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The Sharp Mind Behind the World’s Hottest Knife: Josh Smith of MKC

Josh Smith has created one of the hottest knife brands on the market. How did he go from small-time local knife maker to major player in the hunting knife game?
Josh Smith MKC(Photo/MKC)
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If you’ve ever tried to buy a knife from Montana Knife Company, you know the brand is hot. Product drops sell out in minutes. Buyers gloat about their new cutlery and share photos of it in action.

Why? Well, if you’ve ever held an MKC knife, you can feel the work of art. And the artistry goes right to the top with its founder, Josh Smith.

Smith isn’t some guy trying to make a quick buck on a cheap knife. He’s an artist who spent a lifetime, beginning in childhood, honing his craft. The hype behind Montana Knife Company should only cement that fact.

Early Years: A Cut Above the Rest

Young Josh honing his skills at an early age; (photo/MKC)
Young Josh honing his skills at an early age; (photo/MKC)

Josh Smith’s fascination with knives started at a young age.

On his 11th Christmas, Josh’s parents gave him a knife from Rick Dunkerley. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s because he was more of a local hero, who was not just Josh’s little league baseball coach but also a pretty awesome bladesmith. Smith’s fascination with knives continued to grow, and Dunkerley eventually took him under his wing.

Smith started hustling, saving money from lawn mowing gigs, and helping his folks out in the hopes of having tools of his own so he could continue chasing this passion on his own. Eventually, he had enough cash to snag his very own knife grinder. He stuck it in a corner of his dad’s workshop, and voilà, he was in business, making knives all on his own.

At the age of only 12, Josh joined the American Bladesmith Society, and after just 3 years of honing his skills, he became the youngest Journeyman Knifemaker in the world. At the age of 19, Josh decided to test his skills by attempting to pass the Master Skills test, and you guessed it, he then became the youngest Master Bladesmith in the world.

Josh Smith Knives

Josh Smith Knives
Damascus Folder – Stainless Carved Bolsters – Raised Rope Filework; (photo/Coop)

Josh went on to live a fairly normal life in his small Montana town, working construction, getting married, and starting a family. In the background, he continued making knives that became more and more sought after. His high-end knives were more art than tool and upped his passion for the craft. Owning a Josh Smith Knife became a bit of a status symbol in the blade world.

For years, Josh continued to make some of the most beautiful knives ever made, though he never felt he could quit his day job and turn it into a career. A bumpy road filled with uncertainty, personal struggles, and challenges put Josh on the path to an event that would change everything.

The Birth of Montana Knife Company

Josh Smith & Brandon Horoho
Josh Smith & Brandon Horoho; (photo/MKC)

Smith wanted to upscale his knife-making capabilities and bring high-quality knives to more people. He had a vision to see his knife in more hands than his custom, one-knife-at-a-time business could handle.

It was when he met Brandon Horoho at an event called WinterStrong that the wheels of MKC began to turn. Horoho would go on to be the co-founder of the company in 2020.

Though, we need to back up and give credit to Josh’s mom. She had such strong belief in her son that she registered the name Montana Knife Company with the state back when he was just getting started.

In just a few years, Smith and Horoho built what has become one of the most recognizable and sought-after knife brands in the hunting space, all-American-made, and small-town proud.

The Knives

Montana Knife Company Stonewall Skinner
Montana Knife Company Stonewall Skinner; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

The knives rolling out of the Montana Knife Company shop are primarily targeted at the hunt crowd. I’ve had the opportunity to use almost every model of MKC knife so far. I can attest that the hype is well-earned. The Stonewall Skinner is my favorite knife. I have three of them if that says anything.

The company is expanding its offerings, stretching to new markets, offering blades such as hatchets and an incredible set of culinary knives wrapped in bison leather.

The popularity has grown so much that these knives sell out within minutes of becoming available online. It has genuinely caused a buying frenzy.

Luckily, Josh continues to grow his team. Several knife models are officially labeled as “In Stock,” which is a delight for those who’ve been waiting in vain. Currently, the Stonewall Skinner, the Blackfoot, and the Speedgoat are all available online with no wait time.

Demand-Driven Hype?

There certainly have been those who have speculated about the excitement of MKC knives being tied to the limited supply. Will the MKC Fever start to cool as production begins to keep up with demand? It’s hard to say.

As someone in the fortunate position of having these knives at my doorstep without the wait, I know that as I write this, the only three knives on my butcher block right now are from Montana Knife Company. I have countless brands in my knife drawers, but these are the knives I reach for in the field and in the kitchen. That says something.

The Seemingly Unlimited Competitors

Every clown and his uncle make knives. You can buy a fancy-looking knife at any gas station in the country. However, there are some seriously big names making high-quality knives. Look at Benchmade, SOG, CRKT, and countless others. What is it that is setting Smith’s knives apart from these long-standing knife players? Is it the personal connection, the small-town feel, the hand crafted nature?

It’s hard to say. With a brand this new, it can go countless ways. Will MKC rise to be the go-to knife someday, with a name that’s as synonymous with knives as Gerber or Buck?

The Growing Legacy of Josh Smith and MKC

Montana Knife Company, MKC Hatchet

Today, Montana Knife Company already stands as a testament to Smith’s unwavering commitment to his craft. What began as a personal passion has evolved into a thriving business that supplies some of the finest knives on the planet. But for Smith, it’s not just about the knives. It’s about the connection between craftsmanship and nature, between form and function.

If you get the chance to hold a Montana Knife Company blade in your hand, remember that it’s not just some knife — it’s a piece of Josh Smith’s passion and dedication, honed to perfection.

It will be fascinating to see where he takes the brand and if MKC can continue to keep the hype hot once the knives are plentiful.

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