Friday, November 23, 2012

What is best?

To crush your enemies, see them...

Wait, that wasn't the question.

The question actually asked at this one forum was "What is the best self-defense gizmo for my Significant Other to carry if they won't carry a gun?*" The general consensus was some sort of good-quality OC spray. While not perfect or foolproof, a quality spray hits the sweet spot between ease-of-use, stand-off distance, and least amount of commitment required to carry.

See, someone who, for psychological, dress-code, or workplace policy reasons won't strap on a Glock is just as unlikely to get a Spyderco P'Kal, the associated dull training blade, and get trained in its use, or to shell out for a Taser, and keep it holstered where it may actually be useful and, besides, for the purposes of just breaking contact and getting away from the bad guy without getting hurt yourself, OC is probably superior to either of those choices.

Inevitably in any of these threads, the Society for Creative Anachronism shows up, claiming that they, their spouse, their sprogs, and the dog all pack a foot or so of cold steel everywhere they go. Our correspondent went on to state:
I will say that the mere presence of that big ass knife on the hip is a deterrent in and of itself and anyone that sees it understands what it can do. Predators dont pick hard targets, especially if they know it could cost them everything.**
Leaving aside the argument of who criminals pick to jack up, I have to say that in a lot of environments, and certainly where I live, a "big ass knife on the hip" is simply a no-go.

Were I to open-carry my heater, as long as I was well-groomed and wearing neutral clothing, most folks wouldn't bat an eye. A gun on the hip in that situation registers to most people as "cop". (And even then, the occasional remark or question is enough to get me to usually wear a gun burkha, because I ain't got time for that.) A big knife on the hip, on the other hand, is going to either read to passersby as "Jason from Camp Crystal Lake" or "Weirdo Who's Escaped From The Renaissance Faire And Could Go Aurora Batman Premiere At Any Moment".

Further, I question the willingness of someone who is not willing to pack a J-frame to strap on their Crocodile Dundee every morning, even if you get them a sheath that matches their Dooney & Bourkes and is dress-code compliant at the bank.

*"Oh, Tamara," you say, "I love how you made that sentence all PC and gender-neutral." Hey, I've had boyfriends who I couldn't convince to CCW. Oh, sure, they'd throw a pistol under the truck seat if they had to use the ATM at night, but carry a gun? Everywhere?

** I'll at least give him points for not writing that "...a blade doesn't jam or run out of ammunition!" Every time I read that on the internet, I want to hit the writer with a sock full of nickels until it jams or runs out of ammunition.

48 comments:

Peter said...

If you did hit him repeatedly with a sock full of nickels, it wouldn't produce any change . . .

(Sorry, but someone had to say it!)

;-)

rremington said...

I'm 6'3, 270 pounds, and my knuckles drag when I walk. I'm not fast enough and my arms aren't near long enough to rely on a knife.

I'll stick to my gat.

og said...

During season, I carry the white hunter on my belt, mostly because it's such a pain in the ass to unthread the belt. It's legal in Indiana but if I have to crossover into the Peoples Socialist Republic I put the blade in the glove box and tuck the sheath into my hip pocket.

I do suppose a big creepy old guy with a foot long knife and wild hair is probably something of a deterrent.

Pakkinpoppa said...

The sock full of nickels would run out of ammunition long before the author's opinion started to differ. Depending on the sock...some cheaper ones would burst open at the seam long before your arm ran out of the wherewithal to quit swinging, but that's not the point.

I laugh when folks claim "a knife doesn't run out of ammunition" because, most folks I hear say that look like "run" is something they last did towards a buffet line...*

And a "big ass knife"...is going to run out of ammo a lot faster than, said P'Kal or even a Voyager. Plus...if you miss...the likelihood of said target having played "prison shiv" and taking it away...shudder.


*Wait...that's just mean...did I say that out loud?

pdb said...

Yeah, you know what a big-ass knife on the hip of a plump internet commando advertises to predators? "Hey look, free knife!"

I'm also daily puzzled by people thinking of carrying a gun as a conditional. I don't put on my roscoe only when I think I'm gonna have to shoot a guy, just like my wallet, keys and cellphone, it's another thing I have on my person before I step out the door.

John said...

Just for grins, we keep cans of hornet/wasp spray -- the hit 'em at twenty feet variety -- as 'by the door' or as 'car camping gear'. Legal no matter what state or municipality.

Think of them as supplemental 'carry'. We also have also have first-quality OC spray, but the bugger sprays are static location tools.

First pref is firearm, but in Chicago or NYC or other Totalitarian places it's nice to know that there are remedies for verminous insects.

As to blades, 'use 'em if ya got 'em', but never ever 'show' them or play Jim Bowie -knife fighter. Few folks will train arduously to learn even basics of blades, so t the first knowledge an assaulter will have of a knife in my possession is multiple & bleeding major blood vessels.

As someone who has been subjected to a close range criminal assault, I realized after the fact, that best weapon I SHOULD have had, is enough awareness and vigilance to have avoided it in the first place. And, at a later time, I was able to do exactly that: avoid.

Good luck to 'self defense theory', if it is not rehearsed and practiced.

mustanger said...

I've had the misfortune of acquaintance with some creative anachronism people. They need to go back to their renn fair and stay there. IMO, their logic will get them killed at some point.

One of them used to constantly try to convince me of the righteousness of a sword over a pistol. He'd sit there and say he wasn't into guns because he wasn't into killing people. He'd try to use the fact that we can't call a bullet back... true, but some of us are not up to fencing or fisticuffs, so a sword (or "big ass knife") is a no go.

Like many/most firearms aficionados, I'm not into killing people, but I'm not into getting sliced up just because somebody else don't like guns. And if you look back over history, there's a good many psychos with swords.

During WW2, American GIs were told if they saw the enemy had a sword, shoot him first. Japanese officers and NCOs had katanas and though they weren't truly samurai, they could do a lot of damage.

There's my $.02 on that for now.

Sean D Sorrentino said...

I'm in the SCA. There's no way I would haul around my pig sticker in real life and I have a really impressive Italian rondel dagger. Even Crocodile Dundee would agree that it's a knife.

I carry my gun in the SCA. My thought is that if I never haul it out I don't have to explain it, and if I do, the dead body (or the rapidly retreating attacker) will do my explaining for me. Besides, if I do run out of ammunition, I can probably find a knife or sword to borrow relatively quickly at an event. Plus duct tape. Lots of that around, too.

Tam said...

Sean D. Sorrentino,

I only tease the SCAdians because we're practically family.

Just ignore the swords I have in the attic. Only a dork would own those. These are not the droids you're looking for.

Anonymous said...

A big ass knife on your hip just tells me you are a blow hard, poser and little or no threat to me.

That is unless you’re a Gurkha. If you are a Gurkha I want to most humbly apologize for implying you are anything but a valiant warrior. Please don’t cut my head off!

Gerry

Firehand said...

I've had that argument with SCA clowns before*; besides the "I don't like guns" statement you get the insane argument that shooting an attacker is somehow dishonorable, but sticking a large hole in them or slicing their abdomen open is somehow on a higher moral plane. I finally just gave up on them and ignored them.

Not to mention they seem to think that if someone breaks into their home there will be enough room to use that shiny sword or axe... Or, for the real squirrels, the rattan or oak practice sword.

*Not all of them, but enough to be a PITA. And seriously make me wonder how many working brain cells they have.

Critter said...

"He'd sit there and say he wasn't into guns because he wasn't into killing people."

i've run into similar sentiments over the years and they never cease to puzzle me. what does one even think that a "big ass knife" is for? there are a legion of reasons why guns supplanted edged weapons as the sidearm of choice long ago, and, apart from some misplaced romantic notions of sword play, i can think of no good reason to reverse this state of affairs.

Boat Guy said...

In my world knives are for cutting stuff and guns are for launching projectiles; whatever you choose to cut and launch said projectiles at is your bidness. Should those kinda tools be turned toward me and mine, we'll launch some projectiles right back.
If somebody brings the proverbial knife to a gunfight, well, that's just "natural selection" isn't it?

Jeremy Brock said...

Ooohh, knives. My favorite tools, and under certain circumstances functional jewelry. Better than bare knuckles, too, if it comes down to that,* but still a damn sight riskier than a handgun--and personal defense, which is what you're talking about here, ain't a duel anyway.

"Big ass knives" have their place, namely the boondocks. Out there, a BAK on your belt says "I like versatile camp tools". In town, the same knife in the same carry says "I have psychological issues" (whether you really do or not).


* "One determined 12-year-old plus one sharp Spyderco equals 20 years in a gi." I've seen that attributed to Kelly McCann, and whether he actually said it or not, there's some truth to it. *Some* truth. And a whole boatload of ifs and buts.

rickn8or said...

Obviously you're feeling better this morning. Obviously turducken is a form of hi-density chicken soup.

And what Boat Guy said. Use a tool for its' designed purpose.

Bobby Zimmerman's lyric about "guns that shot swords" might be a bit impractical in real life, but would be a pretty good compromise in this argument.

The Great and Powerful Oz said...

On another blog I just saw the comment:

A German Shepard on a paleo diet.

Sifu Justin Harris said...

I like your opinion on this topic. It's sane and useful info. Thanks very much!

perlhaqr said...

Firehand: And seriously make me wonder how many working brain cells they have.

I was in the SCA as a youth. Given how much some of those people drink, and how many times they've been hit in the head with a big stick while wearing a helmet that was likely made by a rank amateur and does not, shall we say, meet the Snell Foundation requirements, and how long they've been in the SCA... I would say there's a good chance for some of them that the answer is "not many".

Tam: I can't carry a gun at work due to policy and law. (The University is public property... sorta. With some annoying exceptions carved out.) Of course, I can't carry a big ass knife there either, though a folder is fine. But I have answered the "are you a cop" question with "I'm in security", without specifying that that was "information security", while open carrying around here. Though, in NM, it doesn't really get that many questions.

Oleg Volk said...

Knives lack range.
Cutting foes can get their blood on or in you -- with increased risk of infection.
On the other hand, it's hard to peel an apple with a pistol.

Tam said...

Oleg Volk,

"On the other hand, it's hard to peel an apple with a pistol."

It just requires superior marksmanship and a whole lot of patience.

RL said...

If I was a joiner type, I might try to join a Society for Creative Realism in America (SCRAM) but they probably wouldn't have me.

pax said...

That question drives me nuts. In my experience, someone who won't carry a gun -- in an area where they legally can, and provided they have good social support such as a spouse willing to help them figure out the practical issues -- often has fundamental concerns with using *any* force at all to defend themselves, and sometimes also has philosophical objections even to being alert so as to avoid danger. Handing them another tool they won't use or learn anything about doesn't do anything at all to solve the basic equation.

Hardware doesn't do much without software to run it.

Sean D Sorrentino said...

Tam,
You're fine. I've met you. You'd fit in rather well.

The rest of the SCA bashers,
Please keep in mind that the same idiot video game commandos that we run into in gun circles also exist in the SCA. There will always be anti-gun idiots, but they do not comprise even a large minority in the SCA. The SCA is probably the largest group of pro-gun but reflexively liberal people you will ever meet. I don't carry openly in the SCA, but only because it doesn't fit with my clothing. There are, of course, idiots who fear guns, but generally SCA people understand and support righteously applied violence.

Kristophr said...

"A duel? I choose ... the Bazooka!"

Anonymous said...

After 'bout 10 years in sword and knife schools I carry a Mod.19 S&W. The first thing I learned in blade school--Yer gonna get cut. Back to the wall? I'd REALY rather grab the 870 than the K-BAR.(I do have a lot of nerd-steel in the safe thou.)

Firehand said...

Sean, back when I played SCA there were some who had no problem with firearms, balanced by a LOT of people with 'romantic' notions of fighting. Including the aforementioned idiocy of "Slicing burglar good/shooting burglar bad". And that was in OK/TX. Hopefully it's changed for the better.

Oleg, that's another of the problems I have with "I'll use my sword/axe/big-ass knife if someone breaks in/attacks me!": if you're close enough to reach them with it, they're close enough to reach YOU, and I'd rather avoid that.

Will said...

This guy seems to have a real world outlook on using blades.

http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/self-defense.htm

Be advised, you can spend a great deal of time bouncing around reading footnotes and definitions and internal links! Very educational. Helps to clear your browser, because you will have a lot of tabs open in the process.

Tam said...

Will,

I'm pretty sure I've linked to MacYoung's site before. You're right, the place is a gold mine.

Skip said...

I heard somewhere that a guy with a hot cup of coffee chased off a knife.

hektor said...


"During WW2, American GIs were told if they saw the enemy had a sword, shoot him first. Japanese officers and NCOs had katanas and though they weren't truly samurai, they could do a lot of damage."

This reminds me of Bobby Shaftoe

http://www.hep.wisc.edu/~stradling/Palm/PalmBooks/NewItems/Stephenson,_Neal_-_Cryptonomicon_Fully_Proofed_%28v2%29_%5Bhtml%5D/Neal%20Stephenson%20-%20Cryptonomicon%20v2%20%28HTML,%20Fully%20Proofed%29/slide13.html

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Ed said...

My grandmother carried her money in a change purse in her coat pocket. In her handbag, she carried rosary beads, a missal for daily Mass, and a brick. As she explained it, if someone snatched her bag, she lost little of monetary value. If she had to fight someone off, she swung the handbag for effect to the head, then prayed for their soul with the rosary beads.

SewerDweller said...

Blogger RL said...

If I was a joiner type, I might try to join a Society for Creative Realism in America (SCRAM) but they probably wouldn't have me.

11:27 AM, November 23, 2012

I'm stealing that.

Lergnom said...

Kristophr said...
"A duel? I choose ... the Bazooka!"

In Eric Flint's 1632 series, a downtime local asked a West Virginia coal miner, just for curiosity's sake, what weapons he would choose for a duel. His answer: "Twenty pound sledge hammers".
Different times, diferent circumstances, cool answer.

Stay safe

perlhaqr said...

Lergnom: Back when I was a young buck in the SCA, full of testosterone and rum, I ended up in a verbal altercation with someone who took offence to something I had said about the "hats" (people with crowns) because me and mine were, after all, just filthy pirates and we should respect our betters. And boy, some people in the SCA take that sort of thing really seriously.

It was heading towards fisticuffs (testosterone and rum!) and the fellow (who was a heavy weapons fighter, and therefore pretty heavily muscled, but only like 5'4" or so, compared to my 6'5") had a fit of Period and challenged me to a duel.

So, as the challenged, it was my choice for venue. I suggested 20 pound sledgehammers in 6 feet of water.

He was flabbergasted. It was quite hilarious. I pointed out that it was all role playing, and of course pirates are going to be disrespectful of the hats, but it wasn't anything personal, it was just my persona. And then I gave him a drink, and he laughed and went off to some other camp. And then we fired our cannons at 0200 in the morning. Yeah, well. We were kind of dicks sometimes...

mustanger said...

"So, as the challenged, it was my choice for venue. I suggested 20 pound sledgehammers in 6 feet of water."

Some short guy challenged Sam Houston... he answered the same way. A big laugh was had by all. Houston and the other guy, it is said, became friends.

NotClauswitz said...

A 16-oz. can of wasp-spray will have a 1-inch spider twitching in his fishing net from ten feet away. I like the standoff aspect plus People don't like the odor either - it smells like Love Canal and Three Mile Island had a Bhopal baby.

Temnota said...

I am also SCAdian, and my only issue with guns is the limited availability of rattan arquebus balls.

DesertRat said...

I'm going to guess that few, if any, of the SCA-types have ever engaged in actual combat with an edged weapon of any kind, even a knife.

As someone above pointed out, the first rule of knife fighting is: Everyone is going to get cut.

Rule two is: Everyone bleeds, and blood is a pain in the ass.

That rule generally even applies for situations where only one fighter has a knife...which situation turns the whole "knife for self-defense" model on it's ear.

Even assuming you have some clue about fighting with a knife, there is nothing clean, easy, painless, or guaranteed about knife fights. There's a damn good reason knives faded from the scene as guns became prevalent. The whole joke about bringing a knife to a gun-fight is funny because it's true.

I carry a folder in my back pocket, and I carried in in combat when I was there. If I ever have to use that for self-defense, things are significantly pear-shaped and it is "use that or die" time. But I will try very, very hard to never arrive at that spot.

Folks who talk about knives for self-defense have never used a knife for self-defense. Those who have used one generally carry a gun now.

mustanger said...

I've heard from some Vietnam vets who, while in-country, witnessed knife fights where the winner/loser was determined by who bled out first. Some of those, the margine was only about 5-10mins. In other words, both combatants lost.

Roadkill said...

So, what exactly constitutes a 'big ass knife'? Ask me, and I'll say any blade over 8 is pretty big. But to the average liberal pansy a 3inch folding knife qualifies as big ass. I've carried knives OC often, but 4.5 is the biggest fixed blade I've carried in public. My normal OC edc fix is sub 3inches.

J.R.Shirley said...

Sock full of nickels.

Damn Maryland. Damn her commie soul to hell.

Rabbit said...

I've got enough serious scars from playing with knives in my misspent youth, thanks.

Last summer at Elsewhere, I brought out my big honkin' khukri for show-and-tell. Just because it's a nice piece of steel with a decent edge does not mean I'd choose it over a FAL or a J-frame for intimate, personal occasions.

nemesis443 said...


Kristophr said...

"A duel? I choose ... the Bazooka!"

I raise you one Trident missile. I like to keep my distance. let somebody else be a hero.

Anonymous said...

"What is the best self-defense gizmo for my Significant Other to carry if they won't carry a gun?*"
-a burial plot, that will wake him/her up.
-Steve_in_CA

Geodkyt said...

NotClauswitz: ". . . it smells like Love Canal and Three Mile Island had a Bhopal baby"

Teh Awesome.


I think teh best description of knife fighting is:

Q- "How do you tell the winner of the knife fight?"

A- "He's the guy in the ICU."

Linoge said...

*shrug* I regularly carry a Taylor Eye Witness fixed blade in a belt sheath (if only because it has a gorgeous ram horn handle, and secondarily because it is a family heirloom supposedly older than my entire immediate family combined, so it is kind of shiny that it is still "in service") and fewer souls have expressed caring than those who have commented on my openly carrying a firearm. Not sure if ~4" count as "big ass", but it is not exactly stealthy; I guess people are just too fixated on my facial badgers.

Would I rely on it for self-defense? Of course not; that is what the hardware on the other hip is for. But it is always good to have a Plan B.

Jeremy Brock said...

Cup-hilted cutlasses, Arkansas toothpicks,
loaded bandanas and hardwood kalí sticks,
tee-ball bats studded with galvanized bling:
These are a few of my favorite things.

Tomahawks, assegais, bolos, and sabres
may make a mess, but they won't wake the neighbours.
Wolf heads and eagles on big pewter rings:
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cleavers right out of an Icelandic saga,
maybe a dose of latigo y daga,
big nails on both ends of old guitar strings:
These are a few of my favorite things.

Squirt guns loaded with ammonia,
sjamboks up the sleeve ...
And maybe there's something like Queensbury rules
for the criminally naïve.

Ed said...

A sock full of quarters is better than a sock for of nickels.

If nothing else, you can feed the parking meters.