Thursday, August 5, 2010




Pretty much every police officer I've ever known has always carried some form of knife, always a folding knife. Even back when I was a kid in Houston, and my Dad's police friends would stop by the house, they'd always have at least some sort of pocket knife. The uniformed guys always carried a large stout folder on their Sam Browne belts, and the standard knife I saw in the 70's and 80's was the 4" heavy duty Buck folding Hunter knife.

I found out when I got out of the Academy that everyone used a 1911 .45 single magazine holder to carry their knife. Most officers, me included, carried that mag holder on their belt immediately behind their handgun. Both belt held weapons in the same place. On the other side of the belt, I had a ring to carry either a 24" baton or a 7 C-cell Kel-Lite metal flashlight/club. But the baton or light were often in my hand on field contacts, so if we went to fighting, I could protect my gun AND knife in the same area.

Other officers I've known that carried hi-capacity 9mm's back in those early days of policing for me. They carried S&W M59's or Browning Hi-Powers. Many of those guys would just carry one extra magazine and fit a knife in the other compartment of a double magazine holder.

As the years went on in Texas, you began to see officers with a much wider variety of "fighting folder knives" like the Applegate knives. Then Spyderco came on the scene and became very popular with officers since you could open them one-handed. Now there is a virtually endless array of excellent fighting folding knives to choose from, both from custom and name brand knife makers.

Cops use knives for a variety of reasons other than self defense. Cutting people out of seat belts in car wrecks, often bad ones with people in need of critical and timely medical care. Breaking into houses if there is a murder or on-going major crime occuring. Digging out bits of evidence. Cutting the duct tape often used to bind hostages. Cutting through a variety of ropes, tapes, webbing, fabric, wire and even some metals and plastics.

In addition to the self defense use of the blade of the knife, one can also use the knife as a bludgeon (open or closed) to whack an attacker on the side of the head, or in another vital area. Sorta like a piece of solid metal bar stock in your hand that extends an inch or two if held property. I've known officers to use not only knives but police walkie talkie radios in this fashion during attacks on them to subdue an stout attacker.

At the time I became an officer in my young twenties, Buck Hunter knives were pretty much what most folks carried in Houston and Texas who were either carrying knives for work or self defense purposes. I'm sure there were custom knives I didn't notice, but to me if the blade didn't lock, I really wasn't interested in it. I'm still not, years later.

I likes dem lockblades. You're a fool to use a non-lockblade folder for self-defense. You might lose a finger or two.

Later, officers began moving to the pocket clip tactical folders that were available. It seemed like the 80's and 90's were full of knife innovations like assisted opening knives and Spyderco knives as well as lots of hardcore tactical knives with high quality blades of much varied design.

Recently, I've begun noticing a lot of officers carrying the Kershaw Ripcord, an out the front (OTF) knife that collapses into a special composite sheath. When you remove it, it opens. When you holster it, it closes. It is VERY FAST to get into action.

Apparently, the Ripcord is not a new knife so I've just not been paying attention to what officers are carrying the past few years.

I'll close with saying that many street officers and emergency responders carry a special knife with them, a square plastic or metal affair with a slot and a razor sharp knife in the slot specially designed for cutting through seat belts with one swoop. Some knives feature hook type affair blades with a super sharp interior of the hook to do the same thing. I've been told that the Ripcord is stout enough to cut a seat belt.

My curiousity has been raised.


  1. As a patrol officer, I could not decide. I had up to 6 knives on me. Now as a detective I usually have 3 to 4. Each as a purpose and a specific job fuction.

    I also had a Buck 110 back in the 80's. I think I even wore it on my belt in high school. How times have changed.

    There is a knife store on Hammerly and Sam Houston Tollway. I don't remember the name but Det. Ninja drags me in there from time to time. Talk about a toy store. Det. Ninja also goes kenpo and a part of that is knife fighting.

    I have been to two knife training classes and I believe if you are to carry, you need training, then it is practice and practice.

  2. Right you are about training TGR. I've had both training regarding defensive tactics by a knife wielding suspect as well as two knife fighting classes run by ex-special forces guys who did lots of street time as officers. That's been awhile back. I need to attend another training class soon.

    I'll check out the knife store on Hammerly next weekend.

  3. Like Texas Ghostrider I carry a variety of knives for different functions, I'll often carry two tactical folders, an EDC knife, and a leatherman. I leave the rescue knife in the car but I always wear it when I'm driving because I don't believe I could get to it if it's in the dash in the event of a crash. When I go diving or to the beach I use a diving knife. When I got shooting I take a Beretta gun tool knife and a skinning knife. When I was bodyguarding, I would carry quite a few back up knives and two firearms, on the basis if you can't get to one you can get to another. The vast majority of my knives are practical tools.

  4. Good idea about the driving knife. Are you as keen on swithblades as your two blogmates Amica and Stefi?

  5. Nah, not really. I think they look cool but they're outdated as tactical folders. It's Amica who likes switchblades, she always has. Me and Stef prefer older Italian knives.