For knife people, SHOT Show is one of the most important news events of the year. Every January, the knife industry gathers at SHOT to unveil their latest knives and newest inventions. Founded in 1979 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, it is now the largest firearms trade show in the world, drawing over 60,000 attendees last year. SHOT Show is a closed door event: there is no admittance to the public. Before 2016, knife people would wait days for information about the newest inventions and the latest knives – but KnifeNews is changing that this year. We’ll be bringing you live coverage of breaking news from the SHOT Show floor. Starting Tuesday, keep it tuned to our SHOT Show 2016 Knives NewsFeed for updates on your favorite brands and their newest creations set to ship to online dealers very soon.
According to KnifeCenter.com’s Jason Kunkler, the knife industry has long been included among the ranks of exhibitors at SHOT. “It’s not just a gun show,” says Kunkler. “As far as I know, [the knife manufacturers] have been there since the beginning.” Still, gun companies have received much of the attention at SHOT simply because of the large number of gun and gun related manufacturers. As an example 170 manufacturers will fire 500,000 rounds of ammunition at an exclusive, invitation-only Industry Day at the Range. “SHOT stands for Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade show, and knives have always been sold as hunting and camping tools as much as anything else.” says Kunkler. “Just like gear stands, camouflage, targets, and the like – knives are crucial to the industry.”
In addition to the inextricable relationship between knives and hunting, many knife manufacturers have a long history with the biggest firearms customers on the planet: Military and Law Enforcement. Companies like Spyderco, Gerber, and Benchmade, among others, cultivate relationships at SHOT Show to sell knives and tools designed specifically for these large scale customers. Leatherman, for example, released a multitool last year – The MUT – designed specifically for cleaning and maintaining AR-15 or military M16 rifles.
Guns may get most of the mainstream media attention at SHOT, but in reality the industry is much wider than at first glance. “Knives are popular both to the tree-hugger and the tree-stand shooter,” explains Kunkler. And though IWA Nuremburg – where Cold Steel unveils its knives – and Blade Show – where both custom and production knifemakers share floorspace – are both important to the knife industry, “As far as where manufacturers go to reveal new product, that happens at SHOT.” says Kunkler. “If BLADE Show is the family reunion, SHOT Show is the business meeting. There’s really no other show where you’re going to have as much of a concentration of industry people.” Also, as the very first big industry show of the year, it’s well-timed. “…it’s when retailers have cleared their shelves out from Christmas and they’re ready to bring in new product. There’s no reason to wait,” said Kunkler.
Over SHOT show’s 38-year history, it has cycled through a number of host cities, including New Orleans, Louisiana, and Orlando, Flordia. But because their core constituency is firearms-related, the show has been chased by controversy. “There were some cities that took a rather anti-gun stance, so the National Shooting Sports Foundation decided they were not going to go to those cities, because they didn’t consider them to be gun friendly,” says Kunkler. Since 2010, SHOT Show has settled at the Sands Expo center in Las Vegas, partially due to Nevada’s gun-friendly policies.
“I’ve been going to SHOT show since the early 90s, and it seemed like even at that point it was already established as THE show for the industry,” said Kunkler. And with 1,600 exhibitors and over 65,000 expected attendees, it’s easy to see why when asked what to expect from the SHOT show experience, Kunkler needed just three words to explain it: “It’s always insane.”
Knife featured in image: Benchmade Hunt Crooked River