Kabar Knife Review
Outdoorsmen, hunters, adventurers, and survivalists always carry a knife with them as their primary survival tool. The most popular style of knife for this use is the Kabar. While knife designs come and go, the simple and utilitarian design of the Kabar knife have earned it a place in the hearts of many as the best knife ever created.
The Kabar Knife
During World War II, the KA-BAR knife company from Olean, New York submitted a knife to the United States Marine Corps to become general issue for its soldiers. After a little fine-tuning by the Marine Quartermasters, the design was approved and the knife became the official fighting and utility knife for the Marines. The knife became so popular and well-known for its quality and usefulness during the war, that all knives made in a similar style came to be known as Kabar knives. After being adopted by the Army, Coast Guard, Navy, and the Underwater Demolition Teams, the Kabar knife served in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom. 74 years later, the Kabar knife remains an iconic knife for military veterans, outdoorsmen, and collectors.
Why Are Kabar Knives So Popular?
- They are a piece of military history
- Classic design with durable materials
- KA-BAR has been making knives since 1897
- Great for fighting and survival
- Reasonable price
- Easy to sharpen in the field
- When properly cared for, will last you a lifetime
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Things To Consider: Kabar Hunting Knife Buying Guide
Since the inception of the Kabar knife, the material used to make the blade has always been 1095 Cro-Van steel. This is a carbon steel known for its strength and durability, as well as the ability to take an edge rather easily. Some veterans claim that you can sharpen a Kabar knife with a rock if you need to! Most knife makers continue to use 1095 for their Kabar models, but you can also find knives made in the Kabar style with other metals.
The traditional blade shape for a Kabar knife is a straight back blade with a clip point. This shape provides a sharp point for penetration, and a curved section for slashing or slicing. Since the majority of the blade preserves its thickness, the strength of the Kabar blade is preserved. Traditional Kabars don’t have serrated sections, but you can find knives with them if you prefer. The blade length of a Kabar is normally 7 inches long, but versions are available in a wide range of sizes to suit anyone’s particular needs.
Since the Kabar knife is made from carbon steel rather than stainless steel, the blade often comes with a finish coating to help prevent rusting. The original Kabar knife features a black powdercoat finish which looks great. You can buy a Kabar with many different finishes, colors, or polishes depending upon the blade material.
You can buy a Kabar knife with a wide range of handle materials, but the Marine Corps version features a stacked leather handle. Leather is extremely durable and provides excellent grip, even when wet. When oiled, the handle becomes waterproof. Modern Kabar knives come with exotic plastic, fiberglass, or other handle materials.
- Other considerations when buying any knife are overall length, total weight, if a sheath is included, and quality of sheath.
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This is the knife that started it all. Used extensively by the U.S. military, the Marine Corps Fighting Knife is a proven weapon and survival tool.
The classic Kabar knife features a 7-inch blade forged from KA-BAR’s famous 1095 Cro-Van carbon steel.
It has the distinct clip point shape which makes it ideal for thrusting and slashing when you use it as a weapon. You receive your knife with a 20-degree edge on it, and the blade is finished with a black powdercoat finish to minimize rusting and extend the life of your knife. The blade is .165” thick all the way out to the taper so it’s super strong and won’t break when you use it for hammering or prying. Once you see the profile of the Marine Corps Fighting Knife, you’ll never forget it.
When KA-BAR developed this knife, they wanted to use a handle material that was tough, light, and provided superior grip, even in wet conditions. They ended up using stacked leather washers with a relief every ¾” for grip. The hand guard on the front protects your hand and keeps it from sliding forward, while the powdered black butt cap gives the handle a clean, finished look. In this day and age when exotic handle materials are all the rage, it’s important to remember that the old ways still work very well. Stacked leather handles are proven to be durable, and can be waterproofed when oiled regularly. This handle will last longer than you do.
Anytime you buy a fixed blade knife, it’s important that it comes with a sheath. The one included with the Fighting Knife is fantastic. It’s made from 100% leather, with a snap loop to secure the knife firmly in place. The belt loop is nice and wide, so your belt will fit through it no matter how wide it is. On the front, the sheath leather is stamped with KA-BAR, USMC, and the Marine globe, anchor, and eagle insignia. It’s great to see a high-quality sheath included that’s worthy of carrying on the tradition of this world-famous knife.
- Stacked leather washer handle
- Includes 100% leather sheath
- 1095 Cro-Van Steel blade
- 7” blade length
- Black powdered finish
- Fixed-blade full tang knife
- Overall length 12 ⅞”
- Blade thickness .165”
- 20-degree edge angle
- Made in U.S.A.
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
This knife is a modern take on the classic Kabar style. A different shape and handle make this Kabar knife unique without forgetting its roots.
The Becker Combat Utility has a 7-inch blade that utilizes the classic Kabar clip point shape.
One difference is the added serrations and thumb rest on the back for added control. Blade material is KA-BAR’s classic 1095 Cro-Van Steel, sharpened to a classic 20-degree edge. The black powdered finish makes this knife look clean yet intimidating. This is a full-tang fixed blade knife with a beautiful profile.
On the BK7, KA-BAR chose to use modern handle technology. Rather than the classic stacked leather, they opted for using scales on each side of the tang. The scale material is Ultramid, a material known for its high strength, impact strength, chemical resistance, and high friction properties. The scales are held in place with three allen-head screws, and guard and pommel are created by the shape of the knife. This is a super-tough handle that looks great too.
The Becker Combat Utility knife comes with a heavy-duty polyester sheath. Four heavy rivets keep it all together, and a nylon strap snaps shut to hold your BK7 in place. This sheath has an additional pouch on the front that will fit the KA-BAR BK13 Remora skeleton handled knife, so you get two sheaths for the price of one. If you decide to buy the BK7, be sure to get the BK13 to go with it!
- Tough fiberglass nylon handle
- 7-inch blade length
- 12 ⅞” overall knife length
- 20-degree edge angle
- 1095 Cro-Van Steel blade
- Full tang fixed-blade knife
- Weighs 12.9 ounces
- Black nylon sheath with insert
- .188” blade thickness
- Limited lifetime warranty and made in the U.S.A.
This knife is a modern remake of a popular U.S. Navy issued knife popular with the Special Forces.
The Mark 1 uses the proven 1095 Cro-Van Steel that KA-BAR is known for. The blade shape here is a clip, which has a longer and more gradual taper than the clip point found on other Kabars.
The blade on this knife is 5 ⅛” long, with a black powdered metal finish. This fixed-blade, full tang knife comes with a 20-degree edge on it, and measures 9 3/16” overall. This Kabar is a smaller, more nimble version of the classic.
The handle duties are tackled here by Kraton G. This is a polymer renowned for its resistance to wear, chemicals, water, and sweat, and the finished oval handle shape maximizes grip when using the knife.
The sheath included with the Mark 1 knife is hard plastic, very suited to moist or wet conditions that sailors are likely to encounter. There are two straps to snap your knife into place, ensuring that it’s not going anywhere. Five separate strap slots, a belt loop, and eight holes give you plenty of options for securing your knife to your person.
- Black Kraton G handle
- 5 ⅛” blade length
- 9 3/16” Overall length
- Comes with heavy duty hard plastic sheath
- 1095 Cro-Van steel straight edge blade
- Fixed-blade full tang knife
- Weighs 8 ounces
- Made in the U.S.A.
- Limited Lifetime Warranty to the original purchaser
Whenever I review products, I always like to pick a winner. This is not such an easy task with this group. All three of these knives are exceptional, and they compare to each other very well. For fishing or camping, I would select the Kraton Handled Mark 1. For hunting or an everyday knife to keep in the truck, I prefer the Becker BK7 Combat Utility. For a knife worth having in my collection, or occasional use, you can’t go wrong with the Marine Corps Fighting Knife. I name all three of these knives winners, because they are all fantastic buys. Just select the one that most closely meets your own needs, or buy all three!