Question of the Day: What are your “Gateway Knives”?

gateway knives

I wasn’t sure what I would find when I clicked “Gateway Knives for Each Brand” from Knife Depot’s official blog – The Cutting Edge. I certainly didn’t expect to have been such a predictable consumer, but I suppose there is a reason that these knives are best sellers. They are all great knives, and in several cases not only do I have the knife in question, but it is the only knife I have from a particular brand.

From The Cutting Edge:

I was curious to learn more about how people came to the obsession of knives, so I set out to find the most common “gateway knives” for every brand. These are the knives people first got that made them more interested in a brand, slowly consuming them until they had bought up as many knives from the brand as possible.

I don’t want to spoil their list, so I encourage you to read the whole thing. I am going to talk about the companies and knives I do own.

In the photo at the top I assembled the knives from the list that I own that were close at hand, as well as a couple of my alternates, and threw in the Opinel No. 8 because most people regard it as the perfect size for most versatile use of lineup.

Benchmade: Mini-Griptillian

Being the first on the list with a big color photograph really got my attention and made me scroll down to read more. I absolutely agree with this, as the Mini-Grip is my Go-To Recommendation for friends looking to buy their first EDC.

Boker: (Boker-Plus) Kalashnikov Auto

I bought mine on Cyber Monday 2016 from BladeHQ for $29. I have carried this knife probably 25-30% of the time since. Given I have any of a dozen blades in my rotation at a given point, that is an incredible amount of time and in the same range as my $250 Hogue X-5 – my other most frequent EDC.

Buck: When I realized that the 3rd knife on their list was also one I had – the Buck 110 (read Chris’s review here), I began to laugh at how accurate Knife Depot’s list was. I don’t have mine in the picture, since it disappeared in my move from Idaho to Tennessee, but it is, and should be in everyone’s collection.

Case: The 4th company is the first one I didn’t own. I only have one Case knife, the folder in the picture, but I think in the case of most Slipjoints, the blade arrangement is most important. I personally prefer a Stockman style, like the Primble I restored.

Skipping around the list a bit we come to Kershaw. I have both the Leek and the Blur – Knife Depot’s alternate choice. Great knives both.

I own both the ESEE Izula and the SOG Flash 2. Both were gifts from Knife Rights for my Ultimate Steel donation this past year. The Izula was on my buy list already, and I am pleased with it. The SOG is a good assisted flipper, but not quite in the class of many of the knives on this list.

CRKT: Knife Depot lists the Kit Carson M-16. I have no quibble with this. I own 3 CRKT Knives, a Minimalist, a Halfachance machete, and the Ken Onion Hootenanny The M-16 is a great knife. I know several friends who own them, and I think it is a quality knife.

Cold Steel: I am not at all familiar with their choice, and my experience with CS has been hit or miss. The Mackinac Hunter is a heck of a solid knife though.

Spyderco: The Tenacious is a great knife, and I completely understand why they chose it. My first Spyderco was an Endura. At the time I bought that the Tenacious didn’t even exist. The Delica, which I do own would have been a good choice back then. I would say that the Native could have made the list as a Gateway Spydie as well.

Victorinox: It has been a while since I have bought a new SAK, but my gateway Victorinox was a Hiker I believe.

There are plenty of other companies on the list, but I don’t own any of their knives. Not that I wouldn’t mind owning a ZT or an Emerson, or any of the others for that matter. All of this comes back around to our question of the day:

What are your “Gateway Knives” for the various companies? Do you own these knives or others? 






  1. stuartb says:

    Mora companion. I’ve bought 6 other Moras since (some as gifts), but I can stop any time, no, honest!

  2. HandyDan says:

    Benchmade – Nope, my first was the 940
    Boker – Yep, I own 26 AK-74s (yeah, it is a little bit of a problem…)
    Buck – Nope, 616 was my first
    Case – Nope, I bought their version of the Texas Toothpick
    Cold Steel – Don’t own a Cold Steel, don’t plan to.
    Condor – Don’t own a Condor, don’t plan to.
    CRKT – Nope, first was a Fulcrum 2
    Emerson – Don’t own an Emerson, don’t plan to.
    Esee – Nope, first was the 6.
    Gerber – Nope, first was the 06 Auto
    KA-BAR – Yep, it was my first “expensive” knife.
    Kershaw – Nope, first was the Launch 4
    Leatherman – Don’t own a Leatherman, don’t plan to.
    Ontario – Nope, first was the RTAK II
    Old Timer – Haven’t even heard of them before.
    Schrade – Don’t own a Schrade, don’t plan to.
    SOG – Possibly. I’m not sure if I picked up the Fielder, the Blink, or the Flash 2 fist.
    Spyderco – Yep, the first and only Spyderco I plan to buy.
    Victorinox – Don’t own a SAK, don’t plan to.
    3 (or 4) out of 19. I guess my taste in knives is a little eclectic.

    1. Ferd Berful says:

      Benchmade – Only own one, a fixed
      Boker – I own several, including high-end
      Buck – I own the 941 only. But I gave many other Bucks as gifts
      Case – Got a few
      Cold Steel – Several, mainly of the elf-defense variety
      Condor – Don’t own a Condor, don’t plan to.
      CRKT – Own a few myself, plus gifting them
      Emerson – Only the Kershaw chisel tanto
      Esee – None
      Viper: one
      Maserin: One
      McCusta 2, etc,….
      Gerber – Nope, first was the 06 Auto
      KA-BAR – Yep, it was my first “expensive” knife.
      Kershaw – Nope, first was the Launch 4
      Leatherman – Don’t own a Leatherman, don’t plan to.
      Ontario – Nope, first was the RTAK II
      Old Timer – Haven’t even heard of them before.
      Schrade – Don’t own a Schrade, don’t plan to.
      SOG – Possibly. I’m not sure if I picked up the Fielder, the Blink, or the Flash 2 fist.
      Spyderco – Yep, the first and only Spyderco I plan to buy.
      Victorinox –

  3. cmeat says:

    benchmade. yes, the (more wharnyish) 555blade version, 154cm with oval thumb hole. the ovals are unloved and can be found for less.
    boker. i started with a top lock because it was the first auto i had seen since grade school.
    buck. lots, started with a 102. i preferred 112s to 110s but had both. all gone but the woodsman.
    case. a model i can’t find referenced. it’s a small drop point liner lock with red bone handles. fits in a blue jean coin pocket, clips weren’t a thing yet.
    cold steel. i won’t mention brands i don’t have other than this one. suck dog balls. way too many alternatives not made in asia to consider this jagoff’s products.
    condor. i lied, i don’t have one of these either. but one of their air cooled vw torsion bar steel machetes could happen.
    crkt. full throttle. don’t carry it anymore. the swindle with 12c27 is excellent.
    esee. my bk14/ 24’s are “eskabars” so the isula handle with the larger becker blade.
    kabar. bk21. ’nuff said.
    kershaw. gesundheit. everyone needs a good leek, and i have other kersh, but the (d2) composite version was first.
    leatherman. it’s actually his last name. i carry a squirt ps4 because nothing is perfect. the skeletools make great firsties for the squeamish.
    sog. seal pup. flash ll from knife rights. pretty crappy. a friend has the pillar and that’s kick ass.
    spydie. i lied again. don’t have one but i’m looking. empire outfitters had an orange handled endura that i whiffed on. duh. they have a ton of variations on the leaf blade and a couple wharnies. the pingo and roadie are cool, but i think maybe chapparal.
    victorinox. i’ve always had whatever the spartan without the key ring thing is called.

  4. Sam L. says:

    Boy Scout Knife, bought new myself, probably about $1.95-2.95.
    Spyderco Meerkat, for the trick unlocking mechanism.
    SOG Multitool>Leathermans and a Gerber.
    Benchmade (Eclipse????, was about $30 back when)>Mini-Griptilian
    Gerber Mk.II>Mk.I> Guardian

  5. American Idiot says:

    Cold Steel- Recon 1, toughest knife I ever bought, with the switch to CTS-XHP it’s now my favorite brand! I have 2 AUS8A models and 6 CTS-XHP models.

    Spyderco- Delica 4, even though it was too small quality was very nice, is my 2nd favorite brand and have about 7 mostly made in the USA models. Since MAP they’ve kind of lost their allure. You can get CTS-XHP for what they charge for crummy VG-10.

    SOG- Twitch 2, junk, lock rock after little use, AUS8 is poorly heat treated and holds an edge about half as good as my Cold Steel models with that steel, will never buy from SOG again

    Benchmade- Griptillion, bad grind, side to side blade play, off center, it was very disappointing. Out of the box it was worse than the SOG. I probably won’t buy another.

  6. knightofbob says:

    Blister packed Benchmade Griptilian, OD handle and black, half-serrated blade in 440C, listed as an AAFES exclusive. Both my introduction to Benchmade and to folders that cost more than $40. Still have it, even still carry it from time to time, though it spends most of its time in my toolbox these days. Tip’s busted off, because never let a guy on the flightline borrow your knife, he’s lying about why he needs it and will be trying to pry a stuck panel off with it.

    Not my introduction to the brand, but the only Buck I own is a 110 I picked up a couple years ago, when I saw how cheap they were at Wally-World. Don’t use it much, but it’s a good knife if a little rough around the edges.

    SOG: Paratool multi-tool. I also have a Seki-produced Pentagon because of that multi-tool; I like SOG.

    Spyderco: I forget, it was rather cheap and small, and therefore complied with what I was allowed to carry during tech school. Dragonfly? It was full serrated, all plastic handle, handy and comfortable, and how I discovered I drastically prefer thumb studs over thumb holes. The only other Spyderco I ever bought was a Civilian in carbon fiber, because it was cool. I’ve got a Byrd knife with the Forest Service shield engraved on it, but that was a gift.

    I don’t even know where I started with CRKT. I’ve got a few discontinued models, I think my first was the one where the lock is integrated into the thumb stud. I frequently recommend the M-16 to people who don’t want to drop the money on a Griptilian for their first knife. I’ve known guys from every branch of the service who served all over the world who swear by it.

    Boker: a full-size ceramic folder and an Applegate-Fairbairn. Bought both about the same time. The latter triggered my enthusiasm for combat daggers.

    Which brings me to Gerber. I’ve got a couple Mk IIs from different generations. I carry an Applegate-Fairbairn folder when I ride my bike. Bought it as part of the collection, but just sitting in the closet it developed a hairline crack behind the thumb stud. Not really a testament to quality, but it doesn’t affect function.

    Bought the classic USMC Ka-Bar at a show when I was 14 or so. I think it’s my only Ka-Bar to this day.

    Technically, my first knife ever was a Case toothpick that I found in the garage, rusted open. I was like ten when I rehabbed it. I had no idea what I was doing, but I made a working knife out of what looked like a lost cause. The only other Case products I think have ever made it into my hands are the aircrew survival machetes, one fixed blade, one folding, both stamped CaseXX.

    My first modern, locking folder, the one that really kicked off everything, was a S&W SWAT, drop point, half serrated. I was twelve or thirteen when I bought it. I had the Paratool earlier than that, but this was my first new knife that was a knife. And I bought it with my money. And it was in my pocket, every moment I wasn’t in school, until I went to Basic. My buddies tended to have Buck 110 knock-offs, or Old Timer multi-blades, or other similar “you’re going to lose it, so it’s cheap enough to not care if you lose it,” gifts from fathers or uncles or older brothers. And I had this sleek, aluminum-handled liner lock that I could flip open one handed and close almost as easily. As far as being a dumb kid who’s just going to lose it anyway, that knife went mountain biking, canoeing, hunting, trekking through storms and snow, everything that was supposed to make me lose track of it. It currently resides in a closet, with the rest of my good blades, in its original box. Maybe it doesn’t live up to knife snobbery, or even comparison to entry-level knives made today, but it was definitely my gateway knife.

  7. Sam L. says:

    Linked at Instpundit 5PM.

  8. McGehee says:

    Eons ago my brother gave me a Buck 110 for my birthday. I still carry it.

  9. Dannytejas says:

    CRKT M21 spear point and serrated tanto. Love my hootenanny. Ontario – Bayonet. Have an old buck that I bought from JC Penney Boy Scout store back in 1964. Old Colt folders, trappers, toothpicks etc etc. Love all my collection.

  10. John Carter says:

    No Microtech? No Pro Tech? Hmm. I carry both as EDC. Microtech UTX 85 and Pro Tech Godson.

    1. I would guess it is because they aren’t “gateway” but geared towards enthusiasts.

  11. Ferd Berful says:

    Sog, A buncha
    Kershaw, same
    Canal St: 1 Union Cutlery repro
    Kabar, buncha
    Schatt & Morgan: 1
    AG Russell, several

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Question of the Day: What are your “Gateway Knives”?

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email