When I first got involved in edged-weapon training in the mid 1970s, tactical folders had not yet come of age. Although some of us were certainly bolting and clamping things to our folder blades to make them one-handers, if you were serious about carrying a knife for personal defense, you most likely carried a boot knife.
According to all the historical information I’ve been able to find, the idea of the boot knife goes back to the 19th century before the days of paved streets. Since dirt streets often turned to mud, choice of proper footwear was critical and one of the most practical options was a calf-high boot designed to be worn on the outside of the pants. This style of boot not only proved durable and easily cleaned, it also provided a convenient location to carry a fixed-blade knife.
Boot knives have been with us ever since and have continued to evolve to meet our needs and styles of dress. In fact, the modern boot knife is defined more by its size and style than its carry position in a boot. Most concealable personal-defense knives larger than a neck knife but smaller than a full-sized combat blade can be considered part of the boot knife genre. However, for the purposes of this column, let’s look at the practicality of actually carrying a knife in your boot or strapped to your ankle.