2022 was an incredible year for balisongs! With more and more people getting interested in this style of knife and the art of flipping, the number of makers grows along with the community itself.
Not only have the variety of models of knives and trainers increased over the past few years, but also new features and innovations have been introduced by different makers that improve certain aspects of flipping.
We can't go over every new knife and trainer that’s been released over the past year, but let’s take a look at some of the best in each category.
Don’t see something you like on this list? Check out our 2022 Holiday Gift Guide for some more knife products that make great holiday gifts for the knife nut in your life (including yourself)!
Embargo - JK Design
The Gist - Titanium sandwich handles with hidden zen pins, bushings, S35VN blade steel, adjustable weight system.
The Embargo was designed in early 2021, despite not being released until the Spring of 2022. It was inspired by the knives of JK’s past. In his own words:
I took the blade profile and grind arrangement of my favorite Emissary I ever made. The tang and face channels from the Orca and the handle profile from the LiteTech. Wanted weight adjustability and to get back to my sandwich roots after all the channel knives I put out. I let those aspects slosh around in my brain for a time and this is what popped out. The Embargo.
This is the longest balisong JK Design has released until now, coming in at just over 10 inches.
It also features a unique adjustable weight system.
Whereas some adjustable weight systems are concealed by the handles (such as in the MachineWise Serif and Squid Industries Swordfish), the method used in the Embargo makes the weights visible, which not only adds a pleasant aesthetic component to the design, but also allows anyone to see the weight setup of the knife without needing to disassemble it.
The system is similar to the Tsunami in that it utilizes pins that can be removed or put into the ends of the handles, however the Embargo contains up to four pins spaced in a straight line down the side of each handle, with the Tsunami having spots for 3 pins positioned further towards the end of each handle.
Since its initial release this knife has seen several different style iterations, including the introduction of a hole pattern in the handles and a variety of anodizations.
The Embargo has all of the quality and flippability that you would expect from JK Design. With plenty of grip, a bit of extra length, and an adjustable weight system, it’s sure to exceed any flipper’s needs!
Serif - MachineWise
The Gist - Titanium chanwich handles with hidden zen pins, bushings, S35VN blade steel, modular weight system.
The Serif was received by the balisong community with fervor - being in such high demand that they were selling on the secondhand market for close to 150% retail price. What makes this knife so great?
First of all, it’s a looker. The design is simple and elegant - chevrons start at the pivots and run to the final inch of the handles, where they meet a cross-hatch pattern. MachineWise also offers a plethora of anodization finishes, including solid colors and fades.
The design does more than just provide aesthetic appeal, the handle pattern also provides the perfect amount of grip while flipping. And although the appealing design of the knife certainly plays some part in its popularity, its flippability is certainly what has made it such a successful model.
The Serif is long and light - coming in at about 10.5” overall and just under 4oz. And for the balisong asmr enthusiasts out there, this knife has one of the nuttiest sounds out there.
It also comes with 3 weight options for additional customizability - full weights, hollowed weights, and no weights.
2022 also almost saw the Serif V2 released, but MachineWise ultimately decided to release the V2 under its own name: the Opus. Though production on the Opus has taken priority over the Serif, you can still find them both available on the secondhand market, and definitely make sure to keep an eye out for future Opus drops!
Medusa V2 - Fellowship Blades
The Gist - Titanium channel handles, bushings, S35VN blade steel.
Although technically the Medusa came out in late 2021, the Medusa V2 came out in Spring 2022 and made some improvements on what was already an incredible flipper. It is also one of the best values in terms of price, providing a top-tier flipping experience without the high price tag you'll find on some balisongs.
Some of the improvements from the V1 include refinements on the finish, handles with more rounded edges, a change in handle geometry to provide extra grip, and altered blade geometry for additional strength and aesthetics.
Indeed - the Medusa is a good looking knife! The eye-catching blade shape pairs beautifully with the simple and elegant cutouts and hole pattern in the handles, and Fellowship Blades has released variants in several striking colorways.
To attest to the flipping performance of this balisong, it’s worth mentioning that this was the knife used by Fellowship Blades’ sponsored flipper @balitism for his second place finish in the West Coast Flipping Championship ‘22 at Blade Show West. Discover more about his performance in the competition here, including his famous dive catch that he caught after dropping and kicking the knife in the air.
Prysma - MachineWise
The Gist - Channel aluminum handles, bushings.
The Prysma is yet another amazing product to come from MachineWise this year. Similar to the Serif, this was originally meant to be the V2 of an earlier product of his, the Maryn Lite. He eventually changed the name from the Maryn Lite V2 Trainer to the name we all know it as now: the Prysma.
This trainer is well-known throughout the community as an amazing flipper. It also has all the hallmarks of a MachineWise balisong - long handles, tight tolerances, and the pill-shaped pattern in the handles reminiscent of the Maryn and Maryn Lite.
One of the coolest things about this trainer is its cross-compatibility with other MachineWise balisongs. The Prysma is built on the Maryn platform, meaning that handles and blades with any other product on this platform are interchangeable. Currently the list includes the Prysma, Maryn, Maryn Lite, slifT, and the Opus.
Barracuda - BBbarfly
The Gist - Channel aluminum handles, 410 stainless steel trainer/bottle opener blade.
BBbarfly has been around longer than most in the balisong business and has the product line to prove it. Specializing in balisong trainer bottle openers, BBbarfly is THE go-to for people who want a trainer that flips great but also has extra functionality.
Starting over 10 years ago with their Barfly OG, they now have several versions and upgrades to their original model in addition to their newest models from the past few years. The two that have made the biggest waves lately are the Firefly and of course, the Barracuda.
The Barracuda originally came out with a simple design - plain channel aluminum handles with no hole pattern or design, just a clean look that came in a variety of options for handle anodization color.
One of the biggest appeals of the Barracuda was the thinner handle design. Although BBbarfly’s products flip well, their handles are notoriously thick, giving flippers a unique experience that didn’t jive with everyone’s preferences. The Barracuda came equipped with thinner handles that are much more similar to the “standard” balisong models that many people flip.
After some time they released a version of the Barracuda with a hole pattern, changing the weight and balance of the balisong and providing extra grip on the handles.
If the Barracuda is out of your price range, it’s definitely worth it to check out some of BBbarfly’s other models. Some of their products are extremely affordable, and you can’t go wrong with any of them!
Swordfish - Squid Industries
The Gist - Aluminum!! Chanwich aluminum handles, aluminum trainer blade, bushings, pinless, modular weight system.
People thought that Squid Industries was crazy when they released the Krake Raken. They said you couldn’t make a live-blade balisong with aluminum handles. “It will never work,” they said. “It’s a dumb idea,” they said.
Whether or not you think aluminum is a great or terrible handle material for a balisong, the fact is that the Krake Raken made waves in the balisong community and continues to be one of the most popular models preferred by flippers of all skill levels.
Now Squid has taken things even further. They dove into the aluminum deep end, making a balisong trainer with not just aluminum handles, but also an aluminum trainer blade.
This trainer has one of the coolest looking bite handle indicators of anything on the market, with a series of small cutouts that look like waves, perfectly embodying the nautical theme of the company.
They also come in a wide variety of color options thanks to the process of anodizing aluminum!
With a modular weight system similar to that in the Tsunami, this is one trainer that will fit great in anyone’s collection and will fit the style and preferences of a wide range of flippers.
Balisong End Caps - Zippy Balisong
The Gist - Protect your handles, adjust the weight and balance of your balisong, fun colors, amazing price.
Zippy Balisong has his finger on the pulse of one of the hottest new trends in the balisong community: 3d printing. Over the last few years several makers have 3d printed a variety of balisong products - everything from bite handle indicators all the way up to complete balisong trainers!
Zippy has been one of the industry leaders in 3d printing balisong parts. They make several models of trainers, bite handle indicators, yet one of the most fun and popular products they make are their Zippy End Caps.
Zippy End Caps come in a variety of color options, and you’re free to mix and match when you place your order. They also are available in glow in the dark, which work amazingly and are an absolute blast to flip in the dark. I brought my pair to the meet after Blade Show West 2022 and loved being able to hand a glowing balisong to my fellow flippers.
Another clever feature Zippy includes in this product is the weight adjustability. There are 3 slots in each end cap that can accept a small tungsten weight, allowing the user to fine-tune the weight and balance of their balisong according to their preferences.
If you’re not sure if they’ll fit the balisongs you have in your collection, Zippy generously provides a list of nearly every popular balisong on the market and if their end caps will fit. This is based largely on community feedback, and some people have attested that these end caps have improved the flippability of certain balisongs significantly!
Knife Shield - Knife Pivot Lube
The Gist - Clean your balisong and protect it from rust and corrosion without leaving yucky residue behind.
Knife Shield was an instant hit in the knife community, evident by the fact that they sold out almost immediately on their first product drop. This cleaner and corrosion inhibitor is one of the best knife maintenance accessories on the market right now, and has all of the functionality and value that you’d expect from KPL.
It works by applying and removing the solution from the metal parts of your knife that you need cleaned or want to keep from rusting. Spray either directly on the part or onto a microfiber cloth, then wipe dry. This will clean off any gunk and dirt and leave behind a corrosion-preventing film without making the part sticky or waxy.
Most balisongs are made from materials that are naturally pretty rust resilient, such as titanium and stainless steels. So why is this product on a balisong list?
Even if most blade steels found in balisongs are stainless, some models do use high carbon or tool steels that are more prone to rusting. Prime examples include the Benchmade 51, which uses D2 steel, and the Cold Steel Arc Angel with its Carbon V steel.
Click here for more information on different types of steels used in pocket knives and balisongs!
Additionally, balisongs get just as dirty - if not more dirty - than other pocket knives. With all of the drops and cuts that come with the hobby of flipping, balisongs get a ton of crud on both the blades and handles. Knife Shield is a great way to clean both blade steel and metal handles, which is often overlooked in maintenance routines.
Punk Bands - Steampunk Balis
The Gist - A functional and stylish way to safely carry your latchless balisongs!
Modern balisongs are increasingly favoring ditching latches and going latchless. Even though many flippers consider latches to get in the way of flipping, they do perform an essential function - keeping your knife locked closed.
Without a way to lock a knife closed, it’s able to open when you don’t want it to, potentially leading to injury. Several products have been released to help with this issue, but few have done it as elegantly as the Punk Band.
Punk Bands are a simple 3d printed sleeve that slides over the ends of the handles and keeps your balisong closed. This was the essential (and only) function of the earliest prototypes, but the latest iterations also include a notch that allows you to clip it to your pocket. This way the knife not only stays closed, but also stays put exactly where you want it.
Punk Bands come in several different colors and sizes in order to meet the needs of flippers with different color preferences and balisongs of different sizes. Don’t hesitate to reach out to @steampunk_balis to find out more!
Judging by this past year, we’re bound to see some amazing new knives, trainers, accessories, and innovations in the balisong community in the new year. Keep an eye out on the makers above, follow their products and projects, and don’t forget to use code “BARKHANDLE” at checkout for 10% off all KPL products!!