There are a lot of knifemakers who make excellent folders designed for tough use and to get you out of a scrape if necessary. There are also a lot of defensive instructors with decades of experience who can teach you exactly how to best use your defensive knife. However, there are only a small number of people who fit both categories, and Brian Hoffner is most certainly one of them.
Hoffner, a black belt in the art of Goju Ryu, has over 30 years of law enforcement experience as a patrol officer and a firearms/defensive tactics instructor in Texas. His comprehensive defensive training programs for law enforcement and civilians incorporate lessons learned from hands-on, real-world experience, including empty-hand defenses as well as folding knife tactics and pistol, shotgun and patrol rifle courses.
Hoffner’s tactical experience has led him to his latest venture—designing the ultimate fighting folder. At first glance, the Hoffner Flatline Defensive Folding Knife appears like a fairly traditional folder, but every aspect of its design is based on Hoffner’s experience in law enforcement.
“Look at what features I did not include on my knife, such as flippers, levers, skulls and everything else an attorney can use against you in court,” noted Hoffner. Even the knife’s name is intended to be non-threatening.
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This liner-locking folding knife features a 3.5-inch, 440C stainless steel, spear-point blade with a false edge that aids in penetration and helps lighten the blade itself. The Hoffner Flatline also features ambidextrous thumb stud opening for fast deployment. The blade is available with either a standard or partially serrated blade, which can be especially handy in tough cutting situations with thick rope or seat belts. The knife’s handles are made from black G10 with an aggressive texture for a solid grip.
You also get a reversible pocket clip with each knife. However, due to the knife’s design and intended use, your only option is tip-down carry. The spring-steel clip does allow the knife to sit low in the pocket and become almost invisible from the outside. Combine it with dark-colored pants and no one will know you are carrying it. The pommel also features a lanyard hole for added retention.
Ready To Defend
The blade itself is fairly conventional, but it is the handle that encompasses the most distinctive combat elements. Hoffner designed the blade to work in conjunction with his specific knife self-defense techniques. The scales feature “indexing divots”—deep, round, thumb-sized impressions that feature the American Tactical Apparel logo. These are designed as tactical pivot points to allow the operator to more easily and quickly perform transitions and switch styles from a hammer or saber grip to a reverse or spine-pick grip.
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The ergonomic shape of the handle and its aggressive serrations along the pommel provide a very secure grip. Combined with the textured G10 grip panels, the effect is to lock the knife in hand even in wet conditions. When this feature is combined with the indexing divots, it allows the user to get a rearward grip, which extends the blade’s striking reach by 1.5 inches.
In an attack, you may not have time to fully deploy your defensive folder, and Hoffner has added a flat bolster at the front with sharp and very aggressive serrations. With the blade closed, these offer a less-lethal striking surface, which also provides the operator with the option of using the knife as a defensive tool without having to deploy the blade. Instead of being flat, the pommel comes to a distinct point, which provides additional striking capabilities for use as a compliance tool when applied to pressure points on an assailant.
In defensive applications, there are several methods that Hoffner advocates. He prefers carrying the folder in the support-side front pocket. This allows for a casual “thumb hooked in the pocket” look while prepping the knife inconspicuously for a fast deployment if needed. This is similar to the “hands in the pocket with a pocket pistol” method, which allows the user to have his hand on the grip of his pistol for a very fast draw while looking non-threatening on the outside.
In the icepick or spine-pick grip, the thumb acts as a counterbalance to prevent the blade from slipping out of the hand. This grip also allows a strong defensive stance with the support arm up to protect the head, with the blade, facing outward, angled along the length of the forearm. The icepick grip has another advantage in that it is very effective against attacks from the rear, such as an assailant attempting a chokehold or an arm lock.
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The sabre stance is also very popular as an offensive technique. This stance allows the maximum distance between the defender and an assailant for thrusting attacks while also providing a high degree of mobility and speed for slashing attacks. This distance is extended by an additional 1.5 inches with the Hoffner knife’s rearward grip, essentially giving the operator the equivalent of an extra 1.5 inches of blade length.
The Hoffner knife defense system is comprehensive, and he teaches it in the four-hour Basic Defensive Folding Knife Training course. In conjunction with the knife, Hoffner has also developed a DVD of his knife-defense techniques that is available independently or as part of a package with the knife. The package includes a red training blade. The training blade has the same handle design and blade materials as the live blade, but the blade is 0.5 inches shorter and is rounded and dulled. It is still made from steel so caution should be exercised when training with thrusting attacks with a live partner. It can be very effective when training at full speed against a sparring dummy.
The Defensive Folding Knife Training DVD is 60 minutes long and allows the student to proceed at their own pace and review specific techniques for practice and training at home. Among the topics covered on the training DVD is a discussion of the different types of carry folders and their advantages. Hoffner also covers mindset, which is key to defensive knife use, the different defensive stances to use against an assailant and proper carry techniques.
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Of course, the most important aspect of carrying a defensive folder is achieving rapid deployment. The Hoffner training DVD covers specific techniques for fast deployment that should be practiced. These include the traditional thumb flip into the saber grip position and deployment of the blade directly into the icepick or spine-pick position. This is accomplished by gripping the knife handle and using the fingers to push out on the thumb stud while flicking the blade open.
Hoffner covers effective transitions between the grip styles while discussing the advantages of each one and specific techniques to use with each style of grip.
For more information, call 281-855-8800 or visit http://www.hoffners.com.
This article was originally published in the 2016 GUN ANNUAL™ buyer’s guide. Print Subscriptions are available here.