Top photo credit: Dr. Frunkey
Every year in January, gear companies show off their new stuff for the upcoming year at SHOT Show, held in Las Vegas. I’ve covered a couple of brands’ entire lines in individual articles. Here, I walk through the best of the rest.
KAI (Kershaw & ZT)
For the second year in a row, ZT had a small showing at SHOT. And, like last year, two of the new knives were variants on older designs. This year there is a variant of the ZT 0393 that has a glow-in-the-dark carbon fiber handle. Check it out in the video below:
There is also a full titanium version of the 0460, the Persian-bladed Sinkovich flipper. The only truly new design is the ZT 0022 (pictured above), an ultrasmall flipper designed by Tim Gaylean. This is a sub-2-inch folder from a company known for beast blades and is confirmation that, finally, the titanic tactical folder trend is coming to an end. It sports a carbon fiber handle and a 20CV blade.
Kershaw’s line has about 20 new knives, and, like most years, there are a lot of 8Cr13MoV blades of varying (but likely forgettable) designs. The Les George Seguin is a budget version of the ZT George. And there is a GTC design, the Collateral, that uses the SLT folder. Overall, the line has a bunch of unusual stuff: some stripped-down ZTs and a few variants.
Overall grade: C (only one truly new ZT; lots of solid but not eye-catching budget blades)
Instabuys: One (ZT 0022)
Kizer has a slew of blades coming out, but I’m going to highlight only the most interesting tools. First, there is a new design from Nick Swan called the Microlith. This knife sports a very small flipper tab, unidirectional carbon fiber, and a sculpted titanium pocket clip. As with all Kizer main-line knives, it sports an S35VN blade.
Dirk Pendleton released two collabs: the high-utility Fireant and the very small Shard. Small knives are a burgeoning trend, and Kizer hasn’t ignored it. The Vanguard line Begleiter has been upgraded with two-tone titanium handles in full-size and miniature versions.
The most exciting knives in the lineup were variants on classics. The Mini Sheepdog now has carbon fiber and micarta versions. The Fiest gets a liner lock and two different kinds of micarta handles. Finally, the Gemini, one of the best midpriced folders on the market, now sports a carbon fiber handle scale.
Overall grade: B+ (A large lineup with something for everyone and a few standouts)
Instabuys: Two, maybe three (Microlith, Mini Begleiter, and maybe CF Gemini)
WE Knives has been on a roll — not just with its own knives, but also with its Civivi budget line and its collab/OEM work such as the Massdrop Gent. Its 2019 line has three Isham designs (named for noted knife eccentric and mad genius designer Elijah Isham): the Pleroma, the Aeterna, and the Arrakis. Both the Pleroma and Aeterna are integral designs.
All have unique lines, bearing pivots, and M390 steel. The Jixx, the Bishop, and the Deacon all round out the main line (ceramic bearings and M390 on all). The Gentry is WE Knives’ first slipjoint and sports an S35VN blade. The Civivi line has a pair of offerings, but the Statera looks insanely great for the price. This knife could easily pass for a high-end custom, but it’s an $80 D2-bladed knife.
Overall grade: A- (Diverse designs with high-end fit and finish — a good recipe for success)
Instabuys: Three (Deacon, Gentry, and Statera … Oh my, these are all great!)
Gerber’s slow change in direction continues apace, as it’s releasing a number of knives that appeal to knife knuts. The main offer is the Fastball, an American-made S30V flipper ($100). It’s a smart design with light aluminum handles and a liner lock. The design is gold, so the only thing holding it back is the fit and finish.
The Jukebox is another offering with some odd designs — a square blade with a higonokami-style tang flipper. It also released an updated version of the Gerber Center Drive, this time with scissors. It also has a number of modern traditional designs, some with pocket clips and others without. Interestingly, it’s launching a pocket cleaver fixed blade called the Tri-Tip.
Overall grade: B (A bunch of new designs that deserve good fit and finish)
Instabuys: One (Fastball)
The 2500, the 3000, and the 5000 offer three different sizes on an amazing design. The blades are similar in shape, but the 2500 is quite small and the 5000 massive. Kirby Lambert’s Augustus also made a showing, as did the Valkyrie. It wasn’t a large showing, but everything the brand had exhibited the Reate look and feel.
Overall grade: B (Not a lot of stuff, but all good)
Instabuys: One (2500, which might be my favorite knife shown at SHOT)