Bulgaria’s Manly Knives Breaks into North American Market

After several years of expansion in Europe, Manly Knives is turning its focus to North America with the Manly USA label. The Sofia, Bulgaria-based company intends to offer North American customers high-performance, Bulgarian-made knives at appealing price points.

The flagship products for Manly USA are a pair of lock back folders, the Peak and Peak 2. Both knives feature the same slim 4 oz. profile with deep carry clip, neutral handle shape, and 3.7-inch drop point blade. Differences arise in the opening method: Peak 2 utilizes a two-handed deployment similar to a traditional knife, while the Peak is outfitted with a hole cutout. Cutting performance is further enhanced with a 30-degree inclusive edge grind.

Both knives come in three colors of G-10 and either D2, CPM-154, or S90V steel. The latter two are often only seen in high-end knives and limited editions, but according to Manly USA’s Lubo Trayanov, value is a core part of Manly’s philosophy. “Even with our knives are priced on the lower end, we use high-quality steels with our own proven heat treat profile,” he says. A Peak 2 with S90V steel comes in at just $120.

A value-centric approach will continue with future releases, even as Manly continues to grow. The company plans to explore premium handle materials like titanium and wood, but also bolster its budget-friendly offerings with more basic materials. “We are planning even more affordable folders with plastic FRN handles soon,” Trayanov tells us.

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Bulgaria has a rich history in cutlery. Three famous fixed blade patterns – the Bachelor, Shepard, and Karukulak – became signatures of the country. The towns of Gabrovo and Valiko Tarnovo held a reputation in Bulgaria similar to other famous cutlery-related locales like Seki or Solingen. “In the past, every man had a knife,” Trayanov explains. “It was not only a tool and weapon but a symbol of the Bulgarian man.”

Manly started in 2010 with just two employees and the vision to create a globally-minded production knife enterprise. In 2017, it finds itself at the forefront of a new, burgeoning knife culture in Bulgaria. “Today we have old traditional knife craftsmen as well as a new generation of custom makers that utilize most modern technologies and steels.”

Knife featured in image: Manly Knives Peak