There are a multitude of different ways to carry a defensive knife, and plenty of strong opinions to support them. There are however some serious considerations, and while no single method of carrying your knife is king, there are some fundamental flaws with carrying a defensive knife in certain popular ways.
There are basically three main considerations when it comes to carrying a fixed blade defensive knife, namely:
- It needs to offer secure, positive retention so that the knife does not come loose or fall out while you are running, fighting, or wrestling on the ground.
- It needs to be comfortable to wear all day and not interfere with or hinder your movement.
- Perhaps most importantly, it needs to be consistent in its accessibility.
When we are considering fixed blades, pretty much all of these points come down to the quality of the sheath. A good sheath shouldn’t limit you in any way. While the size and shape of the knife itself can also have a big impact on whether or not it’s comfortable to carry, a poorly made sheath can worsen the problem, or take a comfortable to carry knife and make it uncomfortable.
When it comes to ways to carry a defensive knife on your body, there are a few sound options for the actual positioning.
The two best ways are Inside the Waist Band (IWB), vertically so the handle sticks up above your waistband, or Outside the Waist Band (OWB), usually mounted horizontally on the belt. Both of these options put the knife on the your waist line. This is a very natural position for accessing tools. Specifically where on your waistline is dependant largely on your own personal preferences, your body type, the way you dress, etc. will all impact where it works for you. The one area we would strongly advise against is putting the knife in the small of your back.
There are a couple of reasons for this:
- Getting to it is a bigger and more unnatural movement, and much more difficult to access if you are wearing heavy clothing like a jacket
- It’s likely to be seen by someone approaching you from behind if it isn’t covered by heavy clothing
- You can only get to it with one hand, and not at all if you’re on your back.
We should also take a moment here to mention Neck Carry (knives worn on a cord around your neck). This is a bad idea for a defensive knife. Simply getting to it is a big problem as its underneath garments. Even if you can get to it, it will be moving around a lot, and if you happen to be on the ground it could even slip around behind you. In general they are a terrible idea, and even worse if its a knife you are relying on for defensive purposes.
The front of your waist line offers much more beneficial placement. Regardless of whether its on your hip or in appendix carry, IWB or OWB, its a much better option. Largely because:
- This area is accessible with both hands.
- If someone tries to go for your knife you can control them and retain your weapon.
- Quite often you can pre-load your accessing of the weapon by moving your hands over it in a very natural, unassuming way (Interview Stances), this does take training and practice.
- If you end up on the ground the weapon is still accessible.
Here is a short video we made on choosing between IWB or OWB.
If you also carry a firearm, you can switch the position of you defensive knife to your supporting hand, but still keep it on the waistline.
Most men don’t have any real struggles with carrying in this position, however when it comes to women it can sometimes be an issue. This is largely due to how they dress, especially in work environments if there is an expectation for women to dress a certain way which isn’t always conducive to carrying defensive tools.
The ideal solution is to alter the way you dress, and to dress around the tool. This can be a tricky proposition depending on how you prefer to dress, but it can be done successfully even with a feminine style of dress.
There are times however where its just not feasible to wear belts and/or lots of equipment. Running and jogging, or at gym, spending a day at the beach, etc. are all times in our lives where we don’t necessarily want to be all tooled up. This is where Discreet Carry Concepts HLR Gear Clips excel.
These clips are designed to work without a belt and can clip directly to the waistband of your garment. This means they can be worn with board shorts or gym shorts, arguable even with something as delicate as yoga pants (depending on the level of retention in the sheath).
Regardless of how you decide to carry your knife, it needs to suit you and you alone. It needs to work for you. There are no points for style or coolness factor. Ultimately it’s about how comfortable you are and how readily you can access your knife when it counts. Practice also makes perfect, so don’t forget to get those reps in!