Trends... were are knives headed next

Apr 21, 1999
Are you aware of a trend forming ? What do you foresee as the next trend in both custom as well as production knives for the new millenium? Fixed/folder
Will it be new materials? maybe a new type/style?

Where are we headed??
Huka Hey Ken, What I am seeing and experiencing is a trend toward high quality and combat tough fixed blades without chisel grinds or sandblasting, and no ATS-34. I think ATS is on its way out in the Custom world, and new materials on their way in. (I will catch some flak from that!) I dont even use ATS anymore, but is a special order item. Quality, performance, and innovation are top prioritys in the fixed blade/utility/combat/fighting/hunting/fishing knife arena at least in my limited experience. In folders, its new and stronger locks and mechanisms, such as your Speed Safe, and the rolling lock by REKAT, and the Axis. Also in folders, new and better blade materials, new finishes and extremely accurate fit and finish, (Speed Tech comes to mind) are tops. For all knives just good old fashioned quality and value are more important than ever with all the competition nowadays! Its becoming a very competitive market, and those without top quality or new inovations or ideas are going to stuggle! Just my 2 cents worth.



It is not a matter of whether or not you are paranoid, it is a matter of whether or not you are paranoid enough.

AKTI # A000348
Hi Ken and Rob,

I agree completely with Rob about the slow demise of ATS 34...although far from being an expert, I am beginning to find this steel as a little "boring" I expand my collection, I am looking for more exotic materials like INFI, titanium, carbon fiber, Talonite, dendridic cobalt, etc. Similarly, I think that super long lasting coatings will continue to grow in importance. Finally (and I may be way off on this one) I think there will be a trend toward BIG knives (i.e. over 9" blades). BTW, Bob, I love your Talonite chopper in the latest Tactical Knives.

Ken, at the local gunshow here in Salt Lake City I was able to handle some of your work with Kershaw.
The knife opened so fast it actually startled me! WOW! I mean DANG, that is some opening system!
You going to do a colaboration effort with Spyderco? Now THAT would be something I would have no choice but to BUY ON SIGHT.
The knives looked good and felt good. I did not have a chance to test any cutting...

I mean, if I went around saying I was an Emperor because some
moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, people would put me away!

As a part time knifemaker I have experienced my own trend. Most of what I've made is hunting knives for the last 5 years. Lately, with exposure on the Forum and DEMANDS from Law Enforcement customers.... It's been, forget the Hunters make Tacticals!!!
I made more hunters this year than last,
so my local market in that area is not declining. However, if I was not busy at this time with hunting knife orders, I would be making Several of my larger Tantos.
I'm looking forward to expanding my line over the next year to include more of what people are "demanding". As a part time maker I have to work slowly at this or I wind up spending more time on R&D than I do making knives!!
Neil Blackwood

Definately high quality combat fixed blades. The Battle Mistress, RTAK, and Basic series are examples of what I mean. Rob Simonich made a great looking one but I cant get him to sell it to me


Greetings Mr. Onion. As aforementioned, there does seem to be a shift right now away from the stainless steels in general, with both folders and fixed blades. People are becoming aware again of the sharpness, edge holding, and resharpenability of good old carbon steel and its relatives. Non-stainless steels like M2 are finding their way on production folders like crazy, and I believe Kabar's folders are using D2. Personally, I prefer a stainless for my folders and carbon steel for my fixed blades, and I think you're right on track offering the option of natural handle materials on what would be considered "tactical" models otherwise; for a work knife I'll take the G10, and for dress a stag handled, colour ti-bolstered number.

Knife buyers also seem to like a fixed blade version of their favorite folder pattern. I know I'd love to have a fixed blade with carbon steel that had the ergonomics of my Axis or Rekat Carnivore.

Lastly, as was mentioned too, the move seems to be in progress towards any lock other than the liner lock. Though I think it's a great lock and second only to the newer fangled ones, people seem to want wear resistence in a knife's mechanisms and I suppose that makes sense to me. Hope some of this was useful, and keep up the beautiful work. Professor.
I'm seeing the trends shifting toward more exotic types of blade material.
The CPM's
Boye's Dendritics
A2 & D2 are garnering a good deal of attention recently.

The new locking mechanism's are a huge hit amongst knife folk.
Rolling Lock
Axis Lock
the Mono-lock or Frame lock

Liner Locks with STEEL liners seem to be on the comeback trail as people are finding Titanium has the tendency to wear rather quickly when used in liner locks.

Small fixed blades are definately a rising star with a lot of people hre on the Forum.
Lots of new and exciting things going on in the knife world nowadays!!

It's a GREAT time to be a Knife Knut!

If it's stupid but works, then it isn't stupid.

[This message has been edited by misque (edited 28 September 1999).]
Speaking as a buyer rather than maker, let me say that:
1) I don't buy many knives,
2) I don't use them much, but when I do, I use them hard and often "out of context".
3) I buy the best knives I can afford (see #2 above).
Because of this, I stay away from ATS-34 at all costs. I will not but an ATS-34 blade, period. It gives up edge holding for stainlessness, but it has reduced stain resistance for the sake of edge holding and toughness. I have used a few knives, talked to many people at shows and read enough here on BF to know (or at least believe) that ATS-34 is truly the jack of all trades and master of none. It just tries to make too many compromises. If I buy a "tactical" or fighter which needs a serious edge, I'll get D2 or M2. If I need all-out toughness, I'll get treated 5160 or INFI. ATS-34 is used everywhere because it is the mass-production industry that says it's the best, not the buyers (generally). For those who need a general use, stain resistant knife, ATS-34 may be good enough (if it is well made and heat treated). But for my money, the demise of ATS-34 as the "premier" cutlery steel cannot come fast enough.


[This message has been edited by Tomfisch (edited 28 September 1999).]
Let me start by saying that you are a fantasic knifemaker. By what I have read, you are also socially skilled (a good thing to be). You are well liked, and I personally like you.

Now let me say. I think you may be taking the wrong approach here. We both know, that you can not both be, a trend follower, and a trend setter at the same time. You sir, are a trend setter. I would be saddened to see that change.

A note on trends. Trends come and go. There is always a flavor of the month steel. There are always those that love and hate different steels or materials for different reasons, at different times. There are always going to be new hot designs, that may for a time sell regardless of there particular usefulness.

I personally am not a trend follower. I do not think that you are either. Customer service, quality products, accurate delivery dates, friendly attitudes, these have never been trends. These are the things that will make a or break any buisness, including knifemaking buisnesses. They may not sell you more knives in a particular years (as will a trend), but they will keep you grounded in the market for the long hall.

These were my opinions. I stand by them as that, opinions.

Thanks for listening,

Lynn Griffith-Tactical Knifemaker
Winner of "Best Tactical Knife" at 1999 PKA show
My website
See my award winning "Spec Ops Tanto" in Gallery 3 of my website
Discounts to Police and Active Duty Military

I'll take a wild guess here....


I think were are going back to the large camp knife format(e.g. Busse Battle Mistress, Entrek Destroyer, Greco no. 5, etc.). Finish will be appreciated and valued at a premium,and the "every color as long as its black" approach is getting very stale.

Unlike the 80s, the trend will remain focused on more practical designs; generally out of favor will be hollow handles, hollow grinds, sawbacks, tantos, cut outs, and single sided grinds. Favored will be: kydex, and practical (but well made)kukri/bowie patterns, and interesting yet environmentally frendly handle colors (i.e. green, blue, gray, and ivory micarta instead of basic black).

Quality of materials and finish will be at the forefront. The present competition on the tactical folder front (including your excellent products) has elevated the standard for finish and materials.

That was just a guess, what do the rest of you think?

p.s. Lynn, service and originality will continue to be key, very well said.

[This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 28 September 1999).]
The hybrid tactical folder. Look around the show tables and you'll see some of the veteran knifemakers that a couple years back would have had all plain tactical knives at their tables now moving into the hybrids with fancier scales and filework etc. makes good sense since it fills that area between the plain user and the knife that's "too fancy " to use.
We have certainly seen an explosion in folder locking mechanisms in the last 2 years.Some of these have a more solid lock-up than the traditional linerlocks and lockbacks.This,combined with the growth of interest from the non-hunting sector,indicates a strong folder influence.
A lot of people who started off with Spydercos and Benchmades now want a little more out of their knives.
I think we are heading for more semi-custom knives like William Henry and Chris Reeve.
I also think the next big technological advancement is the use of more exotic materials in knives of all classes.
The Titanium,Talonite,Carbon fiber,CPM440v and ceramic materials will trickle down to a wider variety of knives.
This is my crystal ball reading,your mileage may vary.
It is indeed a good time tobe a knife nut!

I think there will be more cheap knive makers selling even more cheap junk. And some of the cheap knife makers today are going to offer better and better products. Eventually rivaling the big name makers.

I also think handle material, not steel is due for the biggest changes to come. Mostly because the need to look different.

There will be less tantos and more drop points. There will still be a big market for "tactical" but we'll see more "practical" folders.

The retro, classic look will make a comeback in fixed blades. Multiblades for folders.

Mictotech will stop making fantasy knives.

At leat I hope.

You guys are pretty damn smart. I agree with pretty much everyone.
Lynn , I didn't post this topic because I was concidering changing what I do .I was merely attempting to get a better feel of whats happening out there as i'm so far away . Hopefully many can learn from the vast knowlege base of the forumites as well as myself .I sincerely appreciate your kind words especially from someone with such a following. you are definately a class act your self. I have no intention of changing what I do other than to evolve my style and to get better at what I do .
I have to agree with Tom with reguard to were the industry is going . Refined tacticals,Ultra Tac,Tactical Elite,Whatever you want to call it. I feel that the Tactical knife will become much more refined.Much more ergonomic,have more flow and symetry.
I also believe the Monster lock trend will continue. Axis, Rolling, and hopefully some of my new locks (hint) (sorry shameless self promotion)Available y2k.
I think the fixed blade will continue to become more and more popular.Mostly compact tactical,ultra blade steels with multy carry rigs.

Just my 5 cents.
Aloha Ken
Aloha Ken,

It was good to see you at the Blade Show and congratulations on Bud's shop article in KI. Very well done.

It has already been said however the current trend seems to be leaning towards higher and even higher-tech, newer and stronger folder locks (Although liner locks will remain popular for quite some time), use of premium blade steels, big and small combat/utility fixed blades and custom-factory colaborations.

Competition between production and custom makers is fierce. Everyone is pushing the envelope to offer their very best. The end result is better and better knives.

Trends will always come and go and there is no set mold on how trends are created or followed.

Trends aside, the knife market is generally utility and performance driven. It will be interesting for all of us to see what innovations makers and production designers come up with in the new millenium.

Outdoor Edge Cutlery Corp.

David Bloch

See our Online Catalog at:

[This message has been edited by David Bloch (edited 29 September 1999).]
I sincerely appreciate your kind words especially from someone with such a following. you are definately a class act your self.
Thank you. You just made my day. BTW, I agree this forum is a wealth of information. You are smart to tap into that. I have to admit, I the comments on this thread by forumites have been very enlightening. But then again, they usually are.

Thanks again,

Lynn Griffith-Tactical Knifemaker
Winner of "Best Tactical Knife" at 1999 PKA show
My website
See my award winning "Spec Ops Tanto" in Gallery 3 of my website
Discounts to Police and Active Duty Military

Of course, the thread seems to assume that WE are the knife-buying public.
Personally, I think we are a minority. The bulk of knife sales has to be to the "uninitiated"......people who do not worship blades and steels. They just want a cutting tool that does the job. No mystique.
No passion. Just utility.
We do seem to be having an influence, though....judging by the participation, here, by key industry people but our share of total knife sales must be small.

Just trying to add some balance while I try to stem the flow of blood from my just can't rely on a block of cheese to be of a consistent texture all the way through, these days.

Brian W E
ICQ #21525343
Money : spend it before it's all gone