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.