Lethal Force vs Stopping Power

A knife is a commonly carried self-defense weapon. That might not be the knife’s primary purpose but I’d guess that most folks who carry one would rank self-defense among the top three reasons why they have it. Yet, relatively few of those who pack a blade truly understand how to use it against another human being. A large part of it is proper training, of course, but some of it is just a general lack of knowledge.

I agree 100% that a firearm is often the preferred weapon for self-defense. However, there are many times when a blade will do the job quicker. Not to mention situations where carrying a firearm just isn’t feasible or practical.

Lethal force and stopping power are not one and the same. The presence of one does not guarantee the other. Nailing someone’s foot to the floor has great stopping power but isn’t necessarily lethal. Injecting someone with a high dose of cyanide is lethal but isn’t necessarily going to stop them in their tracks.

If you are in an violent encounter, you need your adversary to stop. That may or may not mean putting them down permanently. All too often, people confuse the two and believe lethal force is the only acceptable response to a threat. While it might be justified, it doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily win the altercation unscathed. I look at it like this — if I can get the attack to stop, I can decide from that point how I want to proceed. Like it or not, there are also legal issues to consider. More than one person has prevailed against their attacker, only to end up in court facing criminal charges and/or a civil lawsuit. I’m not saying it is right. I’m not saying it is fair. But, know this — a jury can sympathize with you all they want but they can’t create new laws nor change existing laws, they can only interpret the laws and apply them to your case. Same goes for the judge.

(And please, save the “dead men tell no tales” crap for the tavern or locker room. In this day and age, it would be rare to have something go down and have it not end up on someone’s YouTube feed.)

The thing is, many of the commonly thought of tactics with a knife actually don’t have much in the way of immediate stopping power.

Let’s say something happens and you end up using your knife against someone in self-defense. Even if you manage to score a “hit” on a major blood vessel like the carotid artery, this isn’t going to automatically cause your attacker to fall to their knees and give up. It can take a full minute, possibly longer, for them to lose enough blood to seriously impact their ability to function. The whole time they are bleeding, they can continue attacking you. This is especially true if they are under the influence of one or another substance that deadens pain.

Rather than hope they bleed out quickly or try for some sort of instant kill move, stop the attack by taking away their ability to move. Target the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that are the structures that provide mobility. For example, if you slash a deep cut across their biceps, the attacker will find it difficult to use that arm against you. The biceps is essential in lifting the forearm. The pectoral muscle also is important for arm movement. Cut it deeply and take that arm out of the equation, so to speak.

It doesn’t matter what drugs they may have consumed prior to meeting up with you. If you sever the tendons in their forearm, they lose their ability to grip an object with that hand. Slice through the hamstrings on the back of the thigh and they’ll not be able to walk.

Stopping the attack gives you the time you need to either escape, the preferred option in most cases, or take the attacker down permanently. Cutting them randomly and having them fall to the ground like a vampire that’s been staked in a horror movie just isn’t going to happen. Seek out training if at all possible. Have a plan and know at a molecular level what you’re capable of doing to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Review: Gossman Knives Deer Creek

Guest review by Mike Travis

When I think of a Gossman knife, I think of a blade that can chop through trees and split them into kindling. Scott is renowned for making extreme duty, hard use blades. Honestly, if I wanted to equip myself with the biggest, baddest and toughest blade I could get my hands on, I would reach for a Gossman every time.

However, confining Scott Gossman’s knives to only this category would be a big mistake. Gossman knives are capable of much, much more than the extreme duties conjured up in a post-apocalyptic fantasy.

Case in point is the knife we have as the subject of this article. When Scott designed the Deer Creek in 2010, he wanted to make a good, all around woods knife that could still stand up to some hard use.

Making a hard use knife that can still do fine, precision work is no easy task. When you first pick up the Deer Creek, you instantly notice the heft and the substantial handle design. You then notice how good that handle feels! When I first gripped the knife, I thought the handle might be too large for my hands. My hands are right on the lower end of fitting into a size large glove. Within a few minutes, I knew the handle would not only not be too big, but that it would be an absolute pleasure to use. I passed the Deer Creek to my wife, whose hands are considerably smaller than mine. She too remarked at how good the handle felt. The handles are made from ⅜” canvas micarta slabs. They have been gently contoured and left unpolished to provide maximum grip under all conditions.

The Deer Creek features a 4 ¾” blade with a 4 ½” cutting edge. It has a 9 ½” overall length and is made with 3/16” stock. With these dimensions you might think the Deer Creek would be not much more than a sharpened pry bar. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This blade uses a full flat grind and a broad spear point design that is 1 ½” at its thickest point. This gives the Deer Creek excellent cutting geometry. The Deer Creek is delivered with a convex edge that leaves enough metal behind the edge to give it strength while still leaving the edge thin enough to cut like a proper knife should.

While I gravitate toward knives with a scandinavian edge for use in the woods, I have a strong affinity for knives with a full flat grind for general purpose use. Scandi knives are unmatched in their ability to do woodwork, but they are less than ideal for food prep, and their zero ground edges can be more prone to damage when doing heavier work. A well made knife with a full flat grind does extremely well when working with wood and is a joy to use when cutting meat and vegetables.

Knives with a full flat grind are excellent slicers and the Deer Creek is no exception. Coupled with the broad blade design and the 3/16” thick stock, the Deer Creek is also adept at light chopping and batoning. The knife is truly a jack of all trades.

I find the simple styling of the Deer Creek to be very visually appealing. It is delivered with a high-quality, deep carry leather sheath that would look right at home on the belt of a cowboy riding the range or a frontiersman trapping and hunting his way through the Rockies.

My Deer Creek is made with A2 tool steel with Gossman’s proprietary heat treat and cryo quench treatment. While Scott offers this knife in a variety of different super steels, I prefer the A2 model for its combination of ease of sharpening, edge holding, toughness, and corrosion resistance.

During my time with the Deer Creek, I used it to prepare dinner, do some light carving, baton wood for a fire, and make a big pile of feather sticks. Those feather sticks were quickly sparked into flame using a ferro rod and the Deer Creek’s 90º spine.

In all my time using the Deer Creek, I never felt myself wishing I had chosen another knife. It is an outstanding blade and one any outdoorsman worth his salt would be proud to own and use.

Wasp Spray for Self-Defense? Think Again!

Enough with the recommendations about using wasp spray for self-defense! This is an incredibly bad idea all the way around. (more…)

Senior Citizen Emergency Preps

In the last month or two, I’ve received more than a couple of messages from readers who are seeking more information on suggestions for senior citizens who want to prep for emergencies. Today, we’ll discuss a few things seniors can do to help be better prepared for disasters at home. We’re not going to get into care facilities in this installment. We’ll address that in a later post. For now, if you have a loved one who is living at a care facility, please be sure to have a discussion with the folks in charge of the facility to find out what the plans are in the event of major emergencies. Same thing goes if you or your senior receives in-home care assistance. Talk to the care provider about what provisions are made in the event of severe weather or other situations that might preclude the caregiver from making their scheduled visit. This includes programs like Meals on Wheels, too. (more…)

Review – Nordsmith Lapwing

I’ll tell you this right up front — the Lapwing is my first Nordsmith knife but it for damn sure won’t be my last. I’ve been playing around with the Lapwing for a couple of weeks now and it has become my go to fixed blade for all sorts of jobs around the house, especially food prep. It is a smallish knife and very nimble. (more…)

Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide 2: What the hell is going on?

Recently, Amazon sent out emails to those who have pre-ordered Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide 2, letting them know that the book was “unavailable” and that they didn’t know when it would be in stock. A few of you contacted me privately asking for more info and I’m sure there are others out there wondering what’s going on. (more…)

New Class Announcement: Bug Out – Stay Safe

Date: April 28, 2018
Time: 9:00AM – 4:00PM
Location: Guardian Range, Cottage Grove, WI (address provided at time of registration)
Cost: $70.00 (more…)