Late this summer, American knifemaker Ray Laconico and Kizer Knives revealed what might be the most anticipated knives of 2016: the Gemini and Intrepid flippers. The knives boast high-end materials, construction quality, and classic design at an aggressively competitive price. The knife industry took notice: “With knives like the new Gemini, Kizer is changing the way people have to look at Chinese made knives,” Jeff Woods, buyer for knife wholesaler Blue Ridge Knives told us earlier in the fall. Ray Laconico just confirmed what few knew several weeks ago – stripped down versions of both the Gemini and Intrepid flippers will join the titanium varieties. But the big news is the price.
The Gemini and Intrepid both sold out soon after a limited run of 200 knives hit the market earlier this year, leaving most buyers waiting for the re-stock. Based on Laconico’s popular custom models, the knives have been commended for their simple but distinctive design, combination of premium features, and value. With a retail price of roughly $170 for the Gemini and $220 for the larger Intrepid, the knives were still out of reach for some buyers.
Laconico’s original designs will now be translated into an even more affordable format. The new ‘budget’ versions of the knives strip away costs wherever possible without sacrificing the flipping action or build quality that Kizer has become known for. The new knives will have the same ceramic ball bearing pivot and ceramic detent as the original design. But instead of sculpted titanium and a frame lock, the handles are black or green G10 over stainless liners. Instead of S35VN powder-metallurgy steel, the blade will be made from Japan’s VG-10.
What is most remarkable is the price. Laconico confirmed on his Instagram feed that the Intrepid G10 is set to hit the street at $90 – a nearly 60 percent mark-down versus the titanium/frame lock/S35VN version. The expected retail price of the Gemini G10 has yet to be announced, but it’s safe to assume it will be even more affordable.
The new Laconico collaborations are a reflection of what Kizer is set to become known for in 2016: impeccable quality at an approachable price. Before this year, Kizer was known mostly for making titanium framelock flippers with colorful anodizing or milling that evoked a distinctly Asian look. The Chinese company is moving away from that polarizing aesthetic, with a slew of collaborations with established knifemakers including Ray Laconico, Matt Cucchiaria, and Matt Degnan. Now, with these high-quality ‘budget’ offerings, Kizer seems determined to make the best knife they can at a wide range of price points.