Looking Back on 2019: Some Highlights from a Busy Year

Presented by: Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpeners

Looking back on 2019 in the knife world, “busy” is the word that keeps coming to mind. Companies of all sizes, from the small batch boutique shops to the biggest manufacturers in the world, kept us occupied with releases from the beginning of the year to the end. Even during the week we write this, knives are still being announced and released.

We saw one trend gain momentum over the last couple of years, and in 2019 it continues to grow: the lone maker/designer as a prime mover in knife releases. That may seem obvious, but it does feel like the paradigm has shifted: companies big and small emphasized their collaborations this year. We Knife Co., B√∂ker, and Microtech all signed up fresh talent; one of Spyderco‘s major projects this year was the Itamae series with Murray Carter; and although Andrew Demko has been working with Cold Steel for years, his most sought-after customs saw production releases this year. It’s never been easier to get your hands on a knife made by a designer you like.

In terms of innovation, Steel Will finally brought its Ant-Lock into production after two years of waiting. CRKT gave its Deadbolt locking mechanism a lot of screentime this year, starting with the Seismic and culminating in the ultra-premium XOC model, both designed, like the lock itself, by Flavio Ikoma. Terrain 365, the latest project from Patrick Ma, opened its doors late last year but picked up the pace in 2019 with multiple releases featuring Terravantium, their patented rustproof dendritic cobalt alloy.

Kickstarter may be weakening as a platform for new knives. The crowdfunding website was certainly responsible for some salient releases in 2019, including Mattia Borrani‘s Bowie Chef, but makers appear to be gravitating elsewhere. Perhaps the affordability and availability of OEMs and the boutique small batch outlet Drop made Kickstarter less of an obvious starting point for a designer looking to make their name in the knife world.

And of course we once again have the pleasure of thanking you, our readers, both for another great year of stories and for making the 2nd Annual Readers’ Choice Awards possible. Giving the community a platform to pick out some of their favorite knives of the year provides an excellent perspective on what made 2019 special. So thank you again! If you missed anyway of the Readers’ Choice Awards, the complete list is below, as well as the brand new Work Sharp Knife of the Year award, a blade hand-picked by RCA sponsors (and certified knife nerds) Work Sharp.


Monday, December 2ndBest New Tactical Fixed Blade 2019 (WINNER: Spyderco Respect)

Tuesday, December 3rdBest New Fixed Blade for EDC 2019 (WINNER: Ferrum Forge Lackey)

Wednesday, December 4thBest New Outdoors Fixed Blade 2019 (WINNER: ESEE Knives AGK)

Thursday, December 5thBest Knife Upgrade 2019 (WINNER: Kershaw D2 Emerson Models)

Friday, December 6thBest New Slipjoint/Non-Locking Knife 2019 (WINNER: Chris Reeve Knives Impinda)

Monday, December 9thBest New High-End Knife 2019 (MSRP of $300 or more) (WINNER: Spyderco Paysan)

Tuesday, December 10thBest New Value Folder 2019 (MSRP of $100 or less) (WINNER: Civivi Anthropos)

Wednesday, December 11thBest New Folder 2019 (WINNER: Spyderco Para 3 Lightweight)

Thursday, December 12thMost Innovative New Knife 2019 (WINNER: Cold Steel AD-15)

Friday, December 13thWork Sharp Knife of the Year (WINNER: Benchmade 980 Turret)

Monday, December 16th: Best Overall New for 2019 Lineup (WINNER: Spyderco)