by Mike Searson
In January 2002, a group of online knife-collector friends graduated from IRC (Internet Relay Chat) to a Forum of their own with 20 members.
They were called the “Usual Suspects” by a prominent Knife Purveyor for their mutual love of Emerson Custom Knives. As their numbers grew, they began to dominate local and national knife shows like the Blade Show in Atlanta. Their green badges conspicuous along with miles of para-cord, numerous knife clips protruding from their pockets, high-end packs, titanium gadgets, and silver jewelry made them stand out in the crowd.
Just who are these guys?
I first heard of the Usual Suspects in late 2002 from Knife maker Ernest Emerson at a California show. I had seen my first Emerson Knife in 1989 while I was a Marine at Camp Pendleton and had been an Emerson collector since the 90’s. After logging in, I was interested in all the other tactical knives and lights on the site, but kept seeing the acronym “USN”. Being a Marine and knowing Emerson’s connection to the Naval Specwar community, I quickly felt like a fish out of water and logged out. I thought they were talking about the “US Navy”. At a later show I ran into Emerson’s then shop foreman, Derek Russell (a former sailor, himself) who corrected me that USN meant “Usual Suspects Network”. OK, so acronyms were never my strong suit!
I joined again in 2003 and have been there ever since. In 2004 I was honored with the title of “Usual Suspect”, the highest tier in the community and most coveted title. In 2005, I was asked to join the Admin Team to assist in the day-to-day running of the forum.
By 2008, the original forum had grown to some 20,000 members; at the Shot show in Las Vegas that year one of them remarked off-handedly…”There are enough of us to start our own Knife Show!”
In September 2009, that dream became a reality with the First Annual Usual Suspects Gathering at Planet Hollywood Hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was followed up my a more successful sequel in 2010! Promoted by Larry Brahms of BladeArt, a successful music and motion picture producer; the show has received critical acclaim for the unconventional, yet effective layout to the show.
At our first show, Usual Suspect, Jerome French, aka. Zzzen Dog said, “The flow of the show floor was amazing. Vendors and attendees interacted on a different level than any other show I’ve ever attended. The USN and its personification The Gathering contains some of the warmest, humble, and most generous people you will meet. I am in awe of some of the acts of random kindnesses, some of the most extraordinary collective actions… all to benefit others at the show. It really was something to behold. It wasn’t just a knife show, it was a homecoming. A family reunion.”
Our second show was the first time Blade Magazine ever sponsored another knife show outside of the Legendary Blade Show!
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Have you been curious about attending the show or joining the Forum? Maybe you’re a maker and want to be a part of the closest-knit community of tactical Knife aficionados or a collector who wants to see the best in the latest tactical gear and knives?
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