Tag Archives: K-bar

Cammies, KA-bars and GSDs

“Marine War Dog and Handler, Vietnam, circa 1970”

Note the kennels in the background with the sandbagged roof. From the Craig Spraggins Collection (COLL/4154) at the Marine Corps History Division

Of note, the WMD handler is wearing the Marine Corps’ “lowland” variant of the ERDL camouflage uniform, which predated the much better known M81 woodland BDU by more than a decade. The Marine also has a standard M1911A1 in a very non-standard holster that could be a modded M1916-style flap holster but I believe is actually just a commercial leather revolver holster, accompanied by a K-Bar fighting knife attached to the holster by a leather tie.

Another installment of the same team

Odds are the Marine has coupled the two weapons together at his strong side to be able to use either with his right hand as the dog would be controlled by his left.

Dogs get the chop

In related news, the Marines are cutting back on their military working dogs, a staple of the service since the Great War, as they aren’t needed to fight China, apparently. Currently, the Corps has 210 four-legged MWDs and 260 two-legged handlers/trainers. After the snip, that will fall to 150 and 210, respectively. Of note, once a dog enters the training program, it takes six months to get them ready for the Fleet.

That old Ka-Bar magic

Union Cutlery Co. of Olean, New York, began using the “Ka-Bar” name on its knives and in its advertising in 1923.

Fast forward to WWII and the company worked with the Marines to modify the old Western States L77 hunting knife to create what the Navy termed the Mark 2 Utility Knife and in the Marines as the Mark 2 Combat Knife– the blade known as the now-classic Ka-Bar.

WWII-era Ka-Bar MK2 with original fiberglass sheath via Ka-Bar. The drawing is actually of the Ka-Bar commando a very similar offering

Made during the war and since then by Camillus, Ontario, PAL, Robeson, Utica et. al while Union still trademarked the name, the knife has become an icon, a totem.

Two WWII Marine Raiders demo knife fighting– note the K.

Marines somewhere in the Pacific. Note the Ka-Bar in the boot

Today, owned by Cutco, Union long ago changed their name to Ka-Bar formally and they still make the knife in Olean, though some complain that the current version just isn’t the same as the 1943 classic. I blame a lot of that stink on Chinese counterfeits.

With that, the company posted this today, which I thought was interesting.

“The vehicle ran over the KA-BAR and it punctured the tire and lodged in the wheel. The handle did not break off until it was inside the tire.”

It looks like one of the more modern blades which are constructed with a 1095 carbon steel blade that is epoxy powder coated.

Of course, there is no telling which vintage this blade is from, but it is still impressive.