3rd Annual Drunken Hillbilly Knife Awards

Back Again, Late and Uninvited: The Least Anticipated Knife Awards Show in the Industry

This year we sent out a survey to pick the best knives of the year, but the only response we got back was a dirty napkin that said “Tall Jeb says watch your back” written in purple sharpie. So we went back to our old method of getting drunk around a campfire and squinting at our knife collection until we arbitrarily decided what seemed better than any other knife we could think up in the moment.

Our knife award selection process get weirder every year. This year's was the most bizarre one yet
Are awards selection process gets weirder every year.

If you’d like to have some frame of reference, you can check out the HIllbilly awards of years passed.

We won’t judge either way. We just do this to make our liquor and knife-collecting habits look more productive to our families.

Best Ratio of Knife Size to Name Length – Condor Mountaineer Trail Wingman Knife

This great compact fixed blade from Condor is a good choice for EDC.
Knife Type:Camping
What’s It Made Of:14C28N steel / Micarta
How Big’s the Blade:2.76”
Designer:Jason Breedan

The Condor Mountaineer Trail Wingman Knife has about a three-inch blade, so depending on what font you use, you could type the name out, hold the knife up to your screen and the name would be longer than the blade.

Not really. You’d have to have some crazy kerning settings to make that happen, but maybe you tried it anyway, and that was fun for all of us.

If we can muster the energy to put jokes aside, though, this is the kind of small fixed blade design that lends itself to EDC use. Part of that is because the sheath rides well on the belt, and doesn’t even look that out of place if you carry this around town a little. But the handle also just works. It’s a little bit curvy and has a couple different textures on it thanks to the cords in the middle, so gripping comes easy no matter what you’re doing, even if what you’re doing is kind of dumb and pointless.

Best Knife for Swaggerin’ – CRKT Redemption

The CRKT Redemption is an American made folder with with a Magnacut blade.
Knife Type:EDC
What’s It Made Of:Magnacut / G-10
How Big’s the Blade:4.0”
Designer:Ken Onion

It sure was a fun, dirty trick Ken Onion played on a bunch of drunk idiots to make a cool knife that can only be opened with fine-tuned wrist motion. The award for this is more of a representation of how we felt after we held the Redemption on the correct side and flicked the blade out without dropping it for the first time.

As for the practicality of the knife itself, there are definitely things that could have been done that would have made it feel more comfortable in the hand, and made the blade a little cleaner on the cut, but those changes would have butted into the clean lines of the dagger blade and the coffin handle. The edge is good enough, and the grip is about as natural as you can get with a folder, but we have never been under the illusion that we bought the Redemption because we thought it would be a better box cutter than whatever forty-dollar hard-use knife is rusting by the wet pile of wood in a field we call a desk. It’s because we wanted a good gentleman’s folder for the unlikely scenario where someone invites us over for a game of poker.

Most Photogenic – Ocaso Solstice

Most photogenic knife award.
Knife Type:Gentleman’s Carry
What’s It Made Of:S35VN / Carbon fiber or titanium
How Big’s the Blade:3.5”
Designer:Andrew Demko

We’d agreed at some point in the past that this award should go to the knife that was the easiest to shoot. The Solstice wasn’t technically the winner in that respect, but even we have to admit that some consideration has to be given for the economical use of space containing a knife that just has a “cool” vibe to it, insofar as we’re capable of reliable defining that term.

Also, we like the pen shape because it opens the possibility of someone asking “Hey is that a pen in your pocket or are you just happy to see us,” and then we’d get to say “No, it’s a knife” and they might say “Oh cool, can I see it and be your best friend?” And then we would, and maybe end the conversation with something like “You know what? We are happy to see you.”

That hasn’t happened yet, but we still carry this knife waiting for the day.

Check out our full review of the Solstice here.

Clickiest Knife – Vosteed RSKaos

The Vosteed RSKAOS is a fidget friendly premium pocket knife.
Knife Type:EDC
What’s It Made Of:M390 / TItanium
How Big’s the Blade:3.3”
Designer:Rob Saniscalchi

The Vosteed RSKaos is a titanium brick with a three-inch blade inside. It’s got a milled clip. It’s got a compound grind that we’re still trying to figure out how to make full use of, but most important is that it has this thumb hole, and this flipper tab, and this button to actuate whatever they’re calling the lock in this… Top liner, or reverse liner, or modified button lock.

I don’t know. It works though, and in a way that feels safer to us than than the average button lock. We didn’t test that claim. It was more a hypothesis birthed out of the loudness of the clicky noise the lock makes when you fully deploy the blade.

Best Knife for Feuding with the Family in the Next Holler – Off Grid Caiman XXL

The best knife for feuding with the family from the next holler award goes to the Off-Grid XXL Caiman Bowie.
Knife Type:Survival
What’s It Made Of:D2 / G10
How Big’s the Blade:7.0”
Designer:Cary Orefice

It’s not about size; it’s about style, but the size helps. It also helps that we’ve been slapping Off Grid knives around the woods long enough to know that when they make a blade out of D2 steel it can stand to get smacked, dropped, and chopped into things that normally shouldn’t be smacked, dropped, and chopped by a knife without risking the integrity of the edge too much.

Practical applications aside, it’s hard for us to walk away from any kind of bowie-style blade, much less one that’s of a size to free the six-year-old part of our brains that otherwise stays hidden behind the pillar of liquor bottles we use as a mental support for the thin veneer of adulthood we barely manage to maintain on a daily basis.

Pad that with the fact that the Caiman XL is really well balanced. You don’t feel the blade in a swing so much as the tilt of the handle, so there’s a certain feeling of finesse that adds to the illusion of skill when we use it to randomly chop vines and dead branches around the woods.

Best Camp Cooker – Off Grid Sierra

Best camp cooking knife.
Knife Type:Chef’s knife
What’s It Made Of:14C28N / G10
How Big’s the Blade:6.0”
Designer:Cary Orefice

Sometimes, when we’re halfway through a slab of meat, charred beyond recognition and dumped with utmost care by whiskey-numbed fingers onto a pile of trapezoidal vegetable cuttings, a third of which had just been slapped out of the coals of a raging fire and rubbed back into cleanliness on a grungy flannel shirt, we think about how it would be really nice if someone who actually knew how to cook would come camping with us.

Until we find that person, we’ll happily use the Off Grid Sierra to slice up our awkward fireside creations. Our tests with cutting paper and slices off of free-standing tomatoes have shown us it has a screaming edge that would probably do wonders in the hands of a capable person, and it comes with a sheath design that Off Grid has been workshopping to near perfection for a while now.

Best Knife Design to Carry on a Spaceship – Artisan xcellerator

Best knife design to carry on a spaceship award.
Knife Type:EDC
What’s It Made Of:AR-RPM9 / Micarta or titanium
How Big’s the Blade:3.86”
Designer:Mike Sondy

If there’s one thing we’ll have over the aliens when/if they finally decide to stop screwing around and come hang out, it’s that they won’t have Mike Snody, or Mike Snody’s knives… at least until one of those aliens happens to walk up to an Artisan booth at blade show, gets hit up for a pleasant conversation and walks away with both the titanium and Micarta versions in two of their six-to-eight appendages, and an inexplicable desire to break down cardboard boxes.

But at that point, the aliens will have begun their assimilation into our culture, and before long they’ll be dropping into our forums to rile up debates about AR-RPM9 steel and whether S30V is still relevant. Then somewhere in the middle of replying for the eighth time that the steel isn’t as important as the edge geometry we’ll stop and wish they had just probed us instead.

Anyway, this knife is awesome and this was the only category we could think to put it in.

Best Knife Design Update – Reiff F4 Scandi Grind

The Reiff F4 Scandi won the award for the best knife update.
Knife Type:Bushcraft / Survival
What’s It Made Of:CPM- 3V / G10
How Big’s the Blade:4.0”
Designer:The Reiffs

It made a ridiculous amount of sense to us when Reiff started releasing their knives with scandi grinds. Ever since we reviewed the F4, our favorite thing to use it for has been processing wood for fires and carving meaningless shapes out of other wood while we sit by the fire, and the scandi grind version optimizes the design more for that kind of activity.

I won’t claim that it’s improved the quality of the wood we chop and carve, because we exist entirely in a state of mild bewilderment that makes everything we do happen on a blurry slant even when we aren’t drunk, and the fact that we often are does not seem to improve the end products of our handiwork.

We can appreciate when something feels nice to use, though. And we gotta say: a Reiff knife with scandi grind feels pretty dang nice. 

Best Tactical Blade that’s Good for Other Stuff Too – Spartan Harsey Nessmuk

The Saprtan Halsey Nessmuk wins won the award for Best Tactical Blade that’s Good for Other Stuff Too.
Knife Type:Survival and bushcraft
What’s It Made Of:1095 Cro-Van
How Big’s the Blade:10.0”
Designer:William Harsey

Before the gnashing contrarians press their bulk on the door to tell us the nessmuk isn’t a tactical design, I’d like to explain that we don’t think this is a tactical knife so much as the most tactical we’ve ever seen a nessmuk get. That’s mostly because of the grippy handle. It’s made of grippy stuff, and has a functional rounding of material that serves as a decent finger guard. The whole thing just has a very Bill Harsey feel, which up to this point has predominantly favored tactical designs.

It’s still a nessmuk, though, and does nessmuk things like chopping wood and food reasonably well. It also helps that Spartan Blades always does a great job on their sheaths. We’ve never really carried a nessmuk that we felt required help in the areas of retention or fast deployment, but it’s nice to have something that feels good and works well, especially since this nessmuk is a little heavier than the average nessmuk. Most of this you could probably figure out just by looking at the picture, but I enjoy watching the red-line gymnastics my word processor performs every time I type the word “nessmuk”.

There it goes again. Take that, you judgemental bastard.

You can read our full, more helpful review of the Spartan Harsey Nessmuk here.

Best Old School Knife Made Fancy – ZT-0006

The Zero Tolerance 0006 won the award for Best Old School Knife Made Fancy.
Knife Type:Rambo-esque fun times
What’s It Made Of:CPM-3V / G-10
How Big’s the Blade:6.0”
Designer:In house

They took a big ass military bayonet from the early 90’s and made it smaller and more… survival-y.

It joins a new tradition of taking things from the 90’s and making them more manageable and stylistic while leaving old fans in a tired daze wondering what the point of it is before we get on with our lives.

The difference here is that we actually enjoyed our time with this retro update. In strictly functional terms, it’s a little awkward for bushcraft thanks to the handguard, but it has that almost indefinable element of being fun, which is all we really wanted from it in the first place.

Check out our full review of the ZT-0006 here.

Best Bushcraft Knife for Poor People – BPS Bushmate designed by DBK

The BPS Bushmate won an award for Best Bushcraft Knife for Poor People.
Knife Type:
What’s It Made Of:
How Big’s the Blade:
Designer: Dutch Bushcraft Knives

The BPS Bushmate is a pretty typical design in bushcraft, but it’s a well done typical design. The handle is comfy and indexes well, there’s some of that slope-y business at the top of the handle for pinch gripping, and the sheath sits on the belt well enough to make us look like we know what we’re doing in the woods.

It was designed by the guys at Dutch Bushcraft Knives, which complicates this a little, because including this knife means we draw attention to other knife reviewers who are more competent and more entertaining than us. It’s bad enough that people slip into the comment section of our YouTube channel every other day to compare us to Advanced Knife Bro, who’s also funnier than us, and also designed a knife last year that probably would have ended up somewhere on this list if we’d had the wherewithal to buy and test it.

Anyway, we can only hope that there’s enough time in your day to watch more than one set of people poke logs with sharp things.

Best Grandpa Knife – Rosecraft Beaver Creek Barlow

Best Grandpa knife award.
Knife Type:EDC
What’s It Made Of:D2 / Bone
How Big’s the Blade:2.9”
Designer:Andy Armstrong

If we didn’t know who Rosecraft was, and just found the Beaver Creek Barlo lying around in the dirt somewhere, we would assume it was an old offshoot of Case or something. It keeps pretty faithfully to a classic Barlow design, but there’s definitely a modern smoothness to the walk and talk which, in some ways is analogous to driving a classic truck around with a new transmission, both in the sense that it’s a familiar shape with nice internals and in that people will sometimes compliment it before asking you for a favor.

Check out our full review of the Beaver Creek Barlow here.

Victorinox Venture Pro – Best Budget Knife From Switzerland

The Victorinox Venture won the award for the best budget knife from Switzerland.
Knife Type:Survival
What’s It Made Of:14C28N / Polymer
How Big’s the Blade:4.25”
Designer:In house

When we heard Victorinox was making a survival fixed blade we didn’t really know what to expect, but it should have been an easy guess to say it would be a fixed blade with knick knacks.

There’s plenty of function in the knife and the sheath to make it worth the low price, but it’s worth it purely for the twenty minutes you get to spend flipping it around and poking at different doodads to see if they’re another tool hidden in the construction.

A good reviewer would do a thorough breakdown of everything Victorinox tucked into this thing, but we are ever aware that you can dig around the rest of the internet to find something like that, and we don’t want to be the ones to spoil the fun of finding out on your own.

The Honorable Mention – Bond’s Creek Badger

The Bonds Creek Badger is a great fixed blade EDC.
Knife Type:Hunting, camping, or whatever
What’s It Made Of:Nitro V / Richlite
How Big’s the Blade:2.5”
Designer:Dave Pratt

The Bonds Creek Badger wasn’t released last year as far as we can remember, but last year is when we found out about it, and we liked it a lot, and now it’s on this list, and you’re hearing about it.

Maybe this is where we admit that we like little fixed blades, and as far as little fixed blades go, the Badger is a pretty tidy design that fits just about anywhere easily enough, and a blade size that… some might call cute. If they were the kind of person to say something like that, even in the face of what some might categorize as an overreactive backlash at using a word like that because of the supposed connotations and varied implications that it carries. Maybe it’s none of your business that we’d like to carry a cute knife and call it as such.

‘Til Next Time

Well we’re tired. God knows there were other knives from 2023 that deserved some attention, but we test the limits of our attention span to make something this long. Plus we have to turn around and poke at knives for next year’s list after we find our ways to sitting up straight without the room spinning us around, so we have a lot on our plate.

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Avatar of Andrew North

Andrew has been a commercial writer for about a decade. He escaped from a life of writing mundane product descriptions by running away to the woods and teaching himself how to bake and chop stuff up in the kitchen. He has a background in landscaping, Filipino martial arts, and drinking whiskey.

6 thoughts on “3rd Annual Drunken Hillbilly Knife Awards”

  1. Your email showed up in my spam folder. Never heard of you before, but partial to a knife or three.
    I enjoyed reading your commentary and reviews. Funny and smart.
    So many of the knife sites are so serious and wanky…writers clearly struggling to freshly describe what ultimately is a bit of steel, sharpened and with a handle. Not exactly a new concept. Titanium pocket clip screws aren’t really life changing innovations.
    You managed to make it humorous & readable and your titles are great.

    • We won’t go on about other knife reviewers, but “you managed” and “showed up in my spam folder” are both feedback staples toward us.
      We like the part where we’re funny and smart, though. Gonna ride high on that one for a while.
      Thanks for reading.


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