The KA-BAR Mark 2 has been the go-to knife of the USMC since 1942, but its Marine heritage is just the tip of the iceberg. Employing a 178mm 1095 carbon steel clip point blade that’ll slice through cold butter like an impossibly hot battle axe, the KA-BAR has a leather-wrapped handle so handsome it’ll make your grandmother blush. And while the looks can't kill, the knife can—that's how it's got its name.
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In 1923 the owner of the Union Cutlery Co. of Olean, New York received a letter from a fur trapper, who praised the knife after he used it to successfully kill a bear that attacked him after his rifle jammed. According to Union Cutlery Co., the letter was somewhat illegible, with "ka bar" being the only readable part of the phrase "kill a bear." It's been KA-BAR ever since.
Alex Robinson is a senior editor at Supercompressor who wants to know more about this legendary fur trapper. Find him on Twitter @ItsAlexRobinson.