worse, being degloved, are risks that are inherent to the design. If the blade gets immobilized by or in the threat during use, these kinds of injuries may potentially occur. The benefits far outweigh the detriments, in my opinion — but it is still extremely important to acknowledge them and compensate accordingly.
Ringed knives are pretty awesome, and I like them a lot. They have their drawbacks, as do all weapons. The big thing for me when selecting a ringed knife is being able to use it as intended, through the ring, or utilizing it more conventionally with a traditional forward/reverse grip; this is a size issue. There are smaller variants available, but I view those as tertiary blades rather than as a primary or secondary due to their limited use. Above all, select something that works for you and your lifestyle and train with it routinely; always seek to further your knowledge and skill at arms regardless of the tool. Knives are like firearms and to be good at using them you need to practice drawing and striking with them regularly. Competence is far more dangerous than a sharp edge.
Featured image courtesy of the author.