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Guns or Knives? Careful what you wish for.

I’ve struggled whether to share my thoughts for the last week following the latest school shooting…and its time.  Any type of murder sickens me and the murder of kids is as bad as it gets.  There’s a part of me that’s reluctant to share my opinion as there are always those unwilling to listen and immediately call a differing opinion uncaring and callous.  What finally prompted me to write this post has been the constant barrage of misinformation, distortion and irrational response to a tragic situation.

A productive approach to a problem is best made when both sides are willing to deal in fact.  When one side of the discussion is based almost wholly on emotion the chances of reaching any kind of effective solution is lost.  Thinking that there are simple solutions to complex issues is foolish at best.

What really set me off was the discussion on one of the cable networks following the President’s meeting with survivors and concerned parties following the shooting.  Wayne LaPierre from the NRA spoke the same day.  The President was accused of calling the survivors “opportunists” by the TV host, which was pure bullshit.  If they listened it was quite obvious he was referring to our elected congress people calling for gun control within minutes of the shooting.  Watching the town hall meeting on one of the cable channels was scary to watch with a crowd showing a level of hostility to folks with an opposing view to theirs that was amazing.  If there was a collective group I would want to restrict gun ownership, they were it.  They went on to lay blame on the NRA profiting from the gun sales and manufacturers.  Do Assualt Weapon Sales Pay NRA Salaries

In the days following the shooting, more details started to emerge regarding the systemic failure of the FBI and local law enforcement.  Each had the opportunity to affect the ultimate outcome.  The story about the FBI’s failure to follow up on tips quickly fell off the front page.

So toughening background checks will address the problem?  Read the following before you join the circle:  “How they got their guns” .  Before you buy into that quick fix, consider the following.  A quick look at the 2014 stats from the FBI homicide by weapon report should give any knife enthusiast pause.  Your chance of being murdered with a knife is almost 5 time higher then murder by rifle.  ANY kind of rifle.  Hunting, target, single shot, bolt action, ‘assault’.

Weapon used                     2010          2011          2012          2013          2014

  • Rifle                             367            332            298               285           248
  • Shotgun                       366            382            310               308           262
  • Pistol                             61115      6251         6404              5782       5562
  • Knives                         1732         1716        1604            1490       1567
  • Hands/Fists/Feet     769           751           707                   687         660

We saw what happened to switch blades back in the 50’s when the pol’s got their shorts in a knot over the dangers of allowing ownership of switchblades.  Statistics be damned, they passed a law that made us all(?) feel ‘safer’.  Sixty years later the states are starting to unwind this emotionally driven ban which I question whether it saved a single life.

In conversations with customers from around the world I’m as amazed and frustrated as most of them at some of the inane knife restrictions they have to live with.  If the citizens of the US want some things to think about, read the following articles.  “Selling, buying and carrying Knives in the UK“,  “Is it legal to carry a knife in public” (Australia).

Reading the local news it seems that there are far more assaults with knives in North Dakota then firearms.  Sure, there’s the arrest for someone firing a shot in the air over the failed drug deal, but often it’s a couple of guys leave the bar at closing time and someone gets cut or murdered.  So why no outrage over the easy access to knives (borne out by statistics)?  Maybe our bad actors are more civilized up here and the assailant just wants to ‘cut’ his victim to make a statement and not kill him.

Back in the ’80’s I had a coworker with an office next to mine shot and nearly killed by her estranged husband before he committed suicide.  Her husband violated a restraining order that said he couldn’t come near her.  Her friends and co-workers weren’t upset about the fact that he used a 30/30 deer rifle but at the failure of the legal system to give her any sort of realistic protection from this nut.  Pass all the laws you want, the perpetrator could care less.  If they’re willing to ignore the fact that murder is illegal they sure as hell could care less about restraining orders, gun laws or ‘gun free zones’.

The problem is any time, no matter the cause, we have multiple people die for no apparent reason the knee jerk reaction is ‘we have to do something’.  It doesn’t matter if it’s an airliner going down with several hundred souls, a mass shooting or an Amtrak crash taking the lives of a dozen plus.  Our politicians feel a need to put forth new laws to assure their reelection by showing their overwhelming compassion that the opposing party appears to lack.  Don’t get taken in.

In the last few days there have  been corporations that have dropped their association with the NRA by discontinuing discounts to NRA members.  How and why the NRA has become the target in this recent debate is curious if you have any legitimate knowledge of the NRA and their mission.  This morning, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced they’ll no longer carry AR style rifles.  A few days ago outrage was leveled at Duluth Pack over a new product that included a pouch for conceal carry.   Congrats, you’ve all expressed your personal (corporate) feelings but how about laying a bit more blame on the laws and agencies  that are in place to protect us but failed?  Do something useful and demand the existing laws and agencies perform as promised.  Take the time to read the article “How mass shooters got their guns” and spend some time thinking about a realistic solution.

Death by guns, knives, airplanes, trains…. don’t jump to judgement at the first solutions offered to solve a perceived problem.   Emotion always runs high when the body count includes children and it involves ‘multiple’ victims.   Whether its a dozen fatalities in a single incident or 12 separate incidents shouldn’t matter.  But ask, does a problem exist or does the event fall under that unfortunate but very real category ‘shit happens‘ and you’ll never fix it?

In 2015, the  National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) reported 1585 child deaths due to abuse or neglect.  75% of these kids were UNDER 3 years old.  That’s over 4 kids PER DAY, EVERY DAY!  Where’s the comparable outrage?  When was the last time we had national headlines and outrage from our politicians, concerned citizens and corporate moralists?  Why don’t we provide training and licensing before allowing people to have kids?  Why don’t we forcibly sterilize parents found to be unfit?  Why don’t we start a national registry of people with drug, alcohol or emotional problems to monitor them?  WHY don’t we remove children in jeopardy and keep them out of abusive environments????  The examples go on and on.

Don’t view life with tunnel vision but take the time to look at both sides of the issue and analyze what’s being said by whom.  Personally, I make an honest effort to watch news from both the left and right.  I make every effort to listen to the speakers from the NRA, politicians from both sides and speakers with varying opinions before I formulate an opinion.   I have strong opinions but I’m willing to listen to both sides.

What can happen to the gun industry can just as easily apply to the knife industry.  Be careful what you wish for.  We can’t live in a bubble and I sure as hell don’t want to.




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Blackjack Model Comparison

I was at a gunshow a couple of weeks ago and had a couple of guys interested in the Blackjack fixed blade knives.  It struck me how helpful it is when a customer can see the different models side by side and make comparisons.  There’s just no way you can really appreciate the difference in the knives without handling them.

Now, this isn’t complete but the following Blackjack model comparison might help you understand the differences in the more popular patterns I’m selling.

L-R: 1-7 Leather , 127 Leather, 125 Micarta, 125 Commando Leather, 124 Stag

These five patterns make up most of my sales.  Starting on the left, the model 1-7 Leather is unique not only due to the larger blade and guard, but it is one of the few Blackjack’s that have a CPM3V blade.  At 12″ with the 7″ blade, it’s one of the larger Blackjacks.  It also has a lanyard hole.  Handle length is a generous 5″ butt to guard which should be plenty to hang onto for even the biggest hand.

The knife to it’s right is the 127 with a leather handle.  Measuring 10.5″ OAL with a 6″ blade made from A2 Tool Steel.   Handle length is 4.375″  The blade has a notable upsweep compared to the other patterns.

The 125 Micarta, in the middle of the group, measures 9.375″ OAL and has a 5″ drop point blade in A2 Steel.

125 Classic (R) and 125 Commando (L)

In the above photo, you can quickly see the subtle difference between the Classic 125 and the 125 Commando Leather.  It’s all in the grip the grip.  There’s a noticeable ‘palm swell’ in the Commando handle (R) with a slightly different butt design which also has the lanyard hole.  The grip length on the Commando 4.125″ compared to 4.25″ on the Classic 125.  Just a bit more compact then the Classic 125.  The 125 Commando is my personal choice that I plan to put into service this spring.

Classic L and Commando R

They also changed the somewhat standard slotted/recessed handle attachment nut with a traditional nut on the Commando.  You can also see a slight flair on the Commando butt.  The butt flair and palm swell tend to push my hand into the guard which actually feels quite comfortable.  It feels like your hand is locked in place.

The fifth knife on the extreme right is the model 124 with a Stag handle.  Measuring 8.25″ OAL it has a 4.125″ A2 Blade.  Handle length on the 124 is 3.75″ guard to butt.  The 124 is a great choice for a small to medium sized field knife.

I know this is a poor substitute for actually handling the knives, but hopefully this Blackjack Model comparison helps a bit.


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Larry Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie

Last weekend I had the good fortune to acquire a few nice older knives, one of which is a reproduction 1850 Sheffield Bowie built by Larry Brandstetter.  This falls well outside of my normal interests but when I saw the knife I couldn’t resist.  Being a fan of Jim Bridger, Davy Crockett and other early frontiersman, I wasn’t totally unfamiliar with the 1850 Sheffield Bowie, this is as close as I’d gotten to one.

While I’m not familiar with Larry Brandstetter, he gained notoriety in the 1970’s and 80’s building reproduction Sheffield Bowie’s.  Not a lot of information is available online about him but he what I’ve gathered he was from Paducah, KY.   Few mentions of him are made in some of the discussion groups.  The piece I acquired is absolutely gorgeous.

Larry Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie

The knife measures 15″ OAL with a blade measuring 10.1875″ tip to guard.  From what I’ve read, I assume the blade is 440C as that was one of his common blade steel choices.

High polished 440C blade 10.1875″

I’m not sure of the handle material but it appears to be wood capped off with a nickel silver “Half Horse, Half Alligator” pommel.   Residents of Kentucky and Tennessee with a bit of an interest in history know, the half horse, half alligator was a symbol of the toughness of the Frontiersman.  Best summed up by Davy Crockett,  “I’m Davy Crockett fresh from the backwoods.  I’m half horse, half alligator and a touch of snappin’ turtle.  I’ve got the fastest horse, the prettiest sister, the surest rifle and the ugliest dog in the state of Tennessee.”

Half Horse, Half Alligator Pommel

The coffin handle is tapered with an exposed tang.

The makers initials L.D.B. and the number 007 is stamped in choil.  I have no idea if the 007 is a serial number or model number.

The sheath is a piece of art in and of itself.  The folded leather is joined at the back with an almost invisible seam.

The fittings on the sheath are nickel silver.

The Nickel Silver frog clip is an outstanding detail that really adds to the overall look.

Nickel Silver Frog Clip

When the knife is sheathed, the fit is perfect.  The sheath appears to be lined with velvet and holds the knife securely in place.

It’s just a gorgeous piece in fantastic condition.  Always fun to be able to offer a piece like this for sale.

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Great Eastern #43 Oregon Trapper Arrived Today

I just listed the first of the #43 Oregon Trappers this afternoon and thought I’d share a quick first impression.  In brief, I like it!

Tidiuote #431118 Oregon Trapper Frontier Bone Proto

The #73 was one of the very first knives GEC introduced back in 2006 and the #43 Oregon Trapper is a grown up version of it.

#73 (Left) and #43 (Right)

It feels great in my hand giving me just a bit more handle to hang onto without the bulk of the big brother #23.  Holding both the #73 and #43 in your hand really makes you realize these two knives are very similar.

#43 L and #73 R

I’ve been a fan of the 73’s since the beginning but the #43 would be an easy replacement.  The weight of the Frontier Bone is approximately 3.7 ounces making it a very comfortable EDC pocket knife.  Running just a 1/4″ longer then the #73 doesn’t sound like much but the slight increase in size feels good in hand.

The #43 Oregon Trapper caught my interest when GEC first announced it’s upcoming release and I’m not disappointed.  I predicted this was going to be a winner and am even more confident now that I’ve handled one.


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Weekly Update 2.9.18

The weekly update is best summed up in one word.  COLD!  I’ll share a few pics below of how we celebrate the cold up here but business first.

The GEC 56’s two blade models have been coming through with regularity and have been well received.  As usual, the interest in the single blade version that’s coming seems to be drawing the most interest.

GEC 56 Mustard Jigged Bone

The 56 is a great knife but personally, I’ve always preferred a Wharncliffe, Drop Point, Sheepsfoot or Clip (in that order) for a day to day knife.  In fact, I’d like to see more Drop Points from GEC to lure me back into the fold.

Once the single blades are finished up in another week or so, I’m looking forward to the new #43.  I’m not sure if GEC will squeeze the 71 Bull Nose in front of the 43’s but that should be a pretty short run in any case.

I added a few more of the Blackjack Knives to the storefront and am getting some feedback from customers.  What I’m hearing is tracking pretty close to what I’ve felt.  It’s a great knife for the price.  I’ve played around with one a little but haven’t taken it outdoors to really put it through it’s paces.  I’m particularly happy with the way that blade quickly thins to a narrower cutting edge from about the midpoint on towards the tip.  What you might sacrifice in strength is more then made up for in utility.

Blackjack Mod 125

I was showing a friend the stag handled 124 (above) and she immediately grabbed it with her index finger in the ricasso and thumb on top of the blade.  Her first comment was how comfortable it felt.  Have to agree!

No news regarding Queen this week.  It seems that everything is still on hold and we all continue to wait to see what happens.

Now, regarding the cold weather….  I’ve been taking some pictures as our Ice Castle has been being built and last nite was the official lighting.  The Ice Castle is the center point of our annual winter Polar Fest.

The Polar Fest is an annual event that lasts for about a week in an attempt to distract us all from the miseries of a north country winter and to stall off the effects of cabin fever.  We’ve had sub-zero overnite temps since Christmas nearly every nite so we’re ready for a distraction.

Harvesting ice from Detroit Lake was the 2nd largest industry in our town.  The last commercial harvest was in the 1970’s.  Starting in the lat 1800’s, two competing ice companies harvested and sold ice to businesses from the midwest to the west coast and Texas with the Northern Pacific Railroad being the largest consumer.  At the peak, they harvested up to 200,000 pounds of ice employing as many as 180 men during the peak harvest.  There are some interesting video’s showing how the ice was harvested this winter and more info at this link if you’re interested:  Ice Harvest on Detroit Lakes

Here are a few pictures I’ve taken over the past few weeks chronicling the harvest and construction of the Ice Castle.

The harvest begins.

400-500 pound blocks are floated to a conveyor lifting them out of the water onto the ice

The blocks were lifted into place and fitted by hand

After several weeks, the structure is finished with parapets in place

Flags are put in place with the names of the sponsors responsible for making this happen.

Last nite, February 8th, 2018 was the official lighting of the castle kicking off the Polar Fest

Just to give you a better appreciation of this event, I took the color pix last nite around 7:45PM with an outside temp of -2F finishing up at -21F this morning.  We arrived late but evidently there was  a large crowd present earlier to kick things off.   All kinds of events occur during the next 10 days with a fireworks display set for February 19.  Then….we’re ready for spring!


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Weekly Update Queen Revival?

I haven’t heard from Queen since last Fall but I’m getting reports from several customers that have talked to people that should know, it sounds like Queen is on its way back.  There haven’t been any definitive details I can repeat but the trickle of info is consistent and coming from multiple sources soooo…I’m left to believe there’s some hope.  Appreciate the info some of you have shared.

The Great Eastern  56 Trappers have been arriving and going out about as fast as they come in.  They’re every bit as nice as the original 56’s.  I talked to Chris earlier this week and tried to add a few more to my initial order with limited success.  My understanding is that some of the 56’s are being run in relatively small (100 pieces) numbers and as a result were actually ‘allocated’ to the dealers.

56 Natural Canvas

I know a lot of the runs are based on initial early dealer orders but sometimes it’s pretty obvious that the initial dealer interest may not reflect the demand.  Often dealer early orders have to be submitted before much buzz is created on an upcoming pattern.  In my case, I may order light based on early interest only to have my mail box fill up with requests for reserves after the info has spread.

When we get an early heads up (like we’re seeing more frequently) as in the case of the upcoming 43 Oregon Pattern it’s so much easier to anticipate interest.  And no doubt it makes life easier for production planning at GEC resulting in easier access to the consumer.

I had an email last night regarding a dealer that has set up some sort of lottery system for early reservations and the writer was poking fun at the matter.  I totally understand why the dealer might do it.  In the past I took reservations and ended up with more pissed off customers than you can imagine.  “Old” customers expected (rightly so)  to be put at the top of the list for any new releases.  Pretty soon it was only “Old” customers that were able to get on the reserved list.  Then you had 10 old customers and you’re only going to get 5 knives.  New customers were frustrated that they didn’t have a chance for some of the more difficult pieces.  I finally quit taking early orders on almost all releases just to avoid the frustration.

Lets face it, GEC has an allocation program that rewards larger dealers with discounts and the lions share of some runs.  Is that fair?  Probably so, but it sure makes life tough for anyone starting out trying to expand or build a legitimate full time business.

I’ve kind of gone off on a tangent but I like to be up front about what’s going on and sharing some of the frustrations dealers can run up against.   Be careful criticizing some of the efforts made to appease all of the consumers.  Trust me, give it time and some of these high demand knives that have ended up with hyper-inflated prices will come back to earth and be available on the secondary market.   When a $90 production knife turns into a $300+ collectible almost overnite, that’s not going to last.

The subject of these incredible prices for some of the GEC’s came up with a customer I have a high regard for in the knife industry.  He brought up the point (and I totally agree) that in the next 5-10 years we’re going to see some of the aging collectors start to liquidate their collections.  We were talking about collectors that have been acquiring since the 50’s and 60’s that hold some incredible older rare or interesting knives in their collections.  Right now the current group of collectors are attracted to the most recent shiny new releases and pay scant attention to these older treasures.  For now, historical interest or unique qualities aren’t a factor to many collectors.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens down the road.