moderate craftiness on display.

I’ve been trying out fixed-blade knives instead of folders for everyday use lately, but I didn’t really have one with a sheath suitable for unobtrusive belt carry.  My current favorite is the Cold Steel Mini Tac, but the sheath is a neck sheath, and I’m not terribly fond of neck carry.

Yesterday, I had an idea forming in me head.  I went to the Box o’Holsters, got one out that had detachable belt loops, and took those off to test with the Mini Tac’s sheath.  The grommet holes on the MiniTac sheath were just about the right size for the screws on the holster belt loops, so I popped one out and replaced with with the screws and washers from the holster.

End result:

Picture 010

Modded sheath with a wide snap-on belt loop that’s adjustable for cant.  Carries very comfortably and unobtrusively inside the waistband.  The Mini Tac is a thin and dainty blade, very light and fast, and sharp enough to slice single atoms off molecules.

While we’re on the subject: I’d like to upgrade the Mini Tac to something a little more upscale in the near future.  Does anyone have a recommendation for a smallish plain fixed blade (four inches or less) with nice micarta or wood scales, and a sheath that’s adjustable for different carry options?  I’m open-minded as to blade style, although I strongly prefer plain edges.  I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a decent puukko, but I have no experience with those, and have no idea if they’re actually good for anything beyond whittling and skinning.  (I’ve also looked at the Spyderco Street Beat, if anyone with experience wants to comment on it.)


22 thoughts on “moderate craftiness on display.

  1. Robert says:

    An A.G. Russell Lapland Hunter might be a good choice. It comes in A2 tool steel with black Micarta and a leather pouch sheath for $135.00, and Russell is a great company to do business with.

    For puukos, Ragweed Forge has a wide selection. I have one of the Brusletto profileringskniven from Norway, and I’m very happy with it. I also have a Jarvenpaa small puuko that I’m happy with.

    Blind Horse Knives is a new knife company making custom knives; I haven’t ordered any of their knives yet, but the prices are very reasonable, the knife patterns offered are sensible and utilitarian. I plan to buy one of their “Necessary Nekkers” in the near future.

    • Jeff says:

      If it’s for defensive use, I’ll second the clinch pick. The only reason I don’t already have one is the price. If it’s also for utility use though, it’s probably not a great choice.

    • mac says:

      I like the clinchpick, but it is rather purpose-built. I found that if I was opening boxes or cutting rope, it worked well. It doesn’t whittle or pare all that well. The blade angle is a bit obtuse for fine slicing. And any activity that required a push cut (rather than a pull) was awkward.

      It was the clinchpick that made me realize how important the sheath and attachment options are. The sheath setup can make a blade easier to carry and faster to deploy. I like the clinchpick setup so much that’s how I carry my primary blade. Edge-up, just left of belt buckle. There are some size limitations for this style. I find blades with short (less than hand size) handles work best.

    • aczarnowski says:

      This style is my pick when I can’t carry a bullet chucker. But I went with a KaBar TDI for price reasons.

      The sheath is the limiting factor for me as well. The TDI’s sheath is WAY over sized and doesn’t wear very well IWB – too square and the metal clip is ridiculously over built.

  2. mac says:

    Kabar’s Becker knives are rather inexpensive, and nice. The BK-11 and BK-14 are in your size range, and you can get add-on micarta scales for the BK-11. You might be able to find scales for the BK-14, as it’s a hybrid between the 11 and ESEE Knives’ Izula. Best place for Kabars is

    In the size range you’re considering, there are so many models. I haven’t played with the Street Beat, but Perrin is an amazing designer, and Spyderco does an excellent job.

    One thing to consider is making a sheath yourself. I’ve found that stock sheaths rarely meet my requirements for fit, comfort, and overall size. They often rattle when the blade is in. And the attachment options are terrible.

    All you need is some kydex (reasonably cheap), a heat-gun ($20), and chicago screws. It helps to have an old toaster oven, leather gloves, and some kind of press. My press is some blocks of wood with a hinge on one size and foam in the middle. I clamp them together. For the foam, you can buy stuff made for this purpose, or just cut up camping mattress foam.

  3. abnormalist says:

    That is one thing I would love. If my state laws allowed me to carry a concealed fixed blade knife.

    The wording is cumbersome, but for me I can carry a fixed blade knife if it “is adapted and carried as a hunting knife”, or a normal folding knife with blade 3 inches or under, but not much else without worry of the courts interpretation of my intent while carrying it.

    Sure, I can walk around almost anywhere in the state, with a 45 (clearly visible) on my hip without a permit, or with the “Shall issue” permit I have I can carry it almost anywhere under my shirt without an issue (excluding schools, hospitals, etc etc etc).

    Just heaven help me if I want to carry more than I think 2.5oz of OC spray, a fixed blade knife, a collapsible baton, a stun gun/taser, or a long list of other less lethal weapons that I might want to round out my options with.

    If considering carrying a knife like this, be responsible and check your laws

    A good place to start is here

    A little outdated, but mostly relevant

    • Marko Kloos says:

      The NH legislature removed all restrictions on knife carry a few months ago. If it has a blade, it’s legal to carry in this state. Fixed, folder, automatic, balisong, gravity…you name it, you can tote it.

  4. LawDog says:

    Upscale? Bob Dozier makes the Arkansas Toothpick, the Slim Outdoorsman, and the New York Special, all with ~3.5 inch blades and an upscale price.

    Benchmade’s 201 has nice winewood grips, and is less spendy than the Dozier models.

  5. Tony says:

    A good puukko is a generic utility knife suitable for just about anything you’d expect of a knife of that size. The problem these days is just in finding one… And not being a traditionalist, short of having one hand-made, I have no clue where one could get a decent one. Most are junk sold for tourists, these days.

    By the by, is the handle of that knife in the picture modified? I tried googling for Cold Steel Mini Tac but the results I got back show quite a different style of handle. Yours seems much better.

  6. For a small fixed blade, I like Dirk Pinkerton’s MJWharning.

    It is made by Meyerco for him and can be found on the Internet (though not on Meyerco’s website).

    Someone mentioned Blind Horse Knives. I have a couple and they are very well made.

  7. Ed Davis says:

    For a different way to carry a pocket fixed blade, tie a cord to the sheath and the other end to your belt/ belt loop. Then the sheath will come out of the pocket when you draw, but will stay when it gets to the end of the rope as the blade is jerked free.

    Many knife makers use a Blade Tech Tek-lok for a belt clip.

    As for an upscale neck knife, check out Tom Krein. Specifically the TK-9. Tom studied under the above mentioned Bob Dozier.

  8. I carried, wore, and used about a dozen Spyderco knives from maybe 1987 to 1995. I broke them all.

    Now these were folders, mind you. And I still have a well used chief’s knife with the spyder edge, and that has held up but I always broke the locks on the folders. Actually the belt clip breaks first, then the locks go.

    I swore them off because of their “lifetime warranty” price tag on a knife that only carried a “unique company – our discretion” warranty.

    My only caveat is that I’m very hard on equipment. But I get at least ten years out of every Leatherman, and I only bought my second one because I lost my first one for a time.

  9. Tam says:

    How much you want to spend?

    Bud Nealy’s designs are the epitome of what you’re looking for.

    Boker offers (offered?) them in a mass-production format.

  10. Nylarthotep says:

    Must agree with you on the neck carry. I bought the Cold Steel spike tanto for my first neck carry. Nice knife (but really slim), horrible carry feel and really poor accessibility.

    I didn’t know NH had changed the carry law for knives. Good to know I can start carrying some of my knives again. My problem is that I live in NH and work in the People’s Republic of MA. I can’t even have most things in the car.

    Have you held the Spyderco? I find if the grips are too smooth that they are very hard to work with in the wet. Not that you have to do that most of the time, but when you need a knife in the rain, you really need grips that won’t slip. The index finger grip probably helps with that a lot, but I think I’d still want to hold the knife before purchasing. Or you can do what I do and buy it and then put it in a tool box when you don’t like it as well as your older knife. (and my tool box has a few tries that were turned into expendables)

  11. allan says:

    This one’s a little bit old-school and I’ve carried one since ’73. Rosewood is a bit beat up but still looks nice.

  12. Vaarok says:

    I carry a puukko on my belt every day, it’s just one of those old MADE IN FINLAND ten-inch-overall puukkos that were sold in hardware stores and sporting catalogues years back- got it at a yardsale for $5. VERY nice and handy knife, though you’ll want a holster that encompasses the entire knife up to the pommel and hangs at least 3/4 of the OAL below belt-level, or it’ll forever be creating a nuisance when you sit.

  13. john b says:

    As Tam said, “How much do you want to spend?”. In my case, that’s “How much do you want to lose?”. I finally set a limit of $25 plus tax. I carry a Gerber Evo. Some bastard walked up to my front porch, and grabbed the USPS package containing my Cold Steel Kukri. From Ebay. So I guess I’ll make that figure $30. I’m keeping a sharp eye out for someone carrying my hand powered brush hog.

    Yeah, the reason I bought a Kukri was I wanted a machete that would last me the rest of my life. Of course at the rate I lose knives, I should have known better!

    • abnormalist says:


      With you on the Gerber Evo, great little folder. I have the Jr clipped to my pocket right now, and anytime I have pants on.

  14. john b says:

    I just checked via eBay, The new design sux rox! I would like to find who coined the term ‘ergonomic’ and see if his rear end is ergonomically adapted to my size 13 converse shod foot!

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