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The Knife Community weighs in on what these Hard-to-define categories mean to them

As “knife people” we often seem to be obsessed with categorizing ourselves, finding ways to separate ourselves from the rest of the segment. Phrases like, “I’m not a collector, I use my knives,” or “You’re not a real collector until you start buying custom knives,” are pretty common on forums and other social media related to knife community.

But what do these words mean? Are you a collector, enthusiast, or a user who happens to like the knife community? Maybe a combo of all three? Is it based on the price of your “collection”? The rarity?

For example, while I personally own about 100 knives, I still consider myself an enthusiast more than a collector. None of them are safe queens. I will and do use almost all of my knives on occasion. I do have a handful that are pricey enough that I won’t HARD use them, but they still get used.

It’s hard to define, so we gathered some comments from a recent knife community YouTube video on the subject and collated them for you here.

Some collectors focus only on one brand. In this case, Hinderers.

Dante Martin: 

“I would consider myself all 3, although there is a fine line between them. Also, I like folding knives for foldability, for appreciation of locks/materials/finishes etc., and for cutting. And I got my first custom about 2 weeks ago.

Yes, I’ve used it, although 6 months ago I wouldn’t have. I’ve realized that I buy things because I want them, not because I want more money if I decide to sell it. I remember getting my first guitar and treating it like it was glass. Now I look at it and its all dinged up, but I love it even more.”

BIONICK:  

“To me, I think everyone that buys a knife—be it an expensive one, to me that’s $100+ or more budget friendly $40-$80—will use it at least once! That being said, I don’t buy knives over $100 because I usually can’t afford them! If I could afford any knife, I would absolutely use it! I use my $220 Stedemon ZKC C-01 in Blue Digicamo a lot! I have always considered myself a user, never a collector, but now a little bit more of an enthusiast also!”

BigRedEDC:  

“I don’t have any ‘safe queens’ so I really don’t consider myself a collector. Also, I use knives at work every day so am definitely a user and I get just as excited about a $15 Rough Ryder as I do about a $450 CRK, so I think that makes me an enthusiast. Looks like I see myself as an enthusiast/user!”

Jay Strongbow:  

“I know the world’s greatest knife enthusiast. He always has that thing razor sharp, uses it daily (a lot), and I think it has had two new blades in 15 years as they were sharpened out. He owns one knife and can take it apart, clean and lube it, reassemble it in about 15 minutes taking it easy. Used to be 154 and now it’s s30v I think. One BenchmadeGriptilian.

I have tons of knives, high end, Sprints, etc., but I consider him more of a knife enthusiast than me. I tried a full sized Griptilian a few months ago and was floored what a stone-cold killer of an EDC it was. Got an s90v coming from the custom shop. 

I’ll show it to him when it arrives, and he will just shrug and go back to cutting things with his 15-year-old Grip. He is confused by my need for more than a knife. It’s like the guy with one rifle or one trout rod: He is 99% of the time a better shot than the gun collector, and he is guaranteed to catch more fish.”

You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to be a true knife collector.

Matt On Yak:  

“In my experience, I have owned knives since I was a kid-teen-through college-and now as an adult. Having a knife has always been useful and fun. I consider myself a user with some impulses to be an enthusiast.

I would consider myself a user because every knife I own I consider and think about the why/when I can use it. Little consideration on blade steels and materials used for the handle. I mainly looked at functionality and feel. As I have looked into the world of knives and watching YouTube channels, I think I have become more of an enthusiast.

I think that learning and understanding steels, locking mechanisms, handle materials, and paying attention to other details has made me more selective of my knives I use. I guess using my knives has made me become an enthusiast so I would say that an enthusiast is a person who begins to understand and see all the details that make a knife useful for a task vs. another whether that is for work or play.

Collecting is not in my budget, in my opinion a collector focus is on a collection from a brand, custom knives, and is more likely to ignore the price or even let go of a knife for a price. 

I use my knives, but I do baby them, mainly because I have not purchased a sharpening system to keep up, so my use is very minimal. I use utility knives as an easy option when I need to go to work. This saves me from dulling my blades until I settle on a sharpener. 

Also, I could list the knives I have and use but simply put if I need a heavy-use knife or work knife, I use a utility knife. Definitely I carry and use a Benchmade Bugout for most out-and-about tasks, nothing serious. This knife is in my pocket every day and I have no problems using it. I have other knives that will get use as I have discovered I prefer the Spyderco brand a lot the PM2 and Shaman are really great knives, but still the Bugout is in my pocket.”

Are you a collector, an enthusiast, or a user? Or all three?

Ian Sharpe:  

“Oddly enough, I ‘use’ my expensive knifes such as my large Inkosi more than any other knife. Now I have a total of 6 knives, including the Pm2, 940, and grip. I don’t have much of an urge to purchase any other knife now that I’ve had this Inkosi for 8-ish months. Hefty cost but I find that it’s the most comfortable to use out of my collection.”

We want to hear from you!

Next month’s “Issue of the Issue” will be:

 “What’s your favorite folding knife lock mechanism and why?”
Email your answers to editor@knivesillustrated.com.