Why are balisongs always out of stock everywhere!?
Don’t worry, you’re not doing anything wrong. It can be incredibly confusing and frustrating for people trying to buy their first butterfly knife. They’re being flipped and showcased all over the internet, but no one seems to sell the one you want. What’s the deal?
Turns out that it’s not just you that can’t find the knife you’re looking for, and it’s not just you that’s looking for that knife. Balisongs are in high demand, and the process of making a quality bali is quite intensive and time consuming, limiting the amount of supply that can be put to market.
If you are struggling to find out where and how to buy balisongs then don’t worry, we’re here to help! Here we’ll go over how butterfly knives are sold, where they’re listed, and how to buy both new and used balis so you can get flipping as soon as possible.
Note - make sure that you’re following all applicable laws when buying, selling, or trading knives, and complying with the terms of service on any third-party applications you use to facilitate these transactions.
One of the biggest determining factors in where you’ll need to look for a balisong is what level of quality you’re looking for. Chances are very slim that you’ll be able to find a high quality butterfly knife at any local brick and mortar storefront.
Some local shops also make an effort to carry a selection of high quality butterfly knives, a great example being Shop Soet - a record store in San Diego run by balisong enthusiast Pall of “Damn Right I Got Knives”. There he sells knives and trainers from prominent balisong makers including Squid Industries, Ceroni Knives, JK Design, and more.
For the most part, though, the butterfly knives you’ll see at your local knife shop will be pretty low grade, especially given the advances in build quality and flipping performance that the industry has seen over the last few decades.
To be clear - there is nothing wrong with low quality balisongs if that’s what you’re looking for. Cheap knives and trainers have a lot of advantages, being great to start learning tricks with, travel with (it’s much less stressful to check a bag with a $40 knife than a $400 knife), collect, and more. However, low quality butterfly knives are typically fairly easy to come by both online and in stores, so for the remainder of this article we’ll be focusing on higher quality knives and trainers.
Buying a knife new certainly has a lot of advantages: you know exactly what you’re getting, you can expect the product to be in mint condition, there is likely a return policy and warranty that protects you from defects or dissatisfaction, and there may even be some freebies that come with your purchase (for example, BRS has included a variety of freebies that come with bali purchases including cases, dice, challenge coins, and more).
The main disadvantage that comes with buying a balisong new, though, is that there’s a decent chance you’ll have to wait. Knife makers that produce quality balisongs typically sell out of their stock fairly quickly after it’s put on the market, meaning you could potentially be waiting for several months until a restock.
Depending on the specific model of balisong and the time you buy it, the price of buying new might be either an advantage or a disadvantage. Depending on a variety of factors - how new a balisong is, how in-demand it is, and how quickly they’re being produced (if they’re still being produced) - all play a part in both new and secondhand pricing. Sometimes certain knives sell for less on the secondhand market, but sometimes they sell for quite a bit more!
How New Balisongs are Sold
Due to the nature of the balisong market having more demand than supply, makers typically sell their knives in four main ways: drops, lotteries, lists, and auctions.
Drops are the most popular way that makers release their balisongs. This works by scheduling a specific date, time, and place that a product will become available. Drops are typically done on the maker/company’s website, but sometimes on other retailers’ websites such as BladeHQ or KnifeCenter.
Due to the high demand and popularity of these knives, certain models routinely sell out within the first few minutes of a drop. If you’re going to try to buy a highly sought after balisong on a drop, you’ll definitely want to make sure you’re online at the exact moment that the drop goes live.
The best way to stay informed about upcoming drops is to make sure you’re following the maker on social media and are signed up for their newsletter if they have one. Bladerunners Systems, for example, announces their upcoming product drops (as well as giveaways!) in their newsletter, and they regularly go live on their Instagram account to announce drop details and other news in more detail.
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Lotteries are a sales method that is sometimes used by smaller makers with more limited supplies. They’re most often hosted on one of the seller’s social media pages, but can also be done through the maker or company’s website.
These work by having everyone who is interested in buying a specific balisong register on a list, and then the person or people who are chosen at random get to purchase the knife. Different lottos may work slightly differently, so make sure you understand all of the rules and conditions of the one you may be entering.
This method is especially common for new balisongs coming to the market. These work similarly to lotteries, in the sense that everyone who is interested in purchasing a knife is put on a list.
The difference is that there is no selection process that determines who gets to buy the knives when they are ready. Rather, either everyone on the list gets to purchase the knife, or orders are fulfilled in the order in which they’re received.
Preorders and lists of this sort typically become less feasible the longer they’re in practice. As lists grow longer the wait time increases, and makers typically switch to releasing products in drops after preorders are fulfilled.
Auctions are not as popular as other sales methods, and are typically only held for very high quality knives. They usually happen on social media platforms and have different rules depending on the auction host.
What they all share in common are typically predetermined start and end times, minimum bid increments, and a “no sniping” period to prevent people from outbidding someone else at the very last moment.
Where to Buy Balisongs New
So where can you buy new balisongs? The answer varies from maker to maker. Some do most or all of their business through social media apps like Instagram and Facebook, others sell in drops, lotteries, or raffles on their websites, some sell through authorized retailers like BladeHQ and Shop Soet, and some use combinations of all of these.
It is typically pretty easy to find out how a maker sells their knives simply by checking them out on social media and subscribing to their mailing list, if they have one.
Buying a used balisong can seem somewhat complicated and intimidating, so let’s break down the main options that are available and how to best utilize them.
Social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Reddit all have thriving balisong communities. This makes them not only a great place to find out information about butterfly knives and trainers, but also to find people that may be looking to buy or sell them.
Reminder - always make sure to comply with all knife laws in your area, as well as the terms of service of any 3rd party platforms you may use.
The main two sales methods you’ll run into on the secondary market are direct sales/trades and raffles.
Of course there are plenty of advantages to buying used balisongs - there is typically little/no waiting period, you can often get balis at lower prices, and you can find knives with interesting mod work done on them.
What you typically won’t get with secondhand balis are manufacturer warranties, return policies, and there is always the risk of getting scammed or taken advantage of. If dealing with an individual seller, always make sure to avoid scams by protecting your payments and researching what it is that you’re buying.
One last note about social media is that it’s a great place to find people who mod balisongs. If you’re not in the market for a new knife but want to jazz up or fix your existing ones, there is no shortage of people in the community that offer anodization, milling, regrind, retip, refinishing, and tuning services.
It can actually be quite difficult to find used balisongs available to purchase outside of social media sites, at least at reasonable prices. Some retailers sell used and new knives at a very high markup in order to capitalize on the high demand and low supply of certain butterfly knives.
JerzeeDevil used to be the balisong forum, and although its popularity has waned over the years you can still find some good knives and good deals there.
BladeBae is a new site launched by Pall of Shop Soet/"Damn Right I Got Knives" in response to complaints about the market on social media. Dealing on social media carries with it a certain amount of risk, and users are at the whim of the app’s developers, who can deprioritize certain hashtags, making sales more difficult. BladeBae was launched in order to solve these problems - allowing users to list their knives safely, securely, and to a larger audience.
Where to Buy Balisongs?
In short, despite seeming complicated, buying a balisong is fairly simple. Start by researching which knives in your price range interest you the most, find some reviews, and then:
To buy new - check out the maker’s Instagram and website to see if, when, and how the next knives will be released. If you can’t find the information, try reaching out to the maker.
If you’re still having trouble, feel free to reach out on Instagram to @barkhandle, and don’t forget to use coupon code “BARKHANDLE” at checkout for 10% off your KPL order!