A Look Back at a Busy Year in Knives

Presented by: Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpeners

On the cusp of the new year and with SHOT right around the corner, the question on the knife community’s mind is: what will 2018 bring us? Companies like Spyderco and CRKT already shared their new catalogs with the world. Others like TOPS have teased individual products. But there’s still a lot more to come.

At the end of 2016, we predicted a more competitive knife market. The influx of high-quality manufacturing from overseas has offered impressive products and has enabled designers to break into the market faster than ever. New companies like V Nives, Bestech, and Ruike hit the scene with knives at a wide range of price points. Experimentation paid off for established brands like Benchmade and Zero Tolerance, who saw success with models like the Bugout and the ZT 0055.

2017 was also a year of controversy. The year held an unprecedented number of lawsuits that nobody saw coming. Conflicts like the Spyderco vs. eBay lawsuit have already been settled, but others like the Microtech vs. KAI-USA LTD dispute won’t be resolved this calendar year.

Reviewers, commentators, and forumites made their voices heard, even affecting change in company practices. We’ve seen Spyderco clarify its warranty and Gerber advance into more enthusiast-friendly materials. More than ever companies are listening and that could mean more positive changes in the year to come.

It was a pleasure to cover all the new for 2017 models and chronicle the ups and downs, surprises and disappointments of the year. For the second year in a row, the Dealers’ Choice Awards has proven itself a great way to stand back and take stock of the year’s major victories. We’d like to thank the dealers for helping us make the Dealers’ Choice Awards a success. The knife brands and designers were thrilled to be recognized and it meant that much more to them that the awards were chosen by their dealer partners. We’d also like to thank Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpeners. These awards would not have been possible without their generous support.

To all of our readers who followed the Dealers’ Choice Awards – we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! If you missed the coverage, here are the award winners from each of the 10 categories. The new year will certainly bring a new crop of must-have models, but it’s a safe bet you won’t be disappointed with any one of these award-winning blades.


Best New Tactical Fixed Blade 2017: Spartan Blades Hybris
With the Hybris Spartan took a tired concept – the tactical fighting knife – and made it feel fresh with an unusual blade shape and thoughtful ergonomic details.

Spartan Blades Hybris

Best New Outdoor Fixed Blade 2017: TOPS El Chete
TOPS rolled out a startling array of products, but El Chete stood out even among that crowd. A true chopper, it leveraged a massive blade and oversized but ergonomic handle to make short work of heavy duty chores.

Blank Diagram - Copy of Spartan Blades Hybris

Best New Multitool 2017: SOG Baton Q2
SOG deserves credit for pushing the multitool into unfamiliar territory this year. With their slender, office- and urban jungle-friendly shape, the Baton series appeals to unconventional markets. The Q2 balanced multifunctionality with carry-friendly size and weight.

SOG Baton Q2

Best Knife Upgrade 2017: Spyderco Maxamet Manix 2 Lightweight
The steel nuts over at Spyderco outdid themselves by bringing the famous Maxamet super steel into an affordable production format. This steel, which specializes in ridiculously high edge retention, was the stuff of legend and now customers can try it out for themselves.

Spyderco Maxamet Manix 2 Lightweight

Best New Automatic Knife 2017: Buck 110 Auto
Automatic conversions for Buck’s venerable 110 Folding Hunter have been an aftermarket staple for years. But the company took the hassle and chance out of the equation by releasing their own automatic 110 to universal acclaim.

Buck 110 Auto

Best New Value Folder 2017 (MSRP of $100 or less): CRKT Pilar
Jesper Voxnaes gets a lot of designs into production with CRKT and others, but none drew attention like the Pilar. This tiny tank’s ergonomic handle and fresh, cleaver-style blade shape made it a regular on social media, video and written reviews, and forum talk. The fact that it could be had for less than $30 just sweetened the deal even further.

CRKT Pilar

Best New High-End Knife 2017 (MSRP of $300 or more): Benchmade Anthem
An integral Axis Lock knife is the stuff of Benchmade fans’ dreams, but the company made it a reality with the Anthem. They stepped out of their usual pricing zone with this one but delivered it all, with an integral handle, CPM 20CV blade, and impressive milling work.

Benchmade Anthem

Best New Manual Folder 2017: Benchmade Bugout
Aimed at ultralight backpackers and outdoorsmen, the featherweight Bugout has been embraced by the entire knife community. Durable construction, classic blade shape, and relatively affordable price made it one of the year’s primary must-haves.

Benchmade 535 Bugout

Most Innovative New Knife 2017: Zero Tolerance 0055
Zero Tolerance collaborated with Gus T. Cecchini to bring his Airborne custom to the production market. The angular, futuristic look houses GTC’s patented SLT (Spring-Loaded Tab) hidden flipper design. This innovation is as fun to play with as it is unique, and it made the 0055 the most talked-about ZT model of the year.

Zero Tolerance 0055

Best Overall New for 2017 Lineup: Benchmade
The company with the butterfly logo took home the big one for the second year in a row. A confident opening salvo from SHOT Show got everybody’s attention, and a string of surprise releases throughout 2017 sealed the deal.

Best Overall New for 2017 Lineup

Knife featured in image: CRKT Pilar