Twitter Summary: Part trade show, part custom knife show, part flea market.
Hello, my name is Jonathan. You may know me as Scurvy in some form or another or may have heard me on Gear Geeks Live episode 68. While I was at Blade 2016, Tony asked me to take some photos and give my thoughts and review on the show. This was my third time attending Blade and I had already spent all day Friday roaming the floor from 12p-6p when the request came in early Saturday morning. I quickly jotted down some of the interesting things that caught my eye from the day before and headed into the show.
While trying to think of a way to frame this article, I came to the realization that Blade is, in fact, three shows in one. It is simultaneously a trade show, a high end custom knife show and a flea market. I will try to present a glimpse into all three of these facets but I would like to start with a few caveats:
1. Recognize that when you go to Blade, you WILL NOT see everything. No matter how hard you try, no matter how methodical you are, you will miss someone/something. The show is just too big.
2. This article is about what interested me and me alone. This is not representative of everything available for you to see at blade. If it's in here, it interested, impressed or humored me.
3. I intentionally left out A LOT of big name tactical folder companies and makers. I understand that the average reader of this site is probably most interested in those aspects but they are also the most well covered aspects of the show as well. There are plenty of pictures and videos online available so I wanted to try and bring something unique that you might not see anywhere else.
If you are a major knife production company or dealer, you come to Blade. I would say that Blade and SHOT Show are probably equally important in the industry with SHOT getting most of the new release stuff as a result of it's place on the calendar. Still, we get to see plenty of new stuff debuted at Blade. Two of the biggest stories I wanted to check out were the new ZT 0427 and the new Chris Reeve Large Inkosi.
The ZT 0427 is a tour de force of a knife in my opinion. It is based on Dimitri Sinkevich's Do custom knife. I would say the reaction to the styling was mixed but if you like the custom, you should like this knife.
The knife features a composite edge (XHP cutting edge), custom pivot and 3d machined clip as pretty standard options for ZT's boutique offerings. The special sauce is in the detent and locking mechanism. Instead of running a standard sub-frame lock that ZT has used in the past, they have taken it a step further and inlaid a piece of carbon fiber to match the inlay on the other side. Additionally, instead of the whole lockbar being exposed, they cut a window in the frame just for the inlay. When the knife is closed, you can hardly tell there is a lock and watching the inlay drop in when the knife opens if pretty tricky. It's almost a liner lock/frame lock hybrid.
Traditionally, a weak point of frame locks has been riding the lock bar on deployment and causing binding due to the detent ball. The 0427 seeks to resolve this problem by moving the detent to the other side of the knife. On the show side, there is a small strip of steel embedded in the handle with the detent ball on it. There is still a detent ball on the lock side but no hole in the blade so the lockbar doesn't ride the blade. This is different from the Emerson Safe D-tent which I'm pretty sure was added just to help center the knives. Having the detent on the opposite side means no amount of pressure you put on the lockbar is going to effect how the knife opens. The strip of the steel the ball sits in also allows you to tune the detent on the knife. This is huge on a knife that has two legitimate opening methods. All of the ones I handled were set in the middle so they could be easily opened with the flipper tab of the thumb cutout but the end user will actually be able to tune it to their liking if they so choose.
Sadly, this knife did not win Overall Knife of the Year. Somehow the 80s gimmick of colors changing with the temperature was able to secure Lion Steel the win but Blade Show award logic is a whole different article. In my opinion though, this was the best production knife at the show by far. The look, the features, the ergonomics all resonated with me. It could quite possibly be my favorite Zero Tolerance since the original 0777, it is that impressive.
The second big debut at Blade was the large Inkosi from Chris Reeve. This pairs with the original Inkosi that debuted last year that most felt was just the small Sebenza 25. With the debut of this knife, however; the Sebenza 25 has been officially discontinued. As a friend of mine put it very succinctly, 'It just wasn't a Sebenza.' Well it is no longer a Sebenza but Chris Reeve doesn't want you thinking that the Inkosi is just a renamed Sebenza 25.
According to the CRK reps, they have done a multitude of upgrades to the Sebenza 25 to make the Inkosi. They have changed the washers so they are identical side to side, which is actually pretty impressive considering there is usually a huge variation in washer size. The handle has been recontoured as well but it seemed really slight. The stop pin is a new design with no screw hole on the show side now. These are all very minor modifications and it's easy to just see this knife as a Sebenza 25 ver. 2.0 but like my friend said, 'It's not a Sebenza.'
Well now it is official.