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The Ka-Bar Fighting Knife

Updated on September 26, 2014

Ka-Bar - Fighting knife of WW2

The ka-Bar fighting knife made a reputation for itself during WW2 with the Marine Corps. There were many style knives used but the Ka-Bar became the most popular WW2 fighting knife. They can still be purchased today in the original style and many other variations.

A Little KABAR Background

The Ka-Bar knife design was around before WW2 had started. It was sold as a hunting knife out of a catalog. The Marine Corps was first using the Mark 1 Trench knife among others. It did not really suit the style knife the Marines wanted and they set out to find a replacement. A style was found in a hunting catalog that seemed to meet their needs and the Marines started purchasing knives from different sources that were all similar in style.

There were millions of knives made during the war by companies such as Ka-Bar, Ontario Knife, Camillus and Case. Over time the Marines decided on the final shape that they wanted and Ka-Bar became the company to start making this new design. The knife, although cheap to make, was rugged enough to do the job.

The ka-Bar company really started out in 1897 as the Tidioute Cutlery Company. This company was bought and renamed the Union Cutlery Company. The name Ka-Bar was initially just a trade mark name, but in 1995 the company renamed itself the Ka-Bar Cutlery Inc.

The story of the Ka-Bar name is supposed to have come from a letter a trapper had mailed in to the company in the 1920s. He wrote that he had been attacked by a Bear, his rifle had jammed, and he was able to kill the Bear with his knife that he had purchased from them. His hand writing was hard to read but the name Ka-Bar stood out. The company chose the name as their trademark name.

No matter which company manufactured this knife, they are all referred to as Ka-Bar.

The Marine Corps and Navy Adapt the Fighting Knife

This is just an update from the above knife info. The first adaption of the knife was called the 1219C2. It was later adopted by the Marine Corps and called the USMC Mark 2. The Navy also adopted it for use by the Navy divers and UDT teams and called it the U.S. Navy Utility Knife Mark 2. The Navies version came with a fiberglass sheath.

WW2 Navy Mark 2

KABAR or Marine Corps Fighting Knife Manufactures

During WW2 - Camillus Cutlery Co, Union Cutlery Co., Robeson Cutlery Co., and the PAL Cutlery Co

After the end of World War II Utica Cutlery Co., Camillus Cutlery Co., Conetta Cutlery Co. and starting around 1980, the Ontario Knife Co. made the Mark 2 Combat Knife/Knife, Fighting Utility under contract for the U.S. military.

From around 1945 to 1952 Weske Cutlery Co. in Ohio purchased leftover and overrun parts from the wartime Mark 2 knife manufactures and assembled them into knives for the commercial market, they polished out the original manufacturer and military markings and fitted them with un-grooved leather handles.

Ka-Bar Review

Any Feedback on the KABAR would be appreciated

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    • com2 profile image

      com2 5 years ago

      There is some history behind these knives.