Monthly Archives: November 2018

GEC 85 Salmon Acrylics Play Nice!

The GEC 85 Salmon Acrylics came in and I’ll be listing them in the store this morning.  I hope to have them listed by around Noon CST.  There will be pictures of the actual knife you’ll receive so it takes a bit longer to get all the pix taken and posted.

GEC 85 Salmon Acrylic

Now, a polite request for everyone to play nice.  I’m in the business to sell knives and within reason, I don’t care who I sell them to.  With  the increase in collector interest in the new releases, there’s a ton of frustration out there on the part of collectors and dealers.  New releases are sold out within minutes of posting and 24 hours later the Ebay price for that knife is inflated by 25-100%.

Rather then trying to work with my own customer allocation, lottery, pre-order, whatever you want to call it, I put the knives up on a first come first served basis.  No preferential treatment for anyone.

The downside of this is that a few customers are picking up a ‘couple’ knives or even three or four.  I’m not gonna shut these people down (for now) but I am going to ask that you give consideration to the other collectors out there.  The other option is I go back to the reservation system and limit everyone to one knife.  Up to you.

Bradford USA Knives Addition

I’ve been looking at a number of different lines to add to the store and one that caught my attention are the Bradford USA Knives.  Not to be confused with Bradford Cutlery commonly associated with Case, The Bradford USA or Bradford Knives line I’m referring to comes out of Kent, Washington.  Brad Larkin started the company back in 2012 and has built a great line of fixed blades knives.  While the line crosses into kitchen cutlery, what really drew me to them are the hunting and bushcraft knives.

Bradford USA Guardian 3 Nimbus

Bradford Knives has offered their outdoor lines in several popular steels.  These include the Bohler N690, M390 and 3V series steels to name a few.  The other feature that I find appealing are the Nimbus  and DLC coated blades that are very scratch and wear resistant.  So many of the coated blades I’ve come across seem to be nothing more then a coating of black enamel that holds up until you use the knife.  The stonewash finish also lends a somewhat rustic look.

Their Guardian Series covers a great range from around 3-6″ its that mid range around 4″ I found most appealing.  Not too big, not too small, just about right.

Bradford Guardian 4

With my slightly oversized hand that 4″ grip length fits just fine with the ability to get my index finger forward for control.  In addition, the textured G10 handle is gonna be easy to hang onto whether your wrist deep cleaning a deer, cleaning fish or preparing a camp meal in the rain.  The jimping topside is also a plus as is the lanyard hole.  .

Bradford Guardian 4.5

The Guardian 4.5 (above)  is a bit bigger with a 5″ handle that’s perfect for someone with a big hand.  The G-10 handle is ‘grippy’ and would be perfect for heavy duty use.

While I’ve not had a lot of experience (yet) with the Bohler N690, I now it’s an excellent blade steel.   It has high stain resistance and great properties for edge retention and wear.  Its a fine grained steel that takes an excellent edge and the Bradford USA knives came absolutely shaving sharp.   A minor detail that I really appreciated was a note on the care instructions that comes with the knives.  You get the usual caveats and care tips but this is one of the few knives I’ve seen with recommendations on the angle to try to maintain when sharpening, 18-20 degrees.

I know we’ve all got our preferences for blade angles but at the 18-20 degree mark, this knife is as sharp as you could possibly ask for.  Prior to using the Edge Pro for sharpening I thought I was pretty good at maintaining a consistent angle.   But the question was consistent at what angle?  Probably consistent between 18 and 30 degrees would be my bet.  It’s nice to be able to choose an angle and be able to replicate it.

The handle panels are removable and Bradford carries a number of different options that you can choose from.  I tend to stay with the handle I first chose but if you’re so inclined to switch things up, it’s pretty easy.

There’s one more manufacturer I’m planning on adding in the next few weeks.  It’s another premium fixed blade line that should fit perfectly with the Trestle Pine, Hess, Bradford USA, Bark Rivers and Blackjacks.  I’ve focused so long on folders that it’s really been fun expanding my boundaries a bit.  Particularly with the outstanding choice of blade steels available.



GEC 85 In Stock

I am in the process of uploading the recently received GEC 85 knives.  The color variation on the Smooth Rotten Banana is such that I’m photographing all of them and posting them individually rather then putting up a ‘stock’ photo.

The second GEC 85 I’ll be listing is the Jigged Brazilian Cherry wood.  These are much more consistent with very little if any color variation.  I’ll be listing  these with a single ‘stock’ photo so the color could vary slightly from picture.

I’m still working on photos so it will be a little while before they show up in the store but I promised I’d give everyone a heads up when they came in.

Artisan Cutlery S35VN and Warranty Update

Yesterday I wrote a bit about the Artisan Cutlery Tradition knife with D2 steel.  Today i’ll give you a very quick impression of the Tradition model ATZ-1702P with an S35VN blade and Carbon Fiber handle.  I’ll finish things off with a quick update on the Artisan Cutlery warranty issue I raised.

Artisan Cutlery ATZ-1702P

In brief, the two models are virtually identical when it comes to mechanics.  Both knives came razor sharp and the fit and finish were flawless.  The difference in the knife pictured is the S35VN blade, carbon fiber handle and size.

The overall length closed is 5.625″ with a 4″ blade.  It’s a robust sized knife that would be a great accessory for a hunting trip or serious camping trip.  Carbon fiber makes an attractive and incredibly tough handle material.  Wrap this around an S35VN blade and put a $110 price tag on it and you’ve got a serious contender in the world of EDC knives.

Artisan Cutlery-TSA Knives, LLC
Artisan Cutlery Tradition

I really struggle trying to find a compelling reason not to like these knives!  Being a steel geek I’m really happy to see both D2 and particularly S35VN being used in very reasonably priced knives.  Another detail that I like is the information card Artisan Cutlery includes with the knives.  They’re not afraid to state the steel used as well as the Rockwell hardness.  From the two Artisan Cutlery knives I’ve looked at I may have to rethink my impression of Chinese cutlery.  We’ll see.

Yesterday I brought up the major concern with Artisan Cutlery as the lack of any sort of stated warranty.  There’s also no contact info being included on the knife, packaging or in the box.

I sent an email to Artisan Cutlery at the email address I found in their electronic catalog.  The email laid out my concern about the lack of any stated warranty or contact info with their knives.  I also made it clear I wouldn’t consider carrying a knife line in the store that didn’t have at the very minimum a phone number or email address to contact for any ‘issues’.

Within an hour a representative from Artisan started a very courteous email exchange.  The initial response was that as a ‘new’ company they were feeling their way along but would absolutely stand behind their products. I responded that was great but didn’t really address my concern.  Their representative reassured me that my concern would be passed along and considered.  For now, any questions or concerns can be directed to the email address I found in their catalogue.

Someone pointed out that GEC doesn’t have a written warranty that accompanies their knives either.  The difference is GEC includes their phone number and address on the label of every knife they send out.  On top of that, if I really get mad enough at them I can jump in the car and drive up to their front door.  China…that’s a bit of a trip.

In summation, I felt the email exchange and response was sincere.  I’m sure I’ve seemingly blown this into a major issue but hope it didn’t come off that way.  It’s just that they seemed to have done most everything right with the product and to overlook a detail like that was a minor disappointment.


Artisan Cutlery Traditions Knife Quick Review

I’m always looking at new items for the store (or maybe my personal use) and this week I brought in a couple of knives from Artisan Cutlery.  Very honestly, I’ve not been a huge fan of knives coming out of China. From the little reading I’ve done and a few comments I’ve heard, I decided it might be worth taking a look at Artisan Cutlery anyway.

Two Artisan Cutlery knives arrived yesterday, a Tradition (entry level linerlock) with a D2 blade and a larger Tradition liner lock with an S35VN blade.  So far I’ve spent most of my time going over the D2 entry level model first.  With a retail price of around $45 my expectations weren’t real high.

Artisan Cutlery D2 OD Green
Artisan Cutlery Tradition Specs

Out of the box the first thing to catch your eye is the quality of the packaging.  The two piece box is heavy enough to handle the roughest handling in the post office.  Inside the box is the kraft colored tag with the specs of your knife printed on one side and care and handling instructions on the back.  The knife is inside a plastic sleeve in a black drawstring bag.  For the cost of the knife, Artisan Cutlery did it up right making a positive first impression.

Artisan Cutlery Tradition

It’s a typical flipper type knife that is smooth on opening, with a perfectly centered blade that’s tight on lockup with no sideplay.  The overall length closed is 4.125″, blade length cutting edge is 3″ and the weight is 3 oz on the nose.

Artisan Cutlery Tradition
Artisan Cutlery Tradition

The liner lock is pretty standard and provides a positive lockup.  One thing I noticed is a small detent on the side of the lock contacting the blade that imparts a minor ‘kick’ to the blade on opening.  When you release the liner lock and start to close the blade, the blade contacts the detent and you almost get the feeling of a minor half stop.  It was a bit distracting at first but after a few minutes manipulating the lock I didn’t notice it.  On the upside, when you close the blade it gives you a feel where the blade is and reminds you to keep your fingers clear.

Artisan Cutlery Tradition Liner Lock

I am a fan of D2 and prefer it over 1095.  The Artisan Cutlery Tradition I tested has a D2 blade and I’ll commend them for a superb job of sharpening and honing the edge.  One of the things I like about D2 is what I call a toothy edge when sharpened.  When I sharpen D2 I tend not to polish blade with the Edge Pro using more then a 600 or possibly a 1000 grit stone.  My D2blades tend to cut aggresively, almost like a micro-serrated blade.  The Artisan Tradition is honed to a fine razor edge and easily sliced hair thin strips of paper.

Properly honed D2 Blade

The assembly of the Tradition is held together with Torx T-6 and T-8 screws.  Pretty straightforward and easy to tighten things up if the need arises or you want to change the pocket clip to a left hand carry.

I have to say for the money I am impressed.  While I haven’t had the time to actually put it to use, its got the promise of being an excellent EDC at the price point.

The only thing that raises a concern to me is the lack of any contact address, name or warranty info anywhere on or in the packaging.  A little online research shows that the importer/distributor for the US is based out of Chino Hills, CA.  You can download their electronic catalog but there’s still no stated warranty.  I’m sure there’s some sort of warranty but I wish they’d state it.

I’m going to do a little follow up and try to get a bit more info but for now, that’s going to hold me up carrying them in the store.  It doesn’t change my impressions of the knife but I would feel more comfortable knowing someone is standing behind their product.

In Recognition of Veterans Day A Non-Sale/Sale

In recognition of Veterans Day I first want to acknowledge all of the incredible people that served in our military.   Not only those that served and came home to their families but especially those that didn’t.  Sometimes it easy to forget that when folks sign up for military service they’re also accepting some pretty harsh realities that can come with the job.  Thank you.

A special group of veterans that deserve recognition on a daily basis are those vets that came home with wounds that will be with them for a lifetime.  It doesn’t matter if it was WWII, Viet Nam or the more recent conflicts in the Mideast, their injuries are with them every day for the rest of their lives.

I’ve been a supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project for many years and have encouraged others to donate to their cause.  The Wounded Warrior Project does great things in helping these wounded try to reintegrate into a ‘normal’ world and move forward with their lives.  That transition to normality can be incredibly difficult and sometimes impossible.

So what’s the deal with the Veterans Day Non-Sale/Sale?  While we all like to feel we got a ‘deal’, it’s an even nicer feeling knowing your helping someone else.   In an effort to continue to support our Wounded Warriors, TSA Knives, LLC will be donating 11% of our sales made on Sunday 11/11/18 and Monday 11/12/18 (the Veterans Day official day of observance) to the Wounded Warrior Project.   So why 11%?  The Armistice to end WWI was signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th Month.

You don’t have to do anything special to participate, its not going to cost you anything extra.  If you make a purchase from the TSA Knives storefront today the 11th or tomorrow the 12th, 11% of your purchase will automatically go to support our Wounded Warriors.  And if you get a chance, say thanks to one of our men and women in uniform or better yet, thank a Vet.


Not Enough Knives to Choose From?

The last few months I’ve been looking for a new line of knives to add to the storefront.  For too long I’ve depended on GEC to drive sales at TSA Knives and want to expand into other lines.  While I’ve dabbled in a different knife lines, I’ve never felt I pushed the lines the way I used to push GEC back in the day.

It’s been interesting to look around and really see what all is out there.  Just how many different knife makers are making knives really struck home a couple days ago talking to one of my customers  He’s an avid GEC fan and a recovering Case/Schatt & Morgan collector.  I’m mentioning different knives I’ve considered and he’s totally unfamiliar with the companies.  He’s suggesting different knife makers that I’ve never heard of.  We both had a good laugh about the incredible amount of knife makers currently in business.

Back in the early 80’s I owned a brick and mortar sporting goods store and knives were an important part of our business.  I really regret not keeping some of the old wholesale catalogues from that period to compare how few ‘main line’ knife makers were available then.  There was Buck #1, Schrade #2 and Case #3.  Obviously there were other major lines but they were the ‘big 3’.  Just the suggestion to a customer of bringing in a line from overseas was a guarantee of more then a few disparaging words.  There was an incredibly strong leaning to made in America products.

There were few well known custom makers at the time.  From the minimal exposure I had to any custom made knives at that time, they just weren’t affordable compared to the commodity knives.

Blade steels were relatively limited in the production lines.  You usually had a choice between stainless or carbon.  I don’t recall being asked more than a couple of times what grade of 440 was being used.  If you were bold enough to start talking about D2, 1095, 440A vs 440C you’d most likely end up talking to yourself.  Most customers bought knives based solely on brand name recognition or recommendations from friends.

Roll the clock forward 35 years and oh what a difference.  The selection of blades steels is fantastic.  High quality custom knives can be had for very reasonable prices.  Consumers are increasingly accepting knives from China as reasonably priced, good quality products (with some exceptions).  In an effort to stay competitive we’ve seen production of American Made icons like Schrade move offshore.  Good or bad, accept it as we’re going to see more of it as time goes on.

Pre-internet we depended on sporting goods publications to keep us up to date on new products.  The local sporting goods store or a local/regional collectors club were the places to go to get the latest info.  For most of us, those days are memories.  While much can be learned at the shows, the info available online is amazing.  The advent of internet sales and marketing has been an absolute boon to both manufacturers and consumers alike.  The internet has been the single most influential factor for all kinds of consumerism, knives included.

So taking all of this into consideration, you’d think it might be easier then ever to pick out a quality new line to retail.  There’s tons of information available, a plethora of products, consumers are better informed, prices can be reasonable, quality and options have never been better.  And that’s part of the problem.  Way to many choices.

I’ve tended to move more towards more fixed blade knives then traditional folders or tacticals.  My needs tend toward the fixed blades when I’m camping.  I’ll never give up my folders but there are too many jobs camping that a folder is just too small for.  There’s always a medium sized folder in the glove box of the Jeep but there’s also a fixed blade under the seat.  If I take a survivalist approach to life, I’d much rather have too much knife then not enough.

The Hess Knives, Bark Rivers, Trestle Pine and Blackjack fixed blades have done well for me but I’m going to add another one anyway.  Down the road I may look at adding in a line of folders, most likely something leaning toward the tactical side.  While I’m not a huge fan of the tacticals I’m willing to give them a try.   In the words of Red Green….“I am a man, but I can change.  If I have to, I guess…”


GEC Early Orders

I’ve been getting requests and inquiries about Early Orders for the recent GEC releases.  Since GEC went to the allocation system on most new releases, it’s been difficult to reliably anticipate how many knives I’ll receive.  As a result, I can’t guarantee everyone that places an early order a knife.

Most of you are aware the releases tend to sell out within an hour or two after they’ve been listed in the store.  My best suggestion is to subscribe to the blog to find out when I’m listing new knives or subscribe to the RSS feed for the Recently Added Products category.

Sorry I can’t address all of your requests, but there’s nothing to be done about it.   I have so many old customers that I used to be able to take care of and those days are over and I sincerely feel bad about it.