|Founder||Walter Doane "Bo" Randall, Jr.|
|Headquarters||4857 S. Orange Blossom Trail|
|"Bo" Randall and his son Gary|
|Products||Custom Handmade Knives|
Number of employees
|Website||Randall Made Knives|
Randall Made Knives, usually referred to as Randall, is an American custom handcrafted knife manufacturer founded by Walter Doane "Bo" Randall, Jr. in the U.S. The knife making shop and showroom is located in Orlando, Florida. Randall began making knives as a hobby in 1937. His son and grandson continue the family trade along with 20 craftsmen producing about 8,000 knives per year out of a shop on South Orange Blossom Trail.
Randall offers 28 models of knives for different applications, each customizable at the factory based on customer specification. Randall hand forges nearly all models of knives instead of using factory stamping or stock removal, one of few manufacturers to do so. Randall uses a 17-step process for making knives, which usually takes over 8 hours to complete. The waiting list for obtaining a Randall from the shop is typically six years.
Two examples of Randall's Model 17 "Astro", designed for the use of astronauts, are on display in the Smithsonian Institution. The company operates its own museum containing more than 7,000 knives and other edged weapons, including one of the world's largest collections of pocket knives.
Bo Randall first became interested in making knives after he purchased a Bill Scagel knife that was being used to scrape paint off of a boat without showing any signs of wear or damage. He made his first knife in his garage at Lake Ivanhoe, Florida using an auto spring.
He founded the company in 1938. Although Randall originally designed his knives for outdoorsmen and sold them at sporting goods stores, demand from military customers initially provided his biggest boost in business, and launched his company nationally.
In the early 1940s, Randall knives significantly increased in popularity after receiving good publicity during World War II. Several noted war heroes and GIs on all fronts carried Randall knives with them into major battles, including top American Ace Richard Bong, Lieutenant General James M. Gavin, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division during the Normandy invasion. Army Air Force Captain Ronald Reagan, future U.S. President, owned a Randall knife in World War II. Randalls were so popular that GIs from overseas ordered through the mail by simply addressing letters to the "Knife Man, Orlando".
Shortly after the war, the popularity of Randall knives increased among non-military users, and Randall developed additional models specifically for expanding markets. In 1956, Randall received a United States design patent for models 14 and 15. In 1957, bestselling author James Jones mentioned Randall knives in his book Some Came Running, and subsequently helped Randall to design a diver's knife. In the Vietnam War, General William Westmoreland, Commander of American military operations in Vietnam, was often photographed with a Randall. Pilot Gary Powers of the 1960 U-2 incident, and herpetologist Ross Allen, carried Randalls. In 1982, Randall was inducted into the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame at the Blade Show in Atlanta, Georgia.
Bo Randall died in 1989 in Orlando, Florida, at 80 years of age. His son, Gary Randall, currently oversees production at Randall made Knives.
Bo Randall was inducted into the Blade magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame at the 1983 Blade Show as an inauguree. In 1997, Randall was inducted into the American Bladesmith Society Hall of Fame. In 2001, Randall's knives were listed as "Best Sheath Knife" as part of Forbes "50 Best List".
The first knife to journey into space was the Randall Model 17 Astro Knife. It was conceived by Major L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. to be a survival knife specifically for astronauts. Proper design and construction were crucial, for astronauts orbited over deserts and jungles, as well as ocean. Cooper studied many factory-made knives, but found none to be satisfactory. He finally turned to knifemaker, Bo Randall.
As the U.S. began its space program, NASA needed a survival knife for its astronauts, and Major Gordon Cooper worked with Randall on the design of the Model 17 "Astro". These first astronauts carried their Randalls into space. In 1999, the Liberty Bell 7 Mercury space capsule was recovered from the ocean with astronaut Gus Grissom's Randall knife inside. Despite having spent 40 years at a depth of 15,000 feet (4,600 m) underwater, the knife was still serviceable after a good cleaning. The Smithsonian Institution has two Astros on display.
Texas musician Guy Clark wrote and sang the original song "The Randall Knife" as an elegy for his father; the song first appeared on Clark's 1983 album Better Days. Vince Gill, who sang and played guitar on Clark's original recording, mentions a Randall knife in an elegy for his own father, "The Key to Life," from the 1998 album The Key. Steve Earle, a friend and contemporary of Guy Clark, mentions a Randall knife in his song "Taneytown", from the 1997 album El Corazon. In 2019 Mr Earle released a cover of the original song "The Randall Knife" on his album Guy, a collection of covers of Clark's songs in tribute to his friend.
The Randall Made Knives Museum is located at the shop facility in Orlando, and contains more than 7,000–knives and other edged weapons. It has one of the largest collection of pocket knives in the world and home to the world's largest collection of Bill Scagel's knives. The museum contains many historical pictures and documents related to Randall knives. Randall plans to move the museum to a larger facility.