Carry at the 12:00 position is extremely fast and supports “mid-fight” deployment, but it requires a zipped jacket or un-tucked shirt. It is demonstrated here with a Shivworks Disciple.
Shortly before writing this column, I spent a couple of weeks in Germany for the IWA trade show and some sightseeing with my wife. German knife laws changed in early 2009, making the carry of lock-blade, one-hand-opening folders illegal. Although there is more to that story, like a good traveler, I did my research and decided to play by the rules. Interestingly, German law allows the carry of fixed-blade knives with blades less than 12cm (about 4.7 inches), so I happily grabbed a vintage Ronin and my problem was solved—at least mostly.
With the knife problem solved, I had to address the issue of carry position for a fixed blade, especially in the different social contexts in which I’d be operating during my trip. My Ronin actually rode in a custom rig that I designed with a “tuckable” G-clip. Intended primarily for a reverse-grip draw, it also supports strong-side carry at or behind the hip, but was not comfortable in an “appendix” or groin-line carry. Addressing that problem forced me to review the belt-line carry options for fixed blades and their respective advantages and disadvantages.
If we start at the 12:00 position (using a clock-face reference with 12:00 straight forward), we have centerline carry. The best version of this I’ve seen is that advocated by my friend “Southnarc,” with the sheath attached to the belt slightly to the left of center (for right handers) and the handle angled slightly downward. On the positive side, this carry is generally very comfortable—the knife is very easily accessed by either hand—and the knife can even be drawn in the midst of a close-contact struggle. It is also the king of “sneaky” draws. The disadvantages of this approach are that it requires an un-tucked shirt or zipped cover garment and works best with relatively short knives. Given the social circumstances of my trip, including several “upscale” dinners, this carry wasn’t a good option.
The appendix, groin-line, or “felony” carry is generally an inside-the-waistband (IWB) carry at about the 1:00 position. The knife rides along the crease of the hip at about a 45-degree angle with the handle just in front of the hip. As long as the sheath is narrow and well shaped, this carry is comfortable, very fast with the strong hand, and still accessible with a weak-hand reverse-grip draw. However, it also requires an un-tucked shirt or zippered cover-garment and is limited to small-to-medium-length knives. Some “more generous” physiques also make this carry impractical.