The custom knife market is cyclical. You can find articles I’ve written on this topic in Blade Magazine, Knives Illustrated, Knife Annual and; of course, my Custom Knife Buying Guide over the last 20 years. Basically, either folders or fixed blades dominate the market, but only for a relatively short time. Right now the market is being dominated by fixed blades. Why? There are two main reasons.
First, the tactical folder dominated for 7-8 years; however, bid-up knives and “flipping” became the reason to buy. Most buyers could not tell you why a knife they were looking at was worth the money they were paying. What they did know was that if they got the knife, they could immediately flip it and make money. However, as we all know, bubbles are not meant to last.
The second reason is overpricing. The maker’s position in the market is key. The better you know the maker’s position in a particular market, the better you will be able to determine if the prices they are asking for their knives are accurate. Makers who chase the aftermarket prices will drive up their prices to an unsustainable level. This drives many collectors from that market to another market. Why? The one rule many makers don’t understand or ignore; collectors collect. Most makers do not understand what their position in a particular market is. Case in point: At least 80% of American Bladesmith Society Journeyman Smith members overprice their knives. This is why they take home so many of their knives from shows. Most price their knives utilizing guidance from Master Smiths. While they may know the MS market very well, they are not as well versed on the market for 200 (give or take) JS makers.
Within the larger cycles of folders and fixed blades are smaller cycles in either larger market. A case in point: The return of the tactical fixed blade. While most categories of knives never completely go away. Often they are overshadowed by the dominant knife category within that cycle. While doing my research for the 2021 Blade Show, I noticed a trend of several makers with basic tactical fixed blades. By basic I mean a blade, integral single or double guard, and synthetic material scales. Most are designed to be worn on your belt and are more utilitarian than anything else. I like these knives primarily because of their price point. Many are between $250 and $350, which is where they should be priced.
The maker whose work caught my eye while doing my research for this year’s Blade show was Brian Selby. His work is solid and clean and at a price point that is at the entry-level price for a custom knife. “Great value” comes to mind.
Another maker I recently discovered is Piotr Gosciniak from Poland. Piotr offers several models, some offering very distinct grids. I like the fuller he puts incorporated into some of his blade designs. His knives are a little larger than Brian’s, but they too are rock solid with excellent fit and finish. The texturing he does on the Micarta scales add to the handle ergonomics.
We continue to discover new knifemakers/knives to meet you needs. Please browse our website www.robertsonscustomcutlery.com where we strive to offer just what the market (you) is asking for. If you don’t see it, let us know what custom knife you are looking for via this link.