Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spyderco Delica:Is it enough knife for personal defense?

A frequent question people have is what is a suitable knife to carry for self-defense. In theory, a bigger knife is usually better, but sometimes we are limited by the law or it is simply impractical & burdensome to carry a large knife. If I knew I was going into harms way, I would opt to have a full size fixed blade over a small tactical folder, but for legality and practicality, a small tactical Folder is the most practical choice & simply makes the most sense. 
             The Spyderco "clip-its" have been around for quite awhile and are still one my first recommendations to someone wanting a affordable tactical folder. The Endura has a blade length of just under 4" while the Delica's blade is just shy of 3". Spyderco makes training versions of each knife for safe practice and training. The Endura is probably the better choice if not restricted by local laws on blade length, but if restricted to under 3", the Delica is by no means inadequate for the job of self-protection. There was a discussion on the Spyderco Forum about the Delica's suitability for defense and knife guru Michael Janich gave some rather compelling testimony to the Delica's self-defense capability. Here's what Janich had to say......

     The Delica is an outstanding knife that meets the needs of personal defense extremely well. I have been carrying two of them on a daily basis for about 10 years and train with them regularly (largely thanks to the fact that Spyderco makes a purpose-designed training version of the knife).

I also typically use a Delica in my "pork man" cutting demonstrations in which I use a target constructed of a pork roast lashed around a wooden dowel (to represent bone) and covered with numerous layers of plastic wrap (to replicate skin). I cover this with a leg from a pair of jeans and illustrate that a single cut from a well-designed, properly sharpened three-inch blade will cut the target "to the bone," representing disabling that limb. This is demonstrated in this video on YouTube (which I actually produced for local law enforcement and never intended for the YouTube audience):
As for information on using a Delica responsibly, I recommend my video "Martial Blade Concepts: The Enhanced Version," which is available exclusively from Stay Safe Media:
It specifically addresses the use of small, legally-permissible knives like the Delica as personal defense weapons, focusing on the idea of understanding their potential, understanding human anatomy, and using that knowledge to reliably stop an attacker.
This question comes up a lot. To determine an answer, I did a bunch of live-blade testing on pork men with various types of "clothing" over them. I was particularly interested in the performance of different edge types against very loose clothing--particularly the crotch-to-the-knees gangbanger-style pants.

     What I found was that serrations tended to "grab" very loose clothing and move it over the target, dissipating the force of the cut and greatly reducing the ability of the edge to penetrate the clothing. Properly sharpened plain edges--especially those with superior edge profile (not too much belly) and superior edge geometry cut much cleaner and with much greater effect on the underlying target.

      I recently did an interesting pork man demo for a TV show called Don't Be a Victim that will be airing on SPIKE starting in July. It's basically "inspired" by The Best Defense and I will be demonstrating a variety of personal-defense skills as part of the "Practical Tactical" (I didn't choose that name) segment. To demonstrate the cutting power of a small knife, I built a 20-pound pork man that was literally the size of a large man's thigh. We taped it to a grappling dummy (basically a heavy bag with arms and legs) to support it and put the target into context. I then whacked it with a ballistic cut from a Rock Salt, producing pretty devastating cut about 7 inches long, which did not go all the way to the dowel/"bone." Popping a Delica, did the same thing, producing a slightly longer cut that DID go all the way to the dowel/"bone." In fact, when it popped out the other side, it actually cut the other leg on the leather dummy (Oops. Glad it wasn't my dummy.). Why? Because with the shorter blade, the cut becomes more of a pressure cut, since it's easier to transfer energy from the hand to the blade. Longer blades are longer levers, so it's harder to apply constant pressure all the way to the point. They therefore rely more on ballistic energy to cut efficiently.

       If you can legally carry the Endura and it's a comfortable fit for you, it's probably a better choice. Due to their slightly larger size, Enduras are easier to draw and open. They will also cut deeper than Delicas. With all that said, if the Delica is a better fit and is more convenient for you, it will serve you just fine.

I hope this helps.
Stay safe,
Michael Janich
Spyderco Special Projects Coordinator
Founder and Lead Instructor, Martial Blade Concepts


 EDIT NOTE: The above quotes by Mr.Janich are sections of posts that have been taken from three different posts by him on that particular thread on the Spyderco forum and used here with his permission.