Facebook Readers: Click “Like” to vote for WE Knives. Click “Love” to vote Al Mar.
Today marks the halfway point in Round 1 of our Knife Madness Tournament. Our final match in the Import- East Division pits #3 seed WE knives against #6 Al Mar. This is definitely an odd pairing, a result of the seedings being completely random within each division. It is also the first matchup where I have little to no experience with either competitor.
Just a reminder: You can vote twice – once in the comments below, and once by following this Facebook link.
WE, like Kizer, is a Chinese-owned company as opposed to an American company manufacturing in China. While I have not reviewed any of their knives, I did spend some time talking to their reps at BLADE Show last year, and learning about the company.
Apparently they started as a small factory which was making knives on a contract basis. The company moved to a larger facility and began producing knives under their own moniker in 2014.
For over the past 10 years until 2014,WE Knife was named”Wayeahknife”,a small factory that produced OEM medium and high-end products only.Coming along with our business expanding and our own brand knife WE building up ,we’ve stood firm with the decision to relocate our factory to a larger and better working area in 2014, with a new name”WE Knife”being born,which is shorter and easier to be remembered by customers.Now,we proudly share with you that we’ve gotten patented for our own brand WE in China,United States and Europe Union. This is what we belong and this is our home,welcome to join us.
I will give them a pass on the not-quite perfect phraseology. Their knives speak for themselves. They have a good feel in the hand. If you were to hold one blindfolded, you would not think it was a low-quality import. Because frankly, they aren’t. I have reached out to the company in hopes of getting a couple to test and review.
Since I have not yet done so myself, I will let our friend Cutlerylover tell you about his experience.
Al Mar Knives:
My experience with Al Mar Knives is limited to handling a few at BLADE Show. They, probably more than any other production company have fit an finish every bit as fine (or better) than many custom makers. Coupled with the extremely clean lines of their designs, their knives really have a distinct look and feel.
Their production is primarily in Seki, Japan, though there are a few models that are being manufactured in the US.
Since 1979, AL MAR Knives™ has been committed to making unique designs at quality levels that rival custom, hand-made knives. Today, each knife crafted by AL MAR is hand-finished and hand-sharpened by craftsmen dedicated to creating the very best possible. Each AL MAR knife features flat-ground blades for strength and superior performance – and that’s just one reason to trust the AL MAR name.
I spent a good bit of time looking for something more detailed than that, without any luck. I find it surprising that a company that has been around almost 40 years and with a reputation like theirs doesn’t highlight their history more – especially given the fact that Al Mar, the company’s founder sounds like a heck of a baddass.
I hate resorting to Wikipedia for this, but the Al Mar YouTube channel has no original content or a background video like so many companies’ have. There are plenty of reviews of their knives out there, but nothing dealing with company history. If someone’s google-fu skills are better than mine, I would be happy to share some better information.
Al Mar was born in the US, a son of Chinese immigrants. Mar served in a Special Forces Reserve unit and in the late 1950s volunteered to serve in Vietnam with a special project using all-Asian Special Forces soldiers. The project was run from Okinawa where the 1st SFGA had a forward deployed battalion stationed and support assets. Mar was a non-commissioned officer. After serving in the Army, Mar earned a master’s degree in industrial design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. His masters thesis was building and launching a working 2 man submarine, upon graduating he went to work for an industrial design firm in Los Angeles in 1967.
Mar went on to become a packaging designer and eventually the head of knife design for Gerber Legendary Blades in 1968. Gerber’s head designer had retired and Pete Gerber gave Mar the task of coming up with an aluminum handle for a kitchen knife. Gerber thought the project was very successful and offered Mar the position of design chief.
In 1979, Mar left Gerber to form his own company: Al Mar Knives. The knives were manufactured in Seki City, Japan in a 1000-year-old sword making facility; mostly by G.Sakai. Al Mar’s relationship with them started in 1976/77 when he worked for Gerber and G.Sakai manufactured the “Silver Knight” folders. Over the years G.Sakai subcontracted some models that were made by Mitsuboshi, Tak Fujita, and Hattori.
Al Mar died in 1992 from an aneurysm. The color guard provided for his memorial service was drawn from the reserve Special Forces company then stationed at the Portland Air National Guard base. Mar had supported the unit for some time and was an honorary member of the company.
Today the company is headed by Gary Fadden who purchased a controlling interest. Unhappy that G.Sakai had the right to manufacture knives under the Al Mar label for the non-U.S.market he switched manufacturing to Moki, also of Seki.  In the late 1980s Mar was inducted into the Fighting Knives Magazine Hall of Fame. Then in 2009, he was inducted in the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame.
I met Mr. Fadden at my first BLADE Show, and I am sorry to say I made a terrible impression. I was not particularly familiar with their offerings or history, and found myself coming off as a clueless noob. In fairness, that is what I was then for sure, just a month into my role as TTAK Editor, but I still feel that way sometimes to this day.
While they do make some fantastic knives, Al Mar’s Social Media game is extremely weak. There are probably a total of 12 items posted between the 3 sites below. It really seems like they just grabbed up the usernames before someone could squat them, and then were just too focused on their business to screw around with it. If one is going to err, erring on the side of your product over social media frivolity is the way to do it.
Yesterday’s matchup between Cold Steel and Kizer was the closest contest yet. In fact, it was all tied up at 6pm tonight. In the end, a late push put Cold Steel over the top by a score of 14 to 11. A game effort by Kizer, but not an unexpected final result. Cold Steel will join Kershaw and CRKT in the Sweet 16 from the Import- East division.
Remember, you can vote twice. Leave your choice below and follow this link to “Like” WE or “Love” Al Mar.
Tomorrow brings us back across the Pacific for the tip-off of the USA- Modern division with a matchup between #1 Microtech and #8 TOPS.