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Cops weigh in: Where to carry your backup tactical knife

When your firearm isn’t an option, a backup tactical knife can be a lifesaver


Photo/Lindsey Bertomen

Whether it’s cutting a seat belt after a crash or defending yourself from a hostile suspect when your firearm isn’t an option, a backup tactical knife can be a lifesaver.

A recent officer-submitted tip cautioned officers to carry a backup tactical combat knife opposite your strong side in case that arm becomes disabled in a collision or a fight. This brought up some debate among other officers on what kind of knives they carry on duty, and where they believe is the best place to carry them.

Police officers DEBATE: where’S the best place to carry a backup TACTICAL knife?

  • “I carry three knives for just such an occasion. My first is carried strong side, in my blackjack pocket. It is just at arm’s length, so it is easy to get and the draw can be concealed very easily. The second is carried in a lanyard type sheath under my shirt, and is a longer type handle which I can access with either hand, through the opening between the buttons of my shirt. The third one is smaller and is located in the trauma plate area of my vest. All three are easily accessible. Make sure that you as an officer are able to wield that knife as well as you do the gun you carry because without the proper skill, it will just be another liability for you to watch out for.”
  • “I carry a SOG Twitch XL on my weak side, in my rear pants pocket. It’s quick to deploy, thanks to the removable clip, and the blade rides tip up, so all I have to do is grab it and flick the top finger catch. I considered an automatic, but all of them I found are designed for right hand deployment. I carry this knife in the same position even off-duty, and through daily use, it’s built-in muscle memory for me to get to it quick.”
  • “It should not really matter where you carry a knife, just as long as you can access it when needed. Being able to deploy a back up weapon such as a knife takes practice and muscle memory. In fact, carrying two knives would make far more sense. Many officer wear boots and a good concealable boot knife can be accessed in any position.”
  • “Great advice from everyone...but please remember, if you carry your folding blade on your weak side, you MUST practice its deployment. If you don’t practice, consider wearing a fixed blade instead. When it hits the fan, you DO NOT want to learn that you can’t operate your folding blade with your weak hand.”
  • “Interesting to hear how many carry their knife clipped to their body armor. Have you considered the implications if an incoming round were to hit the knife? We got away from steel trauma plates because of the ricochet and splatter hazard from the bullet hitting a hard surface. Considering where most officers keep it clipped to the vest, it is likely the bullet and/or fragments could be angled up into the soft tissue of the neck and the major arteries found there.”
  • “Call me crazy, paranoid, or prepared, but I carry a knife in every pocket. I’ve always been able to get to one of them in some very bad situations. When your strong arm (gun side) is taken away by a 120 lb junkyard dog it’s nice to know I’ve got options. P.S. My backup side arm is pocketed into my vest.”

NEXT: 8 tactical knives for police officers

This article, originally published 8/1/2007, has been updated.

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