How to Carry a Knife: Open and Concealed Carry Options for Fixed Blade and Pocket Knives

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So, you have a brand new knife. Knives are meant to be used, so let’s use that blade!

Of course, you’ll need to have the knife with you. What are the best ways to carry a knife?

There are almost as many ways to carry a knife as there are types of knives. You can slip a blade into your pocket, clip it to your belt, or get real fancy with scout carry or an arm strap!

All of these options have the right time and place.

Yes, even strapping a big ol’ blade to your bicep!

Let’s dive into the various carrying methods, starting with folding knives!

How to Carry a Pocket Knife

Pocket knives are the easiest blades to carry, right?

You just fold them and slip the tool into your pocket. Easy!

…and that’s why I’ve lost several of my pocket knives, including one that was a gift!

Your pocket knife may or may not have a pocket clip. Let’s tackle the ones without a clip, as those are the knives that are easiest to lose.

How to Carry a Pocket Knife without a Clip Opinel

Without a Clip

Pocket knives without a clip or another attachment method rely on gravity, friction, or both to stay in place.

For the most part, this means that you can put the knife in your pocket and you’ll be fine.

That’s where a pocket knife belongs!

However, there are several important considerations:

  • Will the knife stay in your pocket?
  • Can you get the knife out of the pocket when you need it?

I’ve lost too many pocket knives to blindly trust just any pants pocket to a high-quality EDC knife.

Some knives love to slip out of some pockets when you’re sitting down.

Thankfully, you can check for this likelihood in your home. Keep the knife in your pocket for a while and see if it slips between the couch cushions to join the remote control.

Also, test to make sure you can reach into the pocket with both hands to pull out the knife.

Times when you need a knife and are unable to use your main hand are rare but they do happen[1].

With a Clip

A clip makes carrying a blade so much easier.

Clip the knife to your pocket and go!

Or to your pants with the knife inside the waistband. Or to something else you often carry with you.

Anywhere, really.

Something to consider is the tip’s orientation.

Some knives allow you to switch the clip around so the tip is oriented either up or down.

Many people prefer tip-up carry because they find that allows them to open the knife one-handed more easily.

Other people prefer tip-down carry because this minimizes the chances of you sticking your hand into your pocket only to impale your fingers on a blade that opened in your pocke.

Hey, it happens[2].

Experiment to see which orientation works best for you, keeping in mind that one-handed access may be important in case your hand becomes pinned or you cannot let something (or someone!) go.

Victorinox Huntsman Cons Criticism Bad Points Should You Buy This Knife

With a Split Ring

Some pocket knives, such as the Victorinox Huntsman, have what’s called a split ring or cotter ring.

I like to use these to attach a folding knife to something I’ll never leave behind.

That’s why I have a Kershaw 1025 on my keychain and a Huntsman attached to the keyholder on my 5.11 Tactical messenger bag.

In a Sheath

Some pocket knives come with a dinky little sheath.

Those sheaths may look silly but they are effective at keeping your pocket knife on you.

Pocket knives in a sheath function the same as a fixed blade when it comes to carrying them, so let’s look at those methods now.

How to Carry a Fixed Blade Knife

Fixed blades don’t fold so they’re longer and more awkward to carry than a pocket knife of the same length blade.

However, they are also more versatile when it comes to carrying them because fixed blades come with sheaths.

This allows you to wear them on belts and straps, or use paracord to tie them to darn near anything.

Open Carry

Open carry refers to carrying your knife in a way that’s easily visible to strangers.

It’ll be easier to access but inappropriate for (most) fancy social functions!

How to Open Carry a Fixed Blade Knife

Outside the Waistband

Hanging the knife sheath from your belt on the outside of your pants is the easiest way to carry a knife.

You can position it on either side of your hip for easy access by either hand.

However, this does increase your width, so snagging on branches will be more likely.

Scout Carry

Wearing the sheath horizontally on your belt is called the scout carry and it has many advantages over vertical carry. With a few disadvantages, too.

Scout carry is best for smaller fixed blade knives but is an excellent choice for a survival or hunting knife you want to keep on your belt.

It’s somewhat concealable, too!

On Shoulder Straps

Backpacks have shoulder straps.

Attach a sheath to them to carry a knife with the handle downward and you have an excellent hunting setup.

You typically want to wear the knife on the shoulder strap opposite your primary hand. Right handed? Left shoulder strap!

This allows for an easy draw but keeps the knife accessible by your off hand.

Strapped to a Limb

Generally, if you’re strapping a sheath to your upper arm or your thigh, you’re doing it to be cool rather than for utility.

Keep that in your bedroom.

However, there are a few circumstances where strapping a knife to your arm or leg is a good idea.

I’ve heard of SCUBA divers mounting a dive knife on their arm, though this is in addition to other cutting tools[3].

How to Conceal Carry Fixed Blade Knife Gerber Ghoststrike
Small fixed blades such as the Gerber Ghoststrike can be concealed in a variety of ways

Concealed Carry

Knives may be tools but some people see them as scary weapons.

It can be wise to hide your blades when wandering city streets.

Inside the Waistband

Much like a handgun, some knife sheaths are set up for you to be able to wear them inside your pants while still attached to your belt.

This slows down your draw but is good for concealment.

Long knives can chafe against your legs, though!

Most pistol belts are longer and stronger than normal belts to make up for a handgun’s weight and volume but you don’t need to worry about this as much with a fixed blade knife.

Still, a good gun belt is a better knife holder than a wimpy dollar-store belt.

In a Drop Leg Holster

If you’re wearing a skirt, kilt, or particularly breezy pair of shorts, you may be able to get away with a knife strapped to your thighs.

I don’t necessarily recommend this method but I have been pleasantly surprised by a well-armed young lady using this carry method before!

Neck Carry

A small knife hanging from a strap or chain makes for a practical necklace.

You can slip it under your shirt and always have a backup blade available. Then, once you’re in the woods, let it hang free and accessible!

Boot or Ankle Carry

Your lower leg is another great place for a backup knife, though I wouldn’t keep my main blade so far away from my hands.

You can fit surprisingly large blades in your boots.

Some small knives, such as the Gerber Ghoststrike, even come with an ankle sheath.

Check out some of the best boot knives here!

Conclusion

Carrying a fixed blade or pocket knife is simple but there are interesting tricks to doing it effectively.

Effectively, in this case, means that carrying the blade causes no discomfort and you can quickly draw the knife with either hand.

I started by losing several (thankfully cheap) penknives out of some pockets. Now, I always have a knife at hand, no matter where I am. And I haven’t lost a knife in years.

Yes, it happens, even to experienced bushcrafters!

How do you like to carry your knife? Let me know in the comments below!

Resources

  1. https://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thedailymirror/2010/11/aron-ralston-the-real-story.html
  2. https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/knives-with-flippers-opening-in-your-pocket.1165487/
  3. https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/where-to-mount-knife.296580/

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