Tuesday, January 21, 2014

SHOT Show 2014, Part II

This is the start of the overviews of gear company lines: 


Benchmade had a very good showing, lots of new stuff, a new sub-brand, and a few tweaks on old favorites that sent knife knuts into fits. The info here is supplemented by the release of their 2014 catalog. Here is an excellent video by one of YouTube's best, Fate of Destinee. She put out a ton of quality videos last year and this year she is doing the same thing.

First up they go over the HUNT line, which looks like an improvement over the Bone Collector series. The purchase of a Lone Wolf a few years ago gave Benchmade a bunch of knives and they have finally finished the process of incorporating them into their product line. Unlike the Bone Collector series, these knives lack the "gills" that many people, including me disliked. They also add some more traditional elements (combining some things from Lone Wolf designs), like wood (or wood appearing handles). They are actually made of Dymondwood, a resin laminate wood product that works like G10, but still has a bit of a wood feel to it. They can be colored any color and here Benchmade chose to make them actually look like wood. It is a small touch, but something I like. One last thing though, with the new line, Benchmade Hunt, the logo designer needs to go back to art school.

The placement of the Benchmade butterfly is a bit, um, awkward. Benchmade Munt anyone?

The Benchmade proper line has a few changes--there is a fixed blade Contego that looks great, the Stryker comes in an Axis lock, there is a new Nakamura knife that looks excellent (though the finger grooves seem oddly out of a place, given the designer's meticulous approach to handles). Good to great stuff so far, but then there was the news that made everyone, perhaps literally everyone, that likes knives very excited--the 940 is being upgraded. Its not a gilded lily Gold Class knife, but a Limited Edition (like the M390 Barrage, of which they also made a special SHOT Show model). This model will run S90V steel and have a carbon fiber handle (perhaps even Lightning Strike Carbon Fiber, the pictures are unclear).

Grade: B:  Nothing groundbreaking, but lots of good tweaks and one guaranteed home run.


They announced a partnership with Duck Commander. Yawn. The knives were really the big thing. First was the news of a flipper version of the very successful Blur, called the Camber, info found here. That is a great combination of beloved knife and new opening mechanism. But wait there is more. Here is the new product line page with a lot of blades. KAI announced a partnership with Emerson Knives that will result in the wave coming to more people with a more traditional grind. There are EIGHT Emerson collaborations in the regular Kershaw line up with widely varying designs and sizes. They range from the Gentleman Jim like CQCK-1 to the tanto CQCK-3 to...well...basically the whole line of Emerson knives. They are Chinese made knives (Emerson fans just died a little) so the steel is 8Cr13MoV. That alone would be enough for an A, but KAI USA is here to knock it out of the park. There are blackwash versions of favorites, like the Cryo. There is are two new blade shapes, a hawkbill, recurve number and a tanto Cryo. There is a lighter G-10 Cryo. There is a Matt Diskin flavored folder called the Strobe that has elegant lines. The dark horse of the new knives is the very elegant looking Amplitude 2.5. It is a assisted knife, but everything else looks good--a flipper, a 2.5 inch blade length. No steel has been announced yet. The Nura, which comes in two sizes, the 3.0 and the 3.5 inch blade, is really an important knife. It was designed by Dmitry Sinkevitch and has a look that is utterly unique:
This is the first Kershaw brand knife that has the KVT system since the beloved Tilt. No steel has been announced, but its futuristic looks, which go with the new Kershaw logo, and the smooth flipper make it the knife I am most excited for. Lets hope for a 14C28N blade. Either way, this is a buy.

Grade: A+ (VOLUME AND QUALITY): Kershaw simply killed it, enough new and awesome knives for three year's worth of announcements, all in one year.  

Zero Tolerance

The releases from ZT were less numerous, as should be expected given the brand's more premium line, but they were no less exciting. Anyone want an Emerson with the wave, a normal grind, and ELMAX steel? How about a FRAME LOCK? Oh, yes, this is just too cool. The knives are well into production and the blades look great, coming in at 3.6 inches. There are two versions, a base model and a CF model that runs M390 in the blade. Buy. Then there is the Hinderer collab, the ZT0562. This knife is a slicer grind with a 3.5 inch blade. It has a framelock and two models, one with CF scales and M390 and the other with "only" ELMAX. There is a new fixed blade, a production version of the Fieldtac from Hinderer that runs a new steel, Vanadis 4 Extra. Oh and a tomahawk because they are as obligatory as they are unnecessary. Because this is SHOT Show and historically ZT brings the big guns for BLADE, I would imagine this is only a portion of their line up for 2014, which is a very good thing. I would note the more prominent role that manual knives are playing in the ZT line up which strikes me as a very good thing. Most collectors and buyers of premium knives like either full autos or manual action knives and it looks like ZT has heard their cry.

 Grade: A: Very, very solid line up with exciting stuff. Signing a deal with Emerson is nothing less than a coup. Huge Win.


  1. I am excited over the Benchmade offerings, and the ZT as well, but the Kershaw ones left me lukewarm. The Emerson deal is huge, but I think that's better suited to the ZT line. Emerson is a brand identity as much as a knife designer, and seeing his name on Chinese knives with 8Cr steel, as good as those may be, will erode some of that image. It's kind of like what the Hummer H2 did to the Hummer brand: hardcore military watered down for suburbanites. The knives will probably be excellent though. I was totally stoked about the Camber, but then I saw the recurve. And the steel. I love S30V, but the combination here kills it for me, unfortunately. It looks amazing. What really let me down was the steel choice for the overwhelming majority of the new imported Kershaws. I'm fine with 8Cr, but 3Cr? That's barely a knife steel. These knives would've killed in 8Cr. Great write up, though, good to hear your thoughts. /Rant

    1. The Camber doesn't have a recurve. While the illustration on the main site has one, those on display at SHOT did not. Also, I don't know where you're getting the 3cr from. Bladehq has them listed as 8cr, and the Kershaw rep at SHOT said the new Emerson collabs would be in 8cr14MoV. And to be honest, these knives won't be as refined, but they'll be as tough in real world use. Also, the Emerson multitasker is made in China, so it's clearly not a big deal to him. It looks like a decent year for gear.

    2. I stand corrected about the Camber. As long as the production models don't have a recurve, I'm excited. And I'm sure the Emerson collabs will be good quality, I'm just not sure how much of the Emerson DNA, if you will, made it into these knives, other than the lines and the wave. Emersons are chunky in the pocket, for a fantastic in-hand feel, they have a titanium locking liner for weight reduction and rust resistance, and the grinds are thick to stand up to abuse in tough situations. A lot of the Kershaw offerings are frame locks, and I've found in the past that Kershaw's overseas framelocks have a pretty thin slab of steel, to the point that it becomes uncomfortable under extensive use. I guess we'll have to see what the final product looks like, but I'm a bit underwhelmed by these in particular. The 3cr steel is used on the Manifold, Starter, and Lifter, according to Bladeforums, while according to the Kershaw website, the Nura, Strobe, Amplitude, and Thistle are using an unnamed-as-yet "stainless steel," which suggests 3cr as well. I hope I'm wrong, because some of these look great, and as I stated before, give me 8Cr and I'm happy.

  2. Any thoughts on Benchmade's new policy in regards to dealers, distributers, and pricing?

    I agree with Kershaw/ZT, they absolutely killed it. A ton of "must haves" in their 2014 lineup.

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