Picking the best Spyderco knife for self defense

It’s a simple fact:

Folding knives are a great choice for lethal self defense carry.

Unfortunately, choosing the right type of knife for self defense may be difficult, when there are literally thousands of different knives available to you.

If you’re looking for a reliable and effective self defense knife, you can’t go wrong with one from Spyderco. In this article, we will focus on which Spyderco knife is best for self defense.

In a hurry? Check out my top pick, the Spyderco Matriarch, over on Amazon right now by clicking here.

best spyderco knife for self defense 1

The best Spyderco knife for self defense

Here are my favorite Spyderco knives for self defense, in no particular order.

There are different form factors and feature sets on display, so you can choose the one that fits your needs perfectly!

Top Pick
Best Overall Self Defense Knife
Best Karambit-style Knife
Best Tactical-style Knife
Best All-weather Knife
Best Budget Knife
Name
Spyderco Matriarch
Spyderco Karahawk
Spyderco Yojimbo
Spyderco Pacific Salt
Spyderco Tenacious
Spyderco Matriarch2 Black FRN w/ Emerson Opener SpyderEdge C12SBK2W
Spyderco Karahawk Black G-10 PlainEdge C170GP
Spyderco Yojimbo 2 G-10 Plain Edge Blade Pocket Knife, Black - C85G2
Spyderco Pacific Salt C91SBBK Pocket Knife 3-3/4" Folding Blade Serrated Edge
Spyderco Tenacious Plain Edge Folding Knife, Black/Silver
Blade Length
3.57" blade
2.35"
3.11"
3.81"
3.39"
Weight
3.6 oz
3.8 oz
4 oz
3 oz
4.1 oz
Blade Type
Serrated, Karambit
Plain-edge, Karambit
Plain-edge
Plain-edge or serrated
Plain-edge, Serrated, or Hybrid
Prime
Top Pick
Best Overall Self Defense Knife
Name
Spyderco Matriarch
Spyderco Matriarch2 Black FRN w/ Emerson Opener SpyderEdge C12SBK2W
Blade Length
3.57" blade
Weight
3.6 oz
Blade Type
Serrated, Karambit
Prime
Best Karambit-style Knife
Name
Spyderco Karahawk
Spyderco Karahawk Black G-10 PlainEdge C170GP
Blade Length
2.35"
Weight
3.8 oz
Blade Type
Plain-edge, Karambit
Prime
Best Tactical-style Knife
Name
Spyderco Yojimbo
Spyderco Yojimbo 2 G-10 Plain Edge Blade Pocket Knife, Black - C85G2
Blade Length
3.11"
Weight
4 oz
Blade Type
Plain-edge
Prime
Best All-weather Knife
Name
Spyderco Pacific Salt
Spyderco Pacific Salt C91SBBK Pocket Knife 3-3/4" Folding Blade Serrated Edge
Blade Length
3.81"
Weight
3 oz
Blade Type
Plain-edge or serrated
Prime
Best Budget Knife
Name
Spyderco Tenacious
Spyderco Tenacious Plain Edge Folding Knife, Black/Silver
Blade Length
3.39"
Weight
4.1 oz
Blade Type
Plain-edge, Serrated, or Hybrid
Prime

Top Overall Pick for Self Defense: the Spyderco Matriarch

Spyderco Matriarch2 Black FRN w/ Emerson Opener SpyderEdge C12SBK2W

The Spyderco Matriarch is a folding karambit-style knife with a serrated blade. 

Serrated blades are not for everyone and are the subject of ongoing debate online. However, if you prefer serrated blades, then the Matriarch is the knife for you.

The knife is 4.98 inches long when closed (8.55 when open) and still fairly light at 3.6 ounces. It is made of VG-10 steel, which is a stainless steel that will last a hell of a long time, though stainless steel is notorious for dulling rather quickly.

Since the Matriarch 2 has a serrated edge this means the sharpening of the blade will require a special sharpener.

Alternatively, you can mail the knife to Spyderco and pay a $5 fee and they do the sharpening for you. To me, this is the better option (especially if you have multiple EDC knives that you can switch out).

Pros:

  • Lightweight for ease of use
  • Ambidextrous grip to handle both right and left-handed users
  • Serrated edge tears better, optimal for self defense purposes
  • Pocket clip and Spyderco Round Hole
  • Emerson Opener option for fast deployment

Cons:

  • You may not want the karambit-style blade (though I love them)
  • A full serration has some drawbacks, but if this is your thing, I say go for it

The Matriarch also has an excellent lock back mechanism that keeps you safe. The knife will only unlock when you are ready to close it, which protects your hand from injuries from prematurely closing. A great feature in a self defense knife.

Finally, the Matriarch has two methods for opening: the Spyderco Round Hole or the Emerson Opener. The Round Hole makes for a quick opening of the blade with your thumb. The Emerson Opener allows you to have the knife blade deployed right out of your pocket, automatically!

Check out this video on how the Emerson Opener works:

Amazing and super fast! This is an additional bonus for a self defense situation.

Ready to get one for yourself? Check it out over on Amazon to find the best price for this awesome self defense blade.

Best Karambit-style knife for self defense: the Spyderco Karahawk

Spyderco Karahawk Black G-10 PlainEdge C170GP

If you’re looking specifically for a Karambit-style blade, but want something a little shorter and more concealed than the Matriarch above, check out the awesome Spyderco Karahawk.

As Spyderco says, this blade merges the distinctive features of “the classic Southeast Asian karambit and state-of-the-art modern folding knife design.”

In a word, it’s badass.

The curved hawkbill blade is short enough to stay hidden, but strong enough for self defense purposes given that it’s made from Spyderco’s famous VG-10 stainless steel.

It’s got a handle with steel reinforcement inside, ending in a strong karambit-style ring at the base of the handle. It’s this ring that allows a karambit to be used like this:

I said it was badass, didn’t I?

Pros:

  • A design of Sal Glesser, Spyderco’s founder
  • Easily concealable blade length (2.29″) and closed overall length (4.5″)
  • Strong back lock, VG-10 steel, and internal steel construction makes this a super sturdy knife
  • Comes in matte black for times when reflection and light is an issue
  • Textured handle for easy grip

Cons:

  • Can be a bit pricier than other knives
  • Pocket clip has been known to be tight

This knife also features the combo of hole opener and Emerson Opener, making it ideal for instant deployment for self defense purposes.

If you’re looking for a Karambit-style blade well-suited for self defense uses, look no further than this.

You can read more about the specifics and other user experiences, as well as buy one for yourself, over on Amazon by clicking here.

Best Tactical knife for self defense: the Spyderco Yojimbo 2 G-10

Spyderco Yojimbo 2 G-10 Plain Edge Blade Pocket Knife, Black - C85G2

The Yojimbo 2 is a plain edge, tactical-style folding knife with a stainless steel blade.

This knife has a closed length of 4.51″ (open length of 7.55″), meaning the blade itself is just over 3 inches. This large size means it should do well in a self defense scenario where you need to bring more tactical force.

The design of the Yojimbo is what really differentiates this knife from other commonly found self defense knives. It has a Wharncliffe blade, which is a little thicker than other blades.

A thick blade is better in a self defense scenario because it has less flex. This means it will do the job you intend it to do (going through what you need it to go through, that is).

This knife has a reputation for having excellent ergonomics and a thumb forward grip (fairly common with Spyderco knives). These great ergonomics make the Yojimbo feel like a natural extension of your hand.

This gives you more control, which is a great asset in a self defense situation.

Pros

  • Thumb forward ergonomic grip makes it easy to hold
  • Pocket clip and Spyderco Round Hole for easy carry and deployment
  • Non-slip grip
  • Wharncliffe blade for sturdy cutting strength
  • Plain-edge blade is easy to sharpen at home, or you can send it in to Spyderco for a professional sharpening

Cons

  • Some users report that the handle and blade are a bit small for their hands

The CPM S30V steel the Yojimbo blade is made of is a high performance stainless steel. As usual, the stainless steel dulls more rapidly than other types of steel. However, the plain edge makes it an easy to sharpen blade.

In addition to everything else, the famous personal defense trainer Michael Janich designed this knife, so you know it’s good for self defense purposes.

Check out more about the Yojimbo over on Amazon by clicking this link.

Best All-weather knife for self defense: the Spyderco Pacific Salt

Spyderco Pacific Salt C91SBBK Pocket Knife 3-3/4' Folding Blade Serrated Edge

Another one of Spyderco’s excellent self defense knives, the Pacific Salt, is made specifically to withstand weather.

The serrated blade of the Pacific Salt is made of Japanese H1 steel, which is rust-proof. This is due to the use of nitrogen to harden the steel, instead of the usual carbon.

With just that feature, it makes this knife perfect for anyone who goes running outdoors or lives in a humid area or one with a lot of precipitation.

As with other knives I’ve featured, the Pacific Salt uses the patented thumb hole opener for quick unfolding of the knife.

For more weather protection, the internal steel components of the knife are treated with a coating that prevents rust and damage from salt and other weather conditions. The handle is textured to allow you to retain grip control even in inclement weather.

Lastly, if you’re not a fan of pocket carrying, it’s got a lanyard hole so you can hang it around your neck.

Pros:

  • On the larger side of the knives featured here, at an 8.687″ overall length with a 3.812″ blade
  • Still super light at just 3 ounces
  • Rust, salt, and weather-proof H1 steel blade and internal components
  • Enlarged blade hole opener to make it easier for a glove or larger hand to open
  • Reversible ambidextrous clip

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have a “no slip” handle, simply a textured one
  • If you like a heavier knife, this may be too light for you

Overall, this is the perfect knife for both self defense and everyday use when you live or work in bad weather conditions.

Read more about the Pacific Salt and pick one up for yourself over on Amazon by clicking here.

Best Budget knife for self defense: the Spyderco Tenacious Plain Edge

Spyderco Tenacious Plain Edge Folding Knife, Black/Silver

The Spyderco Tenacious is a folding knife with a stainless steel plain edge blade that has a budget price without compromising quality.

The knife is rather large with a closed length of 4.44″, but still lightweight weighing in at only 4.1 ounces. This length makes it good for an EDC knife for a larger person. It should also fare well in a self defense scenario because of its size.

The 8Cr13MoV stainless steel that the Tenacious blade is made of means that the blade should not rust or corrode over time. This makes it an excellent if you live in a humid location or near the ocean (but I still prefer the Pacific Salt above for this purpose).

The downside with stainless steel is that the blade may be susceptible to faster dulling. The Tenacious blade is a plain edge blade, which makes it easier to sharpen and slightly negates the possibility of dulling quicker.

The Tenacious also has a pocket clip attached making it great for waistband carry. Some of you may love this and some of you hate this. I personally love pocket clips (I carry in my pocket, obviously), so I view it as a positive.

This pocket clip has the perfect amount of retention. Not too tight that it damages your waistband, but not too loose that it falls off your waistband.

Finally, the Tenacious has an opening hole that allows you to quickly open the knife (like many Spyderco knives). Quickly opening your knife is one of the most important factors in a self defense scenario, so this obviously comes in handy!

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Pocket clip for easy carry and accessibility
  • Strong grip on the handle lets you hold it tight and not lose it during a fight
  • Easy to open with its thumb hole, but lacks the Emerson Opener of other knives I’ve featured here

Cons

  • Some users complain about a lack of chamfering on the thumb opener, which can be painful for some after extensive use

You can read more about this great knife, including other user reviews, over on Amazon by clicking here.

About Spyderco – a top American knife company

Spyderco is an American knife manufacturer of knives based out of Golden, Colorado. They are known for their unique innovations in the pocket knife industry such as the pocket clip, serrations, and their trademarked opening hole.

They have been manufacturing knives since 1976, so when you buy a Spyderco knife you get a solid brand with over 40 years of experience behind them.

Spyderco does a lot of things right as a knife manufacturer.

They produce high quality knives, have an excellent warranty, and have amazing customer service.

What’s not to love?

The knives they produce are known for their excellent quality. The company has an American headquarters and most of their flagship products are still manufactured in their Golden, Colorado facility. However, they produce some of their other knives in Taiwan, Italy, China, and Japan.

Spyderco stands by their product and does have a warranty that covers any manufacturer defect.

They also have a blade sharpening program for some of their blades. Simply mail the knife to their factory, and they will sharpen it and return it to you.

You only pay a $5 shipping fee.

best spyderco knife for self defense 2

Conclusion – which Spyderco knife is right for you?

Spyderco makes great knives for the self defense industry. They use high quality steel, have excellent customer service, and stand by their products with an excellent warranty.

The 5 knives I listed above are great tools to use in the case of a self defense scenario. I purposely chose different style of knives, so you can fit them to your own needs (and budget).

Everyone has their own personal preference on the type of knife they feel comfortable using. The best thing to do is listen to yourself!

Looking for more info on Spyderco? Check out this video on their history, straight from the source!

And if you’ve got your own recommendation, I’d love to hear it. Just post it in the comments below.

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