how to know a WWII KABAR?

The KA-BAR brand originated as a trademark of the Tidioute Cutlery Company. Tidioute was later taken over & renamed the Union Cutlery Company which continued making the brand until Union eventually adopted it as the company name in 1952. Cutco Corporation later acquired the company in 1996.
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tongueriver
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how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby tongueriver » Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:33 am

I guess this is an ignorant question. I am interested in finding and purchasing a WWII original KA-BAR fighting knife and really do not know how to identify one. There seem to be a lot of issued knives from various sources since then. I want an original. Thanks for any help. If anyone wants info on Schrades I can possibly help on that!

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby zzyzzogeton » Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:26 am

Are you wanting a Kabar Kabar, or do you want any WW2 1219C2/USN MK2 knife? The knives are the same. The only difference is whether they are stamped USMC or USN-MK2.

The question is not as facetious as it sounds.

If any old WW2 1219C2/USN MK2 will do, there are lots of them available, especially on fleabay.

If you are looking at just Kabar Kabars, we still have a question to answer ---

Do you want a 1219C2 (USMC version) or a USN-MK2 (Navy version)? If so, your available options are more restricted.

There were 4 companies that made some version of the knives during WW2- Kabar, Camillus, PAL and Robeson-Suredge. Camillus made the most, Kabar the second most and PAL and R-S made a token number by comparison. Boker had a contract but never made any.

One way to tell the WW2 versions is if they are guard stamped and mainly show up with thin (1/4") thick pommels that are through-pinned (the pin shows on both sides. Those were only made in 1944 and 1945.

The 1943 and early 1944 versions had thicker (3/8") pommels and were peened on only. The first ones had round tang stems peened at the pommel and the latter-half 1943s had square tang stems peened at the pommel.

If you see a thick (3/8") pommel Kabar that is blind-pinned (pin is visible on only 1 side) and unpeened, it is a reproduction/post-1976 version.

Another tell is to look at the stamp. The ricasso stamped Kabars used a font that has very thin strokes of the letter segments and the stamp is relatively shallow. The post-1976 Kabars have stamps that are both fairly deep and have broader letter segments.

Camillus versions come in 3 flavors - WW2, VN and post-contract loss versions. Stamp and construction difference used to tell which is which.

Then there are the non-Camillus VN versions, Conetta and Utica. And then there are the post-VN versions - MSI and Ontario.

And then there are the non-contract post-VN versions - Kabar, Imperial, and Case

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby eveled » Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:31 pm

Not sure why you want an original but the new ones are made the same and just as nice. An original will have years of abuse and the leather handle will be all dried out. Same for the leather sheaths. Unless it is NOS. Then it will be priced accordingly.

The original hard sheaths are pretty sweet however, they get dry rotted on the canvas part.

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby tongueriver » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:08 am

Thank you both for excellent information and advice. I will have to do some mental digesting over this topic. Truth be known, I find the M3 knives from WWII the most fascinating and charming of the War knives, but I have never owned the KA-BAR type before. A grail knife for me would be a WESTERN L-76. Probably won't happen. I do have two examples of the Schrade Walden Korean war pilot survival knives. They are a bit of a secret amongst Schrade sellers and buyers (most don't know the difference between them and the civilian versions; they are QUITE different). Cheerio.

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby 1967redrider » Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:31 am

These guys have tons of info on military knives along with pictures.

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/ ... d-weapons/
Pocket, fixed, machete, axe, it's all good!

You're going to look awfully silly with that knife sticking out of your @#$. -Clint Eastwood, High Plains Drifter

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby eveled » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:12 pm

Here is a video about the current KA BAR. https://www.kabar.com/history

I get wanting a piece of history. I'm glad KaBar has remained a vibrant American co. When so many others have failed.

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby Mossdancer » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:01 am

tongueriver:
If and when you find one that pleases you you have only just began. I would suggest you attempt to find one that is still in its marked 43 Boyt sheath. Here is a Carte Blanche of I think all WWII MK II's there are a couple that are wrong that I missed when I acquired them and that is why I tell people when they find mil. knives and sheaths they have most probably a pommel strap or leather ring or something that someone needs to make a correct knife. All the different ones are great, I like the Pal the best with the UTICA coming next just because they were hardest to get. You did not say but your first marked KA BAR and marked sheath make you feel like you accomplished something. I do have a round tang pre 43 but it needs some rescue work. I have not been able to track down the MCmann sheath from Portland Or, for being a period piece. The are several versions of the hard sheath which are very nice also..
moss

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby Mossdancer » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:08 am

more pics

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby Mossdancer » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:12 am

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby Gunsil » Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:10 am

The Utica is not a WW2 knife. I don't know what you are showing with that aluminum pommel but it is not an original on a WW2 MK2.

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby Mossdancer » Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:15 am

You are absolutely correct and that is what I was speaking to earlier. No matter how hard you try one sneaks thru the cracks.
What makes the pommel really wrong was it is on a USMC marked KA-BAR. I just hope that enough is left of the tang to take a correct pommel. In fact you are technically correct about the Utica with only the US above the maker mark they were not issued until some time before or during Korea, they were used then and in Viet Nam.
Thanks for the heads up. The rest of the field repair is the first three or four photos that the wrong pommel is on.
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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby zzyzzogeton » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:10 pm

All MK2s/1219C2s issued during the Korean War were WW2 production knives issued during the war.

Per Mr. Frank Trzska, in his Knife World article from January 2005, "The Post War Knife, Combat, MK2"

(The following is the first 3 paragraphs, which provides info on how the resurrection of the "Kabar" came around through the production of the Conetta knife - per para 3, May 1961 is the earliest dated packaging noted and is currently assumed to be the earliest production of the post war MK2.)
........
The Post War Knife, Combat, Mark 2

At the conclusion of World War Two the US military surplused a large quantity of knives amongst other Government Issue equipment. This was achieved in several different ways around the globe, the chief reason being it would cost more to return it home then the items were worth. Many items were stock piled, with an expected shelf life, in warehouses for use as later issue in those areas. And last but not least many of the items were given to allied nations for use in their militaries and to local people trying to rebuild their nation. Five years later the Korean War started and many of the items we surplused out had to be put back into production again. Albeit on a much reduced scale the old machines had to be cranked up again to supply the troops. As the output in most cases outweighed the demand the lines again fell silent in the production facilities. Again the warehouse was stocked with supplies with expected shelf lives ticking away. Time was coming to renew another line.

It was on 2/13/57 that the drawings for the Navy 394831 and the Marine Corps 1219C2e were pulled from the shelves, dusted off and updated in a nomenclature change only. The Secretary of the Navy or SECNAV ordered a service wide consolidation of equipment used to comply with the Federal standards. No need for dual drawings, numbering and stocking of the same item. Although it was short lived the program marked the first change in the life of these patterns since the 1944 standards had been established such as guard markings and pinned pommels. No changes were made to the standards, it was just a name change, and the drawings still reflected the World War Two designs. As we stated this was short lived, on 1/18/60 the MIL-K-20227 was created. This is the official drawing date of the post war knife. And, although it still carried the Marines 1219C2g and the Navy 394831 designations it was now officially the MIL-K-20227, available to any and all government branches through the Defense Supply System. So what started as a Marine Corps knife in 1942 was now a government wide issue item. It may not have been in the suggested inventories, but it was in the catalog and available, this was the government plan.

The earliest packaging I have seen on the new pattern is dated May 1961 and this item was from Utica Cutlery Co. The knife inside the packaging is a natural brown leather handle with a light tan colored scabbard. This is correct, brown not black as in the later model. This early design did not include the black color with the anti-fungicide coated handle. That change would have been after the MIL-K-20277b designation dated 10/1/61 when the order was given. So the Utica knives built prior to the amendment change of 4/11/62 would be brown. Another point of interest on these knives is that they retained the curved guard of the World War Two knives, the only Post war knives to have them. As the earliest drawing on the new pattern was dated 1960 these untreated brown Utica knives are not Korean War era knives as once thought. Navy and Marine personal fighting in the Korean War would have been armed with WW II manufactured and marked knives. Along with this change in the knives the scabbard was also changed on 11/20/61, drawing designation 1219C1j (still using the old drawing designations but part of the overall MIL-K-20277a) marked the departure from nine rivets to seven. Black gear was being phased in but was not yet part of the official order. When the change did come in 1963 by order of the Commandant of the Marine Corps many of the older leather items were dyed black. As there were thousands to do overall many will be found with the front dyed only leaving the reverse side the original brown. I have observed this on not only knife scabbards but on other leather items as well.

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby Mossdancer » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:20 am

As I was parroting Mr. Cole from his book compiled by Mr. Silvey. I was wrong and evidently before his demise Mr. Cole was proven by Mr.Traska as being in error. My apologies. I have a question though. Has anyone ever seen a ww2 or modern Mark2 with the Numbers C1219C2 stamped into either the knives or sheath. If so please post a Photo of this infamous enigmatic
cutter?
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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby zzyzzogeton » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:24 am

No problem, Mossdancer. I've been corrected on misinformation more times than I can remember. Until I ran across Mr. Trzska's article, I had a bunch of misconception about MK2s/1219C2s.

Unfortunately, sometimes, someone has some information and it gets published in a book or periodical. The information, as known at the time of publication is correct or at least not known to be wrong.

Unless someone runs across info down the road that is newer and more accurate, the incorrect info stays around. It's really hard to "unpublish" a very prolifically produced book, such as Coles' 1,2,3 or 4. Mr. Cole did the best he could with what was available to him at the time, but he didn't get it right every time.

One example of that is the infamous "V44" knives. He tagged the Collins #18 Pequeno Machete and its wartime authorized clones as the "V44"s, along with the Case fixed survival pack machete, which turns out to be the only real V44. But lots of folks still call them V44s.

And to answer your question, I have never seen a knife or sheath marked 1219C2 or 394831. If marked, the knives had USMC or USN-MK2 (or MARK 2). The leather sheaths have all been unmarked or stamped with a simple USN. The BM/VP fiberglass sheaths are all marked USN-MK2

The only reason the fiberglass sheaths have a MK1 or MK2 on them is because the Navy had the 2 models of knives. The initial specs did not include a branch of service indication requirement. The first Camillus versions with the split nut and the first thick pommel/round peen Kabars just had the manufacturers' names on them. I don't remember if the 1st shipment of Camillus thick pommel/round peened had a branch designation on them. Something else for me to research. :mrgreen:

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Re: how to know a WWII KABAR?

Postby Mossdancer » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:37 am

Thank you for the update
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