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Kizer Knives

Nick Clayton

Kizer Cutlery (www.kizer-tbt.com) is one of a few Chinese companies wadding into the high-mid range knife market. I was sent a couple Kizer products to check out and I will review them in the future. As always, if you have any questions, feedback, or want to call me an idiot, feel free to comment or email me directly. 

Kizer has been around for a little while now and has come to be known as a high quality maker using custom and in-house designs with high quality materials. That sounds like a canned pitch but it's true. I was first made aware of the company when they began selling titanium frame locks with S35VN for under $200, something only a few other companies were doing. I had seen some reviews and overall people seemed impressed. What they were missing, for me, was character. The knives were a little soulless to me. So even though I heard great things, I never tried them out. My opinion started changing when they began collaborating with custom knife maker Matt Cucchiara. 

It's one thing for a company to produce a stellar knife, it's another to have good design made by that same producer. Design is more than half the battle in this industry. If design didn't matter and only quality of manufacturing, there would only be the Sebenza. Design matters. It's what draws you to a knife, what speaks to that primal part of our brains. It's important. Now, this is not to say I was fully on-board. Visually, I'm not a huge fan of Matt's designs, I'm just not. But there is another reason this collaboration made a difference. Matt lends credibility. 

By working with Kizer Matt Cucchiara was essentially endorsing the company. He was telling the rest of the community, "Hey it's OK, these guys are legit". It helped to remove some of the stigma of buying from a foreign (both geographically and culturally) company. That is what lead me to be able to recommend their products. I know there had been a lot more planned for the relationship between Matt and Kizer but health concerns prevented that. 

Fast forward to today and there are a bevy of makers teaming up with the Chinese company. This speaks to the quality of the work as well as the quality of the people. It also gives the end user a real selection, all with the same great build we have come to expect. 

I have several models I will be posted reviews on so keep an eye out. Also, they just showed off their first knife with M390 at Shot Show 2017, that gives even more reason to check them out. 

The future looks good for Kizer, even with stiff competition from all over the world. 

Shirts

Nick Clayton

Alright, shameless plug... I designed some shirts featuring my logo that I thought you'd like. The funds will go to upping our podcast game and should this go well, I will have more coming soon. I appreciate the support we have gotten and our subscriber base continues to grow. We've already doubled in size over the last 6 months and I can't thank you guys enough. 

Shirts can be found here. 

Thanks!

Nick

The Collection Cycle

Nick Clayton

Like most things in life, knife collecting is cyclical (at least for me). I find myself in one of two different phases, collecting or consolidating. I get to a place where I am happy with a couple of knives and stop adding anything new. At the same time, I will sell off knives that I don't use, keeping only my favorites. Then I get bored and pick up a few new ones and the cycle continues. 

I don't know if there is an actual cycle there or if it's just a human trait to always want what you don't have. The grass is always greener, right? 

I've seen collections that are insane in quality and quantity, I don't know if I would ever get to that point. I am far to easily bored and distracted. That's likely why I am always fascinated by what's new. Even if a knife comes out I am really excited about, if enough time passes, I will forget about it and move to the next new thing. 

Then the cycle continues and I begin collecting again. 

I go back and find pieces that I have always wanted. I rediscover old knives I regretted selling. I fall back in love with knives I had completely written off as the collection grows

I wonder if this is a cycle I am doomed to repeat endlessly. 

There's no grand conclusion for me yet. Time will tell if I fall into a groove and maintain a steady growing collection. Until then, I have some knives I'll sell you. (also, what do you happen to have?)

What's a "mid-tech"?

Nick Clayton

There has been a lot of hoopla about the term "mid-tech". KnifeThursday dedicated quite a bit of time to the subject (before virtually disappearing) without much of a consensus being reached. Now, I don't intend to imply that it is even a fully definable term. It may well be that it will forever be a fluid concept, and that's perfectly fine. 

Auston and I are going to make this subject the topic of our next podcast episode. Hopefully we will be able to talk through some of the minutia and at least arrive at something of an idea of what constitutes a "mid-tech".

Stay tuned for more.  

The Middle?

Nick Clayton

Over the past few months/years, the knife market has become much like the politics in this country, more polarized and partisan. 

Let me explain. 

The top end of the knife market used to be the Strider and Sebenza. (I'm ignoring the custom market of the past). These were ~$400 knives and considered the pinnacle of what a knife could be. Want something more gentlemanly? Go Sebenza. Want something tough? Go Strider. (Yes I know the argument can and has been made for either of those fitting both).

The low end of the market has always been a race to the bottom.

The middle is where the heart of the market resided. The ~$50-$150 knife was where the knife guy looked. That is where the Benchmade (insert model here), the Paramilitary 2, the Kershaw Leek, etc. 

But the middle is disappearing. Knife guys have demanded more out of their knives and knife companies have responded in kind. The custom market has also exploded as well as the "mid-tech". 

But I fear in our pursuit of better and better, more and more, we have been destroying "good". There are still some good options out there in the middle but every new knife that comes out is either at the low end or up high above $200. 

My prediction, mark my words, is that the market will slowly come back around. As the bubble is deflated, the middle will come back. I've already seen the signs. The ZT 0450 and the PM2 in S110V are both proof that the middle is coming back. It's not back yet but we will start to see more in this range over the next few years. 

Either that or I'm completely out of my mind (entirely possible). 

 

Knife Modifying

Nick Clayton

Usually when someone has a knife "modified" they mean they sent it to a person and that person altered the knife. The first knife modifier (I agree with not using the word pimper)  I can remember was Jeff a.k.a. TuffThumbs. There may have been others before him but he stands out in my mind as the first one I remember. It started out simply enough, Paramilitary 2's were the hot item. Custom scales, rock pattern, those were the days. But as it seems, most guys who get into making custom scales and such for knives, soon come to realize that making a knife is only a stone's throw away. And, why would you not make a knife when there is obviously much more profit to be had doing so. 

But I digress. 

I've never actually sent a knife to a knife modifier before. I have just never been unhappy with a design enough to alter it. If I didn't like a particular design, more than likely I just didn't buy one. I can understand wanting to put a custom touch on a knife, though. Having something unique to you is certainly appealing. There are, however, some things to remember; 

You may not like it when it's done

It will probably never be worth the money you put into it (or even the original price of the base knife)

You may be waiting for a while to get your knife back (this is largely dependent on your choice of modifier)

That being said, I have only seen a few terrible examples of modifications. Most of the time, they turn out very well done. That is where the artistic part comes in, knowing what to do and what not to do. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should. (bonus points for knowing the reference).

The list of modifiers is constantly changing. There are only a few guys that stick around for a while and don't move on to custom knife making. Randy Johnson has been doing good work for a while, Rival still does great work, but for every modifier that stays in the game, there are two that leave. They either stop doing work, or they move on to custom knives. 

I think there is plenty of room for these guys in the market and I hope to see more come up and try their hand at modding. 


The Modern Neanderthal Podcast Episode 2 is up

Nick Clayton

This episode was a long one. We invited a guest along for the ride since there was so much material we wanted to talk about. We cover the knives that have been released so far this year and some of the things we expect to see at Blade. We most certainly didn't cover everything but I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to email me or comment to share your opinion! Also, an iTunes review would be great. 


Hype

Nick Clayton

With hype, there are 3 places I will end up. I will either be A) surprised B) Disappointed or C) indifferent. In relation to gear, part of the fun of collecting is getting something new and shiny. We are always on the hunt for a new "grail" or a new design catches our eye and we MUST HAVE IT. The longer you collect something, though, the more diminished that response becomes. Almost like I need a more powerful drug to get the same high. But, however internal this may be, there is a real effect that hype can have on the success of a design in the enthusiast community.

If something is too hyped up, it can often fail to meet those lofty expectation. I've seen it many times. On the other hand, sometimes even the most hype of expectations can be met or even sometimes exceeded. It really is about where your impression meets the hype that is important. I recently got a Shirogorov knife. That company has a ton of hype around it's designs and for good reason. But despite the high mark, the knife surpassed my expectations and I was surprised by how good it was. 

After years in the game, I have learned to keep my emotions in check about any new design. That way, I am usually happy with the knife once I have it. There are instances where I am disappointed by a knife though. Take the Spyderco Farid Mehr K2. That knife looked incredible (albeit a bit on the large side) but once I handled one, I was immediately dissuaded from buying one. A part of that was the letdown of my initial feelings. 

The point I'm trying to make is that we should not pass judgement one way or the other when it comes to a design. I believe the best course of action is to truly not knock it till we try it. 


Podcast Coming Soon!

Nick Clayton

We just finished recording our inaugural episode of The Modern Neanderthal Podcast. This has been an ongoing project that I am very excited to see what fruit it bears. The first episode is titled Imported Knives and is a discussion about the rise of popularity of overseas produced knives in the US. We also set ourselves on a challenge to carry our cheapest knife for a whole week. Mine is a Kabar Bob Dozier Folder, a great budget knife. Stay tuned as the podcast should be up in a few days!

The Apple Watch

Nick Clayton

The initial reviews are out and the Apple Watch is not for everyone. The Watch deserved the attention it has been receiving. Apple is a company who's products have redefined the way we live our daily lives. You owe them credit for the smartphone in your pocket, regardless of which kind it is. That is why the Apple Watch is a big deal. Every time Apple has released a new product category, it has changed the face of that category. The iPod redefined what music players were, iTunes revolutionized the music industry, the iPhone changed the face of the smartphone industry, and the iPad shaped the tablet market. They have a very successful track record but what does that mean for the Watch? 

It could happen again but most of the reviews paint a picture that this device is not the one to buy, the next one is. My two favorite pieces are from The Verge (type "thirsty") and Joanna Stern of The WSJ. The initial watch is compelling enough but it reminds me a lot of the first iPad and iPhone. Looking back, you realize how silly those were. They were big, clunky, and were missing obvious things that one would ask of them. Over time they got better, they got really good. I suspect the same of the Watch. 

So should you buy it? If you have enough money and you really want one, yes. If you like your money and are on the fence, probably not.