The Best Scout Carry (Horizontal Carry) Belt Knife?

Scout Carry/Horizontal Carry Belt Knife

The easiest way to carry a fixed-blade knife is on your belt.  However, there are many ways to carry your belt knife, and one of my favorites is the scout carry, sometimes called the horizontal carry.  Unfortunately, not all belt knives lend themselves to the scout carry position, but that’s what this list is for.

If you’re unsure of what a scout carry knife (horizontal carry knife) is, it’s just a knife that you wear horizontally on your belt instead of dangling at your side.   Most people wear their knife on their back or slightly to the right, but others prefer carrying their belt knife on the front.

This form of carrying does two things:

  1. It makes the belt knife more comfortable since it isn’t slapping against your thigh when you’re out on a hike or doing work.  In general, it keeps your knife of out your way.
  2. It keeps the knife accessible.  Just reach for it and draw it when you need it.

Remember to check your knife laws, though.  Wearing a belt knife in this manner is usually considered concealing it, and some places really don’t like you to have knives hidden on your person.

Why is it Called Scout Carry?

While this way of carrying belt knives is also commonly called horizontal carry, many people still call it scout carry because of their time in the boy scouts.  Boy scouts can wear a scout carry knife if he earns the Totin’ Chip award, meaning that he’s undergone training for blades, saws, and axes.

How is it Different From a Cross Draw?

Carrying a belt knife in the cross-draw position is similar to the scout carry position except that the idea isn’t just to keep the knife out of your way, it’s to be able to draw the knife quickly.  The cross-draw position leaves the knife sitting on the front hip with the handle pointing toward your center.  When you want to draw, instead of reaching behind your back, you just grab the knife naturally and draw it out of its sheath.

Note that you can carry a scout knife in a similar fashion.

Table of Contents

Our Favorite Scout Carry Belt Knives

Looking for a belt knife that you can carry horizontally?  These are our favorite scout carry knives.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but these have been our favorites for a while.  I prefer larger blades, personally, especially when it comes to fixed-blade knives.  Sam usually prefers smaller blades, but even she concedes that if you’re going to horizontal carry your knife, you can easily go for a bigger blade.

Remember, carrying your belt knife in the scout carry position means that it’s out of your way; even if your blade is some 7″ monster, it won’t cause that much of a problem.

Ontario Rat 3

Specs

  • Overall Length: 7.75″
  • Blade Length: 3.75″
  • Blade Steel: 1095
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Sheath: Kydex or nylon
  • Made in: USA

The nice thing about this knife is that you aren’t afraid to use it.  With some knives, you feel like you pay through the nose and don’t actually want to use them in case you break them or something.  I know, it’s a silly hang-up that probably only I have, but I don’t have it with this knife.  The Ontario Rat 3 is my beater knife.

When it comes to carrying it, there are actually two sheaths.  Of course, both will allow you to carry it as a regular belt knife on your hip (the nylon sheath also attaches to a backpack), but both the Kydex sheath with the Tek Lok (I’ll make a note of what that is below) and the nylon sheath will allow you to carry it horizontally as well.  And, yes, it’s Molle compatible.  If you don’t know what that is, I’ll be making a note about that as well at the bottom of this post.

Is there anything I don’t like about it?

I don’t care for how big the nylon sheath is.  It’s too much sheath for what’s ultimately a rather small (as far as the blade goes, anyway) fixed-blade EDC.  I would’ve preferred a smaller sheath, but I kind of cheat and sometimes use sheaths for other knives instead.

ESEE 4P-MB Fixed Blade Knife and Molle Back

Specs

  • Overall Length: 9.0″
  • Blade Length: 4.5″
  • Blade Steel: 1095
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Handle: Micarta
  • Sheath: Molded polymer w/ nylon MOLLE add-on
  • Made in: USA

This knife sold me on ESEE.  These are tough knives, and not just because they’re fixed-blade knives.  In general, these are strong knives, thanks to the 1095 steel.  It came sharp out of the box and certainly managed to take a lot of abuse on my last bushcraft adventure.  It’s also not a huge pain to sharpen and is a strangely easy blade to work with.

This knife is a MOLLE-compatible belt knife that actually comes with a MOLLE back (just look for anything with an ‘MP’ in the name).  Being designed to remain secure on your when you jump out of airplanes, you can pretty much carry it however you want.

Granted, you’ll have to fiddle with it a bit to get it to carry how you want, but I find that, in my experience so far, ESEE knives tend to be that way generally.

Is there anything I dislike about it?

Not really.  I wish it was easier to adjust the sheath, but it’s not a huge deal for me.  I should also point out that people with larger hands (definitely doesn’t apply to me) might not care for the little handle on this.

CRKT Compact Fixed Blade Knife

Specs

  • Blade Lenght: 2.13″
  • Blade Edge: Plain
  • Steel: 5Cr15MoV
  • Overall Lenght: 5.13″
  • Weight: 1.6 oz
  • Handle: Resin Infused Fiber
  • Sheath: Thermoplastic

I was hesitant to put this one on the list, actually.  I bought this for Sam one year because I thought she needed a fixed-blade EDC for around the house.  Alas, she prefers her Spyderco Ladybug.

Anyway, this is a cool little knife with a ton of blade style options!  This knife is trying so hard to appeal to everyone, and it works quite well.  CRKT is usually hit or miss with me, but I do love this knife if only for all the options available to go with what’s ultimately a minimalist knife.

It’s nice to hold, although it feels very lightweight.  I tend to prefer heavier knives, but this has gotten every job done I’ve put it to.

The problem is the thermoplastic sheath.  This belt knife is designed to be carried in a variety of ways, making it easy to scout carry.  Unfortunately, the sheath feels a little loose, which means that if you want to, say, carry it around your neck as a neck knife, you might want to rethink that.  I was a little hesitant about carrying it horizontally, but it worked out fine for me.  I don’t care for carrying belt knives just loosely at my waist.

Since it works out fine as a horizontal carry knife and has a ton of blade shape options, it made the list!

Boker Plus the Brook

Specs

  • Overall Length: 6.81″
  • Blade Length: 2.83″
  • Blade Steel: VG-10
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Blade Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material:Micarta
  • Sheath: Kydex
  • Made in: China

This is actually another one of Sam’s knives.  It was designed to look kind of like a Brook Trout and function as a lightweight knife that can pull its own weight in the field.  We’ve taken it backpacking and camping so far and loved it.  Even better, it has VG-10 steel (something I usually only see in Spyderco knives), which is great for when you’re boating as well, as VG-10 offers excellent corrosion resistance.

The sheath can be carried vertically on your belt or in the scout carry position.  The sheath fits the knife perfectly, which is sometimes a problem with these smaller belt knives.  I can even re-sheathe it with one hand, although it took a bit of practice to do it.

If there’s anything I’m not a huge fan of it’s the fact that the blade is very small.  This isn’t a problem for some people (Sam likes smaller blades), but I prefer my fixed blades to come with a little more blade to them.  You should also practice the way you want to carry the knife before you head out, as changing the configuration can be a pain.

Otherwise, it’s a great knife with a unique look that’s sure to turn heads in a good way.

Smith & Wesson 10.5 inch Fixed Blade Knife

Specs

  • Overall Lenght: 10.5″
  • Blade Length: 6″
  • Weight: 7.4 oz
  • Steel: 7Cr17MoV
  • Handle: Rubber-Wrapped Aluminum
  • Sheath: Ballistic Polyester with Removable Storage Pouch and Sharpening Steel

This knife is a little more on the tactical side, but as a scout carry knife it’s an excellent choice.  As one of the larger blades on this list, it’s great for tasks that call for a more robust blade.  It has enough belly on it for good slicing and cutting, but it also has a decent point to it.

The sheath is made of nylon ballistic polymer and has a removable front pouch where you can hold accessories.  This makes it one of the more useful sheaths on this list.

And it gets better!  It also comes with a diamond-cut sharpener.  Most knives, belt knife or not, don’t come with too many add-ons.

Is there anything I don’t like about this knife?

This is the kind of knife I’d take outdoors with me, but living in northern Minnesota, I’m not especially fond of high-carbon blades.  Yes, they hold an edge like no one’s business, but they rust.  There is so, so, so much water in this state that unless I’m sure I’m not going to need to use my knife around it, I tend to bring a stainless steel knife with me.

The only other complaint I have is that the handle didn’t feel as robust to me as it should.  In my survival knife post, I praised rubber handles and I stand by that.  However, this particular handle isn’t fantastic.

Regardless, this is a fantastic horizontal carry knife to add to your collection.

BRADFORD GUARDIAN 3

Specs

  • Overall Length: 6.75″
  • Blade Length: 3.5″
  • Blade Steel: N690, AEB-L, M390, or D2
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Micarta or G-10
  • Sheath: Leather

While I didn’t include it in my list of favorite survival knives, the Bradford Guardian 3 is a formidable little knife that easily could’ve made the list.  I just, you know, didn’t want it to be a five-hour read…

Anyway, this is a fantastic belt knife that can easily be carried in a scout-style position or even a cross-draw position.  It’s not a huge knife, the blade itself being under 4″, but it’s handy to have.  It also has a variety of steel options, so you can pick the steel that suits you the most if this blade takes your fancy.

The sheath is leather, which makes it feel kind of special when compared to nylon and such.  Of course, leather has its drawbacks, and you should take that into consideration.

Before you write this little knife off because you don’t care for leather, Bradford also makes a Kydex sheath for this knife, which is easily just as versatile.  This knife can easily be your next EDC if you like fixed-blade belt knives.

Southern Grind Jackal Pup Fixed Blade Knife

Specs

  • Overall Length: 5.75″
  • Blade Length: 2.75″
  • Blade Steel: 8670M
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: G-10
  • Sheath: Kydex

I like interesting-looking knives, and the Southern Grind Jackal Pup fits the bill perfectly.  This is a neat knife to look at, and the fact that it’s a belt knife that can also be a scout carry knife is a bonus.  With a little ingenuity, you can also render it into a neck knife.

I love the handle, as it’s easy to grip even when wet.  However, it’s got high-carbon steel, so you have to wipe it down with oil to keep it from rusting.  My biggest problem with this knife, to be honest.

Other than that, I like this knife, even if it’s a tiny little thing.  On that note, however, tiny knives sometimes have trouble fitting snuggly into the sheath, and this can be a problem.  Luckily, the manufacturers make up for it, so it actually rides at an angle instead of fully horizontal.

I also had to adjust the clip some, but it was nothing a screwdriver couldn’t handle.

Kizer/Maverick Customs Harpoon

Specs

  • Overall Length: 7.75″
  • Blade Length: 3.875″
  • Blade Steel: D2
  • Blade Style: Harpoon
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Sheath: Kydex

This is probably my favorite scout carry knife.  It looks cool (and the cool factor is a huge factor in my knife collecting obsession), has a handle that doesn’t slip no matter the weather, and has a black powder coating to mitigate the corrosion this knife is susceptible to.

This knife is the only belt knife on this list that’s horizontal carry only, so you don’t have to adjust the sheath one iota to make it work that way.  Due to its relatively small size, it can be carried discretely and won’t get in the way at all.

If there’s anything I don’t care for, it’s that the blade is on the smaller side, but this could easily be an EDC, and you typically don’t want a huge blade for an EDC.

All I can say is that if you want a good scout carry knife, then the Kizer/Maverick Customs Harpoon is my #1 recommendation!

ESEE Izula

Specs

  • Overall Length: 6.75″
  • Blade Length: 2.875″
  • Blade Steel: 1095
  • Blade Style: Drop point
  • Blade Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Steel
  • Sheath: Molded polymer
  • Made in: USA

Finishing off with another knife from the ESEE line, we’re back to more boring knives in the aesthetics department.  However, this little knife is a fantastic scout carry knife that you just might even forget you’re wearing.  It’s nice and light and comes with an ambidextrous sheath.

In fact, you can wear this as a normal belt knife, a neck knife, or as a horizontal carry knife.  The clip is kind of neat in that one side is smaller and tighter so it has a tight grip on whatever it’s clipped onto, but the other side is wider and can fit onto larger belts.  All of this makes it a fantastic belt knife, whether you want a scout carry knife or not.

Can I think of anything I hate about this knife?

Not really, to be honest.  It’s a great knife that will serve you well.

A Note on Tek Lok

I promised I’d talk about this and MOLLE, didn’t I?  Well, now’s the time to do that!

Tek Lok is a belt clip that can be used with knife sheaths, gun holsters, and more.  Tek Lok is pretty good at converting just about every belt knife into a horizontal carry knife.  The reason why I mentioned it on this list is because sometimes they can make carrying a knife, even if it’s already capable of being a scout carry knife, a little easier to fasten to your belt.

Once in a while, you’ll run into a fantastic knife that has a crappy clip.  That’s when you want a Tek Lok.  They’re compatible with most Kydex sheaths and have spacers that allow them to be adjusted to your belt size.  They’re also durable and can take quite a bit of abuse, though I don’t know what you’re doing that’s banging up your sheath.

If you carry fixed blade knives, which are usually belt knives, you should consider getting a Tek Lok.

A Note on MOLLEs

Now it’s time to talk about MOLLE.  MOLLE stands for modular lightweight load-carrying equipment.  I know you’ve seen them before: they’re the straps and pockets you see on the outside of military backpacks and stuff.  Backpackers like to have them, too.  Those pockets and straps are perfect for attaching your knives and other gear to.

A lot of scout carry knives are MOLLE compatible, so you can fix the knife to your backpack.  You can usually attach it in a variety of positions, so they aren’t purely for horizontal carry.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for your perfect scout carry knife or the perfect belt knives that can be carried horizontally, then I hope this list gave you some ideas.  Do you have a favorite?  Hate one of the knives on this list?  Sound off below!

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