Local man wins History Channel’s competition show ‘Forged in Fire’
BLACKFOOT — A Blackfoot man will soon be $10,000 richer after becoming the most recent champion of the History Channel’s competition show “Forged in Fire.”
Brandon Williams, the owner of 4B Outdoors and co-owner of Grip-N-Pull Bullet Pullers, crushed the competition during a special edition of “Forged in Fire” season five, in which contestants were tasked with creating a signature slasher blade that would give Freddy Krueger nightmares.
“Creating a slasher blade was a perfect episode for me,” Williams said. “I forge these big blades all the time because you can do anything with them — you can chop a watermelon, cut firewood, slice bacon, or even kill a zombie if you need to.”
A competition-based reality TV show, “Forged in Fire” challenges four contestants to create from scratch a specific edged weapon, be it a knife, sword or, in this case, a slasher blade. The show follows a three-round elimination-style format.
Typically, the first round is three hours long. Participants are tasked with turning raw metal into a blade. The next round is also three hours and tasks the three remaining contestants with removing any impurities or issues with the blade and adding a handle to the weapon.
In the last round, the final two candidates are back at their home forges and are given five days to create their own version of a historically significant, and technically difficult, weapon.
On this specific episode, Williams and the other contestants first forged a slasher blade and the final round weapon was a soul-snatching scythe, popularized by the Grim Reaper himself.
Williams, who has been making knives for the past seven years and forging his own for the past two, made his national television debut on Wednesday, but the process of becoming a contestant on the show started long before that.
“I’ve been making knives longer than I knew about the show,” Williams said. “When I would go to gun shows, people would always ask me about the show, and so I looked it up and really enjoyed watching it.”
A few months later, Williams said he was on Facebook when he saw a casting call looking for contestants to appear on the next season. An email led to a Skype interview where Williams showed producers blades he had previously forged. He was then asked to provide a few pictures and videos of him forging his own blades.
“Within two weeks, it was Dec. 5 of last year actually, I received an email that said they showed me to the network and they loved me,” Williams said. “The next thing they said was, ‘Welcome to season five of ‘Forged in Fire.’”
It wasn’t until this July that Williams traveled to Stamford, Connecticut, to film and compete on the show. Williams said the eight-month wait was beneficial for him because it allowed him to practice forging under the time constraints that he would experience while competing on the show.
During the first round, Williams produced a machete-like blade from a type of metal called W1 round stock. Fortunately for Williams, a blade made by another contestant broke in half, allowing Williams to continue to the next round.
“W1 Round stock its commonly used in drill bits and they use that type of metal on the show a lot,” Williams said. “But I had never worked with W1 before I worked on the show. To me it’s just steel, though — you get it hot and work it with a hammer just like any other metal.”
In the next round, Williams had two cracks to fix in his blade, one of which he corrected by gouging a series of gaps into the blade to give it a thick serrated edge.
“I was mad when they told me there was cracks in the blade,” Williams said. “From the time you forge your blade there is a whole 24 hours until you present to the judges so I’m not sure what happened. But I feel I solved that problem pretty well because the added serrated edge made my blade look vicious, absolutely vicious.”
Williams went above and beyond in the last round, creating not one, but two Grim Reaper scythes, one that was presented in competition and another to add to his personal collection.
In the end, Williams scythe outlasted the competition, securing him $10,000 and the crown for the special edition of “Forged in Fire.”
“It’s been a blessing and it was such an amazing experience,” Williams said. “I feel like this is a really big deal for me. It was on the national stage, I did really well and it was a ton of fun. And I absolutely love that I could represent Blackfoot on a national level.”
Williams said he plans to use the $10,000 to pay some bills and will reinvest the remainder into his forging business. Since the show has aired Williams said his phone has been ringing off the hook with people wanting to order their own custom knives and replicas of the slasher blade he made on the show.
Being $10,000 richer is awesome, Williams said, but it’s nothing like being the “Forged in Fire” champion.
“I think the ‘Forged in Fire’ champion part is way more important,” Williams said. “The business it will bring will make $10,000 look pale in comparison — at least I hope so anyway.”