2017 TTAK Knife Madness Championship match – Voting is now closed.

It is Game Time Folks. Sorry for the delay. The finale of our 2017 Knife Madness Tournament is finally at hand. A reminder for those who are just tuning in: This will be a two-day voting window. Everyone can vote once at the bottom of this post. You can simply scroll down, but even if you have made up your mind I encourage you to read the testimonials. Voting runs through 5pm EDT on Sunday 4/2/17.

THE VOTING IS NOW CLOSED. Thank you for your participation. (If I had been doing this to collect emails, I would not have taken the poll down precisely at 5pm would I have?) Look for the official winner announcement tonight.

We have complied plugs from some pretty big names in the knife industry. Representing KA-BAR is Ethan Becker. Plugging Kershaw will be designer Les George. Jens Ansø will be representing Zero Tolerance, and Dave Canterbury will be representing Morakniv (Editor’s Note: We are still waiting for Dave’s plug, I understand he has about 80 different irons in the fire right now, and I am grateful that he is willing to do this – even if it is going to take him a bit to get it to us. In fairness, Morakniv vs. Condor was our final head-to-head. I had the other plugs lined up before it was even determined that Morakniv would be in the Final Four.

Our sincerest thanks go out to all four for agreeing to help us out with this.

Also included are some plugs from you all, both specifically submitted as well as mined from the comments in the original contests.

Enjoy, and thanks to all of those who have helped make this contest the success that it has been.



Leading off is KA-BAR, whose road to the Final Four saw them defeat Utica Cutlery, Case, and Buck in the USA Legacy Division.

From Ethan Becker:

In 1898 the Brown Brothers had a stubble problem and fixed it by making their own razors. Their Tidoute Company grew into KaBar knives and for the last 119 years if you needed a bear killed, a fingernail cleaned, an elk skinned, kindling prepped, a blade you could rely on in combat, or just a little whittling need be done to help you contemplate  the universe there has been a KaBar Knife to give you a helping hand. I have carried and used KaBars for over fifty years and was tickled pink when they started making my blades…… Best Ever!

Ethan Becker,
Founder of Becker Knife & Tool Corporation


Reader “Willie Phisterbottom” (I chuckle every time I read that alias) says:

I voted Case over Ka-Bar. But in the final 4 it’s Ka-Bar. They have a good selection of inexpensive folder & fixed. I own 2 of those Dozier Zytel folders. One in orange, the small one with the new tip which I wear almost every day clipped to my bathrobe.( Ka-Bar. I carry their little Dozier folder nearly every day. I had to put a new tip on it. It’s still razor sharp. At the price I paid thru AG Russell I could have simply ditched it and bought another.

“Cadeyrn” writes:

I saw my first Ka-Bar when I was around 8 years old.  It was my father’s, acquired by him after WWII as surplus along with an Alice pack and web belt and canteen.  The knife didn’t have a year on it, but the web belt had 1942 and the pack 1944 stamped on them, faint from the passage of time, but still legible back then.  That knife went with us on camping trips all over Virginia across the Blue Ridge Mountains down the Shenandoah Valley and beyond.  There was never a task that the Ka-Bar couldn’t handle (even when I was too young to handle it) and it never failed to get the job done.  Broke a hatchet handle once, the Ka-Bar finished the cut.

Unfortunately, while I was away at school the house was burglarized and my first knife collection including that Ka-Bar, a sweet Pacific Cutlery Fer-de-Lance and a handful of others vanished. I was able to replace most, but I’ve never forgotten the clean lines and rugged practicality of that first Ka-Bar.  If I had to go back into the woods and needed one blade that would not fail, I’d first look at a Ka-Bar.
My friend Zach submitted a plug that I might pull out and post as a “Knife Story” at a later date. It is worthy of a standalone post:
 For what it’s worth… My personal choice out of the final four options would have to be KaBar. This is not because I feel any certain competitor is of a lesser quality, this is an opinion formed from personal experience with the blades involved. I am pretty much a fan of anything Dave Canterbury endorses or does, but MoraKniv and ZT are just simply not on my radar, regardless of how much TacTissy loves them.
 I have carried Kershaw blades off and on as my EDC for a number of years. There are a couple Kershaw blades within my hunting and field kit(s) that have been there for years. They are good, strong and stout knives that hold a great edge.
But KaBar…KaBar knives really take this contest for me. Even though I do not carry one with any regularity, they are simply (in my opinion), the best out of this lineup if not out of any lineup you could fathom. For most people, the KaBar name typically conjures up images of the USMC fighting knife, which to a point it does for myself as well. I have multiple friends who have spoke highly of the utilitarian and potentially life saving aspect of their fighting knife during their time in the Corp. But for me, my favoritism has to do with their folding blades.
 When I was 14, upon taking my first whitetail, my grandfather used what I later found out to be a very old KaBar folding hunter to teach me how to dress the animal out. I saw that knife in use a number more times over the years, but after his passing it was nowhere to be found. A couple years later, while cleaning out the garage at my grandfather’s place, my father found the blade and made sure I got it. From what I was told, it originally belonged to my grandfather’s Uncle, so certainly old in my eyes. I cleaned it up, put a great edge on it and it is carefully stowed in my pack for every deer hunt that I’ve been on since receiving it. I have dressed out a half dozen or better deer and cleaned a handful of other game with it.
 I have and had a few other KaBar folding blades as well. One that I think was a Dozier? If it wasn’t a Dozier, it was definitely similar to one. I remember buying that blade, using the hell out of it and not ever having a clue as to what happened to it. I hope it shows back up.
But there it is, my reasoning for choosing KaBar.
Some other notable plugs come from the comments during KA-BAR’s tournament matches:

“The KA-BAR BK series gets my vote. the Reinhardt alone would be enough”. –Cmeat

“I have to go with Ka-Bar, the most recognized military fighting knife on the planet. I just restored a MK3 to usable condition last year that was carried by a friend of mines Grand Father in WW2 but has long since passed away”. –Wade

“KA-BAR. Semper Fi”. –Arctodus



Kershaw defeated COAST Products, CRKT, and Al Mar to win the Import- East division and reach the final round.

From Designer Les George:

This is an odd mix of companies to be head to head, I don’t know who should “win” because it’s almost apples and oranges.   Whoever is chosen to win will likely be a very subjective decision, all are great companies that make great knives.  That said I have one thing I would like to share that I think makes Kershaw a great company.   When I first came on as a designer for them, I was invited to visit their factory in Oregon.  It was a great trip and I learned a lot about them as a company.  One conversation stands out in particular.  I was talking with one of the bosses there about the knives that they have made overseas.  He related a story that when they go to visit the factories, they are presented with the prototypes for their approval and give the price that they can be delivered for, all very standard. The overseas factories are used to being beat up for every penny and pushed to cut every corner they can.  The leadership at Kershaw responds with, “What can we have for a few dollars more?”  Obviously every successful business has making money as a primary goal.  I am happy that the bottom line is not the ONLY thing that Kershaw cares about.  They are knife people; they want to make the best knives they can for a particular price.  That concern about products over pennies is why I am proud to be associated with Kershaw and why I think they are awesome. (in addition to his KAI designs, you can see Les’s custom work at GeorgeKnives.com)


Reader Stuartb submitted this plug via email: (he was also the reader who won our cover photo contest a couple of years ago with this picture of a Kershaw Scamp.

“Team Kershaw bring their A game to the TTAK Knife Madness 2017 Tournament. Rick Hinderer’s Cryo is on point and Ken Onion’s various vegetable based blades show their class at the value end of the court. Yup, even the TTAK mascot is a Kershaw Scamp. Go Speedsafes!”


…As did “Cubbie”:

Back when you had a contest for the photo at the top of your Facebook page, I had just received my Kershaw Blur and sent you a few photos. It’s been three years and my Kershaw has been in my pocket almost every single day (one exception was a visit to family back east, when I ordered a Kershaw Emerson and had it sent ahead of my arrival). Being in construction, I’ve used it for a few things better left to other tools, but it was what I had within reach. It still locks up solid and opens as smooth as ever.

I’m sure if had a knife from one of the other contenders, I’d have a similar story, but my Kershaw has proven itself time and again and has my vote.

And Rob D. sent us this, along with a photo of his all time favorite:

Starting around 1982, I was all Gerber, LST, EZ-out, Mk1, etc. Then I found the Leek and the Scallion.
Kershaw, American Made, has my vote. When I’m teaching Scouts and Scouters the question always comes up. What is
your favorite? The knives I got in Okinawa are my favorite.
The one I use every day…Kershaw, Leek, serrated.

Other readers weighed in during the tournament:

“I love the cost / benefit of the Kershaw knives owning a half dozen of them” – Dennis

“Kershaw. Solid products at an affordable price. The Blur is my EDC and has been put to some hard use and still keeps going.” – Cubbie

“Kershaw has great stuff made here. they get my vote for the Leek alone.” – Cmeat

“Kershaw…had same one for almost 7 years and it’s still amazing for the 40 bucks it cost.” – Ed

“Kershaw – a firm that names their products after vegetables” – Stuartb (I couldn’t help including that one).


Zero Tolerance:

ZT had perhaps the hardest road to the Final 4 coming out of the USA- Modern division, knocking off Benchmade, Emerson, and Hogue. The Hogue match saw them make a tremendous comeback in the final hours thanks to a video plug from shooting-sports celebrity TacTissy.

From Jens Ansø:

I believe Zero Tolerance should be crowned champion of the Knife Madness Tournament.

For the past 11 years ZT has continued to excel with unmatched quality, creativity and willingness to go that extra mile to make a great knife and to show the world what a knife also can be. A canvas for mechanical, machining and designing creativity. Time after time ZT has brought new designs to market that simply wipes everything else of the chart. I am extremely proud to be associated with KAI as a designer and proud to be among the top designers chosen to work for ZT. Being able to produce quality to this level in such relatively high volume continues to impress me. I have yet to find a finer  mass-produced knife. (in addition to his KAI designs, you can see Jens’ custom work at Anso-of-Denmark.com)
At press time, we did not receive any submitted reader plugs for Zero Tolerance, but have mined the following from the contest comments.
“ZT, someday I’ve got to splash out for one of their high end Hinderer designs (Yes, I have low end Cryo esteem issues)” –Stuartb
 “ZT. Elegance without contrivance.” –Peter“ZT they are tough knives and hold an edge very well” -Scott C.
“ZT all day long. I abuse mine and it still works like a champ” –Jeremy S.


Morakniv won the Import- Western division with wins over LionSteel, Boker, and CONDOR.
Editors Note: As I mentioned,  I have spoken with Dave Canterbury, of “Dual Survival” fame, who is also the North American Ambassador for Morakniv, (as well as proprietor of Self Reliance Outfitters and the Pathfinder School of wilderness survival. He has agreed to give us a custom plug. In the interest of publishing this post in a timely manner,  I am going to use this YouTube video as a placeholder. I will update when I receive it.

Reader Eric M. sent in the following plug for Morakniv. I will admit it is strange being quoted back to myself (from my review of the Bushcraft Black):
“The best plug I’ve ever seen for Mora is dead simple, and it was made on your site in 2013. You said, “they make every other knife look like a rip off” and it’s the truth.  I think compared to the competition they will be up against in the final four, that line is especially valid.  Would you rather have a ZT in your pocket, or outfit your family, cars, survival kits, best friends, and 2 or 3 neighbors with 511s or Companions?”
Thanks Eric. It is a compliment. Of course he wasn’t the only one to say good things about the Morakniv brand:

“Morakniv, the ‘gateway’ brand for knife addicts (not me – I can stop any time, honest)” – Stuartb

“Morakniv. My criteria being their legendary status exists for a reason. Few, if no other manufacturer has produced a variety of blades used for so long, by so many, for so many jobs and purposes across the globe at both the price point and quality level that Morakniv has.” – Jason J.

“Morakniv. Knives that follow the “Keep it simple, stupid” philosophy and are priced so that you could buy one for yourself and two friends and still be out less cash than if you bought something fancy from one of the big knife brands. – Jon

“I don’t always scandi, but when I do, I wield Mora.” – Cmeat


And now for the voting:
The poll asks if you want to complete the survey again once you submit your vote. It is collecting ip addresses and emails, so please don’t. Multiple votes will not be counted.

(Editor’s note- There has been some grumbling on Facebook about the email address requirement. This is purely in an attempt to limit multiple voting. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose. Period. If you are new to the blog, you don’t know me from Adam, but regular readers will vouch that we have never done anything untoward with their email when they leave a comment on the blog). 

THE VOTING IS NOW CLOSED. Thank you for your participation. (If I had been doing this to collect emails, I would not have taken the poll down precisely at 5pm would I have?) Look for the official winner announcement tonight.


Thank you everyone. This tournament has been a ton of work, but I have had a blast putting it on. Thank you everyone for your participation, without which this would not have been the success it has been.

Good luck to the contestants.


  1. Mike Peoples says:

    Kershaw has been my go to brand for a lot of years, always solid, dependable and fair value, I have high end knives that I use but knives like the new George designed Westin are just perfect!

  2. T.J. Houde says:

    This was such a hard decision to make that I almost decided not to vote. I own all 4 brands including 3 Ka-Bars. I love all 4 for what they are in each price range that they come in. In the end I had to go with ZT simply because my 0630 is the most impressive knife that I have ever handled and it is in my pocket daily. A requirement was to have the “wave” feature and most of the reviews favored ZT’s quality over the original “wave” brand. I had a hard time dishing out the cash to buy it however, I have not regretted one single time since. Fit, finish and quality is perfect. Smooth action yet Built like a tank.

  3. Troy schmidt says:

    Zt all the way make best knives I carry one every day

  4. stuartb says:

    Clay, great job on the contest, its been fun to follow and I’ve found out about a few new brands on the way. Nice to see new visitors to the site too, I hope they continue to check on TTAK as the site develops.

    I look forward to the World Series for Hatchets and the Machete Super Bowl!

    1. Arctodus says:

      A hatchet/hawk contest would be great!

  5. Jason says:

    I bought my ZT 3 years ago and I will never buy another knife other than a ZT. Best knives around

  6. Chantelle says:

    Kershaw all the way!!! They are my knife of choice for everything I do! There is no better brand out there!

  7. Arctodus says:


    Semper Fi

  8. Cubbie says:

    This is the best March Madness since I won $6 in a bracket pool in 5th grade! Thanks, Clay, for making it happen.

  9. Jason Julian says:

    Great to see myself quoted in this contest. I’ve never been mentioned in the same article/blog as Dave Canterbury; that’s an honor right there!

    This was a lot of work, Clay,and I appreciate what you put into it. This was by far the best March Madness ever!

    That being said, I am still voting for Morakniv! I carry a lot of Kershaw’s EDC, but still find myself grabbing a Mora at home, in the garage, at a restaurant, where ever… knives you can trust, knives you can count on, and knives that provide unmatched value and performance.

  10. Robert says:

    Love all of my kershaws! Some out performed more expensive knives.

  11. Jerome Dubut says:

    Been knives aficionados since I’m a kid I’ve used/collected many different knives brands, models from cheap to more exclusive and the ZTs are my favorite.

    I love the quality of execution, even for industrial produced knives. I love the variety and crisp designs. I love the way they feel, how sturdy they are. I wish I had the budget to by every single limited edition but I’m still contempted with the ones I have.

  12. Iain Mozart says:

    I work with sheet metal at a large commercial A/C installation company and my ZT 0620cf is probably the most durable piece of equipment in my tool bag. I’ve broken hammers, screwdrivers, drills, shears, you name it, but my ZT has never failed. I’ve even used it in emergency situations to punch through sheet metal and the tip is still in like new condition. I stand by ZT 100% because they have never let me down.

  13. Iain Mozart says:

    I vote hands down for zero tolerance. I work with sheet-metal eight hours a day at a large commercial air conditioning installation company, and my zero tolerance 0620CF is the most durable piece of equipment in my tool bag. I have broken hammers, screwdrivers, shears, drills, you name it, but my zero tolerance has never let me down. I have literally punched through sheet metal with it, and the tip is still in like new condition. I stand with zero tolerance 110% because they’ve never let me down.

  14. Sam L. says:

    Mora. I have only one. but it’s sharp and well made, not to mention inexpensive. I was at a Scout outing, and there was a woman using a folding knife to de-bark a bunch of sticks for hiking staffs. I lent her the Mora; she loved it. (Now she’s using a small spokeshave as it’s easier on her hands.)

  15. Cadeyrn says:

    I know it’s all being tallied in the survey, but if the blurb above isn’t enough: Ka-Bar.

    Thanks to everyone who voted, chimed in, commented, etc. I’ve learned a bit too and have some new things to look at when I go to the next show. Cheers!

  16. Len shandruk says:

    Mora all the way

  17. Mitch Gibson says:

    ZT is the only knife in shooting

  18. Cole says:

    I love my BK knives

  19. Ed says:

    Ka-Bar…one in my kitchen, one in my pack and i also have their Self defense cane. Quality.

  20. Mark barta says:

    Kabar Becker 16 my fav.

  21. Richard Lussier says:

    After collecting, trading, selling, carrying and using a variety of knife brands for many years, the largest part of my collection and overall favorite brand that I will keep and carry to the end is Zero Tolerance.

  22. Keith Garcia says:

    ZT for the win. Love the knives

  23. Jon says:

    This was a hard choice, I ended up voting for Zero Tolerance because they set the standard of a quality, durable, affordable for what you get knife, all while making it in the USA.

    If I had to rank these choices it would be:
    #1 ZT
    #2 Mora
    #3 KaBar
    #4 Kershaw

  24. Cornelius says:


  25. Jack says:

    Where is Spyderco? I voted Ka Bar but Morakniv is hard to beat. This poll was weighed heavily for Kershaw as they own Zero Tolerance.

    1. We have been discussing the pros and cons of combining ZT and Kershaw into a single KAI entry next year.

      As for SPyderco, they were knocked out by Hogue in the first round, thanks to multiple social media shares by designer Allen Elishewitz and Hogue Inc. We gave Spderco a heads up but they didn’t engage.

  26. Dan says:

    Since I am a small collector of edged blades ( knives-folders/fixed,swords, axes, spears etc), I happen to like all four brands, they each have their good points and not so good points, but since i have to vote, I chose KA-BAR, their knives were the first ones I bought 4.5 years ago that started my collecting!

  27. Daniel J says:

    I feel the comment about Mora “Making every other knife look like a rip off” is extremely valid. I love my Mora because of that.
    However, I love my Kershaws more, because while they cost twice what a nicer Mora does, that’s still only 35$, for what I believe is significantly more bang. In a straight value comparison, Mora dominates, but I’m willing to shell out a few extra pennies for a Kershaw.

    1. Jason J says:

      For sure you get a lot with Kershaw, but that’s the one issue with this match up; Mora and Kershaw are designed and made to suit different needs. Kershaw doesn’t make high value craftsman knives, doesn’t focus half of its lineup on bushcraft or outdoors uses either.

      For EDC purposes that aren’t nearly exclusively in the woods, Kershaw has the upper hand. On the other hand, you don’t use a Kershaw (outside of maybe the Camp 10) to carve wood either.

  28. Steven says:

    Mora, because it’s wicked sharp, easily maintained, and it’s simplicity is its best feature.

  29. cmeat says:

    the reinhardt allowed me to retire my hand forged tatra leaf spring kukhri. so while the leek is a favorite for edc and i get more use out of the pocket knives from the pile accumulating on the grand piano, i’m switching gears here

    ka-bar. for the becker line.

  30. Andrew says:

    Pretty good.

  31. Andrew Stephens says:

    Zero Tolerance great knives plain and simple!

  32. Trent McPherson says:

    Tactissy sent me.

  33. Ken Mayfield says:


  34. Becky says:

    Zero Tolerance…because they can take a beating and keep doing what they do best!

  35. Steve says:

    ZT of course

  36. Glenda haskins says:


  37. Bill Bishop says:

    ZT for the win!

  38. R. Gomez says:

    I carry my ZT 0350TSST everywhere I go. Solid knife built for all purposes.

  39. Glenda haskins says:

    Tissy my sissy sent me

    1. Gary says:

      Tac Tissy sent Mr.

  40. Alex says:

    I carry zt with me every day the week

  41. Jerry Bash says:

    If tac tissy says so it must be

  42. Grant covert says:

    Zt for the win!!!!

  43. Mike Hoskinson says:

    ZT’s knives are solidly built, out of good materials. Their Hinderer models alone would qualify them to win; but they have many more from which to choose.

    My ZTs are always in my EDC and work rotation.

  44. Scott says:

    ZT of course

  45. KellyJoe says:

    I like them

  46. Tim says:

    Got to have a good pokey stick. ZT

  47. Pete Lazos says:

    Zt and Tac are the best!

  48. Peter says:

    Intentionally left blank.

  49. Bob says:

    Got a ZT 0301 great pokey stick

  50. Brian Porter says:

    ZT 0301 great knife

  51. Dan Krga says:

    Just purchased my first ZT.

  52. Mark Scott says:

    Go TacTissy

  53. Chris says:

    ZT is the best knifes ever.

  54. Lye Kim Swee says:

    ZT is my choice

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2017 TTAK Knife Madness Championship match – Voting is now closed.

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