We live in strange times for knife enthusiasts. There are more quality knives being made of every type, price point, and origin than ever. Unfortunately, at the same time some of the industry mainstays are closing entirely or changing beyond recognition. It looks as though the latter will be the fate of the venerable Ontario Knife Company.
History of Ontario Knife Company:
Ontario Knife Company was started in 1889 in Naples New York. Its name was derived from the county in which Naples sat, Ontario County. In 1902, due to the business’s growth, operations were moved to Franklinville and incorporated as Ontario Knife Company. Operations have continued in Franklinville to this day, over 120 years later, and in the same facility since 1914. In 1904 the owners of Empire State Cutlery Company bought out the founders of Ontario Knife Company and combined operations at the Franklinville factory. In 1923 the Old Hickory line of kitchen cutlery was created, which has been a mainstay in affordable American made cutlery ever since. More recently, the overseas made but Ontario branded Rat 1 and Rat 2 folding knives have become some of the most highly recommended EDC (every day carry) pocket knives on the market. Ontario Knife Company USA made fixed blades are also regarded as great budget friendly options for hunting, camping, and general outdoors use. OKC recently added an American made slipjoint folding pocket knife to the Old Hickory line in 2021 and you can watch my review below (although with this current news I feel I might have been too harsh). Ontario Knife Company has an extremely long history of making knives here in the USA, and more recently have become known for quality imported knives as well as expanding their in house product lines.
The opening paragraph has parallels with the recent closure of Knives Illustrated as well. The knife industry has never been larger, yet we are also down to the last 2 print publications in the industry.