Resuming my abruptly-ended narrative from last night, where I was describing the somewhat schizophrenic vibe on Day 3 of the show, I will elaborate on my booth visit with Rick Klug, National Sales Manager for SOG Knives, and finish with a few words on my conversation with Dan Lawson from Microtech and American Knife and Tool Institute (AKTI).
I am going to save the details about my Sunday purchases for my Blade Show 2017: “The Haul” post. Most likely Tuesday night.
I tried to make a point of firming up my contact-person at as many knife companies as I could. As an aside, I now have the task of sitting down with my 4″ task of business cards and sending follow-up emails to each of them, but I digress.
As SOG has not been at BLADE the past couple of years, I had no contact at all at SOG. They were back this year, and I had a chance to spend some time with National Sales Manager Rick Klug. He showed me several of their new and upcoming releases, including the winner of the BLADE Show “Knife of the Year Award” for Imported Innovative Design. Their new Baton Q2 is an interesting multitool, which is targeting the urban and office EDC crowd. Instead of folding like a Leatherman-style tool, it folds into a stick-like arrangement, which could slide into a large pen sleeve in a briefcase or computer satchel. With an LED flashlight, locking knife, and flat-head screwdriver/bottle opener combo, it is a cool little tool. I actually would consider picking one up for my IT professional wife. It is a very discreet-looking tool when closed, and because it has to be opened to access the knife-blade, it would even be fine in your more hoplophobic locales (YMMV). There is also a TSA-compliant Q1 which replaces the blade with scissors and the flashlight with a pen.
They also had a really unique belt-buckle tool, but I am going to save that for an upcoming “Unusual knives and tools of BLADE Show” post.
Rick gave me several product samples to pass along to you all. The first of which, a Centi 2 keychain-knife will be the prize for a “Caption-This” later today. The rest will be a part of the prize pool for an upcoming Reader Essay Contest which will be announced shortly.
I also had a chance to meet and talk with Dan Lawson, who is the legal counsel for Microtech and AKTI. While I am not going to go into too much detail on our mostly off-the-record discussion, there are a few things I have to share and say. I want to start with the one on the record point he had about the competing Knife Rights and AKTI bills before the US Congress. AKTI wants, and is working for, a repeal of the Federal Switchblade Act (FSA), but they do not feel that it will be able to pass as part of the Knife Owner Protection Act (KOPA) bill. It is not a part of the ACTI-sponsored Interstate Transport Act (ITA). They would like to see a few more states legalize autos before they feel critical-mass will be reached. He answered affirmatively when I asked, “Would it be fair to say that the differences in the AKTI and Knife Rights’ position on the issue of Federal Switchblade Act repeal are more strategic than substantive?”
Putting on his figurative Microtech hat, we discussed the Microtech/KAI legal dispute. While I don’t want to elaborate on the substance of that conversation, he did give me some cautionary feedback, which ties into my coverage of the above issue as well. In both cases he believes that our coverage of the issues has been rather one-sided, and that I should make a greater effort to not get caught up in riding the wave of the internet echo-chamber. There is a lot of unreliable hearsay in the online forums with regards to piling on Microtech designer Anthony Marfione, and that Everyday Commentary’s Anthony Sculimbrene got caught up in that wave (by his own admission).
When it comes to the ITA/KOPA issue, in fairness to us, my piece was an editorial, and I stand by what I wrote. I do believe that the language of the ATI is inadequate to protect travelling knife-owners in places like New York and New Jersey. I do believe that there will likely not be as opportune a moment as the present to try to get the FSA repealed. I do see the issue through the lens of the 2nd Amendment as a matter of civil rights. AKTI, being a trade group, takes a more utilitarian approach.
That said, I recognize the kernel of truth that I haven’t made as much of an effort to cover AKTI as I perhaps should have. There are several reasons for this. Most importantly, I have established a solid line of communication with the folks at Knife Rights over my tenure at TTAK. They are extremely effective at outreach and broadcasting their message. They have always made themselves available to me to answer questions and make clarifications. I should also state that on a personal level, I am fond of Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter.
At the same time, I have until now had trouble establishing a relationship with the people at AKTI, and until recently they have not been as aggressive in their public communications. However, I believe Lawson when he says that AKTI supports, and is invested heavily in reforming America’s knife-laws. I believe him when he says that AKTI has acted, and is acting in what they believe is in the best interest of American knife-owners.
We here at TTAK are fiercely protective of our independence. It is part and parcel to the mission that Publisher Robert Farago has established across his various enterprises – to present the “nearasdamnit” truth of whatever it is we are covering, to the best of our abilities. I will endeavor to do more to take a more balanced approach to covering AKTI’s efforts and to explaining their position on the issues when applicable.
I spent the remainder of the morning and early afternoon, bouncing between saying goodbye to old friends and acquaintances, and “show-mode” of being an ambassador of the blog to people I was meeting for the first time. I bought a couple of knives, and was given a couple more to test. I passed out the last of my 5 From the Grinder invitations, and before I knew it it was 2pm and the BLADE Show 2017 came to an end.
Really, I should say it came to a pause. I made the drive home and spent the evening with my children. Monday I had the opportunity to visit the Elishewitzes for their annual “BLADE Show recovery” gathering of out-of-town friends and knifemakers, and enjoy hanging out with some folks in a much more laid-back setting. As it was a private event, I am not going to go into a lot of detail, but it was a fun day of conversation, demonstration and barbecue, and when the rainy weather broke, an impromptu archery shoot even broke out.
It was just the thing I needed to ease back into life in the real world. Thank you, Allen and Val for inviting me to participate.
I hope you have enjoyed the narrative portion of my BLADE Show coverage. I have a ton of other material to share with you, as does David. Even though the show is over, our coverage continues…