NOTICE OF RETIREMENT: As of 2021, I am no longer taking orders for new custom knives or custom knife repair and conversions. For those of you who would still like one of my custom knives, I do have a few "On Hand", that can be shipped out ASAP. You should find the info and photos of them under the "Knives For Sale" section.  These remaining knives will be discounted by 30%, until they are all gone.
Thank you for your support over the years.  - Jay Maines

#9 Adjustable Shoulder Harness

As Seen on TVIn 2010 we built a Drop Point Hunter, with a Shoulder Harness to carry it, for  an expert survivalist, Creek Stewart. This pass year he hosted his own reality survival show, Fat Guys In The Woods, for The Weather Channel.

In quite a few episodes, Creek can be seen wearing his harness rig, as each week he takes three new city guys out into the Smoky Mountains in TN, for a week’s worth  of survival training.  In 2015 there was a Season Two, for Fat Guys In The Woods. You might also catch episodes of Season One, in reruns on The Weather Channel.

Please visit any of the links listed below, for further info on Creek, and his survival skills.



An alternative method to carrying your large or small knife. Get it off your hip, and conceal it under a shirt or coat.

The harness can be set-up to carry your knife, either across your chest, or your back. Tip up or tip down. Your choice.

Main Harness
Main Harness

Each rig has a main harness with a wide shoulder pad and a belt loop attachment. Also included, a narrow chest strap, that keeps the rig from shifting.

The harness attaches to the back of a knife sheath, using 2 “D” rings. See the front, and back photos, of a typical sheath.

If your knife sheath does not have a method on its back to attach the harness, then we can build you a new sheath, with the “D” rings built on. For a custom fit, I’ll need the knife in my shop.

Water Proofed with tan color.

A typical sheath set up, with 2 “D” rings, attached to the back.

Adjustable Shoulder HarnessFor long wearing comfort, I now offer a hand sewn, extra thick, premium grade, and natural golden colored, sheepskin wool pad. For those heavy knives that get carried all day.


One harness, two sheathsAdjustable Shoulder Harness:
Perhaps you have two different sized knives, that you would like to carry, each at a different time, across your chest. Do you need a harness for each? The answer is an economical NO! Here we built only one harness, then two new sheaths, both with “D” rings on their backs. Problem solved!

Fitting for size and carry method

Each harness is custom built to each customer’s own measurements. Please reference the diagrams below.

Start at the top of either shoulder (at point A), and measure down across your back, to the opposite hip, or belt line (at point B). Then back up across your chest, to the starting point, on your shoulder (at point A). To this total measurement I will subtract the length of the sheath, then add 4-6 inches extra, for adjustments. For the narrow chest strap (at point C), measure from the middle of your chest, around and under either armpit. To a point in the middle of your back (at point D). To this total measurement I will also add 4-6 inches for adjustments.

Harness Fitting 1
1. Carry Method: Across the Chest. Tip up, handle down, right-handed draw.
Front and back views.
Harness Fitting 2
2. Carry Method: Across the Back. Tip down, handle up, right-handed over the shoulder draw. Front and back views
Harness Fitting 3
3. Carry Method: Across the Back. Tip up, handle down, right-handed behind the back draw. Front and back views
Harness Fitting 4
4. Carry Method: Vertical, Down Your Side. Tip up, handle down, right-handed draw. Front and Back Views.
Special note: For concealed carry, a slimmer, low profile harness is also available, both straps being half the width.


Shoulder harness concealedAn example of my vertical carry, tip up and handle down, harness. Dyed mahogany, both straps are half the width of my regular rig, allowing for a slim profile for better concealment.





sheathFor the cowboy owner of a guest ranch in British Columbia, Canada, a large knife is a daily companion. He carries a Bowie-style blade from the Western Knife Company. The leather sheath that came with the knife carried the knife below the belt line where it flopped around, and was in the way all the time. In a saddle all day, and every day, Nate asked for a secure, out-of-the-way carry method, for this large Bowie knife. We built him a strong, yet comfortable, over-the-shoulder harness rig, that carries the knife upside down. To keep the heavy blade in place, we added two keeper-straps to the deluxe style sheath with a rattlesnake skin insert.

Hi Jay,

I went to pick up the mail today and found that my Western Bowie made it home! When I got home I opened the parcel to find one the of the most beautiful sheaths I’ve seen in my lifetime. I did a lot of looking around for someone who makes the sheath and shoulder harness in leather. There are a lot of places a fella can get a shoulder harness, but everything these days is made out of nylon or kydex. You are the only guy I found that still makes the harness completely out of leather. I’m a bit traditional and still find leather to be the best material to use for harness work. After putting it on, the harness and sheath exceeded all my expectations! I asked for a rugged sheath and harness, boy was that an understatement! The rattlesnake skin inlay is absolutely gorgeous! I suggest that anyone looking to get a shoulder harness for a Bowie, or any other big knife, look nowhere else but to Jay Maines! As I mentioned to you I’m in the saddle from dusk till dawn and the shoulder harness method is by far the best way to go! A thousand times better than my belt sheath! Thanx again Jay, and I will pass your name along to a few other cowboys looking to change their carry methods for their knives! A pleasure doing business with you! Cheers!


Hi Jay!

CowboyLong time “no talk to!” Hope you’ve had a good year down there in Wyoming! Getting close to Christmas for all of us. Is the knife business still keeping you busy? Not sure if you remember, but you built a shoulder harness for my Western Bowie, which has been my pride and joy to wear, besides being very practical and a necessity to my job. My wife and I sold the guest ranch about a year ago and moved back to Merritt, British Columbia. Sometimes when you grow up in a lifestyle it stays in your blood forever. I was asked to return to a large cattle ranch and cowboy full time again. I just couldn’t pass it up. I now cowboy for Nicola Ranch and we run a 2000-3000 head operation. It’s wonderful being back to a job I’ve always loved. Anyway, I do remember telling you I would send you photos of the knife and sheath in use, but never got around to getting a good picture. In early spring I was out at cowcamp doing some sorting, and a film crew which I met at a cowboy festival a few months earlier asked to come out with us to film some shots for a T.V. show. I had know idea that the production manager (Lisa Cawte-Baker who’s also an accomplished photographer out of the U.K. that now lives in Calgary) was taking still photos as well as the filming. About a week later, Lisa called me and asked if it was ok that she use a photo of me in her gallery. I said of course, as long as I get a print to keep for myself. I now have the framed print in my home, which I love. Here is her web gallery with the photo. I’m sure this would be a wonderful testament to your work. To add the “icing on the cake,” I spoke with Lisa recently regarding some other photos she wants to use, and she told me that this photo has been her highest selling photo ever. It was shown at the Western Exhibition of The Calgary Stampede in an almost life-size framed print. It has been shown at the the Canadian Rodeo Finals in Edmonton, Alberta. I’m not sure how to spell his name, but Michael Schumaker the Formula One race car driver and his wife live in the U.K. and Schumaker’s wife is supposedly quite into horses and they purchased this photo for their home! I thought to myself, this is something Jay would be proud to learn! I apologize for not getting back to you sooner, but as always, a pleasure chatting with you Jay! My wife and I wish you and your family a wonderful and Merry Christmas from Nicola Ranch! Hope you are “tickled” about the pic as I was! Cheers my friend!


front,side,backBlack harness shown below as an over the left shoulder, tip-up, back-carry, for a right-handed draw.

Hello Jay,

Wearing the underarm strap under my left arm firmly balances against the right hip belt loop attachment point. However, I think that balance is an additional benefit, and not the main benefit. Worn this way, the underarm straps’ main purpose is to stablize the height of the knife sheath positioned on my back. This is why I attach the metal clasp of the underarm strap to the top “D” ring of the knife sheath. I did try it under the right arm, but with less favorable stability.

While wearing the strap under the left arm I experienced some slipping of the main harness strap off my left shoulder ONLY when driving my car. This is because leaning back against the knife removes the weight from the harness (much like a woman setting her purse down on a bar counter while the strap is still over her arm). After getting out of the car, it was a minor movement to reposition the main strap onto the shoulder and set the underarm connection point to the bottom of my sternum. The leather shoulder pad didn’t move from its position on the main strap and so I just reset the pad onto my shoulder and reset the underarm strap to the bottom point of my sternum.

I quickly grew accustomed to checking the position of the rig by a subconscious reach to the underarm strap attachment point at the sternum. Unless the shoulder pad becomes loose enough to slip along the main harness strap, I think this setup will remain stable.

Like I say, I use the underarm strap mainly to stabilize the height of the knife’s height position on my back (it prevents the weight of the knife and sheath from rotating the main harness strap through the right hip belt loop pindown point). The shoulder pad also resists the same rotation. Worn this way I know that:

1) If the shoulder pad is atop my shoulder,

2) and the underarm strap connection is at the bottom of my sternum,

3) then the resultant height of the knife handle is correctly positioned on my back, so that I can draw the knife easily with my right hand.

I’ve not noticed any tendency for the main harness to slip off my left shoulder, due to an absence of wearing an underarm strap under my right arm. If I did, I would request a second strap. However a second strap would make removal of the rig more complicated than the simple unsnap of the right hip belt pindown point and lifting the rig up and off.

I would definitely keep both the underarm strap and shoulder pad. I may consider a way to pin the location of the shoulder pad to the main harness strap after I have completed the “break in” period. I have a surgically implanted screw through my left clavical and a large sensitive scar along my left shoulder from a motorcycle accident 30 years ago. Even so I do not find the shoulder pad uncomfortable as is. I would not want any of the additional padding that you have mentioned if it would impede the natural ability of the leather to adapt to the natural form of my shoulder. Simple is often best. However if I pin the pad through the main harness someday, a piece of leather to shield my shoulder from the hardware may be necessary. This may be food for thought in your future design considerations.

I suspect that an individual’s body weight and mass characteristics may have a lot to do with how well the harness can serve them. I weighed some 40 pounds heavier back in 1984. If I still had that extra weight moving under the harness, perhaps I would have difficulty stabilizing the harness. But even then the blame couldn’t be cast upon the harness.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have additional questions.

Sincerely, Raymond J. Raupers Jr.

front,backNot every shoulder harness has to have a leather sheath in order to be functional. This black, hot molded, plastic sheath, fits an S. O. G. knife. It was a simple matter to attach 2 “D” rings to the back of the kytex sheath. This harness will be worn over the left shoulder, across the back, with the knife handle down for a right-handed draw.[break]

knifeThis very large fighting knife will see action in Afghanistan on the back of a serviceman. He plans to wear it over his right shoulder with the handle up.[break]


harness rigWe built this harness rig for a customer that’s heading to Iraq. He has a Chris Reeve Warrior knife and wanted to carry it on his back, tip up and handle down. So we built him a new sheath and harness to meet all his needs.[break]


adjustable shoulder harnessAdjustable shoulder harness: a new sheath with an adjustable shoulder harness built to carry a para-cord-wrapped handled survival knife.[break]


achorageFrom Anchorage, Alaska comes Ken’s W. S. K. It’s a Tom Brown Tracker that he wanted to get off his hip and carry across his back. For a right handed draw we set it up for a “tip up” carry method. To help it ride more comfortably on his shoulder, we added the sheep’s wool pad to the rig. The deluxe sheath has an insert of black and white python skin.

Jay, You have to be kidding me!!! I just received the harness and sheath and it is beyond anything I was expecting. It is so nice, rugged and functional I am EXTREMELY happy. I have sheaths from five or six different makers and what I just received from you is on a much different level as far as craftsmanship and materials. Thank you! Now the bad news, I am going to be bugging you about making some more sheaths for some of my prize knives. Can you make me a left shoulder dundee harness? And I have two Busse Limited Edition knives I would like sheaths for. Please put me in the queue and I will ship you the knives. Thank you again, Jay. Best regards, Ken

richard from melbourneRichard from Melbourne, FL owns a large and very heavy cold steel Natchez bowie. He was searching for a more comfortable method to carry it when he found Sunrise River Knives. He requested a sheath and shoulder harness that would allow him to carry his Bowie across his back, with the tip up, for a right handed draw. We built him a new deluxe style sheath, with a rattlesnake skin insert. We then added two keeper straps, to make sure this heavy gal stayed safe in her sheath. To help distribute the weight a sheep’s wool pad was added to the shoulder rig.

Hello Jay – All I can say is WOW! When my completed harness and sheath (with knife) arrived in the mail yesterday I was absolutely ecstatic! It has to be the finest piece of craftsmanship that can be had. This was such a wonderful surprise in this day and time where, sadly, we have come to a point of near extinction of the TRUE CRAFTSMAN, and it is difficult at best to find anyone who takes pride in their work. I certainly found someone in you that takes pride in his work, and, I can only say, deservedly so! You may be the last of a dying breed (how unfortunate for the future generations) but I guarantee I will not purchase from anyone else as long as you are around. I wish I could take credit for at least picking out the design but even that was done with your expert guidance and consultation. The beauty of the entire rig is absolutely amazing! And that is only magnified by the GREAT QUALITY of workmanship you provided. The best of the best of materials, the highest level of creativity and design, all put together with top quality workmanship – I don’t know how to improve on that combination! I don’t blame you at all for being proud enough to want to put a picture of this rig on your Web site for all the world to see. And if any of them are a “doubting Thomas” even after viewing the pictures, feel free to tell them to contact me! At his point I obviously have not had time to “field test” the rig, but as I tried it on for fit and comfort, it feels fantastic. I think it will be like a new pair of high quality boots – they are comfortable when you first purchase them but then once they are broken in, they just become a part of you! Thanks again for a superb job, and let’s do keep in touch! Richard

Hi Jay,

Man you have made one very old man very happy… the shoulder rig and the new sheath you made for the Fat Lady are out of this world…It is so easy to put on and it rides right where I want it to on my back.

I must say you really know how to work with leather.. and don’t worry, the Water Buffalo leather really fits great. No problem at all. I had to wait til this weekend before I had time to take the new outfit down to the farm and give it a good work out.

I hit the woods about 6:45 this morning, planning on placing a lock on a deer stand about 24 feet up in a white oak tree, and then start cutting and trimming down tons of branches or small trees . Things that would be in the way of an arrow, come this fall. I like to get all this taken care of long before hunting season, so the bucks will have forgot all about me being down there.

Well, I walked about a half mile back into the oak ridges, and I must say the shoulder rig was way more than just good. It sure gave me lots of things I could now do with both hands free. And the Fat Lady is not banging into my leg ever step I take anymore. Jay, I worked down there ’til about 3:30 pm, and I must say I only took the shoulder rig off while I was putting in screw in steps and pulling up the lock on stand.

Oh yea, Jay, I almost forgot to tell you. This morning on the way down to the woods I stopped into a little country store that I normally stop at to get a bite to eat , as it opens up around 6 am most mornings. Well I had your shoulder rig with the Fat Lady on my back when I came in and took a seat. Man I wish you could have been there to see the look on all those folks’ face. The owner is a good friend, so when he saw the Fat Lady in that great looking shoulder rig, he let out a holler that was heard for sure a half mile away – “Lord would you look at that – set up on his back!”  The look on everyones face told me what I already knew, money I sent you for the sheath and the shoulder rig was WELL SPENT.

Thanks again for ever thing you did.

A friend for life — Donnie Knight

Adjustable Shoulder Harness

Adjustable Shoulder Harness

Adjustable Shoulder Harness

204DropPoint-TipUpNot all Drop Point Hunters need to be carried vertically on your belt. This model, with a golden burled, Desert Ironwood handle, will be worn on my adjustable shoulder harness. Carried tip up / handle down, and across the chest. It will be accessible with just a quick release, and it will fall right into your hand. We added a Fire Starter w/ Antler Tine handle, and a diamond coated, sharpening steel to each side of the sheath.



202Sportsman-TipUpBuilt with a slim profile, this knife and shoulder harness were designed for a concealed carry, in an urban or wilderness environment. Carried tip up/ handle down, across the chest. With one quick pull on both keeper straps at the same time, the beautiful Mammoth Ivory handle falls quickly into your hand.



Adjustable Shoulder Harness Rig
Left Handed, Across The Back, Carry Method

Bowie Rig
Full back profile, showing a rehandled, Cold Steel Bowie, in a tip up, handle down, carry method, for a left handed, reach around draw. The Deluxe style sheath, with a Python snake skin insert, is also my work.
Bowie Rig
A side view of the harness, showing the narrow chest strap as it passes under the owner’s right arm. Allowing for plenty of free arm movement, with no restrictions.
Bowie Rig
Full front profile, showing the wider, Main Harness crossing down from the right shoulder, to the left hip. Note; the narrow chest strap crossing under the right arm, and attaching itself to the Main Harness. This narrow strap helps keep the rig from sliding off one’s shoulder, during any strenuous activity. However, some customers report they do not need the narrow chest strap, and just remove it from use.