Blade Show 2017: Under Review

BLADE Show is not only a tremendous networking opportunity for blogs like us, providing important face time with the companies and the knifemakers we write about, it is also a great way to secure review samples for evaluation on these pages. This year was no different.

Clay already outlined the Bradford Guardian 3S he has in for review in his “Haul” post. In addition to that, I’ve wrangled a nice trio of blades to begin testing.

The first knife I received is already in my edc rotation, the Hogue X1-Micro. Hogue spent a lot of time with us, showing off some of their new mechanisms and models coming out. The new X1-Micro comes in a few different handle/blade variations, and also comes in assisted and unassisted formats.

Our review sample was handed over to me by Neil Hogue himself, in exchange for $1 to ward off any bad luck. It is unassisted and features a flat gray aluminum frame and a CPM-154 blade. The unique thing about the knife is that it has a tunable detent. We’ll see how it fares through a couple months of use.

The X1-Micro actually shares a lot in common with my longtime favorite EDC, the Benchmade Doug Ritter Mini-Griptilian. Blade size and shape are about the same… it has a stonewashed finish (all the better for hiding scratches)… and the button lock keeps your fingers out of the way when closing the blade, just like Benchmade’s Axis. I appreciate all these things about my Ritter, so the X1-Micro is naturally right up my alley.

Another vote of confidence for this knife design: my brother, who is not nearly as big a knife nut as I am, tagged along for his first Blade Show this year. He rarely spends big bucks on knives (most of his are less than $100), but after fiddling with this knife back in the hotel for a while, he made sure to pick one up before we came home. He paid $160 at the show. We’ll see where the retail price settles after dealers start getting them in stock.

The next blade I acquired was this classy looking Camp Muk on loan from Andy Roy of Fiddleback Forge. Andy has been kind enough to contribute to a few of our articles over the years, including a 5 From The Grinder interview and our recent article where we tried to identify the best knife steel.

We had a brief but good chat at the show, and Andy graciously offered me my pick of his table for a review sample. Being an unabashed Nessmuk fan, my eyes had been glued to this Camp Muk even before I talked to Andy, so I jumped at the opportunity to give the $445 blade a workout. Thank you sir!

The blade is 5/32” thick A2 (the best steel according to our article!) with a tapered tang. The handles consist of ivory paper micarta with dovetailed black micarta bolsters and thick black micarta liners. Five black micarta pins run through the knife, but four of them are hidden by virtue of being the same color as the bolster. The last pin creates a “beauty mark” in the smooth creaminess of the ivory paper, something of a signature move for Andy. I may have to name this bombshell of a knife “Marilyn!”

Andy’s ergonomics are some of the best in the business and this knife is no exception. I look forward to giving this knife a workout.

The final review blade for the weekend comes from Brian Ehst of Haw Creek Blades. I met him while conversing at another maker’s table and didn’t even realize he was a knifemaker at the time. After we had parted, he later tracked me down and asked if he could give me a knife for review.

Flattered, I said, “Of course!” Apparently, Mr. Ehst had seen some of our reviews in the past, and wanted to see how his work would fare in our testing. We walked over to his table and settled on the Hunter pictured below. The knife is a loaner, but Brian told me not to hold back on the knife, and to test it thoroughly in all manners. Thank you sir for your trust in coming to us.

Fit and finish on the Haw Creek Hunter is not as good as the above Fiddleback, but the price is almost half. For $230, you get a handmade knife of 3/16” thick CPM-154, osage orange handles with micarta bolster and black and orange liners.

Ehst has also nailed the ergonomics on this knife. It fits my hand very well; the blade length (3.75”) and proportions of the knife feel just about perfect to me. More than just a simple hunting knife, this blade ought to fill the roles of camping or compact survival knife extremely well.

While not technically a BLADE Show acquisition, Clay also handed off the Utica UTK-S4 to me to begin full testing on. He has already done a First Impressions post on this knife here, so make sure to check it out.

Needless to say, I’ve got my work cut out for me in testing this bevy of blades. I’ll have First Impressions posts up on them in the course of the next couple weeks to hold things over as I go about the long term testing. Cheers all, and thanks again to Neil Hogue, Andy Roy, and Brian Ehst for the steel!


  1. Cadeyrn says:

    It is really great to see so many different makers and blades. Keep up the great work, I’ll keep my schedule clear for Blade Show next year!

  2. stuartb says:

    Its a ‘beauty muk’ not a ‘beauty mark’

  3. Sam L. says:

    The Muk’s a beaut, and so is the EHST. The Hogue is slick.

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Blade Show 2017: Under Review

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