Can the small fixed blade really replace a folder?

Mar 8, 1999
Following is a long, rambling story/review on what I think I carry knife should be. Thanks for reading it.


Daily Carry Knives

What Kind of Knife

What is the “best” daily carry knife for a person? Much depends on what one intends to do with said knife. Personally, I am a big believer in the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule. I want my knife to be ready to go, never susceptible to failure. I also think that the function of a knife is to cut, so that should be one of the main goals in its design. Finally, the knife should be comfortable to carry and use, lest it be on your dresser at home when you need it.

Uses of my Knives

I want my knife to perform the average duties of opening mail and boxes, cutting foods, rope, leather, etc. I have run into some odd jobs that my carry knife came in handy with. I also want my knife to be capable of being used as a defensive weapon. I hope that this never has to be, but I want to be prepared. From time to time, I also use my knife for things I should not. I have used them to pry, hammer, as screwdrivers, scrapers and various other hard uses. I carry a Swiss Tech mini tool most all of the time now, so that at least helps my knife tip “wire cutting” portion out a little 

My Idea of a Carry Knife

One doesn’t know how hard I have tried to carry a fixed blade all the time. I do most of the time, but for me the “tactical” folder is hard to beat. Thanks to Sal Glesser and his wonderful company Spyderco for their innovations in this field. One of the first knives I carried when I started really analyzing why I carried a knife was the Delica. From there, I wanted to go slightly bigger and stronger. My next choice was a Mini AFCK, which I carried for a couple of years. I had some blade chipping with this knife and it would not cut as efficiently as a Spyderco. Despite serving well to me as many tools, it failed some tests like the “spine whack test”. So again, I wanted to improve. Next, and still current, is my Large Sebenza. No matter what other folders I look at, I cannot justify anything as being better all around than this knife. It is strong, sharp, easy to carry, comfortable and good looking to boot!

Okay, back to the fixed blade. The one I carry most all of the time now is an RJ Martin Kozuka. This is one of my favorite knives. I have a carbon fiber neck sheath and a kangaroo leather covered IWB sheath, both of which are carved mahogany with magnets inside. Really secure and smoooooooth! This is after a trial of several other knives. I have bought knives from all of the masters: Dozier, Nealy, Polkowski, JSP…….. You get the idea. I have also designed two knives, one from Ernest Mayer of Black Cloud and one from Don Fogg. Partly due to the carry system, but neither of these seem as practical as my Martin. Plus, the Martin is I guess as sharp as anything I have ever seen (maybe tied with my Murray Carter kitchen knife).


Well, that pretty much sums it up. The reason folders are so practical for me is that you can easily draw and replace the knife with one hand. The problem with all fixed blades that are concealed is that you almost always have to use two hands to replace it, and many times to draw it. Plus, my Sebbie in my pocket is much less conspicuous than the Martin in my waistband. Primarily, I save the Martin for self defense. That way, if I need it, it will be razor sharp. If I have to use the Sebenza, it stays pretty darn sharp too. One other consideration is that with a folder, you can just crack the blade open and use it like those rope cutter knives. For example, the other day my nephew’s car seat had an errant cord hanging off of it. His Mom was worried that he might hurt himself on it and asked me to cut it. I carefully approached the 5 month old and just cracked open my Sebenza enough to slip the cord inside and cut it. “How did you do that?” Very carefully.

I would definitely love to hear your opinions on this question and your solutions to the carry dilemma. Thanks for your time.

I greatly perfer fixed blade knives mainly for ergonomics and grip security however as you noticed it can be difficult to openly wear a fixed blade whereas a folder does not attract nearly as much attention. Another point is that I have noticed that even when opened a folder seems much more like a tool to most and a fixed blade a weapon made for killing. Sensible? No, of course not but it is what it is.

To get around this last year I bought a MNK-1 from Lynn Griffith and while it was primarily made to be a neck knife I wore it openly as a belt knife for months and used it whenever I could, never so much as tearing open an envelope. It is so tiny that it never upset anyone. It became common knowledge that I carried a knife on me but I never heard it referred to as the dreaded "sheath knife". "Cute" was the most common description.

I have recently ordered two opgrades to this. A SUB Sniper also from Lynn, which unfortunately will not be here for almost another year, and a mico version of this :


from Neil Blackwood. I realize I am treading on deadly ground with the Hawkbill shape, as I know it will invoke the wrong reaction, however I have asked Neil to reduce the blade length to 2.5" and to make it more visually striking. He is using blue G10 with blue and white spacers. On working blades I don't usually go for this type of thing but I am hoping that people will notice the pretty colors and not fixate on the blade shape.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 06-15-2000).]
Hi Bart, I don't have a problem with people keeping a strictly defensive piece. It's just that I think you should spend some time with it or maybe get a training version of it. I imagine part of the reason you got a Kozuka is the steel which should be tough and could hold a good edge. Just my opinion.
Good post, Bart.

For a long time, I only carried folding knives on a regular basis. Lately though, I've been carrying a puukko sheathed in my front pocket, à la Cougar Allen. Drawing and sheathing the knife can both be accomplished easily with one hand, provided you use a pouch type sheath.

If the sheath is the right size, one-hand drawing is possible because the top of the sheath will catch on the seam of your pants pocket as the knife is drawn. Granted, replacing the knife with one hand is not as easy as replacing a folder with one hand, but it's certainly not difficult. The mouth of the sheath stays open just below the pocket seam, and guiding the knife in is a pretty painless task.

I've tried carrying a large fixed-blade and can't do it. My puukko only has a 3.25" blade, but it feels fine and never gets in the way.

Cliff said,
...I have noticed that even when opened a folder seems much more like a tool to most and a fixed blade a weapon made for killing.
Actually, the opposite seems true to me. I think people associate single bladed locking folders with "switch blades". When they hear that little "click" sound as the folder locks open, they freak out. Like the famous shotgun "chuh-chink", it's a sound that says, "I'm now deploying a weapon."

I was wondering about theose micro knives. I just ordered a Littlewing from Sean Perkins. It has a 2" blade and is really good looking in its leather sheath. It shouldn't frighten the sheeple any. I think it will be too small of a grip for hard work, though. See it at:

Regarding the defensive carry: I hope I never need it for such, but it is intended to be a last ditch defensive knife and not a fighting knife. I do still train some, though. I made a wooden version of it and wrapped the handle. The wieght and balance are off, but the feel is right. I also do a lot of full power cutting test with it.

The Hawkbill is on shedule!
I find myself carrying fixed blades more often than folders now. I picked up a nice folder at the Blade Show and several others over the past few months. I love folders and plan on making them in the future.... However, I find that for MY daily carry, the best USING knife is a small fixed blade. I often find myself in a position with the wrong knife for the job at hand. I enjoy fishing and around the boats, salt water and FISH, a folder just doesn't do it for me! When I get a call from my friend to give him a hand at his farm, I take a fixed blade. It seems that with my knife use, any time I carry a folder and have to USE it for anything, I find myself out in the yard with the power washer getting the "gunk" out of it!
Here if Florida the Hunting season is very long. I see people carrying the common large folders in pouch sheaths ALL the time and quite often smaller fixed bladed hunters. It seems as long as you give the appearance of at least heading into the outdoors, the knives draw NO attention at all from anyone.
I observe this almost on a daily basis at a local diner and a busy gas/convenience store.
Right now I'm realy enjoying a Small Hunter I made in Talonite. Similar to this one:

I've purposely left it covered in dried salt water, just to pull it out a few days later, wipe it off and admire the shiny finish!!


New Domain name, host, etc. Please bare with me!
Blackwood Knives

[This message has been edited by Dr.Lathe (edited 06-16-2000).]

Id be very interested to hear what you think of the knife you ordered from Sean Perkins. Perhaps once you've received it and used it a bit you'd post a review? I took a look at his website and founf that he lives within an hour of where I am in Tennessee. After seeing his blades I think I might like to try one.

Marine Sniper Motto:
There's no use Running, you'll only Die Tired!
Originally posted by Cliff Stamp:
I greatly perfer fixed blade knives mainly for ergonomics and grip security however as you noticed it can be difficult to openly wear a fixed blade whereas a folder does not attract nearly as much attention. Another point is that I have noticed that even when opened a folder seems much more like a tool to most and a fixed blade a weapon made for killing. Sensible? No, of course not but it is what it is.

Here I'm with Cliff at each point. I also like more fixed blades simply because I have no worries it will fold onto my fingers. Yes, of course now it is a good deal of new modern lock designs, for ex. BM Axis Lock is really hard to beat.
But each lock is a mechanism only and like each mechanism it can (not must but still can) fail. Since my fingers are not interchangeable I can't to force myself to forget this.
On the other hand I also noticed that fixed blade in urban environment causes somewhat undesirable reaction: "This man has intention to kill someone if he'll have opportunity".

Well, in my main job I'm commercial security- and bodyguard. I'm ready to kill if it would be the single way to defend protected person or/and myself, but I haven't this intention in advance. So this kind of advertising is completely redundant for me.

This is the main reason why I carry reasonable large and reasonably tactically designed folder in my daily off-duty life. Usually it is BM AFCK or SPYDERCO Starmate, depending on mood

But when I have really serious work (for ex. personal protection or some dozens of handguns to transport) it is much less important for me who and what thinks about this matter. Much more important is to be ready for each situation. When I go armed with my Glock-19 and BM Nimravus Cub in my waistband.
Here: I have put description and photo how I do it.

I used to carry a folder in my right front pocket. Over the years it has ranged from various Spydercos to a Large Sebenza. Of those my three favorites were the Spyderco Native, the Spyderco Vielle, and the Large Sebenza.

But in the last four months or so all of this has changed. I found a couple of fixed blade knives that make the whole process so easy, so simple, that I haven't gone back to wearing a folder since then. I carry my fixed blade knives in one of two ways.
The most common carry for me is in my right front pocket with a J-shaped clip right where a folders clip would be. This maked for a very easy and simple one-handed removal by pushing down on the sheath or the top of the clip with my thumb while pulling up with the rest of my hand. In addition since the sheath comes to the top of my pocket it is ready for a simple one handed replacement.
I have been carry either a Lynn Griffith Texan or a Lynn Griffith Patrolman this way for almost four months on my half-hour walk to and from work. My path takes my across the parking lot of the local police station and through the ball fields of the local high school. I pass LEO's every day, sometimes as many as ten if I'm crossing the parking lot at a shift change.

If they've ever noticed my knives in this carry mode they have never mentioned it, never done anything but pet my dog who goes to and from work with me. The two Griffith knives are small enough to fit comfortable in the pocket and large enough to do everything I've asked of them except clear brush and I didn't really expect a 3 1/2" blade to be that good at brush clearing.

I've tried other knives with the same type of carry and the only one that has come close to being as workable is a Neil Blackwood Small Game in a sheath I had made just for this carry mode by Matt Draper. But, it still doesn;t work as well as the two Griffiths from his Back-up Series with the J-clip as a pocket clip.

I've tried all the other normal carry modes like cross draw, small of back, in waistband, neck knife, etc, and they are all great for concealability, but a knife in my right front pocket is closer to where my hand falls naturally. And none of these other carry modes make it easy or simple to replace the blade one handed.

So for me, today, a fixed blade that fits in the right front pocket with a clip or something that keeps the sheath in the pocket while withdrawing the knife is the perfect solution.

[This message has been edited by Davy Davis (edited 06-16-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Davy Davis (edited 06-16-2000).]
I, too, greatly prefer fixed-blades. Unfortunately, the number of stupid comments I have to deal with generally keeps me carrying folders. So, I usually have a folder clipped to each pocket, and when possible, a BM Nimravus IWB. I never have trouble drawing it one-handed, although I do use two hands to replace it, given that it is IWB... Of course, that isn't a small fixed blade, but the point is that it can be drawn one-handed. Try using your thumb (alonmg the spine of the blade) to keep the sheath in place as you draw.



Pic courtesy of Joe Chen and Tim Tang of Mad Dog Knives/Taiwan. Thanks!

I think the question should really be phrased: can the folder replace the small fixed blade? There are a few folders out there now that offer good reliability, but they are still not even close to a good fixed blade in comfort and strength, and ease of use. The key is in not carrying concealed.

The picture is a side-by-side comparison of the large Sebenza and a Mad Dog Lab Rat. Note the difference in blade and handle proportions though the OAL is pretty close to the same.

My usual weekend carry is a Mad Dog Pack Rat which I carry in a belt sheath. I have carried it all over the Bay Area, and never gotten a comment about it from anyone other than my in-laws.

There are also a number of small-small fixed blades that are better cutting tools than almost all folders. I have a 2 3/4" drop point with a three-finger grip that I carry in a small slip-sheath, either under my belt or in my pocket. It is a great little knife, and the better of almost all my folding pocket knives. The Nimravus Cub is another great little fixed blade. Crappy sheath though. A decent, low profile sheath makes all the difference.

The Ralph large Apogee is great, but it can't beat the Pack Rat for comfort and strength.

Some time ago, Chiro posted a small fixed blade comparo on the general forum. Excellent overview of small fixed blades.

[This message has been edited by Steve Harvey (edited 06-16-2000).]
I really appreciate some of the commments and the time you have taken to read my post.

I will post a review of the Perkins after I have used it for a while. I guarantee that knife will be worth $40, though. The only thing with "micro" knives is the lack of a decent handle.

Steve: What kind of drop point were you talking about? Is the three finger grip really sufficient for hard work? There is no way I could carry a Mad Dog on my belt at work. I am an engineer and work in an office much of the time. Maybe I can make a pocket sheath for my ATAK.

I am also interested in that "J-Clip". I assume this is just like a clip on belt loop from Kydex, except on the front side of the knife and close to the butt. I'll look on Griffith's site.

I have several FANTASTIC knives in the 3-4.5" blade range, from my designs to puukkos to Japanese styles..... I just haven't found a perfect way to carry them in my typical Dockers and Polo shirt dress. I definitely carry more on the weekend, but want it all the time.

Cerulean, I wish I was there. Around here folding knives are very common, they are usually Stockman or SAK's. As a general rule I use two handed openings in "public" to lower the responce. Any fast openings using a wrist flick are asking for trouble as well as someone with a very smooth thumb and a hole/stud . Similar for how you use it, I go much slower than normal as fast cutting movements disturb people.

Bart, the small handle on the MNK was the only real problem I had with it as a working knife which is why I eventually ordered the SUB Sniper. It depends on what you are cutting. It can handle light string and cardboard, but a heavy plastic strap can be difficult as you can't get enough leverage.

Neil, glad to hear it.

If there were no other considerations, I'd choose a fixed blade knife too, typically a small one with a fairly thin blade because it just cuts better that way and if I have to clear brush or chop, I'll have a larger, second knife or chopping tool.

But I work in an office 20 floors in the sky in the center of a crowded city. Having just changed jobs I'm going to be spending even more time in that environment than before. No one around me in the city carries a fixed knife in view even though doing so is technically legal. Concealing a fixed knife is definately illegal however, and even if it wasn't, the small neck knife carried under a shirt makes no sense for day-to-day utility chores because you can't conviently get to it! Even for defense, you have to rip your shirt open to get to it quickly!

In my urban environment, the folder, and a relatively small folder (blade around 2" or less), is the only way to go. On the other hand, opening such knives one handed (that satisfying "snick" sound) around the people I work with has not been a problem. Typically I'll draw, open, and begin the cutting chore so quickly and casually that people don't see a lot to react to.

The front pocket carry of a small fixed blade someone suggested above sounds very interesting, but I use both of my front pockets for things (wallet in one [more pickpocket resistant], and keys/change in the other). Can the knife be kept in the pocket and the pocket still used conviently for other things?
That seems like a rather strange question to me ... then I started reading the thread and came to the notion that unlocking a knife and folding it and clipping it in your pocket is somehow easier to do one-handed than simply slipping it into the sheath ... I dunno....

Today I don't have a puukko in my pocket; it's an old Hubertus single-edge thrower with a leather sheath made in two pieces sewn and riveted together. The back piece extends up the length of the handle and has slots in it for a belt (which I never use). It's just as easy to resheath without looking as a puukko sheath -- just slide the blade along the back piece and that guides it in.

I also have an Outdoor Edge Wedge clipped to my belt handle down with my keys attached to the sheath. It's an convenient way to carry your keys. I don't have any difficulty resheathing that one-handed either; I slide the blade along the retention tab to guide it in ... as I recall it took a little practice before I mastered it, but it took me some practice to learn to unlock and fold knives one-handed, too, a long time ago.

I often find myself doing things that require getting the knife out and putting it away over and over again. It's a lot more convenient to do that without having to open and unlock and close it every time, too.

All I can think is some people have learned to manipulate a folder so long ago they've forgotten there was any learning involved, and they haven't learned the much simpler trick of resheathing a real knife.

-Cougar :{)

P.S. I don't have any difficulty with a leather sheath coming out of my pocket with the knife when I draw, either, but I think there's a trick to that too. I think I'm pressing the knife against my leg and with some sheaths against the corner of the pocket as I draw without being aware of what I'm doing.

With a kydex sheath you can usually push it off with your thumb -- with some sheaths gluing something on can make that easier -- or you can use a static line to your belt or a safety pin or a clip.

I have no problem with carrying a neck knife in my front right pocket and useing the same pocket for other stuff. I will agree that a neck knife under the shirt don't work for me also. But, carrying one in my pocket has turned out to be more convenient than I ever thought it would be.
db, Cougar et al-

Do any of you ever have problems with your fixed blades moving around in your pockets? What kind of pants do you wear? Can you get your knife out pronto if need be? When resheathing do you have to look and find your sheath before sticking your point down there?

Also, nobody has addressed my "safety" issue of barely cracking the folder open to use it. I'll play around with some more of my neck knives to try this out. Right now the only small one I have is a costomized Emerson Griffe, which isn't very practical. All the rest are over 3.5" blades.

Another thing. What about when you go work out or run with Umbros wih no pockets and a t-shirt or tank? If you bench press with a neck knife, it goes everywhere but your chest/neck. These times I can still carry my Sebenza just as well, or a Delica if I really want to save weight. Thanks a bunch for al the input so far.

Do any of you ever have problems with your fixed blades moving around in your pockets?

When I carry in my back pocket I have. Solve it by putting something else in the pocket to hold it in place, or use a safety pin or a static cord to your belt.

What kind of pants do you wear?

I think anything that doesn't have vertical front pocket slits should work for front pocket carry. How much (if any) of the handle sticks out varies.

Can you get your knife out pronto if need be?

That's the whole point, as far as I'm concerned.

When resheathing do you have to look and find your sheath before sticking your point down there?

No, but I did the first time. And for more than a few times after that....

Also, nobody has addressed my "safety" issue of barely cracking the folder open to use it.

I would if I had anything to say about it.
Sounds like it could work....

Another thing. What about when you go work out or run with Umbros wih no pockets and a t-shirt or tank? If you bench press with a neck knife, it goes everywhere but your chest/neck.

I've noticed that too.

These times I can still carry my Sebenza just as well, or a Delica if I really want to save weight.

Or you could carry iwb, or clip a sheath to your waistband, or wear shorts or sweats with a pocket, or use a long neck cord and stick the knife in your waistband handle up, or wear a shoulder rig (shoulder rigs make me feel like the Man from U.N.C.L.E., but YMMV). Or a neck-chest rig like Anso's (there's a pic on his website) ... or tape the sheath to your body ... or clip it to a ring through a piercing....
Okay, I'm getting a little far-out with that last one, but there are a lot of options that some of us actually use. (If anybody is clipping a sheath to a ring ... please remember this is a family website ... if you're thinking of posting pix.)

-Cougar :{)
Hey, now we're rolling! Great thread so far.

"Do any of you ever have problems with your fixed blades moving around in your pockets?" - I do sometimes, but it's not a big deal. You can adjust it slightly throughout the day.

"Can you get your knife out pronto if need be?" - Almost any kind of fixed-blade is faster than a folder when drawn this way. Plus, you don't have to perform fine motor skills when deploying a fixed blade.

"When resheathing do you have to look and find your sheath before sticking your point down there?" - That depends on what and where the sheath is. If a portion of the sheath sticks out of your pocket, or if the mouth of the sheath is stiff and stays open, then one-handed resheathing without looking is very easy. If the sheath is contained entirely within the pocket and does not have a wide mouth, then it gets more difficult. Like Cougar said, you'll probably devise some little tricks to make replacing the knife easier.

"Also, nobody has addressed my "safety" issue of barely cracking the folder open to use it." - That doesn't really sound dangerous to me. However, I think a bigger "safety" issue might be carrying a fixed blade in your pocket! That's probably more dangerous than carrying a folder or a fixed-blade on your hip: if the knife punches through the sheath, the point may go into your leg. You'd probably want kydex, an innersheath, or very heavy leather to feel completely safe.

"If anybody is clipping a sheath to a ring ... please remember this is a family website..." - PSC = Pierced Scrotum Carry?

[This message has been edited by cerulean (edited 06-19-2000).]