Southern Grind GranDaddy Knife

Southern Grind GranDaddy Knives

The Southern Grind GranDaddy knife is saving the environment—one blade at a time!

The Southern Grind GranDaddy walks the line between Bowie and machte, offering a lightweight, extremely functional cutting tool

Several weeks before a recent industry trade show, I received an invitation to Outdoor Channel’s Golden Moose Awards banquet. It mentioned that the scheduled entertainment was the Zac Brown Band. To be honest, I didn’t know who they were, so I asked my resident expert on pop culture, my 22-year-old daughter. She promptly informed me—in the proper condescending tone—that they’re one of the most popular country bands ever with a record-setting string of number-one hits and that she’s a big fan. That was good to hear—even though I’m not really a fan of country music. A month later, the show was in full swing and I was manning my post at the Spyderco booth when a group of guys walked up and started asking some very intelligent questions about knives. When I looked down at the group leader’s badge it was none other than Zac Brown.

Like any good father, I explained that my daughter was a fan and politely asked for an autograph. He responded by reaching into his bag, handing me a hefty fixed-blade knife and offering to autograph it for her. As I contemplated his offer, I assessed the knife and tested its balance with a few combative cutting patterns. Surprised at the impromptu demonstration and the big grin on my face, Brown suggested that I keep the knife instead. I gratefully accepted and found that I really liked it. In fact, I liked it so much I immediately planned on writing about it.

All Southern Grind GranDaddy knives are made from DIN 2003 steel reclaimed from lumber mill saw blades.

The knife in question is the Southern Grind GranDaddy—a large, Bowie-style fixed blade that walks the line between camp knife and machete. The original version of the knife was the brainchild of Rodney Shelton, a second-generation knifemaker and Zac Brown’s long-time close personal friend. When Shelton completed the first handmade version of the design, he showed it to Brown, who is an avid outdoorsman. Brown took an immediate liking to the design and began using it in the field. The more he used it, the more he liked it, and ultimately he approached Shelton with the idea of making it a production item. Shelton agreed and with the help of his son Scott—the third-generation of the family’s knifemaking legacy—he set up a facility to manufacture it in quantity.

The folks at Southern Grind took the GranDaddy to Camp Lejeune and allowed it to be tested by a group of Marines. Despite their best efforts, they couldn’t break it. Note that they all signed the blade

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  • Barry Campbell

    I’m glad I stumbled across this article tonight. It was neat to see the reference to Mr. Shelton and to see the picture of the knife that was taken to Camp Lejeune. See, I was lucky enough to have been introduced to Mr. Shelton over a year ago at a local gun show that he typically attends where he brings an assortment of his own knives. First and foremost, Rodney Shelton is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting who just happens to make one heck of a knife. I bought a small knife from him that weekend and then went back to see him a few months later. During my second visit with him, I couldn’t help but to notice this Bowie style knife on his table. I was immediately drawn to it as it had a great look to it and was really well balanced. Mr. Shelton went on to explain to me how this was the prototype knife that eventually became the Grandaddy featured in this article. I think he said that he made two or three of the prototypes and this was the first one. He also told me about the knife they took to Camp Lejune for testing which has to be the one that’s pictured in this article. And yes, I did buy the prototype knife that day; serial #Z1-P2011.

  • Harry Carlin

    I’m not surprised at the toughness of these blades, Saw-steel is a long time favourite of mine for knife making, and being a mill worker from wayback I can tell you, saw steel is TOUGH!!

    I’m hoping the helo those marines threw this knife at , wasn’t one of OURS?? 🙂