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.
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