Professor LawDog’s School of Mayhem and Survival

I have a bit of a love for push knives.

Also called push daggers, punch daggers or punch knives, these simple, elegant, no-nonsense little dudes are one of the few “fighting knife” designs which is actually a dedicated fighter, rather than simply being a knife that you can use for fighting.

I was introduced to these charming jewels way back In The Day when I was studying a combination of Western boxing and judo. My instructor had asked me if there was anything that I felt needed to be covered.

Having dealt with the sharp-and-pointy kind of social interaction a time or two, I opined that it wouldn’t hurt to cover some fundamentals of knife-fighting. My instructor pondered this a moment, then went into his office.

Coming out, he handed me a Cold Steel Defender — which I still own, by-the-by — then assumed the high boxing guard he favoured. I mirrored him, knife in paw, and he smiled and said, “There. Now you are a knife fighter.”


Intuitive and simple to use — to paraphrase Kevin McClung: “Grab, yank and shank” — the T-handle of the push knife is grasped in the fist, with the tang of the blade sticking out between either the first and second fingers, or (my favourite) the second and third fingers.

This aligns the point of the blade with the long bones in the forearm, allowing you to generate incredible piercing power by merely punching the threat.

With four hours of training on the proper way to punch, I have seen a small woman bury a four-inch push knife blade knuckle-deep in a hog carcass; and any half-way competent gentleman can turn a shovel hook into a religious experience by way of a push knife.

With a firm grip, there is little or no way for your hand — aided by stray amounts of sweat, oil, blood, or whathaveyou — to slip off the grip up onto the blade with the attendant oopsies.

However, the unique design of the push knife causes a unique problem — with the tang protruding between your fingers, if you decide to slash or chop at the threat and you don’t have a crush grip on the push knife, the tang bears firmly against the bone of the finger on the trailing side of the blow.

A loose enough grip, or a slippery one, and you can damage, or even break, your own finger.

For myself, I decided that the advantages of the push knife more than off-set this limitation, and I resolved to not get into the habit of slashing or chopping with my push knife during training — only punches.

Several knife-makers offer push knives: Wilson Tactical, Cold Steel, and Mercworx (maker of the Seraphym, shown at the beginning of this article) are but some of the manufacturers currently offering push knives, many more can be found with a brief Google search.

Unfortunately, the Great State of Texas classes push knives as “illegal knives” and being caught with one in public will net you a Class ‘A’ misdemeanor — which is why I no longer carry mine.


Check your knife laws if you decide to update your personal toolbox with the addition of a push knife — and it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a quick sit-down and a chat about them with your local District Attorney should you take a fancy to purchasing, or carrying, one.

As always — Your Mileage May Vary.


Meditations on speed
Huh, that's odd.

30 thoughts on “Professor LawDog’s School of Mayhem and Survival”

  1. Among the knives Texas classifies as “illegal” is, quite inexplicably, a style known world-wide by the name of its most famous user and Hero of the Alamo, Jim Bowie.

    It’s about time we eliminated PC Chapter 46. Every last word of it.

  2. Oh ho you think Texas is bad? Michigan has got that beat “- 750.227. (1) A person shall not carry a dagger, dirk,
    stiletto, a double-edged nonfolding stabbing instrument of
    any length, or any dangerous weapon, except a hunting
    knife adapted and carried as such, concealed on or about
    his or her person, or whether concealed or otherwise in
    any vehicle… except in his or her dwelling house [or]
    place of business… (3) A person who violates this
    section is guilty of a felony…”

    That’s right anything considered a “deadly weapon” cannot be carried concealed.

    1. I believe as of 2 years ago this law had changed to only include true switch blades and gravity knives. I'm still looking into push daggers though.

  3. […]any half-way competent gentleman can turn a shovel hook into a religious experience by way of a push knife.

    I’m not sure I’ll ever stop giggling at that phrase. Well done!

    (Here in the People’s Republic of Canada, a pocketed multi-tool can be considered a concealed deadly weapon, so push knives are probably a no-no. Alas.)

  4. I’ve never quite understood the whole concept of taboo or illegal knives. It’s simple hysterical bullshit. There is no earthly reason why a push knife, dagger, butterfly knife or switchblade should be illegal.

    Weapons are weapons. if you’re a peaceable citizen then you should have no restriction whatsoever on which type or knife you carry.

    The worst part about it is that you have very useful tools forbidden to you out of sheer idiocy. I know some little old ladies who discovered the joys of the switchblade knife when one of their members (a church group no less) found a switchblade in her late husbands possessions. She found it extremely handy because of her arthritis. When she showed it to the members of her ladies church group they seen the utility of such an item and decided to procure some for themselves. Alas the local stores didn’t carry them so one of the ladies had her grandson do some searching on the internet and in a few weeks they all had automatic opening knives. When I think of a group of elderly ladies all illegally carrying switchblade knives in their purses it warms my heart. And yes they know they’re breaking the law and they don’t care.

  5. In many areas–including entire states–it is illegal to carry a knife “for the purpose of combat” or “for the purpose of fighting.” (Language used varies.) With some designs it is difficult to argue that it was carried to open cartons or cut off sections of 1000 mph tape.

  6. Lawdog, sorry to change subjects on you, but… I was just browsing blogs and ran into a story on Obama’s birth place/age of his mother/etc. that basically has him as ineligible to be president. You happen to know anything about this? Is it valid? Horse Smoke being blown around? I’m asking you as one of the smarter people I’ve read on the net. has a copy of the lawsuit.

  7. Now that sucks! I did not know it was illegal.

    Re the Obama thing the suit was dismissed promptly. AOL has a discussion of it and other rumors concerning both candidates. There are plenty of reasons not to vote for either without smear tactics but people keep trying apparently. I will be glad when Wednesday ges here.

  8. I am considering a fixed bladed Kerambit style small knife. Would be single edged to comply with local legalities. What think you of the Kerambit?

  9. LD, are you sure about the Texas knife law? From what I’ve gathered after speaking with my ex-F-i-L (a Jefferson Co LEO) and others, as long as it’s single edged and less than 5 1/2″ blade, it’s legal to carry in Texas (not going into which restricted places overrule that). This would allow the Cold Steel Mini Pal and Urban Pal push knives and any other similar sized/designed blades. Now, their big dagger/double-edged Safe Keepers and Safe Makers are illegal under the ban on daggers in Tx, but that’s a different matter. The crazy bit is that it’s legal to buy and sell nearly any knife in Texas, but it may be illegal to carry it with you.

    Hmm, word verification: andie

  10. LawDog and others, check out Nice variation on the idea, and you lose the problem of keeping a hold of the thing in a fight, or if you switch to your firearm.

    I've had mine for a while now & it's been rather useful, and a number of my friends in the sandbox and other locales swear by them. YMMV.

  11. Personally, I’m not so keen on closed-fist striking, so that takes a bit out of the allure of push daggers. Although they are still pretty. 🙂

  12. CA has you beat as well,,

    The push knife is a felony here….along with a bunch of other items under 12020(a) PC

  13. checks our laws, but with my luck it’s out here also. Wisconsin doesn’t allow much of anything even bordering on fun.

  14. For whatever reason, Prohibited Weapons would make it illegal even for a cop to carry such things as “knuckles,” which a push knife might reasonably be construed as. (And which is actually a Class B misdemeanor, Sir LawDog.)

    I think you’d be okay if it were single-edged, with regard to status as a dagger. (which is 46.02, which you’re covered under, anyhow.

  15. “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    It’s not only about guns.

    — Smash the State

  16. Although firearms regulation is pre-empted by the state of Washington, Seattle bans “fixed balde knives of any length”… we have a Concealed Pistol License, not a concealed weapons license, unfortunately.

  17. “When I think of a group of elderly ladies all illegally carrying switchblade knives in their purses it warms my heart.”

    Hell’s Grannies? Someone should do a comedy skit about that.

  18. Here in sweden the law states(I translate):
    “Knives and other thrusting or cutting weapons that are suitable as weapons against life and health are illegal to posses in a public place, schoolgrounds, or vehicles in a public place.

    Stabbing weapons and knives where the blade is extended by a spring are illegal for possession by people under the age of 21.”

    You’d never even come under scrutiny for carrying say a multi-tool with a good blade though(my father does). Likewise carrying a knife while fishing or hunting won’t be frowned upon, nor any other knives that are tools for something other than fighting, so I guess by the law here, I could carry a damn good fighting blade, as long as it had a different main use(like those foldable multitools).

    Also note that the law does not distinguish between concealed or not.

    Word verification: picolo

  19. Mike Irie makes a bunch of different designs of Push daggers.

    I’m preferential to the old Pacific Cutlery (Benchmade) Kuma Zume. It’s more of a claw shape, but still T-handled.

    The other thing about these that you don’t mention is the possibility of them rotating in your hand so the blade is no longer forward. Most designs are poor in this regard.

  20. I once saw, at a gem and mineral show, a leaf-bladed push knife built pretty much like a corkscrew. The ‘T-handle’ was of a textured wood and round, shaped like an elongated barrel. I don’t know who made it, but he had a great idea in that it would be very difficult for it to turn in your hand and point the wrong way.

  21. IMHO, laws regarding weapons of any kind should be re-written so that ANY citizen with a clean record (NO violent/sex/drug-related crimes) can own and carry them, but unfortunately there are those idiots who pen laws that think that all people are stupid and need to be protected from themselves. Interestingly enough, here in Oregon, there is no length limit for a fixed blade carried openly (visible from at least three sides). On a personal note of preference, I have never really been keen on push blades, preferring the utility of a traditional knife. Sure, you sacrifice the powerful thrust, but you gain a lot more in utility with a traditional blade.

  22. LawDog,

    If you want to live in a knife-friendly state, then I would suggest South Dakota. It seems that they only have one knife law, and that law only prohibits the possession of “ballistic knives”.

    If you’re shopping around for a knife, you could always email me, you know. LE discount is in full effect.

  23. So there's this blade I want to buy and its considered a Katar as the metal serounds the hand and has a blade protruding out like a push daggers is this legal in michigan to open carry? Also I intend to carry for religious purposes, is there anything anyone can tell me on that?

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