Tuesday, September 30, 2014

USN Gathering 6 Round Up by Justin Laffer

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This is a guest post from Justin Laffer.  He was kind enough to share with us his experience at the recent USN Gathering 6.  I added the pictures to make this a bit more visual.  If I got the models wrong, blame me not Justin.

Hey guys, Anthony asked me to do a write up of my experience at G6 so here’s some highlights of the trip and some pointers for those looking to go to their first Gathering or knife show.

The trip starts at 9:30AM when I get to the airport in Nashville Tennessee. I pass through security and meet Jeremy Horton and his amazing wife Kristen at the bar. We have a beer and get ready for departure. During the flight we have a blast talking about the industry and various trends and changes we see happening. Turbulence hits. A Bloody Mary winds up in my lap. Oh well.

Touchdown in Las Vegas. We meet Gerry McGinnis at the baggage claim. After getting our stuff together we find another buddy who has rented out a limo. We get to arrive at Planet Hollywood with some style. In the hotel I find my roommate and good friend Eric Ochs and we unpack some and charge our phones before heading to the show floor.

On to the showroom floor and some of my most notable makers and tables…

Steven Kelly brought some awesome folders, the most memorable of which was his Tank model, which is insanely overbuilt.

Image courtesy of GP Knives

I ended up buying a set of titanium-anodized straws for my wife. Steven makes a bunch of great titanium products and is now the guy that makes all the Ti hardware for Strider’s new line of folders.

Eric Ochs had another remarkable show and solidified why he is one of the top knifemakers in the industry. His mokuti open bid folder was exceptional and I loved the V.2 Gyrfalcon flipper he brought as well. Eric brought about 10 knives to the show and his beep beep lottery Saturday was a huge success.

 I was very lucky to take delivery of an Airborne prototype folder from Gustavo Cecchini of GTC knives. It’s a breathtaking design with an entirely new flipper opening system, its very hard to describe how the system works so here’s a link to a video I made on her:

Des Horn brought some very interesting knives to the show from South Africa. Normally Des makes a much fancier knife but he toned it down for G6 and brought some very nice tactical folders that were very, very cool. Des brought some folders in Nitrobe 77 steel, which is really impressive stuff. If you want to have your mind blown, just google it and watch some of the testing videos.

Pat Pruitt debuted a new folder design at G6 and it was exceptional. I tried pretty hard to win one in his lottery but without any success. Pat is a great guy to talk to and his jewelry work is unsurpassed in its complexity and uniqueness.

David Sharp of Sharpwerks was another very memorable maker from the show. What’s so cool about David is that he is putting out a wide variety of types of knives.

Image courtesy of BladeHQ

Yes, David is pretty well known for making Loveless style fixed blades, but his tactical folders are also exceptional and he even makes leather sheathed pocket tools and friction folders, which caught my attention.

A table over Todd Rexford, Jeremy Marsh, Brian Fellhoelter and Nalu set up camp. This was an all-star line up. Notable among them was Fellhoelter’s new axe sheath system, Todd Rexford’s unreal open bid knife and Nalu’s Capitalist XL model, seen below,

Image courtesy of Justin Laffer's Youtube channel
which is fast becoming one of my favorite knives.

Next table was Lee Williams who brought his Iceman flipper and Crux models for the show.

Image courtesy of Recon1 

Lee’s work was exceptional and its amazing to the masterful work he puts into his flippers with their kickstop opening system. Though Lee may not get the same name recognition as a Tom Mayo or Bob Terzuola, his work is just as sought after by high end collectors.

It was great meeting the Munroe’s at the show. Jana is just as nice in person as she is online and D is one of the coolest guys you will meet. The Munroe table was dominated by folks trying to score a Sigil MKIII flipper.

Image courtesy of Munroe Knives Tumbler

The demand for these folders is truly insane, I scored one in the lottery before G6, the knife cost around 750 dollars direct from the Munroe’s and I had offers north of 3500 for her…this is a case of the secondary market recognizing the quality of the people and the product. Of course the Munroe lottery was a tremendous success with crowds of people lining up to hear if their name was called.

Ken Onion came back to G6 after a few years of missing the show (it coincided with Burning Man which Ken is a huge fan of) and he brought some amazing models. My favorite from his table was the Military inspired folders. It’s a non-assisted flipper with IKBS that perfectly matches the aesthetics of WWII. Ken is a great guy to talk to and a huge asset to the knife community.

Brad Southard had a very exciting show as he launched his performance line at the Gathering with the Avo model.

Image courtesy of Southard Knives

The first-come-first-serve Friday morning was pretty nuts with around sixty-to-seventy people crowding and lining up to get twenty-five knives. There were some pretty annoyed folks but thankfully another twenty-five knives were released Saturday morning to the lineup of people outside the showroom floor. Brad also brought some amazing custom folders, which impressed everyone that got a chance to fondle them.

This was the second year that John Gonzales of Dervish Knives exhibited at the show and his folder line up was very impressive, notable among them were the Alchemy and the Alchemy XL. John was next to Ram Mramba of Zero knives, who had an equally impressive show with his Mezcal model knife being the real hit Friday night in the Cove.

Strider debuted their performance line MSC SnG at G6 and I was very lucky to snag one. This knife is amazing, incredibly smooth, absurdly sharp with its asymmetric grind and rock solid in typical Strider fashion. Also the new deep carry pocket clip and lanyard attachment area is a welcome evolution to the classic SnG design.

Ok, how about some tips for those planning on attending the Gathering in the future or any large knife show:
  • Get in line early. If you want to have any chance at some cool first-come-first-served gear or knives you better line up at least an hour before the show opens. 
  •  If you see a knife maker and it doesn’t seem like he’s busy, go up and introduce yourself to him. You would be amazed how nice and accommodating these people are and how appreciative they are of all their customer’s support. 
  • Buy drink tickets. This is a great way to save money at night in the cove. You can supplement this by buying a bottle of booze in the mall attached to the hotel. 
  • After the show closes around 4 and before the Cove opens around 7 is prime naptime. You’ve been on your feet since 630 AM, don’t underestimate the power of a siesta. 
  • Find some like-minded people at the show and go have lunch with them. This will give you a different perspective on how another individual approaches the Gathering and some more insight on the best way to approach it. 
  • Bring comfortable shoes. Your feet are going to HURT by the end of the day on Saturday. 
  • As with any knife show, cash is king. Make sure to visit the bank before heading to the airport. 
  • Book your trip early and try and stay at Planet Hollywood. Yes it’s a bit more expensive but the convenience of having everything under one roof is well worth the added dough. 
  • I know this seems counterintuitive and schmaltzy but go to the show with the mindset that it’s not all about scoring knives. If you go with the singular goal of scoring as many knives as possible you will undoubtedly be disappointed. Go for the people, the experience and the chance to come home with something special. 
I could go on and on about the show but hopefully this gives you a taste of the experience of going to the Gathering. I hope all of you get a chance to come to Vegas soon and experience the most personal and friendly knife show on the planet.

If you guys have any questions whatsoever, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at jlaffer@gmail.com