Knives at airports... Sheath or pocket carry?

Oct 2, 1998
I'm planning on some air travel with my baby Sebenza in the near future. With the supposed ambiguity in knife regulations (black blades, serrations, "mean-looking" knives, etc...) would pocket carry be better than having a black nylon belt sheath?

Also, would it be prudent of me to use two hands instead of one to open/close the blade if asked to do so? Does security get a little nervous if one "whips out" a sweet one-hand opener?

I realize these thing SHOULDN'T matter, but I was wondering what everyone's opinions and experiences were.

Kelly Yates
I'm with you Senator, what is the best method of flying with your favorite folder?
I recently carried a small Sebenza through two airports, San Jose, CA, and Omaha, NE. I put money on the 'benza, and it sailed through the change basket. I had forgotten about the Emerson CQC6 in my carry on bag, and the security person asked to see it. I said, 'the blade length is under the FAA mandated 4"' He replied, 'it sure is', and handed it back. So, no hassles for me.

Of course, YMMV, Walt Welch
I have a small lock back 2.75 in blade,
It looks like a "common" pocket knife and has passed with out problem 6 times
the F.A.A. rule says (common pocket knives less than 4in may be caried abord aircraft by passengers)
note the key word is common!!

If it looks scary you may get checked out.
Just remember you dont want to get the hair on the back of their necks standing on end.

if they look stressed I will say OOps I forgot to put this "pocket knife" in my bag.

Just look normal and you fly with your knife.

If you look like the road warior you will have problems.
I seem to be living on airplanes these days.

I have always placed my large 'benza in my carry on bag and allow it to be x-rayed. However, I do make sure it is placed in the bag as to present the lowest profile possible when it is being scanned. Thus it is always sitting on edge at the bottom of my bag during the scan.

I have been through a dozen different security points with this arrangement in the last month. Some were very tight check points, some were pretty lax.

Based on discussions from all over the net, the experience seems to be a plain edge will get by in most cases as long as it is under 4". But if you have serations on th blade, you odds on being hassled jump conciderably.

Of course, with as many ariports as there are in this world and the low pay the people receive, you mileage may vary at any location.

I've always found that when passing through the security check, if you stuff your knife inside of your carry on baggage (not in your pocket, or on your belt in a sheath), then you will pass through without any problems. And once you're past the security chcekpoint, then you can take your folder back out and clip it to the waistband or inside the pocket. What Ed Schott said about looking "normal" in personal appearance also helps you out.

I have flown numerous times, domestic and international, with knives on board. Generally I stick to the smaller folders with plain edges (Benchmade 850 Pardue and Spyderco C52BM Calypso Jr. are two of my designated "flight knives"). I only have one knife with me on board. I take the bigger folders along on trips too, but those get stuffed inside my check-in luggage!
I travel extensively throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada and South America and the trick I have learned is to always put your knife in your carry on bag (take a briefcase or small duffle if you don't have a carry on). Any time you put your knife in the tray at the security point, you are taking a big chance. Airport security people, either because they are bored or attracted to bright shiny objects, are very likely to pick a knife out of the little basket and give it a thorough exam. I have carried several knives in my carry on bags over the years (and literally hundreds of flights) including a mini-AFCK, mini-SOCOM, K.I.S.S., Gerber Paul, A.G. Russell titanium folder, a SOG multi-tool, a CQC7 and various others (not all at the same time) and have NEVER had to take one out for inspection. As stated in an earlier post, position the knife in your carry on so it doesn't look like a knife. I always orient mine so that the X-Ray sees it from the end, doesn't look like a cutting tool at all. Hope this helps.

I was taking my wife to Love Field (Dallas) last week to catch a flight. She went in while I parked the car. We were running late, so I was hurrying to catch up as her plane was boarding. At the check point they have a LARGE sign proclaiming NO GUNS, NO KNIVES. Now I was freaking out with a Spyderco Endura in my pocket and my wife's plane about to take off. After a moments hesitation I held up my knife to the security guard and said "is this going to be a problem". He didn't even bat an eye, "naw, go on through". At DFW an Endura won't even trigger the metal detectors.
Just went to Vegas, w/small Sebenza in the carry on, just stuck it in the side pocket and sent it thru the xray. They asked to see my bag on the other end and when I went to open it they said, "no need open it." They then took some kind of a cloth swab, looked like a round gun cleaning patch, and rubbed it on my bag. Then they ran the patch through some kind of scanner or something, waited for a read out then told me, "ok, no problem you can go". Took about 10 seconds and no questions re the knife.

Anyone know what kind of new technology this is and what they are looking for? Explosives or something? The procedure was the same coming home. I didnt get stopped but watched a couple of people who did. Same swabbing of the bag and putting the patch through a scanner or something.

BTW, was in Vegas for the Guild show and noticed someone on the same flight in front of me w/a folder clipped in his pocket. When he went thru the checkpoint he just put it in his carryon and went thru w/no problem. He was wearing a leatherman and they didnt stop him for that.