Pocket Preps: Brass Knuckles / Knucks

Pocket Preps: Brass Knuckles / Knucks

Call them what you want — brass knuckles, knucks, knuckle dusters, brass paper weights, and so on. You know what they are when you see them. They make for a small, easily concealable close-quarters impact weapon, particularly the ones we’re going to look at. Commonly and incorrectly, they’re often portrayed as the weapons of thugs or bad guys or someone who doesn’t fight fair. At one time, knuckles were commonly found in general stores and department stores. Buying a set and carrying them was about as commonplace as a pocket knife.

Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguard was known to carry a set. Many more went off to war with our soldiers, sailors, and Marines well into the 20th century. Yet, that’s when we saw a change. During the moral panic concerning switchblade knives in the 1960s, knuckles were thrown into this category, too. You’ll see no news reports from that time about people going on rampages with a set of knuckles, pummeling anyone who got in their way, yet they were unjustly lumped into a category of deadly weapons.

As a result, most collectors and manufacturers went underground. All you need to do is leaf through a copy of David Grant’s History of Knuckle Dusters, published in 2007, and see most of the manufacturers and collectors listed as “anonymous.” Fortunately, many states have gradually reworked their weapon laws to decriminalize switchblades and other knives. Brass knuckles are often removed from the statutes, too, so they aren’t as illegal in the United States as they used to be.

They make fine paperweights, some have additional tools built into them, and they can act as a discreet force multiplier if you need to defend yourself. As with anything else, check your state and local laws before you start carrying a set.

Bawidamann Dough Boy DB-1 Brass Knuckles

OAL:
2.5 inches

Width:
1.5 inches

Material:
Brass

Weight:
4 ounces

MSRP
$85

URL
bawidamann.com

Notes:
The Bawidamann Dough Boy DB-1 resembles a single knuckle cut from the handle of an M1918 Mk1 Trench Knife. It’s small enough to stow in a pocket for unobtrusive everyday carry yet adds plenty of punching power if you feel you need it. This knuckle is investment cast in pure brass and sandblasted for an antique kind of old-world finish. The tip has a nice point to aid in punching, and there’s a lanyard hole, should you wish to attach a lanyard.

Pros:

  • Investment cast in solid brass
  • Plenty of room for even the biggest finger in this one
  • The sand-blasted finish imparts a good feel in the fist.

Cons:

  • A bit too spacious around the finger. This might be an issue for folks with smaller fingers.
  • For a single knuckle, it’s a bit on the heavier side. That’s not a bad thing for its intended usage but definitely something to keep in mind for EDC use.

BT Customs The Tool

OAL:
1.75 inches

Width:
2.25 inches

Material:
Aluminum

Weight:
0.75 ounce

MSRP
$90

URL
everythingbtcustoms.com

Notes:
The BT Customs Rook is a lightweight and attractive two-knuckle set that includes a lanyard and bead. Two bottle openers are incorporated into the base making it a sort of combat multi-tool. Crafted from aluminum, this set is on the lighter side without being too light. The anodized finish is reminiscent of Timascus or Damascus steel. Bennet Tool makes a lot of unique products for the vaping industry and firearms industry, so you’re not skimping on quality with a set like this.

Pros:

  • The lanyard and bead make it easy to retrieve from the pocket in a hurry.
  • Finger holes seem perfectly sized for even the largest of fingers.
  • The bottle openers work well. You’ll be a hit at the next party if there’s a case of cold ones involved.

Cons:

  • Although it’s got stunning looks, the anodized finish could wear off after a time.
  • The interior edge at the base seemed a little sharp at times.

Hooligan Handcrafts KC Copper Heart

OAL:
2 inches

Width:
1.75 inches

Material:
Copper

Weight:
2 ounces

MSRP
$250

URL
@jeyrhooligan (Instagram)

Notes:
When you’re looking for a solid set of knuckles, sometimes you have to hit up custom makers who may only have a social media presence in lieu of a website. That’s the case with Hooligan Handcrafts by Jeyr Lindsey. You can find him on Instagram or at one of the major national knife shows like the Usual Suspects Gathering or the Blade Show. When you do find a set, they’re well worth it. The KC Copper Heart comes on a QD Strega chain so it can be worn as jewelry but quickly broken away and in your fist for up close and personal self-defense.

Pros:

  • Being heart-shaped, the base of the heart makes for an optimal striking tool.
  • The Strega chain makes for a great “hide in plain sight” self-defense option.
  • The entire piece is machined out of copper for a classy look and has just enough weight and density to be effective.

Cons:

  • The Strega chain works well but was a little tight for my 19-inch neck, especially when orienting the knuckles properly on the draw.
  • Designed for women, some men will find the knuckle holes a bit too small

KE Arms Aluminum Goblin

OAL:
2.75 inches

Width:
2.5 inches

Material:
Aluminum

Weight:
0.75 ounce

MSRP
$40

URL
www.kearms.com

Notes:
If you’re a shooter, you may be familiar with KE Arms. They offer a variety of firearms and related accessories for the AR-platform, among others. The Aluminum Goblin may be made from the exact same material that the very rail on your AR is made from. A true EDC tool, lanyard holes and a bottle opener are incorporated inside the base. This set features a striking point right at the crest of the tip of the knuckles. A pricier titanium version is available, too.

Pros:

  • This set is light and dense, perfect for everyday pocket carry.
  • I’ve had this particular set for about four years, and the finish seems to hold up fairly well.
  • The bottle opener hidden in the base is probably one of the more ingenious ways I’ve seen this incorporated into a set of knucks.

Cons:

  • The finger holes might be a bit too tight for those with larger hands.
  • They seem to be made in small batches so they can be subject to availability.

RMJ Tactical Snuckles Aluminum

OAL:
5.1 inches

Width:
3.1 inches

Material:
Aluminum

Weight:
4.5 ounces

MSRP
$149

URL
rmjtactical.com

Notes:
Ryan M. Johnson of RMJ Tactical made his bones building tomahawks for the U.S. military and historical collectors but has branched out into other realms with products as diverse as tetsubos, saps, a myriad of knives, and knuckles. In the case of the knuckles, he brands them as Uncle Stumpy’s Snuckles, and they make for one hell of an EDC item. Johnson is a stickler for authenticity and making products that work. He spent a lot of time interviewing police officers and others who carried traditional knuckles and used them with great effect. This design is the result of countless hours of input and testing. This set is crafted in aluminum and is the only full-size version we profiled in this article because they’re as lightweight and handy as any of the smaller single and double sets we have profiled.

Pros:

  • The face of the Snuckles is richly textured and could be used for tenderizing meat if you need to do so.
  • Having spent decades examining various types of knuckles, these are among the best I’ve seen and handled.
  • Big enough for full scale usage, yet light enough to carry all day without realizing that they are in your pocket.

Cons:

  • As impressive as the machining and engraving is on these, the finish is a little plain. However, a Cerakote option is available as well.
  • This is another small-batch item that’s subject to availability.

Toor Knives Copper Thumper

OAL:
1.6 inches

Width:
1.2 inches

Material:
Copper

Weight:
1.65 ounces

MSRP
$35

URL
toorknives.com

Notes:
Toor Knives is an innovative knife manufacturer based in Southern California. Occasionally, they step outside the box to create an interesting piece of gear without a blade. In this case, it’s the Thumper. Small enough to hide in the watch pocket of your jeans, dangle from a keychain or wear as a necklace, the Thumper makes for a great little piece of self-defense kit. Available in copper, brass, or titanium; this one is solid copper and is so handy and portable that at less than 2 ounces, you won’t realize it’s in your pocket.

Pros:

  • Possibly the smallest knuckle I have seen, this one pretty much goes with you wherever you want, so long as it’s not a non-permissive environment like an airport terminal.
  • The hump for the bale makes for a very good strike point when punching.
  • One of the more affordable and readily available options out there.

Cons:

  • The finger hole is generously sized, but this might be a little too small overall for most users.
  • This one is pretty thin. A slightly thicker option might be nice.

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