Why would you purchase (with your hard-earned dollars) a cheaper made knife? Pocketknives from Frost Cutlery, Steel Warrior (which is owned by Frost), Rough Ryder, Rite Edge, etc. are all knives from the cheaper echelons of cutlery. With these knives you’ll spend anywhere from $10 to (typically) $25 on a frame, while the more expensively made knives (W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co., Great Eastern Cutlery, German Bull, Hen & Rooster, and many more) will run you more along the lines of $50 to $100 (and more). Why buy cheap knives? There are several reasons, and many are directly related to the actual cost of a single traditional pocketknife.
Now, we are talking about knives (mostly) gathered to collect (sometimes to carry in your pocket), and we are talking about knives that are traditional pocketknives (not tacticals, fixed blades, kitchen cutlery, etc.). With these latter types of knives, you generally want high quality and craftsmanship for use everyday as an EDC or for use in the kitchen where sharpness and stability are key or when using a knife for certain tasks that have a knife designed for that task. In all of these situations (and others), your selection of the right knife for the job is more important and doesn’t “necessarily” follow the same rules for personal finance.
Great Selection from Lesser Quality
First, upper-end knives don’t usually have the same greater selection of frames and handles to choose from as have lower-end ones. Don’t misunderstand; these top-quality knife companies do make different frame types, with often multiple handle variations for each, when dealing with traditional pocketknives. However, they don’t even begin to approach the vast selection and mere volume offered by the lesser companies.
The lesser companies operate by the same set of commerce rules as we all do. They cannot financially afford to keep the lights on if they have small quantities of sales (and profits). So, this requires them to have a broader base in their production, and of course this necessitates higher volume of sales which translates to lower prices and greater selection for the consumer.
And as to “getting what you paid for”, companies with this high volume/vast selection are able to purchase their steel and other materials at greater discounts. In addition, they don’t need the very best steel on the market to make a decent quality knife – so they go cheaper. Production costs are also reduced because of the high volumes, and, viola, you have a much cheaper cost to purchase that knife. The real kicker is that sometimes this cheaper knife is actually a pretty decent quality of pocketknife – again, a GREAT deal for the consumer and collector!
Too Expensive to Try Upper Quality
Second, it can quickly become too expensive to try different and untested frame styles from the higher quality manufacturers. When dealing with any type of quantity for a collection of knives, building that same collection from only the upper-end cutleries adds up very fast. Solely because of the elevated costs of knives from these manufacturers, trying and collecting numerous styles and handles gets to be a very big budget item. These knives are, after all, typically made from higher quality steels (sometimes the very latest and greatest). The knife handle materials are the most discretely selected for their quality (and even origination – as in Case’s use of India stag, rather than typical deer stag from wherever it can be obtained). Lastly on this point, these companies have a reputation that they care dearly for – making a great knife is part of the draw when buying one of these knives, and everyone knows it. Unfortunately, this translates to higher costs for the collector and connoisseur.
Explore New and Unknown at a Discount
Third, there is an exploration and trial aspect to knife collecting. You don’t always know that a particular knife will tickle your fancy, or (sometimes) downright ruin your day. Buying and collecting cheaper knives gives the collector and consumer the opportunity to purchase much more volume to test and try out different knife types and handles. It just becomes much more economical to land that perfect knife when buying cheaper knives.
Find Old, Obsolete, and Special-Niche Knives
Fourth, finding older and lesser known more unique knife frames and “custom niche” knives is often only possible when shopping the cheaper-in-cost knife manufacturers, especially for knife models that have been discontinued (by someone) previously. Some high-end knife manufacturers do offer a selection of “hard-to-find” items, but they can’t begin to compare with the selection offered by the lesser cutleries. These cheaper knife makers can design, build, and sell much more obsolete and unique knives in their voluminous productions. It just comes down to the bottom line: the cost of making some unique and/or obsolete offering is less, while the risk of an item not selling is also less impactful for the company.
Can Choose to Dump a Knife
Fifth, if you don’t like it, you can dump It. If you really don’t like a knife or how it works, you can get rid of it with a much less weighty conscience, in regard to price paid for the item. While every dollar counts(!!), you have much less investment in a knife from the lesser quality manufacturers. This makes it much easier to find, try, and get rid of knives that don’t do anything for you.
Wider Collecting Variety
And lastly, what you can end up with is a collection with a wider variety of types and handles of pocketknives. Your collection is bigger, that obsolete or unique knife that you always wanted to try and see what it was like is now yours, you are into your collection for less overall investment, and you are just happier because of these things! So, why spend two- to ten-times the amount to explore, examine, and collect pocketknives? There is a much better way that has much less impact on your wallet.