Each year, knife expert Anthony Sculumbrene sifts through the hundreds of new knives released at the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show, or SHOT Show. These are some of the most exciting new knives coming to market in 2022.
If you’re into hunting, guns, or law enforcement, you probably know about SHOT Show. But what many don’t know is that several top brands release their new knives at the show.
This year, I’ve broken the releases down by brand and assigned a grade of A to F for the quality of the showing. Some exciting new knives are coming in 2022, so let’s jump right in.
SHOT Show 2022 Knives
CRKT still drops a ton of new designs in January. This year, there are a few new designs and some much-needed refreshes of evergreen classics. But two common themes are troubling: steel and pricing.
CRKT lags far behind the other brands in terms of steel. While it did release upgraded versions of popular designs (see more on this below), the main line of releases basically tops out at D2. That doesn’t cut it in 2022. By comparison, CJRB, a budget Chinese brand from Artisan, runs D2 on many of its designs, but its knives are really cheap at $30-40.
Additionally, Artisan uses other steels, including the powder steel AR RPM9, which is its own design. Its knives commonly sell right beside CRKT stuff, especially online. And the better steels selling at half or one-third the price makes it harder and harder to justify buying a CRKT knife. While CRKT’s bread and butter is entry-level pricing, even there, the bar is dramatically rising.
Those two issues out of the way, the big revamps are:
- The deadlock versions of the classic M16s (with D2 steel)
- More colors of the always-intriguing Provoke
New knives include another Liong Mah collaboration, the Mah-Hawk, and the Alan Folts Fawkes design, both with D2. There’s another Ken Onion design, the Facet, which looks very clean and also sports D2.
The rest of the lineup is filled with fixed blades, hatchet/hawks, and a slew of new CEO designs (including a compact version with both a flipper and S35VN, making it the most interesting knife in the CRKT lineup).
It’s important to note that the Deadbolt is indeed very solid. This is one of the best lock designs on the planet. And having it on a classic-design knife like the M16 makes it more accessible to those who don’t want to experiment with a new blade just to get the lock.
The lock, coupled with the stellar design of the M16, makes this, by far, the most interesting knife in the CRKT lineup and one of the more compelling evergreen blades on the market. Its price, $120, may slow a few people down, but it’s a compelling package.
- Grade: C (Pricing and steel are increasingly out of step with the market.)
- Instabuys: CEO Compact Flipper with S35VN, M16 Deadbolt
Kershaw’s basically off the radar for most serious knife people. As the Chinese brands introduce budget lines with real steels (Civivi defaults to Nitro-V or 14C28N), Kershaw’s vented, gilled, and frilled knives with samey materials and marketing-speak names appeal to no one. (Which of these are real knives: the Kershaw Switchback, the Kershaw Floodgate, or the Kershaw Firebrand?)
The fact that this brand alone still uses antiquated 8Cr13MoV steel for a significant portion of its lineup speaks volumes. Among the aggro-named knives coming from the brand this year, there’s a gorgeous slipjoint called the Federalist. With CPM-154 steel and Micarta handles, this is a very good knife for what looks like a decent street price of around $120-130.
The Inception also looks okay, but $100 for a D2 blade is not enticing in the age of Elementum. Kershaw has been so bad for so long that the Federalist is genuinely exciting. Hopefully, this is a sign of a turnaround. If Gerber can do it, so can Kershaw — the lineage is strong in Oregon.
- Grade: D (No more 8Cr13MoV, please. Even the Chinese brands avoid it, and it’s made in their home country.)
- Instabuy: Federalist
SOG, like Cold Steel, has been purchased by GSM Outdoor. Not a brand known for enthusiast-grade gear, this is potentially sad news, as SOG was just starting to turn the corner. Fortunately, the purchase happened too late to impact the 2022 releases.
If you are SOG fan, this might be your last chance to get new, “real” SOG knives before a huge conglomerate remakes the brand into something to jam into the shelves of Wal-Marts and Cabela’s everywhere. Despite the portent, 2022 looks strong.
The One-Zero, which has been in the works for a year, is finally in the lineup and it looks strong. With both an auto and an XR option, the 3.1-inch blade of S35VN is set off by wave-patterned aluminum. It is both striking and upscale. The XR revolution continues as the Pentagon and the Vision get the upgrade treatment. Finally, there is a fixed blade version of the new Aegis–something that no one asked for but is certainly welcome. Think of it as a SOG Mora.
- Grade: B
- Instabuy: One-Zero and your choice of XR LTE models
Benchmade’s past three years have been a real sales success largely on the back of one of the best-selling blades in their history—the Bugout. The formula of classic lines, reasonable price, and decent steel all in a knife that weighs just more than a feather has been a resounding success. Other trends, like expanded lines of outdoor fixed blades, new kitchen knives, and slipjoints round out the bestsellers.
2022 continues these trends with a host of new knives. Of most interest are the Tagged Out, the Weekender, and the Anonimus. The Tagged Out is a clip point, hole opener with very similar features to the Bugout. It sports a CPM-154 blade. The Weekender is one of the few, if not only, multi-bladed Benchmades. It has a slipjoint mechanism and a spare blade to back up the main blade of CPM-S30V steel.
Finally, there is the Anonimus, a jack of all trades style camp knife with CruWear steel. Rounding out of the offerings are a classic Bird and Trout knife called the Flyaway and a switchblade called the Shootout. The Gold Class knife this year is a spectacular version of the 945 called the 945-221–with Damascus steel and Fat Carbon handles. It is striking!
Things are pretty bleak for fans of the Spyder this year. The new product guide was released in December and the most exciting knife was a steel swap version of the Native 5. Granted, it is a big steel swap, LC200N for the Larrin Thomas-designed Magnacut. Still, if you are EDC or outdoor knife fan, the 2022 lineup is not different than the 2021 lineup which, coincidentally, is very similar to the 2020 lineup.
The only actual new design is the Stovepipe, yet another well-made, exceptionally expensive custom collab from Taichung. The problem is that it retails for $420.
Two things buoy my hopes for the Spyder — it usually debuts new designs at IWA in Germany in March or April and it drops a few lineup updates midyear. Still, this is a really weak showing for a brand that seems to have abandoned new designs. If you are a kitchen knife person, the lineup is really promising with even more options, but that’s not really what we are interested in here.
- Grade: F (perhaps the worst showing ever — there was a single new design and a slew of kitchen knives)
- Instabuys: none
While it releases knives at a staggering pace, WE has decided to participate in SHOT Show, another demonstration of its good corporate citizenship in the knife world. To be clear — it will debut more new designs than all of the other companies on this list combined in 2022 if 2020 and 2021 are any indication. But this year SHOT has some special stuff.
It is showing off the new WE Elementum, a framelock, upscale version of the massive hit, the Civivi Elementum. There is even a Damasteel version. They also have a larger knife, the Beacon, coming out this year.
The Black Void Opus, a Lundquist design from two years ago, is now available with a traditional V-grind and in a green G10 variant. The Smooth Sentinel also looks nice. It is a lot of framelock flippers, of course, but they will all be well-made with good steel at a very competitive price. These are, for reference, just stuff slated for January and February. As you can see, WE is where the action is in the production market.
- Grade: A (new designs, good materials, high-end manufacturing…its almost as if they have lapped the field)
- Instabuy: Pick any three mentioned…
Ontario Knife Company
It has been dribbling out new design reveals for a month. The Ti22 lineup has a few designs, but the Equinox, with its S35VN blade, looks the most promising.
Unlike a lot of companies, Steel Will is not just showing, but releasing new knives, including the D2-blades Screamer.
ZT has not posted its new knives of 2022 yet.