Best Horizontal Carry Fixed Blade Knives

Good fixed blade knife options 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. Here’s what I’ve found in those categories.

  • Bradford Guardian 3 – 3.5″ Blade | M390 or N690 Steel | Spear Point Blade | G-10 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…
  • 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 | Steel Handle | Read More...
  • Ka-Bar ESEE Becker Eskabar BK14 – 3.25″ Blade | 1095 Steel | Drop Point Blade | Steel Handle | Read More…
  • Ka-Bar TDI Law Enforcement – 2.3″ Blade | Aus-8  Steel | Drop Point Blade | Zytel Handle | Read More…
  • Gerber StrongArm – 4.9″ Blade | 420 HC | Drop Point Blade | Rubber Handle | Read More…
  • Buck CSAR-T Liaison Tactical – 3.0″ Blade | 420 HC Blade | Tanto Blade | Steel 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. 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.

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.

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Benchmade Hidden Canyon Hunter

  • Overall Length: 6.32”
  • Blade Length: 2.67”
  • Steel: CPM-S30V
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: G10 or Dymonwood
  • Sheath: Kydex or leather
  • Made in: USA

Leave it to Benchmade to make a fixed-blade hunting knife with a blade under 3 inches. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just exactly the kind of thing I would expect on hearing that Benchmade came out with an outdoor knife.

The Hidden Canyon Hunter is cool though. They made it primarily for skinning game, so it has a big belly and a nice tall grind. I’m a little confused by the flat grind. It seems like hollow would have been optimal for this design, and it’s not like you’ll be doing much sharpening in the bush with this S30V steel. Either way, this knife will get the job done without adding much weight or awkwardness to the belt.

The important part is the sheath of course, which is made to be exclusively worn horizontal. Just a couple things you should note, though: If you get the leather sheath, you’ll only be able to wear this right handed, since the loop is stitched in. The kydex sheath will let you switch back and forth, so that’s probably the choice for you left handers.

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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. 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.

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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.

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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.

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, but it is so well made 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 even though that would result in a price increase.

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

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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

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. I believe the nylon sheath is made to be exclusively worn horizontally, but I’ve never actually worked with it personally, so don’t quote me on that.

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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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Ka-Bar ESEE Becker Eskabar BK14

Great EDC horizontal carry knife from Ka-Bar

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 7.0”
  • Blade Length: 3.25”
  • Steel: 1095
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Steel
  • Sheath: Molded Polymer
  • Made in: USA

 

This is an interesting, and kind of confusing, collaboration between ESEE and Ka-Bar. Apparently the Becker Eskabar BK14 is meant to be a combination of the Gerber Becker Necker (feel free to say that out loud as often as you like) and the Esee Izula, which looks to have resulted in a Becker Knife blade on an Izula handle. I’m not sure what the story is behind this collaboration, but I do prefer this to the Becker Necker. Of the three knives, this is the longest, which might be the main deciding factor between this and the Izula. That and the sheath. The Eskabar comes with a neat horizontal carry sheath that fits pretty easily onto the belt, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s kind of cheap, so wear will probably become an issue.

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TOPS Pasayten Lite Traveller

It is really easy to transition the TOPs Pasayten Lite Traveller from vertical to horizontal carry.

  • Overall Length: 10.0”
  • Blade Length: 5.25”
  • Steel: 154CM
  • Style: Clip point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Micarta
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: USA

This is nice, simple bushcraft design with some thick workings and a practical flat grind. You couldn’t really ask for better, although the 154CM steel gives me pause. It’s a good dependable steel, I just get nervous about a steel that hard on a knife this big. But 154CM sits right on that edge of acceptability for me. I wouldn’t get S30V in a 5-inch blade, but this should be able to take a decent beating, especially since the spine is so thick. I like the design of the pocket clip, although something about a rotating clip also makes me a little nervous. At the very least, this is a lot easier to get into horizontal carry than most other knives.

It was designed by Steven Dick, who has some other interesting designs with TOPS (see just below). He’s an editor for Tactical Knives Magazine, of all things. You wouldn’t know it to look at his designs though. His stuff looks pretty strictly bush craft to me, but it’s nice work all the same.

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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.

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 outdoorsman 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.

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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 245 Matt Will Go Navy Seal Knife

The Buck KNives Navy Seal Matt Would Go Knife is a great tactical survival hybrid that be be horizontal carried.

  • Overall Length: 9.0”
  • Blade Length: 4.0”
  • Steel: 5160 carbon steel
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle: Micarta
  • Sheath: Kydex w/ Tek-Lok clip
  • Made in: USA

This is one of the few knives touting the phrase “made for Navy SEALs” all over the place that I actually have to give a little credit to. The 245 MWG is awesome. It’s made with 5160, which is a high carbon spring steel, and goes full tang through micarta scales. This thing was made to get all hell beaten out of it. And it’s not oversized like so many overreaching bushcraft designs out now. That 4-inch blade offers a lot of compact usability.

The 245 has a pretty interesting history as something originally designed by a SEAL out on the field. Apparently he made the first one out of spring steel from a humvee, which sounds like the kind of Rambo-style knife pornography that got me into bushcraft knives in the first place. I’d say this makes pretty decent competition for the ESEE 4.

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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 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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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.

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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.

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.

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Buck CSAR-T Liaison Tactical

The Buck Knives Csar works as a knick knife or a horizontal carry knife.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 6.75”
  • Blade Length: 3.0”
  • Steel: 420HC
  • Style: Tanto (kind of)
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Stainless steel
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: USA

This knife doesn’t technically come with a horizontal-carry sheath, but it’s the kind of barebones design that you can make work for pretty much anything if you put your mind to it. It’s so light, and the holes at the bottom and side of the sheath mean you could run a lengthy bit of cord and wear it around your neck or across the shoulder so it rides on the side. It might not work for the belt unless you get a custom sheath, but you won’t have much trouble finding a spot for it somewhere on your body. It’s certainly not my favorite knife on this list, but it definitely falls under the “that’s pretty neat” category.

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2019-01-07T23:38:06+00:00

About the Author:

Copywriter with vague delusions of grandeur. My time is spent aggressively oscillating between drinking coffee at my computer and running through the woods with pointy objects.

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