One of a kind. It not only refers to each Anza knife, but also to the guy that makes them, Charlie Davis.  Davis started making Anza knives in 1980 after working for a big knife maker for 14 years. Thirty six years later he’s still going strong.

Woking out of his shop in El Cajon, California, Davis makes handmade knives with flat files, wood, antlers and a whole lot of skill. Talking to Charlie Davis you’ll learn about all the movies his knives have appeared in, the celebrities that own a Anza – but most importantly you’ll learn that Mr. Davis knows what he’s talking about when it comes to making a quality knife.

“There’s something to be said about making something by hand” says Davis. “Each blade is slightly different and every piece of wood has it’s own look and feel. Every knife we make is one of a kind. Unique.” 

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Unique is an apt way to describe an Anza knife.  The blades are made from high carbon steel files. Why files? “Well, what’s the purpose of a file?” says Charlie. “ To cut metal. It’s good steel. High carbon steel and it’s the carbon that gives you the cutting power.”

The files are brittle when Davis buys them from the manufactures and he heats them to draw the temper – developing  a piece of carbon steel that is workable, strong and flexible enough for a fine blade.

The blade on an Anza will not only hold an edge but, unlike stainless steel these knives are easy to sharpen and with a little oil and care they just seem to get better with time. Each blade maintains a little bit of the teeth of the original file – another element of the uniqueness of Anza.

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The handles of an Anza knife is another factor that makes an Anza so special. Whether it’s Elk, exotic woods such as Zebra, Bocote or Padauk, or combinations of elk and wood – each handle is unique. You can have the same model of knife made in the same year and no two are going to be exactly the same. That’s the beauty of  a handmade custom knives.

All Anza knives are full tang and come in a variety of styles and sizes. Whether you need a skinner, something to take camping or just like having a fine knife on your belt – Anza’s got you covered. “Actually,” says Charlie, “a lot of people use them in the kitchen or as steak knives. Just don’t put ’em in the dishwasher.”

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In this day of mass produced and imported products it sure is refreshing to  have a craftsman and artisan like Charlie Davis and a company like Anza still making things by hand. The motto of Anza is Built for the collector, priced for the sportsman and used by the working man. And we’d have to agree whole heatedly. These knives look great in the photos but there is something special about getting one of these in your hand. It’s a craftsmanship and commitment to quality you can feel and that’s kind of rare these days. You’ll want to put the knife in a display – but don’t – Charlie makes ‘em to be used. So use it, take care of it and you’ll be passing to down to future generations.

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Contributor

Jonathan Meem