Former Army Ranger Justin Gingrich designs knives. (COURTESY PHOTO)
Justin Gingrich found the ultimate way to translate his military experience into a civilian commodity: become a knife maker.
The former Army Ranger and staff sergeant took a job designing knives for the American Tomahawk Company after his enlistment, and then decided to branch out on his own, launching Ranger Knives.
His designs are so successful, they've even made their way onto the silver screen, making a cameo appearance in "The Hurt Locker."
"I started my own company because I wanted to see the average Joe be able to get good gear," Gingrich says. "At the time, it is very hard for a Joe to afford a good blade — so Ranger Knives was born."
Based in Blue Earth, Minn., his blades are top quality and cost $45 to $150; each design is military inspired.
"It comes from what I would want from a blade for the jobs I used to do in the military," he says.
He also offers practical blades — made of titanium, steel, carbon fiber or stainless steel — for civilian use, though he only produces about 150 custom knives a year. He has since merged with Ontario Knife Company, which mass-produces some of his designs.
Gingrich says he really doesn't have a signature style. Instead, his goal is quality.
"I get accused of over-building them all the time," he said. "The Ranger Knives are pretty much bombproof."