In early June of this year, more than 1,000 exhibitors from around the globe convened in Atlanta, Georgia for Blade Show. Put on by Blade Magazine, a long-running publication with a focus on collecting, Blade Show is the largest annual knife show in the world and brings together both large-scale manufacturers and small-batch custom knifemakers. That first weekend in June came to a head on a Saturday night with the Knife of the Year Awards, which recognize the best new knives of the year. In previous years, a group of industry professionals voted by ballot to select winners, but 2019 was different: a select panel of anonymous judges made their choices based on utility, design, creativity, materials, aesthetics, feel and more.
Overall Knife of the Year: Fox Knives Radius
Fox Knives is no stranger to the Blade Show awards; it took home the top prize last year with its carbon fiber frame lock Suru. This year the Italian knife maker turned heads with the Radius, which features a patent-pending opening mechanism consisting of a stud that slides along a semicircular track to open and close the blade. It’s unique and, according to the judges, effective too.
American-Made Knife of the Year: Microtech SOCOM Elite
Microtech’s SOCOM Elite is well-known in the tactical world (the original debuted in 1996). It’s a lightweight, effective clip-point with a blade that’s nearly four inches long and either an automatic or manual mechanism. For Blade Show, Microtech showed off a new version with updated materials, including new carbon fiber handle inlays.
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Best Buy of the Year: CRKT CEO
As its name suggests, the CEO is a gentleman’s pocket knife. CRKT made it long and slender so that, like a pen, it’ll fit comfortably in a pocket next to a wallet or phone and not draw too much attention to itself either. Its blade is just over three inches long, and its handle is made of glass-reinforced nylon that almost has the look of carbon fiber. Best of all, you need not be a CEO to snag one: it only costs $40.
Most Innovative Imported Design: We Knife Co. 037
Innovation isn’t always loud and in your face, and it’s certainly not in China-based We Knife Co.’s 037 folder, which is sleek and understated in the best ways. The 037, which was designed by Kellen Bogardus, has a 4.07-inch blade and titanium handle scales, and what’s under the hood impresses just as much: smooth ceramic ball bearings and an impressively simple construction.
Best Accessory of the Year: Outdoor Edge Paraspark
Like many survival bracelets, the Paraspark’s main body gets its form from a length of paracord. It also includes a compass, a whistle and a Ferro rod, but its most interesting feature is a clasp that doubles as a tiny knife and sheath. The blade is a 1.3-inch sheepsfoot.
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Tanner Bowden is a staff writer at Gear Patrol covering all things outdoors and fitness. He is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and a former wilderness educator. He lives in Brooklyn but will always identify as a Vermonter.