P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

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P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby Knife1 » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:05 pm

I'm looking for a dedicated self defense knife.My first choice was the Spyderco Civilian but the blade actually sticks out quite a bit as it's curved and makes carrying it in the pocket somewhat uncomfortable. As such, I'm thinking of getting another Spyderco as a dedicated self defense knife that doesn't get left behind. I'm considering either the P'kal, the Yojimbo 2, or the Chinook 2. Any opinions on which of these is the better self defense knife?

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby sal » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:28 pm

Hi Knife1,

Welcome to our forum.

Actually, your request is a very deep question. I'm sure you will get many suggestions. My suggestion is that listen carefully. Different styles, different training, different instruction.


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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby Ez556 » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:49 pm

As Sal said, there are different styles and training each design compliments. I’d really sit down and think of what your preferred/most proficient mode of defense is and choose the knife that suits that. Read about how each knife was designed to be used. For instance, I subscribe to the concept of using a Wharncliffe blade to slash and disable, I feel it is the most natural and effective motion for someone with minimal training, so something like the Yojimbo (or the Civilian you currently have) would compliment that defense style. The P’Kal is probably the most specialized of the knives you listed, at least when used in the manor it was designed.
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sal wrote:
Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:28 am
But in reality, there is nothing quite like a gun. And it has been said, "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun".
Sumdumguy wrote:
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Does that complexity decrease the simplicity? Not at all.

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby ladybug93 » Mon Nov 11, 2019 10:12 pm

i probably shouldn’t answer this question as i only have experience with the yojimbo of all the knives you mentioned. but, two things of note about the yojimbo:
1. it does have a large hump and does not sit nicely in the pocket, so you may not like it more than what you have.
2. it’s the coolest knife in the world and everything i don’t like about it closed is directly related to something i love about it open, so i just deal with it.
yojimbo has my vote, for whatever that’s worth. :)
Last edited by ladybug93 on Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby ChrisinHove » Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:39 am

Don’t forget the Matriarch/ Lil Matriarch.

Although your mentioned sd knives are fascinating, my understanding is that they do represent specialist techniques, whereas the Matriarch’s were designed for the potentially less skilled.

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby zuludelta » Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:07 am

As others have mentioned, choose the knife among the three that best fits your training background & SD approach (I carry a Yojimbo 2 since it fits my SD purposes & can easily pull double-duty as a utility knife, but I can definitely see the appeal of the P'kal for clinch fighting-focused approaches to knife SD or as a "get off of me while I reach for my firearm" self-defence tool in the style of Greg Thompson's SOCP design).

Offhand, though, I would recommend the Yojimbo 2 & the P'kal over the Chinook for the plain fact that Spyderco also produces trainer versions of both knives, and if you are serious about carrying a knife for SD, stress testing (i.e., live sparring & drilling with an actively resisting/non-compliant sparring partner) is a must & you can only do that safely with a dedicated trainer model.
Last edited by zuludelta on Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby Sonorum » Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:10 am

I have a friend who trained a lot of martial arts with edged weapons and he always recommends a good pair of running shoes :p
Loads of spydies, and a few others as well

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby zuludelta » Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:14 am

Sonorum wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:10 am
I have a friend who trained a lot of martial arts with edged weapons and he always recommends a good pair of running shoes :p
Nothing beats de-escalation or conflict avoidance altogether as a self-defence measure, that's for sure. But it's always good to have options :D

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby VashHash » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:24 am

I have a Chinook 2 and yo2 and I had a pkal. The Chinook 2 is the biggest and heaviest of the bunch. It definitely feels solid and the heft isn't a bad thing. It also has the thickest tip from the factory. So if tip strength is a factor the Chinook would win. It easily shrugged off a 3 foot drop onto cement. Just had a shiny spot on the tip where it landed. Never dropped the pkal when I had it but I've dropped a yo2 and broke a little bit off the tip.

Sometimes when I would wave the pkal quickly it would bounce back and fail to lock open. The Chinook has a lot of mass in the blade and is easy to open with a flick of the wrist. The yo2 can also be opened this way but the Chinook 2 requires less effort for me. The yo2 is easier to open with the hole than the Chinook 2. Not by much but just enough to notice. The comp lock and caged ball bearing lock usually require intentional effort to close. Depending on your grip and hand size you might disengage the back lock accidentally. The Chinook doesn't do well in ice pick edge in grip if you have large/xl hands. When I grip the Chinook this way my ring finger starts to press the back lock in. The yo2 has a more neutral grip in that you can use it in any orientation. It has a large finger stop too. The pkal also has a more diverse handle design but was mainly made for edge in techniques. It can still be used in standard grips and if you take off the wave it works in Filipino grip. I used to carry mine without the wave because of the bounce issue I had. I'd rather open it manually and know it's locked. Of the 3 the pkal was my least favorite which is why I sold it. I like the yo2 and the Chinook 2 too much to sell either. I will still carry each of them. I feel they are both capable of doing whatever I need from them. If I want something lighter and easier on the pockets I would go yo2. If I want something really heavy duty I would use the Chinook.

Now here's some more subjective thoughts. The yo2 comes in a few varieties if you can find the older sprints. CF/S90V, Brown G10/ black DLC S90V, CF/20CV. The Chinook 2 is only available in black G10/ S30V satin blade either PE or CE. Yo2 was never offered with teeth.

All of this is from a utility stand point of course. A knife is a very versatile tool and capable of completing many task.

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby Dazen » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:54 am

I ultimately ended up with the Yojimbo 2, because of the wharncliffe blade for easier everyday use, size in pocket and the comp lock. There are trainers available for the Yojimbo and P’kal if you wanted to go that route. Others worth mentioning as well are the Karahawk and PPT which were also designed specifically for self defense.

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby Evil D » Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:10 am

Unless you plan on getting some real training with any of these knives, I would choose any knife that feels the most second nature to you to draw and open. Focus on what ergonomics feel the most natural to you. There are details that make certain knives better for certain types of self defense but without proper training you need to at least be able to draw the knife in the heat of an attack reliably.

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby Michael Janich » Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:49 am

As several forumites have already pointed out, training is the key. If you're going to carry a knife for self-defense, you should train to develop appropriate skills with it. On that basis, the P'Kal and Yojimbo 2 have the advantage, as dedicated training versions are available (A trainer for a Chinook would have to be created from a live blade, which is less than optimal.). Craig Douglas prefers edge-in tactics, whereas I prefer edge-out. Explore both skill sets and put them into perspective with your needs, your physical attributes, and the legalities of self-defense.

That process will allow you to make the best choice for your personal needs.

Stay safe,


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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby swigert » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:07 am

Yojimbo all day. Best ergonomics out there, amazing knife.

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby TomAiello » Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:01 am

I like the Yojimbo because it has the most utility for my EDC, so it's a dual-function kind of knife.

For dedicated self defense? I dunno--maybe the P'Kal? But seriously, my first choice is always going to be disengagement.

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby jdw » Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:05 am

I love my Yojimbo as a utility knife and it has absolutely amazing ergos BUT as a completely untrained SD specialist I would want a Civilian in my hand in a real life situation that would be desperate enough to need a knife. But I really agree with the run first mentality.
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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby benben » Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:20 am

Not the answer you're looking for...........pistol. I own a Yojimbo and a Chinook 3, I have zero training in knife SD tactics and would HATE to ever be put in that situation for I believe it would probably get ugly for me!

I do train with a handgun, often, and that would be my first choice as a SD tool, the knives are in my pocket because I love carrying and using them! I've never seen or held a P'Kal before so I'm definitely no help there, my Yojimbo 2 is one of my favorite knives, feels incredible in my hand! My Chinook would be used if I had to bury someone after the fact! Kidding of course......

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby vivi » Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:15 am

I'd choose my brain, my feet and my gun over a knife for self defense. But, if I were to carry a knife for defensive purpose, a fixed blade makes a lot more sense to me. Imagine having to unfold your gun after drawing it, while you're full of adrenaline :eek: No thanks.

Check out the Ronin 2 if the Yojimbo catches your eye. They also made a fixed pikal called the Reverse that was discontinued in 2018, you could probably still find one.

If I had to go with a folder, I'd pick a waved model like the Pikal or Endura wave.

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby Iole » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:27 pm

It would piss me off if I were to the point to have to draw a weapon on them. :mad:

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby VooDooChild » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:45 pm

I sometimes roll my eyes a bit when the whole dedicated self defense knife topic comes up.
But if it came down to it I agree with the saying the best knife is whatever one you have on you.
By that, what I really mean is, have you considered a regular general purpose knife. One that will do normal things better than a specialized knife and still be able to be used in a self defense situation.
I can see people with specialized training really wanting a karambit or pkal style knife. But I will also argue most people with a decent level of training arent going to let the difference between an endura and yojimbo compromise them in a real self defense situation.
And honestly running away should be the first option anyway. And there are better self defense options than a knife. And the list goes on.
sal wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 8:14 pm
... "The edge is a ghost"...

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Re: P'Kal vs. Yojimbo vs. Chinook

Postby ZrowsN1s » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:04 pm

Knife1 wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:05 pm
I'm looking for a dedicated self defense knife......
If you're looking for something in the same vein as the Civilian but a little smaller you might try the Matriarch 2 with wave, or the bento box shop Lil Matriarch.

I own both the P'kal and Yojimbo 2. As Mr. Janich pointed out both are designed for their respective self defense styles. Researching either Craig Douglas's or Michael Janich's styles should give you a better idea of which you'd prefer.

For the sake of brevity, if I were to grossly reduce their function down in the simplest terms, the Yojimbo is more slashy and the P'kal is more stabby. You'd be doing yourself a favor to put in some real research on the two styles though.
Carrying 3 knives is perfectly normal :D

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