Good evening folks. I am still trying to get settled back into a normal routine following my Western trip, and frankly doing a piss-poor job of it. Dogwood Dan Eastland is visiting from South Carolina and was over for dinner with his wife this evening. I am taking the 2 of them fishing tomorrow, and I promise I will begin to make a dent in the mountain of content that piled up in my absence.
In the mean time, here is the first Reader Submission Contest entry. We have a massive pile of swag from BLADE Show, plus some t-shirts and mousepads from TOPS Knives that Craig was kind enough to give me when I visited their facility last week.
This is the only contest submission so far, and there are lots of prizes to go around. The Grand Prize is a White River Knives “Backpacker”, and you can read about the rest in my BLADE Show “The Haul” post.
So if you have a story to tell, a knife to review, an instructional post, or pretty much anything else, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org along with at least one pertinent photo, and you will definitely end up with something for your efforts. Click here for the complete details.
How do you carry your knives?
At some point in a knife aficionado’s life – and notice the careful use of the term aficionado rather than fanatic, fiend or nut – the question arises of how to best carry or display their hard-earned sets of shapely sharp steel. I suspect several readers have already answered the question as follows: “On your belt” and dismissed the question, however the question is more of an issue for a collector who has knives measured in the dozens rather than a number which would fit on a reasonably-sized belt. There are literally hundreds of providers of chef’s knife rolls and cases, but not nearly as many for collectors of other kinds of knives. This article is intended to share the results of many hours searching online and at local shows to try to find the perfect case for a decent-sized collection or perhaps even realizing the dream of attending Blade Show and filling up a bag with new knives and carrying them safely home. Hopefully this will inspire others to chime in and share knowledge on good ways to carry collectible knives safely and without damage.
Several manufacturers have commercially available carrying cases referred to as “Brag Bags” which can help. These generally fall into two categories for securing the knives: elastic straps (known as “trappers”) and pockets. Most also require a choice between folders and fixed blades. As far as I have been able to tell, there are very few products which makes provisions for both folders and fixed blades and, as these are my favorites, will be covered last.
Knife rolls and folding flat packs can be found on Ebay from any number of providers. These have varying levels of quality are almost exclusively intended to be used for relatively small knives and designed accordingly. Knives are secured by sliding them into a matching pair of straps and, if the elastic isn’t particularly old and the user selects the right size, the knife stays in place. Most use protective fabric wings that fold over the knives and help keep them in place. Some rolls and carriers can hold 60 folders in this fashion. All of the knife rolls and trappers perform better when the knives have pocket clips to keep the knives secure in the straps. Folders which do not have clips are more prone to sliding out or shifting in transit and then they can bang into their neighbors with potentially unpleasant consequences unless they are rolled very tightly indeed. The positive part of an elastic-strap kniferoll is: most of the knife can actually be seen and appreciated with others at the same time whereas pockets usually hide most of the knife from normal view.
Name-brand elastic strap carriers include Case, who has a luggage-style carrier with handle and wheels for when the metal gets too heavy (did I actually suggest such a thing is possible?) as well as a smaller nylon clamshell-holder which is padded and more portable and an intermediate (#1079) that can hold a fair number of knives in elastic straps. Hickory Hill Cutlery had a 60-piece knife roll that was generally held in high regard, however it is pretty hard to find these days other than on Ebay.
Spyderco has taken an intermediate approach with a roll that has a shoulder-strap. Inside, there are clear plastic pockets with a heavier strap across the top of each pocket that is intended to provide purchase for clips. This allows ready identification of the knife and most of it to be seen while keeping the blade fairly secure.
Personally, I am partial to cases which allow knives to be stored in individual pockets because they provide more protection for the knives and they really minimize the chances of the knives slipping out or banging into each other. Maxpedition has provided a uniquely named “Dodecapod” which will carry a dozen folders inside their individual cocoons. Maxpedition also offers the alternative of a 7-inch or 10-inch “Razorshell” which is water and abrasion-resistant and would fit one or possibly two fixed blades of appropriate lengths. Both of these provide substantial protection for the contents and are very consistent with Maxpedition’s reputation for rugged products. Condor also has its aptly named “Arsenal” which is a neoprene case designed for six folders that deserve heavy protection. Not to be outdone, Boker has a six-compartment wallet-style nylon carrier which has a business-card holder on the front. Schrade has a pocket knife carrier as does Kershaw and Zero Tolerance. The ZT bag has eighteen (18) padded pockets. Case makes a 22-pocket carrier as well as the elastic-strap ones mentioned above.
It should also be mentioned that there are also “Sack-up” knife pockets which are basically strips of silicone-treated cloth pockets. They aren’t terribly portable but they do tend to offer more protection than just loose knives and they are relatively inexpensive so they’re mentioned just to be thorough. I haven’t used them, but comments from people who have suggests that they are most useful when used in combination with a suitcase for hard protection while several Sack-ups protect the individual folders inside.
Benchmade has a nicely made and lined case that holds a base ten folding knives with a combination pocket-window where a portion of the pocket is clear plastic and the rest is opaque. The pockets are secured by zippers so the knives simply aren’t leaving their pockets unless the owner wants them to. The design allows up to two additional “pages” to be added to the external shell. These will add either ten more folders or four fixed blades depending on the page selected. The Benchmade bag also enjoys the benefit of a business card window on the outside and are the only ones I have seen with a Molle grid on the outside just in case someone feels the need to attach tactical accessories to the knife bag. An external shoulder-strap makes the ensemble complete. For those who don’t need the full deluxe treatment, Benchmade also has a more conventional 11-knife soft case which just has a top flap secured by velcro.
My very favorite case, however, the one I use to keep the more expensive parts of the collection that aren’t quite safe-queens but are still far too nice to ding up, is one I found at a local gun show almost by accident. A knife-seller was going out of business after thirty years and was selling literally everything he had in a pile on the table. I rooted through the stack and found the single best knife carrier I’ve personally ever seen. I’m hoping the photos I send with this do it justice simply because we need more of these bags so they are more common.
This particular bag has an outside label for Smith & Wesson Knives, but an inside label from Hickory Hill Cutlery (Blade Magazine lists this as Lynn Watkins, Jefferson City, Tennessee). I’ve never been able to find another example of this product. It is a clamshell design with heavy-duty neoprene pockets on each side in rows. The rows closest to the spine are sized to hold folders, six to each side for a total of twelve. The next row up holds larger blades, five pockets each side. This is followed by a large open pocket which holds the shoulder strap when not in use or, in my case, some sheaths and accessories which aren’t currently on the knives, then the last row closest to the top is made for full-sized fixed blades, four to a side. Thirty knives of widely varying sizes are thus protected by this bag as long as some caution is taken in closing the bag and they’re not slammed into each other.
What are you using to protect your collectables?