Small blade knives on the body midline

| March 16, 2015 | 11 Comments

I have known for awhile that small, fixed blades carried near the center of the front of the body were the best compromise between blade size, accessibility, and concealment. I still carried folders in my pockets due to legal concerns. I also wanted to be able to use either of my folders as tools without betraying my self defense options, and without drawing attention by reaching for a tool from an unfamiliar place. People have weird reactions to stuff.

Anyway, after attending the Polite Society Tactical Conference at Rangemaster this year, I’ve decided to give the small knife on the body midline concept a try. I had a KA-BAR TDI (original, regular size) handy. One of my instructors was kind enough to make me a custom sheath, and now it’s time to live and practice with this setup.



A few reasons why a small fixed blade knife on the body midline is a good idea (these ideas are not mine, I am not taking credit for them):

  • The closer the grip is to the center, the easier it is for you to reach it with either hand.
  • Fixed blades are faster and easier to deploy than folders, even assisted openers like the ones I carry. They don’t require a grip manipulation, a flip of the wrist, catching something on something else, etc. Even an automatic knife (which I can’t own here) requires a slight grip change unless you’re still fighting with a saber grip.
  • Going from deployment to attack while in a clinch is easier with a small, fixed blade knife near the center of the body. I may be trying to disarm someone (or keep them from disarming me), and a center-line carried blade is a short trip into the assailant.
  • If you’re carrying appendix, it’s easy for your body to remember that all of your tools are on the front of the body.
  • When knocked on your ass (I’m spindly), it’s easier to deploy a blade that’s on the front center of your body. You can do so with either hand, which is critical.


I’m currently carrying the KA-BAR TDI knife. It’s good for the purpose, but I’m saving up for (and waiting on) a Clinch Pick by Shivworks. I’m going to be doing some training with the creator of the Clinch Pick later this year, and I think it’s a very good small knife option.

The Kydex sheath that comes with the TDI is designed for handle-up or handle-down carry. It’s not possible to adjust it for a horizontal mount. I have a NSR Tactical sheath on order, but there’s a wait time of 6 – 8 weeks. My instructor was kind enough to make me one, and I think it looks and works great.

There is a Kydex hook that mounts to the rivets on the bottom of the sheath. The hook goes underneath my 1.5″ wide Wilderness Tactical Instructor belt. It does slide a bit between my belt loop and buckle. We’ll see if that’s a problem as I carry the knife throughout the day.

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Thoughts so far

So far I am very pleased. The knife conceals well and is very accessible. I have mine mounted for left hand draw. Chris Fry from MDTS Training prefers right-hand primary draw, with the left hand using a reverse grip. This is in case you can’t get to your pistol soon enough or it’s inappropriate to go for your handgun. My thinking is that if I’m using a knife, it’s because my draw is compromised or I am fouling someone else’s draw. In that case I am assuming my naturally dominant hand will be used instinctively, which means my left hand will be doing the knife work.

I can still draw the knife with my right hand in a reverse grip. It’s the same thing I heard from Chris, Cecil Burch, and Greg Ellifritz at Rangemaster, just mounted backwards.

There is no trainer for this sized TDI, so I am going to have to make one out of a cutting board. I think this is a big improvement over my pocket-carried folders. For now, I’m still carrying them, but I may transition them out if I like how a horizontally mounted small blade on the body midline works out.

Carrying a blade on the midline isn’t new (horizontally or vertically), but it’s new to me. I think seeing the super short Clinch Pick really changed my mind. Several of the Suarez International instructors and students have been carrying knives this vertically, but they seems just a touch too big. The Clinch Pick and TDI have comfort, concealment, and where I live, legal advantages.

I’ll write another post after I’ve trained and carried the knife this way for awhile.

Is anyone else doing body midline carry?

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

11 Comments on "Small blade knives on the body midline"

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  1. Kobie says:

    Great review of the knife and your style of carry. I also carry the TDI on my left side with the provided sheath. Extremely simple to draw and works well for both hands. Have you practiced drawing from on your back? I have and although cumbersome to do while someone is mounted in full guard, it is quite easier to reach than a pocket folder.

  2. voodoo_man says:

    I carry one of these:

    Midline at work behind a pouch. One of the biggest points is that it needs to have an ambi draw.

  3. Kyle says:

    I carry a TDI with this:

    Just a great sheath. It really puts the stock sheath to shame. NSR makes some really nice gun holsters as well. American made and run by a guy very deep in the gun culture and all around solid guy.

  4. shelby edward says:

    Check out the nsr tactical sheath for the tdi .much better angle imo

  5. Johan says:

    I am left handed and carry my firearm in the appendix position, IWB. I have been carrying a TDI in the vertical position for a number of years now on the opposite side. I also have a TDI trainer.

    I prefer to carry the TDI in the vertical position, as it seems to me it correlates better to the drawing of my firearm – same angle and action as what the left hand does, the right hand does – less confusion and common task transfer.

    I have experimented with carrying a number of different straight fixed blades in the appendix position, but everytime reverted back to the TDI. One reason is less confusion when reaching for your mag when reloading, as for me the width and angle of the handle of many straight bladed fixed knives are close to that of your magazine. Not so much of a problem maybe when standing upright, but when you have to reload and fight under pressure from unconventional positions and unusual angles, it did happen to me a couple of times that I grabbed the blade instead of the mag. Imagine not realising that in time… The grip angle of the TDI when mounted vertically, and I suppose horizontally, seem to eliminate that problem.

    Another advantage of the angled grip of the TDI over a regular straight blade, is that you use it with a locked wrist, which is a much stronger grip, meaning less chance of loosing the blade on impact. The Pikal method has the same advantage – the Clinch Pick and Disciples are used also with a locked wrist. I realise that with training a regular blade can of course also be used in a secure manner, meaning to lessen the chance of loosing it on impact when stabbing, when using it in a forward / sabre grip even though the wrist might be bend, but for me, with limited training time and multiple disciplines to try and cover, a locked wrist method seem to make more sense.

    Another reason I prefer appendix / midline carry, is because you are stronger in wrestling in front of your body (from hip bones forward) than from hip bones back. Some people call this the defensive triangle. So when you’re thinking weapons retention or creating space for drawing, it will probably be more effective when this takes place in front of you.

    I also agree that with grappling type situations on the ground the appendix carry position seems to be more favourable in most cases than regular hip or IWB carry, especially if you are trying to defend your back against chokes etc.

    Finally, for me, the appendix carry position allows for a less inconspicuous pre-emptive “draw” of either firearm or blade.

    • Matt says:

      I like push daggers, carry a Safekeeper 2 @ 11:00 with short paracord loop around belt loop. Tired of worrying about catching a case over a knife though, had been looking at the fixed blade versions of the P’kal and Yojimbo but this article has me very interested in the TDI. Legal wise, IDK, but have found a lot of things are up to the officer, TDI says self defense, push dagger is illegal in 3-4 different ways. My folders could always be legitimately used for work

  6. Paul says:

    Good article! I like the vertical carry on the TDI myself. I haven’t tried the horizontal carry but, I would think it would be easier to access when you have been mounted or in other tight positions. Let us know how your training went! Maybe I’ll give horizontal carry a try.

  7. John says:

    I carry a CRKT Minimalist Bowie horizontally on the left side of my belt buckle with the handle facing inwards. It can be reached easily with either hand from almost any position, is unobtrusive, quickly deployed and very concealed. It’s pretty much a perfect set-up.

  8. Christopher says:

    The H&K Plan D is a great knife to consider as well, very similar in shape and size to the TDI, and is made by Benchmade here in the USA.

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