Blades and Knives

Carrying a Fixed Blade Knife for EDC — How and Why?

Three fixed blade knives on table

If you’re visiting The Shooter’s Log, you probably already carry some sort of knife on a daily basis. Whether it be for defensive use, general utility, or both, a good knife can save the day. Although many will gravitate to the folding knife for everyday carry, or EDC, I would suggest you consider giving a fixed blade knife a chance.

Fixed blade knives are more capable and durable than folding knives. They are less likely to break under high stress and hard use. There is no lock interface to keep the blade in place and worry about failing, no screws holding the frame together, and no action for dirt and grit to obstruct. It is just one solid piece of steel. 

Size Considerations

When choosing a fixed blade, one of the main things you’ll want to consider is size. Because they cannot simply fold in half for easy carry like a folding pocket knife, the overall length will be of greater importance. I find the sweet spot for me is between 6.5 and 7.5 inches. This tends to give you a knife with about a 3 to 3.5-inch blade. Any smaller, and I’m sacrificing too much blade length. Any larger, and it becomes too cumbersome to carry daily. 

Emerson Specwar and HFB Can Jr.
A good 7.5-inch overall length gets you about the same blade length as a mid-size folding knife.

With an increase in size also comes an increase in weight. Both overall length and blade stock thickness will contribute to your weight. If it is too heavy, it will likely become too much of a burden for you to consistently carry and you’ll leave it at home. You can probably get away with up to 8 inches overall, depending on your body size and preferred carry method, which we’ll discuss later in the article.

Knife Options

Fixed blades tend to be less expensive than folders, as there is less machining required during production. They come in at all price ranges, so there are bound to be tons of options that fit your size, style, and budget. Being a knife nerd, I have blades that range from $20–1,000, and I know some who spend well beyond that.

Spending more will get you higher-end materials, such as blade steel and handle scales, but the law of diminishing returns comes into play fast. As you pay more and more, you’ll likely be buying small details, such as chamfering or hand-ground blades, that may not contribute to overall performance. 

Certain knife designs are only available from specific makers, and the price will reflect that. The Strider SLCC is a perfect example. If you want this unique knife design, you have to pay to play. Even within the different SLCC models, prices will range from a few hundred to a few thousand. 

Tracker Dan and Half Face Blades are two other companies that make high-end fixed blade knives that hold up to some serious use. The Tracker Dan Bloodshark, the flagship model, is built with concealability in mind, while still providing effective blade length. Coming in with about a 3.5-inch blade and 7 inches overall, the Bloodshark is one of my favorite fixed blades for EDC. The grip area may be a little small for some with large hands but should mold nicely into most. 

Three different fixed blade knives in sheaths
Getting the right sheath will help make carrying a fixed blade a breeze.

Another great everyday carry fixed blade is the Half Face Blades Cav Jr. This is a similar size to the Bloodshark, with about a 0.5-inch longer grip. The classic drop point blade design excels at most tasks and is very durable.

For those looking for a good, budget fixed blade, I recommend the Spyderco Street Beat. The 3.5-inch bowie blade has a good tip for detail work, and the full flat grind makes it an excellent slicer. The concealed tang and FRN handle make for a lightweight package that’s capable enough for most tasks. The polymer sheath offers good fit and retention, but may require different mounting hardware if you do not wish to carry outside the waistband. 

If you’re looking for the most discreet option and a capable self-defense tool, the Benchmade Mini SOCP fits the bill. This miniature fixed blade clips in your pocket just like a folding knife or small flashlight and is purpose-designed for emergency self-defense. The blade may be short, but the ring at the end makes for easy extraction and there’s plenty of handle to get a good grip. 

For the most bang for your buck, the CRKT Biwa delivers. For under $40, you get a good 3-inch drop point blade, attractive black/brown G10 handle scales, and a good polymer sheath that is ready to accept multiple attachment methods. The blade steel is basic, and it’s a bit shorter than my preferred length, but it makes for a solid budget EDC fixed blade.

TD Bloodshark with leather and kydex sheath options
Both leather and Kydex sheaths will have their benefits, it’s up to you to decide which will work best for you.

Sheaths/Carry Methods

Obviously, carrying a fixed blade requires a sheath. Most knives will come with a sheath, but if yours doesn’t, or it comes with one that does not work for you, you can always have a sheath custom-made. Sheath selection will typically come down to Kydex or leather. Each has its own pros and cons, so the choice will be up to you.

Kydex sheaths typically feature a distinct click! when the knife is inserted or drawn. Some even incorporate a way to adjust the retention strength. They will not collapse after the blade is removed, making resheathing your knife easier — especially with one hand. Additionally, there’s less of a risk that your blade will puncture through the bottom of the sheath. 

Leather has a classy, timeless aesthetic. It also features softer edges and can be more comfortable to wear all day. Leather will tend to produce less wear on your blade finish over time. However, it will retain more moisture, which could result in rust if you don’t clean and oil your knife. Take care of your tools and they will take care of you.

When deciding on your sheath, you’ll need to determine how you plan to carry your knife. Similar to concealed carry, it may take some trial and error to see what works best for you. For EDC, my favorite methods are inside-the-waistband and pocket carry. This will keep the knife accessible, but discreet. 

fixed blade and folding knives in pocket
In the pocket, a good size fixed blade shows no more than a standard folding pocket knife.

Resheathing isn’t as quick, but drawing the knife is simple. Attachments such as the Ulti-Clip help retain the sheath in the pocket while drawing and keep it in place for resheathing. This is a cheap bonus, but is not necessary.

If you want the blade a bit more accessible, and are willing to sacrifice some concealability, outside-the-waistband carry is a good option. Carrying vertically on a standard belt sheath works, but offers very little concealability unless you’re wearing a jacket or cover garment. Swapping to horizontal carry with belt loops makes for a more concealable package.

Worn just in front (or behind) the hip on your offhand side, the curve of your body should hide most of the shape of the blade. Horizontal carry will also shift the knife into a position that keeps the handle from poking into you and out of your shirt as you bend and move throughout the day. 

Strider SLCC worn horizontal on hip
Horizontal carry makes a readily accessible blade that carries discreetly.

Small fixed blades may be carried around the neck on some ball chain or paracord. They can be concealed under a shirt or jacket and drawn by pulling downward. Neck carry can be fairly accessible, depending on your cover garment, but I find the dangling knife flopping around to be annoying. 

Final Thoughts

Moving to a fixed blade knife for everyday carry may seem daunting at first, but it’s something you get used to and allows for a more capable and dependable tool. With the right knife and sheath combination, carrying a fixed blade can be just as easy as a folding knife. If you haven’t tried carrying a fixed blade knife for EDC, I recommend you give it a shot. If you follow some of these tips, I don’t think you’ll regret it. 

Do you ever EDC a fixed blade knife? What are some of your favorite fixed blades? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • ESEE 5 Fixed blade knife in sheath
  • Three different fixed blade knives in sheaths
  • TD Bloodshark with leather and kydex sheath options
  • Three fixed blade knives on table
  • Emerson Specwar and HFB Can Jr.
  • fixed blade and folding knives in pocket
  • Strider SLCC worn horizontal on hip
  • Small ceramic neck knife

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a relatively young firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting consistently for around seven years. Though he is fairly new to the industry, he loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related.

Alex tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills. He also enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and to keep them properly cleaned and maintained. He installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn.

Additionally, he is very into buying, selling and trading guns to test different firearms and learn more about them. He is not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (5)

  1. I see a lot of people carrying all sorts of knives, from the basic Buck 112 to expensive tacticals. The only time I get concerned about those people is when I ask them the purpose of that knife and they tell me it is for self-defense, but they admit that they have had no training in using a knife as a self-defense tool because they do not see the need.

    When I was in the Army, some 50 years ago, we were given rudimentary instruction in using edged weapons. There were several things that stick out in my mind all these years later that seem, to me at least, to be seldom mentioned in today’s self-defense community.

    One of those is what one of our instructors told us in that if we were using an edged weapon to defend ourselves we needed to prepare ourselves to be cut and possibly cut badly. And to prepare ourselves to understand that it will hurt and we will bleed, possibly a lot. I can speak from experience when I say it does hurt like hell to be cut, just not at first. Many people who get cut first will lose the fight because they do not believe that they will be the one to get cut, much less they will bleed as much as they are now bleeding. Between the Army and those years in ER, I have seen a number of people who engaged someone with a knife and did not fare well when theirs was the first blood drawn. It is not like in the movies and people who try to emulate what they have seen the choreographed moves played out by actors will probably lose (another word for assuming room temperature.)

    Then there is the concept of training in the use of a knife as a self-defense tool. I use that word, instead of weapon, because if one has not been adequately trained in its use as a weapon, it is just a tool, nothing more, and unfortunately for too many who have not been trained, it will get them killed or seriously wounded if they draw it to use in that manner.

    I have talked to people who know how important it is to train with a firearm but do not consider that training with a knife is much more important if one is going to deploy one as a self-defense tool. One should never consider it to be a weapon if that one has not been trained. You would not give a firearm to an untrained person and expect them to engage someone in a hostile situation, so why do people treat knives the same way.

    As I said, I have military training in the tactical use of a knife as a self-defense weapon and as an offensive weapon. I carry a number of knives on my person every day. Only one of those knives is a real tactical knife (an Emerson CQC-7, I got back in the early 90’s) that will only be drawn if I am in fear for my life and a firearm is not available for whatever reason. I do not use it for anything else and have never had to deploy it, and I hope I never do. I have other EDC knives that are for cutting open boxes and stuff like that.

    Please, if you carry a knife, PLEASE, do not consider it to be a self-defense weapon if you have not spent considerable time in training with it as a weapon. Then, it is just a tool, and a less than adequate one if one is not trained.

  2. You mention “neck carry. I have a peeve seldom addressed when neck carry is raised. The lanyard needs to be strong enough to retain the weight of the blade but WEAK ENOUGH TO BREAK AWAY IF YOU ARE CAUGHT BY IT, or caught on something! IF THERE IS NO BREAKAWAY -and it is snatched or caught you are now captive! If you have also lost the blade and can’t get loose of the “capture” you may be at the mercy of something or someone that could bring greater harm than you have considered… This consideration should apply to anything you put around your neck! Even my neck tie is clip on!

  3. I have always carried a fixed blade. Ranch work is easier with a fixed blade and now I no longer ranch but stick with a fixed blade. I stick with a 4 inch blade because thats allowed most places. % inches gets into the restricted size. For about 20 years my carry/utility knife has been a Schrade Imperial,7 1/8 with 3 inch blade.

  4. A 3.5″ blade is too small; and I prefer a clip point with a sharpened false edge.
    I have spent a lot of time carrying Blackjack subhilts (1-5 and 1-7), Cold Steel Tantos, various F-S stilettos and larger Bowies; both on and off duty.

  5. Alex

    Excellent!

    A thought- in a few states a fixed blade knife is illegal for carry even with a gun permit, some are classed as ‘dirks’. Even in my own very gun friendly state

    Best!

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