Military knives and their company's claims

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JeeperCreeper
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Military knives and their company's claims

Post by JeeperCreeper » Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:09 pm

So I don't really know where I'm going with this other than being slightly ignorant on the topic...

"What's the deal with military knives?" (in Jerry Seinfeld voice)

KaBar, SOG, and Ontario knife company all claim to be the best service knife with a certain line being "exclusive" to some branch or title... like the Navy SEALs knives, or Marine fighting knife, or Air Force Survival knife...

Do these things have testing done like pistol and rifle trials do? How much is marketing? Any real torture testing other than amateur youtubers or bloggers?

What say you?

P.S. I'm partial to KaBars. They are cool. My Marine family members have too many.
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by Stercutus » Wed Sep 21, 2016 6:53 am

Most soldiers carry either a Gerber or Leatherman, occasionally a different brand multi-tool.

A lot of soldiers carry folders. I was partial to CRKT serrated edge folder with a 4" blade. Seemed to meet all my needs from opening MRE packets to cutting rope.

Some soldiers carry a big stabber, normally on their gear for patrol. These don't see much use but can be handy when something needs cutting.
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by woodsghost » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:33 am

All my military knife knowledge comes from others who have served.

Near as I can tell, the military does not do "testing" of knives the same way they "test" guns. But knives get tested through actual use. That is, near as I can tell, the military branches issue a set of specifications when they need a knife and may already have a knife in mind when they issue the specifications or contract for procurement.

I'll probably have to put some time into finding the original thread, but I read a thread on Blade Forum talking about knives in the Special Forces. The one guy who really seemed to know what he was talking about said SF units get free samples all the time and those samples usually wind up in some equivalent of a closet, free to any who wish to test the knives in training, and largely ignored. Most knives sent as samples don't stand up to military use and abuse. Military guys are rarely "knife guys," and so "durability" is about the best trait for most military guys.

The knives which have stood up to actual field use are the Marine Fighting knife by Ontario, the USAF Survival knife by Ontario, and the Gerber multi-tool (and I guess the MK 3 Navy Knife by Ontario? Never actually seen anybody carry that). These are not "the best," they are simply "knife shaped objects" which are sold for the right price and generally stand up to use and abuse. Bayonets also get used as "knife shaped objects." Knives in general are disposable. You use it and when it breaks, you get issued a new one.

There are knives by custom makers which get generally issued to elite units. Those are tested heavily in training before being procured on a "general issue" basis.
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by JeeperCreeper » Wed Sep 21, 2016 8:59 am

YES! That's what I was looking for!

When I was in (I drove boats, nothing exciting), we were "issued" a folder... one of those boatswain's knives with the marlin hook. It was flea market quality and I used it for like 3 months before I gave up.

I know my MARSOC buddy buys his own knives (like $400 minimum, can't remember the brand) so they can pick. And I never heard of any Marine having the Ontario knife over the KaBar even though the websites state both as "official"


My Army buddies all rocked Gerbers but I wasn't sure if they were "issued" anything.



BUTTT..... I figured you folks on here would know to fix my curiosity...
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by Storm Crow » Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:48 am

On the custom side of things, military guys will buy knives on their own, using their personal money. As I understand it, whether you are allowed to carry it or not depends a lot on who is directly in charge. Some don't want you carrying anything that wasn't given to you by Uncle Sam, others don't care what you carry if it makes you feel better equipped to come back alive.

Some units have been known to use discretionary funds to buy things like tomahawks.

Fighting knives don't often come into play on the modern battlefield, but they do on occasion.

There are a pretty good number of knifemakers who are veterans. So whether the knives are used to fight with or not, there is a strong psychological association with blades. They are a primal tool and weapon.

Personally, what I make isn't the official anything of anyone, but a lot of my customers are current and former military.
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by Doryman » Wed Sep 21, 2016 2:45 pm

Stercutus wrote:Most soldiers carry either a Gerber or Leatherman, occasionally a different brand multi-tool.

A lot of soldiers carry folders. I was partial to CRKT serrated edge folder with a 4" blade. Seemed to meet all my needs from opening MRE packets to cutting rope.

Some soldiers carry a big stabber, normally on their gear for patrol. These don't see much use but can be handy when something needs cutting.
This is exactly my experience. Issued multitool, folder purchased from battalion kit shop (almost always CRKT, from what I've seen) and a bigger 'cool guy knife' if you were into that and your leadership was okay with you swapping out your bayonet. I had a SOG Sea Pup for a long time, and I saw ESEE knives (I think they were still RAT at the time), Gerbers, etc. I even saw impractical ninja stuff and el-cheapo junk knives that broke with the first use. Grunts will buy anything.

I was never on the supply side of things, but I imagine that a lot of the testing consisted of some retired and almost-retired officers deciding what sales pitch they liked the most before going for lunch. I seriously doubt anything close to the average Youtube 'torture test' ever happens.

As for the 'knife used by the _____ unit" claims, they could mean anything. Could be that the knife was purchased to sell in the kit shop, could be that a bulk order was bought from the lowest bidder and issued to the guys, could be that some dudes of varying knife knowledge bought them with personal money because reasons...
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by DeadCanadian » Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:06 pm

In Canada the Grohmann #3 Boat knife with over flap sheath is issued gear, as is a Gerber multi-tool, and in the past the Camillus C5 clasp knife aka Demo knife was issued.
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by Stercutus » Thu Sep 22, 2016 3:13 pm

My deep carry knife was a Gerber S30V auto opener. Glad it never came down to that and my blood chit.
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by teotwaki » Thu Sep 22, 2016 3:48 pm

The only military knife testing program that I could recall was in the 80's for the M9 bayonet competition. Some research says that there were six competitors who each submitted 55 examples for testing. Samples were used in field trials, metallurgical and other testing.
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by RonnyRonin » Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:57 pm

woodsghost wrote: These are not "the best," they are simply "knife shaped objects" which are sold for the right price and generally stand up to use and abuse. Bayonets also get used as "knife shaped objects." Knives in general are disposable. You use it and when it breaks, you get issued a new one.

I think this sums it up best.
a lot of military knives seem to have weird compromises in design or try to do too many things or something.
I haven't met many "knife guys" that really dig military knives (military style certainly) as far as I can tell nearly anything issued is looked down on by anyone that really cares about how their knife functions.
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by Drop Dead Zed » Thu Sep 22, 2016 10:00 pm

Lots of knives have National Stock Numbers and can therefore claim to be "official."
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by afishhunter » Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:44 pm

I was issued a "Demo" knife, made by Western Cutlery (identical to the Camillus), in 1975. It served me well then, and still does now, 42 years later.

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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by Close_enough » Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:39 pm

Just what I remember from around the base and on some of the boats: Most carried a slim folder (CRKT, Gerber, Kershaw), and the mechanical types all carried Gerber MT's.

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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by WolfSpring » Wed Jun 21, 2017 4:01 am

For the Army outside the Bayonet and the Gerber Multitools and rescue hooks none of the knives are tested or standard issue, but there are many brands and models that have NSNs so they can be ordered for soldiers. I know my unit back in '99 ordered benchmade AFOs and I have worn mine in uniform everyday since. Some have ordered Gerber applegates, SOGs, Kabars, all preference really, but nothing is ever tested or "issued" as a standard.

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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by moab » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:54 pm

Having come from a Marine family myself. I couldn't wait to be issued my very own Marine Corps Fighting knife.

Never happened.

LOL! They did see service in WWII. And are great knifes. My father still has his. But they are not full tang. Only rat tail. They do make a full tang one that is sort of similar. But with updated metals and handle.

I think the only issue knife I ever saw was the M9 bayonet. But we were never trusted with them. Or allowed to sharpen them. We did get to sharpen and use our Etools. Tells you how advanced the military was in the 1980's. lol.

I think at this point they are considered expendables. Meaning each man to him self. Buy your own. But I'm sure it depends on the unit. Each commander of a battalion pretty much sets the rules. Whatever he says goes. I'd imagine a lot has changed in the last 20 years. As far as knives are concerned in the military. I would think they are a lot more allowed now.

Were you looking for a particular knife or purpose for a knife?
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by Ad'lan » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:30 am

Speaking as a STAB's STAB (Stupid Territorial Army Bastard) with 0 deployments to his name... we were never issued the official knife in my unit, no Bayonet training (A training weekend I didn't go on apparently went like this: [YouTube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxFgSmR0i3A[/YouTube]).

But AFAIK, the fighting knife is the bayonet, there are no other issued knives. Other knives you are expected to have, but are not provided are all utility knives. My friends who are currently still in uniform vary from people who have a Victorinox which belonged to their mum to a friend who has an extensive collection and considers himself a capable knife fighter.

I carried multiple Opinels (to loan out to people) and a Victorinox (Cork Screw very useful for a young officer cadet) and a Multitool (Leatherman Juice and after that broke a Victorinox Swiss tool).
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by Asymetryczna » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:20 pm

I think your questions have been answered. For a good reviews and pics and notes, etc., of a large number of military knives, this website will keep you busy:

MILITARY KNIVES

On the site, some great reading on the topics can be found in the archives:

ARCHIVES

See this one, for instance, to gain some insight about more modern “issue” blades:

More Bayonet 2000
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Re: Military knives and their company's claims

Post by ROCK6 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:25 am

Drop Dead Zed wrote:Lots of knives have National Stock Numbers and can therefore claim to be "official."
This is where most manufacturers get the claim for their advertisements. It likely has more to do with being Berry Compliant rather than meeting any other performance standards.

The only knives I've ever seen on a unit's property books were bayonets; and they were rarely if ever issued. Take a look at a GSA catalog and it's basically a Walmart listing of available blades that can be purchased by units. The most common bladed tools issued are multitools. I've seen Benchmade automatic knives ordered by units. I honestly can't recall any fixed blades ordered by units (excluding bayonets). They are in the GSA catalog, but units mostly order folders or multitools. Some units have more need than others such as your Mountain units, Airborne units/Riggers, CSAR guys, etc. When the Stryker Brigades stood up, some units worked with the American Tomahawk Company and purchased hundreds of the VTAC model to serve as a breaching tool/weapon. This never made the final MTOE, but they were purchased by the units.

There are some knives that get "commissioned" by units, the Chris Reeve's knife is a great example and SF guys who retire have the option to pay for the discounted blade (I was told they got it for free, but that's not the case unless the unit pays for it or a group volunteers funds for the discounted price which is usually what happens). For many custom makers this is usually the case. They'll get a group lf guys from a unit commission a specific knife (or tomahawk).

Knives are tools first and weapons second, but there will always be knives on the battle field. Ironically, Afghans show more respect to a quality blade than a quality rifle. There is just something about a sharpened object as part of your combat loadout that gets respect as much as scrutiny. For those in units that have policies against knives, you'll find commanders and senior leadership that are more focused on career progression than Soldiering or combat performance. All my engagements and discussions with Afghans often turned to a few knives I was wearing; they drew always interest.

Knives are rarely used in combat, but until you've seen a demonstration from the Gurkha's with their big ass Khukuri, there would be nothing more fear-inspiring than seeing a Gurkha charging you with his big freaking Khukuri...that would get all you attention, not the other dozen shooting at you.

As to the marketing? Take it with a grain of salt. We are blessed to have an enormous number of knives built to withstand the typical abuse of service members in combat. Some designs are more gaudy than others, but choices and options are literally off the charts. Custom makers are even more incredible and willing to work with designs they're given or modify their own for those really serious about their combat cutlery tools. I'm a user not a knife maker, but I would feel pretty proud arming a service member with one of my creations to serve them in combat.

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