Steve Shackleford Blog

Veterans’ Knives for Veterans Day

Case V-42 dagger.

The classic Case V-42 with thumbprint ricasso. (SharpByCoop image)

World War II Mark 1's.

Two Mark 1’s, one by Pal (top) and Robeson (bottom).

In honor of Veterans Day, here are a few of the veterans’ knives that have seen action over the past century in the service of our country:

•U.S.N. Mark 2/U.S.M.C. fighting-utility knife: Known to many simply as a KA-BAR or kabar, it was made during World War II not only by Union Cutlery/KA-BAR but also, among others, Pal, Case, Camillus, Utica, Conetta and Robeson Shuredge. The iconic picture of it on the hips of U.S. Marines on the black sands of Iwo Jima tells it all—it was there and so were the Marines, who, by the way, are also celebrating their 240th anniversary. Semper Fidelis!;

•U.S. Mark I Trench Knife: It has all the trimmings: skull crusher, dagger blade, and the four finger holes in the knuckle guard. It reeks of Doughboys, Over There and Jimmy Cagney’s The Fighting 69th;

•Randall Model #1-8: WIth its stacked-leather grip and flowing blade, slightly dropped handle, double guard and narrow tang opening into a magnificently ground clip-point blade, the Model 1 has some of the most beautiful lines of any knife ever made;

KA-BAR Mark 2's.

Two Mark 2’s stamped “KA-BAR.”

•Case V-42: Classic skull crusher, cylindrical/swell-center handle, double guard, dagger blade and the clincher, the thumbprint indentation iwth grooved lines on the ricasso alone would guarantee the V-42 a place in any pantheon of military knives;

•Gerber Mark II: The one with the “cat-tongue” handle—so-called because of the feel of the grip created by spraying molten stainless steel onto the aluminum—and the wasp-waisted blade is a favorite from the Vietnam War;

•SOG Recon: The “twin-peak” blade spine readily identifies this military classic from the Vietnam War. “SOG” comprises the last three letters in the MACV-SOG acronym, the seven which stand for Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group;

•Ulster Mountain Pocketknife: These utlilitarian pocketknives reportedly were issued to the First Special Service Force during World War II and later to the troops of the 11th Mountain Division.

Marines at Iwo.

U.S. Marines land at Iwo Jima, their U.S.N. Mark 2’s/Ka-Bar fighting/utility knives at their sides.

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