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American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2011 - Page 65
WORLD CLASS! Pat CoveRt PHotoS: CHuCK Pittman, inC. ith his constant smile and casual conservative dress, at first glance Jim Hammond could be easily mistaken for a banker or businessman in a small rural Southern town, just don’t tell that to the spec ops guys who visit his shop or wield his wicked slicing machines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hammond may be a Southern boy, but his fighting knives are world class. A native son of sleepy Arab, Ala., Hammond is better known outside his hometown by members of elite special operations groups such as the US military’s Navy Seals and Army Special Forces. Jim’s path to becoming a knifemaker is an interesting one. He grew up in Arab and though he’s traveled in over twenty-four countries, he only left town when it came time to study at the college of his choice. The chance discovery of a handmade knife in a little sporting goods shop would change his life forever. Jim tells us, “Although I had enjoyed knives my entire life, in WWW.AMERICAnhAnDGUnnER.COM SmaLL toWn W and functional excellence in the knife, and that was my turning point as far as custom knives were concerned.” Inspired by Wilber’s hunting knife, Hammond decided to cast his college degree to the wind and make knives for a living. “You can imagine the reaction of coming home after spending four years of out-of-state tuition and announcing to my folks that I wanted to make knives!” says Jim. “During early 1977, I visited with Bill a couple of times and bought some basic equipment from him. He shared various tips on making fixed blades, though I never did any actual ‘hands on’ training with him. Not knowing if I could actually make a knife or not, I completed my first custom piece on October 1, 1977.” 1976 during my senior year at Clemson University, I went to buy a good hunting knife for the outdoors. The guy showed me a custom knife made for one of the coaches there at Clemson by W.C. Wilber of Spartanburg, S.C. I was blown away by the fine craftsmanship The Tactical Path Though inspired by a hunting knife, after a few years of getting his feet wet Jim chose to take the tactical path for his own wares. The knifemaker tells Handgunner, “My focus since 1981 Continued on page 86 65