The 7 Places I Bought Knives This Year

Where do you buy your knives? That’s one of the most common questions I get asked, and also one of the first questions I ask when I meet a fellow knife enthusiast. 

There are so many places to buy knives, both online and in person, that everybody is sure to have their favorites. With another year coming to a close, I recently went through my records and discovered that in the last year I’ve purchased knives at seven different online retailers. I’m here to share my thoughts on each of them. Every online knife retailer has its pros and cons, but there are definitely things I like about all of these:

BladeHQ

If you’ve done any knife shopping online, you’ve almost certainly come across BladeHQ. They’ve earned a reputation as one of the leading retailers that specializes in knives, offering knives in a wide range of styles. For EDC knives in particular, they offer one of the better online selections ranging from budget knives to high-end knives and even some custom and specialty blades. 

BladeHQ also has a good built-in search engine, secure payment and responsive customer service. Each knife listing usually has detailed specs, and the platform supports user reviews, both of which can be super helpful for making informed decisions. BladeHQ also publishes its own reviews, articles and “listicles” related to knives. I tend to take any such content with a grain of salt when the entity who publishes the review is also trying to sell the product, but BladeHQ’s articles seem legit.

Amazon

What can you say about Amazon? This omnipresent online retailer of pretty much everything is inescapable. If you want to buy a knife, you can almost certainly find it here. Like most people, I have mixed feelings about Amazon, but they do tend to offer a remarkable selection of knives at some of the lowest prices around. The customer service also tends to be pretty good, and the customer reviews are useful as long as you have a good B.S.-detector. 

One thing I’ve noticed in recent times is that Amazon has become overrun with cheap off-brand  knives that are made in China and often designed to look just like more established knife brands. Amazon works best if you go in with some idea of what you’re looking for, otherwise it can feel like wading through a swamp. 

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Smoky Mountain Knife Works

Smoky Mountain Knife Works is actually a real, physical store in addition to an online retailer. Their brick and mortar location in Sevierville, Tennessee is said to be the largest knife store in the works, and if you happen to be in the neighborhood, I would definitely recommend checking it out. If not, you can always order online.

Most items over $75 ship for free, and you can also bundle lower-priced knives together to save on shipping. In addition to knives, SMKW also sells a wide range of gear including clothing, survival and camping gear, kitchenware and shooting accessories.

I’ve read some reviews that mention issues with customer service and the accuracy of listings at Smoky Mountain Knife Works, but I personally have never had such problems. They do sell a broad spectrum of knives from ultra-budget stuff like Rough Ryder and Marbles knives right up to premium and custom blades, so you just need some basic awareness of what you’re purchasing. 

I also had the chance to visit SMKW in person! It’s totally insane—every knife in the world in one place!

Giant Mouse

It’s not every day that I buy knives directly from the manufacturer, but I did buy direct from Giant Mouse this past year, and thus they’ve made our list. I usually find that it’s more affordable to purchase from other retailers, but sometimes with premium, custom and small-batch knives, that isn’t always an option. 

Some of Giant Mouse’s offerings are made in limited runs of just 400 or 600 pieces, and they sell out real quick. American-owned and designed by Danish knife makers Jesper Voxnaes and Jens Ansø, Giant Mouse knives are impeccably crafted, with premium materials and outstanding fit and finish. Great options if you’re ready to splurge on a high-end knife. 

Knife Center

Knife Center was established in 1995, making them one of the earliest companies to take advantage of online knife sales. They’re one of the top names in the knife biz (though one could argue that their site is a little outdated) and they have a tremendous selection; not just knives but also flashlights, multi tools and a wide range of gear in the EDC/tactical/survival space. 

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Overall, Knife Center has one of the biggest selections of knives I’ve seen, and their prices are more than fair. One thing I’ve noticed is that they occasionally list items that they don’t actually have in stock, so you have to carefully read the listing to make sure you’re not buying something that’s on backorder. Knife Center also has a YouTube channel that posts some great knife reviews and informative videos, and I’m a big fan of the search engine on their site, which lets you filter knives by brand, size, price, usage, style, lock type of blade steel and country of origin. 

DLT Trading

Established in the late 90s, DLT Trading is one of the oldest online retailers that focuses on knives and related gear. They started out as a place to shop custom, high-end and hard-to-find knives, and that remains their focus, although they’ve certainly expanded their scope to include a wide range of brands, styles and price points. Still, I think of them more as a place to check out high-end knives than to bargain hunt.

DLT Trading is also known for offering unique exclusives and collaborations with respected knife brands like Spyderco, Benchmade, Demko and Rick Hinderer. You can usually find premium knives here at prices that are below MSRP. They have a great selection and ship fast. The DLT Trading website also features clear descriptions, specs and photos of each product, along with user reviews.  

Knives Ship Free

There’s a lot to love about KnivesShipFree, not the least of which is that knives do, in fact, ship free (as long as you’re shipping them within the United States). I also really like that this is a major retailer that gives the customer personal care and attention to detail. You can tell that the owners and all the folks who work for KnivesShipFree are genuinely passionate and knowledgeable about knives. 

They offer a relatively curated selection compared to most knife retailers, and they don’t sell junk. That makes KnivesShipFree a great place to buy high-quality knives, though it isn’t necessarily a place to bargain shop. They take pictures of all the knives themselves and provide accurate specs and descriptions. The website’s search tools also allow you to filter results by blade length, thickness, steel type, weight, handle material and other details that knife nerds like me care a lot about.

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