On today's episode, we'll take a look at fitting in while hanging with the brothers from your favorite knife brand. Brands in every industry have their own culture and the knife industry is no exception. So, without further fanfare, let's take a peek at just what makes each brand tick. In no particular order: Emerson Knives You want to tread lightly in this crowd. The Emerson people could actually physically monkey-stomp you without spilling the whiskey they're holding in their other hand. Large forearms and hints about black ops when you were forced to cut yourself out of a downed chopper play well here. They'll also be some secret handshakes and liberal usage of the word "brother". If you really want to fit in here, you'll need a lot of black clothes. Emerson fans have the tightest t-shirts, hands down. If you can't rip a phone book in half, you want to stay in the background. Busse Knives Steel dominates the conversation here. As in INFI steel. No one knows what INFI steel is so don't let that disturb you, just nod knowingly with a 1,000 yard stare as you contemplate just how awesome INFI steel is. The main hobby of Busse fans is the acquisition of another Busse knife that cost more than the last one. In an odd mating ritual, raffles are conducted where a lovesick fan is bestowed the right to pay more for knife than any other person. If you find yourself in this frenzied mania, get down on all fours with the rest of the grown men and fight, son, FIGHT for your right to be fleeced! This is really the grand sum of the activities of the Busse culture since it has not been determined if anyone has actually ever USED a Busse to cut something. Cold Steel Cold Steel is basically what the offspring would be if Marvel Comics escaped from an Asian nut house, and had an affair with a science fiction themed circus. You never know what you're going to get here so when deciding on wardrobe, think GENCON. Just to be on the safe side, pack an eye patch and some parachute pants. Spears and sword canes are de rigueur. These knives actually get used. But mostly to unnecessarily cut things that don't need cutting with the gusto of a 70's kung fu flick. Becker Knives You won't see too many people at the Becker Knife booth-they're out in the woods actually using their knives. No one's ever captured a picture of more than 3 of them together at one time. They are like BMW motorcycle riders in that regard. Strangely, they are almost all decent cooks and they have an affinity for cast iron. They call themselves Beckerheads with Ethan being the HBIC. Urban legend has it that one beckerhead actually starved to death waiting for a phone conversation with Ethan to end. Mora Knives If you see a Mora knife fan at Blade, he'll be easy to spot. He's the one that looks embarrassed because he's in an actual building with A/C and food and he'll look guilty that he's not actually in the wild for part of the mandatory 359 days of bushcrafting they are required to put in each year. Mora knife fans love to wear their knives around their necks so as not to be confused with those who believe in such wizardry as unicorns and pocket knives. Strider Knives Strider is similar to the Emerson crowd but no one here actually has the ability beat you up, they will just act like they can. This group constitutes the highest concentration of 300+lb "snipers" and "force recon" individuals ever spotted in the wild. If you find yourself in this crowd, you must remember to never, EVER use the word "use". For any reason. The appropriate verb, the ONLY appropriate verb is "run". As in, "What kind of kit are you runnin?". Kit is also the preferred term for gear of any sort. You must be willing to instantly scratch the eyes out of a fan of another knife company if they mention that one of Strider's owners is a convicted felon who did time in the federal slammer. Rolexes, challenge coins, tattoos and vulgar pvc patches all help you fit in here. Tops Knives This might be the easiest crowd to fit into because regardless of what you do as a profession, Tops makes a model for it. Accountant? Get the TOPS ACCOUNTANT MODEL. Structural Engineer? Don't worry, there's an app, err, model for that. Police officer, biker, indian chief, seaman, construction worker? They've got you covered. Unemployed? No worries. Much like those revolving stands in the t-shirt shops at the beach where you can buy a magnet with your name on it, Tops has knife models for Bob, Mike, John, Steve and even Kristen (spelled 4 different ways!). There's not a lot of snobbery here so no need to feel unwelcome. They'll just be glad for ANYONE to come by. Randall Made Knives This is the crowd with the largest percentage of pacemakers. If you want to fit in here and you still have hair, you'll need to dye it white. A Rolex will help, too. You'll have to change your idea of value as well. Learn to say, "Only $4,000 for a mammoth fossilized femur bone? That will leave me plenty of money in my budget to have Gen. Robert E. Lee scrimshawed on the handle!" These guys (they're ALL guys) are pretty nice unless they see some kydex on you somewhere or you ask, "Why are these knives so expensive?", in which case, you'll find yourself digging your own grave in the back of some orange orchard in Orlando. RMK owners are literally willing to fight to the death in arguments over whether Sullivan's or Johnson made a particular sheath. ESEE Knives These fans have the thickest skin of any other crowd. Beastiality is a common theme. No topic is off limits so prepare yourself if you're going to be around them. They are the ones most likely to have returned from Tibet or the Amazon having actually used their knife in the field. They have some unnatural obsession with constantly trying to change the color or appearance of the blade using everything from German mustard to unicorn urine. They are often observed lacking all ability for logical thought--they will pay to suffer indignities at their leader's farm to get a knife when they could buy a knife for 1/2 the cost and 1/50th the agony. If you want to be known as a good conversationalist in their midst, say things like, "Izula folder, yeah right!" and "Look at some pictures of my backpacks." 5/2016 Update: ESEE-6 has been named by Field and Stream as the "THE ULTIMATE SURVIVAL KNIFE" in the May 2016 issue. So, I guess that settles that. The rest of the companies can start producing plowshares from their remaining stock. SOG Knives The Gunny is the only adult at the SOG booth. Everyone else is under 18 and is only there because they heard that's what the SEALs carry. Unless you play COD or MW for several hours a day, don't bother trying to fit in here. Smith and Sons Knives They are literally the only normal knife company that exists. If you aren't normal, don't even bother. And just for clarification, if you're reading this on the ESEE forum, you're not normal. Case Knives Case customers more closely resemble coin collectors than knife users. They generally stopped using knives years ago. They spend their days cataloging their collection in 3 ring binders full of plastic page protectors and in search of the ultra-rare double stamped error Peanut John Deere 1985 model. You know the one--where the green is off by TWO WHOLE SHADES! You'll need a lot of money to be in this crowd. Not because the knives are expensive but because for every knife you buy, you have to purchase the accompanying memorabilia: 1940's milk truck, John Wayne tin sign, wooden winchester box, etc. This crowd is basically the hoarders of the knife world and if you go down this rabbit hole, your living room will look like a Cracker Barrel within 5 years. You've been warned. Spyderco, Benchmade, Buck Knives These have been in the pockets of their users for a couple of decades. Just quietly cutting things that need to be cut. They've never attacked a cinderblock and they've never worn face paint pretending to be a SEAL. They don't take pictures of their knives stuck in a hammerhead shark or on their dinner plate bragging that their knife cut up sausage! Many times they'll be unaware of the rest of the knife industry and if they were aware, they wouldn't understand what drives the fanatics. To them the knife is a tool and they'd no more get a tattoo of a knife brand than they would get a tattoo of a screwdriver or chainsaw brand. When asked about what kind of steel their blade is made of, they'll look at you strangely and say, "I don't know--stainless?" They are, however, voted "Most likely to know how to sharpen a knife". So, if you want to fit in here, you better be able to keep your blade in working order, which automatically separates you from the majority of those companies listed above. Swiss Army Knives These guys are sort of like the Spyderco crowd but do occasionally like to brag about their knives and the fact that their new one has a combination coax cutter/toilet plunger/shoe horn. They have a savior complex and will often whip out their knife at a party before you can finish saying, "The screw in my glasses is loo-". And they're probably the only ones capable of opening a bottle of wine at any given time without shards of glass being embedded in the wall. They are generally humble, non confrontational types that accept pretty much anyone. But understand within the SAK community, there are the Victorinox royalty and then there's the inferior Wenger peasants and this can create some friction at times. If you want to fit in here, it's pretty easy--keep it loose and make sure your Macbook is handy. And wear a t-shirt with MacGyver on it, their patron saint.