Choosing a Neck Knife


*Please note, it is your responsibility to know and understand the laws regarding carrying a knife. This post is for information purposes only.

I’ve carried a small fixed blade neck knife from time to time. It isn’t my go-to method of carrying; however, there are extremely warm-weather climates or certain dress occasions when a neck knife serves a specific carry purpose. Over the years of testing and carrying a variety of neck knives, I’ve come to a few steadfast and practical considerations for neck knives.

Photo 270

Two different neck knives set up with two different lengths of cordage: Left, Emerson La Griffe set up for Long-Carry and Right, CRKT Wharncliffe Minimalist set up for Short-Carry.

While it would be easy to spend time discussing what knife you should or shouldn’t carry, more important is how you carry the neck knife. For this article, the knife itself is meant for utility purposes or as a defensive tool when the circumstances are a reactive, lethal force situation in which my life or the life of someone else is in jeopardy. The neck knife, for that purpose, is being deployed as a last resort.

It isn’t as straightforward as throwing it around your neck, tucking it under a shirt, and thinking you are ready. Consider needing this neck knife when your awareness has broken down, and you have to utilize it under extreme duress, in close confines, and against multiple aggressors.

Accessing The Neck Knife

Accessing the neck knife can involve both hands or only one hand when set up correctly. Like the draw-stroke when accessing a handgun, it may require one hand to clear a cover garment out of the way while the other hand establishes a fighting grip on the knife, usually due to the length of cordage used. As is typical with most production neck knives, the knife hangs at approximately the base of the sternum or low chest area, depending upon the individual’s body composition and dimensions.

This short-carry placement requires a two-handed access method to clear the garment, effectively taking both hands out of the fight. Another alternative is just the dominant hand must climb up and under the shirt a significant distance to establish a firm grip trapping the dominant hand under the shirt. While some have the discipline and time to practice accessing the neck knife rapidly and efficiently from this carry position, it has proven, under opposition training to be less than optimal when the aggressor intends on truly harming you.

Photo 263 2

Clearing the cover garment with support hand while establishing a final fighting grip on neck knife with dominant hand. This knife, on a shorter cord, requires both hands to consistently access the knife effectively.

Cover Garments

Another problem experienced during opposition testing of the short-carry method was cover garment/clothing related. Stretchy t-shirts were not as big a problem, but dress shirts, polo-type shirts, and hoodies tended to catch around the buttocks when utilizing a two-handed upward cover garment clearing method.


Note how tight the cover garment is around the hips and buttocks. This tension limits how much the cover garment could be lifted to clear the neck knife for consistent access.

An alternative to consider is what I will refer to as long-carry for the neck knife. The knife is on a more extended attachment putting the neck knife closer to the beltline. When set up appropriately, this places the knife hilt approximately 1-2 inches above the hem of the shirt.

Photo 266 1

Note how much lower this knife hangs compared to the one above. Hilt of knife is approximately 1-2 inches above hem of shirt.

The waist is where we carry other EDC defensive tools such as firearms or knives, creating congruency with previously established tool access. This long-carry position requires minimal elevation of the dominant hand to index and acquire a grip. The dominant hand can still grab the neck knife in a confined space or a clinch position or bear hug. The support hand can assist when necessary. The support side can access if the dominant hand or arm is tied up fending, striking, or grappling.

Choosing a Neck Knife for Every Day Carry

Note the locked wrist position when indexing and establishing grip. This makes fouling the draw stroke much more difficult.

Choosing a Neck Knife for Every Day Carry

Utilizing the support hand to better visualize the final fighting grip.

Lanyards & Attachments

Finally, consider a break-away connector or clasp for the attachment. Cordage around your neck during a struggle is a handle for someone to get ahold of and use against you. A break-away connector will solve this problem.

Photo 271

A simple break-away connector from will allow the neck knife cordage to disconnect when aggressively yanked on or pulled.



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