Great scout and horizontal carry fixed knives and sheaths option from Buck, Boker, K-Bar, Ontario and more.

Great Horizontal Side and Scout Carry Knife and Sheath Options For Tactical, Survival and Bushcraft Knives

Most people equate the horizontal carry style to some kind of tactical life decision when really it’s just a comfy life decision. The horizontal belt carry has only ever been optimally useful to me when I’m sitting down at the dinner table. Fashion statements aside, it’s a lot less awkward to take out a knife strapped to my left hip than it is to do the rocking butt dance to get at the folder in my right pocket. And of course the scout carry is great for hiking if you have intrusively fat legs that rub against vertical fixed-blades any time you attempt a maneuver more complicated than heaving yourself straight forward and praying to God that the heart attack holds off long enough for you to eat one more jalapeno bacon burger in your life.

Barring that, mainly what you’re looking for in a horizontal carry knife, regardless of intended use, is a well-designed but modestly-sized handle, and a sturdy sheath with good grip.

This article is updated regularly as we discover and test more fixed blade knives that can be worn in the horizontal and scout carry positions. We also remove knives once they have been discontinued and are out of stock at most major retailers. If you know of any great knives that you think should be included, please leave a comment below.

Here is our current list of the best horizontal and scout carry knives:

Survival / Bushcraft Fixed-Blades:

  • Bradford Guardian 3 – 3.5″ Blade | M390 or N690 Steel | Spear Point Blade | G-10 Handle | Read More…
  • Boker Arbolito El Heroe – 3.0 ” Blade | Bohler N695 Steel | Clip Point | Micarta Handle | Read More…
  • Condor SBK – 5.25″ Blade | 1075 Steel | Standard Blade | Micarta Handle | Read More…
  • Esee 4 with MOLLE add-on – 4.5″ Blade | 1095 Steel | Drop Point Blade | Micarta Handle | Read More…
  • Kizer Little River Bowie Knife – 4.48″ Blade | 1095HC Steel | Flat Grind | G-10 Handle | Read More…
  • Buck Selkirk – 4 5/8″ Blade | 420HC Steel | Drop Point Blade | Micarta Handle | Read More…
  • Gerber Principle  – 3.1″ Blade | 420HC Steel | Drop Point Blade | Rubber Handle | Read More…
  • Ontario Rat 3 – 3.75″ Blade | 1095 Steel | Drop Point Blade| Micarta Handle | Read More…
  • Esee Izula – 2.8″ Blade | 1095 Steel | Drop Point Blade Blade | Micarta Handle | Read More...
  • Forseti Steel Ironside Damascus Tracker – 5″ Blade | 1095 Steel/15n20 | Drop Point Blade | icarta Handle | Read More…
  • TOPS Backpacker’s Bowie – 4.5″ Blade | 1095 Steel | Clip Point | Micarta Handle | Read More…
  • TOPS Frog Market Special Standard – 4.88″  Blade| 1095 Steel | Clip Point | Micarta Handle | Read More…
  • Outdoor Edge Le Duck – 2.5” Blade | 8Cr14MoV Steel | Drop Point | TPR Handle | Read More…
  • Schrade SCHF 57 – 2.5″ Blade | 65Mn Carbon Steel | Drop Point | G10 Handle | Read More…
  • Spyderco Waterway – 4.4″ Blade | LC200N Steel | Drop Point | G-10 handle | Read More…
  • Spyderco Bill Moran Bowie – 3.875″ Blade | VG-10 Streel |Trailing Point or Drop Point | FRN w/ Kraton Inlay Handle | Read More…
  • Off Grid Knives Tracker X – 4.75″ Blade | D-2 Steel | Drop Point Blade | Micarta Handle | Read More…

Tactical Fixed-Blades:

  • Buck GCK – 5.5″ Blade | 5160 Steel | Spear Point Blade | G-10 Handle | Read More…
  • CRKT S.P.E.W. –  3.” Blade | 5Cr15MoV Steel | Wharncliffe Blade | G-10 Handle | Read More…
  • Spyderco Ronin 2 – 4.125″ Blade | CTS-BD1 Steel | Wharnecliffe Blade | G-10 Handle | Read More…
  • Ka-Bar TDI Law Enforcement – 2.3″ Blade | Aus-8  Steel | Drop Point Blade | Zytel Handle | Read More…
  • Ka Bar TDI Hinderance – 3.56″ Blade | 1095 Cro-Van Steel | Wharncliffe Style | Zytel Handle | Read More…
  • Gerber StrongArm – 4.9″ Blade | 420 HC Steel | Drop Point Blade | Rubber Handle | Read More…
  • Gerber Ghoststrike – 3.25″  Blade | 420 HC Steel | Drop Point Blade | Rubber Handle | Read More…

 

Survival / Bushcraft Fixed-Blades

Hiking and climbing is where carrying a knife horizontally shines for me. I don’t climb trees, rocks, and cliff sides like I used to, but I know that a knife in the pocket or hanging from your belt onto your leg is annoying as hell, and sometimes dangerous when you’re doing that. It’s really important to have knives with stiff sheath retention and a sturdy build in those situations.

 

Bradford Guardian 3

Excellent horizontal carry knife from Bradford. It's small size and ambidextrous sheath make it ideal for backpacking.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 6.75”
  • Blade Length: 3.5”
  • Steel: M390 or N690
  • Style: Spear point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: G-10
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Made in: USA

This is easily one of the most popular knives, not just for horizontal carry, but for survival and fixed-blade EDC in general. If you breathe you probably know about Bradford Knives by now. I’m mostly including it here out of obligation. It’s starting to feel like no list of fixed-blade knives will be complete without the Guardian 3, no matter how specific it is. But let’s do the review dance anyway: The Guardian 3 is a pretty simple survival knife (the best ones usually are), but there’s an odd number of straight lines to it. A spear point and a flat grind make for some straightforward sharpening, and certainly make it a nice hunting knife. It really shines with its leather sheath, though. The leather looks nice, of course, but best of all is it holds, and the belt loop is good and snug.

The Bradford Guardian 3 is extremely easy to switch between scout carry and front horizontal carry.

The Bradford Guardian sheath is ambidextrous for both front horizontal carry or scout (back) horizontal carry.

The Guardian 3 sheath pictured above is really easy to change between side horizontal carry or scout carry. The knife can just be flipped around in its sheath and you are good to go. You can’t wear the sheath in the vertical carry position since the belt loop is a stitched-in leather strap, but Bradford makes some great Kydex sheaths for this knife that are little more versatile.

Click here to read our in depth hands on review of the Bradford Guardian.

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Boker Arbolito El Heroe

This is a sturdy little blade with a thick spine, and more than a few things that make it feel similar to the Bradford Guardian 3. For example the shweath that ships with this knife is also horizontal carry only.

  • Overall Length: 6.75”
  • Blade Length: 3.0”
  • Blade Steel: Bohler N695
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Blade Style: Clip point
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Made in: Argentina

This is a sturdy little blade with a thick spine, and more than a few things that make it feel similar to the Guardian 3. It’s not so similar that it doesn’t make a good case for itself, though. It has a thicker blade stock, a recurve edge, and a stout tip, so it comes off as a tougher alternative to the Guardian 3. I don’t know if it performs as well as the Guardian 3 (We are currently reviewing it), but one thing that gives me pause is that Arbolito does have a tendency to send knives off with less than perfect edges, and the Bohler steel is not easy to tighten up.

The sheath on this is what really drew my eye to this knife, though. It’s pretty different from most leather sheaths you’ll see, and Boker clearly put some thought and pains into making it work for the knife.

The sheath on this is what really drew my eye to this knife, though. It’s pretty different from most leather sheaths you’ll see, and Boker clearly put some thought and pains into making it work for the knife. You’re not actually supposed to pull the knife out of the sheath; since the sheath is contoured so closely to the knife’s recurve shape, you have to unbutton the sheath, which opens up the whole back of it and lets you take the knife out that way.

This will be a tricky knife to carry scout style for right handed people, as the thing is pretty much fixed to make the handle ride to the left. Fortunately this is a small knife and should ride pretty comfortable on the side or front. All in all a pretty unique approach with an attractive design.

If you want to learn more about this knife or if you just want to see more photos of it check out our review of the Boker Arbolito El Heroe.

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Condor SBK

  • Overall Length: 10.5”
  • Blade Length: 5.25”
  • Blade Steel: 1075
  • Blade Grind: Scandi
  • Blade Style: Standard
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: El Salvador

This is a new-ish knife, but it’s an old school design. There are a lot of details about it that make it a fantastic bushcraft and survival knife. It has soft, tough steel you can fix up in the field, a scandi grind that does wonders with chopping and feather sticking, and a big, comfy Micarta handle. This is the kind of thing Condor excels at. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with big fixed-blades from them.

The sheath is kind of involved to wear horizontally, but it will sit secure once you get it on.

The SBK ships with one of the best production sheaths we have ever tested.

The sheath is kind of involved to wear horizontally, but it will sit secure once you get it on. The two big leather straps snap on behind the belt, which is trick to pull off if you want to carry this scout style. It’s definitely worth the trouble, though.

If you want to learn more about this knife check out our Condor SBK review.

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Esee 4 with MOLLE add-on

The Esee 4 is a great horizontal carry knife when it is ordered with the molle sheath option.

  • Overall Length: 9.0”
  • Blade Length: 4.5”
  • Steel: 1095
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Micarta
  • Sheath: Molded polymer w/ nylon MOLLE add-on
  • Made in: USA

Esee finally started selling their knives with MOLLE compatible sheaths, so I get to add one of their micarta-handled knives to the list. Be warned this isn’t the standard option. Most Esee listings you see out there will just come with the standard vertical-carry Kydex sheath. After some digging, I discovered if you start looking for Esee knives with the letters “MB” thrown into the product name you can find their knives being sold with their Cordura MOLLE backs, which is supposed to be an addition to the Kydex sheath.

The Esee 4 has a pretty versatile sheath, so it is a good choice if you need options.

Supposedly they designed this thing to stay secure while jumping out of planes, so you can carry an Esee anyway you like with it. You’ll just have to fiddle with it some first, although, probably a lot less than you’ll need to with the Esee Izula farther down.

Check out our review of the Esee 4 if you want to learn more about this knife.

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Kizer Little River Bowie Knife

The Kizer Little RIver Bowie Knife is a great horizontal or scout carry option.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 8.75”
  • Blade Length: 4.38”
  • Steel: 1095HC
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: G-10
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: China
  • Designer: Dirk Pinkerton

 

Like a few others on this list, the Little River Bowie from Kizer needs some adjustment before you can scout carry it. The kydex sheath is snug though, even if it doesn’t exactly look stellar. In fact some people complain it’s a little too snug. For some reason they made the sheath lap over about a fifth of the handle when it’s inside, so there’s a chunk of plastic right where your thumb would normally go to grip and pull the thing out. The knife itself is pretty sweet though. I like the idea of a smaller sized bowie knife because walking around with a regular sized one has always felt excessive for a short person like me, even when I scout carry them. This would be a lot less awkward to pack when I’m hiking around.

The Kizer Little River Bowie can be horizontal or scout carried out of the box, but it works better with a Tek Lok .

The Kizer Little River Bowie with a Tek Lok attachment.

The Little River Bowie works well as a horizontal or scout carry option right out of the box, but the Tek Lok attachment is a cheap way to add versatility and durability. On most belts the Little River Bowie sags a bit due to the fact that it is not adjustable. This makes it harder to put it back in the sheath when it is behind your back. The Tek Lok is adjustable and provides a more snug fit.

Check here out our in depth review of the Kizer Little River Bowie Knife.

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Buck Selkirk

The Buck Knives Seljirk is a favorite of horizontal carry fans.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 9.5”
  • Blade Length: 4 5/8”
  • Steel: 420HC
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Micarta
  • Sheath: Plastic
  • Made in: China

The Buck Selkirk has been growing in popularity ever since it was first introduced in 2014 for good reason. It is a really practical bushcraft knife that feels like it was designed by someone who actually uses bushcraft style knives on a regular basis. The sturdy sheath is extremely versatile and can be set up for left or right handed horizontal or vertical carry.

The versatility of the Selkirk's sheath aallow it to be used in horizontal or scout carry positions for both right and left handed folks.

The Selkirk has an ambidextrous sheath, but the small black screws are hard to find if you drop them outdoors.

There is a little bit of a learning curve to figuring out how to reconfigure the sheath, but the overall versatility and ease of use make the initial slowish set up well worth it. This knife was initially met with some reservations, because it’s made at Buck’s factory in China, and it uses a softer steel than most bushcraft knives, but it is such a great design that it has been winning over doubters on a regular basis. That being said, it would be great to see Buck move the manufacturing of this knife to their U.S. factory, and offer a higher carbon steel option even though that would result in a price increase.

Click here to see read our in depth Buck Selkirk Review.

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Gerber Principle

This great bushcraft knife is capable of vertical or horizontal carry, and it is MOLLE compatible.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 7.5”
  • Blade Length: 3.1”
  • Steel: 420HC
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Scandi
  • Handle: Rubber
  • Sheath: Polymer
  • Made in: USA

It’s always nice when knife companies listen to their customers, and that’s what it looks like Gerber was doing. Lots of us have been wanting a bushcraft style knife with a sheath system as versatile as the Gerber Ghostrike, and the Principle definitely delivered. It’ MOLLE compatible and can be easily switched between horizontal and vertical carry.  It would be nice if Gerber had used a steel with better edge retention than their 420 HC, but I am sure that is part of the reason this USA-made knife is under $70.

From a bushcraft standpoint the Principle checks a lot of boxes. It would be nice if the sheath were a little more versatile though., so it could be carried in both left or right side horizontal carry positions.

From a bushcraft standpoint the Principle checks a lot of boxes. It has a zero edge scandi grind, a 90 degree spine for starting fires with a ferro rod, and a comfortable handle for hard use. This is a new model from Gerber that has become popular very quickly. Hopefully we will see variations in the future that will include better steel, a sheath that can hold a ferro rod, and maybe a bigger version. As it stands, the Principle is a bargain at its current price point.

If you want to know more about this knife check out our in depth review of the Gerber Principle.

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Ontario Rat 3

The Ontario Rat 3 has two different sheaths that both work for horizontal carry.

Specifications 

  • Overall Length: 7.75”
  • Blade Length: 3.75”
  • Steel: 1095
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Micarta
  • Sheath: Kydex or nylon
  • Made in: Taiwan

There are two sheath options for the Rat 3. The cheaper option is the basic nylon sheath pictured below. The other option is a kydex sheath with the Tek Lok. Both options allow you to carry the Rat 3 horizontally or vertically. If you use the Tek Lok mechanism for the Rat 3’s kydex sheath you have near infinite carry options. As great as the knife itself is, I think that’s probably one of my favorite features about the Rat 3. They’ve designed the kydex sheath so that the clips can be set in four different ways with screws, and the retention is so strong you could wear the knife upside down without it falling out.

The snaps of the included nylon sheath for the Rat 3 are difficult to snap in the scout carry position, so it is best to carry in the front.

The included nylon sheath is really versatile, and makes it easy to carry the Rat 3 in a variety of ways including on a backpack.. However the snaps are somewhat difficult to manage when worn in the scout carry position pictured above, so front carry may be the best option for most people when wearing the rat horizontally.

Click here to read our in depth review of the Ontario Knife Company Rat 3.

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Esee Izula

The Esee Isula comes in a variety of colors.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 6.25”
  • Blade Length: 2.8”
  • Steel: 1095
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Steel
  • Sheath: Molded Polymer
  • Made in: USA

 

There will probably be some unscrewing involved, but the Izula is one of the best horizontal carries if you’re in the market for a skeleton style knife. If you have a good cord you can run it through the sheath and turn it into an almost universal carry. It’s one of those conveniently small but surprisingly hardy knives. Or maybe not so surprising, since ESEE has pretty firmly established themselves as a household name in the survival knife world. Generally speaking, I would recommend this knife even if you aren’t looking for a horizontal carry, because if you use knives regularly you’re bound to end up using this one a lot.

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Forseti Steel Ironside Damascus Tracker

The Forseti Steel Ironside Tracker Is Horizontal Carry Only

 

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 9.5”
  • Blade Length: 4.75”
  • Steel: 1095 layered with 15n20
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Micarta
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Made in: Pakistan

We spent several weeks testing out the Forseti Steel Ironside Tracker before deciding it deserved to be in this article. This knife is Forseti’s version of the Tom Brown Tracker design. There is a fair amount of controversy about Tracker style knives that I will talk more about when we post our full review of this knife. Basically a lot of people love Tracker style knives and many others don’t.  I think the design is versatile, mostly practical and a lot of fun. It would not be my first choice in a “nothing but a knife” in the wilderness situation, but it wouldn’t be my last choice either. If you like the Tracker design the Forseti Steel Ironside is worth considering. It is tough, great looking and it does an excellent job of starting fires with a ferro rod.

This knife can be carried right drsw for front horizontal or left draw for scout carry.

Like many of the other knives in this article, the Forseti Steel Ironside Tracker can only be carried in the right draw position when worn in the front and the left draw position when carried scout style in the back. It is a horizontal only carry only sheath with retention straps that are tight enough to hold snugly to most of my larger backpacks.

The fit and finish of this knife is truly impressive, and it was tough enough to handle all the bushcraft tests we threw at it. I would love to see Forseti Steel come out with a sheath  for this that offered a vertical carry option and a ferro rod holder.

Check out our in depth review of the the Forseti Steel Ironside Damascus Tracker if you want to learn more about this knife.

 

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Tops Backpacker’s Bowie

The TOPS Backpacker's Bowie is an excellent horizontal carry option for hiking and survival.

  • Overall Length: 8.25”
  • Blade Length: 4.5”
  • Blade Width: 4mm
  • Steel: 1095
  • Style: Clip point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Micarta
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: USA

The TOPS Backpacker’s Bowie is smaller than the average Bowie knife, but it is a great size for minimalist backpacking or camping. This fixed blade knife is big enough to easily accomplish most bushcraft and survival tasks, but it is small and light enough to do some long distance hiking without it getting in the way. When worn in the horizontal carry position the knife and sheath ride close to the body which is great if you are hiking on a small deer trail or through brush because the handle is less likely to bump into stuff.

The micarta handle is relatively short, but surprisingly comfortable and easy to grip when chopping thanks to the finger grooves. The 1095 high carbon steel blade is thick enough to handle batoning if you decide to pack light and leave the hatchet at home.

The Backpacker's Bowie works as a front horizontal caryy sheath and knife option for right handed people and a great scout carry option for left handed follks.

The blade of the Backpacker’s Bowie has a notch on the front part of the spine for breaking wire or lifting pots off a campfire without burning your fingers. The flat grind is great for feather sticking or camp fire food prep.

My only complaint about this knife is that the sheath can only be right hand carried in the front horizontal position, and it can only be left hand carried in the Scout position. I really hope TOPS revisits the sheath design in the future to make it a little more versatile.

The rotating spring clip of the Backpacker Bowie sheath does allow it be carried vertically if that is your preference.

We are currently doing a full review of this knife and sheath, and we will post a link to the review here when it is finished.

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TOPS Frog Market Special Standard

The TOPs Frog Market Special is a fixed blae knife designed for horizontal or scout carry.

  • Overall Length: 9.5”
  • Blade Length: 4.88”
  • Steel: 1095
  • Style: Clip point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Micarta
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: USA

I’m not sure how often I would actually use this design, but I love it anyway. It’s close to what I imagined a bushcraft kitchen knife would look like before seeing this knife. Apparently the inspiration came from butchers and fishmongers in Vietnam, so this is very much meant for food prep in the field, especially in combination with the Kydex sheath and adjustable clip.

This knife works for horizontal carry in the front, but only works for scout carry in the back for left handed folks.

There’s an XL version of this with a 7-inch blade, which would normally seem ridiculous to me, but if you’re actually going to use this for butchering or food prep it might be worth going bigger. Keep in mind, if you aren’t a practiced outdoors-man and/or chef that the thin tip does present a breaking risk even with a robust 1095 steel. Just don’t go batoning with this thing and it should keep doing wonders for you.

We are currently testing this knife out, and we will link from this article to the review once it is done.

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Outdoor Edge Le Duck

The Outdoor Edge Le Duck is a budget friendly scout or horizontal carry option.

  • Overall Length: 6.25”
  • Blade Length: 2.5”
  • Steel: 8Cr14MoV
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: TPR
  • Sheath: Polypyrene
  • Made in: China

This is technically a drop point blade, but the slight angle on the back and the severe curve near the top on the edge make it border on a tanto, which is to say this knife is stabbier than most survival tools. It could almost be put under the tactical category since the sheath makes it a versatile carry, it’s small enough to conceal, and the handle is fairly grippy. But Outdoor Edge clearly had an outdoor survival use in mind with the design. They’ve outfitted it with paracord and a MOLLE compatible sheath, plus the blade has a rust resistant coating that should make it a handy blade to keep on your fishing vest. The other tip off is the orange-handle version, which is clearly for idiots like me who accidentally drop their knives in the woods all the time and can’t find them beneath the forest foliage.

One great feature of the Le Duck is the flip lock that holds it in place. It is incredibly secure, and with a little practice it is possible to flip the lock with your thumb and draw the knife quickly in one fluid motion.

Click here to read our in depth Outdoor Edge Le Duck review or to just see more pictures of this cool little knife.

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Schrade SCHF 57

The Schrade SCHF57 is small and very budget friendly.

  • Overall Length: 6.125”
  • Blade Length: 2.5”
  • Steel: 65Mn Carbon Steel
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: G10
  • Sheath: Polymer
  • Made in: China

Schrade really did an impressive job with this budget friendly knife. It is definitely in the running for the best fixed blade on the market under $20. The sheath is much more versatile than most of the more expensive knives in this article. It can be can be configured for left or right front vertical carry, left or right scout carry or left or right vertical carry.

Schrade used srprisingly good quality raw materials in this knife.

This knife can be worn as a neck knife or carried vertically or horizontally.

Considering the SCHF57’s cheap price, Schrade used surprisingly high quality materials to manufacture it. The handle scales are G10, and the blade is made of 65Mn carbon steel which has considerably better edge retention than the 8Cr13MoV steel Schrade uses in most of their knives. The only downside of 65Mn over 8Cr13MoV is that it is more prone to rust, so this knife will need to be oiled occasionally, and it should always be dried before it is put back in it’s sheath.

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Spyderco Waterway

The Spyderco Waterway is a high end option designed for the water.

  • Overall Length: 9.47”
  • Blade Length: 4.4”
  • Steel: LC200N
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: G-10
  • Sheath: Polymer
  • Made in: USA

Aside from the high profile brand behind this knife, the steel makes this Waterway stand out. LC200N is a highly corrosion-resistant steel that was originally made for ball bearings, but was quickly adapted into other industries when knife designers got hold of it. You could think of it as the upgrade to H-1 steel which you’ll see in the rest of Spyderco’s Salt series and basically every diving knife ever made. It’s harder and somehow has a higher corrosion resistance and still manages to maintain enough toughness not to be a chipping danger. This is very much a reliable survival knife on and in the water.

The sheath might look a little under built for holding a 10-inch knife, but the profile of the knife is pretty slim. It weighs nearly half as much as other full-tang fixed blades of the same length. This was meant to ride easy on the belt or wherever you need to pack it on a boat, so don’t worry too much about how well the sheath holds the knife so much as where you plan on keeping the thing.

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Spyderco Bill Moran Bowie

This Spyderco design is meant for camping or hunting, and it can be carried in carried vertically or horizontally with the included sheath..

 

  • Overall Length: 8.0”
  • Blade Length: 3.875
  • Blade Steel: VG-10
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Blade Style: Trailing point or drop point
  • Handle Material: FRN w/ Kraton inlay
  • Sheath: Boltaron
  • Made in: Japan

There’s a lot of history behind the name Bill Moran, but for the purposes of this knife,it’s just important that you know he’s done a lot for fixed-blade designs in the knife world over that last several decades.

This Spyderco design is meant for camping or hunting (as the product descriptions often “highly recommend”). It comes in a drop point and a trailing point design that both come in at the same size and price, and the handle is a good simple shape that just fits the hand with a lot of grippy material. The balance of the knife should also sit right in the center near where the index finger sits so the knife not only handles well, but it will ride easy on the belt.

The sheath and belt clip look to the be the same as the Ronin 2.

The sheath and belt clip look to the be the same as the Ronin 2, and based on my experience with that I can say that it will be a little frustrating to convert to horizontal carry at first unless you have a magnetized torx screwdriver. Spyderco does exactly excel at sheaths for fixed blade knives, but they always work well enough.

Check out our in depth review of the Spyderco Bill Moran Bowie if you want to learn more about this knife.

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Off Grid Knives Tracker X

The D2 steel of the Tracker X has a thick blade stock and they’ve made a pretty comfortable and grippy micarta handle.

  • Blade Length: 4.75”
  • Blade Steel: D2
  • Blade Grind: Sabre
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: Taiwan

This is a fairly new company and the Tracker X is an even newer knife that seems well in the competitive range with Esee knives.. Off Grid is primarily a folding knife company, but they have recently jumped into the fixed blade game with some great  knives including the Tracker X. The thick D2 steel blade holds it’s edge extremely well which says good things about Off Grid’s heat treatment. The micarta handle is pretty comfortable and grippy even in wet weather.

The Tracker X is a new horizontal carry knife that offers impressive performance at under $100.

The compact size of the Tracker-X sheath makes it a great option for scout carry.

The Kydex sheath has features that looks to be similar to a Tek Lok design, but with the ability to clip on, so it should be easy to slap onto your belt or MOLLE pack. The only thing that might hold you back is the size. Nine and a half inches long is more or less standard for survival fixed blades, but this is a wide knife. So depending on your body type it might sit heavy.

We did an in depth review of this knife, and we were really impressed with it’s toughness and performance at most outdoor and camping type tasks. Click here to read our Tracker X review.

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Tactical Fixed-Blades

There are a lot of knives made for horizontal carry under the “tactical” category, but most of the time it feels more like a gimmick than an actually functional design (either that or a copy). But when it’s done well, it’s hard to beat the comfort and adaptability of a tactical horizontal carry.

Buck GCK

The Buck GCK (Ground Combat Knife) is a great tactical fixed blade knife capable of ambidextrous horizontal carry.

  • Overall Length: 10.625”
  • Blade Length: 5.5”
  • Blade Steel: 5160
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Blade Style: Spear point
  • Handle: G-10
  • Sheath: Polypropylene w/ Nylon MOLLE back
  • Made in: USA

The name stands for Ground Combat Knife, which is probably close to what anyone would guess by just looking at a knife. Buck clearly had military deployment in mind when they designed this thing. It has a brutal spear point and thick G-10 scales that grip the hand like they have a grudge.

They’ve built a few bushcraft and survival elements into the knife as well. Mostly in the slightly thickened part of the spine just below the tip that makes a nice striking point for batoning. The steel is 5160, which is an incredibly tough spring steel. Normally this steel is too soft for knife companies to touch, but Buck’s heat treatment has made it bit harder and a lot more reliable.

The Buck GCK set up for right draw Scout Carry. It can also be carried in the left draw horizontal position.

They’ve designed the sheath with about a million carry options. Obviously you can do a lot with whatever straps happen to be on your rig with the MOLLE back, but if that thing feels too cumbersome you can take it off and slap a Tek Lok on the polypropylene sheath on there without a problem. It can be a little tedious to put a regular leather belt through the straps on the MOLLE back, but once it’s on it becomes one of the most comfortable horizontal carries we’ve tried.

we spent a few weeks testing this knife out and taking pictures. Check out our in depth Buck GCK review to learn more.

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CRKT S.P.E.W.

The CRKT is a great compact option for horizontal or vertical carry.

  • Overall Length: 6.19”
  • Blade Length: 3.0”
  • Blade Steel: 5Cr15MoV
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Blade Style: Wharncliffe
  • Handle Material: G10
  • Sheath: GRN
  • Made in: China

This is probably the most subtle knife on this list, and certainly the one I’ve carried the most. The name stands for “Small Pocket Everyday Wharncliffe”, and that pretty well summarizes its scope. You can use this little thing on all kinds of daily tasks around the house, and a few more out in the bush, although I’d rather not count on it for survival.

It makes a great fishing knife, and thanks to the size and weight you can carry it pretty much anywhere, including your pocket. It’s also surprisingly comfortable for being so small. The handle is a great shape for larger hands. So far my fat fingers haven’t had too much trouble keeping a grip on the thing.

The CRKT Spew is compact and versatile.

The Spew is a compact option for those will smaller waistlines who don’t want a big knife that might catch on stuff when hiking or hunting on narrow trails.

Click here to read our in depth review of the CRKT Spew.

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Spyderco Ronin 2

The Spyderco Ronin shipps with an adjustable boltaron sheath.

  • Overall Length: 7.875”
  • Blade Length: 4.125”
  • Steel: CTS-BD1
  • Style: Wharnecliffe
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: G10
  • Sheath: Boltaron
  • Made in: USA

This is a design by Michael Janich who has spent much of his career studying knife combat and experimenting with carious combat-oriented knives. He holds to the philosophy that one should hold a knife with the thumb resting along the spine. Supposedly this helps to make slashing strikes easier and more precise.

The Ronin's belt clip makes it easy to move the knife from fronthorizontal carry to scout carry pictured here..

I won’t speak to the functionality of that view, but I will say that his knives are pretty sweet, and Spyderco takes them to a very functional level. It sports a highly corrosion-resistant steel with a thin stock and G10 scales so it rides incredibly light. And the combination of the interchangeable G-clip makes it easy to adapt to your carry style.

Click here to look at more photos and read our in depth review of the Spyderco Ronin 2.

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Ka-Bar TDI Law Enforcement

Horizontal carry tactical knife from Ka-Bar

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 5.6”
  • Blade Length: 2.3”
  • Steel: Aus-8
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: Zytel
  • Sheath: Molded polymer
  • Made in: Taiwan
  • Designer: John Benner

It’s in the name. A lot of law enforcement actually do carry this knife. So if tactical is high on your list of requirements the TDI is well worth considering. I don’t like the shape, personally. There’s only so much I would actually use it for, but Ka-Bar does make a pretty trusty AUS-8 steel, and I have to respect the uniqueness of design.

The sheath definitely makes this knife fun, though. It’s sturdy polymer with a stiff clip that’s tight enough to hold to your waistband.

The sheath definitely makes this knife fun, though. It’s sturdy polymer with a stiff clip that’s tight enough to hold to your waistband. The idea behind it is to be easy to conceal and take out, and it covers that pretty well. It’s only technically a horizontal carry because of the angle of the tang. Generally when you’re wearing it, the blade with still be mostly up and down, but the handle should ride horizontal.

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Ka Bar TDI Hinderance

The carry options are similarly limitless to the base TDI design. It has a strong reversible belt clip

  • Overall Length: 7.25”
  • Blade Length: 3.56”
  • Blade Steel: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Blade Style: Wharncliffe
  • Handle Material: Zytel
  • Sheath: Polymer
  • Made in: USA

The TDI was a good design until Rick Hinderer and John Benner got a hold of it. Now it’s a great knife. The changes to the shape and materials almost make it a completely different design with some really good ergonomic considerations.

The dip with heavy jimping on the thumb combined with the increased angle of the blade to the handle make slicing motions a lot more comfortable. There’s also a little more handle and blade to work with overall, which is nice for actually using the knife, but could create some legal trouble depending on how and where you carry the knife.

The carry options are similarly limitless to the base TDI design, though. It has a strong reversible belt clip that can fit the knife as easily on the belt as on the inside of your waistband.

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Gerber StrongArm

The Gerber Strong Arm has a well designed sheath that make it one of the best horizontal carry knives on the market.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 9.75”
  • Blade Length: 4.9”
  • Steel: 420HC
  • Style: Drop point
  • Handle: Rubber
  • Sheath: Molded polymer
  • Made in: USA

It might take some fiddling, but the StrongArm is pretty solid as a horizontal knife. Gerber has done their best to make it adaptable. While as a rule I consider most tactical knives to be stupid, I do like the big rubber handle and plain edge on this knife. I feel like there aren’t enough survival and tactical designs out there that use rubber or rubber-like materials. It adds miles of grip to a knife even in wet or dirty conditions, and reduces a lot of risk of slipping, which is especially great if you plan on needing to pull it out fast. I make it a point to never be somewhere I would need fast deployment, but I appreciate the option.

The Gerber StrongArm sheath is ambidextrous, so the knife can be carried in front horizontal or scout carry facing either the left or right side.

The StrongArm sheath is ambidextrous and MOLLE compatible, so it is incredibly versatile. It can be carried in the scout or front horizontal positions regardless of whether you are left or right handed. I wish Gerber would use similar setups on more of their fixed blade knives. I did discover that if you have a smaller waist the the StrongArm  tends to bump into things. The person pictured above has a 29 inch waist, and scout carry was a little problematic. However, I have a 32 inch waist and it seemed to be less of an issue. I think the StrongArm is definitely one of the best knives on the market for attaching to a backpack, so if you are looking for a MOLLE compatible pack knife this one is tough to beat.

We are currently writing an in depth review of this knife, and we will post a link in this article when we are finished.

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Gerber Ghostrike

The Gerber Ghoststrik hollow handle with black blade.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 6.86”
  • Blade Length: 3.25”
  • Steel: 420HC
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: Rubber
  • Sheath: Polymer
  • Made in: USA

To me, the Ghostrike looks like bunched up hemorrhoids with a pointy end, but people seem to love this knife anyway. On some level I understand. It’s compact and has a pretty quick deployment with grippy rubber handles. It uses belt loops instead of clips that you can unscrew and move to be horizontal or vertical carry. They’ve also made an ankle wrap for it, so there’s a huge range of carry options. It’s also very thin, so it makes for a great concealed carry, assuming you want that for some reason.

The small size and versatility of the sheath of the Gerber Ghostrike make it a great option for scout or horizontal carry.

The Gerber Ghoststrike has a really versatile sheath.

I think I’ve made it pretty clear what I think about the term “tactical”, though. Any talk of “the best tactical knife” is a good way to tell people you bought a katana from the mall when you were 15 and it’s still hanging up in your bedroom right above a pristine copy of The Art of War. Even I have to admit the Ghostrike is a pretty good knife, though, because this is exactly the kind of knife Gerber does really well. The Ghostrike is made to be abused, and you could do worse than to have this thing on your ankle or belt when you head into the woods.

Click here to read our in depth review of the Gerber Ghostrike.

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A Note on Tek Loks

A Tek Lok can make any MOLLE compatible sheath into a horizontal carry sheath.

While every knife I’ve put on this list should come out of the box with the ability to be carried horizontally, they are not all equal in that capacity. It’s hard to overstate the usefulness of a Tek Lok in converting a knife to scout carry or just trying to improve the way it carries. Knives like the Kizer Little River Bowie really benefit from this kind of accessory because the manufacturer just didn’t quite put in the thought to perfect the sheath and belt clip. So a couple things about Tek Loks:

  1. They should be compatible with pretty much every Kydex sheath,
  2. They can be adjusted to belt size with the spacers inside the clip,
  3. They are cheap and tough as hell.

Frankly, it’s worth getting a few Tek Loks just in case you want to play around with a new knife. If nothing else, they’re fun to play with, but at their best they completely change the way you carry your favorite knife for the better.

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