Five Questions for Diane Carver.
Release Date: 1/20/2009
Browning Knives and Lights Product Manager.
At the time of this interview Diane Carver had just returned from the 2009 SHOT Show in Orlando, where she introduced this year’s new line of Browning knives and lights. She is fresh from an interview with Knives Illustrated magazine where Browning’s breakthrough approach to knife design and manufacturing will be highlighted in an upcoming issue. For this reason, this interview focuses on Browning knives.
Q. The knife industry seems to be flooded with knife makers. What is it that makes Browning stand out from all the others?
A. There are four or five major knife brands on the market these days – all of them trying to find their niche. There have been a lot of trends in the last few years pulling our industry in different directions. We stand by what has made Browning a leader in every category -- and that, of course, is quality. There is an obvious trend throughout the industry to go cheaper and cheaper, and even cheaper still. We have decided to ignore that trend and focus on staying “The Best There Is.”
Q. Give us some examples of changes you have made to keep Browning at the top in quality.
A. We recently brought Russ Kommer onto the Browning knife team. Russ is a custom knife designer currently living in North Dakota, but before that he spent nearly 23 years as a guide and outfitter in Alaska. He is recognized world-wide as one of the best custom knife designers and makers.
Many knives in our line are his special designs and all our knives are impacted by his efforts. As part of the Browning team his assignment is to travel all over the world to our factories and spend several weeks at each (sometimes several times a year) making sure Browning’s knives are consistently at the top of quality. Often this means teaching techniques and tricks that he has perfected. For example, our factories have learned the art of creating dove-tailed bolsters. This is a custom technique that provides a higher quality fit for the handles – and you now get it on many Browning knives.
Q. How did Russ get into the knife business?
A. When Russ was working in Alaska as a guide he was guiding a well-to-do client who had just dropped a very nice bull moose. They had been hunting in the backcountry for many days, and they were tired. But it was late and their bush pilot told them if they did not get the moose dressed out and ready to go in 45 minutes he would leave them overnight. Russ started work with the run-of-the-mill knife he had used for some time and he just wasn’t making fast enough progress. The client, seeing this, offered Russ to use his $1,200 custom knife. He accepted, and they were ready to fly out that night.
Russ said he could not afford a knife that good so he began learning custom knife making so he could produce his own. Over time his designs gained so much popularity among guides and hunters in Alaska that he started making and designing full time. The rest, as they say, is history. To learn more about Russ Kommer and his knife designs you can check out his website here.
Q. What other differences set Browning knives apart?
A. As Browning’s knife manager I have travelled the world to visit most of the serious knife factories. I have seen our knives (and our competitor’s knives) being made. We can proudly say we use the best factories in the world to craft Browning knives. We also take special pride in our use of the finest materials. Most our knives use Swedish Sandvik steel, which is considered one of the finest quality knife steels in the world. For our handles we use American-made products like stabilized exotic hardwoods, G-10, Micarta and similar handle materials.
Q. What do you see as the trend for knives in the future, especially since we are in the midst of a very tough recession?
A. Browning is leading the trend. Unfortunately, the industry has pushed “cheapness” to the limit. I’ve heard of pocket knives selling at wholesale for as little as .33 cents. Believe me, they are worth exactly that. Many knives selling at the counter of hardware stores are of such poor quality, and with such inadequate locking mechanisms that I would not let my kids even handle one. A finger is worth more than that. In tough times I think people and families get back to what is really important -- like family, friends and quality. Browning knives mean something – they will last and they will meet the test of time. I consider them heirloom quality knives – even our most affordable ones – that will last for years and can be passed down generation to generation. I consider the Browning 2009 knife line the best and highest quality in our history. Today value is more important than ever. We don’t want to be a “throwaway" knife company. We make the knives that are worth owning. It’s all about quality of course. That’s what we believe in here at Browning.