Brend's Breed!

Walther Brend Is Legend Among Tactical Knife Users
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Brend Chute Knife

Brend Tanto

Walter Brend is an unassuming sort, the type of person who, met on the street, could just as easily be an affable mild mannered insurance or widget salesman. But it would be a mistake to confuse Walter Brend with Walter Mitty. The legendary custom knifemaker builds some of the most wicked, and sought after, tactical knives on the planet. Before Brend embarked on his career as a custom knifemaker he was a meat cutter in Florida. Who would have better insights into how a knife cuts than someone who butchers meat for a living? His knifemaking grew out of his profession because he wasn’t pleased with the cutlery fare he had at hand and, by golly, Walter figured he could design and make knives for better butchering — and he did.

“Because of my hunting background from a child and up, and then a meat cutter for a large grocery chain and a meat packing company, I just couldn’t find a knife I wanted to use all the time. In my spare time I would visit the local gun shop,” Brend recounts. “I would talk about guns and, of course knives, because I owned several customs. They were great knives, but not exactly what I wanted. One day the gun shop owner told me to go home and make a knife or never mention it again. I asked my cousin, ‘How can I make a custom knife?’ I had no money and no equipment. He said I should just do it the old fashion way using steel and a draw file. I asked him, ‘How can I hold the file?’ He told me to place the file in my hand and tie a rag around the handle, then pull the file over the steel. Well, that is just exactly what I did.”

In November of 1980 Walter made his first knife — totally by hand — and he’s been making custom knives ever since. “I submitted my first knife to the Knifemakers Guild in 1981 and was accepted. It was my first year of making knives,” the knifemaker notes. “I went full time in 1984 with no other income, no retirement money, nothing but the talent God Almighty put in my hands.”

Brend moved his shop to South Carolina and honed his skills and within just a few years became a sought after custom knifemaker. In 2004 he moved to Vinemont, Alabama and set up a knifemaking shop. I had a chance to visit Walter at his Vinemont digs and can state emphatically he runs a spotless operation. Not a tool was out of place and everything was meticulously clean. His knives are the same way — finely finished and designed to perfection. In 2010 Walter and his wife moved to Ridge Spring, South Carolina where her mother was in failing health. Shortly after the passing of his wife’s mother in 2014 they packed up house and shop and moved to their current home in Etowah, TN where they live on a beautiful country spread.

Brend M-2

Brend Nephillim Slayer

A Breed Apart

Brend makes as finely a finished knife as you’d expect from a seasoned custom knifemaker but what separates him from the pack are his blades. Perhaps it’s an instinct nurtured during his meat cutting days or maybe an innate sixth sense, but Walter’s blade designs are otherworldly. He can take a standard blade style and smooze it to perfection with just the right curve, angle, or grind to astonish. What some would call Walter’s trademark is the “recurve” — an S-shaped blade edge that’s not only eye-appealing, but extremely effective.

“I prefer recurve blades because of my experience as a meat cutter and a hunter,” Brend explains. “In my experience the recurve blade gives me a quicker cutting edge advantage. The recurve blade works as well on either large or small knives.”

For starters, the recurve adds length to the cutting edge of a blade, giving it more cutting power. It works particularly well on draw cuts, the manner in which most slicing is done. When drawn toward the user the raised slope, or top of the S-curve, tends to dig into the subject rather than slide over it. This holds true on both normal slicing tasks as well as slashing moves associated with combat.

Regardless of blade style, Walter’s blades stand out for their flawlessly smooth lines and exquisite sculpting. He starts with beefy steel, often one-quarter inch thick or more, allowing him to obtain the deep grinds and grooves seen flowing throughout his blades. Regardless of style — whether it be an upswept trailing point, wicked Japanese tanto, or gracefully curved drop point — Brend’s interpretations stand out from the crowd.

Brend SID

Brend Tanto

Top Shelf Slice

Despite their opulent appearance Walter’s knives are meant to be used and many have seen duty and combat around the globe. This starts with topshelf steel and he prefers one in particular which has proven its worth over time. “My favorite steel is CPM 154,” Brend notes. “It’s tough, holds an excellent edge, and it’s highly stain resistant.” CPM 154 stainless steel is a proprietary version of the old 154CM dating back decades, but upgraded by Crucible Industries LLC specifically for custom and production knives today.

While Walter can make an art knife with the best of them he prefers rugged, hard-nosed canvas Micarta for his handles. Micarta, a phenolic resin used in various lay-ups, dates back to the early 1900s where it was eschewed for the more popular Bakelite for handles on kitchenware. It was rediscovered in the early 1990s during the infancy, and later torrential surge, of modern tactical knives. It remains a tour de force in reliable and durable handle materials today. That said, Brend offers a variety of handle materials more upscale such as exotic woods and deer stag.

In a world where screaming for attention is the norm, Walter Brend need not do so. His knives speak for themselves and a faithful following keeps him busy aplenty. The price range for his knives starts at $295.00 and goes up to $4,500 for high-end fare. Brend’s breed is a cut above and well worth the quality, finish and detail going into every one of his knives.

For more info: https://www.walterbrend.org, Ph: (256) 736-3520, email: [email protected]