Boker Knife Brands Company Breakdown – The Differences Between, Solingen, Plus, Arbolito and Magnum Explained
- Boker Manufaktur Solingen | $140 – $600 Price Range
- Boker Arbolito | $100 – $250 Price Range
- Boker Plus | $20 – $250 Price Range
- Boker Magnum | $15 – $120 Price Range
There’s a little confusion about where specifically Boker actually manufactures their knives. Being famously German-made, it was heartbreaking for a lot of us when they decided to start manufacturing in China and Taiwan. Even with those factories running, though, Boker still releases knives with the approved “made in Germany” Treebrand stamp, or “made in USA”, or even “Made in Argentina”. It’s doubly confusing that Boker has grown about a dozen names in the last decade which all seem to do something slightly different, so we’re left wondering if all these companies are still technically Boker and, more importantly, where they’re making their blades.
For now, the only companies you need to worry about are Boker Solingen, Boker Arbolito, Boker Plus, and Boker Magnum. Here’s the rundown on these four knife-making Boker branches as things stand now.
Amateur Historian Disclaimer
I had to do a fair bit of research to write this guide with any kind of accuracy, but I am not at all an expert on Boker’s history. For some reason the contents of this article have caused people to believe that I’m some kind of Antique Roadshow expert who can tell them whether their grandfather’s rusty trapper knife with “I love you, Stinky” etched into the handle is worth a thousand dollars. I am not that guy (although I have learned more than I expected in trying to answer people’s questions about their old Bokers).
The guys you’re looking for are Neal Punchard and Ricky Ray, the writers of the The Boker book. This is just a quick reference internet guide I wrote to keep Boker’s current structure straight in my own head.
Boker Manufaktur Solingen
- Factory: Solingen, Germany
- Typical Price Range: $140 – $600
- Specialization: EDC, Outdoor, and Collectible
- Quality: High
- Tree Branded: Yes
They call this their premium brand. These are knives made in the shiny, historically blade-happy city of Solingen where the company started, and they do not let their products leave the city unless it’s going to maintain the city’s sharp reputation. You can expect these knives to be solid, smooth, and refined to the smallest, perfect detail with that terrifying, stereotypical German precision. They will also be pretty expensive. Folders probably average around $300, and their fixed-blade at about $450 (their multi-tools are surprisingly reasonable, though). This brand doesn’t have an exact specialization so you can find a good variety of knife styles with them. If you’re looking for the best Boker folder money can buy, though, you’ll get it through Solingen. For the best fixed-blade, you’ll need to look to this next brand.
- Factory: Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Typical Price Range: $100 – $250
- Specialization: Bushcraft and Kitchen
- Quality: High
- Tree branded: Yes
If you’re a hunter, or any kind of avid outdoorsman, Boker Arbolito stuff will make you drool. Quality control for these knives is probably on par, if not better than, the German-made knives. The main difference is usually the materials and style. They source a lot of local South American wood for the handles with some bone and Micarta thrown in every now and then, so everything out of this factory looks amazing.
They’re currently on a strange trajectory, as they’ve recently released a spring assisted folder. Obviously their factory in Argentina is only equipped to make fixed-blade knives so they have to outsource the folders designs to China. I suspect any other folding designs from the Arbolito branch will also be made there. Aside from that, though, Boker Arbolito is is mostly wooden, fixed-blade goodness. Great if you’re the woodsy type with a little money to throw around, but if you just need a handy, low-cost EDC, the Arbolito branch is definitely not the place to look.
- Factory: Asia, USA, Europe
- Typical Price range: $20 – $250
- Specialization: EDC and Tactical
- Quality: Medium
- Tree branded: No
Plus is Boker’s mid-range knife branch, and it is a great place to start for someone new to Boker knives. These are usually made as a compromise between price and quality. I would put the general quality somewhere near Kershaw. One of the pulls of this branch for Americans is that they make some in the US, but that’s only true in a technical sense. Boker actually has a contract with Fox Cutlery to make a few models in the States under their Fox Knives name. Fox makes some pretty good blades, so quality control on these designs is pretty decent. Just keep in mind that when you hear stuff about Boker manufacturing in America, they’re actually talking about Fox Knives.
The Boker USA name is a lot more about pandering to western tastes than actually manufacturing in America. Many of these designs are made with the help of military and police types so you’ll find some good tactical knives, training knives, and multi-tools in the mix. It’s also where you’ll start seeing more plain folders. A lot of these knives look more common in that they don’t usually make your eyes pop to look at them. They have a lot of good, practical designs, though, and they’re still made with great material.
- Factory: Taiwan and China
- Typical Price range: $15 – $120
- Specialization: Low-cost EDC, varied.
- Quality: Low to medium
- Tree branded: No
Magnum is Boker’s playground. You’ll find the largest variety of designs under this name, along with some of the biggest knives period. The quality control isn’t nearly as strict on this group, but when you see someone making knives with handles shaped like guns and bullets, you have to figure that high quality isn’t the primary concern.
This is Boker’s way of experimenting with designs and creating a stock for people who don’t have $250 dollars lying around for a new EDC knife. They do make some of the knives with the same stuff you’ll find in the German-made knives but mostly you’ll be getting softer, somewhat more erosion-prone steel. You might also notice a difference in things like the heat treatment of the steel, pivot screws, grind, etc. Cynics might say this is just Boker’s attempt at getting away with cheapening their manufacturing process and riding profits on the wave of the old Boker reputation. Good-hearted fans will see it as a genuine gesture towards people who struggle with money but still love Boker.
You might notice the phrase “Advance Pro” in the names of some Boker Magnum selections now. These appear to be made in the same factory in China, but tend to have nicer materials like 440C steel. Usually they aren’t much more expensive than other Magnum knives, but it seems like Boker has some interesting release plans in this category.
It’s also worth checking out the limited release Collections they release. Every year since the 90’s Boker has teamed up with a big name designer to draw up a knife for a run of about 2,000. These designs tend to be much higher quality with much nicer materials. For example the Pohl knife from 2020 has D2 steel (which is a first in the Magnum branch) and a leather sheath. These always come in a nice display box and generally lean toward the $100 mark.
If you are wondering which Boker Magnum knives are worth owning, check out our post on The 14 Best Boker Magnum Folding and Fixed Blade Knives.
A Note on the Boker Brand Name
This web of branding and factory building is the result of Boker’s ongoing mad dash across the world to expand the scope of their brand and reach as many different kinds of knife users as they can. Instead of trying to sell every kind of knife they can think up under one factory and company name, Boker has opted for the colonization strategy and started up specialized branches of itself around the world.
Part of the confusion is that they don’t just make knives. The umbrella name Boker Manufaktur puts its name on all kinds of things from shaving accessories to jackets. We automatically associate Boker with knives, but they were originally a tool-making company. They used to make all kinds of things, including surgery equipment. They just ended up making a lot of knives by demand and eventually ran with the idea.
The danger of having their fingers in so many different products is that it can mislead the knife enthusiast customers. When we see the name Boker on something that isn’t a knife we get confused and angry and start throwing things or buying something stupid like a Spyderco. Boker decided to solve that complication in true German fashion: they added more parts. That’s why you’ll see “Boker Manufaktur” and “Boker Manufaktur Solingen” as two different brands: the Solingen brand is the one that makes the knives. And now there are three more Boker brands that make slightly different knives and that’s not even addressing all the other offshoots that don’t have Boker in the name. But we won’t worry about that right now.