GETTING TO KNOW HOBACK KNIVES
I had a chance to interview Jack Hoback during the course of this review. He had to step away from the droning of the machines running in his shop, where he produces knife parts and other OEM projects. We talked for the better part of an hour about winter trekking and marksmanship, the knife industry, and the direction his company is headed. During the discussion, Hoback let me know how he enjoys having a smaller company. “Being a smaller company, we have the ability to turn around designs quickly,” he said. “We look at what is hot and what is not, and we can address our customer’s demands.” Typically, his knife runs are only 100-200 pieces. Even though he has a smaller operation, his social media fanbase is impressive with 42,000 plus following what his company pumps out. I asked him what accounts for his popularity and he humbly stated, “I don’t have a clue.” He added that people have told him their interest in his knives varies from one person to the next. “Some like the rugged industrial design,” he said. “Some like the Japanese style. You get the guys who are like, ‘It’s overbuilt but it’s not superheavy.’ Often, we get people who say they like the scriptures included on the blades.” A very common compliment is paid to the customer service his company offers. “We have always been of the mindset of ‘you should get what you pay for,’” he said. Not only does Hoback insist he tries to make the most perfect tool he can possibly make, but he likes to provide ongoing support for anyone with a question or “spa treatment.” His company stands for honor and integrity first. Hoback has been full time in the knifemaking business since 2009 with a long history prior to that working in a blacksmith shop and with a farrier. His company has survived the “great knife recession” and continues to grow. When asked what’s next, he alluded to some older styles coming back with a fighter/old-school style blades and some new folders. He couldn’t quite disclose all the details. One thing is for certain: Hoback is setting the bar very high in the custom knife world with designs that are as functional as they are visually appealing.