Submitted by Eric Daniel
To me, knives are tools. They are to be used and abused, to accomplish the mission or die trying. I’ve been through several multi-tools (on average I break one a year) and pocket knives come and go (they get loaned out, lost, or break) but the one knife I have always had unwavering faith in (up until the time I had to quit using it) was the Ka-Bar USMC fighting knife.
As I mentioned in a previous post, a good utility knife is indispensable in the field. Pocketknives like the Buck 110 are great for light work, but sometimes you need something with leverage. Whether it was cutting open MRE cases or prying the wire off of crated ammunition, my Ka Bar took it all in stride. In a perfect world a bayonet would have done just as well for most things, had I been able to draw one from the arms room when we went to the field, but sadly this was not the case, which made the Ka-Bar all the more valuable. Moreover, the Ka Bar’s design alone made it superior to the bayonet. The all-leather grip worked wonderfully wet or dry, hot or cold. The blade was thick enough that you could pry with either the point or the flat without undue fear of it snapping, and the big steel endcap, combined with the knife’s own mass, made for a fair field expedient hammer.
It didn’t bother me in the least that I was in the Army and I was using a Marine Corps knife. That Ka-Bar was a tool, and one I deemed best available to do the jobs I needed doing. I reasoned that since the Marine Corps used the same rifles, ammunition, artillery and armor that the Army did, it was perfectly acceptable to use “their” knife.
Silly me. Eventually, someone vastly more knowledgeable in trans-service etiquette than I explained to me the magnitude of the military faux pas I was committing. No, it simply would not do to be caught out of doors with such an icon of Marine Corps tradition prominently displayed on my LBE. As a Soldier and an NCO, I should have known better. Need to bust open those crates of MG ammunition? No problem – smash them on the ground or kick them, or use a stick (a good NCO always carries a good stick with them for just such a situation.) The bottom line was that Ka-Bar was a Marine Corps “thing” and it simply had to go. No amount of pleading, reasoning, or rationalizing could resolve the situation. I just had to learn to do without.
Of course, ten years later I’m back to carrying a non-issue “fighting” knife, but now it’s made in Nepal, not Olean, N.Y. so I guess that makes it ok…