Do You Prefer a Pocket Knife or Pepper Spray?

November 18, 2020

Do You Prefer a Pocket Knife or Pepper Spray?

Among the personal items that President Harry S. Truman left behind after his death was a pen knife. Many wondered why the president of the United States, arguably the most powerful person in the world, would need a knife. Further reflection revealed that Truman was once an artillery captain in World War I and came from a farm at a time when self-reliance was key to survival.

It is doubtful that President Truman ever used his pen knife for self-defense. Photographs of this item show a small folding knife with a blade about two inches long, more suited to cutting an errant piece of string than an assailant. 

All about Knives as Self-Defense

This brings us to our first important point (pun intended): if you carry a knife in your pocket to protect yourself or loved ones, do not carry a small folding/pen knife.

The second important point about knives for self-defense: if cutting the Thanksgiving Day turkey makes you squeamish, find another way to defend yourself. Fighting back with a knife is up close and personal, with lots of blood and body parts potentially flying around.

Third point: there are LOTS of knives out there.  Actually, a pen knife can have a blade that you fold and release. Or there is a “tactical” pen knife actually shaped like a pen (some even write) that is usually made from metal and can stab or slash. Most of these have small blades but are very concealable.

Larger folding knives fit in your pocket and are very popular. Most include a clip to put them in your pocket, but they can also be accessed quickly. Once removed from your pocket, you need to open the blade employing various methods, one of the simplest being just using your thumb.

Unfortunately, if used for self-defense, and with your hand wrapped around the handle, on rare occasions, the lock keeping the knife in place can break. This usually results in the loss of several fingers belonging to you and not the bad guy.

The ultimate self-defense knife is the fixed blade variety.  These knives come in many styles, scabbards/holsters, and price ranges. These knives are not for pocket use but instead are highly concealable using neck sheaths and a myriad of other concepts.

Knives vs. Pepper Spray

Pepper spray devices are almost as varied as knife selections. Some sprays are delivered by a handgun type device, but the most common variety are those attached to key chains. Be advised that key chain pepper spray needs to be deployed close to an assailant, whereas spray emanating from a handgun-type device can hit from farther away. Other considerations include how quickly you can access your spray and what happens if your device’s nozzle clogs or the spray is ineffective due to age.

All things mechanical can fail and, according to Murphy’s Law, will fail at the most inconvenient time.  Whether you use a knife or pepper spray for self-defense, know your tool’s strengths and weaknesses, always be situationally aware, and practice how to deliver a stinging response if attacked.

The bottom line in self-defense is: how effective is your response to the stimulus of being attacked? Moreover, you want to inflict as much pain as possible in the shortest amount of time so you can escape. The common citizen is generally NOT capable of a long-term encounter with an offender who is usually younger, stronger, has more fighting experience, and who may have accomplices.

Certainly, a knife, if used effectively, can be a deadly tool that will incapacitate, i.e., stop, an attacker.  Pepper spray, while initially able to incapacitate an assailant, wears off quickly, so it is more of a deterrent to criminal attack.  The important factor for users is, what are you comfortable doing to someone else if your life and health are in jeopardy? 

The MUNIO Self Defense Keychain Is a Third Option

Fortunately, there are alternatives to a knife and pepper spray.

To me, the MUNIO Self Defense Keychain is the best you will find.  It is always ready to use immediately if you carry it properly on your keychain. The MUNIO can stab like a knife, strike like an impact tool, and even slash if it is used in a flailing motion across the assailant’s eyes, face, arms, etc.

The MUNIO can strike an attacker and inflict enough pain and damage to disable the person so you can get away safely.

MUNIO keychains are the best tools to use for self-defense because of its practicality and versatility against a variety of attacks. While knives and pepper spray can be effective, you may find in some scenarios that you may not even be able to use them. For instance, in a bear hug over your arms from behindthe attacker’s tight grab can prevent you from being able to use or deploy your weapon.

However, the MUNIO Self Defense Keychain solves this problem. It is always at the ready. You can strike with the point, or whip with your keys. Because MUNIO is so versatile, you will be able to use it effectively - even in a challenging bear hug attack situation.

I am pretty sure if President Truman were alive today, he would have a MUNIO on his keychain.


Dr. Art Amann is an instructor in both Karate and Kung Fu, with over forty years of experience in the martial arts. He has a doctorate in education and has spent close to 20 years as an instructor and director of the Police Academy and the Public Safety Institute at Mercyhurst University. He is also the former Erie County Prison warden and chief adult probation/parole officer with a lot of experience to share from it. He is a certified instructor for MUNIO Self Defense Workshops, a PA Act 120 Academic Instructor, PA Act 235 Classroom and Defensive Tactics Instructor, PA Municipal Police Defensive Tactics Instructor, NRA Basic Pistol Instructor, and Pressure Point Control Tactics Instructor.



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