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The First Annual Blade HQ Knife Awards

This is a special year at Blade HQ – it’s the first annual Blade HQ Knife Awards! All of the new knives at Blade HQ from 2023 have been considered, and a team here at Blade HQ has compiled a list of nominees in six categories: Folder, Fixed Blade, Auto, OTF, and Overall Knife of the year. Those nominees were sent to the hardest-core knife nerds we could find for voting, and on December 29, we’ll find out the winners!

Here are answers to some questions you may have. 

Which knives were eligible for nomination? 

To be considered for the knife awards, knives must meet the following criteria: 

  • They must have been first available to purchase in 2023 
  • They must have been available at Blade HQ 
  • They must be a knife 
  • They must fit at least one category of the awards 

How were knives chosen for nomination in each category? 

Knives were chosen by a panel of knife experts at Blade HQ. They considered hundreds of options in each category and selected the nominees based on which knives sold the best, represented substantial innovation in mechanism or design, and received the most praise internally and externally. 

Doesn’t Blade Show have knife awards?

Absolutely! Blade Show hosts an awards ceremony at each of its three major events: Blade Show Atlanta in June, Blade Show Texas in March, and Blade Show West in October. These best-of-show awards focus on what knives were presented to their panel of expert knifemakers. Blade HQ’s awards, on the other hand, take place annually in December and are in a best-of-the-year format. Instead of a small panel of judges, we use dedicated enthusiasts from the community.

This is also why we don’t give awards for customs. It’s much more fair for an expert panel to judge a one-of-a-kind custom knife close-up and in-person than to send a survey to thousands of voters.

We are not trying to replace Blade Show’s awards, but rather to meaningfully complement them. We will continue to discuss Blade Show awards in our communication, while adding discussion of Blade HQ’s Knife Awards. To earn either is a high honor!

How are winners selected? 

Blade HQ’s loyalty program Blade Club has tens of thousands of members, and some of them have reached the Zirconium tier. To reach this tier, someone must spend over $1,000 in the space of a year at Blade HQ. We know these people are some of the most discerning knife enthusiasts in the world, so we sent them a survey to select the winners. Their results will be published on December 29! 

Why wasn’t X knife nominated? 

There is a myriad of reasons why many knives weren’t selected. Perhaps it’s just a new colorway of an older model (like the Crater Blue Benchmade Bugout), was released after the nomination process was complete (like the Microtech LUDT V3), or it was released in years prior but only arrived at Blade HQ in 2023 (like the Squid Industries Tsunami). Also, numerous knives that were really cool didn’t make the list because we didn’t want the list to be ten miles long.  

Don’t worry, the nominees are not the only cool knives at Blade HQ. There are thousands more! 

So which knives were nominated? 

I’ll drop the list below, as well as links to each of the products and a quick explanation of why they made the list. 

For Best Folder: 

  • Kershaw Iridium 
    • The best-selling knife of 2023, a favorite for its slick design, quality materials, new DuraLock, and bargain price! The Iridium was awarded Best Buy at Blade Show 2023. 
  • Benchmade Narrows 
    • The slimmest AXIS Lock ever. This full-titanium knife weighs in at a featherweight 2.4 oz. The Narrows was awarded American-Made Knife of the Year at Blade Show 2023. 
  • Demko Shark Cub 
    • The smallest and thinnest Shark Lock ever made, and the first Demko to have a reversible deep-carry clip. It’s the most EDC-friendly Demko knife yet. 
  • Microtech MSI
    • The first knife to feature the patented RAM-LOK, an ingenious improvement on the iconic crossbar lock. Also the first of Microtech’s new, more affordable offerings. 
  • Flytanium Arcade 
    • The first non-Demko to feature a Shark Lock. Also offers full customizability from the factory, allowing the user to build the knife of their dreams! 
  • Tactile Knife Co. Maverick 
    • This USA-made folder boasts the iconic lined texture of all Tactile products, a MagnaCut blade, and a user-friendly design that the community has loved. 
  • Bestechman Goodboy 
    • The Goodboy combined one of the best button lock actions we’ve ever felt with one of the most competitive prices we’ve ever seen! 

For Best Fixed Blade: 

  • ESEE Sencillo 
    • With a size the fits between the EDC favorite Izula and survival staple ESEE 3, the Sencillo offers the same unbeatable warranty with a MagnaCut blade! 
  • MKM TPF Defense 
    • Blade Magazine Knife Hall of Famer Bob Terzuola designed this as the first self-defense fixed blade designed to be carried in the pocket. 
  • TOPS El Pionero 
    • Edged combat expert Ed Calderon designed this knife based on a big-box paring knife that performed extremely well in the field. 
  • Hogue Extrak 
    • Although designed for hunters, EDCers have loved the Extrak for its full-size handle, CPM M4 blade, and unnoticeable 1.9oz. weight. 
  • CRKT Razel Fixed Blade 
    • Knife enthusiasts have loved the unique, 2-edge design of this utilitarian EDC fixed blade. One of the last designs of late knifemaker Jon Graham.  
  • Bradford Guardian3.2 
    • A new interpretation of the iconic fixed blade, with a slightly extended blade to accommodate a guard and sharpening choil for safer and easier use. 

For Best OTF:

  • Kershaw Livewire 
    • The first OTF from Kershaw, featuring one of the smoothest actions on the market, and a very competitive price.
  • Heretic Colossus 
    • A full-size knife with a MagnaCut blade, the Colossus is a true hard-use OTF. One of its best features is its patent-pending action, providing unmatched strength and reliability. 
  • Guardian Tactical Scout 
    • Combines the beloved Guardian Tactical ceramic bearing action with a slimlined design and one of the best blade-to-handle ratios of any OTF! 
  • Hogue Counterstrike 
    • A powerful OTF with thoughtful design to keep everything you need and nothing you don’t. It offers a 3.5” blade and a glass breaker for under 3oz. 
  • Reate EXO Mini 
    • Building on the innovative gravity mechanism of the EXO, but incorporating a deep-carry clip, a safety lock, and smaller size to accommodate everyday carry. 

For Best Automatic:

  • Kershaw Launch 15 
    • A stiletto-inspired auto, and the first Kershaw Launch to offer a CPM MagnaCut blade! 
  • Benchmade Mini Claymore 
    • Took the beloved tactical automatic and made it just the right size for everyday carry, but without sacrificing function or material quality. 
  • Pro-Tech PT 
    • A rebirth of the iconic Strider design with a slightly thicker handle to allow Pro-Tech’s stronger spring and button setup. 
  • Kershaw Launch 16 
    • A large knife dressed out with extremely tough materials and thoughtful traction inserts making it worthy of the modern soldier. 
  • Benchmade Auto Immunity
    • The new gold standard of EDC automatics, with an AXIS Lock and an aluminum handle, all in a tiny, yet controllable package. 

For Best Knife: 


Which knife won in each category? 

Well, you’ll have to tune in to our YouTube channel on December 29 to see the Knife Awards Ceremony! We’ll see you there!