Pocket Knife Sales Soar on Renewed Popularity


Jeff White
December 30, 2012, 01:19 PM
Missouri recently passed legislation making possession of an automatic opening folder legal. Today I found this very positive article in the very leftist St Louis Post Dispatch:


Pocket knife sales soar on renewed popularity

By MICHAEL D. SORKIN msorkin@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8347

Americans are walking around with more knives in their pockets, although not for the same reasons they are rushing to buy guns.

Scouts, hunters and anglers, collectors and office workers who just want a tool for opening packages are boosting pocket knife sales. For a decade, airline safety rules and the Great Recession had cut into sales.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, airplane passengers accustomed to traveling with a pocket knife found that they had to leave it in checked luggage. Even then, TSA agents sometimes confiscate a blade.

Sales now are rebounding, due partly to a growing desire for preparedness in the aftermath of disasters such as the Joplin tornado and Hurricane Sandy.

In Missouri, sales got an additional boost this year when the state legalized certain knives.

In July, Gov. Jay Nixon signed a law repealing the ban on possession, sale and manufacture of switchblade knives. A switchblade snaps open with the push of a button.

Now, just about anyone can legally own a switchblade under Missouri law. (But check with police to make sure switchblades are legal under local laws.)

After the state law change, customers flocked to stores to shop for switchblades, which had been banned for years. Some walked out with switchblades, which can cost $200 or more for top-of-the line models. Other, more frugal customers, bought less-expensive manual knives instead.

That has helped drive up sales of all types of knives by “a solid 10 to 15 percent,” said Al Rothweiler, one of the owners of Mid America Arms in south St. Louis County.

While Rothweiler also sells guns, he and others say that most knife buyers aren’t looking for a weapon.

“A knife is simply a very useful tool,” says Doug Ritter. He is founder of Knife Rights, a nonprofit he calls “the NRA for knife owners.” His organization worked with the National Rifle Association to legalize switchblades in Missouri.

“For a part of America, putting a knife in your pocket when you get up is simply a part of getting dressed,” says Ritter. “It’s like putting your keys in your pocket — it’s normal.”


Paul Beretta is among the most active collectors and has his own website, www.paulberetta.com. The retired computer programmer has more than 500 knives, mostly Spydercos. He has 70 versions of one model, the Kiwi.

“I collect knives I don’t use because they are pleasant and interesting to look at,” he explains.

He adds that, “Nobody needs a hundred shot glasses or thimbles, or a dozen beer company clocks on their wall.”

Those who claim their collections are investments are “either deluding themselves,” he says, “or just trying to placate their wife.”

Beretta is single.

Besides the beauty of design and the craftsmanship, a knife’s basic utility is what draws aficionados.

Jared Karlin, 30, a sign language interpreter in St. Louis, began collecting knives when he was about 12. He now has nearly three dozen fixed and folding blades for which he paid a total of about $5,000.....read the rest at the link

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December 30, 2012, 01:37 PM
Wonder how they get them to Missouri to sell them though?

The 1958 Federal Switchblade Act bill was passed August 12, 1958.
And that federal law still make interstate commerce of switchblade knives illegal.

Section 1242. Introduction, manufacture for introduction, transportation or distribution in interstate commerce; penalty

Whoever knowingly introduces, or manufactures for introduction, into interstate commerce, or transports or distributes in interstate commerce, any switchblade knife, shall be fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.


Jeff White
December 30, 2012, 01:53 PM
I don't know. Many years ago I bought an Al Mar auto SERE from one of the big online knife sellers. All they wanted was a scan of my military ID.

Of course at that time one could buy these off the table at almost any gun or knife show here in Illinois. Possession is a Class A Misdemeanor for everyone in Illinois including peace officers. There was a tempest in a teapot scandal over this several years back when one knife dealer called the ISP Department of Criminal Investigation on a competitor. They arrested him at a gun show (in Decatur IIRC) and he promptly turned in a list of state troopers and other officers who had bought them from him.

I would have to say that the laws against auto openers are probably some of the most under enforced ones in the country at all levels.

December 30, 2012, 02:06 PM
I know, it's crazy.
I have bought 3 Benchmade autos from gun show knife dealers over the years here in Kansas.

Then when a spring broke in one of them a week after I bought it?
I could mail it to Benchmade to get it fixed.
But they couldn't legally mail it back to me!

The VP of Benchmade finally took my name & address, but told me they couldn't send me the spring either.
Then I got a plain brown "mystery" envelope in the mail a few days later with several springs in it!!

I still don't know where they came from?? :D

The whole law is a mess, as todays assisted openers, and Axis-Locks open just as fast or faster then the best switchblades.

And are probably more reliable.


December 30, 2012, 06:49 PM
Fed law also allows for "bonafide" dealers to receive them. That means that you attest that you'll only sell to those that federal law allow you to order for (LE/Mil).

The game is played by every retailer where autos are legal.

January 1, 2013, 08:09 PM
I bought switchblades across the counter in MO decades ago. The "interstate commerce" is a Federal law, yes. But it doesn't specifically outlaw local sales.

As an example of lawmakers pushing their agenda, it's a good case study. It was introduced by an Illinois Democrat in response to the number of teen movies in which gang members and ruffians would pop a blade menacingly. It didn't really happen that much, but OMG the suburbanites were horrified. Sound familiar? His concern was teen violence in - wait for it - Chicago. It still holds the worst murder rate in the US.

The unintended consequence was that with less switchblades on the market, the gang members moved to small caliber firearms. Things actually got worse on the street for citizens and cops. FAIL.

Short sighted laws meant to placate an ignorant public and make a political career aren't the work of statesmen.

January 1, 2013, 08:47 PM
It was legal to import a switchblade if you meet the following criteria:

A one armed person.
Required in connection with one's military service.

That's the way it was in the Customs regs. in 1981. The question "Who can legally import a switchblade knife" was on my brokers exam.

January 4, 2013, 09:31 AM
Surf the web for double action, OTF, or switchblade. Dozens of vendors will ship to your door, albeit they don't for states that legislate against them.

Local vendors tend to follow the path of least resistance - they are looking for a sale, not a hassle. They tend to profile the buyer and may or may not pull that display tray out from under the counter. If you never ask, you likely don't know.

On the other hand, with thumb holes, studs, and assisted opening, no big deal anyway. The Boker Toplock is a great example, in the day, it could be purchased for about $45, or $100 with the tiny omega spring assembled - which retails for $2.50. A $55 markup, exact same knife otherwise. Ban states sold the springs separate from another vendor.

Next gun show, start looking, you'd be surprised at how many are there and what they ask for them.

January 5, 2013, 08:19 AM
I sort of hit the lottery in that there's a very good maker of automatic knives (Dalton) who manufactures them right here in Lexington, KY. No interstate transport necessary, and my CCDW allows me to carry them anywhere I can legally carry a gun.

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