I had a pretty unique occurrence over the weekend. Since I started carrying GEC knives in 2007, I’ve had knives returned for various quality issues but never a fractured spring. In the last month, I’ve had two of the 79’s returned with cracked springs….from the same customer. While I haven’t actually seen the second knife yet, the first one fractured right above the middle pin which would be a natural weak spot. I’m really anxious to know if anyone else has experienced this in a recent production knife.
I’ve also had a rash of knives returned primarily due to gaps between the liners and the scales as well as a couple for excessive blade wobble. Personally, I don’t find a minor gap to be of any major concern. It doesn’t affect the function or strength and unless you’re trying to find a gap, 99% of the time you never know it exists. Blade wobble can usually be taken care of without a great deal of difficulty at the factory. Going through the recent releases, it seems minor gaps are becoming a bit more common. A fractured spring is a totally other issue.
Here’s a classic example of an incredible knife that has it’s own warts and flaws. It’s one of the barn knife era Bark River Woodlands that I wouldn’t part with. If you look at the finish shaping on the handle, you’ll notice it’s not even close to being symettrical.
Likewise, there’s a bit of a gap on the right scale. I figure it lets the water drain out when I’m cleaning it up. Neither flaw is of the least concern to me and sure doesn’t affect it’s function. Being an early Barkie, I think it makes the point these are hand made knifes subject to manmade flaws. i.e., character.
I think I can speak for most distributors when I say we try to check the knives when we photograph them and when we ship them. Can stuff still slip by us/me? Damned right. Again, I think most distributors make an all out effort to make things right and I know in some situations (like the busted spring), I’ll even cover the return shipping. But it’s really critical to let the manufacturer, be it Bark River, GEC, etc, know when there’s an issue. DON’T simply leave it in the hands of the distributor to ‘pass it on’. If I tell a mfgr about 10 issues, that’s one complaint and quite honestly, there are minor issues that never get reported. When a manufacturer gets 10 separate emails from the consumer, that becomes a whole ‘nother issue and they tend to pay more attention.
It seems like every year or so we go through a period of hyper sensitivity regarding quality issues. Expectations can get pumped up on some of the forums by incredibly enthusiastic collectors and people start to expect $400 quality in a $100 knife. So what do you think. Is that the case or are we seeing some genuine slippage in quality?