Arno Bernard Preparing to Release Three Folding Knives

Arno Bernard Knives is going to add three folding knives to its catalog. The Bethlehem, South Africa-based shop is also continuing to develop and refine the fixed blade products they’ve built their reputation on up until now.

“We’ve been working on folding knives for seven years,” says Ruan Bernard, one of four brothers heading up the Arno Bernard shop. “We believe that we are now ready to produce world class folders that will be of the same quality and looks as our fixed blades.” The first folder is expected to arrive by September and will be a modern-style slipjoint. “The flipper is trending now, but we believe that our new slipjoint will set a new trend for folding knives,” Bernard tells us. Additionally, he views the slipjoint platform as a good teaching tool for first-time users. “[It] is good for learning knife safety. It doesn’t have a lock so it teaches you to respect the knife.”

The slipjoint will be released in a variety of materials. Small runs of unique configurations featuring synthetics like carbon fiber will be sold via lottery through social media channels. Bernard predicts that no more than 24 pieces will be made for each of these limited runs. After the slipjoint, an Arno Bernard flipper will follow. Still in the prototyping phase, it’s expected to be larger while remaining reasonable for EDC at about seven inches overall. Finally, a button lock folder will wrap up the first wave of Arno Bernard folding knives.

“The market for folding knives is so much bigger – it’s an 80 to 20 split over fixed blades,” Bernard acknowledges. But an incorporation of folding knife designs doesn’t mean that the core Arno Bernard business of fixed blades will be neglected. “[They] are always going to be in the picture for us,” Bernard tells us. The company’s 2018 model line includes four new fixed blades: the Marmoset, Bateleur, Badger, and Bongo. All four target mid-size outdoor applications, and showcase some subtle but significant improvements over previous releases. “We paid even more attention to the ergonomics, balance, and grip for these knives,” Bernard tell us.

Arno Bernard knives usually have smooth, polished scales, but a new sunburst pattern cut into the 2018 knives makes holding on to them easier. Additionally, a safety clip and locking lanyard on the sheaths ensure that the knife will stay put. This addresses a longtime concern for customers afraid of using their newly-purchased high-end fixed blade by greatly reducing the chances of losing them. Finally, internal pockets cut into the tangs of these four knives improve balance and allow the natural materials of the scales to be molded throug them, ‘locking’ them in place. “Natural materials tend to shrink and expand, but by machining a pocket inside the tang, this allows the natural material to move without affecting the knife’s look and feel,” says Bernard.

Both the new fixed blades and the folders will be made in South Africa by the small team of artisans in the Arno Bernard shop. Much of the work is done by hand, with Ruan’s brother Franco Bernard grinding some 3,500 knives a year by himself. The 2018 fixed blades are available now, and the first slipjoints are expected to release by September.

Knife featured in image: Arno Bernard Knives Bongo