The current AM. Handgunner magazine is interesting for a couple reasons including a review of a new pint-sized 9mm pocket gun, but I bring it up here because it contains a nearly libelous article about the sale of foreign "knock-offs" of knives, mostly from China. The writer claims these knives are copies of expensive knives, being sold as if they are the real thing by unscrupulous sources, including vendors at gun shows, and some mail order places. Now that's all fine, except that when the writer had one American knifemaker send him a box of samples of the supposed illegal rip-offs being hyped as "the real thing" to examine and test, he says in the article the guy got them all from CheaperThanDirt (!). Ouch. I'm wondering if CTD lawyers are huddling this weekend. Now, I get a few mail order catalogs, and I've ordered a handful of the more practical cheap knives along with my better knives. But a) the catalog descriptions have always stated if the knife was an "import" or mil-STYLE rather than original, or was marked "China." In fact, I could soon tell, just by the price, which knives were probably going to say "China" at the bottom of the ad (except for those nice little Swedish Moras -- a real bargain in a scalpel-sharp blade). And b), they were not sold by CTD (to my knowledge) under the guise of being "actual" expensive models like Ka-Bars and such -- in fact, the Ka-Bars are also sold by CTD and are clearly marked as factory originals. In fact, I didn't even know what a Strider was, though I now learn that I happen to own a supposed knock-off of one. I got it via mail for $10 from the SG or CTD catalog. What the reviewer did was take the samples immediately out to his vise in the garage, and putting the blades in firmly, pull on each knife and break it. Interesting as the pictures of these fragile, broken Chinese "420 stainless" knives may be, here's the problem: they imply CTD, as the source of these samples, is doing something wrong. Obviously, as I said in an earlier thread about "a good knife for protection against dogs," a real knife should indeed be near unbreakable, able to be pounded with a hammer, and so forth. I have a Ka-Bar and several bayonets that work just that well. On the other hand, testing these $10 knives without ever trying to use them as intended (see if they cut or saw or carve anything on a light-duty basis) and just breaking them to get lots of "knife kaboom" photos, and implying that CheaperThanDirt is undermining American knifemakers by selling these cheaply on false premises, seems to me to put American Handgunner magazine in hot legal water. It seems to me the article is not nearly careful enough about saying that some vendors, including CheaperThanDirt in my experience, sell these only for what they are -- cheap imported stuff. They don't even hint, as far as I can see, regarding the vast majority of these designs, that they might attempt to be "exact copies" of some other, more expensive, knife style -- which they would have to be in order to be illegal. I have a few of the Chinese knives which I bought before I got into more serious stuff, but I never knew that I had a copy of a "Strider" or a "Steel Kiss" or whatever, until this article asserted that that's what these are. I have worked in legal offices where license infringement cases were worked, and I know what license infringement looks like; I also know what libel looks like. In order to break the law, a knife maker would have to exactly copy a patented design, or sell a "similar" design falsely claiming on the box or in the ad that it was, say, a genuine Ka-Bar. While apparently some of that is going on, hardly any of the examples discussed in the article fall into that extreme category. Mostly, he's trying to complain about cheap foreign imports, and I agree to that extent. But I think he really fudged it when he smeared the line between criticizing crimes and complaining about the sale of foreign junk knives that may (or may not) take business away from the makers of the much more expensive genuine knives. If only this writer hadn't mentioned CheaperThanDirt by name, he'd probably have been a lot better off. At a minimum, I would imagine we'll be seeing an editorial apology to CTD in a future issue, for giving the mistaken impression that they were marketing counterfeits as being authentic. As far as I can tell, they don't do that. Having said that, I'll conclude by saying I'm not pleased with the quality of Chinese mil-style knives I've seen -- the finishes are spray painted on and who knows how long they'll stay sharp even if one doesn't abuse them. And having worked in the entertainment business, in merchandising, I'm not a fan of companies that make licensing deals with gun companies to put their logo on junk products and pay them a dime for each sale while the fad lasts. I hope that the gun companies have the sense to license their name only on products (like knives) that they've insisted upon examining and torture testing first. It's a basic tenet of smart business when licensing your name and logo to check the quality of the products your name goes on (the design, the prototypes, and the finished products); it's not smart to just take the license fee and run.