Survival Common Sense: What makes a good knife review?

Recently, a knifemaker checked out my credentials, and asked me what criteria and method I use to review knives.

Good question!

To start with,  I review inexpensive, entry level blades as well as custom, handmade ones.  I’ll check out whatever knife strikes my fancy. Often, readers will suggest cutlery. There is no particular rhyme or reason to the products I choose from my knife reviews. I run across an interesting style and then I test and review it.

Let’s start with a few basic facts as they relate to my knife reviews.


I haven’t “needed” a new knife in well over 30 years. While I occasionally receive a knife from a manufacturer at no charge in hopes that I’ll test it, I generally buy, borrow, or barter to acquire a knife.  A review generally takes a minimum of  5-10 hours before I even get to the actual field work. The knife is carried daily, as best I can under the limitations of working on a college campus, walking a household dog, and domestic chores. The actual review production, including field testing, writing, photography, video work etc. can take another 20 to 25 hours.

Do the math: If I get a “free” $250 knife in some exchange so that I can write a review, I’m not even making minimum wage. That amount doesn’t justify my time spent, and certainly doesn’t pay the overhead needed to operate a website. (SCS has been online for more than 14 years – and we’re expanding – so I obviously enjoy what I do! Our Youtube channel will soon hit over 10 million views.)

So why do do knife reviews at all? Simple – I am a cutlery addict and can’t quit. I LOVE all kinds of edged implements. I truly enjoy trying out new designs and steels, and the audience likes seeing the videos and posts. The number of views and the positive feedback and comments prove that.

Leon sent me this link in the comments when I referred to a more story-oriented post as not being “formulaic” like a typical review. It was a poor choice of words. Especially since I have long been a reader of his and consider him one of the the real “writers” out there in the industry. I put him in the same category I do with my friend Jim Cobb, another “writer’s writer” .  I am a trout bum who managed to develop writing as a marketable skill now that I am no longer guiding. Writers like Leon and Jim are craftsmen no different than a good knifemaker. It is the writing that is their craft.

Read the whole thing:

What makes a good knife review? Here is what to look for