The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

The Curious Case of Knives Clipped Outside the Pocket

Anyone who carries a knife will tell you just how to put a knife with a clip in your pocket. You slip it into your pocket so that the clip is facing outward and the knife itself is tucked into your pocket.

That’s the conventional way… but not everyone likes to follow convention.

Some carry it like this:

That’s not how this works. from knifeclub

In this method of carrying, the carrier will clip the knife outside the pocket — leaving it exposed and very visible. I haven’t reached out to Sal Glesser from Spyderco (who pioneered the pocket clip on the knife in the original Spyderco Worker), but I don’t think this was the original intent.

And if you think this is a very uncommon method of carrying, think again. A fair amount of people have reported seeing others carrying knives this why.

So, why would someone carry a knife this way? Let’s take a look.

They’re new to knives.

I would argue this is one of the biggest reasons why people carry a knife this way. They are gifted a knife for the first time and clip it to their pocket on the outside, assuming that’s the accepted way.

For most, a simple whisper of “Hey, it’s better if you clip it inside the pocket” is a good way to inform them.

Their pockets are too small.

As a man, I have large, deep pockets that can carry a Cold Steel Recon 1 XL without much problem. Unfortunately, for women or those men who prefer tighter clothes (no judgment), pockets tend to be significantly smaller or simply for show.

If a knife doesn’t fit inside the pocket, the only way to carry it is clipped to the outside.

There are inherent dangers to this, with the biggest danger being losing the knife but carrying a knife is necessary enough to warrant this action sometimes.

It’s a way to showoff a knife.

I just bought a SOG FatCat and want the world to see my large arc-lock knife with a two-tone VG-10 steel blade and Kraton handle, but it’s tucked away in my pocket. What should I do?

Yup, clip it to the outside so people can see just how much you love knives.

Just take a look at Lori from the first season of the Walking Dead, for example.

It’s very possible that she is simply new to knives and didn’t know the proper way to carry it. However, the fact that there was a whole crew of workers tells me that they likely wanted to show off her Spyderco Endura (likely for product placement purposes).

They want quicker access to a knife.

This is the biggest reason for those who are experienced with knives and know the widely accepted way is inside. But for those jobs where you need to keep using the knife over and over, some people find it easier and faster just to clip it outside.

That’s better than having to constantly go into the pocket, some say.

It’s a fashion statement.

Similar to the showoff reason, some people wear knives as accessories rather than tools. For example, you may want to match that British Racing Green Dragonfly 2 in ZDP-189 with your new kicks.

This reason is again harder to justify… unless of course you’re celebrity and famed knife collector Steven Tyler.

There are legal restrictions.

After one of the most trivial reasons, we get to an important one. Some places have laws that say you can’t carry a knife of a certain length when concealed.

I’ve talked about this before in a previous post, but it can be unclear whether a knife clipped to the inside of your pocket is considered concealed carry or open carry.

The people who may be carrying outside their pocket may be trying to make it obvious they’re carrying the knife openly so as not to attract any legal troubles. I touched on this a while back, but it’s not as black and white as you might assume.

Do you ever clip your knife outside your pocket?


  1. It’s not compatible with the driver’s side seat belt buckle.

  2. I did, just once, and lost it. The clip remained on the belt and the S&W Border “GUARD” just fell off, somewhere.

    Now, torn between a Buck 110 and Kershaw Blur S30V.

    Let’s see!


    • I just put on a pair of blue jeans yesterday after months of not wearing denim and when I put my Gerber Scout in the pocket, I just let it fall and sometimes I clip it to the pockets hem. I find it gets snugged against my body unlike my lighter weight cargo pants with looser pockets. Even my one thicker pair of cotton cargo pants feel different, but with cargo pockets I can clip the knife under the pocket flap and it’s more comfortable when sitting down or driving. And it doesn’t show or just barely.
      I have to adjust to the pants and/or re-position the knife at times, but I’d NEVER wear it on the outside for fear of bending, twisting or having it levered up or away from my body and breaking the clip or forcing the knife to slide up and off. And cargo pockets let me easily carry an extra blade.

  3. I would never think of it!

  4. Seems like a good way to lose a knife.

  5. No way! Here’s how I draw a knife from inside the pocket if it is of the tip-up design: Insert thumb in pocket ahead of knife, place 2 middle fingers under lowest point of knife [the pivot point of the blade] outside the pocket and press upward, knife will pop right out into your palm, in fact, it will pop right thru your grip if you aren’t careful but you quickly learn to prevent this. The knife is now positioned properly in your hand with the thumb stud right where you want it, merely flick open the blade! Quick and secure, it soon becomes second nature

  6. Nelson W. Lentz

    January 9, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    The fact of the matter is that there should be NO laws on how one carries a knife, what type of knife it can be (folding, flipper, assisted opening, automatic), what length the bade can be, whether it can be a double edge blade, etc.
    The 2nd amendment of our constitution says, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.
    The term “arms” includes all weapons, including bladed ones, including knives.
    The 2nd amendment of our constitution does NOT say, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, except that some types of arms are forbidden” (nor does it say “except that if a person wants to carry arms concealed on their person, they need a special permit to do so”).
    There is an organization that is currently fighting to have all knife laws repealed but I can’t remember its name. Look t up, join it and support their efforts.
    The price of freedom is not only constant vigilance but the willingness to fight to preserve it.

  7. I’d never clip my knife outside my pocket. Looks goofy and I am afraid I would lose it. I mostly don’t even use the clip. I prefer to have the knife concealed in my pocket so as not to attract attention. I kind of prop it up with a couple of folded paper napkins so I don’t have to root around in my pocket. It doesn’t take much longer to draw the knife than with the clip. The napkins disguise the outline as well.

    Sometimes if I am wearing suit pants I put the knife inside my waistband under my belt with the pocket clip. Flops around too much in the pockets of those looser pants. It’s harder to access, but I have never actually needed quick access to my knife while wearing a suit.

  8. Like anyone of us just carries 1 knife?
    Next we wear a neck knife outside our jammies that we wear to work?

  9. Clipping your knife outside your pants pocket, is the easiest way to loose your knife..

  10. I’ve been carrying a knife on me since the 3rd grade all the way through high school (class of ‘93) and the only time I wear outside is if I’m carrying a fixed blade safely secured in a sheath. Right after high school I started carrying both, a Folder and a Fixed Blade and I still have never lost a knife!
    Those who I ever saw wearing a clip-on the outside were just trying to show off.

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