Spoiler alert: Nothing tripped my trigger (mostly), no pretty pictures!
I was at the 2019 SHOT Show in Las Vegas from Monday, 21 January 2019 through Friday, 25 January, 2019. I visited the following booths and fondled products:
Liong Mah Design;
RikeKnife Company, Ltd.;
The most polished and impressive knives were from the Chinese knife makers; Liong Mah's hand ground hollow grind on his blades look like they were CNC machine ground (they were that precise).
The fetish for polished metal grips / gripping surfaces and for frame locks continues.... I have documented my issues with both in the "Neverending" "Tactical" Blades discussion. If you are looking for a "gentleman's" folder that people will Ohhhh and Ahhhh over, any of the above will suffice.
CRKT's Ken Onion Helical Black with D2 blade: I have long been a fan of CRKT, and almost ordered two of these when "pre-orders" opened up on Massdrop and other web sites. I'm glad I waited until I got hand's on with the product. I found the flipper on this knife to be much more difficult to operate than any of my 10 + Chinese made flippers (Bestech, Boker Plus, Artisan). Don't know if it's the geometry or what, but I tried all three display samples and they all required extra effort on the flipper tab plus a robust wrist flick to deploy and lock the blade. Glad I waited.
On the plus side, Jeff Park's Jumbones was surprisingly slender, light, and opened easily for a 4.8" blade and an overall opened length of about 11". Borderline BFK, fer sure. Jeff Park's Crossbones is to me, the perfect blend of size, weight, blade geometry and ease of use.
Got to meet one of Artisan's US designers, Dylan Mallery, out of Georgia. Although a young and relatively new designer, keep your eye on him. He knows that a knife is designed to cut, not be a fashion statement, and his first design for Artisan fit my hand equally well regardless of grip, and the point and blade edge were where they should be, regardless of grip.
I stopped by Strider Knives and not getting much attention was a lone tanto fixed blade with a blackened (nitride?) blade and polished hardwood handles. I patiently waited until all of the folks in front of me moved on, and asked Brandon if I could grip the lone tanto. It was perfect. Blade geometry, grip ergos, were all perfect for anyone who has studied iai-jutsu, or the art of the live Japanese sword. The following night I found myself across the table from Duane Dwyer at an impromptu memorial dinner for a former Team member and mutual friend who passed away recently. As the tequila shots flowed, I found myself in an intense conversation with Duane on Daimler-Benz engines, Rolex watches, and the purity of purpose of the classic Japanese Nihon-to. I did not know that Duane had apprenticed for a prolonged period of time under a Master Nihon-to swordmaker; he earned the right to put the final polish on those blades before they were fitted.
On Friday, I stopped by the booth again and asked Brandon if there were any plans to put that design into production. Brandon replied that he wasn't certain, but if they did, it would probably retail in the $800 - $900 range apiece. The line forms behind me.
I fully appreciate the awesome grind lines, the bank vault lock-up of titanium frame locks and (mostly) the beauty of anodized titanium grips. But I truly value the simplicity of a designer / manufacturer of a blade who never forgets that the purpose of the blade is to cut.