Some of you guys may know us from WAYYYY back. Back before the internet. Back before SouthOrd Locksmith Tools. Back in the days of our paper catalogues with mail ordering, and advertisements in the back of Soldier of Fortune. For those of you who met us in recent decades, we weren’t always a manufacturer of locksmith tools…
Believe it or not, our company began in 1989 as Southern Ordnance (thus, the origin of “SouthOrd”). And it began with one item: brass knuckles. Our founder, Larry Newberry (click here for a tribute to his memory), aimed to have his brass knuckles be “the finest product of its kind”. The knuckles were cast in 8 oz. of marine-grade bronze, then polished fully to an ultra-smooth finished. The brass knucks were a quick success, and we soon introduced a lightweight version, aluminum knuckles, with the same concept: They had to be hard-as-nails, but smooth like butter.
Our original Brass and Aluminum Knuckles
With the success the brass and aluminum knuckles, the company began to expand the line of products that we carried, and with that expansion came The Southern Ordnance catalogue. Larry, who was a former police officer, had an interest in The Unique and in self-defense tools. So, our first catalogues were chock full of unique and ultra-cool self-defense products.
Catalogue Covers from Early Catalogues:
We offered Gentleman’s Sap Gloves, made from supple deerskin and six ounces of powdered lead sewn into the knuckles. We carried cowhide leather Slappers and Blackjacks, and steel expandable Police Batons.
Another signature product we had at the time, formulated to Larry’s specifications, was Venom-- Oleoresin Capsicum pepper gas combined with military tear gas, made this a formidable defense spray.
Knives were another passion of Larry’s, and our selection of quality knives includes some unique ones.
There was the “Guardfather”, an Italian-made, pen-sized “pocket protector”, where, when the pocket clip was pressed, a spring-loaded spike would extend from the end.
We carried a collection of beautiful, stiletto switchblades, imported from Italy, and finished with horn, wood or stag handles.
And we carried a ballistics knife, which could launch its spring-loaded blade up to 25 feet!
Knives and self-defense products were a big part of our origin, and we continued to carry them until recent years. Early into our origins, too, we began carrying locksmith tools. We offered lock pick sets, vehicle entry tools, pick guns, and other assorted tools, by the few locksmith tools manufacturers available at that time, like HPC and Majestic. Lock picks, jiggler and warded keys, and slim jims then were commonly manufactured from carbon spring steel, which is prone to rust. Lock picks had riveted handles. Electric picks were commonly made from a less durable, plastic construction. Larry saw the potential for improvement of locksmith tools on the market, and had a few ideas of his own...And our new course was set!
We'll pause our story here, and will pick it up again later. For now, here are a few other cool bits of gear that we carried, once upon a time. And if you haven't yet, read Larry's descriptions on the products, too -- They're as unique and interesting as the products themselves! 🙂