Gear Saturday Night Blade Pr0N: Production knives from Custom designs or I went to the USN Show and all I got was this factory knife! Mike Searson September 19, 2015 Join the Conversation You made it to the big knife show with money to spend. You have your heart set on a particular model by your favorite maker. The maker sells his knives through a lottery or maybe it’s “first come, first served” at his table and there are people sleeping outside the door like they do for Todd Rexford at the USN Gathering every year. You end up being 10th in line for only 9 knives or your name simply did not get drawn. The airfare, the hotel room and $20 hamburgers in Vegas have taken their toll on your wallet. Will you go home empty handed? Spyderco's custom collaborations There is the chance of buying the knife on the secondary market and paying anywhere from $100 to $5000 more than table price, depending on the maker. However, if you take a look at some of the production knife companies who collaborate with the top custom makers in the industry, you may be surprised. Spyderco Sal Glesser’s company, Spyderco, was one of the first if not the very first factory to work hand-in glove with custom makers. Keenly aware of their brand, Spyderco insists that the finished product uses their trademarked Round Hole in the blade. We took a look at three of their collaborations based on designs by makers from the Usual Suspect’s Network at the recent USN Gathering. Burch Chubby by Spyderco Michael Burch is a popular maker who has been on the USN from the beginning. His design with Spyderco is a stout-bladed folder called “The Chubby”. Now before you roll your eyes and say “Burch’s deferentially treated handmade folders go for upwards of $2000 from him, why would I want a Zytel handled Spydie with a 440C blade or something similar? I want quality”, there is more to this folder than meets the eye. The blade is CPM S30V, the handles are Titanium and the non locking side features carbon fiber inserts. Spyderco went a similar route with Peter Carrey’s Rubicon design. Carrey’s knives are nothing short of perfect and the Spyderco version again makes use of S30V, Titanium liners and carbon fiber scales with Carrey’s flipper action and distinctive G10 back spacer in orange. Peter Carrey's Rubicon by Spyderco Heading in the opposite direction is Laci Szabo’s folder which is larger than life, like Laci, himself. Handles are G-10 and carbon fiber laminate over stainless steel liners. The blade is S30V and this knife uses a rear mounted compression lock. Laci Szabo folder by Spyderco Emerson Knives Inc Most people know of Ernest Emerson’s custom knives and their rarity and expense, but there is a production house as well that churns out mass produced versions of some of his custom designs using the same materials 154 CM steel, G10 handles and a titanium liner lock. Emerson Roadhouse The Roadhouse is one such design with its beefy tanto blade and robust handle. One of the cool things about Emerson’s factory knives is that the design is so simple that almost anyone who can wield a screwdriver can take one apart, customize it and put it back together even if it is just swapping out the factory clip and thumb stud for some Steel Flame bling. At this point you are probably thinking one of two things: “Those are the materials I want and the designs I want; they are higher end factory knives and I would rather carry one of those and be out a few hundred if I lose it than be out a few thousand if I lost a real custom”, or “You’re out of your mind, Searson, I would never spend more than $100 on a knife, they’re not guns for heaven’s sake.” Relax, partner, we’ve got you covered there, too. Kershaw One company that really made their bones through custom collaborations is Kershaw. They have a higher end branch with their Zero Tolerance line that makes use of talents such as Emerson and Rick Hinderer and their standard line which can be found in most sporting goods stores for under $100. They have partnered with Emerson to manufacture steel framed folders featuring Emerson’s famous chisel grind and wave shaped opening mechanism. These knives represent tremendous bang for the buck. CRKT Columbia River Knife and Tool probably makes use of more custom designers than all the others put together, particularly with master knife maker Ken Onion. If you are more of a bush craft type of user you will appreciate the Saker by Abe Elias. This Scandi-grind fixed blade features an edge so sharp you can shave with it . Saker by Abe Elias and CRKT The ultimate bargain at CRKT has to be the tomahawks they are producing with Ryan Johnson of RMJ Forge. Ryan has been a fixture on the USN from the early days and has attended all 7 of the annual Gatherings. Known for his custom tactical and traditional tomahawks, his series with CRKT is just as special since the forged heads can be re-forged and reworked into a custom design and the handles are made of real hickory from a workshop in the US that has been making similar handles for over 100 years. This is truly a tomahawk for the trunk of your car, “just in case”. Kangee Ranger Tomahawk by Ryan Johnson of RMJ Forge and CRKT Kangee Ranger Tomahawk by Ryan Johnson of RMJ Forge and CRKT The next time you strike out at a knife show, take a look around at the factory offerings. The materials and workmanship may surprise you. 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