Back in the day when you wanted a hardcore knife for field use there was only one place to look, Randall Made Knives. Founded by Bo Randall who made his first knife in 1937 and founded the company in 1938 in Orlando Florida, Randall knives have been the go-to knife or soldiers, sailors, Marines, huntsman, and adventurers. Geared towards hunters and sportsman originally, that changed when America entered World War II when the demand from servicemen for a strong knife to go to war with skyrocketed. Many famous service men and other persons carried Randall Made Knives to include Lieutenant General James M. Gavin, Captain and future United States President Ronald Reagan, General William Westmoreland, U2 Pilot Francis Gary Powers, and the first astronauts carried Randall Made Knives on their journeys into space.
I recall reading stories about Green Berets (Army Special Forces) in Vietnam in Soldier of Fortune magazine back in the early 1980s and it was said that the way to identify a Green Beret was by the Rolex on their wrist and the Randall knife on their belt. I’ve owned a few Randall Made Knives since the mid 80’s the first was the classic Model 14 Attack.
My current Randall Made Knife is a Model 15 Airman. The standard features of the Model 15 are as follows from the Randall website:
- BLADE LENGTH: 5.5″
- BLADE STOCK: 1/4″
- HANDLE SHAPE: Single Finger Grip, Border Patrol, Finger Grips
- HANDLE MATERIAL: Micarta
- HILT STYLE: Brass Double
- WEIGHT: 10 oz.
The Model 15 could be considered the little brother of the Model 14 with the blade being two inches shorter. The Model 15 was designed as an alternative for aircrews to the standard issue aircrew survival knife. The shorter blade made it easier to get in and out of aircraft and less likely to get snagged on things.
My Model 15 is the stainless steel version with the Border Patrol grip. It is a solid knife with a full tang that is made to be used and abused in the harshest environments. I haven’t field test this one yet, but I have designated it as my go-to sheath knife for my future outdoor adventures. I like the 5.5” blade for the same reasons it was designed for less to catch on when getting in and out of vehicles or watercraft, or moving through the woods.
The sheath is well made and of the same design that has been used for decades by the Randall company. I plan on treating mine with Sno-seal so that it’s water resistant and lasts longer. The sheath comes with a pocket containing a sharpening stone; I’ve used stones in the past but will probably use a diamond hone when the time comes to sharpen it. I’m considering having a Kydex or some type of hard shell sheath made for it if I can find a good source.
Randall knives generally retail in the $500.00 plus price range, are available in stainless steel or tool steel (the tool steel modes are generally a bit lower in price); waits can be long to obtain one but in my opinion, they are worth the wait. There are dealers that have the knives on hand for immediate purchase if you check of the Randall website you can find information about locating one. If you’re ever in the Orlando, Florida area stop by the shop and check out the museum, there are tons of older models on display as well as photos of Randall are being carried around the world.
Art Dorst is the owner of A. Dorst Consulting & Training Services and is a Senior Consultant for LaSorsa & Associates. He served in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard, and is a retired municipal Police Officer, NRA Instructor, and is currently a security provider/trainer.