Story and Photos by Steve Whipple
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of carrying a fixed-blade knife in my pants pocket.
As a kid, I fabricated a makeshift leather sheath that permitted me to carry one of my locking folders in the open position inside the front pocket of my jeans. I frequently toted the knife that way when roaming the neighborhood or wandering the woods.
As an adult the notion stuck with me, and new knife designs—combined with modern sheath materials and advancements in attachment mechanisms—have made the pocket carry of fixed blades a thoroughly viable option.
Now, I can already hear the skeptic out there saying, “My folder does everything I require. Why would I ever need to pocket a fixed blade?” The simple answer is that you may not. Folding pocketknives suit most people just fine.
In some jurisdictions, carrying a fixed blade in your pocket might not even be legal. But for those who are authorized, and inclined, the pocket carry of a fixed blade has some distinct advantages.
Allow me to elaborate.
StrengthI’ve written elsewhere about why I believe soldiers should carry fixed blades, and one of the foremost reasons for my recommendation was the fixed blade’s strength.
The same holds true for considering pocket carry. If your everyday uses for your folder give you even the slightest pause to question whether that knife might close on your fingers, a pocketable fixed blade could be what you need.
In most instances of knife use, strength equates to safety.
ConvenienceWhile strength is important, the biggest advantage in pocketing a fixed blade is convenience.
Several years ago, I was on an assignment for my job that required frequent and repeated use of my folder. After about the fifth or sixth repetition of withdrawing the knife from my pocket, opening it, using it, closing it, and replacing it in my pocket, it occurred to me that there had to be a better way!
I began researching the idea of keeping a small, fixed blade in my front pocket, to replace my folder. I learned that there were many options available, with some companies making numerous small, pocketable models.
But as I looked into it, I soon found that most of the sheaths supplied with those knives were not up to the task of keeping the knife securely in place. Either the sheath held the blade too tightly/loosely or, even more common, the sheath had an inadequate attachment mechanism that failed to retain it in the pocket as the knife was drawn.
I shelved the concept of pocketing a fixed blade until I could find a better means of making it reliable. As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait long.
Wandering the aisles of Blade Show 2017, I stopped at the table of Mickey Yurco. Mickey has long been a favorite custom knife maker of mine, for lots of reasons. Chief among those is the fact that, when it comes to knives and other implements of self-protection, we share a common mindset.
At the risk of putting too fine a point on it, Mickey is downright devious when it comes to crafting useful, concealable weapons. His innovation knows no bounds.
So, as I stood perusing his table full of wares and talking to him about some of our shared interests, I mentioned my quest for a pocketable fixed blade. Always one step ahead, Mickey reached into his pocket, pulled out a knife, and said, “You mean one like this?”
The knife Mickey showed me left me agog. It was exactly what I’d been envisioning for my own needs.
It was a fixed blade with a roughly three-and-one-half-inch blade, a small, oval handle to keep the overall length short and a snug Kydex sheath. But it was the attachment hardware that astonished me. The sheath could be clipped securely onto the lip of a pocket with a metal clamping device, mounted to the sheath’s grommet holes with screws.
As I marveled over the device’s ingenuity, Mickey told me, “That’s an ULTICLIP. Its inventor, Randall Darby, has been making them for Kydex holsters, and I decided to try putting one on a knife sheath. It works great.”
Indeed, it did! My search for a reliable means of securing a fixed blade in my pocket, one that ensured that the knife wouldn’t come out with the sheath still attached, was over.
I wanted to buy the knife Mickey had shown me then and there at the show. Unfortunately, it was Mickey’s personal knife, still in development, and wasn’t for sale.
He told me to contact him after I got home, and he’d make one for me. Life got in the way, however, and I never took him up on his offer. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t too long before I discovered that I wasn’t the only one who admired the design.
Soon afterward, Boker Knives approached Mickey about a collaboration that resulted in the development of the Yurco Pocket Knife, an almost exact replica of the custom knife Mickey had shown me, even including the venerable ULTICLIP.
I bought one as soon as they were available, and I’ve carried it routinely ever since. A well-executed and faithful reproduction, it is a fantastic knife that epitomizes Mickey’s brilliant concept.
Prior to the release of Boker’s Yurco Pocket Knife, I began experimenting on my own, applying the ULTICLIP to some of the smaller knives that I already owned. I’ve never been one to settle on just one knife for my carry needs, and I wanted to configure several of my other knives for the purpose.
The first knife to which I applied the ULTICLIP was Cold Steel’s eminently utilitarian Spike. The Spike series possesses one of the more important attributes of comfortable fixed blade carry—even in the sheath it has a very narrow profile, so it doesn’t take up much real estate in your pocket.
The first-generation ULTICLIP that I had purchased, designed as it was for holster use, didn’t match the knife quite right, so I had to add some alterations to make it fit properly.
At the following year’s Blade Show, ULTICLIP had a booth and I showed Randall Darby my modified clip. He told me that he’d received numerous requests for a design more compatible with knife sheaths and that a new iteration of the ULTICLIP was about to be released.
Mr. Darby was true to his word, and the new version of the ULTICLIP (the model included with the Yurco Pocket Knife, as it turned out) was significantly more suitable for knife sheaths.
I was discovering that being one step behind the innovators has the benefit of eliminating the waiting period associated with seeing “your” ideas come to fruition!
This article isn’t intended to be all-inclusive in its suggestions for configuring fixed blades for pocket carry.
For one thing, there isn’t space enough to enumerate them all. Makers, manufacturers and users continue to address the topic—frequently supplying creative new means of improving the concept.
For another thing, people’s tastes are too disparate. The attributes one person seeks in a pocketable fixed blade are entirely intolerable to someone else. That said, I will offer a few more recommendations that I’ve discovered along the way.
If you don’t like the metal ULTICLIP and would prefer a thermoplastic option, Spyderco’s G-Clip and Cold Steel’s C-Clip are good alternatives. Be aware, however, that they simply don’t remain attached to a pocket as reliably as an ULTICLIP and may not perform as well in that role.
A fine update to the old metal boot-knife clip is Kabar’s Belt Clip. It has great retention, owing to a lip at the base that works in tandem with the clip, to hold onto more of the material to which it is attached.
If you don’t like clips at all, a dangler sheath may be for you. My experience has shown that they tend to vary greatly in the depth at which they ride in the pocket and the degree of difficulty they present in withdrawing/re-sheathing the knives they hold.
If you are looking for a means of comfortably securing a fixed blade entirely within the pocket, I suggest Raven Concealment Systems’ Pocket Shield. Another ingenious idea arising from the firearms world, the Pocket Shield is a thermoplastic plate to which you can affix a sheath (or other items) that slides into a pocket. The shape stabilizes it in the pocket and retains it there as you draw your knife.
It is an extremely low-profile accoutrement for concealed carry of your pocketable fixed blade.
Fixed-blade pocket carry isn’t for everyone. But if its merits appeal to you, the knife industry’s innovations in recent years have opened up broad new avenues for making it a workable option.
Give it a shot and see if it’s the right fit for you.K&G
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Steve has spent more than twenty years in federal law enforcement. He's been an incurable (and unrepentant) knife and gear guy his whole life, always seeking new innovations, as long as they actually solve a problem or improve performance. With that said, he has been known to buy new stuff just because he thought it was cool. He holds a special fixation on combat knives and knife combat, spending more time than he really ought, studying such things. Steve continues to work routinely in an undercover capacity, so the accompanying photo may or may not be an accurate likeness.
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