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In a perfect world

Apr 21, 1999
If You were to dream up the perfect knife and were not limited by technology what would it be?Use your imagination and remember you are dreaming so there are no limits. Load it up with all sorts of James Bond gagetry or keep it pure,fixed or folder your choice.
Also what do you forsee as the next major trend in the knife industry and why?

First let me say it is great to see you here! This is a fantastic place for knife aficinados, makers, dealers, distributions, etc.

I think the era of the tactical folder is waning. (Allen Elishewitz is moving back to fixed knives as an example.) Emphasis has shifted to lock designs on folders instead (you're one helping to lead that charge). The ultimate objective being a folder that locks so securely that the energy required to defeat it rivals fixed blades.

I also think that the medium sized fixed blade is finally getting it's due. Folks are starting to appreciate the fact that a 3.5 to 5.5 inch blade can do almost everything. Leave the big knives to chopping trees.

And finally I think the next trend is the acceptance of exotic blade materials. We've already witnessed exotic handle materials, a lot of fancy bells and whistles art influences, and great leaps forward in multi-carry sheath designs; now the blade itself. As market penetration increases with custom makers, pricing of raw material should go down. Add to this the willingness of manufacturers to try limited runs of exotic blade materials and you begin to see a trend. Talonite and new titanium mixes (e.g. you and Kit know them well
)are among the potential rising stars.

So if I were to ask for a Ken Onion design for the year 2000, it would be an extremely functional medium length fixed blade of state of the art materials evidencing incredible edge retention and an optimum balance of strength, toughness, and flexibility. Well balanced with an ergonomic handle of permitting multiple holds. All bundled with an extremely light weight sheath system allowing all conceivable carry modes. Quick to deploy it serves for defense, field, camp and kitchen. If the optimum lock system is available, make it a folder with a 4" blade with the same attributes as the fixed blade description.

The "James Bond" stuff I'll leave to the auto folks... A reasonably priced, solid OTF&B (out the front and back dual action) auto is needed. The James Brothers seem to be quite close to a breakthrough on this front. Hopefully a single edge drop point blade will be included in their options.


I did NOT escape from the institution! They gave me a day pass!

I know this will sound lame, but here goes-
A standard sized Victorinox "Tinker" with pocket clip and a way to smoothly open the main blade (locking of course) with one hand.

Second choice:
A Case MINI Copperlock redesigned as a one handed opener with pocket clip. Preferably with stag or pearl handles.

Ken, I think Bob has made some good points.
I don't agree that the tactical folder era is coming to a end, but I think there will be a shift in focus. As new locking mechanisms come into play, there will a return to simpler strong designs. A simple, functional, strong folder is what people will go for. The popularity of Reeve's Sebenza confirms this. If one were to look at the most popular models of different manufacturers, I think this might be confirmed: Benchmade AFCK; Spyderco Police, Endura, Delica; etc
Develop a simple, functional folder that locks up like a bank vault and rivals fixed blade strength - and the knife world will come flocking to your door.

(Yes - we have knives in Canada - it is about the only weapon we are allowed to have)
In a perfect world, my knife would not be seen as a weapon or needed as a weapon, and so I could get away with carrying any knife I wanted to carry.

Will that happen before or after somebody makes a blade with the resilience of spring-tempered 5160 and the hardness of zirconium oxide ceramic?

Back down to earth, I'd like to see more pocket clips that are designed in harmony with that particular knife, and not as a "one shape fits all" add-on.

And I'd like that one-hand lock-blade "SAK" too - with scissors and a corkscrew!

Dreaming right?

The best of all materials from the blade to the handle. Completely versatile for opening, closing, and using with either hand.

A pocket clip that would never wear out your pockets. Versatile for clipping in any pocket as well.

A knife that would never break, wear, or malfunction. Never need sharpening or cleaning! A lock that wouldn't fail under any circumstance on the folder.

Now for the KICKER ... at a price under 100 bucks!


I'll take one of those laser knives with adjustable beam length. Cuts apples, paper, 2x4s, plywood. Replaces chain saw, circular saws, reciprocating saws. Cuts metal and concrete. Fits in your pocket, power source last ten years with constant use. With bonus fixture sharpen antique metal blade knives.
Visible beam (controlled by operator) goes out so far and beam returns to knife handle (patent secret).

Hmmm...if we're dreaming, I always wanted a knife that would actually leap into my hand, without requiring me to have 10 pounds of machinery up my sleeve. A memory-metal blade that would assume different shapes based on a current passing through it would be nice, too. Possibly if it could have a microserrated edge that would actually move continuously like a chainsaw.

In the more immediate future, I think the new crop of locks is going to dominate inside of five years...probably the Axis is supreme, but the RL will be more widespread because of patent issues. That's a problem for custom makers, because both are trickier for a small shop than the liner-locks that were so rapidly and wholeheartedly embraced. I expect custom pieces to be largely liner-locks for some time longer.

I expect to see a return to quality finished pieces, away from tactical junk. I have held more knives by supposed "big-time" makers that had poor fits, scraping actions, and a 5-minute crappy bead-blast finish; I don't think the buyers are going to be blind to this much longer. It's fine in a "using knife" like a Benchmade or Spyderco, but production companies are getting so good with their high-end models that there will be no point to buy such a rough-finished, "tactical" using piece from a custom maker. That will mean makers return to what only they can do - unique pieces in interesting materials and very high degrees of fit and polish. This will go along with the custom makers sticking to liner-locks, because these are better suited to a gent's knife than a hard-use piece, at least when RLs and Axis-locks are available.

I wonder if the new crop of "super-materials" will mean the end of the forged using blade? Used to be that nothing could compare to a well-hammered piece of differentially treated carbon steel, but now I don't know. Bladesmith's won't be in any trouble, though, as Damascus just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

One final thing I can't call - the bottom end of the fixed-blade market. Will people stop paying $75 for a sharpened chunk of metal with a bead-blast and a cord wrapped around it because it's "custom," and buy a nice Recon Tanto or something instead? Or will they go for the handmade knife, however simple, where all of their money goes into getting the best possible steel well-treated, and none of their money goes into making videos and shouting from the rooftops? I think there is no skill or craftsmanship in these "bare bones" pieces, and I don't understand what those makers get out of creating them, but they may be a better "bang for the buck" than similarly priced production knives. I can't guess where that market's going to go.

Well, that was my usual "brief" opinion


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
Since the limitations on perfection are in part due to materials and not so much workmanship, I would dream up the perfect steel. Rust proof, non-magnetic, light-weight, superstrong, and never needs sharpening as the edge gets better with use.

The handle too would be light-weight and indestructible.

The lock(if a folder) would be unbeatable, no amount of weight or torque would defeat it, and yet it would be simple to make and operate.

In a perfect world you would never lose your knife, as it, like Thor's hammer, would always return to it's rightful owner.

In a perfect world....

God bless!

Romans 10:9-10

"Military" Fans Unite!!

I'd want thin blades for good cutting ability, but strong and for knives over a certain size heavy enough for chopping. Sounds a bit like iridium, doesn't it? Probably would also keep a sharp edge well.

Question is if it's technology and not economics which makes it unlikely. A composite blade with an edge of something like the above might be a real possibility. Perhaps the "edge" could be an extremely thin piece of metal surrounded by softer metal?


[This message has been edited by Griffon (edited 17 May 1999).]
In a perfect world, I'd want a blade as hard as ceramics, with the toughness (technically, energy absorption to break) as good as metals or maybe even polymers. This would give the best cutting ability and corrosion resistance without the brittleness inherent in ceramics. As far as composites go, I'm not sure...sorry griffon, but it'd probably be the other way around, with the harder metal on the outside, kinda like the black Ti coatings.

I'm not sure where the industry will turn next. I agree that the trend will continue away from the tactical folders, but where to? I think much of this will be determined by the general public's view of knives, and the legislation that goes with it.

Corduroy's idea of differently shaped blades would be pretty cool. Actually, they do have several steels that changes shape already, the most famous being Nitinol. Most of them are only one-way shape memory alloys (you deform it, and then heat above a critical temperature past which it will return to its original shape, and upon cooling will maintain that shape). However, there are several 2-way alloys that are also temperature based. Many of these are used in springs, where the length of the spring varies with temperature.

Processing of blades will be interesting in the near future. Already Sal is complaining about how hard it is to work 440V. I hate to say it, but that may end up being one of the biggest problems with blade material in production knives.

Thanks guys you have been really helpful i've been working on some brand new concepts and you helped by confirming some of my thought Keep it coming
I won't be satisfyied until i've built a Darth Vader light saber with a virtual reality option and a coffee maker. maybe i'll put a x-ray lens in the deluxe model.
I'ts worth a shot! right?
Aloha! Ken
I would like a fixed blade knife with ceramic for the blade material, but what makes this unique is that th edge would be lined with some material that heats up to white hot when electricity is passed through. So when you grasp the handle and trigger the flow of electricity, the blade edge glows white so you can cut with both the heat of the blade and the sharpness of the ceramic edge at the same time.
Along with the above postings of "new" folders, I'd like to see more of the custom maker/mfg collaberation - i.e CRKT/Kit Carson. The "collector's model" along with an "every day model".
I know many folks here carry & use their "custom models" but I don't want to use my "one of a kind/collector knife" as a pry bar, wire cutter, etc. - breaking the tip, losing it, chipping the handle, etc.

I am new to knives, new to this forum and
I can not believe that I am giving Ken Onion advise on what a knife should be. But for what it is worth here is my opinion.

There are two things I would like to see in
a perfect knife:

1) That it be sharp and that it stay sharp.

2) That is comes out of my pocket open.

Having said that I can not help but think that I have just described my Random Task.

Thanks for listening,
Here is what I want:
A 4 inch Tanto Bladed AFCK... Priced like a Delica, Quality like a Ken Onion kinfe. (

2/3 straight edge, 1/3 spyderedged. ATS 35 or 55 steel.

Dark Grey G-10 Scales.

Dark Grey Coating on the blade.

And I want a free production prototype!

I want a Light Saber for Christmas
Oh! And I want the knife from the movie THE SAINT!!!!

I want a Light Saber for Christmas
Ogre, I think I have seen a tanto bladed AFCK on the net somewhere. I believe I downloaded the picture, but I'm not sure. It was made by BM for Hekler & Koch, pretty sure it was limited edition.

A perfect knife for me would be user and carry friendly. No sharp edges (on the handle area ofcourse!!! anything else with dull edges would be heresy!!
) and a profile that makes it virtually invisible, but substantial enough to handle comfortably. A small fixed blade, like a neck knife, with a decent guard built into it. I think it must be out there..........somewhere.....