By: Kevin Estela
“A knifeless man is a lifeless man.” This old nordic proverb stands true to this day. One of man’s earliest tools was an edged device other than his own teeth. Over time, tools became weapons and the value of a blade was magnified. Today, we carry all manners of blades from pocket knives on an everyday-carry basis to large choppers in the field. Unfortunately for us, knife carry isn’t always associated with utility but with criminal intent. You and I both know we aren’t perceived as being resourceful but suspicious if we pull out a blade to help a person cut something they are ill-equipped to deal with. Therefore, we tend to carry our blades concealed for our own safety and open-carry (I’m including exposed pocket clips on this one) is not a smart decision around mixed company. What amazes me still are those I teach who are unaware of various manners of bladed concealment. This blog will serve as part I of a multi-part presentation of various practical concealed carry options.
Neck Knife (Low and High Carry)
You’ve probably seen plenty of people walking around with neck knives exposed. I won’t get into why it isn’t practical to carry a necker exposed but I personally don’t like to carry neckers open unless I’m in known company. I’m not even referring to walking through the woods in my decision to keep my blades close to my body. When I wear a neckers concealed, I wear them either low or high underneath my t-shirt. This is where Mission Knives’ Titanium comes in handy as sweat can ruin not only ferro rods carried on the exterior of a sheath but also carbon steel in knife blades. Titanium construction addresses one of those problems and coating ferro rods in clear nail polish takes care of the other. For comfort, I tend to wear a t-shirt close to the body under my concealment garment. I also only wear one layer of concealment over my blades or pistol. When I wear my neckers on my person, they are worn so I can access them from the collar of my shirt or from right at the hem. A necker worn higher on the body fits in the space between your pecs where muscle and fat can’t grow. This hollow is perfect to conceal your blades. You’ll find a necker, worn low on the body is easily accessed quickly much like an appendix-carried pistol is. With all of these methods described, the user will balance comfort, speed, concealment and practicality.
Remove any excessive belt loops and strip your Kydex sheath down to the bare bones. Deep pocket carry has many advantages and a few drawbacks. I’m not partial to putting my hands in my pockets as anyone in the self-defense/combatives community will tell you it invites bad juju. However, for daily carry in somewhat friendly environments, pocket carry lets you securely carry a blade in a hand-warmer or buttoned pocket. Depending on the retention of your sheath, you can remove the blade with a push of your thumb. You can also elect to add a lanyard to the butt of your blade and create a sticky surface on the sheath with skateboard tape/rubber bands that will let the blade draw and sheath stay in place. Deep pocket carry is comfortable with smaller 3-4” blades but impractical for anything larger. Just be careful not to lose the contents of your pockets when you sit down.
Divers have long carried their blades on the inside of their calf and this manner of carry earned the nickname “kelp catcher”. Knives worn on the ankle/calf are not just the tools/weapons of divers and old-school commandos but also for those who need a place to carry a blade that doesn’t need to be accessed quickly yet remain on them for purposeful and deliberate use. Concealment is better accomplished on the inside of the leg than the outside much like an ankle gun is carried. The draw from this position is slow but the thin profile of a cord-wrapped blade is likely never to be visually noticed when carried here. Handle down carry is left for the most secure sheaths but personally, I will only carry blades and firearms with the handles/grips up. My preferred way of attaching a blade to my ankle is with a Sticky Holster Ankle Adapter. I have worn this rig with my Glock 43 into movie theaters and while driving and never experienced any discomfort. With just a titanium blade, the only thing you notice is the pressure of the holster and not the weight.
Belt carry is my preferred deep concealment option on a daily basis. With an untucked shirt, an inside-the-waistband (IWB) worn holster or sheath disappears. Even with a tucked in shirt, I carry folding knives with the clip tucked to my pants and behind my belt. Very little of the clip is left to be seen. The remaining part of the clip and handle can be covered over with a cell phone worn on the belt. The best IWB option I’ve found is the Ulti-Clip that will clamp onto clothing and not release unless an excess of 75 pounds of force is used to pull on it. If this option isn’t available, the Molle button straps that come standard on Mission Knives can be reversed to the opposite side of the sheath and worn upside down. This lets the body of the sheath to tuck in the pants. I appendix carry my IWB blades on my strong side or my other strong side. “Other strong side” is the preferred terminology by the way since referring to a part of your body as “weak” takes the strength away from it. I have two strong sides. That, however; is a topic for another blog in and of itself.
The first rule of weapon retention is concealment. Open carry has no tactical advantage for the average person who is the unknown to an uneducated person. In this day and age, we have to know how to conceal our blades even if WE don’t consider them weapons. For all the public knows you are a threat to them simply because of the blade you carry to open packages and cut your sandwich at lunch. The average person who is non-LEO and/or military must work with what they are legally allowed to carry and think about being discrete in their actions. Part I and all the subsequent posts related to this topic are designed to present many ways of concealed carry instead of promoting one way or THE way. Ultimately the decision of how you carry will come down to your own physical attributes, mission, training and circumstances.