How are Ka-Bars made?

Sep 21, 1999
Before I lurked and then joined this forum I did not have a lot of knife terms in my vocabulary. Now I do.

I realize that full tang fixed blade knives are regarded as stronger than other types. For most applications involving the need for a robust knife I have been pretty happy with Ka-Bars and a Camillus Navy Mk-III. I was exposed to these knives while in the military and haven't really found fault with them since owning my own. I currently have 11 various renditions of the USMC.

I realize that my second generation USMC knives are full tang models with the rest of the parts pinned on.

My questions for this subject are:

1. How are the originals and the black Ka-bars made? Are they full tang? I don't feel like dismantling any of mine. Are they considered strong nevertheless? I think they are--so what is even tougher?

2. Why are people in general usually "down" on 1095 steel knives? The ones I own haven't given me many corrosion problems, and no serious rusting at that in heavy use, and are easy to resharpen to boot. What gives?

3. Is 12C27 Sandvik a decent cutlery steel? Is 1095 better than the Sandvik when coated? Which would you rather own were ka-bars in these two configurations (Sandvik and 1095) the only knives available in the world? Why?

4. Is there any knife out there that defeats the price/performance ratio of the black ka-bars with kydex sheaths I buy off of Discount knives for about $50.00 each including S&H? I use these knives for everything from scuba to throwing at a log on top of the firewood pile and though I have cosmetically screwed some up and broken the tip off of one I generally have no complaints. What do others think of these not very talked about knives (at least here on the BF)?

5. What would you do to improve these legendary knives were you in charge of Alcas?

As you can tell I am a real fan of these knives, try and talk me out of another one if you can!


[This message has been edited by Oregon Duck (edited 22 September 1999).]
There is nothing wrong w/ any of these knives. Properly heat treated 1095 is good for MOST applications. As far as I know all of Ka-bars knives are full-tang contructed. That was one of the specs of the original FUK pattern. For around or under $50 bucks the Ka-bars or Spec-Plus MC are a great value and a battle proven design. In the Military Community alot of guy's will buy an expensive High end Production or Custom piece to carry on missions but will carry a Ka-bar during Training OPs because they are tought and easily replaced if lost or FUBARed.

[This message has been edited by Defender (edited 22 September 1999).]
I think Ka-Bar's are great beater knives and great all around knives. I'll never get rid of my Ka-ba next gen (unless it by some rare chance breaks, then I'll get another one)
The drawing on the box and the size of the tang on the buttcap suggest that the USMC Kabar is full length tang, not full tang, which seems to be considered as blade width. I don't know about the new one.
Okidokie... Technicalities of the full tang. The term is often used somewhat loosely. A true full tang is one that is exposed between two handle scales.. ie:it is as wide or wider than the blade. The USMC is a stick tang, often refered to as a full tang, but is plenty strong enough...the blade will usually fail before a good tang of any kind will.