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Original U.S. WWII Randall Model 1 “Springfield” Fighting Knife Circa 1943 with Original Sheath

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an extremely scarce Randall Model 1 Fighting Knife made in Springfield, Massachusetts, and henceforth often referred to as the “Springfield Randall” by collectors. These were made for use during WW2 subcontracted by Randall to meet the military demand. These are very desirable as a result, especially in this condition. To some military fighting knife collectors, these are considered the “Holy Grail” of military edged weapons. General James Gavin, Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division during WWII carried this exact model knife during WWII. His is currently on display at the West Point Museum.

Produced in response to the greatly elevated demand for Randall knives during WWII, the Springfield Fighting Knife was produced by the Northampton Cutlery Company based on design specs and a prototype knife supplied by Bo Randall himself. Production was limited, due to restrictions on wartime material and an unwillingness to compromise on the high-quality steel needed to make a proper fighting knife, with only around 1,200 believed to have been manufactured. The knife measures 12 3/4 inches overall, with a 7 3/4 inch carbon steel blade, outfitted with a 1 1/2 inch sharpened false edge and the scimitar flanked address reading "RANDALL MADE/SPFLD MASS" on the left side of the blade.

Brass cross guard, with white and black spacers on either side of the leather washer grip, an aluminum pommel cap and a hexagonal pommel nut with leather thong. The knife comes with its original unmarked Randall brown leather sheath, complete with intact securing strap with whetstone.

Condition is fine overall, the blade has crisp original polish with an overall bright finish showing some light gray patina, and very small patches of oxidation here and there. There are signs of period sharpening marks on the edge. The guard has an attractive, aged patina with some small scratches and dings. Grip shows some scratches and scuffs on the leather. However, the leather washers are in good solid condition. Light oxidation is visible on the pommel nut with some dings and scrapes exhibiting. Overall, the knife, while showing signs of honest period use, and storage/handling wear over the last several decades, it is in very good condition.

The original Randall Sheath is also fine with tight stitching, attractive original russet brown finish, intact closure strap, and functional snap on the whetstone pouch. Overall, the leather is in very good order, and is nice and pliable. There is oxidation on the metal fittings, and scuffs and scratches, as expected with any piece of historic leather.

This is a really solid example of a desirable, late World War II production Springfield Randall Model 1 All Purpose Fighter. With only about 1,200 of these knives being produced, they are quite rare today and a coveted addition to any collection of US military fighting knives. While not of the quality of a handmade Randall, these knives are an important and historic part of the Randall Made story and make a great addition to any World War II edged weapons collection.

Blade Length: 7 3/4"
Blade Style: Single Edge Drop Point
Overall length: 12 3/4“
Crossguard: 2 1/2”
Scabbard Length: 8 3/4" with Belt Loop

Randall Model 1:
World War II production Randall Model 1 "All Purpose Fighter", the knife that really put Bo Randall's knives on the map. The first Model 1 was manufactured on a custom basis for Lt. J.H. Zacharias of the US Army. Lt. Zacharias apparently approached Randall about a custom fighting knife that Randall felt would have been too large and unwieldy in practice.

The Model 1 was Randall's "practical" execution of Zacharias' request. According to several sources, the entry line for the June 1942 order in Randall's book reads: "1 Special made, Swedish steel Jap Sticker for Lt. J.H. Zacharias." As the well-worn phrase goes, "the rest is history". The knife is marked on the reverse ricasso: RANDALL MADE / SPFLD, MASS, flanked by Randall's trademark scimitars. This marking makes this knife what collectors have long referred to as a "Springfield Randall". The story of this association is still shrouded in some controversy and contradictory information, but the basic story is as follows.

The popularity of Randall's knives meant that as World War II proceeded, the requests for the knives started to outstrip Randall's production capacity. In mid-1943 W.F. Larsen approached Bo Randall about having the knives produced on a licensed basis by a cutlery company in Massachusetts. Larsen proposed to have the knife manufactured to Randall's specifications, but on a mass production basis. In return for the right to manufacture the knives, Larsen would pay Randall a $0.50 per knife royalty. Larsen apparently arranged production with the Northampton Cutlery Company of Northampton, MA; a cutlery manufacturing company located about twenty miles from Larsen's home in Springfield.

After getting the facility up and running, it appears that Larsen had managed to have some 263 knives produced by October of 1943, as he sent Randall a royalty check for those knives in that month. Reports indicate that the number of Northampton knives produced by January of 1944. At this point the story become less consistent with various versions floating around. The general consensus is that as of August 1945, Randall received royalty payments for a total of 1,179 "Springfield" knives. Thus, it is generally believed that about 1,200 of the knives were manufactured in total. Some stories indicate that at some point in 1944 Larsen began assembling the knives at home in his basement, presumably from parts produced by Northampton. Collectors generally agree that 1) the "Springfield" Randall knives are nothing if not inconsistent in small features, and 2) there is a marked quality difference between the early production knives, thought to be the complete work of Northampton Cutlery and the later knives that were apparently finished by Larsen himself.

Even Larsen's son recalls seeing his father placing leather washers on the hilts of knives that he was finishing in the family basement. Collectors have noted a definitive difference in the quality of the final blade finish, polish and grinding between Springfield marked knives, and attribute these lower quality knives to Larsen's work. In the end, while there is certainly some level of difference between the various Springfield marked Model 1 Randall Knives, all were apparently made during World War II, and most saw significant use during that war and conflicts that enveloped the United States over the next three decades.

The Model 1 was the original military style fighting knives that Bo Randall built his business on during the 1940s and 1950s. The knife featured a semi-clip pointed single edged blade that was nominally 8" in length, with a thick Randall curved brass cross guard and a leather washer grip with a moderate palm swell. The knives were very strong and durable, and were equally at home doing traditional cap duties as well as being used in combat, something that could not be said of many of the specialized US fighting knives of World War II, like the USMC Raider Stiletto of the Case V42.

The name Randall is one of the most iconic names in American knives. In the world of modern combat and fighting knives, the name is probably as revered as the name "Bowie" is among 19th century knives. Walter Doane Randall Jr. (better known simply as "Bo") first became interested in making handmade knives in 1936 after encountering a man using a handmade William Scagel knife. The quality of Scagel's work impressed Bo to the point that he set out to try and emulate the quality and to make knives of his own design. By 1938 his hobby of knife making had become a small business and on September 13, 1939 Randall trademarked his classic two-line Randall logo: RANDALL MADE / ORLANDO, FLA., flanked by a pair of scimitars. The following year, Randall Knives published their first catalog. The timing could not be more auspicious.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US found itself thrust into World War II, and without an official fighting knife in inventory. The only combat knives in storage were leftover US M1918 MK1 brass knuckle trench knives from World War I that had never been issued. As a result, many of the young men heading overseas to fight in North Africa, the European Theater and the Pacific Theater chose to take their own personally owned combat knives with them. Those familiar with Bo Randall's work often chose to take a Randall, like the Model 1 "All Purpose Fighter", the Model 2 "Fighting Stiletto" or the Model 3 "Hunter". Still more sent letters back to Orlando addressed simply to "Knife Man - Orlando, Florida" to request that Bo make a knife and send it to him in the theater of operations where he was serving. These men had seen other Randall knives in use and in combat and knew that Bo was making something special in Orlando. Demand grew to the point that a small number of knives were produced by the Northampton Cutlery Company of Springfield, MA on behalf of Randall and with his trademark "Randall Made" legend on the blade. Some of the more prominent US soldiers to carry Randall knives during WWII included General James Gavin of the 82nd Airborne, and Major Richard Ira Bong, America's top fighter ace in the Pacific Theater. In fact, one anecdote claims that an American war correspondent credited Bo Randall's knives with killing 384 enemy combatants.

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