What's in a good sheath?


June 26, 2008, 01:03 AM
For a fixed blade knife, I'm not crazy about my nylon sheaths. I rather prefer leather, though more for the way it weathers. I have no functional reason to prefer leather.

I've seen and used kydex. I even have one cheapo SnW pig sticker thing in kydex and a couple of holsters for handguns (old glock stuff).

What makes the best sheath material and why?

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June 26, 2008, 01:20 AM
Depends on the knife and the application. I like leather myself, and there many great leather sheath makers. But I'm finding that Kydex is versatile stuff, especially for knives going to soldiers. One can hang a knife upside down or on Molle gear easily with attachments made for Kydex sheaths.

But I prefer leather, even for my plastic XD's. :)

Eleven Mike
June 26, 2008, 10:57 PM
Related question:

I have a number of inexpensive fixed-blade knives, with four to six inch blades. Can anyone suggest a serviceable, generic sheath that might fit some of them? Or is that an imaginary animal? :)

June 26, 2008, 11:00 PM
Try www.knifekits.com - they have big selection of sheaths to go with the kits.

June 27, 2008, 01:45 AM
I am not a big fan of kydex for holsters, but I actually prefer it to leather for knives. I like leather, but it just seems like every leather knife holster I have ever had was kind of cruddy, so kydex it is for me. That being said, I rarely carry a fixed blade knife in a sheath, or at all, so take what I say with a grain of salt...

June 27, 2008, 09:30 AM
What is a sheath? It's a tool to carry a knife safely.

What you have to do depends upon how you want to carry.

Kydex will keep the blade from cutting though a leather sheath.

June 27, 2008, 09:56 AM
If you hunt, you want your sheath to be quiet. Plastic can make a surprising amount of noise when it encounters brush.

If you use leather or nylon, you want a good design so that the sheath material is not cut by the blade.

Generally, you want to be able to resheath your blade one-handed; certainly, you do not want to put your body into a position where you easily can slice the fingers of your off-hand or poke yourself with the tip.

I like those deep, strapless, pocket-shaped leather sheaths, the ones that seem to cover about half the handle - you commonly see these paired with scandi-style knives. I find the good ones to be quiet, secure, and safe.

Here's a good example:


June 27, 2008, 10:42 AM
First, I want a sheath to protect me from the knife should I fall while wearying it. Edge and tip both. Traditionally that used to be done by the placement of rivets and a heavy welt solid spacer that ran from tip to guard. These days it's easily accomplished with synthetics like Kydex.

Second, I want it to allow me to carry the knife securely. That has been done with straps and molding on the sheath for years. The materials may change, but the techniques seem to stay the same.

Third, I want it to carry the knife without damaging the knife (yes, there are sheaths that due to their design and materials can damage your knife by collecting moisture and grit). There's a wealth of options here, but I've become fond of MOLLE strap systems as of late because of their flexibility. Second (nearly equal, perhaps equal, are TekLocs).

Forth, I want the sheath to protect the knife from damage. Some materials and constructions will trap moisture and grit which can damage your blade. Some designs don't allow water to drain. Etcetera, etcetera, etc.

Fifth, I'd like the sheath design to make it easy to get the knife back into the sheath without damaging the sheath. I've had sheaths with straps that were put on "backwards" so that the blade slices the retaining strap as the knife goes back into (and comes out of) the sheath. I've had pouch sheaths that forced the blade to slice the edge of the pouch.

Last, I'd like it to be somewhat attractive. It can be completely utilitarian and still be attractive as long as it's well finished instead of rough and sloppy.

Eleven Mike
June 27, 2008, 11:33 PM
Hey! I just found out that if your parents have an Old Hickory 6" Butcher knife, and if they use it for thirty years and sharpen it a few million times before you swipe it, it will fit quite nicely in a Mini Bushman pouch sheath! :)

OK, well probably nobody cares. But the decades of use and sharpening is quite necessary. I have an unused Old Hickory that I bought for a few bucks at a gun show. Its blade is too wide to fit. ;)

June 27, 2008, 11:41 PM

Specs Ops (http://www.tadgear.com/x-treme%20gear/gear%20organizers%20main/spec-ops_brand_survival_sheath.htm) make good sheaths, but they're not cheap. I used one for my Shane Justice custom in Afghanistan.

I'm not going to embarrass the member who sent it to me, but he's a great knife maker, and has been posting quite a bit more lately...


Eleven Mike
June 27, 2008, 11:55 PM
Alright, you can quit calling me Mounted. Think you're real cute, don't you? :p

Thanks for the recommendation. I actually found that AG Russell sells these KABAR sheaths for ten bucks. :eek:

Might be just the thing for my Frost Mora and my Mini Bushman, and even the Air Force Survival Knife, although that one has a pretty nifty sheath as well. Especially if you ditch the silly pouch on the front. Takes a little work, though. I'm also experimenting with folding down the top portion, and tying it down to make it into a big, thick belt loop.

June 28, 2008, 12:17 AM
Yeah...11Mounted. Hah~!:what::D::evil:

I can't really talk much. I was an 11Chuck. In training at Lewis, I was "light" a lot of the time, but in theater, I was never farther than 200 meters from a vehicle.

I'll describe the defensive layout at the ODA firebase I was on, if we ever meet in person...Pretty neat, actually.

June 28, 2008, 01:27 AM
A good sheath makes all the difference when it comes to fixed blades. One of my favorite knives, a Bark River Rogue bowie came with perhaps the worst, and least useful sheath I've ever seen. It doesn't secure the blade at all and as a result I never use it outside the house. It's really a shame too because the Rogue is such a fine knife, tough and sharp. But I don't want to risk losing it hiking one day or maybe worse, like having it fall out and injure me on the way down.

As to your original question, I prefer leather, but that's because I like carbon steel fixed blades with natural handle materials. Leather and carbon steel just go together. If I had a stainless knife with G-10 or micarta handles it would be kydex all the way.

June 28, 2008, 02:09 AM
I usually use scabbards rather than sheaths for fixed blades. I prefer carved wood to leather to protect me from the blade - and vice versa. Leather is fine for frogs, but I'd rather use wood around the blade itself.

June 28, 2008, 02:16 AM
If you have a good knife and a crappy sheath, have someone like Lifter's Leather make you a great one. His stuff really compliments my knives. :)


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