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Tim

The Butcher Commando knife

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I had originally placed this interesting knife below on a thread about a S.I.M.C.O. dagger made from a sharping steel. It was not really noticed there. So, I am giving this piece its own thread and hope I receive some profound or otherwise comments.

 

This Knife was made by Moss Cutlery Co., New York, which was owned by the huge Simmons Hardware Co, St. louis, MO. It is marked with the SIMCO shield logo.

I am unable to find out much about Moss Cutlery Co. There are some commercial Butcher knives on eBay, but nothing else.

The Moss Cutlery Co., New York made knives for the commercial/butcher trade market.  On the grip of the knife is a shield logo with SIMCO on it. Let me qualify this, but I think this means Simmons Company as in Simmons Hardware Co. They were notorious for buying small companies making high quality products and selling them under KEEN KUTTER or other names. However, a commercial product could be sold under the original manufacturer’s name, especially if that name had a reputation for quality and, as in this case, a logo was added.

The above is conjecture and guess work and I as my wife constantly points out, I could be completely wrong. Google has not been helpful here.

 

 

Let us examine this butcher/commando knife in detail. First, about me, my military experience is limited to JROTC, where I did not receive any knife training. My son received more in the Boy Scouts. I do have considerable metal manufacturing experience.  I have a lot of edged weapons and as soon as I picked it up, I noticed the near perfect balance. It naturally points and almost floats in your hand. It only weighs 7 ½ oz.  Maybe a good butcher knife should have a natural point, I do not know, because my butchering experience is the same as my fighting experience. I think Doug Marcaida would approve.

Let us examine the components, assembly, and finish.

The cross guard is made from 60 gauge by 1 ¼ of whatever steel they had around; it could be blade stock. Then using a simple die, they formed the “T”. The blade slot was ground at a grinding wheel by hand.

The blade blank was pierced out 11 gauge coil stock and then sent to preparation for heat treating. After heat treat and cleaning, grinding may have started but in this case, I think the walnut grips were attached and the finger groves put in. The outside contour could now be hand cut and ground. The cross guard is placed in a simple fixture and the blade was pushed in until it met the grip. Then two heavy punch marks locked the crossguard and blade together. Check the pictures.

With the grip and guard attached hand grind and polishing would be easy. The trade name “MOSS CUTLERY CO. N.Y. MADE in U.S.A.” and the SIMCO shield logo between them are lightly photo etched on the blade and are difficult to photograph. The logo is also found stamped on the wood grip.

It is just as likely that a finished knife could have been used to make this. I have look at hundreds of butcher knives on eBay and none have finger groves.

 It may lack the some of the utility factors of the Kabar type. But I think it could help break up the dirt for that fox hole as well as any other knife. The kabar blades will not bend, this blade will, but you would have to put considerable effort into breaking it. How much abuse does a butcher knife take? Another factor is the weight of 7 ½ oz. How much does a Kabar weigh?

Here is another feature from the butcher knife, the blade curves up. It is about 1/8th of an inch high above a straight line coming off the top of the grip.  The blade is not double edged. The back has dull edge until it gets to about one inch from the point.

The cost of making one these should be half of a Kabar. Think of this: coil stock, no forging. Less expensive tooling costs. Minimal hand assembly and finishing. No leather ovals to chase around. (Whose idea was that?)

I have noticed these “SIMCO” daggers made from sharpening steels; they could break up the foxhole dirt, but little else.

I think this is a real SIMCO fighting knife that was to be submitted to the Army for testing or it could be the result of a couple of guys fooling around in the Moss toolroom at lunch time.

I still think Doug Marcaida could keal with it.

 

 

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I am a bit disappointed. As of June 14, 142 members have examined the Moss Commando/Butcher, but with nary a comment. This is the one place I would expect erudite opinion and additional information about it.

 Of course, I may now have the freedom to create a back story for this extremely rare (Oh how I hate that word.) and unknown until recently unearthed from the depths of eBay, Commando/Butcher knife. So, here goes.

 

The Moss Cutlery Co., New York, U.S.A. was a small manufacturer of high quality, commercial meat processing knives and a part of S.I.M.C.O.  A few of its employees entered the armed forces and were sent these knives. I think we are looking at a production of less than ten. It seems unlikely that they were offered to the public or the PX system. Unlike the ground down S.I.M.C.O. sharpening steel “daggers”, this is a very usable knife.

 

Is that a plausible story to create collector interest? It sure looks better than some of the home-made stuff I see offered as “theater made” knives etc.

Come on fellow members tell me something about this cool piece. I made the sheath.

 

 

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I pulled out Michael Silvey’s book (US Knives of WWII) and found similarities to an Australian commando knife (pg. 55) but nothing in his index about SIMCO knives or MOSS Cutlery.  No profound wisdom here, but I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that knife with a drunk sailor or PO’ed Marine behind it.  

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Tim, if you can view a copy of the book "Best of Cole's", page 259 has a drawing of what is most likely an example of your knife or at least one that is marked the same on the blade and handle.  The blade profile is a little different and the number of finger grooves cut into the wood is different.

There are a lot of examples of knives made by known small manufactures during WW2 that are either undocumented or at best very poorly documented.  I'd resist the temptation to try too much to fill in the blanks with pure anecdotal speculation.  Check out "Herder's of Phila. Commando", for another example of one kind of knife repurposed for the war effort.


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Thanks for the info. I was pulling some chains to see what was out there and did not want to give this knife an unsubstantiated background. This is way out of my collecting area. Now to find a copy of Best of Coles. The book will cost more than the knife which was $40.

New on Amazon $442.78. I would appreciate if a copy of the page could be posted.

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Yes the out of print books are a challenge.  I was thinking maybe if a friend you know has a copy you could look over or even check the library system to see if you can check out one.

Best of Coles is made up of some of Cole's III and IV.  I'm still hunting for a copy of IV that I can use for reference that doesn't have to be in "collector's condition", they're not showing up as often as they were a few years ago.  III and IV together I believe will still be a better buy than the going price for Best of Cole's and it will have more information. Anyway once I add IV, I'll have no need to keep Best of Cole's.

I've got some appointments I've got to keep today.  I'll check back to see what I can help with on the information.


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