Case Knives for Spring 2016
By Gary Zinn
Case Tear Drop #1028W CV. Image courtesy of wrcase.com.
The knife designers at W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co. never rest. Case has a core product families group of knife patterns and models they produce on an ongoing basis. Beyond this, they also do runs of seasonal knife families that are announced for the spring and fall of each year.
These seasonal offerings are often trial runs of new knife families. Typically, they will come and go, in the sense that a particular family of knives may be listed in one or more seasonal catalogs, but will then disappear for an indefinite time. Occasionally, a knife family or model that starts out in a seasonal catalog is so successful that it becomes a member of the core product group.
I need to summarize some Case terminology before going further. Case uses the terms knife pattern, knife model and knife family in an interrelated way. A knife pattern is a particular size and shape of knife handle frame, with specific blades installed (e.g., Medium Stockman, Peanut, Trapper, etc.).
A knife model is a particular knife pattern, finished out with a specific handle material. The knife pictured above, for instance, is a Tear Drop pattern with a carbon steel Wharncliffe blade, finished with jigged Chestnut Bone handle scales.
Finally, a knife family is a group of different knife patterns that all have the same handle treatment. For example, the Green Curly Maple family includes knives in six different patterns, all of which wear green stained curly maple handle scales.
New in the Spring 2016 Product Guide
Case lists thirteen new knife families in their Spring 2016 seasonal guide (catalog), accessible via the Case website (www.wrcase.com). These new families contain 85 specific knife models in total. (As I said, the Case knife designers never rest.) Generally, each family is named for its handle material, although a few families are named for a theme. The summary list below also notes the number of knife models in each family and the page in the Spring 2016 guide where the family is listed. All knives have folding blades, unless noted otherwise.
Also, the Spring 2016 guide lists three other knife families that contain previously issued knife models, with one or more new models added, as follows:
Finally, there are a dozen additional families that are repeats of previous seasonal issues, with no new knife models added. I will not detail those here.
New in the 2016-2017 Core Product Guide
There are also new offerings in the 2016-2017 Core Product Guide. Fourteen of the knife families in the core product guide have new knife models that were added since the 2015 core product guide was issued.
There are 21 other knife families in the 2016-2017 core product guide, but these have no new knife models added. Many Case models that have been popular for decades are included in these groups.
I am by no means a Case knives historian, but I have been following developments in their product lines with more than casual interest in recent years. Eleven months ago (February 2015), I attempted to write a hitchhikers guide to the Case universe. This article was titled Case Pocket Knives (Down the Rabbit Hole with Alice). I mention it here for reference if anyone reading this wants to get more background on the Case product line. I have also written reviews of two specific Case knives and I will mention those in context below.
Based on this background and my study of current new offerings, summarized above, I have noticed a couple of recent developments that I believe are of interest. The first is that a particular knife pattern seems to be gaining traction in the Case product mix.
I noticed the Tear Drop pattern was included in several of the new Spring 2016 knife families and was also being added to some families in the 2016-2017 core product group. I checked this on the Case website and discovered that there are currently (January 2016) twenty seven knife models offered in the Tear Drop pattern. Fourteen of these are new, so the Tear Drop models available have doubled with the latest product listings. Apparently this pattern has proven popular in recent times, so Case is expanding its production.
Briefly, the Tear Drop is a 3-5/8 inch (closed length) jack knife, with a 2-1/4 inch main blade. Case is making it in 1-blade spear or Wharncliffe models and also in a spear plus pen blade configuration. The knife is large enough to do some work, but has a pocket friendly shape and light carry weight (1-1/2 ounces). I would say that it has merit as what I call a dress carry knife.
A second development is that the family of knives featuring the 6.5 BoneStag handle material has been promoted from seasonal catalog status into the core product line. The handle scales are cattle bone that is dyed, carved and torched to resemble stag horn. The result is impressive.
I did a review of one of these knives last year (Case Mini Trapper Pocket Knife) and I suggested that the excellent handle treatment might merit them becoming standard production items. Case has done this, and has added three more patterns to the eight that were included when the family was listed as a seasonal item. The Large Stockman with 6.5 BoneStag handle scales, below, may convey an idea of what the fuss is about.
Case Large Stockman 6.5375 SS. Image courtesy of wrcase.com.
Finally, I want to revisit a point made earlier, that the Case seasonal offerings come and go. In the spring of 2014, one of the seasonal families featured jigged Magenta Bone handles. One of these knives caught my eye, so I bought it. This knife, which I reviewed in the article Case Mini Copperhead Pocket Knife, has become my favorite dress carry knife. However, the spring of 2014 was the only time that the Magenta Bone knife family was offered. Some knife families catch on in the marketplace, while others do not.
Case is the biggest gorilla in the jungle of traditional styled, production pocket knives. They offer more models and variations of pocket knives than any other maker.
They have proven market performers in their core product line and they are constantly stirring the marketing pot with new products in their seasonal lines each year. Current new offerings number over a hundred, between new seasonal knife models and knives added to the core product families. It makes for an interesting situation for anyone who is partial to Case knives, or for one who likes traditional knives and is looking for something out of the ordinary.
Copyright 2016 by Gary Zinn and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.