Jay Fisher - World Class Knifemaker
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Please Note: I make these sheaths only for my own knives. I can't make one for a factory knife or other makers' knife.
I came home yesterday, the knife was waiting for me since it arrived in Monday.
The knife and the sheath look great! The knife fits perfectly in my hand and the handle is very comfortable. The blade is sharp and looks very aggressive. The sheath looks strong and very durable. The locking mechanism is awesome! This is by far the best sheath I have ever had.
Jay, thank you for this great knife, it's definitely a knife that I can depend my life on.
--D. B. (Israeli Defense Force)
...the locking sheath is brilliant, and I can't imagine a blade without one!
Many years ago (1995), some of my military clients (USAF Pararescue, our nation's top military rescue service) asked me if I could make a true combat grade positively locking sheath, one that would hold up to the rigors of real combat, something that they could trust to have their knife ready at the instant, yet secure the knife and protect the wearer during the high energy activity of combat, tactical, and rescue operations. They requested that the sheath be bulletproof, that is, as tough as I could make it without extra weight.
The knife sheath has always been the most neglected part of this modern tradecraft and art, yet in the fully functional combat knife the sheath is the most important part. No matter how the knife is designed, crafted, and suited to tactical or combat use, if it can't be reliably carried in a functional, dependable, and durable knife sheath, it is useless. I've always believed that a tactical knife sheath is not merely something that looks stylishly tactical, in camo print nylon, or kydex secured with weak eyelets, but this is all that is available from factories, manufacturers, and sadly, modern knife makers. Simply put, there is a critical, modern need for a good knife sheath commensurate with the quality and intended purpose of the knife.
So I worked and experimented, tried various options, with the input of military professionals, and created what is clearly the most durable, reliable, and best tactical combat positively locking knife sheath made. It's suitable for combat and rescue operations in the desert, on the open ocean, and anywhere the need arises.
This sheath was not some simple adjunct, it has proven itself to be the most reliable sheath available; in the hundreds of these I've made over the decades, in the hundreds of them that are in service in some of the most demanding, dirty, wet, and torturous environments, I've not had a failure of a single one. Not one has been returned for adjustment, alignment, or service, not one has ever failed. How many other sources can claim a sheath that will last as long as the knife, a sheath of any kind, much less a waterproof positively locking sheath?
You can see more of these sheaths on the various tactical knife pages of my site available through Military and Tactical Knives Portal Page.
There is only one way to make a knife safe, and that is to sheath it in a positively locking knife sheath made as strong as possible.
Just got the knife today. WOW!!! The pics you sent me did NO justice to the knife at all. This is BY FAR the nicest knife I have ever owned! I was also pleasantly surprised by how nice the sheath came out. For the last few months I have been second guessing my decision for the locking sheath. Now I am glad I went in that direction. The pics I have seen of that sheath do not show how sturdy and well built that thing really is. I think you may need to show a side profile of that in one of the pics. That large slab of aluminum will show people its more than just kydex bolted together. I think your description says how it is built – but I didn’t understand till I actually saw it in person!
Anyways, thank you for a GREAT knife! I will look forward to enjoying it for many years! Also, I'm already planning my next one. You can be sure that I will be showing it off to all my friends and letting them know about you and the quality of your work! (most already know as I've been talking about these knives for quite a while – but I think they will be astonished when they see they experience your work first hand).
The knife is part of the sheath; the sheath is part of the knife, in every way.
Around 2011, I perfected my next edition of sheath, the hybrid tension-locking tactical knife sheath. This was mainly in response to a need for a lighter weight and smaller package in my skeletonized knives, and the growth of the dedicated counterterrorism knife necessity, which requires additional release functions and double edge applications. There was, just as with my locking knife sheaths, a distinct lack of extreme use and reliable knife sheaths in the real combat realm, and since I was in direct communication with counterterrorism professionals, I had their help and input to create, design, and perfect this critically essential sheath type.
The reason I designed this sheath was to offer a sheath that is more secure than simply hot-formed kydex around the knife (like most kydex sheaths made), and yet not as heavy and securely locking as my locking knife sheath, while offering a faster option for unsheathing in an emergency. Additionally, counterterrorism knives are often double-edged, and the positivley locking sheath mechanism would not work on the double edged knives. The Tension-Locking sheath is a hybrid of these two (the tension and the locking sheaths), and they have met with great feedback and success, particularly in the counterterrorism knife field.
The knife is retained in the sheath with a tension spring of 6AL4V titanium, which may be anodized for color matching, improved surface hardness, and subdued operations. The tension spring secures a component that matches exactly with the knife in a critical key area of the individual knife, usually near the ricasso. Every knife is different, just as with my locking sheath, and every individual knife must be matched to the sheath, and the sheath matched to the knife, necessitating building them together. Clearly, the knife is part of the sheath and the sheath is part of the knife in every way. This is one of the main reasons this design will not easily be copied, each one has to be constructed individually, and the sheaths are not interchangeable, even with the same knife model, design, and profile! The knife can be released quietly with a thumb, finger, or knuckle to release the tension of the spring, or, with this special design, the knife can be unsheathed instantly with a good, hard, firm pull on the handle. The pull varies with each knife, and I typically include several springs of varying tension so that the knife user can select his own preference, of light, medium, or heavy pull and retention. The pull varies between 15-25 pounds of force, so this is still a well-retained knife. This is also a retention method that can be used on critically double edged knives, with upper edges that would interfere with the locking mechanism of my positively locking sheath. Just as with my positively locking sheaths, all of the components are completely reversible for a huge variety of wear options and positions on military or tactical gear. Also, just as with my positively locking tactical sheaths, all have the same bolt hole pattern for the wide range of components I offer for critical applications, such as flashlights, sharpeners, firestarters, and positional mounting arrays. Some of my hybrid tension-locking sheaths offer a cam-lock release where the knife owner can not see the knife, to aid in re-sheathing as well. This is a clear advantage in my counterterrorism dive knives, for example.
All successful businesses have critics, and it's important to educate so that low information does not rest without challenge. I owe it to my clients and patrons and future clients and patrons to be very blunt, clear, and concise about these criticisms, so that they can make an educated decision in their own knife and sheath selections. It's important to not let misinformation stand, lest it root there and become belief.
There isn't too much criticism about my locking sheaths, or any of my sheaths, for that matter, but once in a while a person who does not have access to one of my sheaths will make some careless and irresponsible claim about them. This is humorous, because they don't even have a sheath to examine, inspect, or use, yet feel compelled to offer their evaluation! The people who do have them are happy with them; in the hundreds of this type of sheath I've made since the 1990s, I've never had one returned for even an adjustment, much less a repair of any kind! I also receive continual requests for a locking or hybrid tension-locking sheath for every single tactical, combat, or counterterrorism knife I create; my clients demand them.
One anonymous poster on a forum claimed that "there is a reason no one else uses aluminum in their kydex sheaths," insinuating that I was somehow wrong for building a clearly superior sheath. This is quite funny, because this person saw fault in building what is the best, most sturdy, and most durable knife sheath in the world today. He thought that all sheaths were supposed to be weak, made of single thickness (.060") kydex, and with soft kydex welts, not the .250" thick high strength aluminum welts I use. Why wouldn't I build them weak, like everyone else does?
Then, a claim was made about the accessories; that they "looked weak and might break if the wearer took a tumble." This shows the absolute ignorance and contempt these uneducated types spew in hopes of casting some doubt on the most successful of us. The accessories, like the sheath, are the strongest made in the word today! In just one example (the tactical flashlight holder, the HULA), I'll make a simple comparison: Mine are built of all welded zero-care austenitic stainless steel and high strength aluminum alloy; theirs are built of flammable, weak, flexible, thin plastic, or nylon cloth! My accessorized units are used by some of the top military, law enforcement, and counterterrorism teams in the world, and there is a reason for that. By the way, I've never had one returned for even an adjustment, much less a repair, not one of any type in over 20 years and thousands of knives. NOT ONE.
Rather than simply explain who is using these sheaths and accessories, and for how long they have been using them, I'll commit to describe the exact components used so it's absolutely clear how durable these sheaths are. This is done lower on this very page, at the topic: Compare. You can read it yourself, and make an informed decision.
As for me, I'll keep making the strongest, most durable, most reliable locking waterproof knife sheaths made in the world today. They will continue to be the very best.
My military combat grade positively locking sheath is made of more than 40 components. The hybrid tension locking sheath is made of from 24 to 34 parts. All parts and fasteners are hand-fitted to the individual custom combat, tactical, or rescue knife. The sheath is matched to the knife and no other knives can be used in the sheath. The front and back of the sheaths are made of a single layer of .125" thick Kydex® thermoforming plastic (methylacrilate and polyvinylchloride), which may be hot-formed and molded to the knife bolsters and handle. This is double the thickness of every typical kydex sheath or pistol holster. The welts (or frame members) of the sheath are made of two layers of .125" thick (total thickness: .250") milled and dressed 5052H32 corrosion resistant high strength aluminum alloy. This is a high chromium aluminum alloy, and I offer anodization which imparts a near-ceramic hard surface to the aluminum, and can be dyed to match the knife, sheath body, and other components, as well as blend in camouflage and subdued operations. It also increases the corrosion resistance tremendously, so that dive applications in marine environments are applicable. The welts, front, and back are adhesively secured with waterproof cement, and bolted together with blued steel, nickel plated steel, or stainless steel Chicago screws with a .250" shank. The stainless steel Chicago screws can be blackened, oxide-toned for color, or passivated for complete corrosion resistance in salt water. Included may be one wide or several narrow belt loop pairs, in varying profiles for thick or thin belts, a pair of reversible horizontal-vertical belt loop plates, or flat straps of 5052H32 corrosion resistant high strength aluminum, anodized to match and secured with Chicago screws. The belt loops can be made variable, reversible from front to back or even adjustable for horizontal or vertical carry. See the thumbnail photos on this page. The positively locking mechanism is all stainless steel, the parts are 304, 316, and 302 stainless steel, even the spring is stainless steel and the fasteners are 18-8 (304) stainless steel which may be passivated, blackened, or oxide-colored to match. In the tension-lock sheaths, the components are 304 stainless steel, as are the fasteners, which may be passivated, blackened, or oxide-colored to match. The springs are anodized 6AL4V titanium, and several strengths are included for user preference of retention and release. The entire assembly is reversible for user choice, and all standardized fastener patterns allow high versatility of wear, mount, positions, and directions, as well as interfacing with all my standard options.
These are simply is the most durable, waterproof, and and advanced locking and tension-locking knife sheaths made in the world today; I challenge anyone to find better!
Every now and then, I get a letter that moves me. It is one of the reasons I'm so hard on factories and other knife makers about their work. It disturbs me greatly to know that our men and women are not carrying the best knives into battle that this country is capable of producing. Here's one of those letters and my response.
I'm currently deployed to Iraq and found that a back up is a must have. I work in closely with the local population and my weapon at time's cannot be used due to distance or situation. I have a Fainbrain-Applegate full size fighting knife now. I read your web page and you seem to know what's going on with knives and sheaths. The problem I have is I don’t have the proper sheath. I need a combat locking sheath like in your pictures, so I can access my knife in a split second. The best and most concealed place while in IBA is the small of my back. Mounting the knife horizontal on my belt seems the best. If you have any ideas on what to do or a different path to take please let me know.
Ali AB, Iraq
Hello, TSgt L. Thanks for writing. And thank
you for your service to our country.
Your letter hit me hard. It is truly sad that manufacturers and makers of knives do not carefully consider the sheath when making and selling their knives, and do not consider the lives that may be at stake because they do not supply an adequate or useful sheath. All I can do is not make that mistake on my own knives.
I’m sorry that I can not make a sheath for your knife. My locking and combat grade sheaths are constructed with the knife, in concert, so that components like thumb rises, ricasso ramps, edge clearances, and mounting variations must happen in the construction of the knife, so that a workable locking sheath can be designed around the knife, with the knife. Each individual sheath can only fit a specific knife. Unfortunately, I cannot build a sheath around a factory knife or other maker’s knife, as they don’t build the knife with the components and geometry that can allow a locking sheath to work. Beyond that, I get so many requests to correct inadequate sheath work that I would be out of the knife making business, and into the sheath making business only. Even if I did take on that type of work, it would require the knife in my hands while you would be left in the field unarmed.
I do make an extremely good combat knife, and can make it to your specifications, to fit a specifically designed locking combat sheath of my own construction. I know my work is not cheap, but I’ve got one of the best track records of useful and durable combat and tactical knives and sheaths in the business.
I know this does not help you at the moment. In the chance that they might be of help, I would contact the company or maker who made the knife and ask them to outfit their knife with a proper sheath. Please be brutally honest in their shortcomings of the sheath they supply for their knife, because it is your life and other lives at stake.
Barring that, you may have to do what I’ve heard of other soldiers doing in the field: using found parts, moleskin, leather bindings, bent metal, screws and other parts to make their sheaths work. I’m terribly sorry I could be of no further help.
Most of my kydex military combat sheaths are black, with satin finished aluminum welts at the edges. Occasionally, I'll get requests for a different look. By custom order, I also use gray kydex, coyote brown, forest (traditional) camo, desert camo (traditional) and even modern forest, desert, and polar digital camo kydex are available on special request. An additional charge may be required.
My locking knife sheaths have a physically smaller footprint (profile) than my tension fit kydex sheaths, though they start with similar materials (kydex, aluminum, steel Chicago screws. The smaller footprint is due to the fact that only the blade and the front of the handle are covered by the locking sheath, not the full or deep coverage of the tension fit sheath which has the knife blade and most of the handle inside the kydex. The exposed handle of the locking sheath allows quicker, easier access, and in some cases, a lighter weight than the tension fit kydex sheath, even though it has all the stainless steel mechanism and fasteners.
Why choose a tension fit sheath or locking sheath? The comparisons and reasons are below:
The knife with my locking sheath may be worn in any position, even upside down. The security is provided by the belt loops secured to a tactical belt (usually a 1.5" - 1.75" military grade nylon utility belt, .090" thick) which is secured to the body. Since 2015, I've also been including "high rise" belt loops (footman's loops) that will accommodate the tactical survival and suspension belts that are .250" thick. The knife is secured by the tang lock bar that engages on the spine of the knife. To release the knife from the locking sheath, a simple combination movement of the hand is all that is required. this means grippng the knife handle, and sliding the thumb forward to unlock it. To sheath the knife, make sure that the blade is aligned correctly and slide knife into sheath until it "clicks" into locked position.
Important: the wearer must visually check or tug on knife handle to make sure that the knife is locked into the sheath, every time it is used. Unlike a tension fit sheath where the knife is squeezed as it is inserted and has a wide range of depth that can secure the knife, my locking knife sheaths have an exact and specific point at which the mechanism clicks into locked position. Once locked, the knife cannot be removed until unlocked. So, while locking the knife in the sheath takes a momentary glimpse or a tug, and once you know it's locked, you can forget about it. This prevents concern, worry, or "touch-checking" to make sure your knife is where it's supposed to be. If you've carried a knife (or other necessary implement or weapon) this way, you will appreciate the elimination of that nagging need to make sure things are where they are supposed to be.
Details about the mechanism: I've removed the close-up pictures of the mechanism and the description, after I noticed that several foreign web sites were posting my pictures of how it worked. These guys can't come up with an original idea, so they're trying to steal mine. This also brings up an addition and curious benefit of my locking combat sheath. When I first pass a knife in lock-sheath combo to someone who is new to this device, they fumble, tug, press on the wrong area, and are confused by the mechanism and how it works. Because the mechanism is unique and original, the knife owner must familiarize himself with it. This takes a few minutes to understand just how it works. Several of my military clients reminded me that the moment of confusion in a combat situation may be exactly what prevents an enemy or attacker from grabbing your knife from your sheath, and using it against you! So I think its doubly responsible to remove the particulars of the mechanism and how it works in great detail from the public part of my web site. If you purchase one of my knives with this mechanism, you'll get complete instructions and details of its operation.
Often, a client will ask for additional options for the locking combat sheath, most often in the way that the sheath is worn or how it attaches to the gear, belt, or body. I’ve done several different things with the sheath mounting methods, but I have stayed away from too many devices, because they create stand-offs. Stand-off devices make the knife sheath stick out from the body even more, and that can allow the knife and sheath to hang up, snag on objects, interfere with movement in close areas (like onboard aircraft, ship, or within structures during sweeps) and be an extra source of concern the wearer doesn’t need at a critical time.
My locking combat tactical sheaths are absolutely the best made in the world today. Even my tension fit kydex sheaths shown through the military and tactical knives portal of this site are superior to all other knife sheaths made. Many of the points listed here apply to both types of my knife sheaths, tension or locking. Here are a list of critical and specific points and counterpoints comparing other maker's and factory knife sheaths to my locking and tactical knife sheaths to consider. Remember, other sheath makers, knife makers, and manufacturers will not illustrate these points for you, and as you read, you can understand why you deserve to know what you are depending on (or not!):
Some minor care can allow my tactical combat locking knife sheaths to last as long as the knife.
When you first acquire the locking sheath and matched knife, you may notice a few white or black flakes on the blade and in the mouth of the sheath. This is normal; it is the epoxy-based bedding along the edge run on the inside of the edge welt that is being cut away while the knife edge is seating in the new sheath. This is a normal. After a few dozen insertions and removals, it will seat and you won't see any more flakes. The coating beds the cutting edge, and protects the edge from the aluminum welt. You can see it when you look down the throat of the sheath. Some cutting and light chipping of this material is normal, particularly if you have serrations on the blade.
When first acquired, the new knife owner is often too gentle with the insertion of the knife in the sheath. Once the blade is lined up, it's fine to shove the knife in solidly in order to bed the mechanism and positively lock the tang. You're not going to hurt the knife by shoving it hard in these sheaths; they are very stout. Just be sure that you have the correct orientation, as shoving it in backwards will cause the stainless locking mechanism to ride on the cutting edge, and that won't help the edge... and it also won't work! Learn to use the sheath, get comfortable with it, and know that you are using what is probably the best locking combat and tactical knife sheath made!
Most of my locking combat tactical sheaths are reversible. This means that the belt loops can be mounted on either side of the knife. To move the belt loops, unscrew the associated Chicago screws, and remove the entire screw post. You must reverse the posts too; the belt loops are not designed to accommodate the the posts pushed through the holes in the belt loops or straps. Made sure that when you screw the belt loop Chicago screws, the male screw goes through the loop holes, not the female post.
If you have a problem with the locking mechanism of the sheath, please do not attempt a field repair. The mechanism is assembled under tension and once removed, the machine screws can not be reinserted in correct alignment. Just send the sheath (with knife) back to me, and I’ll tune it up for you for free! Incidentally, since I've started making these sheaths (1995) I have had not a single one returned with a single problem. Wow.
Please Note: I make these sheaths only for my own knives. I can't make one for a factory knife or other makers' knife.
My military grade tactical locking combat sheath is difficult to make. Other knifemakers soon find this out in their own attempts, and usually just discard the whole idea. I've seen posts on knife forums where other makers are looking for the "locking mechanism that Jay Fisher uses on his combat sheaths". There is no place you can buy the components, each are hand-made, and each sheath fits only one individual knife. This is probably why you don't see these kind of sheaths more often.
The sheath adds usually $350 or more to the base cost of the knife. Why? Click on these thumbnail pictures, they are my typical bench set up for some of the construction, set up, and assembly of one locking sheath. Not shown: Bridgeport Knee Milling machine, mini-milling machine, two belt grinders with six set-up arrangements, disc grinder, three drill press set-ups, metal cutting band saws with 4 set-ups, and a dozen other jigs and machines necessary to create just one of these sheaths!
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