Good evening knife fans, and welcome to our 2018 Blade Show coverage. Day 1 is a wrap, and as I have come to expect, was a complete and utter whirlwind. I don’t go into Friday afternoon with any particular plan in mind, that is for day 2. Friday is for just wandering and trying to immerse myself in the show. I don’t go out looking for anything or anyone in particular. At my first show, I did not know a single person coming in. I had corresponded with Ben Peterson of CRKT, Doug Ritter of Knife Rights, and Will Woods I “virtually” knew through the blog, but that was it.
Now, my friends and acquaintances number in the dozens. I hadn’t even made it onto the show floor yet when I ran into Joe Flowers from Condor and Bushcraft Global. We didn’t have much time to chat, but David and I dropped in and saw him later on at the Condor booth. Once I hit the show floor, it was impossible to miss Big Chris Berry. He is hard to miss, even if he weren’t almost dead center of the show floor and wearing a neon orange shirt. As my intention was to wander, I didn’t beeline right for him, instead choosing to meander in his general direction.
I was greeted by several makers with whom I have become acquainted, exchanging casual conversation and a promise to return for a more detailed visit. The first person I spent considerable time with was Robert Young Pelton, famed adventure traveler, author, and owner of DPx Gear. It has become a bit of a tradition for me to get a picture with Robert each year. I had one taken my first year, and then in years 2&3 I happened to help take a picture for someone else and they offered to return the favor so I did. So each of the last 2 years I just did it again for poops and grins.
DPX is debuting their first flipper at this year’s show. It is a version of the Urban HEST/F. You can read more about it in this press release. Robert did give me an original HEST/F Ti to test (with the thumb-studs and quick-open notch). I am looking forward to putting this small but burly EDC through its paces.
I talked to Chris Williams who has taken a break from the grinder business to focus on his knives for a while. He says he will return to making grinders in a year or two, but he has found the change to be invigorating. He vastly prefers making things to being a shipping and billing clerk apparently. I can’t imagine why.
I did eventually make my way over to Big Chris’s table, and also Kim and Melissa Breed’s as well. I finally met Julio Diez of Diez Knives. I have gotten to know Julio a little bit over the past year as we have been corresponding and he is very active in several Facebook groups I am in.
Les George had several beautiful knives on his table, but what really excited me was getting to hold both an original m1918 trench knife and one of Les’s line of reproductions – which use modern materials and techniques to produce a fighting tool superior to the iconic original.
I met up with David and we visited Hogue together, where they are really promoting their new line of Sig Sauer knives, as well as their H&K collaborations.
We split up again, and I went to visit TOPS. I didn’t get to see TOPS President Leo Espinoza when I visited their production facility last June, so it was nice to catch up with him today.
I spent some time with Brad Larkin of Bradford Knives. I reviewed their G3 this past year, and gathered enough material for a standalone post at a later time.
There are too many other folks to list now, and many of whom I will return to cover in greater focus tomorrow, but I wanted to leave you with a few more impressions and sights of the show.
One change I noticed is the return of both Cold Steel and Gerber to the show after several years away. For Cold Steel, it was only a couple of years, but this is the first time Gerber has attended in at least 5 years. Most of the production companies debut the majority of their knives at SHOT Show in January these days, and there have been a number of conspicuous absences. SOG returned last year, and is back again, and now CS and Gerber. That leaves BUCK Knives and Leatherman as the two most glaring absentees.
Unlike last year, where Will Woods wasted no time in declaring it the year of the microknife, I am yet to pick up on a major trend at this year’s show. Maybe David has picked up on something I have thus far missed.
It is almost 1am and I am gassed, but here are a few more photos from my wanderings today in no particular narrative order.
At the Knife Rights Booth there was this gem-encrusted custom Ka-Bar which has an interesting backstory. It is definitely worthy of its own post.
Also worthy of standalone treatment are the new knives from White River – a 3.5″ version of their popular Firecraft, as well as small and large hunting knives.
30% of all Dogwood Dan Kephart Knives – mine, Dan’s, and the last one which is being auctioned off here at the show. If all 10 can be reunited and arranged in a circle, and the proper passages from Camping and Woodcraft are read aloud, you can actually summon the ghost of Horace Kephart. Or so I have heard.
I did not know Gaston offered Damascus blanks. Their Tirpitz knife and others is pretty amazing, now anyone can make a knife from the same reclaimed steel as the company’s. These are from a Leopard tank.
I saw a Japanese maker who crafts some beautiful, translucent knives out of ground stone.
Finally, I ended the day at dinner with Kim and Melissa Breed, where Melissa photobombed my picture of my beer and new HEST.