Are you interested in knife politics and laws?  If so, read on.

Member Clint Thompson recently posted a poll of iKC members entitled "HELP! FELLOW iKC MEMBERS.  I NEED YOUR HELP",  in which he asked for iKC members' input on some research he is doing for Knife Illustrated magazine.  His questions included the following: 

"As a potential reader about firearms, knives, camping and other outdoor related subjects, what would a magazine cover have to have in order to attract you attention to pick it up?  Once the magazine is in your hands, what articles listed on the cover would cause you to open it up and look inside?  What subject matter would cause you to buy this magazine?"

Several members responded to his poll and expressed their support for Knife Illustrated adding a regular feature discussing the issues of American knife companies having their products made in foreign countries to stay competitive here and abroad, laws and taxes that  are unfair to the American knife industry and consumers, and the politics involved in trying to solve these problems.   After some discussion by several iKC members, member Tobias Gibson commented that:  "... it would be nice to have a moderated  place where we could have a reasoned discussion on both  global and local  knife politics and laws", and "A moderated discussion group that would screen for personal attacks  and off topic trades would be worthwhile.  A similar section in Knives Illustrated could also be of interest, especially if it discussed local knife laws and legislative actions that will (have) an impact on the industry."

In response to the aforementioned discussion and and Tobias's comments specifically, I am proposing this new iKC Discussion:  THE UGLY POLITICS OF KNIVES.  Please give us your input.

Tags: Government, Knife, Knives, Laws, Policies, Politics

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So long as we keep a civil tongue, and realize that opinions on this topic are going to be varied.  After all this is not a USA only news group and we want to keep the discussion on topic, and not turn it into a flame war.

I think that on a website with an international presence rather than just an american presence.....saying things like "american only" or "american made"  makes a person look silly.

By saying things like "buy american only" you alienate everyone outside of the american circle.

I agree with Alex, we are a International Club. I think this is too sensitive a subject to dicuss here. After all would be said and done really nothing will be accomplished or changed. Let a person spend their money on what they wish. Lets move on to more educational type subjects.

Alexander has a point.   Especially for a person who lives in the USA and loves Swiss Army Knives.  While I'm happy to won a Camillus knock-off of a Vic Classic,  I'm sure the Swiss think of it as an inferior copy of a quality Swiss made knife.

I think what most people are complaining about isn't knives made in other countries but when a Country decides to out source its production to another country.  Had Karl Elsener  not been upset about knives for the Swiss Army being made in Germany, we'd have no Swiss Army knives.

And in a similar situation, had the US not turned isolationist in the 1890 and passed outrageous import tariffs, the US knife industry would have had a hard time flourishing. 

We do need to look at  discussion on knife politics on a global scale and we also need to ask questions like why did Camillus fail yet Case remain?  Was it more than the move to global production?  And when we look at  so-called American Companies, just how "American" are they when they the parent company is actually in Finland or some other country?

It is a complex issue and blindly demanding "Buy American" is not really going to solve anything and will not only irritate many Americans whose livelihoods depend on imports but also people who aren't Americans and are proud to be whatever nationality they happen to be.

While I think Robert has a point, it his hard to discuss the history of knife companies without discussing the global aspect of the hobby.  The Good thing about iKC, is that groups can be formed and peopel can choose to join or not join.  I would rather have a group where this topic could be discussed than have someone join a group like the Rough Rider group and just complain about them being made in China.

As I said, I just think it should be a l=place to discuss all types of legislation affecting knive making and ownership, not just the American import market. For instance the insanity that allows a store in a city to sell just about any type of knife you can think of but then a city ordinance that actually makes it illegal to catty most Swiss Army Knives and anything with a blade longer than 2.5 inches!

Well...of course, I hate to see American companies close manufacturing plants in the US and move their production overseas. This is actually a complicated topic and there can be many different reasons why a knife company might do such a thing:

* Global Competition: For example, Buck has to compete against CRKT. All of CRKT's knives are made in Asia. Both companies compete against Gerber. Gerber has most of it's knives made in Asia. At a certain point, Buck has to make a decision. Give up hard-earned ground to those competitors...or reduce margins in order to stay in the game. Of course, margins can only be eroded so far before a company can't function.  So...Buck chose to have some of it's products made overseas. Fortunately, the fine people at Buck found a way to produce product more competitively stateside and have brought back most of the products that they were sourcing in Asia.

* More Manufacturers/Brands than Market Demand Can easily Support: This is good for the consumer...albeit TEMPORARILY. Eventually, such an environment produces casualties and the consumers' choices get reduced accordingly. Also, I think that there is a GREATER question here; is saving $30-$50 on a knife made in Asia worth potentially forcing fellow Americans into the unemployment line? A buyer's short-term gain can be a country's long-term sickness.

* America is one of the major markets in the world. Depending upon which sources you believe, it's been reported that America buys more "stuff" than any other country and more than many countries combined. At one juncture in this county's existence, most of what Americans bought was American made. Not now. And with such a huge market, it only makes sense that global companies would want to sell their products to Americans. So...this creates a more competitive marketplace within the US...and some companies just don't have resources to keep up with bigger, larger companies from other countries.

* Profit: I probably should have capitalized that word. Why? Well...today's media has sought to popularize the notion that "profit" is an evil word. The fact of the matter is that if a company isn't profitable, it won't survive. One of the misconceptions that exists out there is that suppliers are "cutting a fat hog". Actually, in order to understand what you are paying for (as a buyer), you also have to understand "the channel of distribution".  In other words, very few manufacturers sell "direct to the public". Manufacturers sell most of their knives to distributors. The distributors sell to dealers. Dealers sell to the buyer. In a some cases, large "big box" stores buy direct from the manufacturer (WalMart, Home Depot...you get the picture). The reality is this; the more links in the chain from manufacturer to consumer, the higher the cost of taking a product to market. The cost to make the product may well be half the cost of actually exposing the product to the consumer. Let's, for the sake of discussion, say that a knife cost $50 for a manufacturer to make. He markets that knife to distributors. That cost of marketing might be $9. He needs to ship it to the distributor. Let's say that adds another $1. So...the distributor buys the knife for $60. Most distributors I've known can't exist on margins less than 25%. So...the distributor needs to sell the knife to a dealer for $80 plus shipping. Fortunately, the dealer buys more than one knife...so the shipping costs $3. The dealer has $83 into the knife...and he needs to market the knife to potential buyers...so he's into it for $90. It's a competitive market out there...so the dealer isn't going to be able to mark the knife up 100%. He might get 40% margin on it if he's lucky. So, the buyer ends up paying $150. So, really, if we look back up the "channel of distribution", nobody is "cutting a fat hog" at any stage in the game. And you know who is making the least amount of profit in this? The manufacturer. Why? Because the pressure to "be competitive" at each stage within the channel of distribution serves to force his prices down.

Good grief. Too many words. Well...there's something for people to think about...

Some very good points above......Billy Oneal said it best

I agree with Robert, please respect the other guys opinion or this will become the same as other knife forums that I avoid.

I collect mostly USA if possible, but I will buy a foreign made one if I like it.  I, like Toby am a  fan of Rough Riders.  They make wonderful EDC's and gifts.

Great Points Chris.

On the same thread,  The price of  knife that manufacture is selling to the distributor has very little to do with the materials made to make the knife.  Sure 440 Steel is cheaper than 1095 or ATS34, of other steels but it isn't that much cheaper.   Most of the price of manufacturing is eaten up in labor charges and  facilities. 

And if a company can take the same materials and pt them together  with lower labor and facilities charges, then it can lower its price to the distributor and the saving get passed on down the chain.

So lets say you are a major retailer and let say you have a ready market for people who are going to buy your product and people are goign to buy your product because you stand by it and will repair or replace anything defective.  But let's also say that the item you've been selling is $25  and people have no intention of buying it if suddenly it were $35 let alone $70.    And suddenly the company who had been making your product when belly up and the only way you could keep the price point where your customers wanted it was by going to another manufacturer that while it is American Company, does its manufacturing work oversees,

While you're not thrilled with having to buy products made overseas, it is currently the only way you can make the product to the same level of quality your customer wants and at the same price point.  Suddenly you as a retailer are between a rock and hard place.  You know plenty of people will be mad that you are now selling Chinese made products, but at the same time, you've kept the price point and quality that your customers demanded.

The above scenario could apply to all sorts of businesses but for those who aren't sure, the retailer, I'm talking about isn't Walmart, its the Boy Scouts of America.  And currently most of their clothing, all of their merit badges, and tons of other items, including pocket knives are produced globally.   It isn't by choice but by circumstance.

When Camillus closed the only company who could meet the price point that the BSA felt it could sell its knives was Schrade and that meant "China"   But the BSA knives need to remain relatively low priced so that Scouts can afford a decent quality pocket knife that meets specific standards required by the organization.

Hi Jan,

It is my opinion they are also just a really affordable knives to collect!  I can't afford a Painted Pony or a David Yellowhorse, but I can afford a Stoneworx  I can't afford a pearl handled Case knife, but a RR pearl handle is within reach.   Plus they offer patterns and handles you won't see anywhere else.

Like the most interesting man in the world, I don't usually by Globals but when I do it's a Rough Rider!

I collect mostly USA if possible, but I will buy a foreign made one if I like it.  I, like Toby am a  fan of Rough Riders.  They make wonderful EDC's and gifts.

James, it acutally looks like there is a place in iKC devoted to this type of discussion.  It is the forum called "Knife Current Events"  And this is where this discussion is posted.  Terry made it very clear what the topic was.  He wants to see if there is interest in a group to talk about the Global marketplace.

That's the joy of iKC there seems to forums for all topics and they try to keep things where they belong! Heck we could probably even have a forum here for "Knife Snobs".  They key is to keep discussions civil and also in the right forum.  That's my take.   Will I talk politics?  I already have but I try to keep it as civil and objective as possible.   No use aggravating people.    Fro the most part, I'll most likely ignore it, however.

OK, I changed the title of this Discussion so iKCers will not feel constrained to discuss only international knife making and marketing politics, and to acknowledge that there are a lot more jobs involved in the knife industry than just making and marketing them.  Thanks for your input.

I think the research help we gave should end there with the survey questions .....if they add anything political it would be very controversial and a waste of good space for articles on antique folders....

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