Who is the best knife maker in the world?
If this question has ever crossed your mind, you are in the right place today.
The Germans are known for their quality knives, and the Swiss have also made their mark in this market.
It would be a gross injustice if we don’t talk about all the good work that the Japanese knife makers are doing – or if we forget that some great knives are coming out of the US these days also.
With all that in mind, let’s look at the top knife companies in the world, and what they bring to the table.
Top Knife Manufacturers in the World
|S/N||Brand||Origin Country||Best For||Jump to Section|
|1||Victorinox||Switzerland||Swiss army knives; tactical knives||Click here|
|2||Zwilling||Germany||Kitchen/ chef knives||Click here|
|3||Buck||USA||Tactical and sport knives; folding knives||Click here|
|4||Wusthof||Germany||Kitchen/ chef knives||Click here|
|5||Spyderco||USA||Folding knives||Click here|
|6||Shun||Japan||Kitchen/ chef knives||Click here|
|7||Kershaw||Japan||Folding knives||Click here|
|8||Ka-bar||Multiple||Outdoor knives; self-defence knives||Click here|
|9||CRKT||USA||Folding knives; tactical knives||Click here|
Victorinox started as a company that made surgical steel equipment alone and soon grew into the knife game.
This shows that they know a thing or two about manufacturing before they delved into the knife market. If you have read my piece about swiss army knives and how Victorinox came to become the sole maker of that brand of knives, you will know that this company has a rich history behind it.
Today, the company not only excels at shipping off millions of swiss army knives daily. They are also highly revered for their tactical knives as well as razor-sharp, high-quality yet affordable kitchen knives.
Oh, if I didn’t make it obvious already, this is a swiss brand and they still operate out of Switzerland till today.
Zwilling J.A Henckels – Top German Knife Brand
Some might call the brand by Zwilling alone, while some marketing material might show you the Henckels side of the knife.
No matter which one you see, you still get the same high-quality blades that get the job done every time. Having been around since the 1700s, you know that they are doing something right – and they have a lot of legacy behind them.
As of the time of this writing, Zwilling has about 24+ lines of knives that you can choose from. While they are designed for various intents and purposes, you can always do what I do when I want to enjoy everything from a brand at low cost:
Customize your knife set by choosing different kinds of knives from the different lines that they have on offer.
This company stays true to the German engineering promise, only bringing true quality and great attention to details and quality control on all the knives that they put out.
For the lover of American knives, the Buck knife is a no-brainer.
The first Buck knife was created in 1902, so these guys have been here for over a century.
From the name, I used to think that these knives were specially created for the outdoors, especially hunting. After all, ‘buck‘ is the name of a kind of animal that hunters love to get when they go out on the open season.
Furthermore, the fact that the company is great at hunting knives further cemented that hypothesis in my mind.
If you have also thought that, you are not entirely correct.
Cos, you see, the founder of the company just happened to be named Hoyt Buck. So, he started with his name but broke into a niche that worked with that name too.
Today, you can get great Buck knives as folding knives, or go for the more modern straight blades that find application in the kitchen also.
With parts and manufacturing done in the USA, you know that the company has no choice but to stick to the best materials and manufacturing processes.
You see, there is little to take away from both Wusthof and Zwilling.
They are both great German knife brands and they have been here for a long time. More than their legacy in the market, they also know how to get a great knife done – and done right.
The selling point for Wusthof is that where they could have focused on a series of steel-crafted products, they chose to hone in on knives alone.
That singular focus has seen them marry the classic German manufacturing excellence with innovative, in-house styles and designs which helps them to stand apart from the bunch.
From standalone kitchen knives to curated knife sets, Wusthof’s premium knife engineering sees them serving 80 countries globally. That tells you of how well-made these knives are, and how much more customers trust them enough to spend their money with this top German knife brand.
If you are looking for EDC knives, one of the specialists to look for is Spyderco.
In my piece about why certain knives have holes in their blades, I mentioned how Spyderco came up with the idea of having a hole in the folding knife blade first. The idea has now caught on so much with other manufacturers that we see it almost everywhere.
Started in 1981, the above tells you of how well this brand can drive innovation and force adoption in its target market.
One of the top advantages for most Americans is that this is a true American brand. Thus, the company brought in knife manufacturing that would have been outsourced to the swiss or Germans, putting top quality on top of it and creating something that the local market loves.
With much love and appeal for this brand outside of its native home in Colorado and the entire United States, you have even more testament to how much trust the company has generated behind its stellar products.
Shun – Best Japanese kitchen knife brand
Rating the best knife manufacturers in the world is not complete without looking at what Shun brings to the table.
For those who have not already seen it, look through my Shun knives review to see the amazing lines and products that this company offers.
The brand has been here for over a century, but that’s not where the good news ends. The parent company of the Shun knives company is established in Seki city, which is where the best knives and blades are made from Japan.
Choosing quality materials and sometimes making crossovers between samurai sword design elements and these functional knives, Shun is no pushover.
I love these knives so much that I don’t refer to them as the best Japanese knives I know. They are, simply, one of the very best knives that I have come across.
That means against the Swiss, German and American designs, these Shun knives will hold their head high still.
Kershaw – Best Japanese folding knives
Want to give the Spyderco knives a good run for their money?
Brands like Kershaw come the closest.
The selling point here is EDC knives, and they have mastered the art of coming up with some of the best yet functional designs in the market. Little wonder they were prominent on my list of the best assisted opening knives when I reviewed those sometimes back.
Some people think that Kershaw is a US brand, but that could not be further from the truth.
Kershaw is owned by the KAI Group, which is the parent company for Shun knives above. Isn’t that amazing?!?!
What I love the most here is how the brand does not try to do everything under the same label. Instead, a new line was established for kitchen tools (Shun) while another quality line (Kershaw) was established for EDC, sporting, and tactical knives.
If that tells us anything, it is that the parent company has the time and resources to focus on each niche better and create the best products for us in that niche.
Ka-bar knives have been here for a long time now. If you have one of the older units, learn how to date your ka-bar knife here.
For knives that were trusted so much that they were military-issued for WWII, you know that they are no slouch. This also shows that they are no newcomers to the market and thus, know what they are doing.
I cannot rightly mention one place to be the home of the Ka-bar knives. The ownership of the company has changed hands so many times that it would make your head swoon to think about it.
That was why I had to put up that piece on dating Ka-bar knives from different eras. That way, you know which company made your knife, and when.
Today, the Ka-bar knife is still a favorite among knife users in the US. I would not advise them for kitchen duties of any kind, but they work wonders for camping, hunting, and other outdoor applications.
If you know what you’re doing, you could also deploy the Ka-bar knife for self-defense.
CRKT – Top American Folding Knife Brand
For a guy that loves his knives and likes to talk about them too, what I’m about to say is probably embarrassing.
In the spirit of honesty, though, here goes:
I only found out about CRKT when I was working on reviewing different knives to get the best semi assisted opening blades to buy right now.
For an Oregon-based company that excels in churning out beautiful, working folding knives, I am disappointed in myself. I surely should have caught one of these knives earlier.
You might know the company (full name: Colombia River Knife and Tool Inc.) as a folding knife company, but they do have some very decent fixed blades too. For a product made in the US, you should expect a premium price.
That’s another department where CRKT marvels, slapping on affordable price tags instead.
If you’re feeling in the market for some nicely-fashioned technical knives, make sure to see what this company has on offer for you.
For me, those nine (9) above are the top knife makers in the world and different categories.
We touched upon the German brands, went on a trip to Switzerland, checked out what the Japanese knives had on offer, and even had some amazing options from the USA to match.
This shows you that no one country has a monopoly on the knife game anymore – and I’ll only be happy to see more countries emerge with amazing knives that work wonderfully.
If you think that there is an amazing knife brand that I have missed out here, do let me know in the comments section. Tell me why you believe this knife is a worthy addition – and you might just see your choice on an updated version of this list.