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Is the KA-BAR USMC Fighting Knife the World’s Best?



Guest column by Eoin May

The KA-BAR USMC fighting knife has been the king of military knives since 1942. Multiple different companies have made the USMC fighting knife for the military, but the KA-BAR version has always been at the top—so much so that every knife that looks like it is perceived to be a KA-BAR.

The first version of the KA-BAR fighting knife was issued in the run-up to America’s entry into World War II, and was used in different branches of the military until 1995, when the military decided to switch to a synthetic handle. Not only was this knife utilized in hand-to-hand combat, but it was also used as a bayonet for close quarters combat during during that war. Soldiers would use their KA-BARs to pry open crates and as a spoon or fork to eat their meals while overseas. Paratroopers also utilized the blade as a throwing knife or to cut away from a failed chute. In 2012, the military stopped officially issuing the KA-BAR knife, but many troops still insist on the original KA-BAR as their personal fighting and EDC knife while deployed.

What makes the KA-BAR USMC knife so ideal? The blade is 7 inches, and the overall length is 12 inches. The knife has a blood groove to reduce weight and a spear point that improves strength and durability. The 1095 Cro-Van steel and thick spine gives the blade strength and reduces the chances of breaking or cracking. The handle is made from stacked leather so the knife can still be optimized in any weather condition and offer great grip even when the user is gloved. The handle also has a guard to aid in hand-to-hand combat.

The knife comes with a leather sheath, but you can also get a Kydex version if you buy it through KA-BAR. Users may find that the belt loop is too loose on the factory-sized leather sheath, so the knife flails around as you walk. There is a rationale behind this; KA-BAR makes the belt loop loose so the knife can be used in various situations and carried on many different packs or belts.

This knife feels great in the hand and has an amazing balance while being used. I have used this knife to process deer, cut through brush, and as an everyday carry knife. This knife has not failed me yet—it seems it can do anything and everything. The sharpness of the edge makes it great for cutting, while the thick spine also makes it great for chopping. The weight and durability make it a great knife for everyday tasks like opening boxes or working on cars. Over the years this knife was tested in real situations and has been fixed and perfected into the historical and very useful blade we all know today.

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