So I've been thinking (a dangerous passtime, I know....) for a few days about this. I've been trying to categorize brands. Now, maybe somebody has done this before, and come up with a different system to do the same thing, but here's my take on the situation. There are essentially 5 categories of knife brands out there (and it holds fairly true for MT's also). And a 6th category, which is no brand. The Category number does not necessarily correlate with the quality or utility or dependability of the product, but I think it often comes close. Sometimes a company blurs the lines between two, or slips from one condition to another over time.
Here's my analysis:Category 0:
No-brand knives. These guys aren't even proud or brave enough to put a brand on their product. You're lucky if they'll even admit where they made the smurf....probably China, but you don't know that. It could have been Bangladesh or who knows. Sometimes it says the country, but it doesn't give a brand or model number.
0A: No knife brand, but sometimes a country of origin label, and slapped with promotional or conditional branding from a non-tool related company, such, as, oh, let's say Charlie's Bait and Tackle Shop.
0B: No knife brand, but country of origin labeling. Usually but not always China.
0C: No brand, no country. Totally anonymous.
0D: May or may not have country of origin labeling, but gives false (fake) identification markings of a known and respected company.Category 1:
Store Brand Knives
Category 1 brands are a step up from 0A in that they are purposefully and ongoingly planned, promoted and sold through a particular store chain over a period of many years.
1A Bears a particular inhouse brand associated fully or primarily with a particular retailer. Examples include Ozark Trail, Kobalt, and Husky.
1B Bears the name of the particular retailer who sells it, ie, Cabellas, Sears, etc.Category 2:
Tool Brand Knives
Category 2 knives and multitools are branded with popular companies that make and/or market other kinds of tools. They are often outsourced to other manufacturers, particularly in China.
2A Knives and MT's actually made by regular tool companies in their own company-managed factories (rare)
2B Knives outsourced and branded by popular tool companies, such as Dewalt, Milwaukee, Snap-On, etc.Category 3:
Knife and/or MT companies or brands who primarily outsource their work
3A Those who centrally and continually design and manage their product line on an ongoing basis, but have no factories of their own (I think Frost fits this category, and many others)
3B Those who basically market and network with existing outsourcing partners and simply sell whatever is offered to them on the world scene....give me some examples....Category 4:
Inhouse Production Companies
Category 4 are generally prestigious, well-known companies who invest a good deal of capital into development, production, quality control, advertisement, and sales. They are usually high-production, high-profile companies based in first-world nations and with at least some of their factories close by their headquarters.
4A These companies produce all, or nearly all, their products at their in-house, company-owned factories. Sometimes they need to outsource a few stray components, but it's generally all right there. Examples: Victorinox, Case, Leatherman.
4B These companies produce many of their own products in their own company-owned facilities, but also subcontract a sizable portion of their work out to overseas concerns. Examples: Gerber, CRKT, Kershaw.Category 5:
I do not have much experience with this category, but I realize this is where you can easily drop $500 on a high-quality modern relic. So I tentatively give you:
5A Knife makers who hand-forge every blade, and hand-make every part, and each individual knife, while a thing of high quality, is also unique. Often this is a one-man show.
5B Knife makers who use techniques to promote uniformity and efficiency in the manufacturing process, to where recognizable and consistent models are produced and sold, usually at a higher production rate than category 5A. This is likely to be companies with more than one worker.
5C Those knife-makers who are still aspiring to become bonafide 5A or 5B producers, and aren't really there yet.
SO.....let me know what you think of my categorization.