Rolling the Dice for a Blade in Vegas

The chance to handle more than 200 new for 2018 knives at SHOT Show this week would make anyone want to get out their credit card. One problem – unless you’re a knife dealer placing orders by the case, nothing is for sale at SHOT Show. So after the event wrapped up, it was time to gamble. Not in the Las Vegas casinos, but in the pawn shops!

In 2016, we paid a visit to the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, the setting for the History Channel’s megahit Pawn Stars. Unfortunately, when we visited this year they just didn’t have any decent blades behind the counter. Blame the steady stream of tourists who pick through the store daily, looking to haggle with the world’s most famous pawnbrokers.

Undeterred, we checked out a few of the biggest pawn shops in town. Surely we’d find something in a city famous for accumulating rare and unusual goods, right? Again, we came up empty; lots of generic ‘gas station’ knives and not much else. Apparently, losing gamblers in need of cash are more likely to pawn their Rolexes than their Sebenzas. Luckily, the last pawn broker we met tipped us off to Hahn’s Military Surplus, a longstanding local treasure frequented by Las Vegans.

Hahn's Military Surplus

Hahn’s is much more than your average ‘canteens and camo’ surplus store. They have a massive cache of old and oddball military equipment for everything from setting up camp to combat to mining. It’s not all vintage, either – we spotted several new Benchmade and Buck models, as well as a good selection from Ontario, CRKT, Ka-Bar, Cold Steel, ESEE, and Leatherman.

Hahn’s is a wonderland for military buffs and knife collectors. Memorabilia dating as far back as the Civil War line the walls; around every corner is another surprise. An enormous anti-tank gun greets you when you enter, and everywhere you look are vintage cockpit gauges, trench knives, bayonets, and relics of historical conflicts.

Knives at Hahn's

The store has been in business since 1973, when owner Larry Hahn made space in his family’s restaurant to sell surplus goods. Originally, it was a second job for him, splitting his time between the store in the morning and his Maître d’ job on the Vegas strip. “I’d come in here at 9:00 in the morning, work till 5:30, take a shower, put on my tuxedo, then go to work until midnight,” Hahn recalls. He hasn’t worked the Strip since ’85, but the store has kept him busy. “There isn’t much competition because nobody else has been able to stick it out.”

Larry Hahn

For as much cool stuff as is on display at Hahn’s, there’s even more in storage. “A lot of the stock my father has collected over the years has been around so long we’re not even sure how to price it,” Lori Hahn tells us. She plans to take over the store when Larry retires and was instrumental in setting up their online store. She is determined to continue bringing customers the obscure and useful gear they’ve come to expect from Hahn’s for the last 45 years. “These days I’m doing a lot of research, going through what we’ve got, so we can list it and get it to our customers”

Knife featured in image: Chris Reeve Knives Large Sebenza 21 Tanto