TLDR: The military uses many kinds of knives, but few can match the iconic KA-BAR USMC.
BJ Wolf is a crime writer (check out her website here and follow her on Twitter here) working on the first in a trilogy of novels featuring detective Karen Yellowtail. She sent me a note looking for some feedback on assigning an ex-military character a knife for some unsavory work.
Specifically, this character needs to butcher humans at some point in the story. Wolf originally asked whether the knives on this site would make the cut, so to speak. They probably would, but one model in particular popped to the front of my mind as soon as I read Wolf’s message.
The KA-BAR USMC
From December 1942 through today, the KA-BAR USMC is the iconic military knife. That’s the one I’d assign current or former military characters.
Different branches of service use different knives depending on what needs to be done, but the USMC stands head and shoulders above everything else. It’s an iconic fixed blade knife that was introduced to the Marine Corps in 1942 and never went out of service. A character wouldn’t have to be a Marine, though. All branches of service used the USMC in some respect.
Why? The design is extremely rugged and reliable, which is why many service members keep them after returning to civilian life. (The USMC is available on the civilian market, too, so anyone could buy one.)
When writing the knife, it could be referred to as the “KA-BAR” (or Ka-Bar, just pick one) without even mentioning the USMC model name. It’s so iconic that it’s subject to the Kleenex effect.
It’s this legacy and durability that makes it a great pick for Wolf’s ex-military character.
Need to Butcher a Character? Fixed Blades > Folders
Even if Wolf’s character doesn’t go with the KA-BAR USMC, I’d still recommend sticking with fixed blade knives (i.e. the blade doesn’t move) for that kind of gutting and butchering. Folding knives can become irretrievably jammed with gore, whereas the cleanup on a fixed blade is a lot easier. Folders can also close unintentionally onto fingers during hard use. This is why my primary hunting knife, especially during deer season, is a fixed blade.
I hope this information helps Wolf and any other writer out there with that question. If you’re curious to learn more about the KA-BAR USMC, head to a sporting goods store and check it out for yourself. Chances are good the store keeps a couple in stock.
Want to Win a Knife? Folders > Fixed Blades
I couldn’t make a post like this without mentioning the knife I’m giving away to celebrate the publication of The Writer’s Guide to Weapons. This folder is a one-of-kind model designed by yours truly. The winner will also receive an autographed book. Keen! Enter daily here through Aug. 31, 2015.
* Must be 18 and a U.S. resident to enter. See entry page for more details.