The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

‘Most Innovative American-Made Design of the Year’ Winners at Blade Show Since 1990

Every year, the finest knifemakers and manufacturers descend on Atlanta to reveal new knife models, talk shop, and receive awards at the Blade Show.

I’ve already delved deep into the past and laid out the “Overall Knife of the Year” winners since Blade Show first started in 1982.

In advance of the latest Blade Show, I thought I’d take a look back at a different category: the Most Innovative American-Made Design of the Year. This category (and its counterpart Most Innovative Imported Design of the Year) didn’t start until 1990, so that’s where we’ll pick up.

It gives a good insight into the thinking of the judges who pick the knives and whether any of these stood to the test of time (hint: many did!).

1990: Becker Knife & Tool Tactul II

The image features early Tactuls or possibly Divtuls — not sure which models or generations.

We’re starting with the very first entry in 1990: the Becker Knife & Tool Tactul II. These earlier knives are hard to nail down because they have evolved or gone the way of the dodo. You might not be familiar with the Tactul II, but you might know the modern day version better known as the KA-BAR Becker Tac Tool.

Before teaming up with KA-BAR, Ethan Becker had his own company who put out knives made by other manufacturers. The original description from Blade Magazine on the win says the knife is a “heavy duty diving/utility knife that is a saw, hammer/nail puller, screwdriver, chisel, pry bar and knife all in one.”

1991: Gerber Gator Serrated

A more recent version of the Gator.

The Gerber Gator feels like old news now but it was once one of the most innovative when first released. The overall design with the gator-like textured handle was superb. In fact, this — like the Tac Tool — remains a very good knife that’s still around.

1992: Equip USA El Diente

Image provided by Blade Magazine

I wasn’t able to find any information about the Equip USA El Diente, so I reached out to Blade Magazine (which sponsors the Blade Show) to find out more.

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15 Wood Handle EDC Knives

Article originally published in February 2018 before being updated to include different knives.

Picking the handle material that appeals to you the most depends on a ton of factors, including looks, purpose, durability, and more.

If you want something that’s durable and won’t warp, opt for a synthetic material. If you want something that’s probably the first handle material ever, go for bone. If you want something sleek and strong, pick a knife with a metal handle.

But, if you want a knife that’s downright good-looking and feels good in the handle, it’s hard to beat good old-fashioned wood.

Pros and Cons of Wood

I won’t go until detail about the pros and cons of wood because you probably already know, so I’ll boil it down. The Good: Comfortable, beautiful, varied, durable, potentially inexpensive. The Bad: Unstable at times, prone to warpage, requires more maintenance, potentially expensive.

The fact that there are so many types of wood out there means you can get the look and durability you desire while maintaining that natural looks.

There are some stabilized laminates on par with plywood in this list, including Dymondwood. If that doesn’t jibe with you, then I apologize in advance.

Without further ado, here’s a look at 15 excellent folding knives with wooden handles.

1. Boker Magnum Backpacker (Soft Wood)

I wanted to start off with the Backpacker. This is a really handsome knife with a simple yet solid construction. It has a 3.4-inch drop point blade made from 440 stainless steel. It opens via a thumb stud and locks with a liner.

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10 Best Cold Steel Knives

This article was originally published in July 2018 before being updated with newer models.

We’re continuing our run-through of the best knives from each brand. Narrowing down the 10 best currently in production is no easy task, but I did the best I could using personal experience, consensus around the internet, reviews, and more.

Here are the 10 best Cold Steel knives.

Cold Steel Recon 1

Let’s start with a gimme: the Cold Steel Recon 1. The Recon series helped usher in a new era for Cold Steel, one that is currently dominated by tough knives with a tactical bent that use Andrew Demko’s famous Tri-Ad locking mechanism.

The Recon 1 uses high quality material with a 4-inch blade made from S35VN steel (recently changed from CTS-XHP). The handle is a grippy G-10.

One of the great things about this flagship model is that it comes in tons of sizes and blade shapes, so you can get exactly what you want.

Cold Steel Ti-Lite

Reminiscent of the switchblades of the 1950s, the Cold Steel Ti-Lite is a thin yet lengthy folder with an eye on self-defense. There’s a 4-inch or 6-inch version — both come in either budget or premium builds.

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Kershaw Natrix – Badass Knife of the Week

In 2011, Kershaw and Zero Tolerance created a highly ambitious knife that pushed the envelope — a knife called the ZT 0777. Difficulties in production and issues with availability in materials caused the knife to see a very limited run.

Six years later, Kershaw created a budget-friendly iteration of the original that’s smaller and more economical while retaining many of the design features that captured the attention of the knife community.

That knife is the Badass Knife of the Week.

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The Kershaw Natrix (model number 7007) is the company’s attempt to reclaim the design from others who created homages to the original ZT design.

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Benchmade Infidel – Badass Knife of the Week

If you could only choose one OTF automatic knife for your collection, reach for the Benchmade Infidel.

The Infidel is the flagship out-the-front model from the iconic butterfly brand and has been a mainstay of its lineup for years.

Designed by the great McHenry & Williams — who also created the AXIS lock — the Infidel is an entirely different beast than other Benchmade offerings. The dagger-style blade stretches 3.91 inches with a blood groove down the center. While the D2 steel of the blade is not considered a modern supersteel, D2 remains one of the most popular choices for durable and long-lasting edges.

But the real allure of this knife is the deployment method. With the push of the thumb slider, the blade engages lightning fast. Unlike some of the more budget OTF options, this knife also disengages by pulling the thumb slider back down. The hypnotic action of opening and closing this knife will keep you occupied for countless hours.

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Victorinox Rambler – Badass Knife of the Week

While it’s the biggest and baddest knives that get all the attention, it’s the small, industrious knives that do most of the work.

The Victorinox Rambler is the perfect example. This small Swiss Army Knife is the same size as the world famous Classic SD model when closed. However, it packs 10 different functions into the diminutive design.

Because knife is in the name, we thought we’d start there. It has a small pen blade that gets the job done for small tasks and can become razor sharp easily. Another fan favorite is the scissors, which can be used for everything from trimming stray hairs to getting off plastic tags.

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Spyderco Paramilitary 2 S110V – Badass Knife of the Week

Even after all these years, when you ask for recommendations on the best everyday carry knife, the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 will undoubtedly be the top choice. The PM2 has been a previous Badass Knife of the Week, but in honor of the week we celebrate the country’s independence, we decided to run back the PM2 with the upgraded S110V blade and Blurple handles.

The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 remains the go-to choice for best EDC knife with its nearly flawless design. So what could be better than a PM2? A PM2 with upgraded steel and sexy handle scales.

This version of the popular folder features all the same assets we’ve come to love and respect in the original. The 3.42-inch blade has an excellent slicing belly and piercing point. It opens with the iconic RoundHole and locks into place with the Compression Lock. Not only is the lock reliable and safer than something like a liner lock but it makes opening and closing the blade almost hypnotic.

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10 Folding Knives Designed For Self-Defense

self-defense-folding-knife

This post was originally published October 14, 2016, and updated June 28, 2019, to include more current knives.

Using a knife for self-defense is a bad idea.

Let me get that out of the way. By writing this post, I’m getting into pretty controversial territory. Many people, both trained and amateurs, insist that a knife should never be used for self-defense unless you’ve undergone intensive training. Even so, you might want to avoid whipping out a knife at all costs.

A knife is messy and requires you to get extremely close to your aggressor, making you more vulnerable and giving them the ability to take your weapon away. Knife defense can be fatal to your aggressor, leaving you with potential jail time and a traumatic experience haunting your dreams.

On top of that, folding knives often don’t make the best self-defense tools anyway because they are more susceptible to breakage and require more focus for engagement.

But all this doesn’t stop companies from making self-defense knives.

Any knife can conceivably be used for self-defense. As long as it’s sharp, you can do some damage, but these are created with one purpose in mind. Sure, you could possibly use a few of these to open packages, but these not something you’d carry for everyday use.

So with all the disclaimers out of the way and with the knowledge that self-defense knives may not always be the best idea unless you’re in a dire situation with your life on the line (of if you’re being attacked by a rabid dog), here are 10 folding knives designed specifically for self-defense.

1. Cold Steel Ti-Lite 6″

cold-steel-ti-lite

Let’s kick things off with the first of many Cold Steel knives on this list: the Cold Steel Ti-Lite. The Ti-Lite is a throwback design that’s meant to look like the switchblades prevalent in the 1950s. The knife has a long spear-point blade profile that’s optimal for piercing.

It comes in a few sizes, but the one we’re talking about here is the Ti-Lite 6, which features a massive 6-inch blade. At this size, the knife is not good for much else except for self-defense. It might even be too big.

However, the Ti-Lite has a big feature seen in many of these knives—the ability to open in one swift movement out of the pocket. The quillon can snag the pocket as it’s being pulled out before the blade is locked in place. This knife can be out and ready to intimidate in a moment’s notice.

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2. Fox Folding Karambit

Next up on this list is the Fox Folding Karambit.

The truth is that all karambits can be on this list since karambits are ancient defensive tools. They aren’t the most useful tools for things other than self-defense. However, this one has a few tricks up its sleeve.

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Boker Plus Rhino – Badass Knife of the Week

Danish knifemaker Jesper Voxnaes has risen to the top of the standings as one of the best knife designers around, creating knives that are functional and understated.

The Boker Plus Rhino is yet another example of Voxnaes’ eye for comfort and purpose in outdoor-focused knives.

The Rhino is on the smaller size of a hunting and outdoor knife with a 3-inch blade, but the knife packs a lot of punch. The 440C stainless steel blade has a curved cutting edge and upswept point for multiple applications, such as skinning game and setting up campsites.

Contoured G-10 handle scales cover the tang of the fixed blade and allow enough purchase for three to four fingers, depending on your hand size. The texturing on the G-10 is enough to keep the knife in hand when using while the added lanyard provides extra length for stability.

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CRKT Foresight – Badass Knife of the Week

We can’t always predict what’s going to happen in the future. For those times, reach for the CRKT Foresight.

The Foresight is billed as an urban tactical folder with a powerful design ready to tackle all the unpredictability headed your way.

Its blade is just over 3.5 inches of black titanium nitride coated AUS 8 stainless steel, an alloy that’s easy to maintain. The blade comes to life with the flip of a tab and the IKBS ball-bearing opening system.

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Gerber Propel – Badass Knife of the Week

Get ready to propel yourself into a whole new world of usefulness and dependability with the Gerber Propel.

The Propel is one of Gerber’s American-made automatic knives that’s durable, deploys quickly and easily, and looks good in the process.

A 3.5-inch 420HC stainless steel blade features a tanto profile with a strong point and a swedge to facilitate its piercing capabilities. The partially serrated edge adds an extra layer of functionality as it can tear through rope and other fibrous material.

Of course, the real highlight of the Propel is the spring-loaded mechanism that fires the blade open with the push of the button. To close the knife, you simply have to press the button lock and push it shut. A safety switch prevents accidental opening in the pocket.

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Kershaw Clash – Badass Knife of the Week

There’s never been a better time to be in the market for a cheap but reliable folding knife for everyday carry. The latest Badass Knife of the Week is yet another entry into the “best for the money” category.

The Kershaw Clash is a solid and dependable assisted-opening knife with curves in all the right places.

Its 3.1-inch blade is made from functional 8Cr13MoV stainless steel with a bead-blasted finish. It’s also available in a black finish. The blade springs to life with the push of a flipper tab, which is aided by the SpeedSafe assisted-opening mechanism that will never let you down.

The edge of the knife has a big belly and a slight recurve to take down anything in its path. This version of the Clash features a two-step serration pattern on the lower half of the edge for more fibrous materials that need cutting.

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KA-BAR USN Mark I – Badass Knife of the Week

For the week of Memorial Day, we thought it would only be apt to pick a badass knife with a military history. There are so many to choose from, but the KA-BAR version of an old and iconic fixed blade was too hard to ignore.

The KA-BAR USN Mark 1 is an updated version of the fixed blade made for the U.S. Navy during World War II. The original Mark 1 had a design similar to existing hunting knives at the time and varied in specifications depending on the manufacturer making the knife for military use.

This version of the remake takes some liberties with the design to make the classic military knife more versatile and more durable. The 5.125-inch blade is made of 1095 Cro-Van carbon steel with a black coating to help increase its resistance to corrosion and damper the steel’s reflective properties.

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Ontario Utilitac II – Badass Knife of the Week

 

If you ask anyone what the best budget knife for the common man is, they will almost always point to the Ontario Knife Company RAT models. But our latest Badass Knife of the Week shows that Ontario has yet another contender for best budget folder.

The Ontario Utilitac II is an impressive folder that excels at its purpose as an inexpensive work knife you don’t have to think twice about using.

Designed by Joe Pardue — son of Mel Pardue of Griptilian fame and father of knife designer Robert Carter — the Utilitac II represents form and function over everything else.

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SOG Spec Elite II Auto – Badass Knife of the Week

Automatic knives are becoming more and more mainstream as laws prohibiting the carry of switchblades fall around the country. Now we all get to reap the benefits of a good automatic knife like the SOG Spec Elite II Auto.

The Spec Elite series from SOG was designed for military and law enforcement personnel as a back-up and versatile tool. Its simple design and functional construction show the intent of the knife.

The 4-inch drop point blade features a long slicey edge and is coated with hardcased black TiNi (titanium nitride). Not only does the coating help damper the reflective qualities of the steel but it also adds an extra layer of durability to the AUS-8 stainless steel.

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Smith & Wesson SWHRT3 Boot Knife – Badass Knife of the Week

The boot knife is an underrated type of fixed blade. Not only are they versatile and lightweight but they can also be carried in multiple ways.

Our latest Badass Knife of the Week is the perfect example. The Smith & Wesson SWHRT3 H.R.T. Boot Knife is a deceptively robust boot knife that you can conceal on your person without much effort.

The full tang blade stretches 3.5 inches long and features dual-sharpened edges that culminate in a piercing spear point. Its steel is functional 7Cr17 high carbon stainless steel, an alloy that’s resistant to corrosion and easy to maintain.

Using a black TPR (thermoplastic rubber) handle, the boot knife is comfortable to hold and stays in the hand when wielding.

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Spyderco Sage 5 – Badass Knife of the Week

 

The latest Badass Knife of the Week is the culmination of the iconic brand’s efforts to make the best all-around everyday carry knife.

Let’s back up a bit first. When Spyderco first came out with the Sage series of folding knives, they wanted to offer the same EDC-friendly design with different types of locking mechanisms to allow the user to choose which one they like best.

On all the knives in the series, the design is essentially the same. The leaf-shaped blade is 3 inches long, which makes it legal in most places and small enough for easy carry. S30V steel is often overlooked as other, newer steels have entered the market, but the alloy remains one of the best premium steels around.

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Cold Steel Master Hunter – Badass Knife of the Week

 

Can you really be a master hunter without a knife? Probably but a knife can be an essential tool to hunters.

The Cold Steel Master Hunter proves that carrying a well-designed and well-built hunting knife makes your life just so much easier.

The 4.5-inch drop point blade has a strong point. Although hunting knives are commonly clip point blades, the drop point profile offers its own advantages like excellent balance and functionality. This version of the Master Hunter has VG-1 San Mai III steel — laminated steel with a VG-1 core.

The edge is razor sharp and features a sharpening choil to get it back to shaving sharp easily after putting it through the ringer. The spine is 3/6-inch thick to help strengthen the blade.

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Knife Rights Gives Updates on WA & TX Knife Bills

Knife Rights is hot off the heels of helping get a switchblade ban repeal and knife law preemption bill passed in the state of Montana.

In fact, the knife advocacy organization held a signing ceremony for the bill, which was attended by Ethan Becker, Governor Steve  Bullock, activist Joe Paschal, ACLU of Montana Director of Advocacy and Policy S.K. Rossi, and more.

Even cooler, all involved received an inscribed Pro-Tech SBR (Short Bladed Rockeye) automatic knife.

Texas Knife Bill Moves Forward

While all of this was happening, a bill in Texas that would remove location-based restrictions on knives in the state moved forward after it was passed out of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee. This bill — along with its companion House bill — are still in the early stages of passage, so it would still need to pass a committee and both chambers.

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What is Lock Stick and How Do You Fix It?

 

It’s happened to almost all of us.

You get a brand new framelock folding knife in the mail and eagerly engage it. Everything seems fine as the knife opens smoothly and effortlessly. But, just as you’re closing it, you notice the framelock is extremely difficult to disengage.

This is known colloquially as lock stick.

Unfortunately, it’s an all-too-common issue in framelocks and even liner locks. The good thing is that there are several ways to go about fixing it.

What Causes Lock Stick?

In the most basic terms, lock stick is when a framelock or liner lock feels sticky when trying to unlock it. This makes it more difficult and sometimes even painful to disengage.

That’s the definition of lock stick, but what actually causes the major knife annoyance?

Galling

The cause of the issue is multifaceted. One of the reasons has to do with the lockbar material and the blade steel. Lock stick happens most prominently in knives with titanium handles because titanium is susceptible to galling and tends to stick to dissimilar metals.

For example, if you have a titanium lockbar contacting with the tang of an S35VN blade, they have the tendency to stick to one another. That’s why this issue isn’t reserved only for budget knives but also affects pricier ones.

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