BLADE Magazine

BLADE Show 2023: What To Expect In Atlanta

Blade Show Floor

BLADE Show 2023 is just around the corner. Here’s what to look out for at the “World’s Greatest Knife Show!”

If the third time really is the charm, then BLADE Show 2023 is smack dab in the middle of charm’s way.

Why? Because it’s the third BLADE Show after the one that was cancelled in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, and most all travel restrictions instituted even as late as last year’s BLADE Show have been lifted. That means a full return of international knife exhibitors and fans in addition to all those domestic are expected to make the 42nd annual rendition of the world’s most important knife event the biggest and best ever.

Sponsored by Smoky Mountain Knife Works, the BLADE Show is where more knives—new, old, custom, factory, etc.—are exhibited, bought and sold than at any other knife event. Almost 930 exhibitors* from every continent but Antarctica were scheduled to exhibit at press time, all bringing their latest and greatest knives and other edged tools, accessories, knifemaking supplies and more. Factory and custom knives, sharpeners, knife collections, knife purveyors and other cutlery entities too numerous to mention will showcase their wares as the world knife community makes the yearly pilgrimage to the Cobb Galleria Centre.

BLADE Show Overview

WHERE: Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta
WHEN: June 2-4

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The latest, hottest custom knives, factory knife debuts, the educational knife instruction class schedule of BLADE University and action-packed free demos are among the sharp goodies awaiting hordes of show patrons. The BLADE Magazine 2023 Knife-Of-The-Year® Awards, the custom knife judging competition and the knife collection display judging competition are others. The ABS Knife Auction, formal inductions of the latest members of the BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall Of Fame®, and some of the best knives the ABS and the Knifemakers’ Guild and unaffiliated makers in general have to offer are still others.

And don’t forget The Pit, the after-hours meeting place in and around the sunken bar of the host hotel, the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly, where show patrons and exhibitors will congregate into the wee hours beginning the night before the show through the end of the weekend to compare knives, swap lies and otherwise celebrate the year’s most momentous cutlery weekend.

BLADE University

Avail yourself of the latest knifemaking techniques and other trending sharp subjects during the 10th Annual BLADE University show Friday and Saturday.

BLADE® field editor Ed Fowler will present the seminar “Seeking Safety In Knife Design” show Saturday at 1 p.m. in Room 107.

Sponsored by Work Sharp Sharpeners, BLADE University has the most extensive schedule of knife, knifemaking and other instruction held at any knife show. Among the highlight classes for 2023 are “CRKT Presents Q&A with Michael Walker” featuring the industry renowned creator of the linerlock; “Designing Kitchen Knives” and “How To Run A Successful Knifemaking Business” with chef’s knife maestro Bob Kramer; “Exploring the Performance of Pattern-Welded Steel,” with damascus forging legend Devin “Hoss” Thomas and his son, internet steel guru Larrin Thomas; and many more.

BLADE University Schedule



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World Cutting Title

The BLADE Show World Championship Cutting Competitions will be conducted by BladeSports International (BSI) and held in The Courtyard, the parking lot of the host hotel, the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly, Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

At press time, contestants in both men’s and women’s divisions were scheduled to compete. Last year, James Clifton won the men’s division and Terri Lynn the women’s.

Knives Of The Year

The BLADE Magazine 2023 Knife-Of-The-Year® Awards will be announced and presented during the BLADE Magazine Awards ceremony Saturday night in The Pit.

The entries are limited to BLADE Show factory booth exhibitors, and will be on display show Friday and Saturday under glass in a special locked cabinet in the lobby. The winners will be announced on BLADE’s here after the awards presentation, and a list will be posted outside the show entrance Sunday morning.

The award categories are: Overall; American-Made; Imported; Most Innovative American Design; Most Innovative Imported Design; Best Buy Of the Year; Investor/Collector; Collaboration; Manufacturing Quality; Accessory; Kitchen; Publisher’s; and Industry Achievement.

Custom Knife Judging

Leading industry authorities will pick the best custom knives by BLADE Show exhibitors in the annual knife judging competition, with the winners announced during the BLADE Magazine Awards ceremony Saturday night in The Pit.

ABS master smith Lin Rhea will exhibit such forged wonders as his damascus hunter in mammoth ivory. (Jocelyn Frasier image edit)

The categories: Hugh Bartrug Best Of Show; Best Fixed Blade; Best Damascus; Best Kitchen Knife; Yvon Vachon Best Miniature; Best Art Knife; Best Fighter; Best Bowie; Best Handle Design; Best Tactical Folder; Best Utility Hunter; Best Folder; Most Innovative Design; Best Knife Collaboration; Best Sword; Best New Maker; Best Of The Rest; and a new BLADE Show category: Best M.A.C.K. (Machine Assisted Custom Knife).

The competition is open to the show’s custom knife exhibitors only. The winners will be announced on BLADE’s website after the awards ceremony, and a list will be posted outside the show entrance Sunday morning.

Seminars & Demos

Seminars and demonstrations will be held in classrooms inside the Cobb Galleria or in The Courtyard, or under The Courtyard’s BLADE University tent. Admission is free to BLADE Show ticket holders.

Among the highlights will be “Knowledge Destroys Fear” presented by Ernest Emerson, CEO of Emerson Knives, Inc. Ernest will share the secrets of how Navy SEALs, Special Forces, Rangers and U.S. Marines conquer fear and thrive and prevail in the face of extreme life-threatening danger. Another highlight will be “Seeking Safety in Knife Design” with BLADE® field editor Ed Fowler. Ed will outline how to use knives efficiently and safely and what to look for in knives that cut effectively, do so without causing hot spots, and otherwise aren’t accidents waiting to happen in and of themselves.

Cutlery Hall Of Fame®

The BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall Of Fame® will formally induct three new members at 8 a.m. show Saturday in the Kennesaw Room of the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel. (At press time, the new members had not been determined.) Tickets are required ahead of time for the ceremony, which includes a breakfast. Seating is limited. For ticket information, email

Knife Colletions

Outstanding knife collections will be on display, with the best recognized via a judging competition. Last year’s winners: Larry Oden, Best of Show for “Buck Factory Production Knives of the 1960s.” Judges awards went to Gene Merritt for his “Yellowhorse” display of David Yellowhorse knives and Bruce Cannon for “Paul Bos: Alloys’ Greatest Ally.” Natalie Lindsey won the Youth Award for “Tinkerbell and Friends Put the Magic in BCCI and Buck Knives.”

Bali Championship

Top balisong flippers will vie for the title of “Grand Master” in the 7th Annual Battle for Bali-Champion sponsored and conducted by Blade HQ.

The 7th Annual Battle for Bali Champion conducted by Blade HQ will be Saturday in The Courtyard. Last year’s top finishers, from left: James Hill (3rd place), Leighton Gravely (first) and Moiz Khalil (second).

The top three finishers will receive prizes and all participants will get swag bags. The competition will be limited to 48 contestants.

BLADE Show ticket holders are invited to watch the competition in The Courtyard under the BLADE University Tent on show Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. Competitors will start flipping knives at 12:30 p.m.

BLADE Show Seminars And Events


Editor’s note: Microtech Knives and Heretic Knives are the presenting sponsors for BLADE Show 2023. RoseCraft Blades is The Pit sponsor. Work Sharp Sharpeners sponsors BLADE University. The other sponsors are Hogue Knives; Reate Knives; Nottingham Tactical; QSP Knife; Zac Brown’s Southern Grind; WE Knife; Glow Rhino; Columbia River Knife & Tool; and Artisan Cutlery.

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