The Best New Knives of 2012

There were a staggering number of companies, big and small, showing off their newest knives at SHOT Show this year. … Continued

Benchmade Adamas Series Model 375 Fixed Blade. Designed with input from U.S. Army Rangers, the Model 375 is made of D2 steel tempered very hard at Rc60-62. It’s compact (9 inches overall), light (5.6 ounces) and comes with a nifty sheath that can either be laced to your web gear or attached with a Tek-Loc clip. Wrap the handle in 550 cord and take on the Forces of Evil. $140, lower-priced in the real world. –David E. Petzal
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Knife, Plain Edge. The first version of this knife (with a partly serrated edge) was insanely successful, due to its high quality, practical design, and very reasonable price. I like this version better. Gerber did everything right, including putting the knife in reach of even the humblest at around $52. Now you, too, can parachute into some loathsome part of the world, eat stuff that makes you puke, and return home little worse for the experience. –DEP
Spyderco Junior by DiAlex This is one of the most innovative and surprising folder designs I’ve seen in a long time. The concept comes from Romanian Technical Manager Alexandru Diaconescu, who created the unique handle shape with the prominent choil that forms a guard as a first knife for his young son. The idea was that the slim handle and oversized guard would make for a safer-handling knife in small hands. I’ll tell you what, it works great in big paws too. Because the G-10 handle is so thin, there’s really nowhere to put your thumb other than the jimping on the spine of the blade, which offers remarkable control for detailed work when you bury your index finger in the choil. The reverse grip is a little awkward, but still effective and that big guard all but ensures your fingers won’t slide onto that wicked edge of VG-10 steel. The blade is flat ground, allowing for easy sharpening, especially in the field. Spyderco managed to find just enough room for its Compression Lock mechanism with a reverse-liner-lock release. The wire pocket clip is affixed to the knife with one large screw rather than the three tiny ones you find on many Spyderco folders, making it easier to move and keep tight. The knife rides low in the pocket and can be carried tip-up for righties or lefties. If you want an every day carry knife that can handle bigger jobs in a pinch, the Junior is it. At 2.9 oz., you won’t know it’s there until you need it. –Dave Maccar
Buck Haley Heath Collection for Women Buck has teamed with popular tv personality Haley Heath to redesign their popular ErgoHunter line specifically for women hunters. The ErgoHunter Adrenaline series includes eight different knives, both fixed-blades and folding lockblades. Prices range from $80 to $200. –John Taranto
L.L. Bean Pocket Folders These handsome 2- and 3-blade pocket knives are among the new old gear L.L. Bean is rolling out this year as part of their 100th Anniversary celebration. Both feature rosewood handles and 440 stainless blades and come with a leather sleeve. –JT
CRKT Free Range Hunters Another new ergonomic collection of fixed-blade and folding hunting knifes is the CRKT Free Range Hunters. Molded finger grooves in the handle assure a firm grip. The blades are available as clip points or with gut hooks (pictured). –JT
**Benchmade Megumi and Shori
Featuring Benchmade’s popular Nak-Lok locking mechanism, these two new striking pocket knives feature S30V steel blades, the Megumi (top) with a clip point and the Shori with a utility blade. The Megumi handle is made of cocobolo wood and carbon fiber, while the Shori’s grip is black Micarta with an aluminum bolster. –JT
Gerber Myth Hunting Line This extensive new line of hunting knives and tools includes everything from folders to fixed-blades to folding saws. All of the knives have a great in-hand feel thanks to a lightweight, tacky textured rubber handle. The sheaths feature an integrated pull-through sharpener and a rubberized retention loop at the pommel. –JT
Tec-X This new brand from the venerable knifemakers at W.R. Case & Sons features a catalog of about 30 stylish, modern-looking pocket knives with either AUS8 or 440 stainless blades. Pictured here, from top to bottom, are the Exo-Lock, Ballistix, TK-1, and Brute._ –JT_
Browning Black Label Knives: ShadowFax and Stone Cold In September, Browning announced a new line of dedicated tactical knives called Black Label. The line includes some wicked-looking blades that are big on both style and function. While most of the knives in the line are designed for impact on decidedly soft targets, a few would certainly be at home on a hunter’s belt. ShadowFax
The knife in the top photo is the ShadowFax, the most expensive in the line with an MSRP of $249.95 (you can find it online for as low as $179). It has a beautiful balance and the finger choils and G-10 handle scales give it a great grip. The leaf-shaped 4-5/8″ blade of 154-CM steel (Rc58-60) with a modified spear-point has a large belly and would be well-suited for any slicing or scraping task. The strong point and final finger choil on the handle that wraps over your index finger in a reverse grip makes this an excellent puncturing knife as well. Stone Cold
The other knife here from the Black Label line is a bit more practical. The Stone Cold is simple and functional, and quite a bit cheaper than the ShadowFax. Part of the Black Label line is made in the U.S., the rest are made overseas, thus lowering the final price on many of the knives. The full-tang, 440 stainless blade on the Stone Cold measures in at 5-5/8″ and is partially serrated. The cordage can be removed from the handle and used in an emergency situation, leaving a fully-functional knife with a skeletonized handle. This knife is also available with a tanto style blade. MSRP: $59.95. Made in China. –DM
Spyderco Manix 2 XL There’s a new big brother in the Spyderco Manix line, the Manix 2 XL. You know when you pick up a knife and it just feels good? That’s this big folder. At 9 inches overall with a 3-7/8″ blade, the knife is stout and balanced. It features the company’s ball-bearing locking system, which uses a steel ball that is driven forward when the knife is opened by a spring plunger onto a ramp in the blade, wedging it open. The result? When it’s locked, it feels locked. And the sliding button that operated the mechanism is well-placed and ambidextrous. On the display model, the blade was heavy enough that I really didn’t need the oversized thumbhole to open it; the blade just fell open when I released the lock. To me that means, when some dirt and grit build up, it won’t impede the folder’s function in the least. The size and heft make it an ideal knife for almost any purpose and the extended choil at the bottom of the handle provides an extra-secure hold when slicing. The CMP S30V steel blade is a full flat grind, making it simple to hone in the field. With the extra jimping on the inside of the handle and the lined lanyard hole, this knife is versatile, solid and one of the best new knife to come from Spyderco in recent years. Weight: 6.2 oz. MSRP: $165 –DM
Spartan Blades’ Spartan-Harsey Hunter Ever since I got my hands on their Horkos model, Spartan Blades has been one of my favorite knife companies. Formed by two retired Green Berets, the knives turned out by Spartan are application-driven, robust and elegant in a subdued, tactical way. And most of their knives are named after ancient Greek gods, which is pretty cool. Their newest offering, the Spartan-Harsey Hunter, is the result of the second combined effort between Spartan and knifemaker William “Bill” Harsey. The goal was to create a knife that a service member could carry in combat and use after returning home when camping and hunting. The knife is perfectly balanced, with a 5-13/16″, full-tang S35VN steel blade with a HRC of 59-60 and a hollow grind. One remarkable thing about this knife is how the scales seem to melt into the tang, leaving hardly any perceivable edges. Maybe that’s because the scales are 3D machined from 3/8″ canvas Micarta. All bevels on the blade are hand-ground by Harsey. Currently, the knife is only offered with the Falt Dark Earth SpartaCoat (bottom photo) with black or green scales and a nylon MOLLE sheath. MSRP: $495 –DM

There were a staggering number of companies, big and small, showing off their newest knives at SHOT Show this year. We waded through the crowds and pulled out these selections as the best new knives of 2012.