One to Watch: North Arms Skaha
Tony Sculimbrene 04.25.18
The knife business is entering a new space. It used to be that you had production companies and custom makers. Then Ken Onion coined the term “midtech” and for a while, about two years, every custom maker had a midtech line. Then Chinese companies started making extremely high quality knives and everything got mixed up. Companies like Reate were putting out knives at custom prices and custom quality. The categories became blurred. What constituted a custom knife became hard to define. Guys like Brian Tighe did elite work with elite machines. But then the machines got cheaper. What does it mean when a knife made by one person but produced in a machine sells with complete and total customizable options?
The pivot point for machining happened some time while John and Eric Grimsmo were making videos of their small garage operation. They were pumping out unique and interesting knives in a manner that people could access, both in terms of money and understanding. The Grimsmos expanded, but they represented a real change—two guys with a good mind for machining could launch a knife company. We have seen a bunch of folks follow their path.
One of the most interesting is another Canadian outfit called North Arms Knives. They produced a few fixed blades using good materials, S35VN and a variety of handle materials. Then they stealthily released a folder, the Skaha named after a picturesque lake in British Columbia. The knife itself has a 3.3 inch with a milled grind designed to show off its CNC-ground blade. The handle is G10 with a nice contour to it. The clip is a simple clip, one that is shaped around the lanyard hole at the rear of the knife. Its not flashy or nutty—just a solid design.
The real head turning part of the design is the flipper and pivot action. Lots and Lots of people have commented on just how amazing the flipping action on the Skaha is. YouTuber Nick Shabazz, a long time proponent of Grimsmo knives, compares the Skaha’s flipping action to that pivot on the Norseman. That is high praise, having handled a few Grimsmo knives including Nick’s own Norseman. It also happens to be exactly what the market is looking for right now—flipping action makes or breaks a new knife release.
Right now the Skaha is on back order. A flood of positive reviews gave the knife a huge kick and all of the initial batch sold out. Now the wait for the knife is around 6 months. Given all of the pluses and the price tag, oh yes, the price tag of $170, its easy to see why the wait is that long. Don’t sleep on the next batch though—they will likely go quickly too.
- What: North Arms Knives Skaha
- Cost: $169.15
- Where: www.northarmsknives.com
- When: Available in batches; email notifications of batch releases
- Made in the USA: No, made in Canada British Columbia
- Highlight: Insane custom-level flipping action on a small batch folder for less than $200