The neck knife has been advertised as being developed so that a useable, fixed blade of reduced size could be carried concealed in polite company and still have the capabilities of a fixed blade, should one need it to be easily accessed. As with a lot of good ideas, implementation of the concept is easier said than effectively done.
The first circumstance that creates contention is how do you define a usable, reduced size? The second is what do you mean by easy accessibility? Fixed blades of a given blade size can be more compact by design than folders of the same blade length when open. The pinch comes when the handle size gets so small that it is hard to hold on to. A fixed blade that has a handle that is too small to be controllably grasped has wasted its theoretical advantage in strength.
This is the case for a number of all metal, skeletonized, diminutive neck knives. Having no more handle thickness than their blade stock makes them very light weight and concealable. It also makes them hard to hold on to and manipulate. Any sharp edge might be better than no sharp edge. It doesn’t require much blade to clean and scale a fish or to dress out a grouse or rabbit. But these tasks can be just as readily accomplished with a slip joint pen knife that is even more safely concealed. For most self defense scenarios at close quarters I would feel better armed with a sharpened No. 2 pencil than a slip joint pen knife. But I wouldn’t want to try to scale a fish with it.
My point is to get you to think about the knife that you carry and what you intend to use it for. Don’t just buy it because it looks cool and might be useful in your imagination. Try the knife out in real world situations. See whether you can use it to cut ½ inch rope. If you can only hold on to the handle with two fingers and your thumb, would you be able to hold onto the knife if you actually slashed something with it? If you stabbed with it could you drive the knife in or would you lose control and have your fingers slide onto the sharp part?
If you have already purchased a skelotonized neck knife and found it about as useful as trying to hold onto a razor blade, then customize it. You can wrap a good portion of the handle with electrical or duct tape to build it up and make it easier to hold onto without affecting concealability more than you want to. Yeah, it doesn’t look cool, but that shouldn’t be the primary reason for concealed carry. Nobody is supposed to know it is there.
Folders can be carried as neck knives. There are producers who make neck knife sheaths for folders. River City Sheaths (www.rivercitysheaths.com) is one such sheath maker. I generally find folders as quick to access from the waistband or from a pocket, so I haven’t often carried a folder as a neck knife until recently.
The purchase of a Magnum, swing blade, folding, neck knife has forced me to re-evaluate the neck knife carry of folders. Their advertisement says “Now you’ll know how women feel when men start at your chest.” This knife is not designed for extreme use, but it proves to be extremely useful. It is a side swinging folder with a clever blade lock that is released by squeezing the tail end of the handle. The knife hangs from its neck sling via a spring clip that attaches to the pivot end of the knife. Tugging on the handle of the knife with enough force disengages the knife from the clip and allows for one handed deployment of the blade. The design won’t appeal to everyone, but it was too uniquely clever for me to pass on. It has become one of my favorite, every day, carry knives.
Once I got into the idea of carrying a pocket clip folder on a paracord neck sling, I discovered that relatively large folders could be carried comfortably concealed and accessed quickly from a button up shirt, even while wearing a tie. The way that you hang a folder from its neck sling will depend on its opening system and how much manipulation in the hand is acceptable before the blade is out of the handle. The neck folder works best for me if the pocket clip is at the blade pivot end for a tip down carry. Sometimes it is desirable for the clip to be reversible and installed in what would normally be the left hand carry position for a right hand user. The knife should be clipped to the paracord neck sling with the clip to the body so the paracord will always be behind the knife handle. You adjust the length of the neck loop so that the top of the knife hangs down to a level just above the third button. If you have the collar buttoned and wear a tie, it is unlikely anyone will notice the third button being left unbuttoned. Having that button already undone will allow the use of the left hand thumb to slide the tie aside, as other fingers open up the shirt, so the right hand can slip through the opening, grasp the knife and withdraw it. If you utilize a knife with a Kit Carson style blade opening flipper (especially one that is spring assisted) then completing deployment is quick indeed. But other systems also work.
If you purchased a fixed blade, neck knife that comes with a molded Kydex sheath that holds the knife handle down, you would want to leave the fourth button loose so you could slip your hand into your shirt and withdraw the knife without any chance of self mutilation. This is the quickest method of deployment.
Depending on your needs and body build, you may find that you can neck carry a longer bladed folder than a fixed bladed one. Handle lengths up to 5 ½ inches can be accommodated. Collared polo shirts become a viable dress option with quick, discrete access for the clip folder on a neck sling.
Be sure you exercise responsible judgment in the observance of local, concealed weapons carry restrictions. Unlicensed civilians should consider utilizing smaller folders just to be sure that they do not become one of the bad guys to the uniformed good guys. In the State of Virginia, any knife carried concealed that is not a folding knife with a metal blade 3 inches or less in length can be classified as an illegal, concealed weapon if local law enforcement apprehends you and the local district attorney chooses to prosecute. Interestingly, having a concealed carry, handgun permit does not grant carte blanche permission to carry knives concealed. In Virginia, the only place that you are expressly permitted to have concealed knives over 3 inches long is in your own home or business premise. The applicable laws are deliberately vague to discourage concealed knife carry in public. Any concealed, fixed blade can be interpreted as an illegal weapon.
I plan on modifying the blade of my Magnum by regrinding the front profile from its factory 3 3/8 inches length to a 3 inch length, so I can be sure that I legally wear it as a concealed folder without fear of violating the laws of my state.
I would have very little personal use for fixed blade, neck knives if it weren’t for the Murray Carter Muteki neck knife. Murray has designed and hand makes neck knives in several variations that are the ideal examples of what fixed blade, neck knives should be. With an overall length of about 7 inches, there are 3 inches of sharp edge and 4 inches of grip. The micarta handle scales are 10mm wide and the handle is contoured to provide for maximum grip ability, given its compact size. The blade has a very slight drop point to its profile. The knife has an excellent, piercing, utility point and enough forward belly for skinning. There are 1 5/8 inches of useable, straight edge before the sharp part ends for slicing. At 7/8 inch wide, the cold forged and hand ground, laminated blade is extremely strong for its size. It is flat ground from halfway down the width of the blade all the way to the edge in the Japanese fashion.
Murray describes this knife as the most versatile knife you will ever own and I concur. This knife has a Hitachi Blue Carbon Steel core sandwiched between layers of SUS410 stainless steel. The blade bevel is intended to lie flat on Japanese water stone hones when sharpened, so any tarnishes would be removed there during sharpening. Using the first 1 ½ inches of blade, I have cut more ½ inch sisal rope than I have with any stainless steel blade available. Murray individually, heat treats every blade in a pine, charcoal forge and water quenches it to a Rockwell hardness of the core from 63 to 64. Tempering this way makes for extreme edge holding and the softer, laminating, sandwich layers add great strength. This type of construction has advantages that even differential zone hardening of homogenous steel blades can’t offer.
Murray Carter is a Canadian born, custom, knife maker who lives and works in Japan as the seventeenth forge master in the Sakemoto family tradition of Yoshimoto Bladesmithing. Since his knives are hand made by him alone, there is a delay between the time the knives are ordered and when they can be delivered. Stocking dealers are in very short supply, but if you are interested in one of Murray’s neck knives, you can place an order by calling Stewarts Hunting & Fishing, in Keysville, VA (434) 736-0606. Steve Stewart is the proprietor and is available Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 am to 5 pm EST to take orders. Expect to make payment up front and to wait as long as 90 days for delivery. For a hand made knife of this quality, this is a good deal.
Another dealer is Kellam Knives (www.kellamknives.com). Murray can be contacted in Japan by writing to:
Murray M. Carter –
2506 Toyo Oka, Ueki –
Kamoto, Kumamoto –
You can contact Magnum Knives by calling 1 (800) 835-6433, ext. 18. It is a Division of Boker and the swing blade is a new model which is not fully distributed yet. If you can’t find a local supplier, Stewart’s Hunting and Fishing can take your order for this one also.