Randall Knives: Confessions Of An Addict

Randall Model 19

Image Courtesy Mike LaPorteBy Mike LaPorte – Randall Knives Addict

 Hi my name is Mike and I’m a addict. Yeah I said it. I have been in love with the sharpened blade since…well…forever. My earliest memories go back to when I was 5 or 6 and spent my summers at my uncle’s vacation house. That was where I learned to play mumbly-peg, a game much too dangerous for the America of 2013. That was where, in my later years of 8 or 9, I carved full sized Bowie knives out of tree limbs. Yeah, really. In today’s world, this would probably require some sort of intervention from Social Services…

A a teenager I came across a broken fruit knife and salvaged the blade. I bolted the crudest of wood handles to it, and it serves 50 years later as a work of Americana to cut patches for my muzzleloaders. When I had disposable income as an adult, my addiction blossomed into an obsession.

Image courtesy Mike LaPorte

Just like some junkies prefer heroin over crystal meth, I focused on a knife company that has a fabled history: Randall. Back when I was a postwar kid, my WWII GI dad knew the Randall name and he spoke of it in hushed and reverential tones. During WWII, Randall’s leather handled, straight forward fighting knife gained fame as the blade of commandos.

When Vietnam came along,I sent away by mail for the Randall catalog (mail catalogs, wow) and they sent me back a pamphlet listing all the various models. Sadly for me, it also spelled out the Randall rules: military folks would get first priority from Randall, and it would be YEARS in fact for a civilian order to process and ship. Oh well, in the meantime I’d have to satisfy myself with the pictures in the catalog.

Image courtesy Randall Knives

In the 1960’s another Randall would be placed on my pre-Amazon wish list: the Model 17 Astro, commissioned and built for the United States Astronaut corps. It’s hard to convey to folks today what the Seven Mercury Astronauts meant to cold war 1960’s America, but they were like gods. They were experienced young combat and test pilots: the elite of the elite. Out of 200 million Americans, just 7 men were capable of taking on the Russkies and lifting off of this planet. If they needed to, the Randall Model 17 was the blade, the primeval tool, that they could use to literally cut their way out of the capsule or fight their way to survival if they crash-landed in a steaming swamp. Oh Lord, give us men like that today!

Image courtesy Mike LaPorte As I collected my Randall knives over the years, I learned the ugly facts of life about knife collecting: I would have to keep all the packaging. Every last bit of it. The butcher paper it ships in. The invoice. Everything. I couldn’t sharpen the blade. That was sacrilege. And I would not even be able to wipe or polish the blade. You see, the factory oil on the blade has to never be disturbed. Oh, the pain! And the final rule must never be broken: you cannot use your Randall in mortal combat. NEVER. Because that would stain the blade and require sharpening, and also bring down the price on the secondary market.

A boys dreams were dashed.

Image courtesy Mike LaPorte

Well, my time dusting off the memory cabinet and pulling out some old gems is done, but my love for Randall Knives remain. Maybe I’ll tell you the story about my pilgrimage to the Randall factory in Orlando Florida someday. For now, “keep it sharp” !


  1. jwm says:

    I can’t be a collector. I have to use all my toys. The idea of buying something just to shelter it is alien to me. My only real exception to this rule is a pair of pocket knives that were handed down to me from family members. They have sentimental, not collectable value.

    Understand, I’m not being critical of those that build a museum quality collection. It just ain’t me.

    1. Kaliope says:

      I can be a collector, but only of used items. Either I use them myself, or I get them used, or both. But I don’t collect for the retained (or increased) monetary value, I collect for the items themselves. And I second, I could never collect an item that I don’t plan on using.

      But that’s just me.

    2. Jeff S. says:

      Yeah knives can be collected and used at the same time. I’ve used all of my knives even though I consider them my collection. I figure if my collection is of knives it is much more useful than those spoons, nutcrackers, or music boxes.

  2. Aharon says:

    Randall Knives are elegant and they have a great reputation for quality and reliability. I was surprised to read (elsewhere) that Randal’s Knives use the “rat tail” shaped tang rather than the fuller- or wider-shaped tang under the handle. I’m not a knife expert yet I believe a full tang provides superior strength. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. Mike says:

      Randall makes both tang styles depending on model, handle style and material. I agree with you and prefer the full tang. I have both and in the more agressive blades it adds heft. Especially that these have 1/4 inch blade stock.

      1. Aharon says:

        Thanks for your reply.

    2. cow says:

      Yes, full tang knives are stronger than rat tail and partial tangs. You just have to not be STUPID with your $400 knife you waited for years to get and it’ll last the rest of your life.
      How many Moras have you seen fail under normal use? Its always the dude who felt the need to baton his knife through some knotty hardwood.

  3. Wow, thank you for showing us your beautiful collection.
    I agree with Kaliope…I couldn’t do it myself. But I appreciate the beauty and your “inner demon” conflict about leaving them untouched.


  4. jimmyjames says:

    Had a safe full of Randalls at one time. Sold them all including a couple of dealer specials. Too expensive/valuable to use and they were just sitting in the dark in my safe. Wish I had kept one. Prices were reasonable when I sold all mine of course. Now they are insane/crazy prices. Glad I got exorcised.

  5. Skyler says:

    I carried two Randall knives (not at the same time) when I was in Afghanistan. They are not strictly for collectors.

  6. DaveM says:

    Just bought a new after market 1-7 stacked leather handle bucket list purchase and not disappointed in the quality and the only safe queen I own
    Looking for a slightly used Randall with a “grippier” handle

    1. I spent about a half hour drooling in front of the Randall collectors’ display at Blade.

      Simply Beautiful.

      1. DaveM says:

        Randall catalogue arrived same day, photos do not come close to what they really look like
        Thanks for getting back

  7. Rick Rowzee says:

    I heard many stories of Randall’s in the 80s. I told myself if I ever went to war I would take one with me. When I deployed to Iraq in 08, I bought my first one. Love it. I was never shot down but carried it every day. When my son went to afghan, I bought him one.

    1. Awesome story. Thank you both for your service.

  8. Bolt says:

    I have a vietnam era model 15 brown micarta filled hole knife. 63 or 64. Was taken to vietnam with my friends grandfather. He passed it to his son who used it in the 82nd airborne as his jump knife on over 90 jumps. He gave it to me and i dragged it through 2 tours to iraq. Its beat to hell used and abused sharpened oiled and sharpened. Still my every day carry. The value has gone up on it due to provenance.

    1. Any chance you care to elaborate on this story and make it a guest post?

      Randalls are wonderful without a backstory. Yours becomes exceptional with it.

      Email me at thetruthaboutknives@gmail.com if you are interested.


      Clay Aalders
      TTAK Managing Editor

  9. Plaza Cutlery, Quite simply the best blade store in Southern California. Whether you are just browsing or are a hardcore hobbyist they have just about everything by every major knife maker. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and won’t make you feel like an idiot for asking questions. I feel lucky to have this store close by.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Randall Knives: Confessions Of An Addict

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email