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Montana Knife Company: The Truth About This American-Made Brand

Montana Knife Company is making knives to last for generations.

Montana Knife Company: The Truth About This American-Made Brand

For many watching family members hunt spurred their entry into the lifestyle of a long, passed-down heritage. The tools of our trade for years on end were passed from generation to generation and many new hunters would receive a knife—one rusted and scarred by many years in the field and worn thin over years of resharpening.

As our world—and technology—progressed, we moved away from using these family heirloom blades that hold so much history and started picking up new styles that are all but disposable. Used for a season or two, these new-generation knives wind up pitched in the garbage, tucked to the back of the gear closet, or just purely lost. Josh Smith is custom knife maker out of French- town, Montana, and he took offense to the loss of these generational items. Enter Montana Knife Company.

“What I've seen is that people pass down guns and knives," said Smith. "It didn't matter if that gun was a simple Remington 700 wood stock. It didn't matter if that knife had an ivory handle and Damascus blade. It didn't matter if it was just an old Buck blade or was made by the best knife maker in the country. I've heard these stories 1,000 times and now all of a sudden, we as hunters are taking one of the two things we passed down and we're throwing them away.”

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Josh Smith started making knives at 11 years old and received his master bladesmith title by age 19.

THE YOUNG APPRENTICE

At 11 years old, Smith began his knife-making career when his parents bought him a hunting knife for Christmas from his little league coach, Rick Dunkerely. Shortly after he received the present, Dunkerely invited him to his shop to learn how to make knives. The youthful lust for achievement drove Smith to start crafting knives on his own. When he was 12, he bought his first belt grinder and made a mess of his dad’s shop. Soon after, he was in a space of his own.

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Raw metal is where it all starts.

“After I made a mess of his shop, my dad decided it was time for me to have my own space,"said Smith. "He enclosed a lean-to and set me up with a workbench and anvil. My parents were always incredibly supportive of my knife making—something I appreciate even more now looking back.”

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Forging a custom blade takes time and a lot of work.

At age 13, he joined the American Blade-smith Society and became an apprentice bladesmith. At 15 years old he passed the rigorous tests to become the youngest journeyman bladesmith. By the ripe old age of 19, he became the youngest ever master bladesmith—a title not easily achieved. As if predicting the future of her son, his mom would go ahead and register a company name for Smith, a name fitting for the state: Montana Knife Company.

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Heating the metal allows the bladesmith to mold the metal to create a blade.

After sticking to his roots as a hunter and spending maybe too much time afield, Smith dropped out of college and planned on taking over his family’s excavation business. But, as life goes, he got married, moved to Missoula, got a job—and quit it the day after closing on his first home. At that point he began making custom knives for a living. When the economy plummeted in 2008, that came to a halt. In 2010 Smith decided to get a full-time job with health benefits and PTO—a reasonable decision when you have a family to provide for.

From 2010 to 2020, Josh worked to provide for his four kids, while still making knives on the side. Though he had a full-time job, he always wanted to get back to forging knives—but do it differently and build a brand.

MKC IS BORN

Throughout all those years, he had the company in his back pocket, thanks to his mom. He just had to dive in headfirst. In 2020, Smith ignored COVID’s death grip on our nation and jumped right in and made knives in his garage. His wife, Jessica, gave him the ultimate support, encouraging him to follow his passion. He found a business partner in Brandon Horoho, who was willing to give all to the brand. At the end of 2020, Smith quit his full-time job. On January 1, 2021, Smith and Horoho launched Montana Knife Company (MKC) and started sending knives out to hunters in the industry.

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MKC's home is in Smith's backyard. Before the new shop was built the operation ran out of the garage

The success of the company and growth was unexpected over the next year. Just recently, Smith and the MKC team moved the business into a new, and much larger, shop than the garage they were working out of. Smith is proud of where the business has come in such a short time, but he has more drive and wishes to push it further. MKC makes knives designed for hunters and to last for generations. They are American made and always will be.

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“We don't make knives overseas, and we source every bit of material possible from the U.S.,”said Smith.“Our knives are always manufactured, built, assembled, finished, and sharpened here in the U.S.”

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Below you will find a few blades from MKC that are designed specifically for the backcountry hunter. Remember, these blades aren’t disposable and are meant to be used for years to come.

Recommended


THE BLACKFOOT FIXED BLADE 2.0

Named after the river that ran through Smith’s childhood home, the Blackfoot Fixed Blade 2.0 is MKC’s flagship knife. The drop-point blade design is meant to do it all and keep doing it for years to come. The blade tip is designed for detail work like caping, but the knife carries enough belly for skinning and deboning jobs. It is built out of 52100 high-carbon, ball-bearing steel that holds an edge well, resharpens easy, is wear resistant, and incredibly tough. The blade is 3.5 inches with a total length of 7.75 inches and weighs in at 3.6 ounces. The full-tang design is finished with G-10 handle scales.

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$300; montanaknifecompany.com

THE SPEEDGOAT

Designed to be light enough for the most remote hunts, the Speedgoat weighs in at 1.7 ounces with its skeletonized design. Made from 52100 high-carbon, ball-bearing steel just like the Blackfoot, but it lacks the G10 handle which is replaced by a paracord wrap that is comfortable and offers a good grip. There is seven feet of paracord that can be easily removed in case of emergency. With the Kydex Locktight Sheath that comes with all MKC knives, this blade is meant to be easily carried.

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$225; montanaknifecompany.com

THE STONED GOAT BLADE

It is Smith’s mission to design blades that fit the needs of any hunter. After releasing several blades that performed well, the company released the Stoned Goat Blade, the newest addition to the lineup. This blade is a sleek combination of the Speed Goat and the Stonewall Skinner. The Stoned Goat features a skeletonized design with a paracord-wrapped handle but with a trailing-point blade design that features more of a belly than the drop point. The design lends itself perfect for skinning jobs. The blade weighs in at 1.9 ounces and is crafted from the same 52100 high-carbon, ball-bearing steel.

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$225; montanaknifecompany.com




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