UPDATE – The Sportsman’s Guide: No knives for Sarasota


UPDATE: Sportsman’s Guide official Ted Itschert,  the company’s manager of operations and products, said he is rescinding the knife restrictions for Sarasota County. His firm’s website will be updated within 24 hours. Sarasota County residents will now be able to buy any knife offered by the firm.

“If it’s good for the customers, we will do it,” Itschert said.

EARLIER: This strange tale began with a story I wrote last week about Columbia River Knife & Tool, a firm that makes some of the best production knives I’ve seen – certainly a great value for the money.

The story motivated Dan, a reader living in Sarasota County, to try to place an order for a CRKT knife with The Sportsman’s Guide.tsg

For those unfamiliar with the St. Paul-based retailer, it’s one of the country’s best sources for discount sporting goods, unique military surplus, survival gear, hunting and fishing supplies, and of course knives.

The firm has been around since 1977 and serves more than one-million customers per year, who generate an estimated $300 million in annual revenue.

Shipping Dan’s knife to southwest Florida should have been easy.

However, when Dan tried to place an order, he saw this prompt: WARNING: Cutlery cannot be shipped to CA; CT; DE; HI; IL; KS; LA; ME; MI; MO; NJ; NV; PA; D.C.; MA; Miami-Dade and Sarasota counties, FL; Canada or Puerto Rico.

“This was quite a surprise and shock,” Dan said in an email. “These were not huge automatic switch blades. They were just your common pocket knife with a clip. Who do you think is behind this new policy and when was it created by our local government? Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.”

I reached out to a friend of the blog, a senior official with a local law enforcement agency who’s got enough brass on his collar to know if there was some arcane knife ordinance or restriction that would prevent The Sportsman’s Guide from shipping Dan his knife.

The official, who’s an avid hunter, had just seen the restriction in his own catalogue.

He spent days researching the issue, looking for a county or city rule – any basis for the restriction.

None was found.

I reached out to the firm, calling several times and emailing. I even sent a Tweet:

Hey @sportsmansguide. Why won’t you sell knives to your loyal customers in Sarasota County? This ain’t NYC. Please call.

Ted Itschert the company’s manager of operations and products, called Tuesday morning.

“Right now we restrict basic cutlery to Sarasota County,” he said. “Kitchen cutlery we don’t. It looks like what we restrict are Bowie knives and fighting knives. It looks like Gerber utility knives can go. Machetes cannot.”

At first he said the restriction was based on an “ATF book”  that he said breaks down weapons restrictions by state, county and municipality.

I asked him to cite anything for Sarasota County or Sarasota, City of.

“You know, I’m not finding anything with the ATF here,” he said.

“Then why are we restricted,” I asked.

“I don’t know if I can answer that at the moment,” he said. “I might have to have someone look at that. We don’t want to over-restrict.”

Mr. Itschert promised that one of his staff would “research the issue.” If nothing is found, the restriction could be lifted in a couple days.

“A lot of times we will un-restrict,” he said.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Pingback: The Sportsman's Guide: No knives for Sarasota | The Gun Feed

  2. This seems to be the same thing that prevents magazines from being sold in some areas of Ohio as well. Even though we have state wide pre-emption, some local municipalities still have illegal and unenforceable firearms restrictions on the books. Because of this, online retailers will refuse business simply because they lack the manpower to track down what is legal and what isn’t. Instead they rely on lists provided by organizations like the ATF.

  3. Ask the folks who run SG why they don’t sell products like AR-15 sights, mounts or other obviously NON-RESTRICTED items to anyone in California, too? In my opinion, I think these some of the people in charge there have lost their minds! Or at least their lawyers have paranoia issues!

  4. I gave up on Sportmans Guide a long time ago because of their dis-intrest in understanding the restrictions in various states. I’m in NJ and they are absolutely ridiculous when it comes to anything with an AR-15 reference in it. Things like scope mounts, slings and weapon lights that are truly universal are restricted when referenced to ARs. They even had a front sight tool restricted! To add insult to injury, they didn’t have any issues with sending a 10 round Saiga 12ga magazine here. Shotguns are limited to 5 rounds regardless of the 15 round limit on magazines. It was clear that the staff responsible there is coasting and not doing their job.

  5. It’s clear that once SG, or any other firm, starts playing the compliance game, mistakes happen and their customers lose.

    There’s NOTHING restrictive about BUIS or a site tool.

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