Best Horizontal Carry Fixed Blade Knives – 2021 Update

Great scout and horizontal carry fixed knives and sheaths option from Buck, Boker, K-Bar, Ontario and more.
The Buck Selkirk can be worn in a variety of horizontal carry configurations.

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.

Speaking as people with fat legs, we’ve messed around with a lot of different sheath systems trying to find something that suits our weirdly proportioned bodies and have worked out which ones seems to work the best, either because the sheath system is well thought out, or the knife itself carries well, or some combination of both. For the sake anyone else in desperate need of a more comfortable fixed-blade option, we’ve put together this selection of knives, all of which we own and have personally tested by way of camping, hiking, climbing trees, tripping over rocks, sitting on couches, eating BBQ, shopping for groceries, tying our shoes, and generally existing in a way that doesn’t involve getting the handle of out belt carry jabbing us in the ribs every other step.

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 in 2021:

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…
  • Tops 3 Pointer – 3.13″ Blade | 1095HC Steel | Flat Grind | Micarta 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...
  • Civivi Keplar – 4.48″ Blade | 9CR18Mov Steel | Wharncliffe Blade | G-10 Handle | Read More…
  • TOPS Backpacker’s Bowie – 4.5″ Blade | 1095 Steel | Clip Point | Micarta Handle | Read More…
  • Southern Grind Jackal Pup – 2.75″  Blade| 8670M Steel | Drop Point | G-10 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…
  • Off-Grid Hoglet – 2.75″ Blade | Cryo G-10 Steel | Cleaver | 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…
  • TOPS Frog Market Special – %.2″ Blade | 1095  Steel | Clip Point | Micartal 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…
  • CRKT SiWi – 3.34″ Blade | SK5 Steel | Drop Point Blade | G-10 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.

The Bradford Guardian 3 fixed blade knife shown worn in the horizontal scout carry position on a belt around a women's waist.
The Braford Guardian 3 is one of the best fixed blade knives we have reviewed here at Nothing But Knives.

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

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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TOPS 3 Pointer With Micarta Handle Scales

The TOPS 3 Pointer fixed blade knife with micarta handles tilted at an angle on a white background.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 6.63”
  • Blade Length: 3.13”
  • Steel: 1095
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Canvas Micarta
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: USA
  • Designer: Leo Espinoza

This Leo Espinoza designed fixed blade from TOPS is one of our favorite horizontal carry knives due to it’s practical size and the fact that it can also be carried as a neck knife. When worn horizontally the 3 Pointer can be carried behind the back in the left facing position or on the front in the right facing position. We wish it was capable of ambidextrous carry in in both front and back, but the fact that it can be carried as a neck knife helps make it one of the most versatile knives in this article.

A man's hand drawing the TOPS 3 Pointer from it's sheath which is worn in the front horizontal carry position.
We really liked the size and versatility of the TOPS 3 Pointer.

The relatively large thumb ramp makes it easy to draw the 3 Pointer from it’s sheath with one hand. The straps that allow this knife to be worn on a belt or a backpack can be easily removed with a phillips screwdriver if you decide you want to carry it as a neck knife or in a pocket with a lanyard attached.

The easily concealable size of the 3 Pointer combined with it’s super grippy micarta handles and tough 1095 steel  blade make it a good tactical option.  It also makes great work knife or small hunting knife. After several weeks of use the 3 Pointer has become one of our favorite small fixed blades for a variety of uses.

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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 Ontario Knife Company RAT 3 can be worn in a variety of horizontal carry configurations.

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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Civivi Kepler

The Civivi Keplar fixed blade knife with green G-10 handle scales on a white background.

Specifications 

  • Overall Length: 9.93”
  • Blade Length: 4.48”
  • Blade Steel: 9Cr18MoV
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Blade Style: Wharnecliffe
  • Handle: G-10
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: China

Civivi pushing into the world of robust fixed blades feels like a Broadway actor getting into boxing. It seems weird and concerning at first and then you realize there’s some legitimate crossover from all the dancing they do.

The Civivi Keplar set up for horizontal carry on a man's belt.

The Kepler is a little too long to be a perfect horizontal carry, but it’s a fantastically interesting knife with a wealth of functionality. That big chunk of reasonably tough steel has a really nice edge on it and the handle manages to feel oddly good in the hand despite the thinness. Civivi also sends this knife out with their own proprietary version of a Tek Lok, which seems to be a little different in terms of dimensions and screw choices, but works basically the same way.

It’s a great option for food prep on a camping trip, and maybe  a bit of survival work.

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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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Southern Grind Jackal Pup

The Southern Grind Jackal Pup is capable of ambidextrous horizontal carry.

 

  • Overall Length: 5.75”
  • Blade Length: 2.75”
  • Steel: 8670M
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: G-10
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: USA

This knife has been on the market for a few years, but we somehow missed until 2021. The Southern Grind Jackal Pup is a well designed, practical knife with a sheath that is capable of both left and right horizontal carry on a belt. It can also be used as a neck knife with the addition of a bit of paracord. The contoured g-10 handles are easy to grip even when the knife is wet. This is fortunate, because this knife is a great trout fishing buddy. It is the perfect size for cleaning trout and the versatile sheath allow it do be carried in whichever way is most comfortable for the type of fishing be done.

The Southern Grind Jackal Pup being drawn from it's horizontal belt sheath.

The blade of the Jackal Pup is made of 8670M steel which is a high carbon steel that holds it’s edge extremely well. It is important to remember to dry the knife when it gets wet and occasionally wipe it down with a food grade knife oil to ensure it doesn’t develop rust spots. That is always downside of high carbon steels.

Overall I have found the size and design of this knife to be extremely practical in a variety of situations which explains it’s popularity.

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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.

Outdoor Edge Le Duck

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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Off-Grid Hoglet

The Off-Grid Hoglet cleaver style fixed blade knife on a white background.

  • Overall Length: 6.5”
  • Blade Length: 2.75”
  • Blade Thickness: 4mm
  • Steel: Cryo D2
  • Style: Cleaver
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: G-10
  • Sheath: Kydex

The Off-Grid Hoglet in it's kydex sheath set up for scout style horizontal carry.

I am generally not a big fan of cleaver style fixed blade knives. However, the Off-Grid Hoglet has made me reconsider. First off the G-10 handle is incredibly comfortable. I thought maybe it was just a good size for my hand, so I had several other people with various hand sizes try it out. They all wanted to steal it. It is just a great design.

The cleaver style blade of the Hoglet is made from Off-Grid’s very capable Cryo D2 steel. This steel offers good edge retention and toughness and a moderate price. I prefer it to S30V for survival or hard use knives, because it is easier to sharpen and less likely to chip when doing actual work. It is also less expensive.

The kydex sheath of the Hoglet can be set up for BOTH left and right horizontal or vertical carry. I wish more knife manufacturers would adopt this approach to sheath design, because it is super handy to be able to configure a sheath differently based on needs.

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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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TOPS Frog Market Special

Tops Frog Market Special 1

 

  • Overall Length: 9.5”
  • Blade Length: 5.2”
  • Handle Length: 4.5”
  • Blade Steel: 1095
  • Blade Finish: Black River Wash
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Blade Style: Modified chef
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Knife Weight: 3.6 oz
  • Weight w/ Sheath: 6.5 oz
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: USA

The TOPS Frog Market Special set up for vertical or horizontal carry. Shown here outside it's sheath.

The Frog Market Special is a tough knife to classify. It does a great job in the kitchen, but we have also found it to be a handy tool for camp fire food prep. Thanks to the drastic curve of the blade the Frog Market Special offers a lot of cutting edge for a  of five inch blade. This comes in handy is you are trying to pack light for a camping or hunting trip.

This knife features TOPS’ spring belt clip which is fairly practical, but it can not be taken off. Unfortunately his means the knife is not capable of ambidextrous carry. The Frog Market Special is only capable of left handed carry in the Scout position pictured above. When it is carried in the front this knife is only capable of right handed carry. In-spite of this we still really liked the Frog Market Special, and we often recommend it to backpackers looking for a camp cook knife that is lightweight and capable.

If you think this knife looks interesting, check out or in-depth review.

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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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CRKT SiWi

The CRKT fixed blade knife with G10 handle scales on a white background.

Specifications

  • Overall Length: 7.25”
  • Blade Length: 3.34”
  • Steel: SK5
  • Style: Drop point
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle: G-10
  • Sheath: Polymer
  • Made in: Taiwan

The CRKT Siwi in the front horizontal carry position on a belt.

The SRKT Siwi is a result of a collaboration between knife maker Chris Williams and retired Army vet, Darrin Sirois. The end product is a small, tactical fixed blade that is a practical camping, fishing or bushcraft knife. The overall aesthetic of the SiWi is undeniable tactical, but this knife surprised us in the field where we found it excelled as a camp knife or a backup bushcraft knife. The thick spine, tall flat grind and super grippy handle make it an ideal outdoor tool.

The SiWi ships with a Tek-Lok attachment for it’s GFN sheath. This is something I wish more knife companies would do. The Tek-Lok can be attached to either side of the sheath which means the sheath can be worn right or left facing in the front or the back of the waist. However, the impressive retention of the sheath makes it an ideal option to be carried upside down on a backpack. This above average retention does mean the SiWi requires for than a little force to remove and re insert the knife, so it takes a little practice to get the hang of it.

The CRKT SIWI on a military backpack.

The blade of the SiWi is high carbon, so it will need to be oiled occasionally and dried anytime it gets wet to prevent corrosion. We found the edge retention of this steel to be decent, but knot great. The handle is one of the grippiest G-10 handles I have felt thanks to it’s texturing, deep choil and finger indents. This handle is easy to grip even when wet.

At it’s current price point of around $70 the SiWi offers excellent value and versatility, and it is a great compact tactical/survival knife hybrid.

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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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Gerber Ghostrike

 

The CRKT

 

 

 

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23 thoughts on “Best Horizontal Carry Fixed Blade Knives – 2021 Update”

  1. Do you guys make a horizontal sheath for an elk ridge Fixed Blade Knife •9.5″ Overall •440 Stainless Steel Blade With Double Blood Groove

    Reply
    • We don’t actually make anything (yet); we just provide colorful commentary. I know there are a lot of shops that do custom-made kydex sheaths, but I’m hesitant to recommend a site since I’ve never ordered a custom sheath from someone online.

      Reply
  2. About 15 yrs ago I screwed up and lent a matched pair of knives to a friend’s kid who was going on a backpacking trip in Patagonia…I am still waiting for their return.

    They weren’t fancy and I paid around $10-$15 dollars for them in a pawn shop in Colorado Springs when I was stationed at Fort Carson in the early eighties.

    They were made out of piece of steel about a quarter of inch thick, eight inches long, the blade was 4 1/2 inches long w/the center ridge down the center of the blade to where the point starts to form(about three inches from the hilt). They were dual edge with a hole about a half inch from the back of the handle and the blade looked kinda stubby.
    They came with nylon horizontal sheath made so about an inch of each knife would stick out of each side so that you could pull a knife out of either side while either of your hands were otherwise occupied.

    You wouldn’t believe how many times I have reached back to grab one of them only to end up digging my pocket knife out to cut, pull or pry and otherwise abuse.

    If anyone knows where I can get a couple of replacement knives, please drop me a line.

    Thanks Bill

    Reply
    • I’m not sure what knives those were, Bill. They sound like they daggers, and I’m pretty curious to find out who makes daggers in nylon horizontal carry sheaths.
      As far as replacing, it’s tough to find a good fixed blade near the $10 – 15 range, but in terms of style your best bet might be the Buck 245 or the Esee 4. If you want another scout carry in a similar price range there’s the Camillus Les Stroud. But Schrade makes a lot of decent fixed blades on the cheaper side as well. The SCHF31 is pretty good and it comes in a kydex sheath you can convert to horizontal with a Tek Lok.
      I can’t think of anything closer to what you described, though. I’ll have to keep an eye out.

      Reply
  3. Take a look at the Southern Grind Jackal Pup for an addition to your list….It is small and has a rather different blade shape. Around $130 at BHQ

    Reply
  4. Check out CRKT’s “HUNT’NFISCH” a great little EDC come with a fine leather cross carry sheath…wearable anywhere. Had mine now for four years. love it

    Reply
    • Thanks for the heads up on that knife, Tom. It looks really cool. So cool that it is out of stock everywhere. We will buy it and test it out as soon as we can get our hands on it.

      Reply
    • I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Bushcrafter, and I’ve definitely had my eye on it with the Armatus sheath for a bit. We try to only add knives that we’ve handled personally, though, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to check it out soon.

      Reply
  5. Also, can you comment on the best way to resheath a scout carry knife? I’ve searched high and low and this is a topic that nobody covers. Thanks!

    Reply
    • It’s a little different with every sheath, but when I’m having trouble (which is most of the time) I place either the spine or the side of the blade against the outside of the mouth of the sheath, then pull the knife along it and find the right spot by feel. In order to get really smooth with it, though, you basically just need to wear the same knife in the same set up for a long time until the angles for deploying and sheathing become part of your muscle memory.

      Reply
  6. Another question for the horizontal carry brain trust. I am trying to decide between large and small Tek-Lok, G-Clip, and soft loops. There’s a tradeoff for using each of those, but I was wondering if you guys had any comments beyond the blanket recommendation to buy a large Tek-Lok. From what I’ve seen they are significantly bulkier than all three other options, although they are secure and allow for a lot of carry options. The small Tek-Lok is less bulky, with easier on/off function but inherently less security because it lacks the locking redundancy of the large. The G-Clip is very secure, slim, but has poor on/off function. Soft loops seem to be another good option being used by default by Armatus. Not sure what the negative is here. Maybe looks? I’d like to personally try them all but would also love to hear your thoughts as well. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Depends on what you’re putting it on. For smaller fixed blades, the small Tek Loks should be just fine even though the lock is much simpler. We’re always switching knives around on belts, so those are usually my favorite to deal with.
      I like G-clips well enough, but they come in so many different sizes it’s hard to do a blanket recommendation. The really small ones are irritating because there’s usually at least one bolt tucked away under the belt loop.
      Soft loops are on the whole the easiest to put on. The main downside to me is that they don’t really hold a knife tight to you. You’ll probably get more movement if you’re doing a lot of strenuous activity, but I’ve really liked the way knives like the Tops 3 Pointer and Condor SBK carry.

      Reply
  7. What is your favorite overall horizontal carry knife? The security, tightness, and design of the sheath are very important boy just the knife

    Reply
  8. Picked up a KA-BAR Hinderance and it definitely isn’t a horizontal carry out the box. The clip is not able to be turned sideways. Unfortunately the tek lok doesn’t align with the kydex sheath either. (Reading this article post purchase, was surprised to see this knife on the list as reason for comment)

    Reply
    • Yep, you’re right. We put the Hinderer on here a while back before we’d gotten around to reviewing every knife on the list. We’d assumed it had the same sheath set up as the regular TDI.
      It’s a shame. That knife would be a really cool horizontal carry.

      Reply

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