Best Place for Blades | Atlanta Blade Show 2022

Atlanta Blade Show 2022
May 30, 2022  
Categories: Knives and Axes

Almost everyone reading this article has at least a passing understanding of the circus that is SHOT Show. There are often knife companies in attendance—those that are not afraid to associate themselves with American gun culture. But there’s a series of trade shows dedicated to knives, too: Blade Show 2022.

Atlanta Blade Show 2022 Booths

The booths are much less elaborate than those at most big firearm industry events, but Blade Show packs in the people. This isn’t a good place to be if you don’t like crowds. This picture shows about 1/4 of the floor. And despite its name, there are many other things showcased as well, particularly EDC items (like Surefire flashlights) and even some firearm-related accessories (e.g. gun cleaning kits).

The Best Place To See Knives, Ever: Blade Show 2022

If you like knives, this is the place to be. Most of the major production companies bring their entire catalog, plus upcoming and new releases. Likewise, most of the smaller production companies and mid-tech brands have booths. There’s no better way to get your hands on knives than Blade Show.

Buck knife at Atlanta Blade Show 2022

Buck has a new automatic out and it has some really aggressive blade grinds for a Buck.

For those who are really into knives, Blade Show offers a chance to see a ton of independent makers, too. These are the garage-shop guys making small batches of custom knives or individual knives that are true one-offs. Some of these are really exquisite and worth the hassle of attending the show; others are clearly less inspired and look like someone retired and is now trying to indulge in a hobby.

Urban Husky Brass knife

Blade Show hosts American makers, and well-known importers, but there are scores of smaller international makers that attend, too, trying to find a foothold in this market.

Seeing What’s Coming

The biggest difference between Blade Show 2022 and the massive firearm industry shows is that this is a retail event. Almost everything is for sale. Some of the big production companies will bring their prototypes and won’t sell them, but the public is welcome and folks typically come with a healthy wad of cash.

Civivi Folder from Atlanta Blade Show 2022

Another trend showing up this year is the super-thin, narrow folders. This one will be out from Civivi soon.

I didn’t buy anything—that isn’t why I go to Blade Show. I want to get my hands on everything, all at once, and see the direction I plan on taking my editorial interests for the upcoming year. And it never hurts to see those companies, face-to-face, that I’ve only ever seen online.

WE Knives folder at Atlanta Blade Show 2022

WE Knives has a false edge on the back of this dagger-shaped take on the folder. The workmanship is seriously impressive for a production folder.

Can you find a good deal?

Those that are there to buy, though, can sometimes score a solid deal. Companies sell direct (with a discount off MSRP), while the big retailers—like Smoky Mountain Knife Works—are there selling at similar prices and higher volumes.

Warcraft Tantos in San Mai from Cold Steel

Cold Steel has a couple of new tantos. These are the Warcraft Tantos in San Mai (regular and medium).

The real appeal is the opportunity to buy from makers that have waiting lists. So many make short runs and sell out instantly, but hold a handful back to clear at the show. But it is a race to get those.

Compadre Camp Knife at Atlanta Blade Show 2022

Another of Buck’s attempts to move away from their traditional look—the Compadre Camp Knife.

And that’s my ultimate takeaway here. This wasn’t my first Blade Show rodeo. I know the lines are absurd.

Don’t come to Blade Show if you don’t like people.

I have the feeling that Blade Show began small and has, in recent years, really exploded. The east-coast show is held north of Atlanta, and it has seriously outgrown the infrastructure of its host convention center. They need a new home, badly.

Alabama Damascus scrap

Alabama Damascus even brings their scraps. Blade show isn’t a jewelers show, exactly, but that’s where some of this scrap is headed—wedding rings and such.

The show starts on Friday with an early-bird-style opening that allows you to get in ahead of the sweaty masses, for a fee. Then they open the gates. This year, though, there were so many waiting outside of the convention center that the facility was overwhelmed. Never in all of my journalistic experience have I been so privileged to have a press pass.

Dyed coral for handles

Blade Show 2022 is where a lot of knife makers go to get a year’s worth of supplies, like this section of dyed coral that will be used for a handle.

The lines to get in on Friday bunched into one mass. Those with tickets were trying to get in the same door as those those in the will-call line, and security was only letting in a few people at a time because the staircase heading up to the show floor could hold no more.

Matched sets of mammoth ivory.

Matched sets of mammoth ivory.

There are knives at the gun show, but no guns at the knife show

If you are looking for a sign of the times, I can offer this. This is the first Blade Show that I’ve attended where I found people who don’t like guns. I was given the cold shoulder at a couple of booths because I write for GunMag Warehouse. They aren’t afraid of GMW, per se, they simply don’t want to have their brands tied—in any way—to firearms.

Custom makers can get away with some things the big companies can't.

Custom makers can get away with some things the big companies can’t.

This stance is lamentable, of course, and somewhat ironic. Blade Magazine—sponsor of the Blade Show—is part of the editorial group that publishes Recoil and other magazines that are hardly hoplophobic.

Kizer wharncliffe shaped Knives at Atlanta Blade Show

Blade shapes come in waves. Several makers, like Kizer, are taking the Wharncliffe shape and stretching it out. The result is a long, easy-to-maintain edge.

That is, sadly, where we are. Companies that sell tools purpose-built for EDC and self-defense don’t want anything to do with our type of purpose-built tools meant for EDC and self-defense.

Paul Cale knife

This Paul Cale is a rare find outside of Australia.

It is what it is. No amount of rational dialogue will change minds in a time like this. Instead, do as I do and take the money you may have spent on one of their knives and spend it on something else, instead.

Smith and Sons fixed blade for pocket carry

Smith & Sons is a small shop, but they have a devoted following in the traditional knife community. This is their take on a fixed blade for pocket carry.

Pulaski from Hardcore Hammers

While Blade Show is more about the knives, it is a great place to find a really solid axe. Or a pulaski, like this one from Hardcore Hammers.

Still, you need to go to a Blade Show. Atlanta in June. Blade Show West will be in Salt Lake in October. And Blade Show Texas will be in Fort Worth in March. We’ll be reporting more in the future. 

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David Higginbotham

David Higginbotham

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