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Who are the top custom fixed blade hunting knife makers in the world (USING KNIVES)

Discussion in 'Custom & Handmade Knives' started by Glock92, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. Glock92


    Feb 5, 2011
    I am new to this forum and my focus for the past couple of years has been on custom fixed blade hunting knives. In the latest April issue of Blade magazine there is a review of The Boise Rocky Mountain Knife Show and the Author stated " There were two distinct kinds of modern handmade knives there: what I call " The Beauty Queens and the Using Knives.

    I am more interested in taking a look at the best custom fixed blade hunting knives available today not as a collector but to use as a hunter. I am interested in The Using Knives not The Beauty Queens.

    I actually tried to look at all of the Master Smiths that had web sites on AmericanBladesmith.com to answer this question. There were too many Master Smiths that specialized in "Beauty Queens". I’m looking for THE TOP USING KNIVES not “BEAUTY QUEENS"

    This is a very general question and probably hard to answer for many experts of this forum because I’m sure there are many TOP CUSTOM FIXED BLADE HUNTING KNIFE MAKERS IN THE WORLD

    I have purchased a few; I just want to make sure I’m not missing anyone out in the world that is a true CUSTOM FIXED BLADE HUNTING KNIFE MASTER.

    I have owned/still do own some knives crafted by the following masters:

    Charles May
    Gene Ingram
    Bob Dozier
    Mike Starling

    All incredible knives, sharp as hell, great in the field, well balanced.

    I’m sure there are other makers

    If anyone has compiled a list of:

    Please send or even send in whom you believe to be the TOP and I will try to compile a list from all the responses.

    Thank You in advance and I apologize for the ridiculous question.

    Thanks, Glock 92
  2. betzner

    betzner Home To Morro Platinum Member

    Jan 23, 2007
    I hate to bring this up, but perhaps the top "USER" knifemaker in the world just recently passed on. I think most would put him in the user and not the beauty queen category, since those are the choices you've created to select from. Who would it be? Bob Loveless, of course.

    Just trying to make a point - you're going to get lots of different answers because of your category limitations. But as written, I would need to say that Bob Loveless was the best maker of "users" the world has yet to see. But they are highly collectible and therefore extremely expensive.

    Bob Betzner

    EDIT: Let me add that, IMHO, Loveless knives are the height of subtle beauty and purity of design.
  3. gthouse


    Feb 16, 2010
    Bill Burke makes top of the line using knives. Not fancy but incredible field users. I use a Burke pronghorn and like it very much.
  4. braillediver

    braillediver Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 6, 2007
    Bill Bagwell comes to mind.

    More affordable would be G.L. Drew here on Bladeforums. He lists in the "Knife Makers For Sale Forum".
  5. Kevin Jones

    Kevin Jones Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 28, 2006
    You may be surprised to fine some of the "Top User Hunting Knives" are also "Beauty Queens".
    You do not necessarily have to sacrifice beauty for ergonomics and performance.

    The coupling of design, ergonomics, performance and (yes) beauty is what sparks my interest in custom knives. Much the same way fine sports cars combine design/performance/beauty.

    Unfortunately, many of these fine "user hunting knives" by fine knifemakers have become quite expensive to the point that many or perhaps most are not
    being "used" for hunting. As previously mentioned, Loveless hunters would fall into this category.

    Here's examples of a hunter and bowie by Jerry Fisk that in my opinion demonstrate design, ergonomics, performance and beauty coming together.


  6. Matteo Escobar

    Matteo Escobar

    Feb 26, 2002
    Check out Bill Buxton's EDC's.
  7. NickWheeler


    Dec 3, 1999
    I agree with Kevin that you don't have to completely separate the two--- but like he mentioned there probably aren't a boatload of people that can afford a Loveless, Fisk, Fowler that will actually use it.

    Not saying it doesn't happen, I just think it's probably rare.

    I also think if you ask 10 hunters what makes the perfect hunting knife, you'll get at least 6 different answers..... which makes it hard to say who makes the best hunting knives.

    There are LOADS of guys on this very forum that could make you a hunter that would knock your socks off. :cool: :thumbup: :)
  8. fishunter219


    Sep 19, 2008
    David Wesner of Kelsey Creek Knife Works makes a beautiful using knife.
  9. RogerP

    RogerP Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 28, 2002
    Who says a using knife can't be beautiful?

    I'm not sure how you go about defining the "top" makers of hunting knives. Is it the maker whose knives are most expensive? The one who produces the most? The best at a given price point?

    Your question isn't ridiculous, but without some parameters, it's tough to answer in a meaningful way. You will basically end up with a looooong list of makers of quality hunting knives, because quite frankly, a lot of makers can and do make a very good hunting knife - particularly if the standard is nothing more than "sharp as heck, great in the field, and well balanced". Heck, that would describe the single hunting knife I have made, and I'm not a top maker of anything.

    I've had a chance to use a few hunting knives by Dan Farr in the field. I think they're beautiful and I know they cut like lasers.



    This Burt Foster damscus piece has been posted to death, but is a great example of a fine using knife:


  10. mr2blue

    mr2blue Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 27, 2008
    Not exactly custom but Fehrman knives are definite users
  11. andrewfinnie13

    andrewfinnie13 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 20, 2009
    I would have to completely agree with this statement. I've have the great opportunity to see his pronghorn knives being forged,Made and tested. And I would have to agree with Gary's statement. Best user I've seen.
  12. black mamba

    black mamba Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 21, 2009
    A couple more names to consider are Ed Caffrey and Karl Anderson. Beautiful and VERY functional.
  13. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    All of the knives that have been posted are very nice, but most of that type will never be used unless the owner happenes to also be using a $100,000 Purdey shotgun.;). I would check out one of Burt Foster's Blue Collar line.
  14. Habber


    Oct 4, 2004
    I would have to put Karl Andersen into the mix...A friend,and also a hell of a knife maker.I don't think you'd be dissappointed with his work in the field.And they look great to boot!
  15. on_the_edge

    on_the_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 31, 2006
    I do not have a "champagne and caviar" budget by any stretch of the imagination, but there has not been a knife posted here in this thread yet that I would hesitate to use in the field if given the chance. Just my .02.

    To the list of already great makers, I would add Phil Wilson, Kevin Cashen, Mike Ruth, Pete Crowl, and Lin Rhea. And I can attest that each of them makes great hunting fixed blades from personal, hands-on experience. :thumbup:
  16. fisk

    fisk National Living Treasure & Subject Matter Expert Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 31, 1999
    Glock my answer to
    "Who are the top custom fixed blade hunting knife makers in the world (USING KNIVES)"
    is... Well, that would depend upon who you ask.
    There could be some old boy out in the brush no one knows, that makes something that beats all of what is currently seen.

    There are some good names mentioned so far and it kind of depends upon what you want when you go into the field. Some likes a field grade gun some wants one dressed up. Thats each persons choice.

    You also have to take into the fact that some of those beauty queens have a background. What do you think Larry Fuegon and Tim Hancock carries when they go out in the mountains with them mules of theirs? Dan Farr, Lin Rhea, Harvey Dean, Mike Williams etc etc etcA bunch of them ole boys that makes beauty queens are in the field themselves using those pretty pieces. I can name you a bunch of them I have hunted with and talked hunting with that uses their own work. I own a goodly number of good hunters of well know makers and I have to buy mine same price as you.

    The pretty on a knife is like make up on a woman, she has to stand on her own merits before the make up but being pretty does seem to help while she does the same things as before.

    Good luck in your search, there is a lot to research and look forward to with most of these makers.
  17. petah


    Jul 22, 2008
    Phil Wilson!!!

    I can't think of a better working knife.
  18. TacticalBlade

    TacticalBlade Banned BANNED

    Sep 15, 2010
    Mike Irie has some stuff in the $200 range and up from hunters to tactical in folders and fixed blades. I have not owned anything by him (yet) but I have handled them and they are IMO top notch for weight and fit and finish. I'm not sure whether I will be getting a tactical type or a more traditional blade. I will probably go with one of his larger fixed blade tacticals with the kydex sheath to lash to the top of my canoe or to my pack.
  19. Kevin Jones

    Kevin Jones Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 28, 2006
    I'm with you Habber.
    Have never used one of Karl's hunters but have one of his brute de forge pieces and used the heck out of it. Have done everything but try to destroy it.
    So my money would be on his hunters being fully up to the tasks.
  20. Glock92


    Feb 5, 2011
    Phenomenal responses Thank You , keep em comming, I will put em all in a spreadsheet

    Thank You Glock92

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