2011 Blade Show

Blade HQ is back! We have been covering the 30th year of the Blade Show at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. We had a great time; met some super people and we wanted to let you know what is going on with some of the major knife brands and manufacturers. Remember that the Blade Show is primarily directed at end consumers, and not so much dealers (we just wedge ourselves right in though and accost makers for deals).

Brands

Chris Reeve Knives – We started with the Chris Reeve Knives booth and visited with the always delightful Heather. We have some knives we’ve been waiting on for about twelve years and we attempted to bribe our way to the top of the list (okay, not twelve years, but close). Chris is adding a few more machines to his facility and will hopefully be able to increase knife production in the near future.

He has also introduced a new blade style for the Sebenza that will be available soon.

Here is one of the Sebenzas that we picked up while we were there:

Protech Knives – It’s always a pleasure to see Dave at Protech. He had some awesome custom pieces for sale at the show. If you haven’t seen any of Protech’s custom knives, you need to check them out. They are beautiful. Protech is also introducing two cool new knives this summer.

The first is a titanium version of the folding Tactical Response.

The second is a single action out the front knife that he’s dubbed the Dark Angel.

We also have Dave working on a super top secret project that we can’t talk about quite yet. I know, that’s terrible of us. He brought us a prototype, but swore us to secrecy. So… hard… to …keep…secrets…

Strider Knives – At Strider, we picked up a few SNGs with tanto blades (we haven’t had these yet) as well as a couple new titanium fixed blades. We were hoping to snag some customs, but by the time we got to the booth (about seven mins into the show) everything was gone.

Bear and Son Cutlery – Charlie with Bear and Son Cutlery visited us a few weeks ago, and we were excited to catch up with him. We saw some production automatic knives that Bear is almost ready to release. One is a dual-action scale release automatic knife, and the other is a no-nonsense push button model.

Benchmade Knives– These guys generally reserve special released knives and deals for the more retailer-geared SHOT show (held at the beginning of the year). But we always swing by Benchmade’s booth to say “hi”. We chatted with Charles for a bit- always a pleasure.  Benchmade, busy as always, has some things coming down the pipeline later this year. We also have an exclusive they’re working on which we hope will be released in the fall. Benchmade also just released a black blade version of the Benchmade 51.

Spyderco Knives– We dropped by to talk to Sal. You’d be hard pressed to find a friendlier, down to earth knife maker. We chatted about the industry, some of the struggles that larger knife companies face, and even the greed that seems to creep into business when large amounts of money are concerned. While we’ve carried the Spyderco line forever, it’s only recently that we became a direct authorized dealer.

Emerson Knives – We’ve been trying to go direct with Emerson knives forever. Their products are getting harder to find. We were finally able to corral the “person you have to talk to” and she said our application had finally made it to her desk (yes! Only took four years!). Emerson makes a great product and we’re looking forward to being able to offer the full Emerson line very soon.

Mantis Knives – Jared is a man with unmatched enthusiasm. We were delighted to have him come by our shop earlier this year. Mantis has some great new folders coming out (the Pit Boss series) which reminds us a little of the Benchmade MPR series. Jared is also hard at work on the world’s first karambit style butterfly knife- we should see it later this year.

Bradley Cutlery – We chatted with Brad and Dave while we were at the show. Brad has done a great job with the Kimura line (manufactured by Kershaw). They recently rolled out the newest Kimura line with handle overlays. Right now they have several G-10 versions as well as a carbon fiber model. With the overlay design it won’t be long before you spot Kimuras tricked out by companies like Santa Fe Stoneworks! There are also several new Kimura versions still in the works and you can count on us to bring them all to you.

We were also able to see Brad’s collaboration with Zero Tolerance- a brand new OTF knife. The quality and action is top notch- just check out the pics and video below. These OTF knives should be available by the end of the year!

Ocean Master – This brand has a truly unique product- colored titanium blades. They use a unique process to create functional edge-retaining titanium tools! This includes their series of dive knives as well as some great looking neck knives.

Lionsteel –  We spent a fair amount of time with Gianni discussing the production of our exclusive black bladed titanium SR1 knives. Hopefully we’ll have them in hand soon! Lionsteel produces some of the best imported knives available today. We also visited with the lovely Silvia. In addition to Lionsteel and Viper Knives she helps to represent over forty Italian knife manufacturers. Hopefully we’ll be able to pick up some new Italian brands in the coming years.

Microtech – It’s always a blast to see the Microtech gang. Their booth is typically busy (and often chaotic). Near the end of the first day Tony and Tony Jr. showed up with giant crates filled with new products. They have unrestrained energy and enthusiasm matched only by their superior top tier knives, plus they are just plain nice and down to earth. On the morning of the second day, we jumped into a literal free for all and grabbed some amazing custom offerings like the Select Fire, and ADO. We should have these on the site in the next couple of days. More new products are on the horizon.

Here is the new Jagdkommando:

And the Select Fire folding knife:

Sniper Bladeworks –These guys have a good thing going and we will be carrying their product in the near future. We picked up “Sam’s knife” and it’s a rock solid folder.

Hogue Knives – Hogue really makes an incredible knife. The attention to detail and overall quality rival much more expensive custom knives. The automatic versions of these knives will start shipping in the next couple of weeks! We got to visit with Allen Elishewitz at the Hogue Booth and he discussed some of the new products slated for release later this year. Exciting? Yes.

New 2011 Hogue-Elishewitz Prototype:

Spartan Blades – We finally got to handle some of the Spartan blades offerings. The Spartan team literally has decades of experience in the Special Forces, so they know what they are doing more than most.  When it comes to durability and design Spartan definitely knows what they’re doing. We hope to carry their product line sometime in the very near future.

Fiddleback Forge – Want a really nice fixed blade? The Fiddleback knives are some of the best. The clean designs, the slick contours and the high quality fit and finish speak for themselves. Currently, their production capacity is not equal to their product demand, so you have to get their knives directly. We may still be able to work with them at some point, but in the meantime we readily endorse their knives.

Nemesis Knives – This California company makes some slick neck, card and semi-custom folding knives. We were able to look at some of their future prototypes and we were really excited by what we saw. If Nemesis plays their cards right they should have a bright future.

DPX – We will be carrying most of Robert’s knives soon. They are going to be using Lionsteel to make some of their knives including the folding Hest model.

Colonial – We talked with Steve at Colonial knives. They recently switched to water jet cutting their blades. While the cost is slightly higher, the overall quality of their knives is greatly enhanced. The finish and lockup of their new stuff is much better than before.  We will be picking it up soon.

Schrade (Taylor Brands) – The folks at Schrade have been hard at work developing high-quality low cost knives. Their most recent offering is a fantastic assisted OTF knife that’s both legal and incredibly convenient. As usual, they have a ton of new spring assisted and manual folding knives that we can’t wait to get our hands on.

The new OTF:

ARS (Attack, Rescue, Survive) – We tried to meet up with Alex several times during the show, but he was always out “exploring” (you can’t blame the man). He was showcasing a few of his custom OTF models with various scale materials (the carbon fiber model was extra slick). Hopefully we’ll be able to chat with him in the near future.

Custom Makers

Darrell Ralph – Darrell was hiding at the show. He wasn’t listed in the directory, but we found him next to the Meyerco booth. We’ve been begging him for some custom butterfly knives and he said they were right around the corner. He had one custom butterfly that he flaunted but refused to part with. He also showed us a few new side openers that are in the works that got us hot and bothered.

Dirk Pinkerton –Darrell Ralph’s protégée was also at the show. He’s got some great neck knives that are definitely worth a look, if you’re not familiar with his work.

Bill King – Trained by Mel Pardue and the late Frank Centofante, Bill has been making knives for over 30 years and we picked up a few of his custom folders. Bill’s wife showed us a beautiful slip joint with purple mother of pearl scales. We tried to take it, but she was too strong.

Here are some of his knives at the show:

Ralph Dewey Harris – Ralph is always fun to visit with, and he makes some great custom automatic knives. We were sad to learn that he’s not making out the front knives anymore due to some health problems. If you have a Harris OTF knife hang onto it! It will only go up in value.

Vallotton KnivesRainy Vallotton is at the top of his game. Few custom makers can do custom automatic knives with the attention to detail and flair that Rainy is known for.  Naturally, we picked up a few knives. Our favorite is an awesome piece with tortoise shell handles (harvested off of an 80 year old antique purse). We always enjoy chatting with Butch as well. As celebrity buyers roamed the floor of the Blade Show, they took special interest in Rainy’s products (we got the good stuff though).

Here is a picture of the piece with tortoise shell handles:

Mr. Damascus & Thita Knives – We were thrilled to meet Keith as we roamed the Blade Show floors. He had some unfortunate circumstances that required him to sell some of his knife collection, and the items for sale were spectacular (and this is an understatement). We picked up several pieces of the well regarded Thai Maker Suchat Jangtanong.  These custom knives have such incredible work that we’ve never personally seen their equal in a custom knife. If the knives we purchased do well, we’ll be picking up much more of Keith’s collection in the future and possibly working with him to continue the production of new pieces.

Some of his collection:

Corrie Schoeman – Corrie is a knife maker out of South Africa. His custom knives are incredible pieces, and we acquired some of his knives to sell (several butterfly knives in particular). We have a fairly large selection of folders that we got and they should be available this week. Here is the link to Corrie Schoeman knives.

David Steier – We met David while he was eating a sandwich. In between bites, he pointed out a lone butterfly knife sitting on his table. His first and only, he said. We snagged it without wasting any time. As you’ll see when we post it on the website, the design is minimal yet stylishly profound. We’re not sure if David will make more butterfly knives, but we hope does.

Les Voorhies – We caught up with Les in the afternoon and he had only one knife left! We’re coming up soon in his queue (possibly next in line). His butterfly knives have generated a large amount of interest in the past few months. The quality to price ratio is so high with every Voorhies butterfly knife that it’s hard to keep them in stock. Needless to say we’re stoked to get some more.

Chuck Gedraitis – We ran into Chuck at the show and were pleased to discover that he has also started making custom butterfly knives. Chuck’s style is elegant and straightforward. We bought every butterfly he brought to the show and if things go well, we’ll be seeing more of Chuck’s stuff in the future.

Pat and Wes Crawford – There are few finer mannered gentlemen in the custom knife world than the Crawfords. We chatted with Pat and Wes for a bit and picked up a few of Pat’s custom offerings. CRKT produces several of the Crawford’s models, and it’s always fun to see the originals.

William Henry – We admire the offerings of William Henry, but we have always been a little but off by their “stuffiness”. We can appreciate that they want to control their products, and only put them in the “finest stores” but their unwillingness to work with us, despite our size and presence, has always been a source of confusion. Nevertheless, their workmanship is among the best and their designs generally result in the pinnacle of refined pocket knives.

Brian Tighe – In the world of custom knifemaking Brian stands out. Like the Crawfords, his designs have often been licensed to CRKT. Brian has several innovative designs that we’d love to pick up in the near future. He was a pleasure to chat with and we hope to see him again soon.

This is one of his new designs for 2011:

Alan Foltz – Alan has a very unique product that I would love to pick up one day, titanium chopsticks.  I can’t think of anything that would be more satisfying that eating sushi with a pair of these custom anodized sticks. Alan also has a series of excellent custom knives.

Other Cool Industry Stuff

Blue Ridge Knives – We met up for dinner with Alex and his father Phil, our friends at Blue Ridge Knives. We chatted a good deal about business structures, fulfillment problems, solutions and growing pains in general. Blue Ridge was started back in 1979, and continues to thrive because of outstanding leadership, adaptation and solid commitment to customer service.

Knife Rights – On June 11th we attended the Knife Rights Sharper Future™ Awards Breakfast at the Waverly Renaissance Hotel. We were honored to receive the The Freedom’s Point™ Award for our support and work on the legislative reform efforts earlier this year in Utah –(House Bill HB271). Knife Rights is hard at work defending our Knife freedoms and we support their efforts to the best of our ability. If you haven’t joined we urge you to take a moment- membership is less than ten cents a day!

Overall it was a fantastic show. We could have used more time there as there were several companies we wanted to see but missed or didn’t have time to get to: Boker, AKTI, Puma Knives, Kershaw & Zero Tolerance, and Santa Fe Stoneworks. Sorry you guys!  We’ll see you at SHOT or the next Blade Show. We have piles of products we brought back, tons of new leads to investigate and mountains of new show-inspired website features we’re going to add (including a section called “Meet your Makers” with bios, interviews & product links for custom knife makers). It was great to see old friends, and fun to make new friends.

Comments

2011 Blade Show — 6 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great reviews. It was a pleasure to meet the owners and buyer from BladeHQ. They were very nice folks.
    There were a lot of great new offerings this year, although,prices have gottten a bit out of control. I attend the show to view and handle new products, but usually make my purchases online afterwards at a significant discount(mostly from BladeHQ). Thanks for the great deals BladeHQ.

  2. Heads up – Mr. Damascus name is Keith not Kevin. I have bought several knives from him on Arizona custom knives. Great guy, Awesome knives!!!
    Thanks for the article, wish I could have gone.

    • Sorry about that Keith. I fixed the post. That’s totally my fault. I agree though, his knives are awesome and I am going to have some more pics today!

  3. Greetings,

    Thank you for changing the name to Keith rather than Kevin, however, you still called me Kevin in the second mention of the name.

    The whole blog featuring all the makers was really an outstanding job.

    Kind regards,
    Keith

  4. Mr. Suchat Jangtanong (Thita knives) makes some gorgeous pieces with stunning materials. I own one of his knives and feel it’s a privilige (I didn’t spell that right, sorry non-native english speaker) to stick it in my pocket every now and then.

    Anyone looking for a sunday dress knife should check his pieces out. Both with knife sellers and directly on ebay.