In a world where I can get a great knife for less than $150 from Amazon or my local hardware store, coming across the Randall knives did shock me. I’m sure it must have been the same for you.
I didn’t give it much thought earlier but decided to look deeper into why Randall knives are so expensive, and if they are worth that price tag at all.
Randall knives sell for a premium based on the high-quality steel that the hand-forged knives are made from, the high level of craftsmanship, and the brand name, among other things. Randall knives have also grown some kind of cult following among collectors, helping the brand to maintain its premium status in the market.
Read on to find out more about why these knives cost as much as they do.
6 Reasons Randall Knives Sell for A Premium
I might have let the cat out of the bag a little bit up there but there is more to the story.
Digging through different catalogs from the brand, the history behind the knives, and some real-world user reviews, here are some things to consider:
#1 Randall knives are hand-forged
Companies like Victorinox (that makes the swiss army knives), Case, and Buck do not make their knives out of Asian production facilities. We have always seen them as slightly more expensive because they have to pay for the production costs, labor costs, and other such overhead in the US and Swiss regions.
With Randall knives, the production costs add up mostly because the knives are hand-forged.
Where all these other companies have the luxury of automating the process so that they can sell more knives and make a profit on the margin, Randall has a craftsman dedicate their time to:
- Forging the knife by hand;
- Grinding the blade by hand;
- Polishing the knife by hand; and
- Honing the blade by hand too.
Such a process requires closer attention to detail than what you would get on a mass-produced knife, and that brings its own cost.
#2 The economics of demand and supply
Randall knows that its knives are in high demand but the company is not willing to sacrifice quality to meet that demand. So, it is simple economics to raise the prices such that only a select few who truly appreciate the knives will come through and place an order.
This way, the company does not have to pump out plenty of knives to meet its profit margins when they can simply focus on making one knife as best as they could while staying afloat with the business at the same time.
If you were wondering how much of a demand backlog Randall has, I have heard that some catalog knives can take as much as 5-6 years to make after placing your order. Now, that is not a knife that sells for a few dollars, if you ask me.
#3 Randall has a solid history
One of the things that make vintage knives and collectibles sell for a premium is the history that comes with them. That is why my knife dating guides for vintage blades always come with a historical aspect.
The story told by the knife can drive up its value, and the story behind it is equally impressive.
For example, the Randall knives have been a fan of soldiers and military operators since about 1940 when Bo Randall started the company.
These knives have seen a lot of action, been in a lot of fights, saved a lot of lives, and won a lot of battles. Above that, these soldiers and military operators praise the knives as being just as good as they would have expected.
When you have such history and social proof behind you, you can almost command any price you want.
#4 Randall knives are made from good materials
In my piece discussing how to estimate how much your knife is worth, I mentioned how the materials also dictate what you pay for a knife.
One of the examples I used in that piece is the handle. If a knife ships with an oak handle, you don’t expect it to sell as much as one whose handles were made from a deer’s antler.
Now, what does Randall makes its handles from? A variety of materials such as stag, ivorite, thuya burl wood, rare wood, and heavy sole leather. These not only make the knives look premium but they are also easy to hold and use.
Going to the blade, the company sticks with either 01 high carbon stainless steel or high-grade stainless steel. They give you the chance to choose which one of the materials you might want and even have an FAQ page on their website dedicated to helping you choose the best steel based on your needs.
Combine that with the hand-forging that happens and you see why they have to charge so much to keep making these knives.
#5 The brand name is worth something
I won’t sit here and pretend that Randall is not getting some good sales off of their name alone.
Do I blame that for that? Not one bit. They have paid their dues in the knife market with some well-made units so they deserve to enjoy all the benefits that come with that.
If you plan on collecting and selling later, I believe that these knives should still fetch a good sum.
Likewise, they are battle-tested knives that have been used by some of the most extreme operators. These users claimed that the knives stood up against all their tests, so I am sure you see why the company can be so proud of its work and want to earn from its brilliance too.
Bring out a normal knife and you might not turn any head but your Randall in a nice glass case would attract a lot of attention to itself.
#6 Randall knives are made in the USA
Anything at all that is made in the USA is sure to cost even a little bit more than if they were made abroad.
Some buyers see this as such a bad thing, citing reasons that the US-made products should have lower prices since they don’t require overseas shipping nor have import taxes paid on them. I used to think that too, but there is a lot that you are not looking at here.
- Quality labor – The USA is better than most Asian countries in the rate/ wages paid for labor. This allows manufacturers to attract better-skilled labor than they would if they moved their production overseas. Thus, you are paying for the higher-skilled labor that went into the production too.
- Improved quality control – I see some products that were shipped from overseas and it’s almost like there was no quality control around the production at all. Of course, that happens in the US sometimes too, but you would agree that the chances of that happening are very low.
- High-quality materials – Production laws in the US frown upon manufacturing products with sub-standard materials. Thus, manufacturers strive to get that ‘made in USA’ stamp by using the best materials they can find for the price range. Wouldn’t you rather pay a little extra for a tested, tried, and trusted material?
- Taxes, costs, and other overheads – I won’t pretend to be a financial expert here by breaking down other overhead costs that these companies get in the USA. Still, you know that they have to pay some taxes and incur some running costs that they would not have gotten elsewhere. To bring you the quality, though, those dues must be paid.
I’m sure there are a few reasons more why things made in the USA could cost on the higher side. The pointers above are a good place to start from, though.
Do You Have to Wait Years to Get a Randall Knife?
Take a look at the official Randall website and you’ll see that the average waiting time for a knife is in the space of 5 years. To make sure everyone gets one, they have even limited the number of orders to one knife order per household every three months.
This long wait time is a combination of:
- Having a backlog of orders from dealers that they are trying to fulfill;
- Hand-forging each knife which doesn’t allow for mass production;
- Maintaining only a handful of quality craftsmen who know what they are doing; and
- Possible customizations that you may want on the blade.
So, if you were willing to pick just about any Randall knife at all, you can call them up today and they’ll have your knife shipping out today or tomorrow.
When you start customizing the kind of blade finish, core steel, handle material, and catalog choice, though, you might have to wait that long to have a bladesmith get to making that blade for you.
Should You Buy a Randall Knife?
This is something you have to decide on your own.
I think that Randall knives look good. I believe that they feel just right when you hold them. I also know that they are an American brand with high attention to detail and quality behind their craft.
However, you might not see the justification behind paying that much for a knife, and that is not a bad thing.
There might be a time in the future when you see what you have been missing out on and place an order for your own. You might also never feel the need to buy a Randall, even if you are a knife collector.
As I said, these things boil down to personal choices and I wouldn’t let anyone sweat you too much on it. If I could offer you any piece of advice, though, it would be to make friends with a Randall dealer or decide fast, so that your waiting time is possibly reduced if you ever choose to get one.