Brian Tighe & Friends Answer the Question: What is a Mid-Tech?

brian & friends

Brian Tighe is an industry legend. For years his custom designs have dazzled collectors and his production collaborations are unmistakable. But recently, the Canadian knife maker has been feeling restless: “In the custom market, you can only do so much,” Tighe says. The high cost of entry for a Tighe custom meant that his designs weren’t reaching as many people as they could. And production collaborations, while affordable, were more limiting creatively: “Those were fun, but I really like to be more hands-on.”

These were the reasons Tighe decided to enter the burgeoning mid-tech market with the new Brian Tighe and Friends (BT&F) label. When Tighe and his collaborator David Reiser first discussed the project, the question they asked themselves was “What exactly is a mid-tech knife?” That can be a hard question to answer. Mid-techs straddle the line between production and custom: they are made with a greater attention to detail and significantly lower volume than production knives, but in larger-scale batches than customs. For Reiser and Tighe, the ideal mid-tech is a knife that is more affordable than a custom, but more ‘special’ than a production blade.

According to Reiser, who now heads up Brian Tighe and Friends, the defining aspect of a mid-tech knife is the human touch. Every BT&F knife gets attention from trained craftsmen. A particular point of pride are the hand-ground blades. Machines simply don’t grind blades the way a skilled maker can. Reiser also points out that when they do use machines, they’re used differently: “Even the steps done by machine are similar to processes used for making custom parts,” Reiser tells us.

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“Quality is always paramount, always a priority,” says Tighe. Tighe and Reiser plan to keep that in mind as they move forward. The first BT&F release, the USA-made Tighe Fighter, has been very well-received. The next design will be a small, California-legal auto knife, also based on a Tighe custom design. And as far as Tighe’s future custom work goes, he always stays a few designs ahead to keep on top of his workload. “People always ask me what my favorite Tighe design is,” he says. “And I always tell them, ‘The next one!’”

Knife featured in image: Brian Tighe and Friends Tighe Fighter

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