SMALL- AND MID-SIZED FIXED BLADES MIGHT BE THE BEST OVERALL EDC OPTIONS
While I own plenty of large knives, much of my interest in fixed blades has centered on small- and mid-sized designs suitable for everyday carry (EDC). That’s because when you need a knife, you should probably have it close at hand and not tucked away in your pack or a drawer at home.
Small- and mid-sized fixed blades have several positive things going for them.
- They’re strong. Fixed blades have no moving parts. They won’t develop blade wobble, and they have no springs that can weaken over time as with some autos and assisted openers. I don’t do much batoning with a knife when I’m in the woods, but I definitely wouldn’t be doing it with a folder.
- They’re easy to maintain. Fixed blades are easier to clean after messy chores, such as field-dressing game or food prep. Cleaning off the blade and then wiping it with an oily rag after use is usually all that’s required. There are no difficult areas to access as there are with many folders. I’ve had some folders refuse to lock open because of the smallest bit of pocket lint obstructing the mechanism. That doesn’t happen with a fixed blade.
- They’re quick to deploy. A fixed blade situated in an accessible place is usually much quicker to deploy reliably under stress than a folder. With a fixed blade in a proper sheath, I can get a full grip on the handle from the beginning. I don’t have to readjust my grip upon drawing the knife. That’s standard procedure in handgun technique, and it’s what I require with my knife as well.
- They offer lots of carry options. Many fixed blades are suitable for pocket carry. But, depending on how your sheath is set up, you can opt to carry a fixed blade vertically on the belt, horizontally on the belt, on a pack strap or the pack itself, around your neck, or even tucked in a boot.
Naturally, I’ve come to prefer some of the fixed blades I’ve used over others. Here are some of my favorites:
Spyderco Enuff. I carry one of these more days than not. Mine (I have two) feature leaf-shaped blades. Each has a cutting edge of 2.54 inches and an overall length of 6.75 inches. Its fiberglass-reinforced nylon (FRN) handle is sufficiently wide and long enough for me to get a good grip on it, and it features Spyderco’s Bi-Directional Texturing, which helps, too.
The polymer sheath covers only the blade, so it’s easy to get a full grip on the knife to draw it. I have it set up for left-side belt carry (my handgun is on the right), but more often I simply place the sheathed knife in a left-side front pocket. This particular model is being discontinued, although the company will still offer the serrated sheepsfoot model. However, the Enuff 2 with a longer blade will be available probably by the time you read this. I’ll give you my report on that one soon.
ESEE Xancudo. This excellent knife has become my go-to hiking companion. It measures 7.12 inches overall with a 3-inch cutting edge and a spear-shaped blade. It’s made of S35VN steel and comes with 3D G10 handle scales either with or without a large carabiner hole. It comes with a molded polymer sheath. If hunting will be part of my game plan, I might substitute the Xancudo for an ESEE Ashley Game Knife with orange G10 handle, another of my favorites.
Bradford Guardian 3.5. I tried a Guardian 3 from Bradford Knives and I liked it. Then I tried a Guardian 3.5 and I liked it even more. The main reason is that the 3.5 models offer more handle. These knives are 7.25 inches overall with a 3-inch cutting edge. They’re available in M390, CPM-3V or Magnacut steel and with several handle options. You can choose between drop point, sheepsfoot, and tanto blade configurations. I have one that has a drop-point blade and a Micarta handle, and one sheepsfoot blade with a carbon fiber handle. A leather sheath set up for horizontal carry is included, but taco-style Kydex sheaths are available separately.
TOPS Skinat. The very first TOPS knife I bought many years ago was a Skinat. It continues to be one of my favorites or, should I say, two of my favorites as I have two of these also. Notice a trend? This knife is narrow and sleek with a good point, but at 0.19-inch thick, it’s a very sturdy blade. The Skinat is a bit bigger than the others I’ve mentioned. It measures 8.25 inches long with a 3.88-inch blade of reliable 1095 steel. It feature plenty of handle with well-shaped Micarta scales. If I were to choose among my other TOPS knives for EDC options, I’d probably choose the Lioness Rockies Edition with its smaller, more pocket-friendly handle. Santa recently brought me a Scandi Trekker, and I’m anxious to spend some quality woods time with that one, too.
Wachtman Eddy 2. I bought one of these at the Wachtman Knife & Tool booth at last year’s Blade Show in Atlanta. I love this knife. I measures 6.95 inches long overall with a 2.78-inch blade. It’s made of 80CRV2 steel. The Micarta handle is long enough for a full grip, but its small circumference makes it very comfortable to carry and easy to access in a front pants pocket. I added a small UltiClip Slim 3.3 to the Kydex sheath in case I want to carry it inside the waistband.
“The very first TOPS knife I bought many years ago was a Skinat. It continues to be one of my favorites…”
White River M1 Pro. This model is available with handle options that include G10, Micarta, or a paracord wrap. The standard steel is S35VN. But mine is in Magnacut steel and has orange G10 handle scales. This is a great all-around EDC fixed blade with an overall length of 7 inches and a blade length of 3 inches. The generous finger groove helps you to lock in your grip on this knife. A Kydex sheath is included. If I anticipate a good amount of woods time in my day, I might be tempted to switch to my White River Firecraft FC 3.5 Pro, another of my favorites.
Buck 102 Woodsman. I’ve used a Buck Woodsman for years. While it’s billed as more of a bird-and-trout knife, I’ve used mine to field-dress more whitetail deer than fish or fowl. The 4-inch clip-point blade is a bit more upswept than I’d prefer, but it’s a good general-purpose woods and hunting knife.
Of course, you always have the option of going smaller than the knives I’ve mentioned above. Among smaller fixed blades, some of my favorites include the GiantMouse GMF-1 and GMF-3, which make great neck knives. Perhaps the best grip available on a short fixed blade is with the TOPS Wolf Pup. It’s a great knife with a stubby, rounded handle that fills the palm and offers excellent control of the blade. In the most-bang-for-the-buck category, you can’t beat any of the CRKT Minimalist models. The one I have is the Bowie version and I’ve used it extensively with good results.
“With a fixed blade in a proper sheath, I can get a full grip on the handle from the beginning. I don’t have to readjust my grip upon drawing
FIXED FOR EVERY OCCASION
I could dig through my collection—or rather my accumulation—and find more favorites, but you get the idea. With a small- or mid-sized fixed blade, I might whittle a stick, shave tinder, gut a deer, slice food for a meal, or merely carry it in the event of an unwanted and unprovoked serious social engagement. KI
BEST CARRY OPTIONS FOR EDC FIXED BLADES
How you carry a fixed blade depends on the size and shape of the knife itself, the type of sheath you have for it, and your intended uses for that knife. For me, where I’m legally able, I like to keep any knife I carry concealed. I also want to make sure that my knife is secure yet accessible. I don’t want to accidentally stab myself, and I also do not want to lose the knife. Imagine really needing a knife, say in a survival situation, only to find your sheath empty.
So, what are the options?
Vertical belt. Traditionally, fixed-blade knives have been carried in sheaths vertically on the belt. That’s still a good option. It doesn’t take up valuable pocket space, and the knife is easy to reach, but concealing it requires a jacket or other cover garment that is long enough. If the knife is long, it can be in the way when seated in a car. With the small knives mentioned here, that shouldn’t be much of an issue, however.
Horizontal belt. This carry method is growing in popularity. Carried horizontally along the belt line, the knife is easier to conceal but still accessible. It normally allows for more comfort when seated. For horizontal carry, the sheath used needs to hold the knife securely. When I carry horizontally, I like to position the knife across my belly where I can reach it with either hand. Some carry it more to the non-dominant side in a cross-draw position.
Carrying along the small of the back (scout carry) has several downsides. You might not be able to reach it as easily during a struggle, you’re risking a spinal injury if you get knocked onto your back (this has happened with some who have carried a pistol there), and retention is more difficult if you’re attacked from behind or are wrestling on the ground.
Pocket. I often utilize pocket carry for a small fixed blade. The knife is completely concealed, but it does use up that pocket space because I don’t want other items in the same pocket where my knife resides. Downsides of pocket carry are that you can’t reach the knife easily with your opposite hand and accessing the knife when seated can be difficult.
Neck. For comfort, I limit neck carry to my small and lightweight fixed blades. Neck carry allows for easy concealment under a shirt. Drawing a knife from under a t-shirt is easier with the knife carried inverted, but the sheath must have good retention. It’s embarrassing if your knife clunks onto the floor in public. Carrying tip-down around the neck is fine for open carry.
Pack. Attaching a small knife to the shoulder strap of a pack can be a good way to go, especially if the pack has a hip belt that would interfere with a knife carried on your pants belt. I rarely opt for strapping a small knife to a pack. I don’t like being without my knife, ferro rod, and other small survival gear if I somehow get separated from my pack.
Sheath features. The type of sheath you have for your knife can make a difference, too, in how you decide to carry a fixed blade. A deep pouch-style sheath is fine for vertical belt carry, for instance, but for pocket carry I prefer a sheath that covers only the blade. That allows me to get a full grip on the knife, thumb off the sheath, and draw the knife quickly and reliably without having to readjust my grip. A sheath with a retention strap that isn’t a good match for your knife, and doesn’t hold the knife securely is especially bad for horizontal or inverted carry.
Wachtman Knife & Tool
White River Knife & Tool
Columbia River Knife & Tool