Review: Cold Steel Push Knives
Oleg Volk 02.23.15
T-shaped knives have been with us for millenia. This particular design became very popular as a primary carry weapon in the US during 19th century, later being supplanted by small pistols. Recently, with a variety of affordable and good quality models by Cold Steel, their popularity has risen again.
At least eight size and blade variations are available from Cold Steel, and other makers offer more options. It’s pretty easy to find something to fit your specific hand size and mode of carry. For defensive use, I would recommend plain edge versions over half-serrated.
The knives come with plastic sheaths and neck chains, and the smallest can be worn as a key fob. Neck wear is fine for a warmer climate, but harder to access where multiple layers are worn. Also, the vertical position isn’t fixed, making it possible for the sheath or the grip to jab you in the solar plexus or throat. I also snapped at least one chain when the blade stuck in the sheath. Belt carry appears more practical to me. Sheaths can be placed over a visor or between seats of a car, making an excellent defense tool against a forcible carjacking.
The push knife’s popularity comes from the ease of deployment. It’s far easier to bring into play than most other types and pretty hard to take away from the defender. The stabbing motion uses the same angle and hand position as most martial arts punches, so a person with background in something like karate can revert to existing training. The fist position allows a strong punch without damage to the wrist. At the same time, defensive slashes in either direction are also effective.
Here, the knife is held as a primary weapon. The blade length might not be sufficient to reach vitals reliably, but the tapered shape makes it easy to stab several times rapidly. Non-metallic versions exist for more restrictive environments. Too light and insufficiently durable for slashing through much protective clothing such as a leather jacket, they are usually strong enough for effective stabbing. The light weight of push knives, either metal or polymer, is another plus for daily carry.
For people who already carry a primary defensive weapon, usually a handgun, push knives are excellent weak hand stand-off devices. In a hand-to-hand fight, it can be very difficult to get a pistol unholstered and pointed at the foe. A push knife can be unsheathed in a very confined space and turned around easier than a pistol. Either stabbing or cutting with it can be enough to create the necessary distance to deploy a firearm. Trying the same with a folding knife would almost certainly fail, and most small conventional fixed blades would be harder to retain.
With the useful design and affordable price, why isn’t the push dagger more ubiquitous? Blame your favorite legislators who view it as an effective weapon and so don’t want you to have it. Depending on the state and sometimes on the city, these may be legal or not legal to carry. New Hampshire? You are good to go. California? Who are we kidding? Your locale? Check the laws before carrying it, and make sure that the source of information is up to date. The utility of this design can be judged, among other factors, by the exception for police in the laws of all otherwise restrictive states, and many of the cops I know do carry it for the purpose of discouraging grappling.