Cutlery Market Maintains
By Pat Covert
If there were any questions about whether a newer arms-friendly presidential administration would signal a slowdown in the cutlery market, those were dashed away in good measure at the 2017 BLADE Show held in Atlanta. This year’s event was held June 2–4 with over 1,000 vendors and broke the show’s already burgeoning attendance record with nearly 11,000 attendees.
Folding knives still rule the roost in the cutlery world, but there are some burgeoning categories gaining traction. Trending upward at this year’s event is a shift to dress tactical and traditional folders (often referred to as “slip joints”). Sporting fixed-blade knives have also increased in popularity with more emphasis on hunting and bushcraft. In essence, knife users are becoming more attuned to upgrading their everyday carry and enjoying more leisurely activities than filling their arsenal. Here are some highlights from this year’s offerings.
Case Tribal Lock
Spartan Blades took home the top dog 2017 American Made Knife of the Year for their new, upscale Kranos (Greek for “Helmet”) tactical folder. Stealthy and stunning with a stylized Spartan helmet designed into the titanium-and-carbon-fiber handle and a beautifully machined pocket clip depicting an arrow, the Kranos features a graceful 3.5- inch S35VN stainless steel drop-point blade. This will be one for your high-end enthusiasts: MSRP starts at $515.
The CRKT Crossbones won the Imported Knife of the Year at this year’s BLADE Show. This sleek flipper folder, with its “dog bone” handle design, is a collaboration between CRKT and custom knifemaker Jeff Park, understudy of many years to renowned cutler Ken Onion. The Crossbones is 8 inches overall and sports a 3.5-inch AUS 9 satin steel blade. MSRP is $99.
The Spyderco Magnitude, a collaboration with noted custom knifemaker Peter Carey, is a flipper folder both sturdy and elegant in its design. The Magnitude is 8.22 inches overall with a 4.5-inch CPM S30V stainless steel clip point blade that rolls out on smooth ball bearing washers. The attractive handle is 3D machined black twill-patterned carbon fiber. MSRP is $485.95.
The big news at the Emerson Knives booth was a new series of Balisong knives. Founder Ernest “Ernie” Emerson informed SI there will be four Balisongs in the first production run, all featuring blade styles currently in the company’s line. These will feature the same handle platform of titanium liners with G10 scales but, according to Emerson, the construction will pay homage to his “roots” by featuring easy screw head assembly. As of this writing, MSRP hasn’t been determined.
If your customer leans to the exotic, the Krudo Dao tactical folder fills the bill. This is a dress tactical with an aggressive blade style patterned after the Chinese Dao-style blade. Owner and Founder Louis Krudo is a martial arts expert who designed his knives to be used in all manner of self defense — from cutting to hitting — so there are multiple options built in. The Dao model features a 3.75-inch 9Cr18MoV stainless steel blade, which can open via a flipper or thumb stud. The handle is sculpted stainless steel and G10. MSRP is $149.
With new, relaxed knife laws, automatic knives are becoming trendy and Hogue Knives has jumped in feet first. The Hogue OTF (Out The Front) Automatic features an attractive “bamboo”-shaped handle with a sliding blade release also serving to retract the business end back into the handle. Overall length is 8.5 inches; 3.5 of the total length is in a CPM-154 stainless steel blade offered in a drop point or Tanto style. The handle features an attractive honeycomb pattern. MSRP is $349.95.
Fans of traditional pocketknives are well aware of Queen Cutlery’s legendary quality. Their new Sway Belly Trapper carries on that reputation in spades. At 4.2 inches closed this is a nice-sized folder, but its slim cross-section keeps bulk to a minimum. The blades, a clip point and spey, are O1 high carbon steel and a new single blade clip model has just been released. There are a variety of handles scales available, all pinned between nice nickel silver bolsters. MSRP range is $99–$149.
One of the hottest pocketknives right now is the new W.R. Case & Sons Tony Bose-designed Tribal Lock. Based on the Trapper pattern, an incredibly popular design, the 4.2-inch (closed) Tribal Lock features a graceful Tru-Sharp stainless steel spear point blade, a lock-back mechanism and is available in single or double bolster models. Case offers a plethora of handle scale options. MSRP ranges from $78.60 and up.
Following the success of the Carter Prime tactical folder, Ontario Knife Company has released the new Cerebus. This robust tactical knife is 9.25 inches fully deployed, with a 3.75-inch D2 steel drop point blade. The titanium frame has a sturdy frame-lock mechanism on the backside and incorporates scalloped jimping on the frontal base for enhanced purchase. A reversible tip-up left- or right-hand carry pocket clip completes the package. MSRP is $164.95.
Ontario Knife Co. Hunt Plus
Hogue EX-F02 With G10 Handles
ESEE Knives’ latest addition to its Camp-Lore line is the PR4, an excellent take on the legendary Horace Kephart camp knife. Designed by Patrick Rollins, (longtime member of the ESEE Knives and Randall Adventure Training team) the PR4 is 8.9 inches overall with a 4.10-inch blade of 1095 high carbon steel and a protective tumbled black oxide finish. The handle, with its sculptured Micarta scales, is a work of art in itself. The ESEE PR4 comes with a leather pouch sheath and MSRP is $190.64.
Battle Horse Knives stepped out of the bushcraft zone with their new Honey Badger — a svelte 6-inch dagger for those who prefer a fixed-blade for their self-defense EDC. The 2.4-inch blade is 400C stainless steel and handle scales are checkered black G10. Easy to conceal, the Honey Badger comes with a black spring clip Kydex belt sheath with screw construction for adaptability. MSRP is $140.
Those who prefer to carry a small-game dressing knife in addition to a larger field knife will like Habilis Bush Tool’s Small Skinner. At 5.75 inches overall the Small Skinner can be worn on its Kydex belt sheath or is easily packable. The 2.5-inch clipped Nesmuk-style blade is easy to sharpen 1095 high carbon steel with a gun blued coating. Better yet, the blade steel is a thin 1/16th inch thick for fine slicing. Scales are orange/black layered G10. MSRP is $88.
The TOPS Tanimboca Puukko brings the traditional Scandinavian Puukko knife style up to modern day standards. At 7.75 inches overall, the Tanimboca Puukko is meant for general fieldcraft such as carving and shaving. The 3.63-inch modified Scandi grind on its 1095 high carbon steel blade is meant for carving, and the squared spine is designed to throw sparks off a ferrorod. The handle is natural Micarta with a bow drill divot and a brown leather belt sheath is included. MSRP is $150.
The Kopis Design STK (Sliding Knife Tool) was one of the most unique new products on display at the show. The STK is rectangular in shape with a 3-inch titanium frame housing a premium S35VN stainless steel multi-functional blade with various functions built into it. The blade portion can cut, scrape and also serve as a chisel or pry bar. The blade also has a wire stripper, a quarter-inch bit drive and, when not in use, the SKT doubles as a money clip. MSRP for this coolness is $200.
This is just a small sampling of the thousands of knives on display at BLADE. If attendance and overall enthusiasm represent any indicators, you’d be remiss not to at least evaluate your current knife offerings. Are there any knives “a cut above” you would have added to this list? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The exquisitely designed Kranos by Spartan Blades won the 2017 American Made
Knife of the Year. The tactical folder features a stylized Spartan helmet
designed into the titanium and carbon fiber handle.
Save The Date
BLADE Show will return to Atlanta in 2018, taking place June 1–3. For more information, visit www.bladeshow.com.