Knife Grading Standards

New Knives:

Our new knives come in three different grades.

Used Knives:

Our used knives come in four different letter grades. We grade each item based on a combination of tool functionality and perfection of appearance. Our grade lettering is less tough than most letter grade systems developed by collectors, but it's tougher than the official grade system used by the National Knife Collectors Assocation (NKCA).

All New and Used Knives:

All new and used knives include toothpicks and tweezers (if the model has slots for them). They also include any smaller tools that are on that model (straight pin, bits, etc). Any pens are tested to write OK, and any flashlights have good shine. If it is weak we will include a spare battery. For older knives in plastic blister packs, we are not able to inspect flashlights and other items that require batteries, so it is possible they will need replacing if you plan to open and use the tool.

Blade Edges:

We assess blade condition based on a quick visual check. Generally the A and A+ knives will still have their original factory edges, while grades A- and down may have been used and/or resharpened.

Blade sharpening is a very personal thing: some people prefer a very fine edge that cuts extremely well (but wears poorly). Others prefer a coarser edge that wears better. Because we don't know what kind of edge buyers may want, we do not sharpen blades before sale. You may want to refine the edge of your new or used knife before you use it.

If you have never sharpened a blade, there are a gazillion videos on YouTube explaining how to do it. People often have strong opinions about the "right" way to do it! You may want to try a few appraches and see which best suits your needs.

For beginners, a sharpening steel is probably the best tool to use, to maintain a good cutting edge. Hold it at a 20° angle to the blade edge, and run it gently along the full length of the knife, back and forth a few times on each side. With a bit of experience, you will be able to get just the right amount of sharpness for the task at hand! On knives with more than one blade, it often helps to put a different edge on each blade, so each is optimized for different types of cutting.

Leatherman vs Swiss Army Grading:

Typical wear and damage is very different between Swiss Army knives and Leatherman tools. Leatherman uses harder steels that are less likely to scratch and wear, but more likely to show spots of corrosion. They also have larger pliers (or sometimes scissors) that receive a bigger percentage of overall wear. We adjust our grading standards somewhat to account for the differences in wear.

Function vs Appearance Grading:

NOTE: For most Leatherman knives and tools, and the larger Swiss Army knives, we grade primarily for function. That means that the usablity of the blades and tools carries more weight than the appearance, when we assign a grade.

We grade the keychain-sized Swiss Army knives and the aluminum body Leatherman tools (Juice and Squirt) primarily for appearance. For those models, we consider cosmetic body wear as a larger part of the grading, and focus less on tool condition.

Rare & Vintage Knives:

For rare and vintage knives, we describe the condition of each knife individually, and provide detailed photos. We may use the letter grades to describe the overall condition, but vintage knives are so variable (and valuable) that they deserves a more detailed description. Most of them have been in use for at least 40 years!