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Gulf War USMC Kabar


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Just wanted to show off my uncle’s Kabar he brought with him into the Middle East. From the stories he told, he used the knife as a tool to detect and neutralize mines. He would continually crawl and stab the sand in front of him until he made contact with metal, then would flip it over. If you look closely at the ricasso on the knife there appears to be sand still stuck. Does anyone know if this would’ve been issued to him or was it a private purchase? Did Kabar have the 1219c2 military contract at the time? Sadly he committed suicide shortly after his time in the marines, so any information would be great. Thank you

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I think they were probably Issued the M9 during the Gulf War . Still a testament to the 1219c design , very well designed and a useful tool to this day as well as a thing of beauty .  

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KA-BAR did not have a contract for this style of knife of post WW2 knife.  However KA-BARs have been popular private purchase knives ever since they started reproducing them again in this style in the 1970s.  Some have made it into the supply chain over the years due to Marines turning them in to replace an issue piece that was lost or otherwise not turned in.  Recently (war on terror era) Frank Trzaska reported that KA-BAR has received their first contract since WW2 for this pattern of knife-this time in the all black form and with plastic handle.  They are now available for issue to all the services not just USMC as a commercial off the shelf product. (This info was from one of his knife notes entries on his excellent website.)

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It is nice that you have this knife since it was actually carried and used by your Uncle.  Since these were commercial knives, and even the newest contract (all black) knives don’t differ from ones that can be had commercially it all depends on the provenance to determine whether they were actually used in government service or not.  You have one that was, and has a family connection.  
The KA-BAR brand 1219c2s have been sold at the PX for years and most Marines prefer the KA-BAR name if given a choice.  Most awards given out that incorporated a knife on the plaque/award are KA-BARs of this commercial style as well.  There are other threads on here that mention people finding KA-BARs in supply rooms among the contracted knives by Ontario, Camillus, and even some older contract Vietnam era Camillus, Connettas and Utica’s in the post 2001 timeframe.  

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KA-BAR did not have a contract for this style of knife of post WW2 knife.  However KA-BARs have been popular private purchase knives ever since they started reproducing them again in this style in the 1970s.  Some have made it into the supply chain over the years due to Marines turning them in to replace an issue piece that was lost or otherwise not turned in.  Recently (war on terror era) Frank Trzaska reported that KA-BAR has received their first contract since WW2 for this pattern of knife-this time in the all black form and with plastic handle.  They are now available for issue to all the services not just USMC as a commercial off the shelf product. (This info was from one of his knife notes entries on his excellent website.)

Very interesting. I understand that KABAR/Utica Cutlery did not have the 1219c2 contract, but was any company manufacturing this style of knife during the Gulf war? My timeline for the MK2/1219c2 contract history is not too solid. I always found it interesting that KABAR became the blanket name for this style of knife but only had the military contract in WWII. Thank you
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Ontario knife company and Camillus Cutlery company had active contracts during the gulf war.  There was a small contract from MSI in the early 1980s.  Ontario still has a contract and Camillus had a contract up until they closed their doors for good 2006/2007.  

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Went back and read some of Mr. Trzaska’s knife knotes  and in knife knotes #10 I found the reference to the modern KA-BARs and I’m afraid I may have misquoted this in one of my above posts.  According to the knotes- KA-BAR has denied having an official government contract since WW2, however there are some unanswered questions as a quantity of an all black version had made it into the supply chain for issue circa 2003.  In a later knife knotes (#14) mentions the Mark 2 Knife was available for issue to all DOD agencies branches starting in 2007 not just the USMC/USN.  These would have been the current contract knives at the time (Ontario).  

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Here is a rough timeline of the government contracted 1219c2 knife:

 

WW2 production (November 1942-1945)

KA-BAR (Union Cutlery Co)

PAL

Robeson 
Camillus

Case (factory prototypes only)

 

Post WW2

Utica Cutlery Co 1961-62

Camillus 1962-c2006

Conetta circa late 1960s

Ontario c1980-present

MSI circa early 1980s

KA-BAR COTS purchases c2003?
 

Non-Government contract reproduction and commemorative knives in this pattern have been made by:
Camillus (c1990-2006)

Ontario(c2000-?)

Case

KA-BAR (1970s-present)

plus a multitude of foreign knock offs of inferior quality for the last 25+ years. 

 

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The large Government contracts for Camillus 1219C2's ended about 1989. From there Ontario would be the primary provider.

 Something else that can muddy up the water are instances of direct unit purchases which can be very hard to trace documentation for.  I've wondered if that could have been the source of the KaBar knives on that ship and why they may have been described as all black is another reason for me to wish I could lay my eye's on some.

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17 hours ago, Joefin18 said:

KABAR became the blanket name for this style of knife but only had the military contract in WWII.

 

Yeah, they became the KLEENEX of knifes and that has caused lots of confusion among knife buyers and collectors over the last 75 years. 

 

The decorated sheath shown above is always a sign of non-military production. 

 

doctorofwar's timeline is a nice thing for knife collectors to bookmark for fast reference. 

 


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Correct my rough time line to reflect what sactroop said about Camillus‘ main contract ending about 1989.  It appears after that they continued to make the military spec knife but were underbid by the same knife from Ontario for contract purposes.  Camillus did act as the secondary supplier of these knives to the government and supplied the PX system with the mil spec knife for private purchase.  I suspect some were COTS purchases post 9/11 as they were second to only the Ontario made ones in the supply system mid 2000s unless all those were 15+ year old new condition knives (which is certainly possible- as there are reports of Conetta made ones still being issued at the time although in much smaller quantities).  

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Here's a picture of what I believe is possibly a late example of the last Government contract Camillus MIL-K-20277. You can just make out the US/CAMILLUS on the blade.

 

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 Notice that the grind lines and swage at the top front of the blade is different from the typical pattern we see from WW2 into the 1980's from a variety of manufactures.  While we do see other deviations in this pattern, most of them are recognized as very early examples of WW2 knives and the swage is still different than the example I'm showing.

 

Here's an early Robeson.  Some early KA BAR's show a similar different in blade pattern.

 

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Back to Camillus, here's an example from what I consider the post contract years with the more pronounce swage than even the first example above.  This one has the three line marking with bars over and under CAMILLUS.

 

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For whatever reasons, this swage persists from the 90's into the 2000's even with the reproduction USMC marked knives.  This at least becomes the clearest tell that we are looking at a reproduction and not a WW2 example.

 

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Just when we think we have a good handle on the matter you run across one of these, and you really need to compare the stampings of the reproductions to the known WW2 knives.

 

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