The Spyderco Caly 3 (above) features a blade of ZDP-189 stainless and a carbon fiber handle. For info on how to buy one, click here.
THE CUTLERY INDUSTRY OFFERS MANY GREAT FACTORY KNIVES, but not all the companies who sell them promote them effectively. On the other hand are those who do. My top 11 list* of those who do it best follows.
No. 1: Spyderco. Spyderco’s catalog excels in content and looks. The company has a comprehensive website with high-resolution, easily downloadable images for media use, runs colorful, creative ads, and even has a professional calendar illustrated with a Spyderco knife for each month. The company exhibits at most high-profile knife shows, has a solid Internet knife discussion forum presence, and curries an outstanding stable of collaborative makers who are Spyderco ambassadors by proxy.
No. 2: SOG Specialty Knives. Any company that gets R. Lee “The Gunny” Ermey to plug its knives through ads, appearances at knife shows and elsewhere gets my vote. SOG exhibits at many high-profile knife shows, has a professional catalog and supplies the media with high-resolution images of its knives.
No. 3: A.G. Russell Knives. Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame© member A.G. Russell is nothing if not a master self-promoter, and his company has it all in terms of great catalogs updated and mailed on a semi-annual basis, an informative website, professional ads, a healthy Internet knife discussion forum presence—and its own annual knife show to boot.
No. 4: Cold Steel. Cold Steel’s catalog is very well done and mailed to customers on a regular basis, with seasonal updates. The company is a master of “promotion in motion”—that is, it offers a number of CDs that show Cold Steel knives being used. The company’s website is outstanding, with high-resolution, easily downloadable images for media use.
No. 5: Buck. Buck recently signed Haley Heath of the “Family Traditions with Haley Heath” program on the Sportsman Channel to have her own line of Buck hunting knives. Buck has a comprehensive catalog and offers high-resolution images for media use. It excels at sending e-mails on the latest in its knives and other company initiatives. It exhibits at most high-profile knife shows and benefits from the goodwill and publicity generated by the Buck Collectors Club.
No. 6: Benchmade. A top-notch catalog, a complete media supply of outstanding high-resolution images, a steady stream of e-mail updates on company doings, an impressive array of collaborative makers who promote the company line by osmosis, a presence at most major knife shows, and effective use of such celebrities as Michael Waddell and the Bone Collector line make Benchmade a prime-time self-promotion player.
No. 7: Case. A great catalog, intuitive use of such American icons as John Wayne, Johnny Cash and celebrities that have included Blake Shelton and others on company knife lines, providing high-resolution images of its knives to the media, an “American heartland” approach to ad content and design, exhibiting at most high-profile knife shows and more all guarantee Case a top spot in the self-promotion sweepstakes. Plus, the Case Collectors Club adds its 19,000 members to the mix.
No. 8: Columbia River Knife & Tool. CRKT’s catalog is right up there with Cold Steel’s and Spyderco’s. CRKT offers high-resolution images, including great close-ups of specific knife features, for media use. It exhibits at most high-profile knife shows, and its vast stable of collaborating knifemakers serves as a P.R. agency in and of itself.
No. 9: Boker. Another of the companies with a great catalog, Boker supplies a comprehensive array of high-resolution images of its complete knife line to the media. Like CRKT, Boker has a vast fleet of collaborating makers who no doubt spread the good word of their designs for Boker as well. It exhibits at most major knife shows.
No. 10: William Henry Studio. William Henry recognizes the value of celebrities to promote its knives (i.e., actor Joe “Pants” Pantoliano’s appearance at the 2009 BLADE Show). It offered a William Henry knife valued at $10,000 to celebrate the 30th Annual BLADE Show and gave it away at last year’s show, creating mini-membership drives for Knife Rights, the American Knife & Tool Institute and the Custom Knife Collectors Association in the process. In other words, William Henry’s good P.R. for others was also good P.R. for William Henry. The company offers elegant ads, too.
No. 11: Gerber. Two words: Bear Grylls. Gerber has a nice catalog and supplies high-resolution images of its knives to the media, but it is the Bear Man that puts it on this list.
*The list rates the companies’ promotional ability only, not the quality of the knives. However, “perception is reality,” and effective self-promotion influences many people’s opinions of knife quality, whether it is an accurate barometer of quality or not.
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