S&M 71 Express Update

The first release of S&M 71 Express knives sold out fast, but there is another run in the works!  First, let me share some production info on the first run.

Initially, there were supposed to be a relatively even mix of the Maple and Ironwood.  A number of the Maple handles were lost in production and as a result, there weren’t many built.  I’m going to guess around 25-30.  The stag came out as a bit of an afterthought with just 23 of them built.   I ran out of stag very quickly and am hoping to snag a couple more if at all possible.  No promises.  And speaking of stag, I’ve now heard from two sources that stag is becoming difficult to get once again.

I talked to Ryan yesterday and the next release of the 71 Express will total around 265 pieces.  Should be seeing these in February.  Breakdown of handle materials are proposed as follows:

  • 50  Ironwood
  • 50 Leopard Wood
  • 50 Black G10
  • 50 Red Shockwood
  • 40 Red Acrylic
  • 25 Black G10

I’ve set up a page for early orders and based on the first run, don’t wait if you’re interested.  Another note when you’re ordering is make sure you use a street address for delivery and NOT a box number.  These are shipped UPS and box numbers don’t cut it.  You’ll also notice the current price does include US Shipping.

S&M 71 Express & More

The S&M 71 Express shipped this week and it didn’t disappoint.  It’s a really cool nostalgic take on the old KaBar Grizzly.  And if you can’t handle the $2000+ price for an original, this is a viable option.

I quickly found out it’s a little bit quirky to operate from a modern day push button.  For effective operation you want to get your thumb high up on the bolster.

While using the tip of your index finger to set things in motion.

It has a serious spring in it so it’s not made for the meek.

You’ll notice the gap in the liner/spring area which is the way things have to be to operate.  That’s not a design or manufacturing flaw.

In addition, apparently the design results in the blade lying to the left of center which was consistent in every knife I looked at which also leads me to think it has to do with the design.

Another interesting detail is the center pin on the bottom almost appears to be spun or more accurately, peened and is consistent with all of the knives.  That pin goes all the way through to the other side while the front and rear bottom pins appear to only go through the handle material and liner so I’m assuming their is a strength factor involved.  There is a small amount of side play in most of the knives which disappears when a small amount of pressure is placed on the locking lever from the ‘shield’ side.  All in all it’s a really fascinating old automatic.

Not quite as exciting but well worth mentioning is the arrival of more of the GEC 74 Stallions.  The Spring Green Jigged Bone came in this afternoon, the Gabon Ebony arrived earlier this week and it looks like more handle options are already in transit.

This is kind of a brief update, but I’ve been playing with the 71 Express most of the day and just kind of let things slide!!!

Weekly Update 1.06.17

The first weekly update of the new year….hope this year lasts longer than last year!!!

Today the first of the GEC Northfield 74 Stallion (Non-SFO) knives arrived.  The Northfield Cocobolo is the first out of the chute and they look reallly good.

74 Stallion Cocobolo Wood

Cocobolo is one of those woods that can look really nice or it can be about as plain as plain can be.  All of the knives I received had very consistent coloration with nice contrast.  I did take the time to shoot pix of each individual knife for the store this time as there’s a fair amount of variation and no one likes surprises.

I had a notification that the first of the John Henry 71 Express knives shipped this week.  Not 100% sure of the delivery date but I’m really anxious to check them out.  There’s a possibility I’ll have one or two extras available if you missed out on the initial booking.  Drop me an email if you want to be put on the list for a shot at one.

There’s also going to be a second run coming through with different handle options around the end of February.  Not a clue what we’ll see on that run but I’ll post details as soon as I know for sure.

Not sure if any of you have messed around with Kydex, making sheaths or holsters but I broke down and ordered some Kydex sheets, rivets, screws etc this week.  It’s one of those things I’ve thought about playing around with but just haven’t taken the time to pursue.

What peaked my interest was a CC holster rig I just ordered from Alien Gear.  It’s a modular system with a removable/changeable pouch holding the gun.  Now the interesting thing is that Alien Gear will exchange the pouch if you change guns….no charge for the exchange.

My first thought is they must be over-charging for the rig if they can offer that kind of lifetime exchange deal OR that pouch must be pretty cheap to mold.  A little research and I realize it’s a pretty inexpensive part to build.  Great marketing concept.

This gets me thinking about a Kydex FireSteel holder that can be attached to an existing sheath.  Then I’m realizing a Kydex sheath for the Trestle Pine Buddy would solve the issue of camping/fishing/hiking in the rain with a leather sheath.  All of a sudden I’m overcome with all sorts of projects and possibilities that need exploring.  And the idea of a Kydex sheath for a traditional folder pops into my head.

I was tarping our camper this fall in a light drizzle using paracord to tie the tarp down.  I had my Grand Portage out, laying it on the ground or on the camper as I tied things up.  In the past I’ve done this and have walked off leaving my knife lay.  A number of years ago I cleaned some trout on a remote lake, stuck the knife in a log while I packed up the fillets. Cleaned up, packed up and moved on leaving the knife in the log.  Later that evening I realized my knife wasn’t in my pocket and remembered where I left it.  Luckily, the next day it was still there.

So why not build a simple belt pouch that you could slide a folder into and still easily access it without a lot of fuss.  Better yet, why not design a belt pouch that would allow you to slide the knife in while the blade is still deployed somewhat like a fixed blade sheath?

Probably going to be a while before I get around to trying it, but it’s just too good an idea not to pursue.  There’s so many things you can do with Kydex and it’s relatively inexpensive to experiment with.  If you’ve tried any unique projects with it, let me know.

Otherwise, stay warm wherever you are!  Doesn’t sound like anyone is suffering from excessively high temperatures in the US this week!



A Few Used Knives Added

In the latest collection I acquired there are a few used knives that I’ve added to the store front.  The used knives can be found…. in the Used Knives category.  How about that.

The knives I’ve listed have been GEC’s that are in near mint condition and in a couple of cases could easily pass for NIB with some polishing of the blades/bolsters.  I bought them as used and am selling them as such.

The reason I bring this up is the condition on them is great and if you’re looking for a good as new EDC knife, it’s a great opportunity.  I don’t think I’ve found one that’s been sharpened and most have still have very good factory edges.

I know there are a few more in the box, and I think most of the ones I’ve listed have sold almost immediately.  There are still a fair number from the lot to get listed so keep an eye on changes in the recently added category.

2016 New Years Wrap Up

2016 was and interesting year.  To begin with, it was one of the shortest years I can remember.  We had a great winter in this part of the world last winter which turned into a nicer summer and and a gorgeous, extended fall.  All of a sudden it’s winter again!

From a business standpoint, it was a great year.  I was lucky to have a number of really nice collections of older GEC knives come my way which helped drive TSA Knives to the second best year ever.  This was further aided by the almost continual release of new products from Queen.  The upcoming release of their 71 Express was an immediate sell-out with promises of more to come next year.  There were internal changes made at Queen this year and it will be interesting to see what 2017 brings.  So far, it looks positive.

The Trestle Pine Knives project was also incredibly gratifying.  Thanks to Mike at WSSI I was able to offer some unique pieces of wood for the Portage and Grand Portage’s.  There’s another release of the Superior coming up sometime in February/March, 2017.  I made a few tweaks to the next release which should be a positive for everyone and a lot of handle options.  You spoke, I tried to listen.

Great Eastern was a disappointment (from my standpoint) this year.  Very few new products to get folks excited.  If you like the #15 Boys knife series, you have to be a happy camper.  For the last year and a half I’ve heard that GEC was going to shift back to building more ‘production’ knives but I don’t think that’s in their plans.  No doubt it’s more profitable to stick with the SFO’s and build large quantities of a single pattern and you can’t fault them for that.  It’s seems they’ve also found a price point they want to stay with in that sub $80 range.   That’s a big market.

The knife business has changed greatly in the last 10 years and will no doubt continue to change.  Good or bad, that’s the way it goes.

Speaking of change, I was in my hometown for a brief time over Christmas and helped finish cleaning out the last of the personal items in Dad’s house.  It’s really funny what can trigger memories but this item caught my attention and brought back a few memories.

Skeleton Key

For those older folks you no doubt recognize this as a ‘skeleton key'(notice the “Germany” stamp?  Yup, an import!!).   There was a time up until probably the late 50’s, early 60’s when this was a common key that would open the locks on most houses particularly in rural areas.  Everyone basically had the same simple lock on the front door that could no doubt be opened with most of your neighbors keys.  In fact, you could go to the hardware store and pick up a new one in case you lost yours!  You could also probably feel along the top of a lot of door jambs and find one ‘hidden’ away.

It’s amazing what a sense of security we felt when we locked the door.  You just assumed if the door was locked no one would kick it in and surely would never be clever enough to be carrying a skeleton key.  Of course, most of us didn’t have a lot of stuff to lose anyway!!

Today we have electronic locks, security cameras, alarm systems, personal safes, passwords and it’s still not enough to keep you and your stuff safe.  Now we have chips in our Credit Cards to protect us but I remember the day of ‘counter checks’ at the grocery store and gas station.  They were pads of check blanks from various local banks lying on the counter with no account numbers on them.  You could pick out your banks blank check, fill out your name (no need for an account number) and write out a check.  Today a lot of businesses won’t even accept a check.  And of course if you lived in a small town, you most likely had an account at the local grocery store and gas station that you paid off on a monthly or quarterly basis.

So ya, things change.  Not convinced it’s better but whadaya do????  Keep your head down, move forward and remember, there’s always next year!!!

Happy New Years!!!

Merry Christmas & Weekly Update 12.23.16

Another Christmas has crept up on us before we knew it!  Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older but it sure seems like the time between holidays gets shorter every year.

The week leading up to Christmas was an interesting one weather wise up here.  In a matter of 36 hours we went from -25F to +35F.  That’s 60 degrees!  Think of going from +20 degrees to +80 in that period of time.  There was a light dusting of snow Wednesday and a possibility of heavy snow and blizzard conditions Christmas day.  Fortunately, I’ll be back home before then.

Last week I had a pleasant visit with a customer reminiscing about Christmas’  past.  Both of us are in our mid to late 60’s and had similar fond memories of the holiday.  None of the memories were about major Christmas gifts or elaborate celebrations, but more grounded, long lasting memories.  The special foods that we only saw at Christmas.  Get together’s with family and programs at school and church.

If you were a kid in the 50’s and 60’s it’s pretty hard to forget the hard ‘ribbon’ candy and candy raspberries.  Those hard little berry shaped candies with a raspberry flavored jelly filling.  In the center of the table at Christmas was always a wooden bowl filled with nuts, a nutcracker and ‘pick’.  A tradition we still keep.

At our house food was always central to celebrating the holiday season.  The meals were delicious with lots of home canned food.  No frozen vegetables or store bought pickles, cakes or pie…no, no.  There was homemade fudge, divinity and taffy plus so many foods that weren’t readily available in mid winter back then.  Tangerines, Delicious Apples and lots of other fruits we now get from Mexico and South America regularly throughout the winter.

All of the churches and schools had choirs singing Christmas carols and put on plays centered around the holiday theme.  In the little country school I went to, one of the area farmers would show up at the end of our Christmas program dressed like Santa Claus handing out small sacks of candy that were much anticipated.  I think even the littlest kids could figure out who was in the red suit, but it didn’t seem to make any difference.  You believed without questioning.

When I was around 8 or 9, there was still an old ‘ballroom’ on the second floor of one of the downtown stores of my hometown.  Now this was a town of around 800 so it wasn’t exactly what you’d think of as a modern ballroom in today’s terms.  It was a big open room with a dance floor, a few booths around the perimeter and a small stage up front.  They’d set up folding chairs and with a projector borrowed from the school a movie was shown for the kids.  At the end of the movie Santa Claus would make his appearance handing out more of the brown bags with hard candy and an apple.

There was a  local fella that must have weighed close to 400 pounds that always took to the stage and put on a performance playing a kazoo attached to a short piece of rubber hose and a funnel on the end like a bugle.  I guess the funnel helped amplify the sound for our enjoyment.  It brings tears to my eyes laughing about that performance and wondering how kids today would take to that type of holiday ‘cheer’.  Talk about simpler times!!!

Sometime before Christmas, we usually took a drive around town to check out the Christmas lights.  In the back seat of the car we had a blanket to keep warm and tried to avoid breathing so the windows didn’t fog up.  No laser light shows or animated decorations synchronized to a sound track that played on your car radio as you drove by.  A few simple lights on the house,a decorated tree in the front window or lighted candles on the window sills. Usually the highlight was the huge pine tree on a hill just outside of town.  The people that lived there would string lights from top to bottom which was visible for a long way away.  The lights were those big candle shaped bulbs in red, blue and green.  It was truly an incredible Christmas Tree.

While I can’t really say I’d want to go back to living the way we did back then…. there was something to be said for simpler times and things.  Most of us were happy to have what we had.  I remember getting a used Erector Set one year that came from a neighbor kid who’d outgrown it. The box was a bit worn and a few pieces were missing but I  couldn’t have been any happier if it had been brand new.

The holidays today are probably just as joy filled, but different.  No doubt 50 years from now the kids of today will  look back at their childhood Christmas’ with a similar nostalgia we older ‘adults’ feel abut ours.

As for me, it seems like most of my Christmas ‘wants’ were pretty well filled when I was a kid.  Not much I need or really want anymore. This year, a warm fire, a good meal, a Christmas movie and I’ll be happy………but I will skip any kazoo concerts.

Merry Christmas!!!

Special Christmas Drawing

These cold days have given me some time to dig around the office and I’m coming up with some stuff I forgot I had.  Here’s a good example.

Yup, a copy of David Anthony’s popular history of the GEC brands AND, it’s autographed by BOTH Bill Howard and Ken Daniels.  I don’t know how many of these are floating around, but I know it’s not many.

As thanks for another fantastic year for TSA Knives, the lucky winner of our Christmas drawing will receive this book.  Just post a reply to this blog entry that you want to be included in the drawing and you’re entered.  No purchase necessary.  I’ll pay the postage for shipping anywhere in the world so no matter where you’re at, join in.  Post a reply by Christmas Eve and I’ll draw a name Christmas Day.

Thanks again!!

Frigid Weekly Update 12.16.16

It’s been a good week to work inside as the weather outside is frigid.  Temps have had trouble getting much above zero and when they have…. the wind kicks in.  Today we get a break getting up to +10F and tomorrow starts off cold and by tomorrow nite we’re supposed to be in the the -24F range with a breeze.  So what do you do in those conditions?  Stay inside and try to get some work done.

Pair of evening visitors

I did get a few more of the knives listed this week out of that collection and got a handful more in from another collection.  Seems like a lot of knives are coming up for sale before the holidays.  This morning I also created a listing for the new Schatt & Morgan 71 John Henry Express knives.  You can place an order online and I’ll bill you when the knives start shipping, most likely mid to late January.

Twice this week I’ve had email inquiries as to the availability of knives in the store.  In one situation I ended up with a rather irritated customer since his email inquiry came in late at night, I didn’t respond until the next morning and meanwhile someone beat him to the draw.  If there’s an item in the store that you want and the “Options” button is available, place an order.  As occasionally happens, if it’s incorrectly listed as available but is actually out of stock, we can sort it out later.   If it’s something you really want, don’t wait.  Some of the knives I’ve listed lately are in high demand for collectors and they don’t tend to sit for long.

That being said, I’ll admit to being a bit of a hardass when it comes to requests for ‘early’ buys on some of the more difficult pieces.  Every time I mention some new collection knives I get inquiries if I got any of this or that.  Typically, I try to respond which is often followed by a request to purchase.  I really prefer to put the knives in the store to give everyone a shot at them.  If you’ve bought from me in the past, you know I make an effort to keep everything in the open without a ‘secret’ customer list or playing favorites.

I’m not aware of much new coming through before year end.  Which is alright as I plan to escape for a few days before Christmas.   There will be some more of the ‘collection’ knives listed and I’l try to keep it interesting.  For now have a good weekend and stay warm!!!