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Getting Kiffe

Here we see a rundown of the standard bayonet fare for U.S. military rifles from the early 20th Century through the early days of the Vietnam conflict.

From top to bottom: an M1905 sword bayonet with a 16-inch blade on the M1903 Springfield rifle, an M1 bayonet on an M1 Garand, a chopped down bayonet (10-inch blade) made from the legacy M1905 pigsticker redesignated M1905E1 on an M1 Garand, and finally an M4 bayonet on M1 Carbine.

The M4 is very interesting in the respect that it originally wasn’t suppose to exist, and then went on to be both widely used and extensively cloned.

Initially, the M1 Carbine did not accept a bayonet. However, beginning in June 1944, the front band included a bayonet lug. Most earlier carbines were subsequently retrofitted with the bayonet-lug front band. Most U.S.-made M4 bayonets were produced by W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co., Turner Manufacturing Co, Imperial Knife Co., Conetta Manufacturing Co, and Bren-Dan Manufacturing Co. using the M8/8A1 sheath, and ran into the early 1960s at least.

Early models used the leather washer handles while post-WWII production shifted to hard rubber or plastic grips. Standard blade length on military spec models was 6.5-inches, overall is 11.5-inches. The M4 bayonet blade even went on to form the pointy end of a later Korean-era M1 Garand bayonet, the M5A1, which replaced both the M1905E1 and M1 bayonet.

The M4 model I just picked up is a Kiffe made in Japan, which would obviously make it a Post-WWII variant.

Though the company was founded in New York in 1875 by Herman H. Kiffe and remained in operation through the 1960s, they contracted their M4 bayos to unknown Japanese makers in the 1950s.

Not meant for military contracts (at least from the U.S.) these were popular with new civilian buyers of surplus M1 Carbines which were widely available for a song at the time. These new bayonets sold for $3 at the time via mail order– about $23 in 2017 greenbacks, which is a deal both then and now.

1967 ad for Kiffe, note the “M8 Bayonet” in the top right with “self-sharpening plastic sheaths” (!)

Overall length is 11.25-inches, while weight is 8.6-ounces, in each case without the scabbard.

The blade is marked simply “Kiffe Japan” as is the hilt.

While not a true martial bayonet, it is beautiful and this specimen is very minty– no doubt because it was purchased during the Atomic-era as a keepsake to complete a privately owned M1, rather than for field use. At 50~ years old, it looks great and I think it will hold up for another 50 with no problem.

Working on the old rusty sword

Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatoria goes in-depth on cleaning and restoring an antique cavalry officer’s sword blade and scabbard. In this case a 1821 Pattern Light Cavalry Officers “pipe back” with a three-bar hilt that has probably been in storage for generations and is mega filthy with old oil that has long lost its viscosity. The neat thing about the blade is that it is East India Company-marked and Bengal cavalry-issued.

All you need is some Ballistol, brushes, Brasso, green pads, and sweat.

A look at a half-dozen fixed blade carry knives ‘in the rotation’

That’s pretty stabby

On the cutting board, I give you six sub-$125 (most sub-$50 if you shop around) light fixed blade knives that are small enough to carry every day (depending on clothing options) while still being able to along with you almost everywhere in an urban or suburban environment if needed while remaining nominally concealable. Besides typical chores in daily life, they should also be strong enough to fill a foray into the woods or camp, capable of light bushcraft.

From left to right: A Kershaw 4007, CRKT Mossback, Cold Steel Spike, CRKT Obake, Tops Mountain Spike, and a Benchmade SOCP 176. All in current production

More detail on each, with plusses and minuses, noted in my column at Tac44.com.

New skins for an old warrior

When my grandfather joined the National Guard at 17, but before he headed off to war on active duty, he bought a “fighing knife” from a local hardware store as any strapping youth in olive drab needed just such the item.

It was a PAL RH-36.

The PAL Cutlery Company of Plattsburgh, NY. was established in 1935, specializing in kitchen implements. The company was a merger of the Utica Knife & Razor Company of Utica, NY and the Pal Blade Company of Chicago, IL. Pal used both the “Blade Company” and “Cutlery Company” monikers interchangeably during the next two decades until they went out of business in 1953. They purchased the cutlery division of Remington in 1939, along with all of their machinery, tooling and designs and soon began production in the old Remington owned factory in Holyoke, MA.

The design of the RH-36 came from that Remington acquisition, as the designations meant “Remington, Hunting, Pattern 3, 6” blade”. These were one of the most common US fighting knives of WWII, these were bought by all branches during the war, often with unit funds, and were also available as private purchase knives– such as my gramps.

Overall length is 11-inches with the razor-sharp blade just over 6, thus balancing well. Though some blades were parkerized, this one is bright though there is some patina. The old “PAL RH-36” markings are clear on the ricasso. The leather washer grip with red spacers is still tight, though dark. The pommel and guard are still surprisingly tight after more a half-century of use.

It has been sharpened and resharpened perhaps hundreds of times and was used by my grandfather overseas until he left the military in 1974, then sat in a box until I recently inherited it. The original sheath has long since broken, and subsequently discarded, leaving the blade naked.

Now, with the help of my friend Warren at Edged Creations who handcrafted the new sheath with three layers of leather, hand stitching and copper rivets, it should be good for another 70 years.

Thanks, Warren!

That kukri, though

The above video starts off a bit silly but shows the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas performing the traditional Khukuri Dance at the Last Night of the Proms Concert at the Royal Military School of Music recently.

“The dance is a combination of patterns of drill, where the dancers demonstrate their skills of handling the Khukuri knife. It is believed, the dance was derived from the occasion of celebration when a soldier returned from war with the glory of victory.”

Sure, it is a dated weapon, but don’t doubt that you could drop those four guys off somewhere behind the lines with just their kukri and they wouldn’t beat you back to base with a host of trophies.

 

5 Decent tactical folders I’ve found useful for under $50

A good tactical folder for the purpose of this installment is a knife that can accomplish all your classic “penknife” or “pocketknife” tasks– cutting a thread or cord, trimming fingernails, touching up a shave in a pinch, cutting an apple, and box cutting and opening mail– while still being available as a fast and earnest edged weapon if needed. As such, they need to be at the fast ready, have a sufficiently long blade, be capable of one-handed opening, be strong enough to take real abuse, and, to prevent cutting off one’s own fingers in such a situation, lock upon opening.

Five “budget” tactical folders under $50 (if you shop around) that get the rotation in EDC: Ontario Knife Company’s RAT1A, a Spyderco Tenacious, Matthew Lerch’s CRKT Argus, Ken Onion’s 1660 Kershaw Leek, and a Gerber Applegate–Fairbairn Mini Covert.

All are used and have spent their time in pockets, clocking in as needed. The Leek even survived the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina with me in my pocket– and I was glad to have it several times in that week. As such, any spots, dings, scratches or mars on the blades or scales are honestly earned and not the fault of their maker.

Why the $50 benchline? Bottom line is, sure you can carry your Chris Reeve Sebenza 21 or really nice ZT, Benchmade or Microtech– and I have a few of those– but if you were to have one of these upper shelf blades pull a pocket jump without your knowledge while you are in your travels, you are going to be out a lot more than $50.

Of course, as with anything, your mileage may vary and by default, the best knife you have is the one you have on you.

I do a mini-review on each in my column over at Tac.44.com.

So I have a bayou bladesmith buddy

Warren likes to beat himself up.

I met him a little over a decade ago and he is a fellow LE instructor in everything from niche stuff like ballistic shield training to edged weapon defense as well as, of course, the more pedestrian rifle-pistol-shotgun fields of study.

Currently the head of a police department covering an area the size of a small city but with greater jurisdictional issues, some of my fondest memories of ole Warren (who shows up as the character Heath in one of my zombie novels) is in how he just seems to love pain as he goes out of his way sometimes to get himself hurt.

Take for instance in his long-studied craft of knife making. On my last visit to his shop, I found him with fingertips almost completely devoid of fingerprints due to regular interaction with forge, belt, and interaction with metal.

He likes taking abused old tools like broken draw knives, rusty shovels, and other items, then giving them a new life as a handcrafted edged weapon. He calls them “recovered material” which sounds very hipster to me and argues each has a touch of character and one-of-a-kind appearance that newly manufactured products just don’t.

These neck knives are made from an old shovel. He crafted the leather himself. The guy has a palm like a baseball bat.

This hawk head is made from a used lawnmower blade while the handle is made from a seasoned Cedar limb. The limb is hand sanded and treated with beeswax and orange oil. The heat-treated head is attached with epoxy, brass pins, and wrapped with imitation sinew

These display pieces are made from elk antler and found arrow/spearheads

This file is being remade into what Warren calls a “bayonet style knife.” You can bet this one will be full tang!

I don’t know what he made this sushi knife out of, but it’s wicked sharp

He also crafts blades from new flats of 1095, 1080 and 1085 tool steel.

One of the neatest of which is a little self-defense retention knife he carries at work and is proving popular with other local LE types. The single edge chisel grind blade is worn behind the holster and can be drawn with one hand to separate you from whoever is trying to gain control of your weapon.

It’s got a 1 3/4″ blade and 4″ overall length and is super sharp, coming with a companion Kydex sheath he makes himself.

He told me the design is constantly evolving and he has been working on it with feedback from others for the past six years.

I’ve been carrying one around for a few weeks and have told Warren he needs to ship these with complementary bandaids.

To pick up one of Warren’s blades, check him out here.

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