A knife is a tool that can serve many purposes. Picking a knife designed for the wrong purpose can result in reduced capability. The best everyday carry (EDC) knife for personal defense will depend on your local laws, your training, skill level, and environment, among other factors. Let’s take a look at three top new knives designed for personal defense. The Amtac Blades Northman; SOG Pentagon XR; and Spyderco Canis. We’re certain that one will meet your needs.
3 Knives Designed for Personal Defense
The Amtac Blades Northman is a fixed-blade knife with a design for everyday carry (EDC). The Northman had its genesis in the personal requirements of former U.S. Navy SEAL Bill Rapier, founder and lead instructor of Amtac Shooting.
Bill retired from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of service. His duty assignments included several years at SEAL Team 3 and more than 14 years at the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU). Bill wanted an EDC concealed knife specifically designed for use in the real world. He wanted the advantages of a fixed-blade knife, in line with his concepts of integrated combatives.
Unlike most concealable fixed blades, the Northman carries in the front pants pocket, allowing easy access and rapid deployment from a discreet hand position. This is a fixed-blade knife that carries like a folder.
The Northman features a distinctive 3.5-inch, full-tang drop point blade made of cryogenically treated Böhler M390 stainless steel (60-62 HRC) with a durable stone-washed black DLC finish. Blade thickness is 0.15 inch. The Northman has an overall length of 6.9 inches and weighs 4.3 ounces.
Böhler M390 stainless steel is a premium “super steel,” popular in high-end knives. It’s an outstanding blade steel, providing exceptionally high hardness and excellent corrosion resistance. It takes a very fine edge and holds that edge well.
The Northman is optimized to provide the best balance between tip strength and thrusting ability. The Northman’s drop point blade profile allows the spine of the blade to continue forward to the tip of the blade for tip strength while maintaining an upward curve of the edge and placing the tip in line with the user’s hand.
Carry and Use of the Northman
The Northman has an ergonomic grip with black G10 scales with deep “treads” for a secure grip and beveled edges for a comfortable grip. Each knife includes a serial number and is available with serrations or non-serrated. “Sterile” versions of both are available, without markings. The serrated version has partial serrations.
The Northman comes with a Pocket Firesheath. A Belt Firesheath is available separately. The Kydex sheaths feature a metal clip, integrated ferrocerium rod for starting fires (hence the name Firesheath), and a small Velcro pocket. They’re fully ambidextrous, adjustable for retention, and may be used for inside-the-waistband (IWB) carry.
The Northman has recent upgrades. The spine is now squared to allow it to be used with the ferrocerium rod. The handle has a deeper punyo (the very back of the handle that juts out) for a more positive draw stroke. The top and bottom of the tang, toward the rear of the handle, features jimping. The removal of a small amount of material from the handle lightens it by 0.4 ounce.
The Northman comes with an aluminum blue trainer blade that replicates the Northman in size and handling. The Trainer comes with a storage sheath that can also be used to hold your live blade when you are using the Trainer. Fit and finish on the Northman is flawless.
The complete package (Northman, Firesheath, trainer, and storage sheath) is $450. (AmtacBlades.com)
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools was founded in 1986 by designer and toolmaker Spencer Frazer. Named after the elite Vietnam-era special forces military group known as the Studies and Observations Group, the company’s first knife was a replica of the original SOG Bowie knife. The Pentagon XR is a new folder from SOG designed for defensive and combat applications.
The Pentagon XR features a 3.66-inch cryogenically treated Carpenter CTS XHP stainless steel (59-60 HRC), wide spear point blade with a matte black titanium nitride finish. The blade is 0.12 inch thick. The knife has an overall length of 8.38 inches open and 4.77 inches closed. It weighs 4.9 ounces.
Carpenter CTS XHP stainless steel is a powder metallurgy stainless steel that’s high in carbon and chromium. It can be thought of as either a high hardness 440C or a high corrosion resistance D2 tool steel. Also considered to be one of the “super steels,” it is a premium stainless steel.
The Pentagon XR offers three modes of ambidextrous opening—thumb stud, flipper, and inertia opening. It features a ball bearing system to reduce friction and open the knife smoothly. The XR locking mechanism is strong, smooth, and completely ambidextrous. Lockup is secure, with no blade play.
Pentagon XR Lockup and Use
The XR lock works using a small hardened steel spring-loaded round crossbar that moves in a machined groove in the liners and engages a notch in the tang of the blade when the knife is opened. The bar remains in place via the hardened stainless steel liners. The stop pin positions the blade for additional strength and reliability. The lock mechanism also serves as a detent to hold the blade in the closed position.
The handle is a partially open-back design and has “ultra grip” G10 scales with radiused edges, in either black (Blackout) or OD Green. It has a neutral shape except for a large finger choil. The choil serves to index the knife and provide additional security in the hand. The Pentagon XR is well balanced and feels good in the hand. It has an ambidextrous heat-treated stainless steel wire pocket/belt clip for tip-up carry. The workmanship on the Pentagon XR is excellent.
The Pentagon XR has an MSRP of $175. (SOGKnives.com)
The Spyderco Canis is a new folder design from former U.S. Marine Corps Special Missions Officer Kelly McCann for personal defense. He brings more than 35 years of operational and training experience to its design.
The Canis features a 3.43-inch cryogenically treated CPM S30V stainless steel blade with a satin finish. The PlainEdge blade combines a straight Wharncliffe-style with narrow bevels, a reinforced tip, and a weight-saving mid-blade swage that provides optimal balance and also maximizes strength and cutting power. The blade is 0.118 inch thick.
The spine of the Wharncliffe-style blade meets the straight edge of the blade at an acute point, giving full cutting power the entire length of the blade. The major weakness of this style of blade is a weak tip, something the reinforced tip of the Canis addresses.
Developed by Crucible Industries specifically for knives, CPM S30V performs like high-end tool steel with better corrosion resistance than 440C. It takes a fine, consistent edge. It has superior edge retention to D2 and 154CM.
The Canis design is slim and pocket-friendly. The knife has an overall length of 8.12 inches and a closed length of 4.73 inches. It weighs 4.1 ounces. It features a lightweight, open-backed construction.
The ergonomic handle features “peel-ply-textured” carbon fiber/G-10 laminate scales for a secure grip, with radiused edges for comfort. Stainless steel liners are nestled in recesses machined into the knife’s scales to reduce handle thickness and provide support for the knife’s patented Compression Lock.
The Canis Lockup and Operation
The Compression Lock utilizes a leaf-like spring from a split liner in the handle to wedge laterally between the blade tang and the stop pin. Think of it as an inverted liner lock. It provides the extreme strength and ease of use necessary for defensive applications. The positioning of the lock on top of the spine requires minimal hand movement to operate. Lockup is secure, with no blade play.
The opening is via Spyderco’s patented trademark Round Hole for one-handed, ambidextrous blade deployment. The trademark Round Hole, along with Spyderco’s smooth bushing pivot design and phosphor bronze washers, make for swift blade deployment.
The Canis is equipped with a four-position stainless steel streamlined hourglass-shaped pocket clip, offering ambidextrous tip-up or tip-down carry. Build quality on the Canis is excellent.
It has an MSRP of $275. (Spyderco.com)
So, there you have it: three top new EDC knives for personal defense. All will serve you well. The choice is yours.
This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World Gun Buyer’s Guide December/January 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email email@example.com.