Randall Knives are part of the American cultural history...at least that having to do with the outdoors and our nation's military experiences. I'm no historian, but they've been popular since WWII and really came of age during the Vietnam conflict, where I saw them worn by a number of troopers in my old unit...the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.
The knives are super popular, with almost a cult following. Why so popular, aside from the long history? Build. These knives are hand made...each one being a unique production...and are made so strong they are virtually indestructible. They retail for about $400 and up from the factory, where there is about a FOUR YEAR wait for orders. You can get them right away, depending on what you want, from a number of vendors for maybe a $100 premium.
Yeah, yeah...SO? You might say.
OK. I'll cut to the chase. If you've read any of my posts here you know I make knives...I love the steels from basic to super, the exotic woods and the precious metals that come into play. I not only love the materials...I love doing the work (and brother, that's the real key)...the grinding, filing sanding, carving...the whacking with great big hammers...the yelling, the screaming...well, maybe that's a bit more than you needed to know. Anyway, there's that. I love 'em.
Someone out there knows that I love 'em and decided to give an aged warrior a good home. So one day in the mail I get this tube and on the inside is a 1965 Randall No. 2 Fighting Stiletto, 6" blade, brass guard and butt cap, stacked leather handle. It apparently saw action in Vietnam, but that's something that I can't and won't discuss. So it's close to 50 years old...been in a trunk for 40 years I'm guessing and it looks...old...tired...it needed help!
But what an amazing gift! It's a piece of Americana, a chunk of military history and a damn nice piece of steel. Which, by the way is good old O1 tempered to about 55 or so. Randall made 'em soft on purpose so the troops could sharpen 'em easily in the field.
So here's a glamor shot of the knife and sheath from a related website, what it would look like new:
Here's the knife as I received it:
So after about 6 hours in the shop with way too many tools and materials brought into play, the end result on this end is shown below.
Keep in mind that there was a guiding principle at work here...I wanted to keep the knife visibly aged...vintage. This means keeping the darkened leather color on the handle...retaining the 'ghost grey' patina on the high carbon steel blade. I contacting several people about the sheath, and as I suspected, it can't be repaired (the sharpener pocket was taken off so the sheath could be effectively attached to a 'chute harness).
But after all the hand work...here's what emerged from the shop. Needless to say, I had and still have
a big ol' smile on my face.
Note the spacer arrangement just below the brass crossguard. The "three thick and two thin" is the hallmark of the Vietnam era Randall construction. These are correct in style and color.
Pretty amazing, eh? I just love it. It certainly will
find a good home here, and with my son after I'm gone.
And just to have it correct, I ordered a custom sheath from "Savage Made Sheaths" that's based on the Johnson style sheath Randall used in the late 60's. Of course, the original sheath will be saved. And for display or wearing once in a while, the new Savage sheath will come into play. I emailed back and forth with Mr. Savage a number of times and I gotta say that he knows his business and what makes one model right for something...in other words, the history. And his pieces are very reasonable at $55 even.
This is an example of the Savage Made - Johnson Type A style sheath...not the exact model...but close:
Anyway...another day in the shop. And again, heartfelt thanks to the kind but deluded soul that decided to share this with my family. I'll treasure it always.