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Like the SHOT Show is for the shooting and hunting industries, the Blade Show is the premier annual event for both the cutlery trade and the general public. Held this year from May 31st to June 2nd at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, Georgia, the gathering brought together blade cutlery companies, Knifemaker’s Guild members, American Bladesmith forgers, cutlery lovers, collectors, sharpening specialists, survivalists, artisans, swordsmen and swordswomen, and even a few celebrities. Those of us who have annually made the pilgrimage are amazed at how the show continues to grow and grow. Attended by over 1,000 vendors from more than 20 countries, the Blade Show’s three days are not nearly enough to take in all the exhibits, seminars and offerings with the depth one would wish. The trip home frequently involves making a mental list of those companies and makers you wanted to see but didn’t—there’s always next year.

If that isn’t enough to get your attention, the Living Ready Expo was also held adjacent to and in conjunction with the Blade Show. The Expo was a natural extension of the Blade Show as it featured demonstrations and booths from businesses and individuals engaged in the growing movement toward self-reliance and preparedness. Following Hurricane Sandy, many attendees had felt the fear and privations of life without electricity and other modern conveniences. Vendors of water filtration systems, emergency foodstuffs, alternative power generation and shelter systems lined the red-carpeted show space.

Not simply a knife-industry trade show, the Blade Show is also a conclave of artisans who bring forth their work for review by peers. Both individual craftsmen and manufacturers submit their work to scrutiny by a panel of judges. And each year, those new knives are more tightly constructed, featuring creative and functional elements in both new and traditional materials. The Blade Show honored several Knife-of-the-Year categories, including one knife-accessory category, individuals with special achievement in the knife industry, and custom-knife winners. Here are some of the highlights.

OVERALL KNIFE OF THE YEAR
Zero Tolerance 0454: The new Zero Tolerance 0454 knife features Kai USA’s proprietary Composite Blade Technology and the company’s first three-piece Composite Blade. The 0454 is a collaboration between Zero Tolerance and Dmitry Sinkevich. The 4.1-inch blade is made of blackened CPM D2 at the cutting edge and spine, with a contrasting, silver, tumble-finished core of Sandvik 14C28N. The machined carbon-fiber handle has a subframe lock with both a titanium lock bar with a stainless steel lock-bar insert. Suggested retail is $500. (zerotoleranceknives.com; 800-325-2891)

BEST BUY OF THE YEAR
CRKT Endorser: The CRKT Endorser is a no-nonsense, everyday-carry folder featuring a 3.18-inch, drop-point, 8Cr14MoV blade and bicolor G10 handle. It carries CRKT’s patented Fire Safe thumb-stud opener and OutBurst assisted opening system. Suggested retail is, $59.99. (crkt.com; 800-891-3100)

BEST HANDLE DESIGN & BEST FIGHTER
E. Scott McGhee: Pulling down two design awards, North Carolina knifemaker E. Scott McGhee of Guinea Hog Forge Knives is an American Blademith Society (ABS) journeyman bladesmith and has been a blacksmith since 1981. McGhee takes particular joy in designing, creating and testing his blades to destruction. His designs focus on functional field craft, hunting and tactical applications. (guineahogforge.com; 910-448-2224)

BEST NEW MAKER
David Sharp: Cancer-survivor David Sharp integrated custom knifemaking into his rehabilitation routine to rise to the top of new makers in 2013. The serendipitously named knifemaker produces both original designs and those inspired by Bob Loveless. (sharpwerks.com; 520-370-1899)

MOST INNOVATIVE IMPORTED DESIGN
CRKT Ken Onion Swindle: CRKT scored a hat trick of three awards. The first, the Swindle, is an extension of Ken Onion’s gentleman’s line of folding tactical knives. The Swindle comes in a grooved version with a 3.2-inch Sandvik 12C27 steel blade, an IKBS pivot bearing system and flipper, and a rotating clip feature. The blade is a modified Wharncliffe and recesses completely into the handle when folded. Suggested retail is $79.99. (crkt.com; 800-891-3100)

ACCESSORY OF THE YEAR
CRKT Onion Survival Para-Saw: The Onion Survival Para-Saw by CRKT combines a quick-release bracelet made from 8 feet of paracord with a woven inside tungsten carbide coated wire saw. A two-for-one tool, the Onion Para-Saw takes the common paracord bracelet up a notch. Suggested retail is $24.99. (crkt.com; 800-891-3100)

OTHER WINNERS:
American-made Knife of the Year: Hogue Elishewitz EX-04
Imported Knife of the Year: Fox Knives Modras
Investor/Collector Knife of the Year: Pro-Tech Newport
Kitchen Knife of the Year: Ken Onion Chef Works
Manufacturing Quality Award: Chris Reeve Knives
Best Art Knife: Steve Rapp
Best Bowie: John White
Best Collaboration: Bob Terzuola and Brian Fellhoelter
Best Damascus: John White
Best Fixed Blade: David Lisch
Best Folder: Scott Sawby
Best of the Rest: Steve Culver
Best Sword: David Mirabile
Best Tactical Folder: Sniper Bladeworks
Best Utility Hunter: Alan Hutchinson
Hugh Bartrug Best of Show Award: John White
Most Innovative Design: Grant and Gavin Hawk
Yvon Vachon Best Miniature Award: Yoshio Sakauchi

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS
Publisher’s Award—Joyce Laituri: Joyce Laituri has been Spyderco’s marketing manager for nearly 20 years. She was recognized by the knife industry for setting the standard for how to best promote and publicize a knife company’s knives. The award declared that her ability to work with the media, by providing Spyderco knives, knife imagery, knife information and other materials, was a model for all others in public relations to emulate, stating, “No one has done it better.”

Blade Magazine Hall of Fame—Wayne Goddard: ABS master smith Wayne Goddard became the 50th inductee into the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame. Celebrating 50 years of making knives, Goddard parlayed the knowledge he’s gained in his knifemaking business into a second career writing about the process, including almost a quarter-century as a columnist for a cutlery magazine and as an author of several knife books, including The Wonder of Knifemaking and $50 Knife Shop.

Industry Achievement Award—Joe Keeslar: ABS master smith Joe Keeslar was given this award for introducing the ABS and modern bladesmithing to France through annual workshops, for teaching bladesmithing in the U.S. via seminars and his books, for his award-winning knives, and for his leadership during several terms on the ABS board of directors and as chairman of the ABS.

MORE FROM BLADE
Naturally, there were a lot of other new knives to see at Blade. Here are just a small selection of those that caught our eye.

CRKT new Matthew Lerch designed “Moxie” comes in a choice of three different handle options, black oxide, black on green, and black on gray. The 3.29-inch blade is 8Cr14MoV stainless. Price is $69. (crkt.com; 800-891-3100)

Timberline Knives, Tim Wegner “Simba” is a superb folding skinning knife with an added retractable guthook at the base of the handle. The 3.5-inch blade is D2 tool steel. Price is $89.99. (gatcosharpeners.com; 800-548-7427)

HTM’s assisted opening “Snap” was designed by Canadian Kirby Lambert. The 3.5-inch blade is 154 CM stainless on a handle of aircraft aluminum. Price is $349.95. (htmknives.com; 469-728-7242)

Kershaw’s “Camp Ten” is the first in a family of large camp knives and machetes. The 10-inch blade is carbon steel on a handle of molded rubber. Price is $64.94.
(kershaw.kaiusaltd.com; 800-325-2891)

Spartan Knives, 5.5-inch blade “Breed Fighter” was designed by Special Forces vet Kim Breed. The S35VN blade is mounted on a handle of 3-D contoured canvas Micarta. Price is $385.
(spartanbladesusa.com; 910-757-0035)

Designed with special input from serving agents on our southern boundary, the TOPS “Border Heat” offers a 4.25-inch blade of 1095 carbon steel on a handle of black linen Micarta. Price is $179.95. (topsknives.com; 208-542-0113)

Spyderco’s Model C156GBN first “flipper” folder was designed by custom knifemaker Brad Southard. The 3.46-inch CTS 204P stainless blade is mounted on a handle of G-10 and titanium. Price is $399.95. (spyderco.com; 800-828-1925)

Condor’s new Joe Flowers designed “Speed Machete” offers a 16-inch blade of 1075 carbon steel on a high impact polypropylene handle. Price is $74.98. (condortk.com; 407-354-3488)

SOG introduced the two sizes of the “Kiku” at the show, 3.5 and 4.6 inches. Both have linen Micarta handles scales and AUS-8 blades. Prices run about $135 and $180 depending on the version. (sogknives.com; 888-405-6433)

Another new introduction at the show was the SOG “Flashback”
with an assisted- opening AUS-8 3.5-inch blade and a glass reinforced nylon and stainless handle. Price is $100. (sogknives.com; 888-405-6433)

For a more traditional look there is the new Puma “Hunter’s Friend SGB” with a 4.7-inch blade of 440A stainless on a handle of a naturally dropped stag antler. Price is $119.99. (pumaknifecompanyusa.com; 913-888-5524)

Puma’s “Trophy Care Set” provides a 2.8-inch long gut- hook equipped hunting blade along with 2.5-inch caping and fleshing blades in one leather sheath. Price is $99.99. (pumaknifecompanyusa.com; 913-888-5524)

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