The Lakota Knife Co History

Mr. Hoffman grew up in the Los Angeles CA area in the 1940’s.  In that period of our nations history especially during the period of WWII money was tight and everyone was forced to make do with very little. Rationing was a way of life. A child in this period of time was forced to improvise when it came to having fun.  Mr. Hoffman tells me there was very little in the way of toys in the stores at the time which makes sense to me given the fact that the materials and equipment along with the labor which are needed to make such things was far to precious at that time.  This being the case one was forced to create ones own toys.  In Mr. Hoffman’s circle of friends it was popular to take apart roller skates to make skate boards. This was done by using parts from the roller skates a two-by-four (Which really did measure 2″x4″!), and an apple crate.  Mr. Hoffman tells me he was even able to make his own microscope by using eight ten cent magnifying glasses and stacking them above each other supported with a wooden dowel. A very popular item for a young boy at that time was a model airplane kit.  The kits consisted of balsa wood and some drawings.  There were no pre molded plastic parts that were numbered in the correct color.  One had to carve and sand those pieces of wood into the shape of each of the parts that was needed.  This meant one had to learn how to use their hands and imagination to make things, or do without. There were no power sanders and cordless drills back then. It all had to be done by hand.


When Mr. Hoffman was still quite young he learned how to hunt and fish like so many of our nations youth at that time.  By the 1960’s Mr. Hoffman had become quite a serious hunter and fisherman and was well outfitted.  He also shot competitive Skeet, and benchrest rifle.  He loaded his own ammunition for shooting and made his own flies for fishing.  He even made his own gunstocks.  Mr. Hoffman tells me that he was employed in the advertising field and also wrote scripts for dramatic Television.  It was during this period of time that Mr. Hoffman went on an Elk hunt that would change his life.  He was successful in his hunt and after a long walk back to camp to get a saw and axe in order to process the animal so that it could be packed out it started him thinking that there had to be a better way!  He started thinking that if a knife was properly shaped and of a robust construction that it could be carried on the hunt and used to perform the tasks that the above mentioned saw and axe performed.  He sketched out his ideas on paper.  When Mr. Hoffman looked at the finished sketch he  realized that there was nothing like the knife he had drawn on the market.  Since he was used to dealing with this type of situation he got to work on a remedy.


Mr. Hoffman had worked for a time in a slaughter house in Bishop California when he was younger.  Between this and his other life experiences the man knew how to use a knife.  He also knew what worked and what did not.  To perform the tasks he had in mind the knife would need a stout blade and a full tang for the needed strength.  He also felt it needed a raised portion on the blade that could be used for batoning.  A very important and often overlooked area is the handle.  Mr. Hoffman knew based on his previous experience that getting a good grip on a knife soaked with blood and other fluids can be a real problem.  In his experience knives with handles that had a rough texture to the handle, or wrapped with leather or cord did not work when all the animals fluids came into the picture.  His solution was to contour the handle with an arch.  The idea was to borrow the shape of a Colt Single Action revolver and adapt it to his needs.  Another feature he wanted was the ability to choke up on the knife for detail work.  In order to do this a slightly recessed choil was added to the blade.  He also thought it would be handy to be able to stand the knife up on say the bed of a pickup in a manner that kept the blade free of dirt while dressing the animal.  It was with these ideas that Mr. Hoffman got to work on a prototype.  A piece of Walnut was carved and filed until the shape was just right.  The result was a mock up that looked very similar to the Lakota model 270 Hawk.  Mr. Hoffman now needed someone to make the knife.  He did some research and it’s really no surprise that given his involvement in the Television industry that this led him to one of the pioneers in the early field of custom knives, John Nelson Cooper!


In Mr. Hoffman’s own words when he arrived at Mr. Coopers Burbank shop he found an ” Wiry, ornery little old man named Nelson Cooper.  Wearing his leather apron, and his face speckled from flying abrasive compounds.” Mr. cooper examined the knife while Mr. Hoffman told the maker he wanted him to make the knife.  To this Mr. Cooper replied “You ain’t no knifemaker.” To this Mr. Hoffman replied “Mr. Cooper, if I was, why in Hell would I come here?” Mr. Coopers reply to this was

“You don’t understand what I mean.  I been making knives forty years or more.  In all that time I’ve seen thousands of knife drawings, models, wood, clay …never saw anything like this.  What I meant was, if you were a knifemaker you would have designed it to be built with standard machinery, the way most knives are built.  This one’s different.  You’re not a schooled knife designer, you’re a USER.  You’ve got some original ideas here, and they’re damned good ones.  Maybe you ought to go into the business.”

With that an order was placed for one knife. Mr. Hoffman then had a friend who was a financial advisor find out what the Buck knife company had grossed in the previous year.  When he found out he promptly phoned Mr. Cooper and ordered two more knives.


Mr. Hoffman then contacted sales reps in the field of sporting goods and picked their brains.  Based on these discussions it became clear that he could not bring his design to market by itself.  He was told he needed to have a whole line of knives.  He also found out his designs could not be massed produced by any of the existing companies in this country.  The problem was that the dies that were used in the American industry would not handle a 3/16″ thickness that Mr. Hoffman desired.  He then looked into forging and found this was also not practical.  So armed with designs for three fixed blades and two locking folders he returned to Mr. Coopers shop.  When he shared his findings with Mr. Cooper, Mr. Cooper dug into his files and found the name and address of a company in Seki Japan that he believed could help.  Mr. Hoffman made samples of each of the designs and sent them to Japan.  He was told by the Japanese that he would have to order at least 1200 of each knife in order to justify the tooling costs.  Since he did  not have the money that would be needed for such an order he had to find some investors. Investors for the enterprise were found and a company was formed that was to be led by Mr. Hoffman.


Mr. Hoffman named the brand and the corporation that was formed Cheyenne.  The year was 1974. The companies first order was placed with Seigo Kanematsu.  Seigo Kanematsu subbed out the work to several other companies. There were 5 models in the first order.  There were 3 fixed blades and 2 folders in that first order. The fixed blades were, Hawk, FinWing, and the FishHawk.  The folders were the, Lil’Hawk and Falcon. The Teal folder was added to the line a short time later.   It was soon learned that the Schrade company had a knife in their line called the Cheyenne.  So it was either time for a name change or a lawsuit.  The choice was an easy one and the name was changed to Lakota.  Fortunately only a few of the model 270 Hawk had been  completed. Thus the impact on the company was minor.  Six months after the name debacle and the problems that caused were behind them. The companies products were on the shelves of several hundred stores. The company also won an award from the National Firearms Magazine for cutlery design.  In 1978 the original five designs were added to the Permanent Design Collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (Previously this site incorrectly stated that the museum that added these was the Smithsonian).


As many of you may recall the economy in the U.S. took a serious hit in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  The value of the U.S. dollar dropped considerably compared to that of the Japanese Yen.  To add insult to injury the companies manufacturer in Japan was not able to meet production deadlines.  The companies largest investor seized control and moved the company to Portland Oregon.  This individual had plenty of money but did not really understand the cutlery business.  So the company suffered greatly and was finally sold to Brunton in or around 1981. Mr. Hoffman did not receive any money as a result of the sale and since the patents were in the companies name.


In 1983 Mr. Hoffman was Manager of Marketing Operations for Tandy Brands Inc. in Fort Worth Texas.  He was still angry about all that had taken place with the Lakota company and decided to start another cutlery company.  Mr. Hoffman realized that if anyone could beat his previous designs it was him.  He designed the first Condor model and had a prototype made by a custom knifemaker in Texas.  The knife had all the handy features of his previous Lakota designs plus it sported a recessed thumb notch and a forward angled bolster.  The services of a good patent attorney were enlisted and the new company Hoffman Design was created in 1983.  Condor Sport Knives was one of the new companies top lines.  A very competent Japanese manufacture the Kenward Corporation (Now known as the Kencrest Corporation) was selected to produce the new knives.  Production was overseen by Seizo Imai (a.k.a. Sencos).   The Condor brand was made with the best materials that could be found at the time.  Since the Condor line was designed for serious outdoor use non-traditional materials  were chosen.  For example rather than using leather sheaths the company chose to use 1200 denier Cordura Nylon with Polypropylene liners and heavy stitching.  This was an expensive choice but did deliver superior performance.  The Hoffman Design company also developed the 911 Rescue  Tool, and introduced the Hoffman Design Lacquer Collection of gentleman’s folders. The company won numerous design awards for its designs.  Sadly the choice of using expensive materials hurt the company as once again the U.S. Dollar took a big hit with the value plunging once again.  In 1987 Mr. Hoffman even worked for free in an effort to save his company.  It was at this time that he designed a new line of lower cost Condor knives.  This was done by using Zytel for the handle material.  This allowed the company to produce a knife that still performed at the same level as the earlier knives but cost the company less than half to produce than the earlier knives.


Thermo resins such as Zytel and Kraton impressed Mr. Hoffman with their winning combination of high strength, light weight and low cost.  When the Zytel handled knives were first introduced the company used a 1″ diameter tube with an 1/8″ thick wall made of Zytel to demonstrate the strength of the material at trade shows.  To demonstrate the strength of the material the tube was placed on a metal anvil and was beaten with a framing hammer.  The tube always held its shape and was never broken! Because of the lower cost of using this material the company was able to offer knives at a much lower cost to consumers.  These knives were able to perform at the same or higher level as the earlier Micarta handled knives.  The Zytel handled knives and earlier Micarta handled knives both featured Aus 8a  blades.


Sadly the changes made by the company were not enough to keep it afloat. The company began to get behind on payments to its suppliers.  Mr. Hoffman attempted to raise additional capital but was unsuccessful in this endeavor. He was forced to leave the company and the major shareholders took over.  A short time later the efforts of these investors failed (Sometime in the early 1990’s).  This left the Japanese suppliers with several finished knives as well as unfinished components.  The suppliers approached the BlackJack company and the rest as they say is history.


Currently the Lakota knives company is owned and operated by Louis Collier (President), Brian Gray (Vice President), and Steve Hamilton (Chief Financial Officer). The companies line up can be seen on it’s web site which was . At the present time the company still sells classic Hoffman designed models such as the  Lil’ Hawk, and Falcon, as well as the Brunton designed fillet knife the Kingfisher. They also have added some more traditionally styled folders and fixed blades which are worth a look. Several other old Lakota models which still sport the now classic stand up feature, are also part of the current product mix. All of their products are currently made by Moki.



The first patent that Mr. Hoffman received was patent number D248,039 which was for a handle design. The claim states ” The ornamental design for a knife handle, as shown and described”. The handle is shaped in such a manner as to allow knives with this handle to rest on the guard and butt area of the knife with the blade edge pointing downward. This is referred to as a stand up feature. Mr. Hoffman applied for this patent on October 28th of 1976 and the patent was issued on May 30th of 1978. An application for a trademark for the Lakota name was filed by the Lakota Corporation March 30, 1979 and was granted February 5, 1980 and assigned serial number 73209582.

The next patent that was applied for which also is the one that appears marked on the blade of most if not all of the Condor knives is number  4,578,864 . This patent is one thing that really ties the Lakota and Condor brands together having made it’s first appearance on Lakota knives such as the Lil Hawk in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. The features that are covered in that patent may have been used on Lakota knives even before the patent actually existed. This particular patent was applied for May 17, 1984 and was received on April 1, 1986 . This patent is similar to the first patent in that they both cover the handle shape and both handle designs have the stand up feature, though the overall handle shape is different. The Abstract reads as follows, “An improved knife having an elongate grip and a bolster joined to the grip adjacent the handles front end. The bolster includes a swept-forward thumb wing which extends adjacent a blade opposite the cutting edge to provide a wider-than-blade thumb-force-transmitting pressure platform”. The patent drawing shows a lock back folding knife.

The last patent that I have found thus far relating to the Condor brand is patent number D287,042. This patent was filed for April 4, 1984, and was received December 2, 1986. The claim for this patent states The ornamental design for a knife handle, as shown and described.”. It is my belief that since both of these patents were filed for so close to each other that this patent is essentially for the same features as 4,578,864, but covers a fixed bladed knife.


Brunton added a patent to the Brunton/Lakota line for a fillet knife designed by Harold F. Herron. That patent was filed for in July 22, 1985 and patent number D295,011 was granted to Brunton April 5, 1988It appears that Hoffman Design ran into financial trouble in about 1990.

In the early days of Lakota, and Condor manufacture  the knives were marked with the name of the person that made the blade and oversaw production of the knife.  These earlier knives seem to be of a higher quality.  So far I  have seen the following peoples names marked on the blades, Secnos (A. K. A. Seizo Imai), Seigo Kanamatseu, Seizo Imai, M. Kawakami, and K. Yoshida. If anyone can add to this list please email the web site. Also the earliest knives were serial numbered. For example  A1-00576 means that knife would have been the 576th knife made.  The A1 prefix means this knife came from the first set of tooling.  To date I have not seen any knives marked with a prefix other than A1 on any knives marked in the above described manner. I have not seen any Lakota knives with this extra numbering system.  K. Yoshida made the first run of Condor knives. It was felt that his handle work was somewhat crude and he fell far behind on his production orders so deadlines were not met.  Because of this production was moved to Seizo Imai.


At the end of Mr. Hoffman’s involvement with the Condor brand there were 4 fixed blades and 3 folders in the line. Two of the fixed bladed models were fillet knives. At this point I do not know exactly which models these were. Hoffman design also had a line of Gents knives that featured decorative handles which were referred to as  the Hoffman Design Lacquer Collection.  Another member of the family was the Hoffman 911 Rescue Tool.  I have seen two variations of the Rescue Tool though I do not have either of these pictured on the site at this time.  The Lacquer Collection knives were based on the Condor model 88.


Mr. Hoffman and not Hoffman Design applied for a trademark for the Condor name, and it was granted on March 30, 1993. The trademark was cancelled October 4, 1999.  On the Lakota side Brunton had changed the name of the company to Brunton/Lakota in about 1986 but changed it back to Lakota in about 2002. This may have been done because Brunton planned on selling Lakota which it did in late 2002 or 2003.


BlackJack did re-sharpen all of the Japanese produced knives in the U.S.,  because they were never happy with the edge on the Japanese produced knives. According to vintage factory literature I have lists 22 models though I know there were more. Also I know of 6 models that were added to the line by BlackJack, and are as follows, 77-Z, 77-G, 62-Z, 62-G, 52-Z, and 52-G. I am not sure if Hoffman imported more models than BlackJack or less. If you find a knife with an etch of a Condor on the bolsters it was imported by Hoffman.  Here is a list of models that I do know they did import.  52-Z, 62-Z, 77-Z, 79-Z, 80-Z, 81-Z, 82-Z, 83-Z, 84-Z, 85-Z, 87-Z, 52-G, 62-G, 77-G, 79-G, 80-G, 81-G, 82-G, 83-G, 84-G, 85-G, 87-G, 81-SSG, 82-SSG, 81-S, 83-S, 84-S, 88s and 91. The SSG models had green Micarta handles. The G Models had gray Micarta handles. The G (BlackJack) models are basically the same as the earlier SSG (Hoffman era) models.  At the present time I know of only five handle materials that were available on the Condor brand which were, Stag (This option was added after BlackJack came into the picture), Zytel (This option was added by Phillip Hoffman on the 2nd generation lower priced Condors), gray paper Micarta a.k.a. Gray/gray (Used on the BlackJack imported knives) and,  green linen Micarta (used on the Hoffman imported knives). Mr. Hoffman tells me that the earliest green Micarta handled Condors which were made by K. Yoshida have a somewhat darker tone than the rest of the green Micarta handled knives. Mr. Hoffman also told me that the switch to  gray paper Micarta was in the works when he was still involved with the Condor brand. However the switch did not actually take place until BlackJack took over. There are some knives with the SSG mark (Hoffman Era) that have handles of green canvas Micarta and some that have the Gray/gray Micarta (Which was used in the BlackJack era.). This is due to the fact that blades which were originally made and naturally marked from the earlier Hoffman era were used on some of the later BlackJack era Condors. I don’t know if BlackJack imported models that had already been completed with the green canvas Micarta. Though I would be shocked if this did not occur. The construction of the Zytel handled folders was quite unique for a Zytel handled folder, at least at the time these were made. The scales were pinned to the brass liners. That information is from Mike Stewart former BlackJack Knives CEO.  As was stated early on this page it appears Phillip W. Hoffman had three Condor related patents. The one most folks have seen marked on Condor knives number  4,578,864, as well as, D248,039. The other patent number I have encountered is D287,042.   According to Mr. Stewart the models with the grey Micarta handles are made of a version of Micarta called “Gray/gray” which is only available in Japan.


This first knife is the 52-Z. The blade length on this knife is 3″, and the handle length is 4 1/2″. The blade is marked Condor, with the model number and patent number 4578864 (click on the hyperlink to view patent), marked on the tang. The other side of the blade is marked Secnos Seki Japan. It seems that this knife was made by the same company that made the majority of the fixed bladed knives. Secnos and Seizo Imai are actually the same company. I am not sure what the reason was for the name change.

Article by Tommy5586 Ebay Nov 5, 2014


Russian Bulat Osetr Big Filet Knife

If you’re into any kind of fishing, saltwater, freshwater, pond, lake, river or stream you need a quality filet knife in your tackle box.


Than the Russian Bulat Osetr Big Filet knife is for you. Topping out a 13″ long with an 8″ blade of flexible Damascus steel and a Birch Bark handle, This knife would handle any of your fish you’re fix’in to fry.

See it on the website here

Mad Bull Knives

I received three new knives from Jake Tuinstra of Mad Bull Knives newly listed on the site:

“Mad Bull Dagger”, “Flex Pike Fish Filet” & Jake’s fighter “The Border Patrol”

(click on any of the photos to take you to the website)

The Border Guard

The Border Guard

Flex Pike Fillet Knife

Flex Pike Fillet Knife

Mad Bull Dagger

Mad Bull Dagger