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WWII Airborne Switchblades

Allan H.

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Charlie Flick



The blades in the pic above were all blades obtained over the last several decades of collecting efforts. I don't recall any of them coming to me directly from a veteran, so I can't advance the ball on the question of whether the metal handled M-2 style switchblades were USGI or not on that basis.




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  • 1 year later...

I received this switchblade from a 173rd Veteran who served in Vietnam in 1967. He stated that Headquarters Company had a conex container full of them and they were handing them out. It piece is marked SCHRADE, WALDEN


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M.H. Cole was a fixture at the Alabama Gun Collectors shows in Birmingham for many years, occupying a table near the entrance as people came in. My sons bought copies of his Book 3 and Book 4 from him and he was happy to personalize and sign them. This was in the late 1980s and mid 1990s.

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  • 1 month later...

Help, I'm trying to understand?  I've been researching and studying these knives and the many related topics. I've read and re-read line by line.


In this topic "WWII Airborne Switchblades" it is mentioned several times that not one black painted metal handled knife has been found in the hands of a veteran. But back in 2011 (the bold sentence below) mentions that "ONE" was encountered?


What I'm trying to understand is, has it been determined that metal handle knives were issued? Maybe I'm reading it wrong, I've read many many topics, and there all running together.


Topic was:

M-2 Paratrooper

By Ronald, March 30, 2011 in EDGED WEAPONS


On 03/30/2011 at 9:07 PM, Allan H. said:

"This thread is worthless without photos.....


No, I am not going to add them, but will add the description-


Very good and rare original Schrade "PRESTO" M2 Parachute knife. Works. This is the metal painted handle version. I assume it is original paint with slight loss from handling. Not an abused knife. Would rate this a 7.5-8 out of 10. I personally believe this version was the most commonly USED version during the war. A must for any US Airborne collection! Getting hard to find! Parachute cord lanyard is new made from original parachute line.


For a metal handled Presto, I would say this is a REALLY high realized price, but the paint is about as nice as I have ever seen. As for the seller's "personal belief" that this was the most commonly used version of the paratrooper switchblade in WWII, I would have to vehemently disagree. I have examined dozens of switchblades still in the hands of airborne veterans, and can honestly say that i have only ever encountered ONE of these veterans who had a metal handled knife. ALL of the others that i have ever encountered in the hands of veterans have been the stag handles.


No, it isn't a scientific survey, nor is the sampling conclusive, but I have discussed this with other collectors like Mark Bando and others whose experiences are rather similar to mine. Bando didn't have a metal handled knife on his "Trigger Time" website as he had never encountered a paratrooper veteran who had one.



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I had to really work to go back the approximately 100 pages of knife posts to find the thread that you were citing, but I believe that I can clarify. What I wrote in March of 2011, was that I had only ever encountered one of the black handled knives in the hands of a veteran. Some five years later, in this pinned thread, I posted this (page 1)-

"I want to be very clear here. I am NOT saying that the metal handled Presto knives were not issued to paratroopers in World War II. What I am saying is that since specializing in WWII airborne from around 1979 to present, I have yet to encounter one of these metal handled Presto knives that I could confirm was WWII issued. In the interest of full disclosure, a number of years ago, I did run into a FSSF veteran who told me that he had a Presto knife and that it was painted black. I assumed that this was the metal handled Presto. Once the veteran was able to produce the knife, it turned out that it was a bone handled Schrade where the metal bolsters and blade had been coated with black paint. The veteran then said that they darkened the metal so that they didn't get a shine off the blade. I should also mention that most of the Forcemen that I talked to said that the FSSF never had switchblades issued!


So, I would encourage you to use the advice that I have given throughout this pinned thread- I HAVE YET TO ENCOUNTER A METAL HANDLED PRESTO KNIFE THAT I CAN DOCUMENT AS HAVING BEEN ISSUED TO A PARATROOPER IN WORLD WAR II. I have recently been told by a fellow collector that he purchased a grouping from a dealer that DID have a metal handled Presto in the grouping. While I have no reason to doubt the seller or the collector, I personally do not believe that this is the "smoking gun" that says that they were issued to paratroopers in World War II.


I hope that this answer provides you with the answers that you seek.



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  • 2 months later...
13 hours ago, B-Man22 said:

Hi To All

I realize that this is old thread but as an avid collector of M2 knives and a new member of the forum , I’d like to join in the conversation if you guys don’t mind. I’ve been collecting  M2 knives for quite a number of years and to date the only information that Ive ever found with regard to the metal handed knife is, that it was produced for commercial sales . I have never met a veteran or paratrooper from WWII who was ever issued a metal handled  M2 Switchblade . I’d be happy to discuss this further if anyone is still interested in rebooting this conversation . 




I'd like to add my words of welcome to the forum and want to thank you for sharing images out of your fine collection. I would also like to encourage you to add perspective to any of the threads that you read and feel that you have something to add. It is only by sharing knowledge and experience that we as a group get better at differentiating the wheat from the chaff.


I appreciate your experience with veterans and collectors. I began this pinned thread about four years ago and my experiences haven't changed. The number of WWII paratrooper vets that I have met have dwindled significantly over that span of time, but I still have yet to meet one of these veterans who was ever issued anything other than a stag handled knife.



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