Grayman Custom Knives Suenami and Mega Pounder


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

January 11th, 2010




I am not a “knife guy”. I have friends who get all starry-eyed and giggly like school girls over a beautiful custom knife. Many custom knife makers create what can be better described as works of art with an edge than by calling the product a “knife”.  While they use quality steel, they put more emphasis on beauty than on utility. Many custom knives never see use. The owner does not want to scratch the pretty finish. The knife maker might spend hours polishing the blade to a mirror finish. That is all well and good, if that is your thing. It is not mine at all.

When I go to a large gun show like the Wanenmacher’s show in Tulsa, I walk past thousands of custom knives, only glancing at the table long enough to be sure that there are no guns lying there among the blades.  I use knives, and carry one everyday. To me, knives are tools, to be used and abused if necessary, but not to be placed in a position of greatness like a gun. I love guns. I use knives.

Usually, the knife in my pocket is a four-inch folder. I like for it to have an easy-open feature for one-handed use, and a locking blade. I like carbon steel, and prefer the qualities of a carbon blade to that of stainless. Stainless is good, but the last stainless knife that I carried everyday was a Buck Model 110 that I had back in high school. That thing was hard to sharpen, and hard to keep sharp. I much preferred the easy sharpening qualities of a good carbon steel Schrade or Case back then, but I liked the locking blade, so I carried that Buck until the locking feature was broken.

For my hunting knives (which is a misnomer, as I do not hunt with the knife, as it is there to go to work after the hunt is completed),  I like a fixed-blade skinner/cutter like the Cold Steel Carbon V Hunter. Mine has served me well. Nothing fancy, just a good steel blade with a comfortable handle.

I have relayed all the above information to assure the reader that I am in no way qualified to judge a custom knife show, and would have no interest at all in doing so. Usually, custom knife shows are beauty contests for knives, much like a beauty contest for women. The winner of the Miss America contest, while easy to look at, probably would not make the ideal wife. Same thing with a beautiful custom knife. What is pretty lying upon the mirrored display table might not be the best tool in the field, and that brings us full-circle to the fact that a knife is a tool. Much like a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, or other tool, I like the tool for the job that it does, and do not desire a long-term spiritual relationship with my knife. It is there to serve me, do its job, and be handy when needed. Also, I use a knife as only a knife; to cut something that I need to cut. For cutting trees, I have three chainsaws and two axes. I have hammers for hammering, shovels for digging, and pry bars for prying. I have plenty of tools, but there are others who do not.

The others who do not have a shed full of tools at their immediate disposal are those men and women that we as a nation send to foreign lands to stand in the gap for us against those who wish to destroy our way of life, our freedom, and our nation. Those soldiers and Marines are often times left with nothing at their disposal other than what they can carry with them through jungles, deserts, mountains, and villages. To them, their knife has to serve as a weapon, and also as a tool for digging, prying, beating, chopping, hammering, slicing, and scratching their way through tough terrain. I talk to a lot of soldiers. I live about twenty miles from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, a great deal of which is in Tennessee. Ft. Campbell is the home of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). It is also home to many special operations type soldiers, with units of the 5th group, 160th, and other sneaky types based there, as well as many Army Rangers. Often times, these soldiers are dropped by helicopter in tough terrain, and are left to use whatever they have available. They tell me that one of the most important tools they have is their knife. Seldom if ever used as a fighting tool, it is used constantly as a do-everything hand tool, having to serve the role of axe, pry bar, hammer, and shovel just about everyday, and that brings us, thankfully, to the subject of this piece; Grayman knives.

Mike Grayman got into building knives out of necessity. He and his friends needed knives that could stand up to heavy use without breaking. Mike tells me that for the first four years that he was making knives, they all went to military or law enforcement folks, and civilian contractors doing military type work. Today, they are available to everyone, but military types get priority if supplies are short.

I usually do not review knives, though I get many requests to do so. I have done maybe three in the almost ten years that I have been reviewing firearms on, out of the 600 or so reviews that I have written. However, I am impressed by Mike and his knives. He builds his knives to be, above all else, tough and durable. It doesn’t matter how pretty a knife is if it breaks in half while you are thousands of miles from the nearest hardware store, and that knife is the only tool available. The two knives shown here are both built out of 1095 carbon steel, a full quarter of an inch thick. This gives the knives enough heft to be useful for chopping and slicing, and enough strength for prying and beating. The shorter knife shown here is called the Suenami, named in honor of Mike’s wife, Sue. It has a five inch blade which is shaped for general purpose cutting, with enough belly to make it a good skinner as well. The nine inch knife shown is the Mega Pounder, and has the optional saw teeth on the back of the blade to add to its utility. Both knives carry the full thickness all the way through to the pommel, which has a lanyard hole. The Mega Pounder has a flat pommel so that it can be hammered into something, if the need arises. The Mega Pounder is well-balanced, and swinging it, it has plenty of heft for a good follow-through, and can serve well as a machete, in addition to its obvious utility as a fighting weapon. Both knives wear  durable Micarta handles; smooth on the Suenami and textured on the Mega Pounder, in what Mike calls their Gator Grip. Both are easy and comfortable to hold, but I prefer the added texture of the Gator Grip myself, and it is available on any Grayman knife.

The blades on these two knives are heavy duty and ground in a double-bevel. The edge is not a high-polish fine edge as seen on most custom and mass-produced knives, but has a bit of a coarseness to it. Some folks mistakenly take this for a crude edge, but it is not. For several years, I sharpened the knives for a local butcher, and soon found that a coarser edge cut meat much better than a very fine edge. It has a bit of a microscopic “tooth” to it, and those miniscule teeth slice through meat and bone much better than a highly refined edge. For lack of a better term, these Grayman knives have teeth. For cutting things that are tough to cut, a coarser edge works best. For shaving and such silliness, a refined edge is better, but I never could understand why a man would want to get up every morning and scrape the hair off his face. If you must shave, use a different blade for that; but for cutting skin, meat, bone, wood, paper, cardboard, rope, or anything else, it is best to have an edge with a bit of tooth to it.

The Grayman knives are coated with GunKote to protect from corrosion. They also have a Cordura sheath that is lined with a hard Kydex insert, and the sheath is MOLLE compatible. It can be worn on a belt, or strapped to a soldier’s harness or pack.

Grayman knives are made in the USA from US steel. They have a forever warranty. If it breaks, it will be replaced or repaired. If you buy one and don’t like it, you can get a refund.

If you want a highly-polished pearl-handled beauty of a knife that can double as a make-up mirror, look elsewhere. If you want a tough, durable cutting tool that will hold up under the worst conditions, anywhere in the world, have a close look at a Grayman.

For more information and to place an order, go to

Jeff Quinn

The Suenami.

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Grayman Custom Knives Mega Pounder (top) and Suenami (bottom).



Gator Grip.



Kydex-lined Cordura sheath.



The Mega Pounder.