Highlights from Atlanta’s Sharpest Event
The biggest knife show in America probably saw its biggest turnout post-Covid this year, which meant it was a hip-to-crotch affair with all of us grubby knife nerds clambering over each other to rub our dirty hand oils on the newest Magnacut blade.
As we are not very good at clambering over people, this won’t be a complete-coverage situation. God knows there are plenty of other news sources out there bouncing around. And Blade Magazine should have pictures of all the award-winning knives up soon, taken by Jocelyn Frasier.
Demos and Events
This year had a lot of firsts: Michael was back after many years in absence, Bob Kramer showed up and taught two classes, and Larrin and Devin Thomas ran a class together about the performance of Damascus steel. We found our way into just a couple of small-room events, though.
Michael Walker Q&A
Michael Walker made his first appearance in 10 years at Blade Show. We jingled into the Q&A to do a little photo and video work while he sat with Henry Wu of Blade Magazine and Doug Flagg from CRKT, and talked about his early and current years designing locks and coming up with different designs.
Walker was a lot of fun to listen to, even though a lot of the talk went over our heads. Our main take away can probably be summarized in Walker’s answer to a question about being happy with his work: “I love the idea part of it, but after that it’s just work. Every time I finish a knife I think ‘I’m never doing that again’, but then I come up with another idea.”
We’re hoping to see more of him at future Shows, and it sounded like he hopes to be at them.
Joe Flowers’ Big Knife Problem
The other side of the knife design spectrum got some lively representation in Joe Flowers’ Big Knife Bushcraft and Safety demo, which, again, can be fairly accurately summarized with two quotes from Flowers, delivered shortly after laying out his woven backpack full of giant cutlery: “give it time; we’re all full of blood”, followed quickly by “Hi, I’m Joe. I have a machete problem”.
His demo covered a wide range of topics in rapid succession (because Flowers is nothing of not a man of doing many things in rapid succession). But he managed to give satisfying answers to questions like “why did knives get big, and why did they get small?” and “when does a machete become a sword, and when does a sword become an agricultural tool?” in between demonstrations on how to carve, feather, and throw spark in various different ways with variously large knives. He also passed around his first aid kit so people could see what fun new things are out there for keeping their blood inside them.
The BladeSports Global Competition
If you’ve never been to one of the chopping competitions organized by BladeSports International, you are missing out on what should be the highlight of Blade Show for everyone. Winners of the national competition showed up at Blade Show to bust boards and cut water bottles.
Awards and Hall of Fame Inductees
2023 was also a particularly big year for the cutlery Hall of Fame. Bob Terzuola, Devin Thomas, and Steve Schwarzer were all inducted this year. Which was a confusing event for idiots like us, because we had assumed they were already in there this whole time.
As far as the Blade Show awards went, WE Knives was heard more than once (as usual) while the Giantmouse GMX took Overall Knife of the Year. Knife News put together a nice clean list of all the winners, and, again, be sure to check up on Blade Magazine for the official pictures.
New and Old Knives
We’ll have to be careful here, because we kept eavesdropping on a lot of things we weren’t supposed to hear, and we weren’t very thorough about picking up the new stuff at every table. But there was some cool stuff, and we’re excited about the coming year.
CRKT’s Michael Walker Knives Are Legit
In case you haven’t already heard, Michael Walker is collaborating with CRKT again. They’re making three different knives based off two of his designs. Two of them feature Damasteel blades. The Monument is a flipper with titanium scales, and the Pursue is a thumbstud opener based off one of Walker’s Zipper blades and has Fat Carbon scales.
They looked nice when we kicked up the news story about them leading up to blade show, and they definitely have the smooth action and luxurious grip to match. These are limited and we’re not sure if there are more production plans for these designs later on, so be sure to snatch one up soon.
Demko and Magnacut are Getting Along
Of course Demko went big in their own special way. The Megalo-lock pretty well encapsulated the kind of over-sized, shameless fun we loved from the early Cold Steel days. The Armiger fixed blade was an unexpected drop, though. It’s a dagger-style fixed blade with a grippy handle and set in the same kind of edge-friendly, break-apart sheath that Demko designed for the FreeReign. This is still very much an early prototype, though. We were told to expect a 2024 release.
We picked up a new OD Green FreeReign in Magnacut from the Demko booth, mostly because we lent our old FreeReign to someone and they beat it to hell. We’re excited to see how much abuse this thing can take, but in the meantime, we love the new look.
RoseCraft Went Big
We kind of knew about RoseCraft Blades last year, but they sure as hell made sure everyone knew about them this year. They’re logo was plastered around half the hotel, and they dropped into the show with a whole new spread of knives fresh from the factory (some of them had just been loaded up right before the show). They also won the Best Imported Knife Award with the Clinch River Swayback.
Of course, we walked away with the knife that had a bottle opener attached. You’ll no doubt be seeing that show up in some of our more specialized articles soon.
Knafs Almost Landing
Not exactly new knife news, but Ben Peterson rolled up with his Lander 2: a larger version of his Lander design that came out in 2021. That’s not available yet, though, so we just got his new bit driver tool. The Lander 2 is still in crowdfunding stages, though, so you should check their Kickstarter out.
Aritsan Knives are Cool, but We Came for Mike Snody
Unfortunately Mike Snody couldn’t make it, but we still picked up the Xcellerator, because we’ve been waiting to get our hands on it since Shot Show. Artisan did have some other cool new stuff at the booth including some Dirk Pinkerton designs and a few hundred more variations of the Pyrite. There was also a piece called the Boa from a new designer, Jonathan Shaw of Triple Stripe Knives, that looked pretty interesting
But we were on a mission. We managed to get a shot of the all-titanium frame lock Blade-Show exclusive version of the Xcellerator because we sneaked it out of someone’s pocket. But they were out of that by the time we got to the booth. Anyway, we’re looking forward to taking this oversized pocket candy camping.
Bond’s Creek Knives
We discovered a new knife company on the scene this year. Bond’s Creek Knives, headed by Dave Pratt, have been around at a custom level for a while, but they just became a little more widely available this year. Of course, as soon as we saw that he made an EDC-sized fixed blade with a clip that could be worn horizontally or inside the waistband we had to pick up at least one of his knives.
We walked away with his Predator and Badger models. You should be able to pick up your own from Knife Center sometime later this year.
Spartan Blades Was Shiny and Practical
We had already been playing around with the Sprartan Harsey Nessmuk before we went to Blade Show, so imagine the whiplash shock we had when we saw the knife Spartan won an award for.
The Limited Edition Spartan Harsey folder was a genuine work of art. They had a few different versions of this knife at Shot Show 2023, but none of them were as intricate as this one.
Work Tuff is Still Hitting Hard
The Joe Flowers Ninjuko was there in bulk, of course. That’s an absolutely solid little blade that belongs in everyone’s EDC or camping rig.
There was not shortage of big blades on their table, though. The Kitsune L, designed by Jeremy Boulder, is a big update of the Kitsune, upgraded to Bohler N690 steel; the Famine, designed by Michenzie, is a big Norse-inspired blade (Hel had a knife called “Famine”) with a high grinded harpoon-ish style blade; and the Silvannus by Isaac Thill is a drop point point with an extreme recurve. You can take a closer look at their new stuff on the Work Tuff site, but you should be able to get this whole line up by mid summer this year.
TOPS Knives Has a Rat in the Works
A River Rat, specifically. They had a prototype of the new Julio Diez design on the table. It’s a super small fixed blade that will ride snug on your side as you hike and swim up some kind of heinous wilderness. No word on when that’s coming out, so we’ll be twiddling our thumbs pretty hard in the meantime.
ESEE Going Small
They didn’t have much in the way of new stuff, which isn’t that unusual for ESEE. They take their time with new designs, and we’re still happily running around the the Pinhoti friction folder. We did pester them a little about the possibility of a fixed-blade Pinhoti down the road, and basically left with the impression that they want to, but they’re probably too busy saving people in the woods to pump out another new design any time soon.
They did bring the Ashley Game knife in some shiny new 3D G10 scales. If you’ve never handled this particular innovation on an ESEE knife, you’re missing out. It’s a whole different gripping experience, so it was great to see this handle show up on their smallest fixed blade design.
White River Knives Got Colorful
White River didn’t show up with anything that was technically new (they don’t really need to, with their line up), but they did put together a broad range of unique one offs just for Blade Show with some brightly colored handles and different Cerakote blade coatings. It looked like there were a few of those left on Sunday so it’s possible you’ll see them show up on their site or be able snatch them up at Blade Show West later this year.
Meanwhile, they’re still working hard as an OEM for a lot of other companies. In fact, you’ll see their name show up again in the Cold Steel section.
Ocaso Continues in a Gentlemanly Way
Ocaso has been making a lot of polite noise this year with a mic-dropping line up of big-name-designed knives, not least of which is Andrew Demko with the Solstice, and, more recently, the Strategy by Mike Wallace (expect an NBK review of that here in the coming week).
The newest design at the table was the Seaton (designed by David Seaton). It’s a sleek folder with AUS-10A steel, a steel handle, and no pocket clip. There will be two sizes available, a 2.75″ blade and a 2.35″ blade, sometime later this year.
Vosteed is Working on a Compression Lock and a Fixed Blade
We’ve come to count heavily on Vosteed for interesting new releases, and while they didn’t show up with the kind of uniqueness we expected, it was the kind of uniqueness we didn’t know we needed.
Probably the most interesting is the compression lock folder in the works. We didn’t really have the space to get good shots of how it works, but it felt great to us, and the prototype knife was a solid piece of comfortable, fidgety engineering.
The first thing our eyes were drown to, though, was the small fixed blade EDC. It’s still far from full production, but we definitely liked the bones he had on the table. It felt firm and light in the hand with a nice full-hand grip. They’re still going back and forth on the steel (Dr. EDC seemed to be leaning toward Nitro-V when we talked), and they haven’t designed a sheath yet (but it sounds like it’ll probably be Kydex), but we do expect it to be one of our favorite releases this year (or possibly next year) based on the prototype.
Cold Steel is Shifting American… a Little Bit
They’re out with a new fixed blade called the Republic. They have White River Knife and Tool making this thing in S35VN steel with Micarta scales and it looks like it has all the makings of a solid survival and hunting knife.
They’re also working on a Blade Sports-certified competition chopper for Jimi Slash with CPM 3V steel and an 8 mm thick spine. These choppers are going to be limited and numbered so keep an eye out. But if you don’t get your hands on one you should be able to see it in action when Jimi competes with it at chopping events next year.
Boker’s booth was pretty much always packed, and we don’t have the kind of street cred that parts crowds, so we couldn’t get in there to take any decent pictures, but their new line up was great. They have three new Burnley designs coming up in the Boker Plus line: a new Kwaiken-style knife, a small assisted open, and a budget-friendly crossbar lock folder. Scholars of Norse mythology or Middle Earth might also get their ears and eyes perked by the Andhrimnir Mini, an EDC-sized fixed blade with an appropriately stout wharnliffe blade in D2 steel.
There’s also an especially neat looking friction folder coming out of Solingen along with a trapper-style flipper with a Magnacut blade, and a budget version of the AK1.
We’re still waiting for the Terrachete to come out, and the announcement that they’ll release it with an orange handle didn’t exactly satisfy us, but we know these things can take time.
Meanwhile, the Terrasaur is coming out in Sandvik 14C28N steel. There’s also another knife with the Terrsaur handle called the Trog, which is essentially the Terrasaur with a “cave dweller” finish. It’s hammered with a black blade and scandi grind, and it looks cool. You should check it out.
One stand out blade was the Carlotis. A heavily curved parang-style machete named after one of the in-house workers at Conder who had helped with a lot of Flowers’ designs, and recently passed away from Covid. It’s a lot thinner and lighter than a lot of machetes, and has a really nice distal taper, so it should be pretty damn slicey.
Besides the stuff he has coming out with Work Tuff and TOPS Knives, Diez has a little fixed blade in the works at his own table. It’s kind of a blocky thing with a 2-ish inch blade that Diez was talking about as a neck-knife EDC. It’s not available yet, and he says he’s still workshopping the design and sheath a little, but that should be showing on his site in the near future.
There wasn’t exactly a new model at the Shed Knives booth, but this whole company is pretty new. It was founded by Jack Billings along with long-time friend Sam Malinky. They’ve been making knives together since middle school, and now they’re hitting Blade Show like rock stars with a big booth and a full table that was pretty much always crowded with curious customers.
We’ve been hanging onto their US Tanto design for review for a while, but we wanted to get a sense of their other work, and were somehow not surprised to find they keep strictly to a simple, overbuilt aesthetic that feels a lot more ergonomic than it looks.
These guys are definitely worth keeping an eye on; they’re doing fun stuff and moving fast.
They had a snappy new folder at the booth called the Mysto. It’s a lightweight, mid-sized knife with CPM-Magnacut steel, a crossbar lock, and titanium scales that just happened to have an accent color strangely similar to a certain chicken.
The Mysto had a great feel, and absolutely smooth action, but it was limited at the show. Hogue does have more plans for this design down the road. So keep an eye out for different production models later this year.
That’s It. That’s All We Got
We didn’t see or get anywhere close to as much as we were hoping, but it was good to see that show so crowded and lively. Blade Show is going strong, and there are a lot of knife makers finding their groove.
We’ll leave you with one more reminder to check up on Blade Magazine for news about the award winners, and the Blade Show site to stay up on future events (Blade Show West is just a couple months away). Or you can just keep up with our News & Events page where we’ll remind you about all of this again anyway.