NOTE: Scroll down for knife recommendations…
Are throwing knives good to use as weapons in tactical situations? Is it ever a good idea to throw your knife – which may be your only weapon – at an attacker?
Those are some tough questions. Well in a way, they’re easy to answer. Anybody can blurt out their opinion (and I will too, about 5 seconds from now). But the consequences of following bad advice in a tactical situation could be disastrous.
Do You Really Want To Give Up Your Knife?
Once that knife leaves your hand, it’s gone. You only get one shot.
A good case can be made that in a self-defense situation, your knife will do you a lot more good if it’s held firmly in your hand. Someone might say that you shouldn’t ever throw your knife at an attacker, because…well, what if you miss?
But what if you don’t miss? What if that knife hits its target? So what? Will it matter?
This isn’t Call of Duty. In real life, it often takes a whole lot more to down an opponent than a single stab with a knife. So even if you stick your attacker, he might still be coming at you – except now he’s even more pissed and he’s got a knife!
So if you can’t hit a moving target every single time with enough force to knock the fight out of him (or even if you can), you’re probably going to want to hold onto it.
But what if the situation simply calls for striking from a distance? Are there such things as truly tactical throwing knives? Can throwing knives be used effectively as weapons?
Of course they can.
What Is A Tactical Throwing Knife?
Any knife you can throw effectively in a combat situation could be considered a tactical throwing knife. If you can manage to sink a throwing knife several inches deep into an attacker from ten feet away, that could certainly save your life. Even if that throw doesn’t incapacitate the attacker immediately, it might very well slow him down long enough for you and your party to escape with your lives. It might even make him change his mind and leave you alone, especially if you’ve still got another knife ready to go. And let’s face it, if you manage to sink a 10″ knife several inches deep into your attacker’s stomach, leg, shoulder, throat, etc., that just might end it right there.
So yes, there can be situations where you could effectively use throwing knives for self-defense. The bottom line is that if you’re going to throw your only knife at an opponent — and that is a big IF — then you’ve only got one shot, so you’d better be throwing a knife that can do the job. And you’d better already be very, very good at throwing it.
Otherwise, why throw it at all?
Of course, that’s assuming you only have one knife…
What Knives Are Best Then?
I couldn’t really find a lot of good info on this online, at least when it comes to using throwing knives, specifically. But there is an interesting thread on bladeforums about this topic (okay, there are probably several interesting threads…but this is one of them).
If you want to check it out: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/871966-combat-knife-throwing-I-m-not-kidding-you
Most forum threads on this topic quickly degrade into, “Throwing your knife is stupid, and you’re stupid…” shouting matches, but this particular thread managed to stay on topic and provide some useful thoughts.
Any knife that can effectively take down your opponent would be a good choice. That means that little spades and spikes are probably out. And most of those cheap little 6″ kunais are out too. If that’s all you got, then throw it and run. Perhaps that distraction is all you need to escape. But if you’re going to choose a knife for self-defense, why not choose something beefier?
I would think that something with some heft to it would be best for tactical throwing; something with decent blade length/penetration potential. A lightweight, short, thin knife might not do much damage, even if it does manage to stick. If it only penetrates an inch or so, what good is that? Some, but not much. Good as a distraction, maybe.
There are two ways to go, here:
(BUT FIRST, A QUICK NOTE: Knife laws vary from state to state (e.g. some prohibit daggers or butterfly knives). Understanding and following the knife laws in your state is your responsibility, so take the time to look into it…)
1. Modify A Throwing Knife For Tactical Value
You could start with a solid thrower and just sharpen the edges. This makes sense, because a throwing knife is designed to be thrown. It’s well-balanced for consistent performance, and it’s sturdy enough — or should be — to endure all those hours of throwing practice. Moderately-sized throwing knives would be ideal…big enough to do some damage, but small enough to be used for everyday carry.
This is probably the best way to go.
Here are some possible candidates, but be sure to check out the knife comparison chart, where dozens of knives are given a “tactical rating” to help you narrow down your choices. These three Cold Steel knives are excellent throwers, and unlike many other throwing knives, they also have real tactical value as handheld weapons. The Shanghai Shadow may better be classed as a tactical knife, but it’s fairly well balanced for throwing. The finger ring can make no-spin throws a challenge, however.
Overall, the True Flight and GI Tanto are my top picks for tactical throwers, but you may feel otherwise…
Cold Steel True Flight Thrower
Cold Steel G.I. Tanto
Cold Steel Shanghai Shadow
2. Learn To Consistently Throw A Tactical Knife
The other route would be to start out with a good quality tactical knife, and then simply learning to throw it effectively. You’ll also want to learn to throw without spin too. Spin throwing requires all the different factors (e.g. distance, body position, planetary alignment) to be JUST RIGHT, but no-spin techniques allow for more leeway. Ralph Thorn’s combat knife throwing motto comes to mind: “Any Knife, Any Angle, Any Position, No Games, No Gimmicks, No Limits.”
For a quick but useful look at no-spin tactical knife throwing, check out this video from MegaWinfrey on Youtube. (“Now, Daniel-san…show me…PAINT THE CEILING!”)
So you could start with a knife that has value as a handheld weapon, and then learn how to throw it reliably. That way you’ve got a weapon that is versatile and truly effective for self-defense, whether thrown or handheld.
So are there any good tactical knives that are also balanced well enough to make good throwers?
Here are some possible candidates:
(Note: I threw in the Recon 1 just for fun (see the video). It CAN be thrown, but it’s not IDEAL for throwing.)
Smith & Wesson SWHRT9B Black HRT Boot Knife
Cold Steel Peace Keeper I
Cold Steel Recon 1 (G-10)
What Do You Think?
Many good throwing knives are worthless as handheld weapons due to their impossibly dull edges or lack of grip, and many good combat knives are worthless for throwing due to balance issues or relatively weak/clunky handles. If you could have only one knife for tactical purposes — one that could be effective both handheld or thrown — what would it be?
DISCLAIMER: This article is for “purely entertainment purposes only” and should not be taken seriously as advice of any kind. Throwing knives at people can get you in BIG TROUBLE. When faced with a life or death tactical situation, please immediately consult your attorney before throwing your knife at someone who is trying to kill you. It may help to keep an attorney on speed dial in case of tactical situations such as these. The owner of this website cannot be held liable for anything you do or do not do with your throwing knives.