Dan Winkler first popped up on my radar with the movie Last of the Mohicans, for which he did a lot of the edge weapons. At that time, pre-internet, I learned what I could about him mostly from magazines, and if memory served even called and ask about pricing. At the time it was more than I could afford. I kind of lost track of him, until a few years back when his name and Winkler II knives started going around. Given the internet now I have been eyeballing his stuff for awhile, and trying to see if I could make my paths cross with his work. That happened this year at Shot. I got to spend a bit of time talking with both he and his wife, and found both to very nice, honest, welcoming folks. In short the type that I like to do business with. Talking with Dan it quickly became clear that he had a really good understanding of cutting things, and was honest about his own work and some of the designs. I also managed to knick a knuckle on one of his axes, and started to bleed. Of course I felt like a bit of a jackass, but I was also pretty excited to find that his stuff was that sharp. In this day and age there are a ton of good blade designs that have poor edge geometry and profile so just getting them useable is a big task. The other thing that I have noticed is that a ton of makers are making visually stunning knives, but in hand they are actually pretty un-ergonomic. They are great for wall hanging, but not for using. I found all of the Winkler blades to be very comfortable and well suited to the hand. Even given that he makes, unless ordered otherwise, for an average hand size and mine is larger than average. In short, without using any of his knives I feel that they probably work and cut as well as is claimed. I am not sure if I will get one as I have a fair number of really nice knives at this point, and can't really justify getting one. However, if I didn't have those knives and was interested in a higher end knife. I would be hard pressed not to pick up one of his, my preferences being the Hunting Knife and Field Knife.
However, what got me really excited was his axes, and it is fair to call them an axe in my opinion, as they have a wedge shape even though they start with a flat piece of metal. There is a constant taper both from where the eye would traditionally be to the edge, and to the end of the handle. I am not sure if I am sold on the full metal tang, but for the uses they are being put to I can understand, I just think for my uses they might be a bit much. If I lived in colder country I would probably feel different. The thing that really got me about his designs, even those made for specific groups where design included a healthy dose of looks cool (he was honest about that too), was that they all wanted to chop, in that the second you picked them up they wanted to fall forward with the edge leading the way. My guess is that they would be chopping fools with a lot of the work being done by just good balance and ergonomics. I was excited enough that I started talking to him about a custom run, but well I came to my senses a few days later when I actually started thinking about costs associated. I am very tempted by one of his axes, but again I have a fair number of nice axes, and not sure I can justify the price.
I guess bottom line is that if you are in the market for something nicer, take a look at his stuff.