I hear from people all the time that are concerned about self-defense. While it is always easy to suggest that people get a concealed carry permit and keep a gun, that is not possible or even legal for some people. I also have to point out that we have an international readership at Backdoor Survival which means that some readers live in countries where owning a firearm is limited, illegal, or so cost-prohibitive that it is not possible for the masses.
While I have written plenty of articles in the past on weapons, I have never explored the world of keychain defense devices as thoroughly as I should. This article is just a few items that stood out to me when researching what was out there. I have tried to include a variety of recognized brands that I know stand behind their products such as CRKT.
These tools are designed for personal defense and while I don’t think you need to spend a lot of money for something decent, I also don’t feel comfortable recommending products to you that is obviously just generic feel-good devices. In other words, this is not an area where one shouldn’t be cautious.
Generally speaking, keychain defense tools require some strength and force to use.
Unless your keychain defense tool is electric or a spray, the amount of strength and dexterity you have is going to affect how well the weapon actually performs in a self-defense situation. While one could say that about almost any weapon, when it comes to something that is small and used to punch, bludgeon, or stab, this is more of a concern. Realizing ability levels is an important part of making the right choice of defensive weapons. Don’t be fooled into buying things because they look cool or are labeled the latest and greatest. Choose the right weapon for you.
Keychain defense weapons allow for carry in places where other things are not okay to have on you for defense.
Something that is discreet and on your keychain is going to get looked over in most cases. Those that work in some buildings or industries may not be able to carry anything, including a pocket knife, into their place of work. That severely limits what can be used for self-defense when needed. I recommend that people that work in these environments learn how to defend themselves with some everyday objects as well as seek out items that are discreet such as key chain defense weapons.
While keychain weapons are often considered non-lethal, if wielded a certain way, you could kill someone.
Never assume just because something is not thought of as lethal, that it is incapable of causing death. There is a risk to using any weapon. Tasers can cause cardiac issues in some people. Pepper spray may cause a more severe reaction or allergy in someone. Any jabbing or punching with enough force can cause death too. Less lethal is more accurate than saying non-lethal.
I included these because they are functional but inexpensive enough to have a lot of on hand for defense and even improvised weaponry during SHTF times. These are a bit pointy so while discreet in some ways, they to stand out if you see the whole thing. I like that the shape is made so that your fingers have grooves so you have less chance of losing your weapon when you need it the most.
This device is a little more obscure looking. The average person is not necessarily going to look at this keychain and think it is a weapon. This is a decent punch assistance device for those with the strength to wield it. This is likely not going to get confiscated if you go in somewhere that has a strict no-weapons policy. It is also TSA friendly for those that travel at times. You might not get something like the kubaton previously described through some security.
Note on Pepper Spray: Spray is nice to have for defense but there are some things you should know about it. First of all, if you think your kids are going to get a hold of your keys, you need to get in the habit of putting them away better now. Even just a little squirt of pepper spray is pretty awful.
You have to be careful how you spray it too and remember to put distance between you and the person or animal quickly. If it is windy or you aim wrong, you can get it in your eyes too. Anything that gets maced, is going to be angry and hurt and may lash out even more violently. Mace is to buy you a little time and make it harder but it is not everything.
Keychain mace is a good choice for some. This small canister is fairly discreet looking when the cap except for where it says Mace on it. I would put black duct tape over that if it was me.
This is the name brand stuff too and the price is right.
I was a little confused by the description of this kit at first. I thought that the pepper spray fitted into the same tube that the taser was in or something. That is not the case. This is a kit that gives you a taser that looks like a lipstick tube and a small can of pepper spray. One is discreet and the other is not. I don’t see a way to put the taser on a keychain. The pepper spray is not that discreet but you could change that by putting a small case over it.
So this affordable kit would offer you key chain pepper spray and a small discreet taser for your purse.
This keychain device kind of offers it all. Not only do you get a stun gun that is very discreet looking, but you also get a really loud alarm to use as well. The flashlight function is always handy to have. This is a very affordable option that doesn’t stand out. It is actually amazing how small this is.
It comes with a holster as well so it can be protected from daily wear and tear.
CRKT keeps it simple with this oversized key for self-defense. Now, this really blends into your keychain! The head of the key is designed to provide extra grip and the beefy build of the whole key makes it offer a lot of potential damage. If you have even moderate strength this would be a very dangerous key.
SOG makes some neat stuff. If I saw this on first glance my first guess would be a flashlight or pen. The reality is that SOG has created a kubaton that has a glass breaker, firestarter, and whistle built-in. I have touched the end of a glass breaker before and it is not pleasant. For discreet protection with some extra features, this is one option for a key chain self-defense weapon.
This is a very sturdy kubaton with a keen tip. This solid stainless steel spike features finger grooves for a nonslip grip. Don’t get me wrong, any metal is going to have some slip factor but the grooves only allow for so much.
The downside is that this a pretty big and going to stand out a lot. You certainly are not going to be sticking that in your pocket. I recommend making sure it is attached so you can remove it easily since there will be times where you can’t have something that big on your keys.
Nothing wrong with something that can be used for some basic tasks as well as self-defense. This attaches to your keychain via a built-in carabiner. The chisel end would be a nasty thing to come in contact with. In fact it looks mean enough that I would be tempted to find a small piece of something to keep it covered with for regular carry. I can be pretty clumsy at times and I could see myself cutting my finger on this.
The hollowed out design is handy for getting a decent grip for punching and doing whatever it takes.
This is actually a very discreet but also potentially deadly weapon. There is no way you are not going to make someone feel a lot of pain with this. It is also incredibly discreet, looking more like a sleek pen or maybe laser pointer than a weapon. I wouldn’t recommend trying to fly with this or getting it past a checkpoint. While discreet to the general eye, it is pretty obvious on further examination the real damage potential.
If you are not in places where knives are not allowed, this is a somewhat discreet keychain knife. If you were not paying a lot of attention it would just seem like a beefy carabiner, similar to those used for actual rock climbing.
This is just a basic little blade that can be useful for everyday use as well. I cannot be sure how good the quality actually is for daily use though so you may want to not use it for daily tasks.
The Bone Breaker is basically a legal set of steel knuckles when you get right down to it. It is easy to attach or remove from your keychain using a carabiner as seen in the picture.
I like how this tactical pen can be turned into a T- style weapon too. I used to feel skeptical about tactical pens until I actually used a carbide tip to break a windshield. Now I have more confidence that a tactical pen with a carbide tip, even if it is a cheap one, is a decent weapon. This pen is made of tungsten so it has some heft and strength to it. Since it is a pen, it is not going to attract a lot of attention and can be taken to a lot of places where other self-defense options are not realistic.
This is just a larger and less discreet can of name brand Mace for your keychain. If you are more comfortable with a larger can and don’t mind a more obvious one, then you might consider this.
I like that this keychain offers a lot of different features and that more than one can be used for self-defense. The awl, knife, or screwdrivers could be used for defense. I use a lot of the things on this keychain tool during the course of my daily life. Although Matt and I keep flashlights posted at various places, we sometimes forget to put one back in the truck since we don’t use it daily.
A small light on a keychain makes sense for many reasons. While this does have a knife on it, the size and shape of the whole unit are very discreet. No one is going to just glance at this and assume you have a knife.
This plastic multi-tool is made to make punches and jabs do more damage. It comes with a clip to keep it on your belt. This is definitely a very easy defense tool to take anywhere. The finger hole helps out with control and grip similar to a real karambit. For some people, this might be a good tool for other uses, but it is mostly a self-defense tool when you get right down to it.
While this is not technically a keychain, I think that using a lanyard or carabiner for a loop and attaching this to your keychain would make for a formidable self-defense tool. This comes with adaptors so that it can fit various sizes of fingers so no need to worry about it not fitting.
This is capable of causing some major cuts and gouges. It is good that it comes with a decent cover for protecting the tip when not in use.
This is probably the meanest looking pink thing I have seen in a long time. I like the design because it gives you various options for gripping the weapon. The points are also placed to help keep your hand where it needs to be. This is not really that discreet but if that doesn’t matter, then there is a major advantage to having more choices in how to hold and punch over a regular kubaton.
This is a pretty strange looking multi-tool with a knife blade. I think it may look kind of confusing if someone just saw it dangling from a keychain and was not familiar with the CRKT logo.
I think this is just a neat tool, especially if you are the type of person that finds themselves picking up their keys a lot but sometimes forgetting their knife in yesterday’s pants.
CRKT has really come a long way over the years. I remember when you mostly just saw a few pocket knives from them. I am glad to see they are always bringing out innovative tools and knives that are affordable and good quality.
The Guppie is designed by Launce Barber of Williamsburg, VA and features an adjustable crescent wrench, bottle opener, and bit drivers, along with an LED light. I am actually planning on buying this for Matt. I think it would come in handy in addition to his Leatherman.
Of course, you also get a knife blade that can be used for defense. I like that this doesn’t look like a typical keychain multi-tool as well.
Conclusion: Keychain weapons are a good idea for those that cannot carry other weapons and as a backup weapon for those that can.
There is nothing wrong with having many different ways to protect yourself. Most of the time I have several on my person if I am out and about but what I have depends on the rules and social situation.
Keys are the one thing that a lot of people have on them most of the time and are forced to remember so having something attached to the keychain that can be used for self-defense ensures that they have a weapon on them more often than not.
Do you carry anything on your keychain for defense? Have you ever had to use a keychain defense tool?