the Benchmade Mini Grip as the upgrade choice, and the Buck 55, the smaller version of the 110, as the choice for a traditional knife. All of these recommendations are something I can 100% agree with, in part, because when Doug was writing the piece, he consulted me and the Father of Internet Knife Reviews, Dan Policastro. The comments section shows there is a lot of disagreement with these choices and I am sure some knife knuts look at these choices and gag, thinking, "Jesus how did he miss the Sebenza?"
The reality is that Doug's piece was not written for us. It was written for the true mainstream, middle America. Sweethome, like the Wirecutter, is targeted as a general audience, not enthusiasts. They have a huge reach, not just because of their content but because of their parent company, the New York Times. They push huge numbers and a recommendation on one of these two sites is a metric ton of exposure. In writing his evaluation Doug focused on something that I specifically and explicitly try to avoid: value determinations. On this site, price enters into the equation very infrequently. Only when things get REALLY crazy do I mention price. My reason for this is simple--I am writing for an enthusiast audience and so I assume people are valuing things more highly than simple value. But if I were going to incorporate value into my reviews, the Drifter would be really, really well regarded. Doug didn't get much wrong calling the Drifter the best pocket knife for most people.
This sort of focus, not on us the hobbyists, but on the mainstream is important to the knife world for one reason--growth. Sure the vast majority of folks that read the Sweethome will buy the CRKT Drifter, stash it in their pocket, and move on. I do this all of the time when SH/WC recommendations. I am not a laser printer enthusiast, so I buy their recommended printer and happily never think about it again. But a few of those people that buy the Drifter, they will use it and see the utility that a knife represents and they will enter the knife world, when, but for the Sweethome article, they never would have. This is crucial to the knife world.
According to Knife News, for the past two years sales in the knife industry as a whole have been down. The high end production world seems fine, but the entry level and medium tier stuff is not selling as well. On the other end, the custom world, while still chugging along, is not a robust as it used to be. In short, there are signs that the unprecedented expansion of the past five years is starting to slow. But if a few of those Sweethome readers venture deeper into knives, the negative market trends could be reversed.
Getting new people into knives is good for everyone. If you are production company, it means new customers. If you are a custom maker it means possible future sales. There is simply no downside to mainstream coverage of knives in a way that treats them like tools instead of objects to be feared. Furthermore, the choice of the Drifter is important. Aside from being a damn good value, the Drifter has features that "teach" people about knives. The liner lock, the thumb stud, the pocket clip--all of these are crucial features for modern knives and all are found on higher end stuff. The Drifter isn't like, say, the Opinel, which, while being a fine knife, does little to introduce new people to features they can find on knives of any price. It is, in essence, a design dead end. The Drifter, by contrast, is an on-ramp to the knife highway.
So I commend Doug for such a well-written piece and I commend Sweethome for covering knives. Its good for all of us in the knife world, businesses and hobbyists alike. We can all stand to benefit from mainstream exposure even if the Sebenza didn't even earn a mention.