Enter the Grizz: Grizzly Forge’s Lucas O’Hara on Business and Life

December 30, 2021Michael R. Shea
lucas ohara grizzly forge

Lucas O’Hara of Grizzly Forge. Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company.

After seven and a half years in the US Army, including a tour as a sniper with the 3rd Infantry Division and a post in the color guard at Arlington National Cemetery, Lucas O’Hara, now of Grizzly Forge, transitioned out of the military into what he calls “the same old sob story.” In other words, the transition did not go well.

He bounced at clubs around Atlanta, his hometown; pulled private security for — as he’d later find out — “a Wall Street scammer”; worked as an overseas contractor in Kuwait; and went boom-and-bust financially, mentally, and emotionally several times over.

Then, at a particularly low point, he walked into Goat n Hammer in Atlanta to take a $120 knife-making class. The rest is history.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

lucas ohara grizzly forge
When O’Hara started making knives, he’d make two a week; now he’s making as many as 10. Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company.

COD: What drew you to knife making?

LO: At that time, I felt like I had failed as a father, a husband, at everything. I took the blacksmithing class, and it made everything in my life — the noise in my head — go away. I could focus on this one moment, making a knife, like a moment of Zen. Driving does that for me too. And now archery. I wanted more of it, so I chased knife making.

COD: When did you realize it could be a career?

LO: I knew the Black Rifle Coffee Company guys, and CEO Evan Hafer called with an idea for a bag opener. I came up with five designs, forged them out, and had them to him in an hour. He liked one of them and wanted 50. There was money in my account two hours later. One of our friends literally loaned us money to get the water back on at our house — $100. We didn’t even have that, and this money showed up from Black Rifle. It took me four or five weeks to make the first bag openers, and when Evan got them, he called and said, “Hey, I want 250 more. Can you do it in two weeks?” I said yes, and once I commit, I’m committed. It forced me to create a process, and once I had my process, that’s when it took off.

lucas ohara grizzly forge
The Arctic Camper knife from Grizzly Forge. Photo courtesy of @grizzly_forge/Instagram.

COD: It seems as if, over time, your style has changed — become more refined, more unique.

LO: For a long time, I was doing custom orders that I didn’t connect with. I was doing anything and everything for a check. After the bag openers, I was like, “I’m only going to make what I love.” Once I started that, people started buying them up, and I learned to speed up my process without losing quality. Now, on average, I do about eight to 10 knives a week — up from two. That’s full handles, a sheath, everything. That’s working 12-hour days. I get to Black Rifle at about 0630, and I leave about 1900.

COD: You moved from Georgia to a forge at Black Rifle in Salt Lake City, right?

LO: Yes, and that’s been a huge blessing. There’s not one part of me that wants to turn this into a million-dollar business or have 70 employees or anything like that. I’m not driven financially at all. I’m driven by happiness, by being a good father, by taking care of my family, by helping other veterans. With this space, Evan and I are putting together a veterans project where we’ll bring in guys, and they’ll spend a week with me and make a badass knife. Hopefully, I can teach him enough skills to be successful with it, to find that happiness. ν

This article first appeared in the Summer 2021 edition of Coffee or Die’s print magazine.

Read Next: 7 of the Most Popular Knives in US Military History

Michael R. Shea
Michael R. Shea

Shea is the senior editor at Free Range American, plus an itinerant freelancer for USA Today and  Men’s Journal, among others. In July 2021, Gun Digest published his first book, Rimfire Revolution: A Complete Guide to Modern .22 Rifles. He holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. He once tanned a deer hide in an apartment bathroom. His wife was not pleased.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

Ouija Board aircraft carrier
Low-Tech ‘Ouija Boards’ Have Helped Aircraft Carriers Operate for Decades

Since the 1920s, a low-tech tabletop replica of an aircraft carrier’s flight deck has been an essential tool in coordinating air operations.

Army vs. Navy mascot
The Navy Goat vs. the Army Mule: Mascot Origin Stories

For nearly as long as the Army-Navy football rivalry, the academies’ hoofed mascots have stared each other down from the sidelines. Here are their stories.

ukraine long-range weapon
Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Has Developed a Long-Range Weapon, a Day After Strike Deep Inside Russia

Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel the weapon was produced by Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries but gave no other details.

7 of the Best Movie Ambush Scenes of All Time

Ambushes make for great action scenes. Here are seven of the best to ever grace the big screen.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, reportedly named Ju Ae, review the honor guard during their visit to the navy headquarter in North Korea
North Korea Launches Missile Toward Sea After US Flies Bomber During Drills

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch occurred Wednesday but gave no further details, such as how far the missile flew.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved