In 1987 Darrel began making knives and the knife industry was forever changed for the better. His designs are not only artistry in motion but imagination come to life for those of us in love with cutting edge weapons. The first knife he ever made was a Butterfly patterned flipper.
His first knife sale was five years later in 1992 at a knife show in Cincinnati. It would become the catalyst for over two decades of designs that would set the knife world on fire and raise the stakes for other custom knife makers. In a sense he turned up the pressure and lit a couple of fires in the tactical folder industry. His knives soon garnered the attention of the U.S. Government resulting in a contract to make switchblades for our greatest warrior sentinels in the military.
Early on in Darrel’s journey he crossed paths with a legend in the knife industry, Jack Crider. Jack’s influence and close personal relationship, narrowed Darrel’s focus and led him to where he is today- at the top of the custom knife ladder.
Jack Crider was Randall Knives’ leading knife dealer. His brother was the foreman in the grinding room at Randall, so he knew what right looked like. At a show Jack happened to approach Darrel at his table and asked him if he had the gumption to make a “power blade”. At the time ninety percent of his work was in the fixed blade line. Taking too long to answer, Jack stated…”why don’t you take one of them Damascus billets and make me a power blade?!…this isn’t a request!”
It was then that the most prolific knife designer and tactical knife maker alive was on course to change the industry.
Most of Darrel’s knife making, until recently, was performed in his Ohio shop. Over the last decade the atmosphere in Ohio changed, becoming less like home and just politically unpleasant. The walls seemed to be closing in and he couldn’t quite put his finger on what had caused him to not produce a new knife design since 2007. It was rethinking a collaboration request for a knife, not unlike one on his drawing board from years back, that stoked the fires of ingenuity and determination and sealed his decision to move on. He realized that he was designing so many knives for other companies and individuals that he had lost some of his own independence. During this time he came to the conclusion that his not wanting to compete with the companies he was designing for was slowly chipping away at his desire to innovate. He was stagnate.
He amicably parted ways with a number of the companies and decided to head west in search of a place for his renaissance.
So he packed up the family, the shop, and moved to the great state of Texas. He has never looked back. The move has galvanized his determination to make the best knives in the industry. When asked why he chose Texas he always gives the same resounding answer, “FREEDOM”.
Of his three sons, Ian was the one that insisted he be a part of this rebirth. He saw the determination in his Father’s eyes and actions and knew something epic was about to happen. He wanted to be an integral part of the growth.
Once in Texas, the shop was setup, the team selected and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on state of the art equipment. Darrel’s background in applied engineering was getting ready to have a serious workout. And what a run it has been to this point so far. Unbelievably profound designs are already making their way from the drawing board to the packaging and shipping departments. The waiting list on certain popular knives is already approaching a year. And growing rapidly.
Darrel will still be making the full custom knives that we all know and respect. DDR will still be a separate company. Additionally, he’s gone from the drawing table to inception with the startup of DGT knives.
DGT stands for “DDR Go Tactical” and will usher in a line of superior mid-tech knives that will rival other so-called customs. The name was inspired by Darrel’s other websites; “Go Pens”, “Go Accessories”, “Go Knives”, …you get the picture.
This should be an exciting time for those of us that understand what we are getting when the package finally arrives from DDR, and now DGT. The quality will still be the finest in the industry, the innovation will continue to flow and the customer service will be without peer.
If you are still skeptical after spending time on this site here’s a little story from a recent blade show.
A young college student, on the last day of the Blade Show was seriously examining and flipping one of Darrel’s new Dominator knives. He looked at Darrel and very respectfully said, “There are a lot of $600 tactical knives in here why should I spend my money on yours, it is smooth as glass and has a bad-ass look…but?”
Not blinking an eye or skipping a beat Darrel replied, “Tell you what, give me your six hundred dollars, I’ll send you a knife, if you don’t like it send it back and I’ll refund your money. But I guarantee that once you have the one you want it would take a herd of elephants to pry it away from you!”
Three weeks later Darrel Ralph shipped the young man his prepaid knife, thirty days later he asked to be put on the waiting list for another.
No fairy tales here. Just the big bad wolf knocking out knives and taking your lunch basket.