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Flattening Water Stones

I’ve been sharpening my knives on the same Japanese water stones for a dozen years now. Despite my best intentions, I do not always use the full length of the stones. Somewhere in the back of my mind I have always been concerned about dishing the stones. Last month I took a sharpening class at Bernal Cutlery, which was the first hands-on instruction I’ve ever had in the subject. One of the things I learned was that there are other stones that can be used to flatten sharpening stones.

After the class I purchased a 95-micron DMT Dia-Flat Lapping Plate. It only took 30 seconds or so for it to flatten my water stones. Either it works extremely well or my stones were not as dished as I thought they were. After using it, there was a very obvious improvement in how the stones sharpened. More than I would expect just from flattening them. It makes me think that perhaps the pores of the stones had been clogged from years of use, which was addressed by removing the top layer of material with the lapping plate.

Sharpening

The lapping plate is certainly not cheap. I’m sure that they do not last forever for professional sharpeners, but given how frequently I use my stones I think the lapping plate falls into the buy-it-once-for-life category. It has extended the life of my water stones, which I think makes it a justified expense.

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Alternative Carry of the ESEE Candiru

The ESEE Candiru is another nice knife that suffers from a terrible sheath.

In fact, it is a great little knife. Unfortunately the only sheath that the Candiru comes with is a simple Cordura pouch. I threw this away immediately upon receiving the knife and replaced it with a horizontal belt sheath from Dark Star Gear. The Dark Star Gear sheath first came to my attention on pistol-forum.com. At the time I hadn’t purchased the Candriu, but horizontal carry of a small fixed blade at about 11:00 on the belt impressed me as a great idea. I knew I wanted to give it a shot.

Dark Star Gear Sheath

I considered ordering the sheath for my Izula, which is the knife I usually carry when I want a fixed blade, but I was concerned that it would be a little too big to conceal horizontally on my waist1. Instead I decided to purchase the ESEE Candiru, which Brian Green had raved about last year, just for this carry method. (I actually ordered the sheath before I ordered the knife.)

I’m extremely pleased with both purchases. The Candiru is not quite as general-purpose as the larger Izula, but it performs all the functions that I require of an urban EDC blade, and provides yet another option for an EDC fixed blade. This is something that I have come to prefer over a folder since I purchased the Izula about 4 years ago. The Dark Star Gear sheath allows me to carry it comfortable and conceal it with nothing more than a t-shirt, while still providing for a quick draw. The sheath has also exposed me to the idea of carrying at 11:00, which is a very nice piece of real-estate on the belt that I have previously overlooked.

ESEE Candiru / Dark Star Gear Sheath

  • ESEE Candiru / Dark Star Gear Sheath
  • ESEE Candiru / Dark Star Gear Sheath

I have carried the Candiru in the Dark Star Gear sheath as my primary knife for about 2 months now. Up until a few days ago the Candiru’s handle had been cord wrapped2. I just recently purchased and installed the optional Micarta slabs. The Candiru does suffer from a small handle – a necessary evil for a knife this size. It can use all the extra bulk it can get. My initial impressions of the Micarta slabs are that they greatly improve the feel of the knife in the hand without any negative impact on the ability to easily conceal the knife in the Dark Star Gear sheath.

For a second carry option I also purchased a Kydex neck sheath for the Candiru. This is the sheath that the Candiru should ship with. The size of the knife makes it a great option for those who find the Izula a bit too large for comfortable carry around the neck3, but still want something a bit more functional than a tiny CRKT RSK Mk5 or Nemesis Hellion. I carry the knife around my neck when I run, since for that activity I’m not usually wearing a belt appropriate for the Dark Star Gear sheath. Adding the Micarta slabs does make the Candiru a bit heavier and bulkier around the neck. If you intend to use the Candiru primarily as a neck knife, I would stick with a cord wrap on the handles.

ESEE Candiru / Kydex Neck Sheath

Notes

  1. While bigger folk could probably conceal an Izula in the Dark Star Gear sheath, I'm confident that this was the right choice for me. I feel pretty sure that the Izula handle would stick out too far on my small waist.
  2. The handle was wrapped with Technora Four Hundred Cord. I had bought a hank of this cordage a while ago to play around with and found that the smaller diameter worked better than paracord (gutted or non) on the Candiru's small handle.
  3. The Izula is at the upper-end of my size range for comfortable neck carry.

CRKT RSK Mk5 Sheaths

The CRKT RSK Mk5 is a nice knife cursed by a terrible sheath.

I’ve been EDCing the knife since my Nemesis Hellion was lost last November. Unfortunately, the “glass filled nylon” sheath that the RSK Mk5 ships with is a poor design. The grommet in the tip is too small to accept a piece of paracord. This was done to keep the overall size of the sheathed knife small enough to fit inside an Altoids tin. I have never understood the obsession with the Altoids tin survival kit. I prefer to carry a knife about this size around my neck.

CRKT RSK Mk5: Standard Sheath

Some time ago I purchased a new sheath for my RAT Izula from a fellow on eBay who goes by lemonwoodgallery. I was pleased with that purchase, so as soon as I bought the RSK Mk5 I shipped it to him to make me a custom kydex sheath. It’s nothing fancy – just your standard taco style sheath with two grommets at the top for a piece of paracord and one on the side for retention. This is the same design as the sheath for the Nemesis Hellion, which served me well for 6 years. The new sheath has held the RSK Mk5 around my neck for about 8 months now. It’s a much appreciated upgrade.

CRKT RSK Mk5: Custom Sheath

Emerson Field Strip

I somehow managed to loose the pivot screw from my Emerson Mini-Commander. Last week I ordered a replacement, which arrived today. Rather than just installing the new screw, I decided to strip the entire knife to clean and lubricate it.

I had never done this before. The knife was purchased in 2006 and has seen some (ab)use. I was surprised at how clean it was in there. But for a little wear around the pivot point the liners could have been new. I wiped everything down with a towel and some rubbing alcohol, dropped a little ProLink on the washers, and screwed everything back together.

New Pivot Screw

It’s good to go for another 7 years.

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Izula Knife Mods

About a month ago I gave my Izula a cosmetic make-over, inspired by Widerstand‘s similar mods to his Becker knives.

Originally the knife had a light tan powder coating on it, which protected the blade from rust and other wear, but did nothing for style. The first step I made in the modification process was to spend a couple hours with a piece of sandpaper, scraping off the coating until I was down to bare metal. That gave the knife a nice, raw look. But it also made it susceptible to rusting. The solution: a patina!

Izula Patina

The last time I talked about patinas I achieved it with moldy potatoes and citrus fruit. This time around I went the easier route and dumped the Izula into a bowl of vinegar over night. I thought it looked great when it came out, and I was pleasantly surprised that I could still see the RAT logo and Izula ant. To finish off the coating I rubbed a little mustard on a few spots on either side of the blade.

Izula Patina

The way the knife comes from the factory, the gimping is nice and rounded, providing a comfortable grip for the thumb. I almost never place my thumb on the back of the spine, so gimping doesn’t do much for me. And because it was rounded, it couldn’t throw any sparks off a ferro rod. To make the whole affair a bit more useful I took a Dremel tool and redid the gimping. It’s much more rough and sharp now, less ideal for thumbs but great for throwing sparks.

After that all that was left was to re-wrap the handle with a new piece of paracord – black this time – and the job was done. My favorite EDC knife: even better than before.

Izula on the Beach

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Every Day Carry

It’s been about a year since the last one, so today I did another dump of what is currently in my pockets and bag. Everything that I am carrying today is representative of what I carry most every day. Much of it is the same as last year.

Some things occasionally change: I frequently switch between the Emerson Mini-Commander and the Izula (I probably carry the Izula more frequently than the Emerson). If I need more stuff, I might change the bag to my TAD Gear FAST Pack EDC or the Kifaru E&E.

Urban EDC Level 1: Worn

Urban EDC Level 2: Carried

Urban EDC Level 3: Vehicle

As usual, you can visit the Flickr photo pages for identification of every item.

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Mora Sheath Modifications

The greatest disappointment about any Mora knife is the sheath: a flimsy, plastic thing that won’t easily fit on a decent sized belt and does not even hold the knife very securely. As they come, I consider them unusable. But a few simple modifications and additions make them quite acceptable.

Mora Sheath Modifications

The Mora knife sheaths are designed to be mounted either on a button on a pair of coveralls or through a belt. Apparently people wear very small, skinny belts in Sweden. Over here in the United States of Gun Belts, that doesn’t fly. The belt slot on the sheath can be forcefully enlarged by shoving in a piece of wood, such as a ruler, and applying heat to cause the plastic to expand, but I don’t trust that such an act will not over weaken the plastic. I’m not a big fan of carrying a Mora directly on my belt, anyway. Usually, I’ll carry the knife either on a lanyard around my neck or as a dangler off my belt. But both of these setups allow the possibility of the knife and sheath to swing freely, accentuating the problem of an insecure fit.

Both the problem of how to carry the sheath and the problem of the insecure fit can be addressed with a single piece of paracord.

Paracord Loop

With the knife in the sheath, I take a piece of paracord and run both ends around the handle and through the slot for the belt. Then, tight against the back of the sheath, I tie an overhand knot in either end of the cord. This creates a loop of paracord on the front of the sheath that can be made smaller, but cannot become any wider than the bottom third of the handle. Because the handles on Mora knifes are somewhat tapered – fatter in the middle than on either end – this loop prevents the knife from being removed from the sheath. Even if the knife is only lightly dropped into the sheath rather than securely pressed, it cannot be removed without first sliding off the loop of paracord.

Paracord Loop

After tying the two knots against the back of the sheath in either end of the paracord, I take both ends and tie them together, forming a loop on the back of the sheath. This provides my carry options.

If I want to wear the knife around my neck, I take a pre-tied loop of paracord that I carry and loop it through itself around the loop on the sheath.

To carry the knife in a dangler system, I prefer to use a Maxpedition Keyper rather than a carabiner. The Keyper is mounted on my belt and clipped into the loop of paracord on the sheath. (To reduce movement in this setup, I’ll stick the knife and sheath in my pocket.)

Mora Sheath Modifications

The last thing that I do to this part of the sheath is add a small wrap of electrical tape around the very top, covering the upper bit of the belt loop and the button hole. This prevents the paracord from sliding to the top of the sheath and forces the securing loop to be about .75” from the very end of the handle. I’ve found that if this is not done, the securing loop is like to slip off the handle.

Taped Sheath

That’s all that is needed to make the sheath usable, but a few other additions can be made to increase its utility.

Around the top of the sheath, I wrap tape. In the sheaths pictured here, one has 2” olive drab duct tape, the other has 1” black Gorilla Tape (which is like duct tape, but thicker and stickier). One can never carry enough tape. I imagine, also, that the tape likely increases the structural integrity of the sheath.

Repair Needle

On the back of both sheaths, I have a #17 sailmaking needle, pre-threaded with black kevlar thread, taped down with some electrical tape. As I mentioned in my review of the RAT Izula, this is an idea I first picked up from one Dave Canterbury’s videos. The extra needle and thread adds no noticeable weight and could be a welcome addition to the sheath if you ever find yourself separated from your pack, with the knife and sheath as your only piece of gear.

The next modification on the body of the sheath was also inspired by Dave Cantebury. In another of his videos, he showed how he had layered different width pieces of inner-tube on a machete sheath to create pockets that could store small items, such as a sharpening stone and magnesium fire starter. With that in mind, I add a wide piece of inner-tube onto the middle of the Mora sheath (which also serves to cover and further secure the taped down needle). Then, on top of that, I put a skinnier piece of inner-tube. Slid between both pieces is a backup ferro rod. Because the rod has rubber below it and rubber atop, there is an incredible amount of friction. The ferro rod becomes difficult to remove. I have carried blank rods in these “pockets” and they have never fallen out. Still, I prefer to carry rods with a lanyard of some sort on them. I loop the rod through its lanyard around the paracord loop on the top of the sheath, guaranteeing that the rod is secured.

Mora Sheath Modifications

The sheath for my KJ #1 knife has only a ferro rod. That knife is carbon steel and can generate sparks off the spine. On the sheath for the larger SL-2, however, I have added a small striker slid between the two pieces of inner-tube on the back. The SL-2 is made of laminated steel, which is too soft to reliably produce sparks.

Firesteel and Striker

These modifications made to the Mora sheath help to secure the knife, allow for different carry options, guarantee a source of fire, and provide a needle, thread and tape for repairs. They turn what is otherwise a near useless sheath into a functional item worthy of being matched with the Mora blade.

Mora Blades

(I also own a high-quality leather sheath made by JRE Industries for the KJ #1 knife. I tie a loop of paracord through the top loop of leather on the sheath so that the knife may be carried around the neck or on a dangler, similar to the modified plastic sheath. The leather sheath does not require a loop of paracord on the front to secure the handle. Nor does it need pieces of inner-tube to create a pocket for a ferro rod. The only thing that it lacks is a repair needle, but I have found that most tape does not adhere very well to leather, so I cannot stick one on the back.)

  • JRE Industries Mora Sheath
  • Neck Lanyard on JRE Industries Mora Sheath

RAT Izula Neck Knife

My primary EDC knife for the past few years has been a plain-edge Emerson Mini-Commander. It’s a great little knife: an ideal size for EDC and extraordinarily tough for a folder. I’ve used it as a pry-bar a few different times on objects that I would be afraid to pry with some fixed-blade knives. The Mini-Commander is no worse for the wear.

Still, I’ve often thought that I would like to EDC a fixed blade. After all, despite it’s toughness, the Mini-Commander is a folder and that gives it some limitations. I’ve also found that the grind and shape of the blade is not ideal for some wood-working and wilderness survival tasks. Making feather sticks with it isn’t easy.

I have carried a small Nemesis Hellion around my neck most every day for the past couple years. It’s a fixed blade, but quite small. As I’ve stated elsewhere, I think of the Hellion as a novelty item and a fun toy more than a tool. It’s extremely concealable due to its size, but could by no means replace the Mini-Commander.

Folding knives are fairly common and tend not to frighten many people. Fixed blades, on the other hand, are not so common out of the wilderness and rural areas. Now, I’ll admit that I have no idea concerning the legality of carrying a fixed blade in urban environments. I tried reading up on knife laws a number of years ago and quickly gave up – they are so convoluted and contradictory as to be meaningless. And so, for me, they are. I ignore them. So far that seems to work out pretty well. I don’t seem to recall granting any government the right to regulate a tool such as a knife, anyways. Still, I do concern myself with other people’s feelings and, as odd as it is, some people feel nervous around folks with fixed blade knives strapped to their hips. Even something like a nice 4-5” bushcraft blade on the belt doesn’t seem to fly in a city. I needed something more concealable, but still of a size large enough to be of some use.

Two products immediately jump out as a perfect solution (well, three, but I can’t afford another Chris Reeve knife): the RAT Izula and the Becker Necker. Both knives are small and flat, which lends them to a number of different carry options, but large enough to function as utilitarian tools. The Izula is 6.25” over all, with a 2.88” blade and 3.37” handle. The Becker Necker comes in with a larger 3.25” blade and 3.5” handle for an overall length of 6.75”. For the slight difference in overall length, one would think that jumping on the Becker Necker for the larger blade would be the way to go. After all, that extra .37” of blade could equate to more utility. But in searching around the internet and reading a number of comparisons, it became evident that the RAT Izula was the favored knife. It seems to be the consensus that, comparatively, the Becker Necker has too little handle for its length of blade. I don’t consider my hands to be large, but they certainly aren’t small, and I know that having too small a handle could completely ruin a knife for me, regardless of the quality of the blade. So, I chose the Izula.

Izula Options

The Izula can be purchased in two different packages: either the standard knife and sheath, which RAT asks around $80 for (way overpriced) but can easily be got for closer to $50 (a reasonable price) or as part of a “survival kit”. The “survival kit” starts with the same knife and sheath, but also includes a MOLLE lock, paracord, cord lock, snap, split ring, ferro rod, and whistle. RAT asks $100 for this complete kit (crazy) though $60-$70 seems the going rate for most merchants. The “survival kit” did not appeal to me. I already have paracord, ferro rods, cord locks, and split rings. The only useful item in the kit seemed to be the MOLLE lock. I decided to save the money and get only the basic knife and sheath.

The Izula also comes in four different colors, which is a bit fun: black, desert tan, olive drab, and, best of all, pink. I was quite tempted to get the pink, especially given my concern over other people’s feelings of fixed blades. Who could be afraid of a man with a pink knife? But it turns out that I was able to find the desert tan knife for less money on eBay than I could get the pink knife for, so I went with tan.

Edge

The flat ground 1095 steel takes an edge very easily on my Japanese water stones. With the stones and a leather strop, I can get Izula as sharp as my high-carbon, scandi-grind, bushcraft blades. Scary sharp. In fact, the knife is very, very impressive in what it can do. Its only limitation is its short blade and, for longer sessions of use, the bare, skeletonized handle.

RAT Izula Blade

Handle

When I first got the knife, I took some olive drab paracord and wrapped it in the way instructed on the back of the Izula instruction sheet. The current paracord wrap that I have on the handle is a 180 degree katana wrap. I first did this with normal paracord, but found that it made the handle a little too thick, so I went back and did it again with gutted paracord. That worked out better, but, being gutted, the paracord does not add a whole lot of extra padding. At the end of the day, the katana wrap is more for looks. The wrap that RAT recommends is a more practical way to pad the handle and carry spare paracord, but it doesn’t look anywhere near as cool!

At the end of the handle, I finished the wrap with a simple overhand knot. I had a unused skull bead laying around, so I decided to leave the two tail ends of paracord a bit long and thread the skull bead through them. By sliding the skull bead to the end, I create a loop for my wrist. Rather than tying the ends of the cord together, I tied an overhand knot in each one separately, which prevents me from accidentally pulling the bead off, but also means that I can slide the bead to the top and just have two loose ends of cord, rather than a loop that will no doubt get caught on things. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of wrist lanyards on knives. I rarely ever use them. But I am a fan of skull beads. Like the rest of the wrap, this lanyard bit is on there just because it looks cool.

RAT Izula Handle Paracord Wrap

Sheath

The sheath itself was the surprise in this whole package. It is some sort of “injection molded thermoplastic” that is supposed to be more cold tolerant than Kydex. I’ve never had a problem with Kydex in the winter, but apparently extreme cold makes the Kydex brittle and prone to crack. The fit of the sheath was what most impressed me. It is, without doubt, the best fitting sheath I have ever had for a knife. The knife pops right in there and is completely locked – no wiggling or movement what-so-ever.

RAT Izula Neck Knife

Mods

I’ve taken a size 14 sail-making needle pre-threaded with a length of black Kevlar thread and taped this to the back of the sheath with a piece of electrical tape. Dave Cantebury did this in a video on a Mora knife sheath a few months back. I thought it was a great idea.

RAT Izula Sheath

It doesn’t add any noticeable weight. Even though I carry a sewing kit in my possibles pouch, I’ve since taped a prethreaded needle to the back of all my plastic knife sheaths. (Tape doesn’t stick too well to leather, so I haven’t figured out how to carry a needle on my leather sheaths). Around the bottom of the sheath, I wrapped a bit more electrical tape (I was out of 1” duct tape at the time). There probably isn’t more than 2 or 3 feet. It never hurts to carry extra tape!

RAT Izula Sheath

Carry Options

Some people have complained about the sheath because it doesn’t come with a belt clip of any sort. This worried me as well. I wasn’t sure that I would want to carry it around the neck all the time and, since I didn’t go for the expensive kit that included the MOLLE clip, I did not know what other mounting options I would be able to come up with. It turns out that with only a cord lock (self supplied out of my repair box, since I didn’t get the “survival kit”) and a little over two feet of paracord, the sheath becomes remarkably configurable.

Neck Carry

To carry it around the neck, I simply slide the cord lock over both ends of the paracord, put the cord through the top hole in the sheath, and loop it through itself. The cord lock allows me to adjust how high or low it sits on my chest. As with the wrist lanyard, I put an overhand knot in each end of the paracord to prevent me from accidentally pulling the cord lock off, but refrain from tying the two ends of cord together. I don’t want to create a secondary, smaller loop on the back of my neck for things to get caught on when I adjust the cord lock up.

RAT Izula Neck Knife

As I mentioned above, I initially thought that I might not want to carry the Izula around my neck. It’s a good deal bigger, heavier, and bulkier than the Nemesis Hellion neck knife that I’m used to. But I was pleasantly surprised. The profile of the knife is slim enough so that it can almost completely disappear under only a t-shirt. Unlike the Hellion, you are probably not going to forget that it’s there because of the weight, but it is by no means uncomfortable.

A lot of folks who carry a neck knife go on about the danger of using knotted paracord as a lanyard. Paracord is very strong. Someone sneaking up from behind could grab the cord and strangle the wearer rather easily. If this concerns you, you could use some weaker cord (or chain), tie a slip knot, or invest in some sort of break away device. Personally, I’m more concerned with the security of the knife around my neck (which sort of rules out slip knots) and I like the simplicity of this system. In the years that I have been carrying the Nemesis Hellion around my neck on gutted paracord, I have yet to be strangled. But it is something to be aware of – especially if you find yourself getting in a tussle fairly frequently. Do remember, though, that the paracord around you neck is attached to a knife, and knives cut things.

Front Pocket (TAD style)

My favorite way to carry the Izula is in one of the two front pockets that Triple Aught Design places on their pants. In my Legionnaires, I carry the knife in the left front pocket. It sits in the pocket rather securely, with only the top half of the handle exposed, leaning to the right. This allows for a very fast, right-handed cross draw. I have the paracord and cord lock setup and attached to the sheath the same as in the above neck carry option, but in this setup I’ll put the cord through the plastic D-ring above the front pocket and loop it through itself so that the sheath and knife are securely attached me. Normally, when I draw from this setup, I’ll grab the handle and push against the sheath with my thumb, popping the knife free. But because the cord is attached to the D-ring, I can also just grab the handle and yank it to my right, extending the cord till it reaches its full length and pops the knife free. Personally, I feel that this is too obtuse a movement, so I prefer popping the knife free of the sheath with my thumb. If you prefer the latter option of yanking the knife, you could move the cord lock a few inches up the cord, thus shortening the distance you have to pull before fully extending the cord and popping the knife free. I will usually leave the cord lock all the way against the knots at the end of the cord and stuff the excess amount of cordage in the bottom of the same front pocket.

RAT Izula Front Pocket Carry

Side Pocket

As much as I prefer the above option, not all of us wear TAD pants every single day. When wearing another pair of pants, I will carry the Izula in the right side pocket, tip down. I found that most pockets are sized so that the tip of the sheath reaches the bottom of the pocket with only about the top 1/4” of the handle sticking out. Again, I keep the paracord and cord lock attached as before, with the cord lock slid all the way against the knots at the end, creating a big loop. This loop I run through my belt, guaranteeing the the sheath and knife are securely attached to me. To draw, I reach my hand in the pocket, grab the handle, and push against the sheath with my thumb, popping free the knife. I’m required to get my whole hand into the pocket to grasp the handle, which makes the knife slightly slower to draw than a folding pocket knife clipped into the same pocket (especially compared to an Emerson with the wave feature, such as the Mini-Commander).

RAT Izula Side Pocket Carry

Because the cord is attached to my belt I could just grab the handle and pull out or up, extending the cord till the knife pops free, but this is even more obtuse a movement than when drawing in the same manner from a front pocket. I’m not a fan.

Belt

The paracord and cord lock really become useful when you decide you want to carry the Izula on your belt. The first step is to unloop the cord from the sheath. Then remove the knot in either end of the cord so that the cord lock can be removed. Next, thread either end of the cord through the two holes in the side of the sheath and the reinstall the cord lock, retying the same knot in either end of the cord to prevent the cord lock from being removed.

RAT Izula Belt Carry Lanyard

Move the cord lock about halfway up the cord, grab a bit of the cord and pull it through the large slit opposite the two holes on the sheath. What you now have on the front of the sheath is a line of paracord crossing the top horizontally and, on the bottom, the cord coming together horizontally to the cord lock. On the back of the sheath you have two vertical loops that you can thread your belt through.

RAT Izula Belt Carry Lanyard

With the sheath attached to your belt, you can then move the cord lock tight against the sheath, pulling as much paracord through the lock as you can. The Izula will then be mounted on your belt.

RAT Izula Belt Carry

When I first saw this carry option pictured in the manual that RAT provides with the Izula, I was skeptical of using the paracord this way. I didn’t think that you could could get the paracord tight enough to eliminate any wiggling or movement. I’ve now carried the knife a good deal like this and I am perfectly happy with it. The sheath is just as secure as a sheath with a belt clip or malice clip (albeit easier to cut off). If you keep it attached to your belt consistently for a few days, the cord lock will eventually slide down a bit, loosening up the cord and causing the sheath to move a little when the knife is drawn. This can be addressed by checking the tightness of the lock once a day every time you put on your pants, which I don’t think is too much to ask.

The downside to this method is that, because we’re using the same piece of paracord as we use when wearing the knife around our neck, the paracord is necessarily long. You will have 6” or so or cord dangling below the lowest point of the sheath. This would be a problem if the two ends of the cord had been tied together, forming a loop, but because they have not been tied thusly, the two ends are loose and will not get caught on anything. They don’t bother me.

Spine

The spine itself is .156” thick, with about 1/2” of a grooved thumb ramp at the start of the blade. I’ve never found these thumb ramps to be necessary on any knife, but they don’t get in the way, either.

Initially, I found that I could not generate any sparks by sparking the spine of the Izula against a ferro rod. I know 1095 is high-carbon, so I figured it must either be the tan-colored paint that was preventing me from getting any sparks, or the corner of the spine was slightly rounded. To address both potential problems I set the spine flat on top of a coarse silicon-carbide stone and slowly ground down the first 2” from the tip. This removes the paint and squares off the edge, giving a 90 degree angle that should be ideal for striking sparks. With that change made, the Izula will throw a decent shower of sparks.

RAT Izula Spine

Overall

I’ve been EDCing the RAT Izula for just over two months now. So far, I have been extremely impressed with the knife. Unless I am for some reason forced to carry a folder instead of a fixed blade, I doubt that I will go back to carrying the Emerson Mini-Commander. Direct comparison between a fixed blade and a folder is not exactly fair since they have both been designed with different intentions and are markedly different tools, but I find the Izula to be a superior knife. If I woke up in the zombie apocalypse, I’d much rather find the Izula in my pocket than the Mini-Commander.

If you think you can get away with EDCing a fixed blade, I’d strongly urge you to consider the Izula. As I mentioned in the beginning, the $80 that RAT asks for the knife is overpriced, but it’s not hard to pick up an Izula for closer to $50, which I think is a very good value. (It’s certainly cheaper than a quality folder like an Emerson!)

RAT Izula Neck Knife