Friday, October 23, 2009

Impressions: KSF Leather Horizon

As sheaths go, the KSF Leather Horizon is different.

The Horizon, handcrafted in Michigan by Sharpshooter Sheath Systems, is KnivesShipFree's innovative alternative to a conventional vertical-carry folder pouch. It's designed to ride horizontally, thus its name.

The Horizon can be slipped on without removing either knife or belt, although it does include slots through which an unfastened belt can be threaded. (More about that later.) The interior of the pouch is soft, finished leather, welcome news to pricey folders allergic to scratches.

I have the large version, which closes with a pair of nickel-plated brass snaps and can accommodate a folding knife as long as 4-3/4 inches. A smaller Horizon is available for knives up to 4 inches long and features a single snap.

As I'd expect from Sharpshooter and KSF, the Horizon is incredibly well made. It'd even be fair to call it overbuilt -- in cross-section, there are seven layers of hide in some places. It's a Sherman tank of a sheath.

One reason for the Horizon's unusually stout construction can be chalked up to putting finished leather on the interior, next to the knife. The rest may be due to Sharpshooter's trademark aversion to letting the flesh side show.

Wherever the rough stuff is visible on the Horizon, it has a purpose. While smooth leather is pampering the knife being carried, the nappy flesh side grips the belt like a pit bull. Sliding the Horizon around on the belt requires intent, or sometimes even unsnapping the flap.

Extracting the knife from the Horizon is easy -- with an index finger, flip the snaps to release the flap and the pouch lowers the knife into the other three fingers. After using the Horizon for a couple of weeks and then switching briefly to a vertical pouch, I actually got annoyed at having to pull a knife out to use it.

The large Horizon is, well, large. Generally I carry vertical sheaths at or slightly behind my right hip, but I quickly learned that this horizontal pouch, like a lead dog, wants to be in front. The closer it rode to my belt buckle, the happier it was (and the happier I was).

My next discovery was that on the jeans I wear most of the time, the big Horizon tended to hinder access to the right-hand front pocket. A belt loop prevented simply sliding the pouch toward my belt buckle.

No worries -- the Horizon's slots allowed me to thread my belt from the inside toward my waist, under the denim belt loop, back through the other slot and into the belt buckle.

Thus mounted, the Horizon rides like a very small, offset belly pack. Perfect -- and perfectly convenient.

As long as I'm on the subject of belts, I want to mention that the slots on my Horizon measure 1-3/16 inches. That happened to be the perfect size for my favorite pants-holder-upper, a 24-year-old leather belt handmade in Arkansas.

The slots were too small, however, for my new Arborwear nylon web belt, which is 1-1/2 inches wide. The good news is that I can still wear the Horizon by slipping the flap underneath the webbing (between the belt and the waistband of my pants), folding it over and snapping it closed.

I love smart designs.

And that's what the KSF Leather Horizon is -- very well thought out. It's a cool concept that's executed soundly. In fact,
I enjoy carrying my SOG Tomcat 3.0 in the big Horizon so much that I'm considering picking up the smaller version for my Leatherman Wave multi-tool.

I just can't get enough of a cool thing.

Earlier posts
Horizontal property
Impressions: KSF Leather Holt

KSF Leather
Sharpshooter Sheath Systems