Some Thoughts Before You Hate on Chinese Made Knives, Time for a Knife Tariff?

So what do you think a kid on a paper route budget or a dad struggling to support his small family is going to buy? A $9.88 folder or a $200 folder?

Idaho – -( It seems like that there are trolls out there that their whole purpose in life is to spew out rude & hateful responses on the internet. Being a writer, I could give 100 examples but here is one of the hundreds that I’ve received.

I used to rodeo a lot, and this past summer wrote an article on what it is like to crawl down in the chute on top of a rank horse or bull.

The very next day, some troll wrote in a comment about how the humane society and every other decent human in the world should condemn rodeoing. He went way off on a tangent which was hard to follow. Turns up that he lived in California and even though this article ran in a paper in Idaho due to his diligent searches he came upon it right when it published and had to do his virtual posturing bit.

Most of the above type of trolling is done on a professional level by the radical left, but there are a few judgmental types on the right too, unfortunately, which is why I am writing this article today. For those people, I’d invite you to ponder the topic today and consider all of the facts and tell me what you’d do if you were in the knife manufacturers moccasins so to speak.

Here is what I am talking about. Anytime I write a Product Review about a knife made in China the nay sayers come out of the woodwork to condemn the knife and proudly state that they only buy knives made in America.

Before we go any further let me make something super clear. I am a big-time American. I’d love for companies not to outsource any production. It can and has been my job in the past that got out sourced and has also probably happened to a lot of you too.

But the real cause of this is two things:

  1. The customer.
  2. The US Gov’t.

Let me give you some of the facts. I do a lot with knives. This year I had Knife seminars in Reno at SCI, the next week at DSC in Dallas and last week four in Vegas at SHOT and this Friday in Boise at the CC Wildgame Feed. I’ve also done hundreds of Knife related seminars at Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Here’s what I see on a daily basis while conducting seminars. I bet 80% of the people that come in the store and buy a knife pay $7.99-$17.99 for a Chinese knife. So, what if you owned a knife company? Would you not offer them one? Before you act like Rambo and jump on the table burning your bra, remember, you are automatically going to lose 80% of the knife sales if you don’t offer a Joe Cheapo knife.

So the truth of the matter is that when you buy a cheap product, you either force companies to cheapen their product or go out of business. Here’s an example on a personal level. One time while working for Con Agra they had a video training series for us in which Tom Peters (A popular speaker at the time) said when we buy cheap products, we force companies to either cheapen their products or go out of business.

Shortly after that, something happened to make me realize that Peters was correct. At the time, we had five beef plants, four pork plants, and three lamb plants. At the Greeley plant, we killed up to 6,000 head/day. At the time, we used 5.5 boxes per head. So we had a lot of buying power.

At the time Inland Box Co. made the best boxes and charged us $.70/box. Stone Box Co. came in and only charged $.65. Our corporate told Inland to either drop their prices, or we’d go exclusively with Stone. That left Inland with two choices. Cheapen the box or lose the business of the second-largest meat company in the world.

They went with lighter cardboard which of course cheapened the box. In these scenarios, all of us Americans wail and moan about how the quality of American products have dropped. But whose fault is it? It is ours the consumer!

Another example. For the past 14 yrs. I have talked to most of the major, higher-quality knife companies about producing a boning knife for the outdoorsman after 10 yrs. I finally found an interested company. I took him into a beef plant to demo to him what we needed to produce and laid out the design.

To produce it at his regular Plant in it would cost us $13.00. China offered us the same knife for only $7.00. To get your product in the larger box stores, it has to be below a certain price point. What would you have done? (p.s.-in the end he didn’t pay me, dropped the product and that was the end of it).

So, with the above scenarios who do you think is to blame for the cheapening of product in America? I’ll tell you; it is the consumer.


Over the past decade, I have noticed that a lot of the outdoor companies outsource their production overseas. I hate this. Of course, a lot of this is due to cheaper labor, but another big cause is the extreme amount of government interventions and over-regulation. President Trump has made great headway in removing the painful burden of Federal regulation, but there is still work to be done.

Over seas, our competitors don’t have to deal with the USDA, EPA, OSHA and all of the other governmental agencies that manufacturers here in America do. Here’s an example. A lot of hides get shipped overseas to be tanned. The EPA made it unbearable to dispose of the necessary chemicals used in processing cattle hides here, so it was easier and cheaper to ship them to Japan. Japan just dumped their chemicals into the ocean. While we don’t want to encourage this behavior, why doesn’t America put in place higher tariffs to make it a level playing field for hide makers?

So when Obama proudly boasted how many jobs he and Government had created that was a flat out lie. The government doesn’t create ANY jobs. Reagan said it best. All the government needs to do is to get out of the way and quit over-regulating businesses so they can flourish.

I could give numerous examples about governmental over reach but will have to wait until I retire or I would never be able to get another job or consulting job in my line of work due to government retaliation.


So, yes, I am a big-time American but what is a company struggling to survive supposed to do? Produce all of their knives in America and lose 80% of the knife sales? When it gets down to it. Us consumers are the ones that will decide what they have to do.

About Tom ClaycombTom Claycomb

Tom Claycomb has been an avid hunter/fisherman throughout his life as well as an outdoors writer with outdoor columns in the magazine Hunt Alaska, Bass Pro Shops, and freelances for numerous magazines and newspapers. “To properly skin your animal, you will need a sharp knife. I have an e-article on Amazon Kindle titled Knife Sharpening for $.99 if you’re having trouble.”

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Some good points but I have to say that I buy what I can afford. I have a couple of high end knives that I keep with my wilderness and SHTF gear, but for the most part I EDC knives that cost less than $30. That way if I lose, ditch or otherwise am divested of them I’m not out much. This comes from having to ditch a weapon out the window of a taxi in Nairobi one dark night and other real-world experiences. No lack of patriotism here, just a high level of practicality.


I would love to be able to buy those fancy $200 knives but I am not a rich writer or for that matter rich anything; I am a disabled retired Air Force Veteran. So I buy what I can afford. IF that means that I buy a “cheap foreign” knife, so be it. One of the best knives I have ever had was a $15 Solingen Germany 9″ Bowie that I have used fairly exclusively since the 1970’s for everything from chopping small pieces of wood to butchering to cooking. I had to replace the cheap sheath but otherwise have… Read more »


Well said.

Heed the Call-up

Gomez, German products are not Chinese – *huge* difference. I own a few German kitchen knives, but my EDC are USA. You do not necessarily need to spend $200+ to get a good US knife.

Wild Bill

@hotshottertom Claycomb, Sorry, Tom, but writing, “It seems like that there are trolls out there that their whole purpose in life is to spew out rude & hateful responses on the internet.” will not relieve you of critique. Here is my critique: I don’t know about knives, but I do know the Chinese Communist government’s aspirations. They believe that they can replace the USA as the primer nation in the world. They believe that the North American continent is ripe for the picking. And finally they believe that every human area of endeavor is a means of warfare. They send… Read more »


Wild Bill, My thought have been concurrent with yours for a long time. I thought it was a mistake to spend so much of our available buying power with communists as we were encouraged to do in the past. We have built them to the super power they are and they are currently trying to overtake us and they flex their muscles at us. All this with inferior materials and slave rate labor. I don’t buy what Mr. Claycomb is trying to sell.

Wild Bill

@Tcat, Even if they were the best material, the best workmanship, the lowest cost the profit would still go into the Chinese war machine. Then we would have sold them the rope that they use to hang us, as Lenin predicted. And I still don’t know anything about knifes!


Wild Bill Agreed!

Heed the Call-up

One other issue the writer failed to mention as to why some buy cheap products is that many US products currently are not made well and cost more. I buy US when available and when it is a better product. I avoid buying Chinese whenever possible for numerous reasons – two key ones, they are not our ally – just the opposite, and we run a huge trade deficit against them that I try my best not to contribute to. I buy American because I want our dollars to stay here and not fund other economies. I buy American because… Read more »


Hard to take the author seriously on this topic when on the 9th of this month he wrote a glowing review for a Chinese boning knife.

Will Flatt

LOL! Or when said author makes asinine comments like “Before you act like Rambo and jump on the table burning your bra…”

I don’t recall Rambo EVER wearing a bra. Or did the Loony Left come out with another shitty remake of a perfectly good movie???

Wild Bill

@hotshottertom Claycomb, First let me say that it is impressive that an author would get back to readers on any given issue. Second, I would like to say that I don’t know zip about knives. You’re the expert and no one contends that. I do know a bit about the Chinese Communist Party and their war machine. Every penny of profit that the Chinese make on every product that they make goes to their military and intelligence efforts. One has to ask why are we letting American business people enrich those who intend to defeat us and take our whole… Read more »


The outsourcing has been going on for years and most Americans are used to it or just don’t care. I look at quality, not price when making a purchase and will spend more for a quality item over a less expensive one every time. If the quality is the same and one is American made as opposed to non-American made, I’ll buy the American every time. Sadly, most Americans cannot afford to be so choosy. It’s like shopping at Walmart; you may hate the place, but when you’re on a tight budget, you have to count your pennies and really… Read more »

Wallace C

DixieBiker seems to think that the Chinese are to be admired for their grasp of technology. What is missed is that their innovation is the result of espionage and technological theft. Yeah, I’m sure there’s a lot there to admire, if you’re not offended by blatant criminal activities. BTW, Chinese factory workers labor under conditions and earn wages not seen since Democrats controlled slavery in the old South.


You make some good points. But I don’t think you explain the whole picture. I don’t remember inviting the Chinese here. The people in Govt. did that. In the 1980s the Chinese were barely surviving. We allowed imports from Japan, Germany, etc. Most of those products were made w/ some quality to compete w/ American made. The prices were a little under most of the time. So yes the consumer did purchase the cheaper made product most of the time. But you had a choice. Now you don’t have much of a choice since Govt. instilled so many regulations on… Read more »


Just a thought or two. What you have written is so true. Remember, the Chinese have nuclear submarines, orbited astronauts and launched lunar landers to the back side of the moon. They are not what you have seen in the movie “The Good Earth”. They are technological wizards, the American corporate purchasers are the ones who say “Make me 10,000 of these at the cheapest cost possible” . I dare to say if we ever get past the ongoing trade wars and perceived national pride, they could be great scientific and technological allies. We possibly could get to Star Trek… Read more »

Ansel Hazen

DixieBiker, just how do you think the ChiCom’s got all that technology?

Wallace C

“Perceived national pride” a problem for you? Got a problem with America. there’s a flight out every few minutes! Miss one and you won’t have to wait too long for the next. I’ll help you pack.

Will Flatt

Girl, you sure are as dumb as a bag of rocks. The ChiComs STOLE all that high technology, and what they didn’t steal the BOUGHT FROM THE CLINTONS! (Like our ballistic missile technology) Tariffs serve a dual purpose: it protects the US economy from cheap foreign imports that kill American jobs, and it raises revenue for the federal government – CONSTITUTIONALLY. And I’m all for the feds doing things the Constitution way! There’s nothing wrong with national pride, either. I’m proud to be an American. If you’re not proud to be an American, then MOVE TO CHINA!! I’ll help you… Read more »