Interview: Les George, Knife Designer

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If you’ve been following the knife releases of Kershaw and Zero Tolerance the past few decades, then you might recognize the name Les George. He’s a knife designer who’s been at it since 1992, learning his craft from legendary knifemaker Stan Fujisaka of Kaneohe, Hawaii.

He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1997, serving for over a decade in various heavy equipment and ordnance roles, and deployed to dozens of countries around the world. His long service has given him a unique take on using and designing tools, and he’s put this experience to use with his creations.

2017 marks Les George’s 25th year as a knifemaker, known for his clean, military-inspired designs and collaborations with Kai USA. We got in touch with him for this interview with help from our sponsor Zero Tolerance to announce the release of his latest design, the ZT0920, and talk about his EDC, his love of all things knives, and the future of his work.

Could you give us a little background on yourself: what’s your current profession and where are you located?

Les George: I’m a full time knifemaker, so my day to day is pretty much just like you think. I do have to take into account that I live in the back woods of Mississippi, so what I carry can depend on what I plan to do that day.

What’s in your everyday carry?

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See Les George’s Full Everyday Carry

Les George: Right now, I carry a Glock 19, a Zero Tollerance 0920 knife, a Kevin King leather wallet and a black Sharpie. When I wear a watch I have a Sinn U1 SBR that I like a lot.

In just one sentence, how would you describe your EDC?

Les George: My EDC is 99% of the time simple and consistent: knife, gun, and wallet.

How does your EDC help you throughout the day, whether for work or for leisure?

Les George: The item that I use the most is my knife. I carry a variety of knives, depending on what I feel like. When a new knife that I’ve designed comes out, I carry that one for a while.

Why do you EDC?

Les George: I try to carry as little as possible while still having what I need. Around my place, I’m not too far away from all my tools and supplies, and when I’m out and about, my truck is usually handy and also has a bunch of my stuff in it.

If money was no object, what EDC item would you like to own?

Les George: If I had the money, a Panerai watch would be cool.

I wish that the Glock pistol that I carry wasn’t so pedestrian, but it’s the gun I shoot the best. I have more expensive and cooler guns, but they just don’t work as well for me. I will keep buying new guns though, just to make sure!

How would you describe your style and process when designing knives?

Les George: I prefer knives to be simple. My VECP design is that way.

The challenge is to design knives that are simple and effective while being visually interesting. Literally anyone can design a solid, usable knife. It’s much harder to design one that’s cool and not exactly like one that’s been done before.

From where do you draw your inspiration for your designs?

Les George: I am inspired by knives. I know that sounds weird, but I just really like knives. I play with knives, I work with knives everyday, I’m a knifemaker largely because I am so interested in knives. I’m just about useless for any other work. I might be playing with a knife and think, “I wonder if it would be cool to move this part here or there,” and take off down a design rabbit hole.

Do you have a favorite knife design that you’ve done? If so, what is it and why?

Les George: My favorite one is the newest one [the ZT0920]! That and any dagger!

What do you think the next generation of EDC knives will look like?

Les George: I am not sure what it will be. In the short term, I will be making more high-end knives. In the design and EDC world, [creating] more capability with less, if that makes sense.

Do you have any recent accomplishments or interesting projects in the works that you’d like to tell us about?

Les George: This year marks 25 years since I made my first knife. Next year is the 100th anniversary of my favorite knife, the M1918 trench knife, so I will be making more trench knives next year!

More new designs with Kai USA will be forth coming or course. I am always excited about that.

Any last advice, tip, or secret would you offer to our readers?

Les George: The best thing I can tell people about EDC gear is be realistic. Have realistic expectations of your gear and your abilities with that gear.

This interview is presented by our sponsor Zero Tolerance.

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