This originally appeared on Badlands Fieldcraft. -NCS
Earlier this year I wrote about how I lost a knife out of my sheath while climbing over some rocks, resulting in the tip of the knife breaking. It was a Pathfinder DIY knife (sadly these aren’t available anymore, I think they were some of the best value out there for knives) and the sheath was a traditional style leather sheath. There were no straps or other means of securing the knife into the sheath, just friction and gravity, and when the sheath got tipped upside down my knife came out.
Again while I was at the Brushbeater Scout course this September I was using the same sheath with my Jeff White Midnight Forger knife. I ultimately decided not to wear my belt knife while we were conducting our fire and movement training for the simple fact that a lot of gear has been lost in the past to “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” fire and movement training, and I didn’t trust the sheath not to lose the knife.
So with these thoughts in mind I’ve been rethinking my selection of belt knives (who doesn’t love shopping for knives anyways?) but especially the sheath itself. While I love the look and feel of classic leather sheaths and wood handled carbon steel knives, I had to be logical and choose the best tools for the job.
For a “go to” belt knife I wanted something proven and reliable. It’s not that the other knives I have aren’t good, there just isn’t much data out there on them being used for the types of work I want my belt knife to do. I ended up going with my Mora Garberg Carbon for a belt knife. This knife is the direct result of collaboration between Dave Canterbury and Mora plus the company itself has a long standing reputation for quality knives. The Garberg Carbon had all the qualities I was wanting. These included:
- 4-6” cutting edge
- Full tang construction
- High carbon steel
- 90 degree spine
While there are many other quality knives out there that meet this criteria, the fact that I already owned this knife and I personally know many people, whose opinion on the subject I respect, that recommend it were bonuses.
So with the knife selection taken care of, it was on to the sheath. Mora sells two different sheath designs for the Garberg, a leather flap style and a “multi-mount” sheath. I own the multi-mount sheath and I’ve handled the leather one, but neither was quite what I was wanting.
I have the multi-mount sheath on my Hill People Gear chest pack, and while it has decent retention, the strap for holding the knife in has slipped off the pommel of the knife numerous times, not exactly confidence inspiring. At class I’ve also observed those with the leather flap sheath fighting the flap regularly as they were sheathing and unsheathing their knives. It reminds me of the old Bianchi M9 holsters from the military. It definitely keeps the knife secure, it’s just a pain to use.
So with all this in mind I decided a Kydex sheath would be best. Kydex gives very good retention without obstructing the item from being drawn or put away. I started searching online for sheaths and came across ArmorSheaths. I really liked their designs because they were simple yet modular. They uniformly space their rivets to allow all their different accessories to be mounted to the sheath design. This includes different mounting systems as well as things like flashlight holders or ferro rod loops. I like the idea that you could have different mounting systems and change them out depending on how you want to use the knife.
For my sheath I chose the pancake style sheath with an offset leather belt loop. There were other mounts using Kydex or plastic but I liked the way a stiff leather belt loop holds the knife firmly but has some flex in it still.
Even though the sheath itself will provide very good retention I wanted to make sure there was redundancy for securing the knife. I contacted Jess at ArmorSheaths through his eBay store and began discussing whether or not we could incorporate an additional strap into the design as a backup.
He promptly wrote me back and said it wouldn’t be a problem at all. What I had in mind was just a strap around the handle of the knife, similar to a Ka-Bar leather sheath. I thought this would serve as a good backup to the Kydex.
A few weeks later my sheath arrived and the strap was there, but not in the place we had discussed. I was confused for a minute until I realized he had placed it around the point in the sheath where the strap could actually put pressure on the knife, further locking it into the sheath. I thought this was very ingenious since by placing the strap there it keeps it from getting in the way while using the knife.
With the strap snapped, it requires much, much more force to move the knife. I can’t think of anything short of falling off a cliff that would put so much force on the knife. I think this will be a very secure way to store the knife when not in use, yet leave the snap open and just use the retention of the Kydex when frequently using the knife in camp.
It’s this attention to detail, in addition to the excellent selection of strap leather and “pull the dot” snap that has so thoroughly impressed me. He could have easily just done what I asked, and I would have been fine, but he used his expertise in making sheaths to give me an even better product.
The craftsmanship in the rest of the sheath was excellent as well. The edges of the Kydex are buffed nicely, the rivets are all riveted securely and there was a nice drain hole drilled in the bottom of the sheath as well. The hardware used to assemble the sheath is all very high quality and the Kydex itself is heavy duty .093” material.
The leather for the belt loop is heavy duty and wide, supporting the knife nicely on my belt and keeping it from flopping around. The opening on the belt loop is about 4”, wide enough you could slide it over a battle belt if you wanted. I did use a heat gun to adjust the retention on the sheath to get it to my personal liking, but this is typical of all Kydex items I use.
Between Jess’ prompt and helpful communication, attention to detail and craftsmanship I have to highly recommend ArmorSheaths and I will be looking to get more products from him in the future.