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As early as the spring, knife shows began delaying and, eventually, outright canceling in light of COVID: IWA, the Spyderco Amsterdam Meet, BLADE and SHOT, The USN Gathering, and countless smaller shows were shuttered this year in light of the rampaging pandemic.
There were also changes in the industry apart from COVID; one of the biggest surprises came earlier this month, with Lynn C. Thompson announcing the sale of Cold Steel to GSM Outdoors. SOG’s founder, Spencer Frazer, stepped away from his company after a major brand refresh at the beginning of the year. Jon deAsis, Les’s son, stepped into the role of CEO at Benchmade after his father’s passing.
And indeed, obituaries are always the hardest stories to write. Tony Bose, TOPS’ Mike Fuller, and Benchmade founder Les deAsis passed away in 2020. We’re all richer for their having lived and worked among us, but poorer now for their loss.
It’s impossible – and not helpful – to imagine what the year’s release schedule would’ve looked like if COVID hadn’t thrown its massive spanner into the global works. But if this year’s releases were fewer and more restrained than they otherwise would’ve been, they were still of superb quality, emblematic of the leaps and bounds the knife industy has made in the last decade. Benchmade managed to celebrate the 940’s birthday in style with automatic and mini variations; Spyderco held up the standard of innovation that it’s known for with clever, quirky releases and the debut of their own SPY27 steel formulation; KAI kicked off a Sprint Run and Factory Special Series for Kershaw and ZT, respectively; and we’re pleased to report that new knife companies managed to emerge in this tumultuous year! We eagerly await more releases from Kansept, and Ray Laconico and Sanford Owens’s new Monterey Bay Knives.
There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about 2021 – but it feels unwise to prognosticate. Instead, we’ll end this retrospective the same way we did last year: by thanking our readers. You make the entire KnifeNews project possible, and for that we are, now and always, incredibly thankful. We hope you’re happy, we hope you’re well, and we are wishing you all a better 2021. Thank you, and see you next year.