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History of the trapper pattern?

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by RescueRiley, Apr 17, 2009.

  1. RescueRiley


    Mar 22, 2006
    Howdy All I know I just randomly pop in over here and post several times and disappear .. Sorry to be a Vacationer. But I do love it here. Any I've been using trapper patterns lately..Seems pretty obvious that they where designed uhh for trappers? but any little tidbits regarding the history and utilization of the patter would be great. Thanks in advance.
  2. navihawk


    Feb 21, 2006
    Subscribed. Sounds interesting to me too. My usual is a nice medium Amherst lately.
  3. BJE


    Apr 12, 2006
    It would be nice to have a guesstimate as to the date, but I would reckon it to be around the time when the US was still being settled and trapping was popular.

    While I really like the feel of a trapper, I don't find much use in two blades of the same length, I like to whittle and prefer a small blade most of the time, so I might be a little biased.
  4. RescueRiley


    Mar 22, 2006
    Bje I Hear you on that...I Like the 2 blades because it gives me 1 long blade whichis used specifically for food prep when I'm out in the field (spey) spreads pb like it was made for it.. and the longer clip is handy for other campish chores.
  5. dalefuller

    dalefuller Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 2, 2005
    Don't know about their history, but Trappers are my fav traditional pattern. I've got a couple of Case Trappers and a Northfield #73 so far. The Case in stag & CV is my fav for carrying and using. I particularly like the long spey blade for working around my dogs. Enough cutting length to do what's necessary and no point to worry about if they move suddenly.
  6. Grateful

    Grateful Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 5, 2002
    I like trappers alot and usually carry one paired up with a sak. I can't add anything as to their history. I have always wondered who came up with the trapper first and if it has changed any over time. Was the 4 1/8" model first? What about the 3 7/8" model and the mini? Just some things that I have wondered about that nobody seems to be able to come up with an answer for.
  7. sunnyd


    Jul 17, 2004
    Great question RescueRiley. The pattern goes wayy back. There are single blade Trapper's, sometimes referred to as a Farmers Trapper and of coarse the double blade Trapper with the master 'clip' blade and the secondary 'spey' blade we usually associate the pattern with today. Typically the classic (2) blade Trapper's clip and spey blade are the same length although I've seen variations.. The classic uses for this cutting tool were primarily the clip blade provided is a general all around cutting blade while the spey was fashioned to specifically part flesh, gut and skin the animal.

    It also should be noted that some years back W.R. Case produced multi-blade Trappers, I believe they named the Beast. This type of knife was mainly geared for the collector market.

    Getting back to the history of the Trapper and its origins may require some work. I will check some references and see what I can come up with.

  8. RescueRiley


    Mar 22, 2006
    Awesome, Thanks Sunny... and everyone else.
  9. henryhide


    Feb 6, 2009
    I'd be interested in any info. anybody comes up with as this is a question I've wondered about, too. My guess is that somebody took a farmer's knife and added a spey blade to it. Who, when, where, I have no idea. I guess a starting point would be to try to find old catalogs and see when the pattern first appeared, if that is possible.

    The interesting thing is that many stockmen prefer the trapper pattern over the stockman pattern. I read someplace where the trapper pattern is the number one seller for Mooremaker. And , you would think that a trapper could also use a stockman--it has a spey blade too, but I don't think the stockman is popular with them.
  10. knifeaholic


    Oct 15, 2001
    I can tell you my own speculation based on 35 plus years of collecting antique pocket knives and studying lots of old knife catalogs...

    It appears to me that the trapper pattern as we know it today did not show up until the 1920's. From what I have seen KABAR and Case were the first two companies that made the "54" style trapper pattern. These two companies had family ties and many of the patterns produced by the two companies were similar. If I had to make a guess I would say that KABAR came out with the trapper first in the 1920's and Case followed.

    The predecessor to the modern trapper was the "slim jack" or "slim dogleg jack" usually about 4" closed with a long slim clip blade and a pen blade. Some collectors refer to this pattern as a "pen trapper". Many of the older cutlery companies produced this pattern as far back as the 1880's including NYK, Ulster, Schrade, Napanoch, Challenge, Miller Brothers, and Utica.

    It appears that at some point some companies modified the "slim dogleg jack" pattern to include a long spay as the secondary blade, creating a slimmer version of the trapper pattern. But it was Case and/or KABAR that created the first true "54" style trapper as a beefier and mor stylized version of the slim dogleg.

    Given the extreme popularity of the 54 style trapper pattern today and in the last 20 years or so, it may be a shock to today's knife nuts to find out that in the pre WWII years the trapper was a relatively minor pattern. Case and Kabar made them, but early examples are relatively rare from these companies. It was close to WWII before other companies like Schrade and Camillus offered a trapper pattern (these two companies used a smaller frame than the 54).

    Remington of course made the famous "Bullet Trapper" pattern which was widely sold...so if you count that as a trapper then it was arguably the widest selling trapper pattern made prior to WWII.

    Prior to WWII, the pocket knife lines of most knife companies were dominated by basic jack patterns and stockman patterns. After WWII as knife companies retrenched to face a changed market, the jacks started to fall away but the stockman still dominated.

    Part II later....
  11. sunnyd


    Jul 17, 2004
    Knifeaholic is quite accurate on the dates according to, Levine's Guide 4Th Ed, page 216:

    "... The Light Trapper(3 3/4 inch closed) was most likely introduced before WWI and the Standard Trapper(4 - 4 1/4 inches closed) in the 1920's."

    I find the rest of Knifeaholic's post a good read and looking forward to the next part(part II) of it.

  12. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    I do know one thing, in all the years I was growing up down on the Choptank, and summers spent with men who really did trap, I don't ever recall seeing one single trapper pattern knife!:confused:

    Almost without exeption, the pocket knives of the Jenkins store liers circle were one or two blade jacks of some sort. Barlow, dogleg, serpintine, or the occasional "fishing knife with yellow handles that was a toothpick pattern. When it came to skinning a critter, the universal choice was the leather handle Little Finn, by Case or Ka-bar, or Western.

    Today, they still hold muskrat skinning contests, and the universal choice of knife is a very sharp Victorinox paring knife. Go figure.

    I'd be interested in the origin of the trapper knife as well!
  13. Grateful

    Grateful Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 5, 2002
    Very interesting! Thanks for the info guys. Thanks to RR for starting this thread also.:thumbup:
  14. sunnyd


    Jul 17, 2004
    Jacknife brings up a good point, as he typically does, that the prevailing folding knives that hunters and trappers used were the predecessor of the Trapper pattern, that is, the Jack knife, and specifically the Dog leg Jack pattern.. And of coarse any number of others mentioned in his post, and others he did not mention as well.. I firmly believe we were pretty much a one knife(edc) society at that time. Meaning you used what was in your pocket, whatever that was.

    I believe in my heart that the Trapper pattern was popularized simply by the commercial success of early special releases, specifically the Remington Bullet knives in the 1920's - 30's and others like the Hawbaker Special and countless others after that. After these knives were released it seemed that the popularity of the real uses of the standard trapper pattern were realized for actual use, and later for the collector market.

  15. Peregrin

    Peregrin Traditional Forum Moderator Moderator

    Sep 2, 2004
    I've got nothing to offer but this is a good read. Thanks.
  16. RescueRiley


    Mar 22, 2006
    There is Some Great stuff Here.. Thanks..While THe trapper itself seems to be a relatively new Configuration in the slip joint world, It seems to me that the blade configuration (though not identical) but the idea of 2 large blades, 1 clip and one more rounded was used in in the early moose pattern popularized By Nessmuk. Forgive any inaccuracies I may present as this is purely speculation
  17. navihawk


    Feb 21, 2006
    I second that..
  18. sidecutter


    Nov 28, 2008
    FWIW, schrade had the 960T bearhead trapper withe the tweezers and awl.
  19. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker

    Aug 18, 2008
    The best place to find out for sure is to field this to Mr. Levine on his excellant forum. If I remember right the first trappers came out around 1930 about when my Dad was born. The first trappers were designed and made by Remington, the real Remington and not Camillius. The fist ones before they started adding a bottom bolster looked like todays Baby Bullet Trapper and the large version was prabably actually the very first. I could be wrong on this but it seems like I read this in Knife World or something years ago. The trapper is made to be an all around hunting and skinning knife especially for the removel of fine pelts. I use to think I liked the moose better, but I still prefer the trapper when it comes to a good all around jack knife pattern. I hope I didn't just put my little size 8 1/2 foot in my mouth!
  20. d.parker


    Sep 1, 2001
    From my collecting experience, and word of Case Historians.. Case started the pattern around 1919, if it was an existing pattern at that time in the 41/8" Frame I don't know. I don't think I have ever seen a Case Bros Stamped 2 bladed 4 1/8" Trapper, they were prevalent in 1920 stamped Case Tested XX...

    Thanks Knifeaholic for your information, and look forward to part 2.....

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