The KABAR (not “KBAR”) is an American knife, I still have my father’s KABAR from WWII. All branches carried it then, although it became widely known as a USMC Fighting Knife.

The exact same blade (i.e. made to the exact same military acquisition specifications) was made by the CAMILLUS blade company of NY and the Navy version of the KABAR is known as the “MARK 2” Navy Combat Knife.

I also have a Camillus Mark 1 from the WWII/Korean era which looks like a common hunting knife. It only has one cutting edge, a “clip point” like a Randall hunting knife, a leather handle (like the KABAR), and the cross guard only has one arm, not two (hangs in front of the holder’s index finger).

We were all issued a CAMILLUS MARK 2 at BUD/S, but of course we had to return the gear when we graduated. The day I reported aboard SEAL Team ONE, I was issued another CAMILLUS MARK 2 and that’s the one I still have. They were, and still are, generically referred to a “KABAR” because it is exactly the same shape as the original KABAR knives, made in accordance with contract specifications.

The original military specs (I have a copy) only referred to the knife as “KNIFE, FIGHTING & UTILITY” and was dated 9 Dec 1942. The contract was originally given to KA-BAR KNIVES, Olean, NY, and they made the majority of them throughout WWII. Those knives were, for the most part, made for the Marines. At the base of the blade, on one side, is stamped “U.S.M.C”. On the other side, at the base of the blade is stamped “KA-BAR Orlean, NY”

After WWII other companies were added to the contract, and various makers crafted them. Other countries copied the very successful design, taking their specifications from knives that had been issued to US combatants.

As I said, the ones we were all issued back in 1970/1971 were made by CAMILLUS. The designations were not stamped into the blade, but were, instead, stamped into the cross guard on the side away from the hand. The upper tang of the cross guard carries the designation “U.S.N. Mark 2”. The long side of the cross guard, on the blade side, is marked with “CAMILLUS N.Y.”

The “KABAR” (the pronunciation ignored the hyphen and it was almost always written as six letters with no punctuation) was the standard US fighting knife, and the versions we obtained for the plaques used in our class gifts to BUD/S were actually CAMILLUS MARK 2 blades.

– Steve Robinson


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