Everyone loves a good fixed blade knife. There’s a certain confidence in having a solid hunk of steel in your hands with no pivot points or locking mechanism to flex, break, or become damaged with hard use. Not like that happens very often with modern metallurgy and manufacturing, but you just have that certain, I don’t know, brashness that sparks your inner self to say “Hey, it’s a Tuesday, I want baton something with this fixed blade”. And while everyone raves about their Moras or their Benchmades or their ESEE’s as they plow through some firewood, on a reasonably-priced production fixed blade you pretty much never hear someone say “Dude, this sheath is so freaking awesome“. Ever.
Thankfully an entire cottage industry of leather stitchers and Kydex molders exist to fix the deficiencies found in the afterthoughts that hold our favorite fixed blade wood wreckers, and for my Mora Bushcraft Orange, I chose Grizzly Outdoor’s Elite Sheath with MOLLE Lok attachment.
(found at: http://www.grizzly-outdoors.com/mora-bushcraft-orange-grizzly-elite-sheath/)
Specifications and Construction
According to their website, Grizzly Outdoor’s Elite sheaths are handmade using 0.93″ Kydex in the color of your choice with an attached firesteel holder tastefully molded with matching colors. All the edges are nicely buffed and smooth and the pancake-style holster just feels solid. You can immediately tell this is a quality piece of custom Kydex. There are no gaps between the top and bottom layers, the sheath rivets and mounting hardware is perfectly installed with no Kydex flashing or unevenness noted, and the MOLLE Lok and firesteel attachments have no wiggle or looseness. I even tried to pry them away from the sheath for giggles with no luck.
Speaking of the firesteel, the 5/16″ by 3.2″ long ferrocerium rod is just the perfect size and adds barely noticeable bulk to the front of the sheath, and the tiny color-matched Kydex holder for the steel is such a nice touch. It’s held in place with stretchy shock cord and doesn’t move at all until you’re ready to throw some sparks.
I was a little concerned when I first received the sheath because I couldn’t find a drainage hole molded into the tip. But they did include a teeny tiny hole for drainage cut out right where the tip of the blade rests.
The drainage hole is a minor knitpick, but it bugs me because I could see grit or sand could clogging the opening should the sheath take a dunk. Plus it mars the aesthetics in what I consider an otherwise flawless sheath, but at the same time it helps keep the lines clean and worked just fine when I rinsed the inside out for this review, although it did drain slowly. Minor complaint, like I said.
Retention and Use
Lookin’ good, feelin’ sturdy so far. How does it fair actually holding the knife and attaching to various MOLLE items? Really damn well.
Over the course of a turkey hunt, a hike or three, and my very scientific method of retention testing called “Shake the sh*t out of it and see if the knife falls out”, the knife literally did not move a single bit. I’ve handled a few different Kydex sheaths, and I can honestly say the retention is almost too stout. Fortunately, this is an intentional part of the design and the folks at Grizzly Outdoors include a nifty thumb ramp for extracting your blade when needed, which is something I don’t see very often from most Kydex makers. This little detail is much appreciated and works exactly as advertised.
A concern with custom Kydex is if the maker ensured to mold space to prevent blade rub and dulling of your knife, because a sheath that messes up your 20 minutes of meticulous sharpening and stropping is no bueno. As expected, any blade rub hasn’t been noticed past the original break in period of a day or two, and even then all I found was some flecks or two of orange and black Kydex and no noticeable dulling of the Scandi grind.
As for the MOLLE Lok and attaching it to the interior and exterior webbing on your favorite unnecessarily tactical civilian-use backpack – works like a charm.
Be advised, the MOLLE Lok is something I chose because I switch it between bags frequently and if you’ve ever threaded something between tight MOLLE webbing, you know it can be a pain in the rump. What it provides in ease of attaching it takes away in terms of snugness – the MOLLE Lok can shift some in the webbing, so just be aware if you’d rather use something with tighter retention like Bawidamann’s PUP system. Me, I don’t even notice any pulling or shifting, but YMMV. If worse comes to worse, you can always take off the MOLLE Lok and add your attachment of choice!
Oh yeah, the firesteel.
While I won’t embarrass myself by revealing how bad I am at a lot of bushcraft basics (Guess how many crappy feather sticks and strikes of the ferro-rod it took to start this!), I can report that it works as you’d expect.
Everything works, really. The sheath is exactly what I was looking for: color-matched-Kydex; crazy good retention, even when carried handle-down; excellent craftsmansip; goes where I want it to and stays there; fools me into thinking I can do bushcraft (not actually a feature I wanted).
The Grizzle Elite sheath just does it’s job, does it well, and looks good doing it.
Pricing, Service, and Final Thoughts
All of this Kydex goodness ran me $65, and if you don’t have to be a pretty princess like me and want to match colors like I do, the Elite Sheath can be yours for around $50.
Before you read any further, let me quickly preface your shock and outrage at the price I just quoted for a sheath that costs twice what the knife does and say this: I know exactly everything you’re going to say. I love everything about the Mora Bushcraft (minus the belt sheath, of course), but when you consider that knives costing $100 and up still have crappy sheaths with poor retention and no modularity, I personally feel the Bushcraft and custom Kydex is the perfect combo and completely justifies it’s price. Amazing blade, grippy handle, and a knife meant to be abused combined with perfect retention, extra features, and handmade craftsmanship is what I want in a fixed blade combo, and it’s great that I’ve found it for under $100. It’s a steal compared to something like a Bark River Bravo, honestly.
If you do order a Grizzly Outdoors sheath, the owners are very friendly and communicate frequently and responsively. They were happy to to add my custom color requests and kept me updated throughout the whole process. As this is a custom, handmade product made to order, it took around a month and half to receive the sheath, and it was well worth the wait.
Things I like:
• Crazy good retention in all environments and uses
•Superb craftsmanship, excellent fit and finish
•Details like the thumb ramp and firesteel attachement
Things I don’t like:
• Definitely spendy (but worth it).
• Drainage hole is a touch small (nitpicky)
•Uh…color doesn’t quite match the knife handle perfectly?
Ratings (out of five stars)
Fit and Finish ****
Expertly crafted, and it shows, minus the drainage hole.
Almost TOO good, thankfully there’s the thumb ramp.
Been around East Tennessee country for many a mile for over a year and it still looks new and grips the knife like the day I received it.
Overall Rating: *****
Just a fantastic product. Grizzly Outdoors really know how to make a sheath and give it amazing versatility, quality, and excellent service to boot.