The Cutting Edge

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Anthony Bourdain Carries Credit Card Knife for Self-Defense

Anthony Bourdain is no stranger to travel.

The host of travel show “Parts Unknown,” which is entering its ninth season, spends more than 200 days a year on the road.

And in a short travel write-up with The New York Times, Bourdain revealed the five things he can’t travel without. He always has to take moleskin notebooks, books, something to rest his head on at airports or on planes, a few jujitsu uniforms, and a “hidden knife.”

Image from Lwp Kommunikáció on Flickr

That’s right, Bourdain keeps a hidden knife on him when visiting shady places. Here’s his rationale:

“If it’s a place with heavy street crime, I have this sneaky credit card that turns into a knife. It’s not something you’d want to get into a serious fight with, but it might be a rude surprise should someone grab you from behind as you enter your hotel room.”

From the image accompanying the article in the Times, Bourdain carries a Cardsharp from Iain Sinclair. This is one of the most popular credit card knives, which you can pick up for about $10, but it may be a mistake.

Why the Cardsharp is awful for self-defense

1) If someone grabs you from behind as you enter your hotel room, this knife is several steps removed from coming in handy. First, you have to take your wallet out of your pocket and pull the knife out. Then you have to go through the laborious process of opening it.  Here are the three steps you need to do to open it up.

By the time the knife is out and engaged, it could be too late.

2) It’s not durable. In a pinch, the knife can be useful when open, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. In fact, you may be better off simply using your keys or even a hotel key, which can be used to slash at an attacker’s eyes. There are ton of reviews saying the knife is not sturdy or well-built. In a real scuffle, there’s a good possibility of it failing in your hand.

3) The knife is considered illegal in many places. For example, Canada has been cracking down on these knives and some places consider them illegal because they are “disguised.” I believe the UK might even see them as fixed blades. Overall, carrying these knives (abroad especially) can be tricky. You can also get in trouble if you forget it’s in your wallet and go someplace like a government building or airport.

4) It can lull you into a false sense of security. I’ve heard some people say they feel invincible when they carry a gun or knife, but that’s far from the truth. You can be just as vulnerable if you’re not paying attention to your surroundings. This isn’t so much a problem with the knife as a problem with the knife carrier’s mentality, however.

CardSharp Alternatives

While knives don’t make the best self-defense tools, they can be useful if things get really bad. However, if you’re going to carry a knife for self-defense, someone like Bourdain is better served carrying one of the following knives.

Spyderco PITS Folder

First, I would recommend carrying a traditional folding knife that doesn’t lock. You can toss these in your suitcase and carry them to many countries since they are not locking knives. A knife like the Spyderco PITS is designed with UK laws in mind and has a mechanism that makes it even more reliable despite being a slip joint. You can open it quickly with one hand. Plus, it has a deep carry wire clip that makes it more discreet.

The major risk is closure during a fight.

KA-BAR TDI LDK (Last Ditch Knife)

If you’re insistent on carrying something in your wallet, make sure it’s easy to take out. The KA-BAR TDI Last Ditch Knife is a last resort knife you can pull out quickly and easily and do some damage. It’s about the size of a credit card and can fit into your wallet. Just be aware that it may be illegal in some countries.

KA-BAR/Snody Crisis Card

Mike Snody is known for his Crisis Card design and it was finally picked up by KA-BAR a few years ago. It’s a titanium card that fits into your wallet and features a sharpened edge and some grooves for gripping it. The card is designed as a last-ditch tool to protect yourself if necessary or a convenient tool for cutting things on the go.

The legality of the Crisis Card is a bit tricky, but I imagine it would be easier to justify than the Cardsharp.

1 Comment

  1. Very impressive review with a good amount of facts. Nicely done.

    Thank you,

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