Best Neck Knife: Options To Yoke Up With (2023)

Best Neck Knife: Options To Yoke Up With (2023)

Carrying A Concealed Yet Capable And Easy-To-Access Knife, These Neck Knife Options Won’t Leave You Dangling.

Neck knives are often overlooked as a form of everyday carry, which is surprising since they offer so many advantages. Neckers, as they’re slang-fully called, excel at concealment* as they are easily covered by a shirt or jacket, and, because they’re uncommon EDCs, offer an element of surprise.

While neck knives frequently may be thought of as tools of self-defense, they also offer utility aplenty. In addition, with a fixed-blade neck knife—like all fixers—you simply snatch it from its sheath and you’re ready to go.

Condor Tool & Knife Carlitos Neck Knife

Condor Tool & Knife Carlitos Neck Knife
The Condor Tool & Knife Carlitos is pure necker and smacks a bit more of a field knife than a tactical. It shaves wood for fire starter very well and, in fact, could serve as a skinner. In addition, the paracord could come in handy in an emergency.

Condor Tool & Knife’s Carlitos Neck Knife is small and lightweight, its weight primarily reduced by its skeletonized design, with only a paracord wrap to add load to its black carbon steel mass. 

The blade is gimped on the lower spine for added grip. The handle is cord-wrapped with a braided lanyard at the base, handy for releasing the knife from the sheath. The grommets at the sheath’s base can take paracord or ball chain for neckwear.

MSRP: $43

Outdoor Edge LeHawk

Outdoor Edge LeHawk
The Outdoor Edge LeHawk is the largest of the test neckers and its 2.9-inch reverse tanto blade came to work. The blade was long enough to sever beefy harness leather with an upward pull-through in a single stroke.

The Outdoor Edge LeHawk, designed by knifemaker Jerry Hossom, is the largest of the test knives. The blade has a swedge grind and fine gimping along the spine. 

The 3.3-inch handle is grippy with a kicked-up bird’s-beak butt to prevent slippage. The sheath wears around a neck via a length of provided cord or carries on a belt.

MSRP: $35

TOPS Knives Sneaky Pete Mini

TOPS Knives Sneaky Pete Mini neck knife
You can see how much hand you have to work with on a mid-size neck knife. The TOPS Sneaky Pete Mini is six inches overall with a 3.5-inch handle. A knife this size won’t fill the palm but there’s enough to get some chores done.

The TOPS Knives Sneaky Pete Mini resembles a scaled-down tactical knife. In fact, it is a miniaturized version of the company’s larger Sneaky Pete introduced in 2018. 

The blade’s recurved edge flows into a 3.5-inch skeletonized handle. The entire knife is carbon steel. Delivered with a sheath and ball chain necklace, the Mini also has a carabiner clip for dangler carry. The skeletonized construction makes for a very slim package.

MSRP: $115

WE Knives OSS Dagger

WE Knives OSS Dagger neck knife
The little WE Knives OSS Dagger, 4.25 inches overall with a two-inch blade, is more of a hideaway knife than a utility hog, but it was not without its merits. The sharp blade of upscale CPM 20CV stainless steel took off nice, clean slices of leather scrap.

The WE Knives OSS Dagger is derived from the famed Fairbairn-Sykes/OSS daggers of World War II, though did you know there were variants this small? They were made for concealment for clandestine operations and called lapel, sleeve and thumb daggers, and it is from these that the WE version is derived. (And, of course, “WE” does not stand for the W.E. of William Ewart Fairbairn.) 

The double-ground blade has one edge sharpened and a tapered fuller. The back side of the blade is flat. Essentially an integral design of stainless steel, the handle has inlays for improved grip. The knife is delivered with a black sheath and ball-chain necklace.

MSRP: $105

Boker Plus Rescue Kiridashi

Boker Neck Knife
The Boker Plus Rescue Kiridashi is the total package. In addition to the neck knife and black Kydex sheath, Boker includes a ball chain necklace and optional bolt-on Kydex belt loop.

The Boker Plus Rescue Kiridashi gets the “rescue” label by offering a large gut-hook-style web cutter. (For more on the latest rescue knives, see page 44). The blade has the flat edge of a kiridashi but is hollow ground on both sides to enhance slicing capabilities. The handle—the blade and handle length overlap—has a large index finger hole for a sure grip. A black Kydex sheath, black ball chain and bolt-on Kydex belt loop are included.

With its large wharncliffe blade, the knife proved to be a beast. I tested it on leather and 3/8-inch synthetic rappelling rope and it whipped through both with ease. The ring in the short handle enhances grip, making the index finger your main purchase point. Watch out for that gut hook webbing cutter, however, as it’s awfully close to the thumb rest. I tried the hook on seat belt webbing as well. In my experience, though gut-hook-style webbing cutters don’t perform as well as serrated blades, the Rescue Kiridashi will do the job in the heat of the moment.

MSRP: $45

Bradford Knives’ G-Necker

Bradford Neck Knife
The G-Necker’s thick quarter-inch-plus steel is unusual on a neck knife but Bradford puts it to good use. Note how the blade tapers while the handle retains the full thickness for a comfortable grip.

Bradford Knives’ G-Necker eschews radical curves for more classic lines that give it the look of a standard small fixed blade. It departs from the norm, however, by flexing its muscle with top-shelf Elmax stainless steel in a graceful, flat ground drop point blade. The handle, thick enough to forgo a cord wrap or scales, has two triangulate holes to lighten the load. We tested the blackwash version—other finishes are available. Bradford provides a black Kydex sheath and ball chain necklace.

The quarter-inch-plus-thick handle is unusual among neck knives. However, if you think it might be a bit clumsy, that’s not the case. Bradford has struck a balance by keeping the steel’s thickness on the handle but tapering it on the blade for better slicing.

The Elmax steel cut like a house afire, taking off super crisp cuts on harness leather and whipping through 3/8-inch rope with ease. The handle rests in the palm nicely and the notched gimping on the thumb rest enhances grip. Handles with no scales or padding don’t bode well for long term use as those that have them, but if you’re using the Bradford G-Necker for quick chores, you’ll have no worries.

MSRP: $99

Condor Tool & Knife Kickback

The Condor Tool & Knife Kickback provides a hint of tactical with its swedge-ground spine, while the blade offers a deep belly for outdoor chores such as skinning.

Condor Tool & Knife designed the Kickback for both urban and field duty. The straight-back blade has a swedge grind for enhanced penetration, giving it a tactical feel, while its deep belly makes it at home in the field. The steel has a black traction coat stem to stern and there’s a large finger hole in the base. A nicely done tan paracord wrap with a knotted pull completes the handle. Condor provides a black Kydex sheath with ball chain for neck carry.

The blade did an excellent job of slicing through harness leather, which bodes well for the knife’s potential use as a skinner. I also found the swedge ground point adept at penetrating and boring into leather. Due to its light weight and short blade, the Kickback wasn’t quite as good at cutting 3/8-inch rope as at least one other of the test knives, but it gets the job done. The cord-wrapped handle is very comfortable. I found the ring at the base a bit tight for my pinkie finger but it works well for hanging the knife on a lanyard.

MSRP: $35

TOPS Knives Mini Tanimboca Puukko

Tops Neck Knife
The TOPS Mini Tanimboca Puukko is an excellent little necker for fire prep. It cut fine wood slivers and curlicues for tinder, and the blade spine threw righteous sparks off a ferro rod.

The Mini Tanimboca Puukko by TOPS Knives makes no bones about its mission: It’s basically a small bushcraft knife. It is a full-tang design with a flat-back Scandi-ground blade. The little necker’s handle features comfortably plump black linen Micarta® scales with a large tube lanyard hole in the butt. At 1.28 ounces it’s the lightest of the test group and deviates from the rest in its uncommon top-loading brown leather neck sheath, which wears on a belt, too. The knife is also the smallest of the review neckers and, indeed, the most distinctive.

As noted, the Mini Tanimboca is a field knife. While it will cut leather strips and can saw its way through 3/8-inch rope, it really excels at fire prep. I tested it for taking fine shavings from a boxwood block and stick of pine, and it dug in with gusto and precision. I then tested the blade spine on a small ferro rod and it threw sparks like a champ. The blade tip bores holes in leather with accuracy. The tiny knife makes an excellent companion to its larger sibling, the TOPS Tanimboca Puukko.

MSRP: $110

Securing Your Lanyard

Neck knife lanyard
Two friction knots for neck knife “necklaces”: one tied loosely with two different colors of cord for clarity, and below it the same knot tightened up more neatly on a leather lanyard. (Bob Seymour image)

An area of concern with neck knives is the mode of carry around your neck; in other words, if the necklace does not give way if it catches on somethings, it can wring your neck—or worse.

Ball chains are designed to break easily in such instances and thus are considered safe. They’re also cheap and easy to replace. A nylon, leather or other cord, on the other hand, won’t snap in two easily. The solution? A friction or other knot that will release from around your neck with sufficient tension.

“Almost any knot around a loop will do the trick, though some knots may work better than others,” noted BLADE® reader Bob Seymour. In the accompanying image are two friction knots: one tied loosely with two different colors of cord for clarity, and below it the same knot tightened up more neatly on a leather lanyard. Note that the loop prevents the knobby end of the cord from catching during release.

Experiment with different materials and knots and test them to see if they will release with sufficient tension. The key is to arrive at a knot that does not release too easily and one that won’t release at all. If in doubt, trash the cord and use a ball chain.

*Be sure to check the laws concerning concealed knife carry in your area.

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  1. Not a comment, rather a bitch. I carry a neck knife as a survival tool. I drive, fly and have been an EMT. I carry the neck knife as in an accident or when crouching I find it practical to have a knife I should be able to reach even is I am injured or confined by the results of the crash. I anticipate that I may have to cut myself or another from a seat belt or other restraint. Straight edges are not very good at cutting seat belts, etc, but no one seems to make a decent neck knife with a serrated blade. Do you know of anyone with a neck knife that has a short serrated blade and not one of the hooked kind I personally dislike.


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