Expat's Guide to the Knife Industry

Discussion in 'EXPAT Knives®' started by Expat, Sep 7, 2016.

  1. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    On today's episode, we'll take a look at fitting in while hanging with the brothers from your favorite knife brand. Brands in every industry have their own culture and the knife industry is no exception. So, without further fanfare, let's take a peek at just what makes each brand tick. In no particular order:


    Emerson Knives
    You want to tread lightly in this crowd. The Emerson people could actually physically monkey-stomp you without spilling the whiskey they're holding in their other hand. Large forearms and hints about black ops when you were forced to cut yourself out of a downed chopper play well here. They'll also be some secret handshakes and liberal usage of the word "brother". If you really want to fit in here, you'll need a lot of black clothes. Emerson fans have the tightest t-shirts, hands down. If you can't rip a phone book in half, you want to stay in the background.


    Busse Knives
    Steel dominates the conversation here. As in INFI steel. No one knows what INFI steel is so don't let that disturb you, just nod knowingly with a 1,000 yard stare as you contemplate just how awesome INFI steel is. The main hobby of Busse fans is the acquisition of another Busse knife that cost more than the last one. In an odd mating ritual, raffles are conducted where a lovesick fan is bestowed the right to pay more for knife than any other person. If you find yourself in this frenzied mania, get down on all fours with the rest of the grown men and fight, son, FIGHT for your right to be fleeced! This is really the grand sum of the activities of the Busse culture since it has not been determined if anyone has actually ever USED a Busse to cut something.



    Cold Steel
    Cold Steel is basically what the offspring would be if Marvel Comics escaped from an Asian nut house, and had an affair with a science fiction themed circus. You never know what you're going to get here so when deciding on wardrobe, think GENCON. Just to be on the safe side, pack an eye patch and some parachute pants. Spears and sword canes are de rigueur. These knives actually get used. But mostly to unnecessarily cut things that don't need cutting with the gusto of a 70's kung fu flick.



    Becker Knives
    You won't see too many people at the Becker Knife booth-they're out in the woods actually using their knives. No one's ever captured a picture of more than 3 of them together at one time. They are like BMW motorcycle riders in that regard. Strangely, they are almost all decent cooks and they have an affinity for cast iron. They call themselves Beckerheads with Ethan being the HBIC. Urban legend has it that one beckerhead actually starved to death waiting for a phone conversation with Ethan to end.



    Mora Knives
    If you see a Mora knife fan at Blade, he'll be easy to spot. He's the one that looks embarrassed because he's in an actual building with A/C and food and he'll look guilty that he's not actually in the wild for part of the mandatory 359 days of bushcrafting they are required to put in each year. Mora knife fans love to wear their knives around their necks so as not to be confused with those who believe in such wizardry as unicorns and pocket knives.



    Strider Knives
    Strider is similar to the Emerson crowd but no one here actually has the ability beat you up, they will just act like they can. This group constitutes the highest concentration of 300+lb "snipers" and "force recon" individuals ever spotted in the wild. If you find yourself in this crowd, you must remember to never, EVER use the word "use". For any reason. The appropriate verb, the ONLY appropriate verb is "run". As in, "What kind of kit are you runnin?". Kit is also the preferred term for gear of any sort. You must be willing to instantly scratch the eyes out of a fan of another knife company if they mention that one of Strider's owners is a convicted felon who did time in the federal slammer. Rolexes, challenge coins, tattoos and vulgar pvc patches all help you fit in here.



    Tops Knives
    This might be the easiest crowd to fit into because regardless of what you do as a profession, Tops makes a model for it. Accountant? Get the TOPS ACCOUNTANT MODEL. Structural Engineer? Don't worry, there's an app, err, model for that. Police officer, biker, indian chief, seaman, construction worker? They've got you covered. Unemployed? No worries. Much like those revolving stands in the t-shirt shops at the beach where you can buy a magnet with your name on it, Tops has knife models for Bob, Mike, John, Steve and even Kristen (spelled 4 different ways!). There's not a lot of snobbery here so no need to feel unwelcome. They'll just be glad for ANYONE to come by.



    Randall Made Knives
    This is the crowd with the largest percentage of pacemakers. If you want to fit in here and you still have hair, you'll need to dye it white. A Rolex will help, too. You'll have to change your idea of value as well. Learn to say, "Only $4,000 for a mammoth fossilized femur bone? That will leave me plenty of money in my budget to have Gen. Robert E. Lee scrimshawed on the handle!" These guys (they're ALL guys) are pretty nice unless they see some kydex on you somewhere or you ask, "Why are these knives so expensive?", in which case, you'll find yourself digging your own grave in the back of some orange orchard in Orlando. RMK owners are literally willing to fight to the death in arguments over whether Sullivan's or Johnson made a particular sheath.



    ESEE Knives
    These fans have the thickest skin of any other crowd. Beastiality is a common theme. No topic is off limits so prepare yourself if you're going to be around them. They are the ones most likely to have returned from Tibet or the Amazon having actually used their knife in the field. They have some unnatural obsession with constantly trying to change the color or appearance of the blade using everything from German mustard to unicorn urine. They are often observed lacking all ability for logical thought--they will pay to suffer indignities at their leader's farm to get a knife when they could buy a knife for 1/2 the cost and 1/50th the agony. If you want to be known as a good conversationalist in their midst, say things like, "Izula folder, yeah right!" and "Look at some pictures of my backpacks."

    5/2016 Update: ESEE-6 has been named by Field and Stream as the "THE ULTIMATE SURVIVAL KNIFE" in the May 2016 issue. So, I guess that settles that. The rest of the companies can start producing plowshares from their remaining stock.


    SOG Knives
    The Gunny is the only adult at the SOG booth. Everyone else is under 18 and is only there because they heard that's what the SEALs carry. Unless you play COD or MW for several hours a day, don't bother trying to fit in here.


    Smith and Sons Knives
    They are literally the only normal knife company that exists. If you aren't normal, don't even bother. And just for clarification, if you're reading this on the ESEE forum, you're not normal.


    Case Knives
    Case customers more closely resemble coin collectors than knife users. They generally stopped using knives years ago. They spend their days cataloging their collection in 3 ring binders full of plastic page protectors and in search of the ultra-rare double stamped error Peanut John Deere 1985 model. You know the one--where the green is off by TWO WHOLE SHADES! You'll need a lot of money to be in this crowd. Not because the knives are expensive but because for every knife you buy, you have to purchase the accompanying memorabilia: 1940's milk truck, John Wayne tin sign, wooden winchester box, etc. This crowd is basically the hoarders of the knife world and if you go down this rabbit hole, your living room will look like a Cracker Barrel within 5 years. You've been warned.


    Spyderco, Benchmade, Buck Knives
    These have been in the pockets of their users for a couple of decades. Just quietly cutting things that need to be cut. They've never attacked a cinderblock and they've never worn face paint pretending to be a SEAL. They don't take pictures of their knives stuck in a hammerhead shark or on their dinner plate bragging that their knife cut up sausage! Many times they'll be unaware of the rest of the knife industry and if they were aware, they wouldn't understand what drives the fanatics. To them the knife is a tool and they'd no more get a tattoo of a knife brand than they would get a tattoo of a screwdriver or chainsaw brand. When asked about what kind of steel their blade is made of, they'll look at you strangely and say, "I don't know--stainless?" They are, however, voted "Most likely to know how to sharpen a knife". So, if you want to fit in here, you better be able to keep your blade in working order, which automatically separates you from the majority of those companies listed above.


    Swiss Army Knives
    These guys are sort of like the Spyderco crowd but do occasionally like to brag about their knives and the fact that their new one has a combination coax cutter/toilet plunger/shoe horn. They have a savior complex and will often whip out their knife at a party before you can finish saying, "The screw in my glasses is loo-". And they're probably the only ones capable of opening a bottle of wine at any given time without shards of glass being embedded in the wall. They are generally humble, non confrontational types that accept pretty much anyone. But understand within the SAK community, there are the Victorinox royalty and then there's the inferior Wenger peasants and this can create some friction at times. If you want to fit in here, it's pretty easy--keep it loose and make sure your Macbook is handy. And wear a t-shirt with MacGyver on it, their patron saint.
     
  2. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    T. M. Hunt Custom Knives
    http://www.tmhuntcustomknives.com/
    These guys are salt of the earth, 'Merica. If you don't fit in with beer guzzling, deer killing, blade grinding Hoosiers, don't even try. The BS tolerance is low here. If you really want to learn to fit in, spend some time outside chopping and skinning and learning how knives should work. And get comfortable with Sun King and Carhartt products. Hard work and country wit will help too.



    ZT KNIVES
    Everyone wants to hear comments on ZT. Guys, their egos can't stand it! I didn't pick on those not able to take it. When the ZT owners find out that their $300 folders began life as a Bear Grylls Gerber fixed blade that was broken off, then reground by a $4.95 knock-off Harbor Freight Dremel and then thrown in the middle of some plastic slabs, I don't want to be responsible for the fallout from that. Same reason I don't walk into Kindergartens and explain to them that there's no way Santa could fit down their freakin chimney. Like those that believe we actually landed on the moon or professional wrestling is real, some guys you just gotta let dream.
    Yeah, they have a titanium slab on one side, so I'm guessing ZT has probably $15 or so into the knife. For $15, you can get a Victorinox that can actually saw a tree limb and doesn't scream, "I'M NOT WELL ENDOWED!!!"
    Leave the ZT guys alone. They are harmless enough.



    Chris Reeve Knives
    I don't know that I've met enough of their owners to develop an insight into their culture. But I will say that the few times I've talked to Chris himself, he seems like a down to earth guy. He didn't tell me this specifically but I got the impression that he thinks most of this knife industry is BS too. I think Chris is a perfectionist and he looks at his knives (this attitude is manifested particularly in the Sebenza) as how can I make this the absolute best way possible. So, you get tight tolerances, impeccably clean lines and grinds, overkill and overengineered stuff that'll never be tested to its fullest and that sort of thing. They are tough and smooth and expensive and asthetically pleasing to many (but not all) and there's really nothing you can fault the knives for. They do what they do and they do it well.

    The disconnect however happens between the factory and the end user. Or, in this case, the end OWNER, since I've only seen one Sebenza well used (Mike Perrin's). While I get that we all want to identify with a certain culture sometimes (for example, Harley guys are NOT in it for the RIDING, regardless of what they tell you or tell themselves), sometimes knife owners think that the knife they carry IMPROVES their personality, skill, ability, looks or charisma. Which, anyone from reality land will tell you, just isn't so. Sometimes they buy the knife because that's the entrance fee into that particular club. So, yeah, the Sebenza is the 1911 of the knife world and like 1911 owners, it becomes grafted to their esteem. Digs against their knife become digs against their esteem and well, that's sad.

    Personally, I like the Sebenza (I used to own one) and I like Chris' fixed blades. And I like Chris. But for what I do, I'm happy with my 20 year old Swiss Army Knife, my ESEE and a couple of Randalls that mean something special to me. I don't NEED anything else.



    Medford Knives
    Ever thought to yourself, “Man, these Randall Made Knives are cheap”? Have you ever wished Striders were thicker and ZT’s were heavier? Do you have a Kryptek camo 5.11 tactical kilt in the back of the closet? Have you responded to enlargement pill ads in the back of RECOIL? Do you think the pinnacle of knife use is not really use at all, but showing off how well your 3 lb. folder’s blade is centered in its anodized unobtitanium in limited edition Sparkling Death Fuscia, while wearing your Roman Centurion outfit? Have you ever worn face paint and nothing else? Do you find Lynn Thompson too tame and rational?

    Well, have I got a company for you! Boasting the highest ratio of photos taken per items cut, this Phoenix, AZ company will sell you a four-figure folder capable of doubling as a cricket bat. It is suspected of being a hard use folder by those who also cannot verify the existence of Dimension Theory, wormholes, and time travel. If you’re Tier 1 and looking to move up to Tier .5, grow a beard, don an extra-smedium Rogue American skull t-shirt, and stop on by the booth this Blade.



    Dark Ops Knives
    Assume for a minute, you’re a milqetoast cost accountant by trade and someone from the government shows up at your door to recruit you for some wetwork that is critical to the survival of this nation, this is the knife they’d give you. And they’d give you this knife because this whole scenario is as fake as Hillary’s laugh. Let’s set aside my acerbic wit for this one and hear about the company in their own words (cause even I couldn’t make this up):

    “This knife is the new choice of operational warriors throughout the globe…it features all the critical items for a Modern Spec-Ops knife…an extended blade length for penetrating Comm-bloc frag vests with an accelerated spearpoint tip and sharpened foretip for maximum penetration. The top edge features a bone breaker and a radical, self-cleaning BlastRip saw for carving survival notches in spears and anchoring notches for detonation cord. A pat pend. BarbSnap cutter allows for rapid notching and snapping of interdiction wires in entry ops. The Shadow features a corrosion resistant finish designed to take the saltwater immersion often involved in SEAL operations. The handle is made of low-durometer, high tensile aramid composite that is impervious to everything from aviation fuel to Al Qaeda body fluids.”

    WHOA! I’m about as hot and bothered as Lynn Thompson with a broadsword in a butcher shop! If there was a Tactisexual Pride Parade, Dark Ops would have the largest float. And the most downrange ear trophies hanging from it. Before I read this, I didn’t even know “entry ops” was a thing. Now I can’t live without being a part of it. You’ll recognize me at Blade this year with a T-shirt proclaiming my newfound career: “MY OPS ARE DARKER THAN YOUR OPS”.


    Grayman Knives
    You’d be forgiven if you thought these knives were wannabes at first glance. Sometimes its hard to tell the real from the fake. But note what is conspicuously absent: endorsement by SEALs, talk of blood grooves and blasting caps, and the denigration of their own customers—the newest trend in the tactical knife industry.

    Mike and Sue run a solid company and make very functional knives. By their own admission, the knives aren’t always pretty, but they always work. They are serious use knives. Yes, they have a little flair to some of them. Yes, the folder is super thick. But they can take some hardcore abuse and none of the folders cost over about $425, certainly nowhere near the $700-900 on some of the other companies that don’t get you anything better. And sometimes not as good. Most of the fixed blades are in the $200’s.

    Mike has spent a good bit of time in Africa—the Sudan to be exact. And this was not with Big Army and lots of logistics. He was there solo with villagers helping train their scouts in the Christian South fight the Muslim North. Some of those guys literally relied on their blades for their daily lives. No room for steel discussions and showing off how centered a blade is. Knives need to prepare wild game, dig holes, chop wood, and yes, they need to be capable of self-defense.

    Like ESEE and other legitimate companies, their fixed blades are warrantied forever and fully transferable to others. (Why doesn’t every company do this—what makes them scared their knife will fall apart when the second person owns it?!) Yes, people criticize the edge, and the fit and finish and the other things that make you fail a Knife Fashion Show, and endear yourself to me. If you’re looking to show this off at your next BBQ, move along. If you want to cut down the hickory trees into chips to smoke your next BBQ, go ahead and get one. You can’t criticize their strength and dependability. If you are in that tiny segment of society that might actually need a knife to kill the enemy, or survive alone in the wilderness for a winter, here’s a company you can rely on. They get the very stingy EXPAT™ Seal of Approval.
     
  3. kyhunt

    kyhunt Member

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    This one is good. I'd like to see your view of Bark River and Fallkniven.

    What is funny is that you hit many points right on.

    There is no hope for me. I have Bucks, Case, Essee, Bark River, Fallkniven, German Eye,
     
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  4. Lumberjack_jack

    Lumberjack_jack Member

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    I like this. I only have Busse, Esee and Bucks for folders and a select few fixed blades I like. Busse crowd is nailed exactly, their forums are only about shopping for more Busses and not about other activities or using their knives for anything besides battoning for the photo op of it. I have some Busse's that I love (the most normal looking ones, not the crazy ones) and love to use but I sure missed the Esee forum since it went off taptalk.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016
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  5. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    Good.
     
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  6. Bushman5

    Bushman5 Member

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    Mission Knives ?
     
  7. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    Theyre crap. Cant even give one away.
     
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  8. Bushman5

    Bushman5 Member

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    I'll let take it!,
     
  9. ManOfSteel

    ManOfSteel Member

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    Just read this whole thing. I'm sick as a dog and this made me chuckle so thanks. I had to look up Dark Ops Knives to see if it was as bad as you said. And it's worse. Thankfully for me I only own a Sebenza 25 (Wilson Combat edition because Oper8r), a couple ESEE's, a few Carothers, and have a SURVIVE! here on loan. I've got a pair of Scrap Yards (lower end busse's) that I keep as beaters also.
     
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  10. nevermas

    nevermas Member

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    Got a picture of Mike Perrin's Sebenza? I'm really curious now
     
  11. Strigidae

    Strigidae Moderator Staff Member

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    Time to add expat knives sir?
     
  12. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    Ive already been thinking about it.
     
  13. Strigidae

    Strigidae Moderator Staff Member

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    :) thats really cool!
     
  14. CooterJohnson

    CooterJohnson Member

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    This is fun. You nailed the cult like followers of the knife industry right on the head.
     
  15. Wildbill247365

    Wildbill247365 Member

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    What about DPX Knives? Or are you to afraid of RYP to comment :Do_O:confused::):)
     
  16. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    Im not scared of RYP. But I am scared of the people he hangs around with.


    Also, I dont think they have their own culture. They are like add-on knives that people from other knife cultures purchase.
     
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  17. Wildbill247365

    Wildbill247365 Member

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    LMAO
     
  18. ChristopherRC

    ChristopherRC Member

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    I just wanted to say I was laying in bed reading this on my phone; my wife sleeping next to me. I woke her up I was laughing so hard! Thanks for that.
     
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  19. Expat

    Expat Expat™ Knives Staff Member

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    We aim to please.
     
  20. elgatoloco

    elgatoloco Member

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    My observation about SAK abusers.

    [​IMG]
     
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