How to Carry a Fixed Blade Knife Without Stabbing Yourself

Photo by Vladislav M on Unsplash

Fixed blades are cool, but you can’t just stick one in your pocket and call it a day. Not only are they big, but they could potentially put a hole in your pants. Although they’re harder to keep on your person than folding knives, if you have the right setup, they can be easier to deploy and make for quicker solutions than an otherwise finicky folder.

There are lots of things to keep in mind when considering a fixed blade for everyday carry. For example, what would you use the knife for and how urgent would the needs be? Are there laws that would prevent you from carrying a six-inch dagger? Could you carry the thing comfortably? These are questions that should be answered before jumping into the world of fixed-blade carrying. 

But for now, we’ll just take a look at some techniques on how to carry a fixed-blade knife without stabbing yourself.

Why Carry a Fixed Blade?

Maybe you’re wondering why somebody would lug around a fixed-blade knife instead of a conveniently folding pocket knife. Well, there are a few good reasons, but whether or not they’re relevant depends on how you use knives. 

Basically, a fixed-blade knife doesn’t have all the moving parts like a folder and completely bypasses the possibility of a technical failure. On top of that, they make for quicker deployment and are easier to clean. 

Really, the only downside to fixed blades is that you can’t simply stick them in your pocket, but that doesn’t mean they’re for everyone.

Legal Stuff (and stuff)

It’s important to do research on local laws regarding knives and concealed carry to make sure your setup isn’t going to get you arrested.

Some laws may require knives of certain lengths to be visible on your person while others may ban the use of certain types of knives like switchblades. If you have a relatively small blade though, you’ll probably be fine.

How to Carry a Fixed Blade Knife

So, you’ve decided that you want to carry a fixed-blade knife but are not sure where to begin? Well, the whole thing can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be, but it all comes down to preference. But first, it would be a good idea to learn a few terms that are used to convey certain knife positioning.

Some Basic Terminology

Here’s a basic summary on some terms used to describe certain positions and styles of fixed-blade carry:

-O’clock
This is used to relate the position of the blade around the waist in relation to where you’re facing. If you can imagine yourself standing on a clock with 12:00 right in front of you, then you should be able to figure out the rest. Your right side would be 3:00, your back 6:00, and your left side 9:00.

-IWB and OWB
These stand for “inside waistband” and “outside waistband” respectively. Inside waistband (IWB) is when the sheath is worn inside your belt and is concealed by your pants. Outside waistband (OWB) is when the sheath hangs over the belt and is completely visible.

-Cant
This refers to how much the blade is slanted when you carry it. For example, if your knife is on your right or left, the difference between the tip of the blade facing downwards and forwards is 90 degrees of cant.

Methods of Carrying a Knife

There are virtually limitless ways to keep your blade on your person, but obviously some ways will be better than others. Below, I’ve listed some popular methods to keep your knife from falling on the floor while still hopefully being able to deploy it in seconds.

Drop Leg
This is probably the most simple way to attach your blade to your belt. It involves dangling the entire sheath from your belt to where it just hangs there. Some people may find the lack of stability annoying, but it also allows for more flexibility. Of course, you could always strap the holster to your leg too so that it doesn’t swing around.

IWB
For conceal carry, inside waistband is the best option. The most common place to carry a knife IWB is at 3:00 or 9:00, but that can make it difficult to access when sitting down. If you want your blade to be ready at all times, you can carry it at 12:00 with a slight cant, but it might be pretty uncomfortable.

OWB
Outside waistband has pretty much the same benefits of IWB just without the stealth part. At 3:00 and 9:00, you can easily wear the knife tip-up or tip-down depending on how you want to deploy it. Tip-up allows you to draw your knife while sitting down, but you run the risk of your blade falling out when you don’t want it to.

Scout
This is just another way to keep your blade on your belt and could be classified as a simple IWB or OWB, but it’s popular enough to deserve its own name. It’s basically a OWB at 6:00 with a 90 degree cant, which allows for a low-profile carry with a natural deployment. Although, it might be tricky to get your blade back in the sheath after you’ve taken it out.

In Your Pocket
With smaller knives, you can simply put them in your pocket. You can fasten the sheath to your pocket with a clip or you can have the sheath hang in your pocket with a paracord tied to your belt. The pocket clip would make for easier one-handed deployment while the cord would offer more flexibility.

On Your Neck
If you don’t want anything attached to your belt or pants or are wearing pocket-less clothes, then wearing a knife as a necklace is a good option. Obviously it’ll have to be a smaller knife, but this method ensures your blade will be ready at all times. Just be sure that whatever is holding the sheath around your neck won’t snap in a hurry.

Under Your Shoulder
This can be a good alternative to neck carry if a necklace is too loose for you. This method involves tying a strap or cord around your torso in pseudo-backpack fashion to hold your knife. Imagine setting a length of string behind your neck like a towel and then pulling the two ends down over and under your shoulders where they would meet in the middle of your back. A knife would then be hung on the string under your shoulder.

On a Backpack
In case you’re going on a trip and have your backpack, you can always fasten your knife to one of the straps. This is a pretty easy way to keep your knife with you—that is, assuming you’re always wearing the backpack.

How to Actually Attach Your Knife to Your Person

Up to this point, the talk has been mostly theoretical without any practical tips on specific setups. Most fixed-blade knives come with a sheath, but they will differ from knife to knife, so you can’t base everything off of one specific model. However, most of them do share some commonalities—but it is always good to make a plan before you set your heart on any specific knife. That said, here are some tips for attaching your knife to your person.

A Rundown on Sheaths

Classic-looking knives usually come with an orange leather sheath that has a loop near the top for a drop-leg carry. They can also be found with two slits on either side for a belt to pass through.
Modern knives usually come with black sheaths made of kydex (a thermoplastic material) that are edged with eyelets, which are where you attach belt clips and straps. I’ll be focusing mostly on these sheaths due to their versatility.

How to Fasten Clips and Things to Your Sheath

Your sheath may come with everything you need to fasten it to your belt or hang it around your neck, but chances are, you’ll want to rig your own design. To do that, you’ll need to get your own supplies like clips and belt loops and devise a way to connect them to your sheath.

To attach a clip (or something like it) to your sheath, you’ll just need to punch two holes in it that align with two of the eyelets in the sheath. Then you stick them together with Chicago screws (you might use some sort of thread locker to keep it secure). For anything involving a cord, you can just thread it through two adjacent eyelets in the sheath or just tie it around one.

Here’s a list of things you might need for your fixed-blade carry:

Plastic Belt Clip (for IWB, OWB, and scout)

Nylon Belt Loop (for IWB and drop-leg)

Pocket Clip (for in your pocket)

Paracord (for pocket, shoulder, and neck)

Chicago Screws

Thread Locker

These aren’t necessarily the best options out there and you might find something else that’s better for your purposes, but these ones will definitely get the job done.

 

Some Knives to Consider

Now that you’ve been educated in the ways of fixed-blade carrying, you might be wondering what knife to get (assuming you don’t already have one). There are lots of good options out there, many of which will put a considerable dent in your budget. But don’t worry, you won’t have to shake out your wallet to get yourself a decent blade. Most of the knives below are pretty much dirt cheap.

M-Tech MT-673

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a knife cheaper than this. This one is as basic as you can get and perfect for sticking on your belt.

Morakniv Robust

The price for this one is impressive when you consider how much knife you’re getting. Just hang this eight-inch dagger off your belt and you’ll be ready for anything that comes your way.

Kershaw Dune

Tall, sleek, and skinny, this one is great if you want your blade to be subtle. It’s perfect for carrying around the neck and even comes with a string for that very purpose.

ESEE Izula

You’ll definitely have to splurge a bit for this one, but it’s probably the most critically-acclaimed fixed blade for everyday carry. It’s super sharp and versatile and perfect for sticking it in your pocket or hanging it around your neck. It also comes in multiple colors.

Some General Tips

The methods I’ve listed aren’t exhaustive, so you might take some creative liberties to find a system that works for you. For example, you could take the pocket clip method and, instead of putting in your pocket, clip the knife to the edge of your boot.

To help prevent injury when deploying your blade, I’d recommend practicing taking it in and out of your sheath before you find yourself in an urgent situation. Also, developing the muscle memory for the action will help you perform better under pressure.

Now that you’re an expert with all things fixed-blade, you’ll be ready for any adventure whether you’re surviving in the Canadian wilderness, clambering up Mount Shasta, or trying to get your nephew’s new Captain Napalm action figure out the box. You won’t be bushwhacked by any challenge now with your dagger at your immediate disposal. In fact, when danger comes knocking, you’ll be able to answer it so fast it won’t even have time to hit the door. And maybe you could even open a letter or two.

Hopefully you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or concerns (or just like typing stuff), then be sure to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

10 thoughts on “How to Carry a Fixed Blade Knife Without Stabbing Yourself

  1. Wow…love your style of writing! Great, easy article to read. Thank goodness you added great visual images…I would have no clue or idea about the descriptions. Your wonderful images made it so simple to understand. I personally would not be carrying a knife on me, but that doesn’t mean this wouldn’t benefit others. Great informative article that actually gave me a chuckle! We certainly don’t want anyone stabbing themselves accidently because they didn’t carry their knife correctly. You solved that problem:)

    1. Hi Dana,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article! Sometimes seeing a picture can help everything fall into place, even when the topic is confusing (plus, most people are visual learners).

      Carrying a fixed-blade knife can definitely be risky, but it isn’t a problem if you know what you’re doing. And actually, fixed-blades can be safer since you aren’t dealing with a mechanism every time you use it, but it really depends on the user.

      Isaac

  2. My husband always carries a folding knife on him, and I have never given thought to how one would carry a fixed bladed knife without stabbing oneself until I read this extremely interesting article.

    I would imagine that one would need a good sheath for protection, but I had no idea that you could wear the knife in so many different directions.

    If I had to carry a knife I would prefer to carry it facing down or across and not up, as I would be too scared to bend forwards or to the side.

    1. Hi Michel,

      A folding knife is definitely easier to carry than a fixed-blade knife, but a fixed-blade isn’t so bad if you have the right setup.

      Carrying a fixed-blade knife facing up can definitely be a little freaky, but assuming it’s in a good sheath, there’s not much to worry about. Putting the knife on a backpack is a good way to be sure you won’t stab yourself if the belt is too close for comfort.

      Isaac

  3. Very helpful article you have written. I now know more terms and terminology of fixed blade knifes. If I wore a knife I think I would prefer an around the neck technique as I would get tangled in my pockets and usually wear sweats and they dont have belt loops. The cost of fixed blade knives are much more reasonable than I thought. But since I live in California I have to check the state and local laws. I think they get pissed if I have a toothpick in my mouth in a public area.

    Courtney-

    1. Hi Courtney,

      Wow, that seems like it would be pretty rough if people are threatened by a toothpick. . .crazy! But yeah, knives don’t have to ring you up hundreds of bucks. You can get some pretty great tools with nothing but your lunch money.

      Some pockets weren’t meant to hold much and can easily get tangled. like you mentioned. Neck or bag carry is always a good option in those cases. Anyways, I’m glad you found this article helpful!

      -Isaac

  4. I carry a knife when going camping and normally have it tucked in the side pocket of my bag. I’ve never thought of fixing it to my carry strap, which would be so much easier and way more accessible.

    Think I’ll be practicing different ways of knife-carrying now I have your diagrams to follow and a little more knowledge about how best to carry them. It would be helpful for me if I needed to take the knife on my person if leaving my backpack at the campsite and going a walk to explore or gather wood.

    Thanks for sharing 

    Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle,

      How you carry a knife depends on what you’ll be using the knife for. Keeping one on your backpack strap is easy and comfortable, but, like you mentioned, won’t be with you when you take the backpack off.

      I suppose in that case one could carry two knifes, a smaller in a pocket and a bigger one on a backpack.

      Anyways, I’m glad you found this article of some use!

      Isaac

  5. This is indeed a very comprehensive list of ways in which one can carry a fixed knife and the different options available. I guess I had not ever really thought about it, as it is illegal to carry a knife on your person where I live. 

    A knife would be handy though if you were going for a hike in the forest or mountains and encountered any danger. But it would also be handy if you had to cut away any vegetation.

    1. A fixed-blade knife is best for anyone who faces the rugged outdoors or has other demanding knife needs. Not only are fixed-blades harder to carry, but they are more likely to be illegal, so it’s definitely not the obvious choice.

      Like you said, though, fixed-blades would be great to bring along on any expeditions where you could need it for rigorous cutting tasks. Better safe than sorry!

      Isaac

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