Best Custom for First Purchase?

Feb 3, 2001
Hello and good wishes!
I have bought and enjoyed many of the factory folders and custom makers' production versions of their knife designs, but have never taken the plunge and bought a full custom folder. I obviously like tactical folders, can I get some suggestions as to what would be a good first custom purchase? Which makers are the most patient with new customers?
Thanks and take care of yourselves!
Kit Carson, Larry Chew, Dale Reif, Johnny Stout, Trace Renaldi, R.J. Martin, Joel Chamblin, Darrel Ralph, Michael Vagano would be some great starts and there are many others.

" The real art of living is to keep alive the longing in human beings to become greater versions of themselves." Laurens Van der Post in memory of James Mattis
I have delt with Kit Carson, Darrel Ralph, des Horn and am now starting to discuss a knife with Mike Snody. All have been great.

Keith Montgomery.
I recommend going to a knife show and handling a few customs before you buy one so you can have a better idea about them. You might even get your first custom at such a show if you can get to one.
Darrel Ralph, Kit Carson, Bob Terzuola, Andre DeVilliers, Warren Osborne, Andrew McLurkin.


If you want a real user, strong and dependable, check out Bob Dozier's folders made with D2 steel blades.
Well it wouldn't be much of a custom if we told you what to buy and where to get it from, would it?


Name's Ash......Housewares.
Gotta start somewhere, Firebat.
Thanks for suggestions guys!
Be Careful Out There!
I want to second the recommendation for any Dozier knife. You will not be disappointed!
Along with the others that I mentioned earlier I have to agree that Bob Dozier and Tom Mayo would also be excellent choices.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by anthony cheeseboro:
I recommend going to a knife show and handling a few customs before you buy one so you can have a better idea about them. You might even get your first custom at such a show if you can get to one.</font>

This is excellent advice that I would mirror. Only one problem ... the more well attended the show, the quicker you must react or the knife will be gone later.

You won't know why I say the following until you go handle a hundred or more tactical folders at a knife show (seriously, you can play with that many):

Kit Carson's work is super-precision and top quality, starting with heat treat of blade, and going into fit/finish and action. His designs are conservative, but this is an attribute, as he's eliminated the BS and boiled things down to the essential. This is a good thing.

David Broadwell's stuff is flat-out amazing in so many ways. His LDC-107 is my favorite tactical folder out of many.

JW Smith and Joel Chamblin do outstanding work with actions and designs also.

I dig Darrel Ralphs EDC, his attention to using great steel with good heat treat, and his integral lock in general.

Greg Lightfoot does nice work also, and has some appealing designs.

Bob Terzuola has some really core designs and great fit/finish. Don't let his personal style irritate you at a show...

Hit a big show and stop by a big tactical folder dealer's table. Highest on list to see (dealers) is Les Robertson's or his LDC partner Bob Neal's booth. You can handle a bunch of great tactical folders and decide for yourself whose fit, finish, action, lockup, and designs suit you best.

Only then will you understand why I say this: Elischewitz and Crawford are very over-rated.

I really dig Bob Dozier's fixed blades. I understand his concept....high quality, high performance usin' blades at a great price. IMHO, his folders, however, while possessing the same blade steel, are unrefined ... and my money stays in my pocket.
If you don't understand the above after visiting a knife show, then can buy almost anyone's work and be pleased with it.

That sounds arrogant in type/text, but I don't mean it that way. Some people are discerning, others can drink cheap beer and be happy (my Dad buys wine in the gallon boxes for $5, for example and is content). Unfortunately, I can tell the difference and it costs me money.

[This message has been edited by rdangerer (edited 02-07-2001).]
rd, agreed on all points. Great post!

Knife Shows Are the way to go. Sometimes the hand informs the eye. Actually handling a large number of knives is Essential to figuring out what it is that YOU like in a knife. There are many famous makers out there who make great knives that I did not like in my hand. Size and feel matter every bit as much as how the knife looks. Pictures can give a very misleading idea of what the knife will Feel like.

But do Consider purchasing from one of the internet dealers in custom knives, and do not wait for delivery. If you don't like what you get, you can always send it back. Look at lots of knives, and wait for one to call to you.

Knife shows are the best way to do some research and learn about knives, makers, and to find out about what You like. It may surprise you what your hands tell your eyes

Great to hear from you all! Thanks for responding, and I appriciate you sharing your expertise and opinions!
I think the only bad thing is you are getting me too excited!
I will certainly consider as many makers as possible, but I want to buy a user and it sounds like Bob Dozier is a good place to start! I was originally looking at a Crawford Kasper or Kit Carson M-16 as I really like the CRKT versions! Mayo pieces look amazing! Heck, all the suggestions are great!
Oh well, the anticipation is half the fun!
Thanks and be careful out there!
Oh, I almost forgot, the advice on handling as many of the folders as possible is great! Feel and grip are important factors in this type of knife! Will these master craftsmen really let me put my grubby mits on their jewel-like works?

[This message has been edited by Tactical (edited 02-07-2001).]
Dear Tactical,

Find that I can not tell how much I like a knife until I handle it. Some knives that look great in the mags or on the web site don't feel good to me. Others that did not appeal in the mags feel very good. Unless you're really rich - hope you are - handle them before you buy.

With that in mind the East Coast Custom Knife Show is at the Crowne Plaza (49th and Broadway) on March 9th - 11th. If you're no where near NYC, pick up a copy of a knife magazine to find custom shows in your area.


Alan Antopol