08 December 2011

KA-BAR Knives - Get Yourself A Piece Of History

I was going to ask for one for Christmas, but I couldn't wait - so I just bought one. The USMC version - circa 1942. American Exceptionalism - Made in America. Some won't understand. Their knives are probably made in France. 

Our name dates back to the early 1900's from a fur trapper testimonial. He wrote that while trapping, his gun jammed leaving him with only his knife to kill a wounded bear that was attacking him. He thanked us for making the quality knife that helped him to kill a bear, but all that was legible was "K a bar". Honored by the testimonial, the company adopted the phrase KA-BAR as their trademark.

On December 9, 1942, after the start of World War II, KA-BAR submitted a knife to the United States Marine Corps in hopes that it would become general issue to that branch of the military. Working with the Marine Quartermaster Department the original design was revised and production began of an improved fighting and utility knife for the Marines. As the War escalated, the USMC KA-BAR knives became so well recognized for their quality and so abundant in number that "Kabar" became the name by which many referred to this knife pattern, regardless of whether the knife was manufactured at the actual KA-BAR facility.

The USMC KA-BAR was adopted by not only the Marines, but also the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Underwater Demolition Teams. Years after World War II, many KA-BAR knives were unofficially reactivated in the Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom conflicts.


13thBama said...

Hooyah! On your comment about being "made in France", it reminds me of the comment about buying a French military rifle. "Never been fired, and only dropped once!"

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

13B - funny!

Douglas Hill said...

Another edged weapon worth seeking is the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife, made by Wilkinson and unoffically known as the British Commando knife, issued to Commandos/SAS in WWII. While it is not American-made, it was used by the elite Marine Rangers in the Pacific Theater. The OSS ordered copies to be manufactured in America, but these proved to be disappointingly inferior to the Bri'ish product. I have the Wilkinson F-S and calf sheath that belonged to my deceased uncle, who was a Pacific Theater Marine.

The KA-BAR serves well for utilitarian purposes, where the F-S is "stiletto" in style- sleek, slim, perfectly balanced; basically useful only for killing adversaries.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Doug!

Douglas Hill said...

Sure thing, Rick! There's something about edged weapons that's always appealed to me- they're always "loaded", never a safety to fumble with and virtually always pleasing to the eye, unless they're some modern fantasy or tough-guy style.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of 1095 carbon steel blades that don't cost a fortune and can be relied upon to kill a b'ar or to open a can of beans.

Jim Cornelius


13thBama said...


The Fairbairn-Sykes is the knife that was also issued to the 1st Special Services Force (Devil's Brigade) and is represented in the U.S. Army's Special Operations Command badge. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Army_Special_Operations_Command)

I found one at a gun show, but did not have the expendable cash to pick it up.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hey Jim - good to hear from you! The KA-BAR's are very affordable and American made.

Douglas Hill said...

Thanks for that information, 13th. I was unaware of the Devil's Brigade's usage, and had forgotten about the F-S being used on the badge; it also appears on the Air Force Special Operations Command badge.

It's amazing to me the prices that reproductions bring, of both blades and firearms. It sounds like you found an original, but a friend send a link to me yesterday offering a number of flintlock kits, both pistol and long arm that competed in price with originals. Granted, you're not going turkey hunting with an original (or at least I'm not). I'd favor having both an original and a repro, but coming down to one or the other it would have to be the one with history. I picked up a UF&H M1942 bayonet in very good condition a few short years ago for a significantly less than the price of reproductions being sold today.

Apologies for the hijacking of your thread, Rick. For a solid, practical and affordable knife you can't beat a KA-BAR!!!

Harshit Gupta said...

The Kabar USMC knives are really tactical fixed blade knife perfect for outdoors survival trips.