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Jacknola 04-06-2013 06:28 PM

Vintage Model 14's

I?ve been following the sheath discussion on another board. Some collectors seem pretty certain that they have answers about who, when, for what sheaths were acquired, and those fall into reasonably definable time periods. Others acknowledge unknowns. Certainly there are some mysteries - hence the magic-Randall.

So, I thought I would post this. I was the under bidder for the above green Tenite 14 in an on-line auction ? still kick myself for trying to cheap it. Nice knife? but the sheath was even more interesting. At first glance, one would think it a custom made sheath. BUT?. upon further thought, it is very simple-basic in construction, and usually custom sheaths are ? well ? ?custom.? The maker?s stamp is from a well-known holster manufacturer who invented the James Bond quick access shoulder holster.

I have some difficulty envisioning this firm taking the trouble to make a one-off, very basic replacement sheath for one knife for one person, a sheath no better than the Randall supplied article. If this was a replacement, it would probably have been easier to acquire a new one from Randall. That said, this sheath looks to be well and carefully made of excellent materials. The leather is very beautiful with color and patina that has survived obvious usage. Thoughts?

Comment: Imagine how boring collecting or appreciating old Randall knives would be if they had been made with serial numbers, matched with dates, people with documented sheaths and stones. How boring?!

Jacknola 04-07-2013 12:53 PM

Berns-Martin exact fit
Being an engineer, I cannot help micro analyzing things, and as I continue to examine the photos of this sheath, I become more impressed. At first glance, the offset of the rivets just above the toe of the sheath looks to be careless. But that would run counter to the overall construction. So I constructed an overlay to see what was going on.

Voila ? clarity. Because of the different angle of convergence of the blade to the point, vs the gradation of the clip to the point, to insure the bottom rivets are equidistant from the metal, you have to offset them. If you did not, the guard would not sit exactly square to the throat. This is such a minute issue that the standard Randall sheaths did not bother with it. Yet a manufacturer of exact-fit pistol shoulder holsters would probably do this as a matter of course.

To me, this is further evidence that this sheath was made specifically for the shape of this model 14 blade by someone who was quite meticulous. It was probably - or at least possibly - not careless at all. Interesting.

Jacknola 04-10-2013 09:00 PM

Don?t want to beat this topic to death, but curious-er and curious-er.

Looking at the photos, there are some interesting things to learn about the sheath manufacturer. From search information: ?Berns-Martin was originally located in Calhoun City, Miss. When it was sold it was moved to the new owner's hometown of Elberton, GA, so the late B-M rigs are so marked. A friend had a Berns-Martin catalog dated 1960 which listed Mississippi as the location; the earliest list for Elberton is dated 1963."

Here are examples of the stamp which changed when the company was moved.

Wait? there?s more. There is a name and USMC serial number on the knife, # 1570906.
USMC Numbers 1,000,000 to 1,699,999 were issued between 1943 and 1953. This means the owner probably joined the USMC during the Korean War. So, If the knife and sheath are contemporaries, then the latest date of the purchase of the knife would be very early 1960s (pre-macarta?), and could be considerably earlier.

I cannot find a definitive history of Berns-Martin. Apparently the company was founded in about 1935. It was famous for holsters. Apparently Martin did make an experimental knife sheath for the Sykes-Fairbarn knife in the late 1930s(?) As best I can determine, the company was sold about 19 60-61, and the new owner moved it to Elberta, Georgia. At some point, (1970s?) an advertisement appeared for ?Berns-Martin knives,? but no one has ever seen such a knife. I can?t find a reference for Berns-Martin after about 1975.

This sheath is considerably different from all Randall sheaths... for one thing, it is made be secured to a military web belt. It has no slot or loop to fasten to a regular belt. It has no stone pouch, and the reverse construction is different. It does have the riveting that seemed to be normal for sheaths in the 1950s-early 60s. That said... .

Let?s speculate, and I do mean SPECULATE... The knife and sheath could well be contemporaries. Could it be that the sheath was made to fit a template and sent as an example to Randall...and that example was sold with this knife, Mr. Randall being a frugal person wanting to use what he had?

Jacknola 11-27-2014 12:16 PM

Instead of starting a new line just to show another vintage Model 14 I recently acquired, I thought I would just append it to this one. I'll ask Moosehead to change the title to "Vintage Model 14s." I would suggest we use this line to post only old model 14 be the judge of "old."

I bought this one on line recently. Pictures were bad and it was something of a gamble. However, when the knife arrived, I was very pleasantly surprised. The sheath is a split-back that has been dyed black, but the knife has apparently never been sharpened. The whole package appears unused despite some dings in the front of the sheath. Even the leather ties look original. Supposedly it was found in a trunk in an estate sale package (how often have we heard that).

There is a number crudely placed on the guard. It is most likely a service number, 16418065. This would be a regular army (RA prefix) from mid-Korea time issued to a soldier from Illinois, Wisconsin or Michigan. I have not yet been able to find who this soldier was.

I would guess this is mid '60s because of the filled handle screw hole and the sheath and the type 1 stamp on the blade (pre-early 1966). The two outliers are the yellow-paint stone and the color of the Micarta. It doesn't show the brownish tinge that some other early "black" Micarta handles exhibited.

I've wondered... why were split-back sheaths made, and who started them? I suspect Moore made the first split back, Heiser copied them, then Johnson until he realized that it took a lot more effort to make split-backs. I also suspect the split-back was invented because of a shortage in material, leather, or because by using several small pieces rather than a long piece, you were able to use more of the leather sheet. Whatever.

Moosehead 11-27-2014 04:31 PM


I'll ask Moosehead to change the title to "Vintage Model 14s."
Consider it done, Jack!



Jacknola 03-04-2016 05:34 PM

I concentrate on the Vietnam era for the Randall knives I've accumulated. Why? I carried a Model 14 Solingen stainless in Vietnam during my combat tour with 5th Special Forces in 1967-68. My twin brother, also Special Forces, carried two different model 14s during his two tours. interest in Randalls lies in that 1961-1973 period... I should note that I'm also taken with knives made a few years earlier than 1961, because the 1950s era knives were frequently carried in Vietnam.

I have three Vietnam era model 14s that I like a lot. But until this week, I couldn't find a Vietnam era model 14 with teeth that was obtainable. For several years I've watched on-line sites and no Vietnam era teethed model 14s were offered. They are apparently not common.

The reason I wanted to fill that hole in the "collection" is this: my twin brother lost his model 14-teethed in Vietnam when his belt broke while riding an extraction Maguire rig in 1968. He almost fell 2,000 ft. into the jungle. He saved himself but his prized teethed model 14 which he had originally acquired in mid-1966 and carried during his first tour in '66-'67, fell away.

Randall immediately shipped him a replacement Solingen stainless direct to Vietnam (I'll post some pictures of that knife later... it has performed ably in conflicts from Vietnam to Afghanistan around the world for almost 50 years). He once told me he thought he remembered that Randall sent the replacement Solingen free of charge given his Special Forces service...or perhaps with promise of later payment given his location outback Vietnam. In any case, I've been on the lookout for a Vietnam era 14-teethed model to remember the first Randall carried by either of us in Vietnam.

Behold, on E-bay this past week, a candidate that I won at an unreasonably reasonable price. I just received it and honestly it is completely unused ... never seen the like ... as if it just came out of the box. Hardly a scratch even on the sheath. I estimate its date at about 1968 give or take 2, because of the separate S, the shape of the guard, etc. Anyway, here it is.

I know... seen one Vietnam era model 14, and you've seen them all. Well, I like them. In future I will use this line to post some (more-better) pictures of my modest Vietnam era model 14s. Will also post my brother's celebrated 50-years-in-the-front-lines Solingen, and some pictures of us with Randalls in Vietnam. After all, they are "vintage model 14s." Guess I am "vintage" now too.

Wouldn't mind seeing what others have in the "vintage model-14" category either.

BoBlade 03-05-2016 03:38 AM

Beautiful knife, Jack. Congratulations!

cut_n_run 03-05-2016 01:29 PM


Originally Posted by Jacknola (Post 485337)
Wouldn't mind seeing what others have in the "vintage model-14" category either.

I did two tours over there (Navy) between early '64 and late '66. I bought my low-S Model 14 at that time. (Shown with it is my Solingen Model 15, which I bought a little later than the 14.)


cut_n_run 03-05-2016 02:11 PM

(clearer pict

Jacknola 03-05-2016 07:56 PM

Steve's pictures of his knife (above post) have disappeared. I think this is the knife he posted.

Steve, great knife, low S, brown Micarta with filled hole, and with history. Do you still have the sheath? Thinking back 50 years, we passed a catalog around the barracks, wrote a letter to Randall, sent money. We couldnt just dial a phone back then,long distance cost money. How did you become aware of RMK in the Navy? How did you decide on a Model 14, and order it, and where was it delivered? Really enjoyed seeing your 14.

cut_n_run 03-06-2016 01:48 PM

Thanks, Jack. Will try to answer your questions one at a time?

Do you still have the sheath?
Sheath was stored (knife in it) along with uniforms & medals in basement of former home in New England. Flooding rotted uniforms and sheaths. Eventually, Greg Gutcher made me a duplicate of a riveted sheath (pic-ture), and years ago I bought a period riveted sheath (picture) from Perry Miller.

Thinking back 50 years, we passed a catalog around the barracks, wrote a letter to Randall, sent money. We couldn?t just dial a phone back then, long distance costs money.
That?s pretty much what I experienced, except did it through a Randall dealer (story below).

How did you become aware of RMK in the Navy?
Became aware even before enlisting, when a friend wore the most beautiful hunting knife I had ever seen. I lat-er understood that it was a Model 11, and it easily outshone the ?ordinary? Buck knives and Case knives I had seen.

How did you decide on a Model 14?
If you remember the Randall catalog in the 60?s, Bo described the Model 14 as, ?This knife was designed to meet the demand for an almost indestructible all-purpose knife, though it is especially suited for combat and survival purposes.? (50 years later, the catalog uses the identical description.)

and [how did you] order it?
Ordered it by mail, from Randall dealer Dick van Sickle catalog (picture).

where was it delivered?
As best I can remember, it was delivered to me between deployments to Vietnam, while we were in home port San Diego.

The interesting thing about my purchasing of the Model 14 is that I really disliked the idea that handles were removable with screws (the tenite version), so waited until they were available epoxied (micarta). Had I bought the tenite version instead, it probably would have a much greater monetary value, even though a low-S brown filled handle knife is actually rarer!

Ta2bill 03-06-2016 04:30 PM

Fantastic knife AND story! I could read posts like this one all day! I have a ton of Model 14's in the safe, but my pics are too large for this format so I need to re-shoot some.

cut_n_run 03-06-2016 05:22 PM

Thanks! need to reshoot your pics--just resize them

Jacknola 03-06-2016 08:05 PM

Steve, your marvelous and simple account is one reason I asked for the story. People today sometimes don't realize what it took to buy a Randall in a pre-interstate highway, pre-mobile-cell phones, pay-phones, pre-internet, limited television, magazine dominated world.

Mr. Randall was a marketing genius who carefully cultivated the press, and understood the importance of word of mouth, catalogs passed around the military, good karma with his cherished clients. It would have been unimaginable for Mr. Randall to say to one of his customers something like "people like you are a dime a dozen and just come and go...". Yet that is what is encountered at times these days across a lot of society and what has taken the place of courtesy and respect.

Thanks for to story line.


Fantastic knife AND story! I could read posts like this one all day! I have a ton of Model 14's in the safe, but my pics are too large for this format so I need to re-shoot some
Bill, to re-size, right click the picture, click "open with", click "paint." Upper left is a button that is "resize." click that.... then click the little button that says "pixels." enter 650 in the upper pixel box... and picture will be resized to 650 pixels wide.. which is what I use on forums. Click "save as" and give your picture a different name, such as "picture-650," then save it. The original will still be there. Now you can post that in the forum.

I notice you use the picture feature internal with this site. If you open a personal account on Photobucket, or one of the on-line photo hosting sites, you can enter pictures anywhere anytime on line. It is easy.

Jacknola 03-06-2016 08:11 PM

This is an exact facsimile to the Solingen I carried in Vietnam in 1967-68... a knife I lost when a bag was stolen. This one is documented to Vietnam, 1968, airborne unit at that, and was then carried by a 1/75 Ranger, possibly in Granada (?). And its sheath is theatre dyed black, liquid shoe polish... just as I had done in Vietnam. I love it.

Of great interest is the sharpening stone. I have strong indication it is original to the knife. But it isn't the usual size.. it is 1-inch wide (rather than .875-in) and only .25-inch thick (rather than .375-inch)... yet fits the pocket.

There is a reason I put a photo of all of these knives showing the shape of the hilt. The shape changed at the end of the Vietnam era, 1972-73. This is something that has not been generally commented on.

This is part of a letter that documented this knife.

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