Zac’s Got Yer Back!

Zac Brown’s Southern Grind Specializes In Homegrown Slice.

You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the popular country group known as the Zac Brown Band. With millions of album sales under his belt, Georgia native and Grammy award winner Zac Brown has been keeping the hits coming for over 10 years now. But there’s a lot more to this popular artist than meets the ear. For instance, did you know Zac Brown owns a knife company, and a very popular one at that?

I had a hard time tracking down anyone with a title at Zac Brown’s cutlery company, Southern Grind. In a humble Southern way, they’re more interested in making knives rather than worrying about who’s called what. I did get to talk with Southern Grind team member Mike Trull and asked him about the ins and outs of Brown’s hot, up-and-coming endeavor into the world of knives.

“Zac has always been a knife enthusiast and interested in their design and production processes,” Mike informs. “In 2009, he created Southern Grind to be representative of what he believes knives should be — ruggedly dependable and highly functional, born from state of the art technology and second to none quality. We design everything in-house and Zac is fully involved in all levels of design work. The result is an ever-growing line of products all knife enthusiasts would proudly wield, Zac included.”

Located in Peachtree City, Ga., Southern Grind has eight employees with a heap of experience and a passion for making knives. “We design everything in-house, as a team,” Trull tells us. “Our employees have no previous background in knife production, but we feel like it gives us an advantage. At Southern Grind, we like to say we’re not just making knives, we’re making quality products built to last … and they just happen to be knives! So, by starting with a staff having an extensive background in overall design, engineering and/or CNC machining, we’ve been able to take those base skills and gear them toward knife creation. And because our team had never worked with a knife manufacturer before, they learned the Southern Grind method from the very beginning.”


GranDaddy Machete


Bad Monkey Drop Point

One For All

When I first ran across Southern Grind at the Blade Show in Atlanta, Ga., a couple of years ago, I had no doubt this was a spirited group. The booth felt more like a hunting camp and there was much “hometown” feel and laughter going on as business. These folks like what they do.

It’s hard to pigeon-hole Southern Grind’s knives into any particular category, or as Trull puts it, “We focus on creating everyday, hard-use, quality tools — so our products are really for everyone. We like to say our knives are designed to excel in the front lines, tree lines and grocery lines.”

At the heart of the company’s line are two basic knives: a folder and fixed blade. According to Mike, “Our most popular models are our Bad Monkey folders with our signature modified Tanto tip.” In all, there are eight Bad Monkeys to choose from.

The Bad Monkey itself is a nice handful of folding knife, 5.25″ in handle length with 3.875″ to 4″ blades, depending on the model. The blade rolls out via a thumb stud or by the patented Emerson Wave — which allows the blade to catch a ride on the lip of your pants pocket. Blades are offered up in a flat grind for the Tanto with hollow or flat grind options for the drop points.

Optional finishes can be had in tumbled satin or Cerakote armor black. Titanium liners keep the Bad Monkey’s weight in check and a Michael Walker style liner-lock makes for positive blade lock. Top-shelf “twill-weave” carbon fiber handle scales further lighten the weight and a nifty “stubby” pocket clip rounds out the equation.

Southern Grind only offers one fixed blade, but it’s a biggun’. The GranDaddy Machete is 16.8″ of serious full tang whackin’ — 5.75″ of it consists of a comfortable black Micarta handle to make the long day shorter. The GranDaddy’s Iron Maiden trailing point blade is made of carbon steel from reclaimed sawmill blades. Carbon steel does require a bit more maintenance but you’ll appreciate its ease of field sharpening without the need for a fancy diamond sharpener. A file, a whetstone or — in a pinch — a rock will do just fine. Adding to the down-home feel of the GranDaddy is a coarse, textured patina, imparting the loving, lived-in look you find on old-time, well-used pocketknives and fixed blades.

Bad Monkey folders start at around $250 while the GranDaddy machete will run you $150.


Bad Monkey Drop Point


GranDaddy Machete


Bad Monkey Tanto

Zac Gives Back

Zac Brown also has entrepreneurial interests in other areas of business. “In addition to Southern Grind,” Mike relates, “Zac has also developed the following properties: Southern Hide (a leather production shop designing and producing — by hand — official Zac Brown Band merchandise), Lucy Justice Goods (a full-production merchandising and design shop developing and producing goods for Zac Brown Band and Southern Ground Artists, as well as other external clients) and Southern Ground Social Club (a restaurant and listening room in Senoia, Ga.).

“Moreover, his Southern Ground Amphitheatre, located in Fayetteville, Ga., hosts premiere acts. The very successful Southern Ground Music & Food Festival is also Zac’s brainchild.”

But, according to Mike, “Zac’s passion project is Camp Southern Ground. Currently in development, Camp Southern Ground will offer children with different backgrounds and diverse abilities an opportunity to learn and grow through customized programs provided in a positive, healthy and organic environment.”

Meanwhile, Southern Grind has plans to build on their line of knives with new offerings in 2014, including a second generation Bad Monkey and a new GranDaddy G2. “Overall, our goal is to continue to grow, develop new products and become a serious competitor in the US knife industry,” says Mike. “More specifically, we plan to eventually produce all categories of knives from large and small folders and fixed blades to lines of kitchen cutlery, multi-tools, throwing axes and more.” Looks like Zac’s gonna have your back for years to come!
By Pat Covert
Photos: Chuck Pittman, Inc.

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