Best of the Rest 2021: Last Call for Cool Knives

Presented by: Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpeners

Earlier this month we concluded the 4th Annual KnifeNews Readers’ Choice Awards, where we asked you to vote for your favorite knife releases of 2021. We do our best to make sure the ten categories – and the nominees for each of them – cover as much of the production knife world as possible, but it’s such a diverse market that an award series hoping to be truly inclusive would have to go on for months to make sure every great knife got its due.

So, this year we wanted to give a secondary spotlight to some of your other favorite knives of 2021 – knives that, for one reason or another, missed out on the official awards: maybe availability was low, maybe competition was stuff, maybe they didn’t even come out last year, but came to your attention in 2021; whatever the reasons, we turned to our readers once again, asking them to talk about some of their personal Best Ofs for 2021, and they came out in droves with some awesome, thoughtful responses.

New Makers of Note

It’s a testament to the vitality of the knife industry that every year we see new companies, many of whom are able to make their mark quite quickly. Tactile Knife Co. made good with the Rockwall and Bexar twofer, but lots of other fresh makers hustled in 2021. Reader Wormanaloha gave a nod to TwoSun, a prolific manufacturer with a unique sales model. “The Twosun Vandal has been my unexpected favorite of 2021. I love TwoSun for their amazing build quality, quirky and novel eBay distribution and the incredible variety of designs at a price point that should appeal to every demographic,” he told us. We didn’t cover the Vandal in 2021 but its positive qualities impressed Wormanaloha. “The Vandal is my favorite button lock that is done on a scale that is chunky and impressive. The 14C28N steel has been easy to sharpen and maintain and has become my favorite ‘budget’ steel.”

Aloha also advises us not to ignore TwoSun’s culinary category. “Twosun has an even more overlooked line of kitchen knives that have virtually replaced my German knives,” he continues. “The large chef knives are ergonomically wonderful and because of the lack of awareness cost less than $50 for a knife that is equal to or greater than any Wusthoff or Henkel that I have ever owned. I’m expecting Twosun to keep improving and innovating in 2022 as well!”

If we gave out an award for Company We Really Wanted to Cover 2021, Vero Engineering might get the nod – and we certainly won’t be passing over them in 2022. Vero is a must-watch indie maker, especially if you if you like high-end, highly sleek folders and gadgets.

More Worthy Offerings from the Familiar Names

Now Civivi (and We Knife Co.) had a very strong year, taking home the RCA for Best Overall New for 2021 Lineup for good reason. But there were still tons of individual models from the company that we couldn’t add to their respective categories, particularly when it comes to the Civivi budget blades. Thankfully our readers have experience with some of these and have great stuff to say. “I nominate the Civivi Cogent. People have been really excited about this budget priced button lock, and it’s a flipper! Great knife,” says chance_happenstance.

Then there’s also Ben Petersen‘s Civivi collab the Baby Banter, sequel to the 2020 Banter. This is one that we very nearly added to the Best Budger Folder category. It’s a great knife and one that has definitely – and deservedly – gotten attention elsewhere and from readers. “The Civivi Baby Banter really surprised me,” fingercutz76 says. “It is my favourite small knife of 2021. I have another small carry option beside the Spyderco Dragonfly.”

Given that most of us are right-handed, it’s easy to forget the plight of southpaw knife enthusiasts; even if many knives come with reversible clips, there’s still a “handedness” to the most common lock designs that must surely irk from time to time. So it’s always great to see a legendary knife like the Hinderer XM-18 roll out in dedicated lefthand models. Availability will likely remain low, but at least there’s a version of this common grail knife for lefties to lust after and hunt for.

A few more quick hits from the replies: GiantMouse has been on an enviable roll, as the dynamic duo of Jens Ansø and Jesper Voxnaes turn out a steady stream of useful beauties at multiple price points. Multiple readers mentioned GiantMouse’s blades as their favorite of the year, and it’s easy to see why. Reate Knives doesn’t tend to drop a huge amount of new knives each year, but everything they make is of sterling quality. Even compared to similarly-priced knives, there’s something special about the way a Reate blade is put together; these luxurious, high-end production pieces got multiple shoutouts as well. And last but not least, Three Rivers Manufacturing deserves a nod. Our readers have been in love with the brand since at least the release of the Neutron, which has gone on to be a legendary and lauded modern classic; and each new TRM model maintains that lofty standard of quality.

(Sorta) Oldies but (Definitely) Goodies

If you’re a knife enthusiast, it isn’t always about the latest and greatest; sometimes older knives command your attention more than these young whippersnappers. Granted, the Benchmade 945 isn’t an old knife, as it came out in 2020, but it’s based on a venerable Warren Osborne model we’re all familiar with. For the excellently-named oedipusflexx, the 945 surpasses its father. “[My] Favorite knife of 2021 has to be the Benchmade 945. The 940 has been my workhorse for 8 years, but the 945 is a bit more grown up and slimmed down now that I’ve moved up a bit. Perfect next logical step.”

Böker brings out a huge, diverse selection of knives every year. We’d have to dedicate an entire page on the site solely to their their stuff if we wanted to cover it all. But despite this profligacy, and despite the generally high quality of these knives, Böker doesn’t often enter into the discussion when award season comes around. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their fans. Reader peacefulnotharmless gave the nod to a Böker fixed blade from a couple years back: “My favorite knife of 2021 is an oldie but a goodie, the Böker Plus Coye Ridgeback collaboration,” he said. “Mostly because I harvested my first deer and elk this November. Used the Ridgeback to skin and quarter both. Performed above my expectations.”

Complete KnifeNews Readers’ Choice Awards 2021

Best New Tactical Fixed Blade (WINNER: Benchmade 375 Adamas)

Best New EDC Fixed Blade (WINNER: LionSteel H2)

Best New Outdoors Fixed Blade (WINNER: TOPS Bestia)

Best New Kitchen/Culinary Knife (WINNER: Benchmade Station Knife)

Best New Slipjoint/Non-Locking Knife (WINNER: Tactile Knife Co. Bexar)

Best New High-End Knife (MSRP of $300 or more) (WINNER: Monterey Bay Knives Sea Otter)

Best New Value Folder (MSRP of $100 or less) (WINNER: Civivi Lumi)

Best New Folder (WINNER: Demko Knives AD20.5)

Best Knife Upgrade (WINNER: Benchmade 275 Adamas)

Best Overall Lineup (WINNER: We Knife Co. + Civivi)