A Newbie at The Tactical Knife Invitational

February 25, 2016  
Categories: Knives and Axes

We like knives. They’re slashy, stabby little hate bringers that help us liberate our enemies’ insides. We grab whatever is close by, unsheath the fury and get to work. So lucky for us, as SHOT SHOW 2016 wound down and Snowbama wreaked havoc in the mid-Atlantic, our flights back to HQ were delayed. Looking for something to do, we happened upon the Tactical Knife Invitational, a yearly best-of-the-best in the ultra high end knife maker’s market. Even for us, this event is so exclusive that we had to pull a lot of strings to get in the door. We brought along Matt Stagliano, a complete knife newb (n00b?), to take pretty pictures and run us drinks from the bar. Here’s his story. Mad Duo

The Tactical Knife Invitational – a TKI N00b Perspective


I’m an admitted knife ignoramus, despite the fact that I carry one or more every day. Kershaw, OKC, Dirk Pinkerton, CRKT…basically anything I can get my hands on that will help me throughout the day. I consider them tools and don’t do much in the way of collecting.

The Duo invited me to come to the TKI at Caesar’s Palace to get a taste of what the highest end knife manufacturers have to offer. If you have ever been to Blade Show, or any knife specific show for that matter, you will undoubtedly find a weird collection of metal workers with an affinity for precious metals, skulls, ceramics, and nerdity that would rival most Ph.D. metallurgists.

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Steve D’lack – Tactical Knife Invitational Head Honcho

You can’t just walk in the the event and plop down a display table. You basically have to be a vital part of the knifemaking community to even be considered worthy of showcasing your work. We redeemed a LOT of favors to be able to get in and cover TKI. Once in however, we were welcomed by the tightest, strangest, and potentially most evisceratingly capable community of grinders you could imagine. It took all of five minutes to feel like we were part of this club.

Admittedly I was in over my head. I had no idea what I was looking at, and was overwhelmed with the feeling of Brooks getting out of Shawshank for the first time and seeing a strange new world that was somewhat familiar, but terrifying.

The goal of the TKI is two-fold: 1) Show off the best knives and knife makers that the planet has to offer and 2) raise money for Warrior Benefit, a charity watchdog of sorts that assists wounded warriors and gold star parents by contributing raised funds to a list of worthwhile charities. That’s a huge thumbs up in our book (as you may recall from this article).

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Hinderer Knives

The way that TKI works is the top thirty or so knife makers are invited to display their wares. Each attendee gets a book of raffle tickets that can then be placed in bags that sit in front of each knife. If your name is chosen, you then get the OPTION to purchase the knife. You don’t win the knife, you get the option to purchase. And we’re not talking a $40 folder. I think the cheapest blade I saw was $1500, with several well above $4000, and no one was batting an eye. Hell, the “door prize” you could purchase was a custom set of knife-related gear priced at $500. This was no backwoods flea market.

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The TKI Ballroom

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Sheila Dwyer

Trying hard to stay out of the way of the diehard collectors and people with real agendas, I made my way around the room, talking to as many knifemakers as I could, eavesdropping on stories, but mainly observing this incredibly tight community compete and support each other simultaneously. Here are some pictures of just a few of the mind-blowing blades on display.

Short story: I am now all-in in the knife world. My checking account hurts already.

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We appreciate the folks who helped get us into the TKI, which was honestly astounding, and we appreciate poor Matt’s hard work. Just not enough to pay him.
Your humble reporter:

Picture courtesy of Raven Concealment Systems.


⚠️ Some hyperlinks in this article may contain affiliate links. If you use them to make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. It’s just one way to Back the Bang. #backthebang 


Matt Stagliano

Matt Stagliano

About the Author

When Matt Stagliano is not busy scoring with legions of Japanese girls who think he’s Chris Costa or character acting a bit part in cheap Westerns (he usually plays a syphilis-ridden cowpuncher or similar saddletramp) he can be found shooting some of the best photos and video in the tactical/firearms industry as a firearms photographer and owner of Firelance Media. He's also a portrait photographer who owns Stonetree Creative, a Maine portrait studio. A former Fortune 50 consultant who is (no shit) a former DJ with a degree in Physics he never uses, Matt is not only brilliant behind the lens but also a helluva nice guy with great taste in booze. Oh, and his dog has a fierce, unnatural love for porcupines.


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