Hideout knives are analogous to pocket pistols, like this Seecamp pocket pistol formerly carried by the late Col. Rex Applegate.

If you’ve been around the self-defense world for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a “hideout” knife. These tiny blades are designed to be conveniently tucked away to avoid detection, yet provide just enough of a surprise weapon to “turn the tide” in a defensive situation.

I will confess that I have always had a fascination with “spy” weapons and gadgets, especially those with sharp edges and points. As a knife collector and historian, I find items like classic WWII SOE lapel daggers and similar esoterica very interesting. However, as a student of practical self-defense and the realities of knife wounds, I also understand what it takes to stop an attacker with an edged weapon. With these two conflicting interests in mind, it’s only natural to ask what place hideout knives actually have in realistic self-defense and, if they have a place, how we can use them to the best effect.

Reality Check
First of all, let’s be real. No matter how cool a lapel dagger or other hideout knife might be, because of its small size, it will never be as potent a weapon as a more substantial blade. Furthermore, though it’s tempting to believe that there are super-secret targets on the human body that will produce instant death or incapacitation when targeted with an inch of sharp steel, there really aren’t.

As with any other knife, the first step in evaluating a hideout knife as a weapon is to realistically quantify its wounding potential. And the first step in doing that is to take a hard look at its blade geometry and handle design.

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