Everybody's posting gift guides. I'll just repost a link to my favorite of them, No-Longer Drill Sgt. Rob's gift guide for deployed soldiers. Lots of men would like gifts off this list even if they aren't deployed military. I commented on it a year ago, and endorsed his choice of an Applegate-Fairbairn folder. A year later, I still carry that knife every day. It's the best folding knife on the market, I think -- certainly the best one I've encountered.

Here are a couple more "pointy" gifts. They're from a category called "custom knives," which means knives that are each individually forged by a smith who knows his business. They're works of art as much as tools, though in order to be a work of the knifemaker's art, they have to be entirely functional and very difficult to damage.

I am the proud owner of a "Stek" knife, which are hand-forged damascus steel, and sold apparently only through Ebay. (Here is what they're selling just now.) It's the most beautiful knife I've ever encountered, and the best by far. The man and his son, who work together to create these things, are masters of the art. Because items are for bid, price is not certain, but I wouldn't object to paying two-four hundred dollars for one of their full-sized fighting knives if I were planning to buy another. That's about usual in the market for a custom knife, and these are top quality. However, because it's on Ebay, you might get it for less if you're quick or careful.

Shoot! Magazine, a publication devoted to the "cowboy action shooting" hobby, endorsed ML Knives in their Nov/Dec edition. They're beautiful replicas of 18th/19th century designs. The article gives specs on the carbon steel he uses, and they sound like quality blades -- but I've never handled one, so I can't attest to them for certain, but only pass on Shoot!'s recommendation. (If anyone from ML Knives wants a formal review out of me, however, feel free to send me a Western or Alamo Bowie to examine.) A glance at their page of currently available knives shows that prices are quite reasonable for custom-made knives. That may be because they aren't as well known as some, or it may be because they target a very specific market, people who want a frontier-style knife that appears somewhat rustic. I happen to like that sort of thing, but it's not what everyone wants.

There are much more expensive custom knife makers out there -- take a look at KnifeLegends or KnifeArt to see just how high the prices can go. You can get a top-quality knife for a whole lot less than what they are asking, if you know where to look.

No comments: