Fine & Scarce USMC Fighting Knife by the PAL Blade Company
- Product Code: EWSK-1625
- Availability: In Stock
There is probably no US fighting knife more associated with the war in the Pacific theater than the US Navy Mk 2 pattern combat knife, better known to the Marines who carried it at the KA-BAR. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Clifford H Shuey designed the USMC 1219C2 Combat Knife, which was later re-designated as the USMC Mark 2 Combat Knife, and eventually simply as Knife, Fighting Utility in 1942. The knife was officially adopted in November of that year. The knife had a 7” clip-point, Bowie style blade with a steel cross guard and a pommel made of stacked leather washers. The overall length of the knife was 12” and the blades were blued, blackened, parkerized or plated, depending upon the manufacturer and in some cases the period of manufacture for that particular maker. Pommel caps were secured by a variety of methods, including screwed on washers, peened tangs and pinned tangs, just to name a few. Some of the makers even used different methods to secure the pommel cap to the knife tang during the course of their production runs. The most prolific deliveries of the knife were made by the Union Cutlery Company of Olean, NY who owned the “KA-BAR” trademark. Even though the knife was produced by three other companies during the war, the Marines generically referred to the knife as the “KA-BAR” and still use that name for their fighting-utility knife today. Despite the late 1942 official adoptions, the knives did not begin to be issued to the Marines until early in 1943.
While the Navy version of the knife was marked USN or USN Mk 2 on the blade and had the makers name on the opposite side, the Marine Corps knives were marked USMC on one side and with the makers name on the other. Early US Navy knives were issued in leather sheaths, which were eventually replaced by composite sheaths by early-to-mid 1944. However, the Marines continued to utilize the leather sheaths throughout the entire war. Due to problems in the field with broken blades, the manufacturing specification for the knife was altered and required the markings to be moved from the blade ricasso to the cross guard in 1944. Despite this change, only Camillus delivered any guard marked USMC knives before the end of the war. Post-World War II production USMC knives are primarily guard marked, making the World War II period blade marked knives less common and more actively sought after than the later production, guard marked knives. During World War II, Camillus, PAL, and Robeson Shuredge also produced the USMC fighting knife in addition to the Union Cutlery Company (KA-BAR). As previously noted, KA-BAR delivered the largest number of USMC knives and Camillus provided the second greatest number of knives. Robeson delivered the fewest knives, and their USMC knives are considered to be the best made of all the USMC knives. The Pal Blade Company provided the second smallest number of knives during the war. Today PAL and Robeson blade marked USMC knives are very scarce and highly sought after by WWII USMC knife collectors.
This particular USMC 1219C2 Combat Knife was produced by the PAL Blade Company of Plattsburgh, NY. Pal was established in 1935 as a cutlery company, specializing in kitchen implements. The company was a merger of the Utica Knife & Razor Company of Utica, NY and the Pal Blade Company of Chicago, IL. Pal would use both the “Blade Company” and “Cutlery Company” monikers interchangeably during the next two decades. The company also purchased the cutlery division of Remington in 1941, along with all of their machinery, tooling and designs. Soon Pal began production in the old Remington owned factory in Holyoke, MA. The classic PAL blade marks of RH 35, RH36, etc. refer to the Remington heritage of that pattern, as the designations meant “Remington, Hunting, Pattern 3, 5” (or 6”) blade”. During World War II the PAL Blade Company produced hundreds of thousands of edged weapons for the US war effort, including USN Mark 1 and Mark 2 knives, M3 Trench Knives, TL-29 pocketknives, a variety of bayonets including the M1 and M4, as well as a limited number of USMC 1219C2 combat knives. The Pal Blade Company went out of business in 1953, and the assets of the company were acquired by American Safety Razor company. While most of the contractors of USMC fighting knives made at least a couple of significant production variations of the knives, with features like the finish and blade attachment system varying, PAL only produced one primary production version of the knife; a Parkerized blade that was secured with a round compression peen and with thick red and thin black washers at each end of the leather grip. The only other known variant may well be a pre-production or sample version that was essentially the same but featured a wooden pommel cap like those found on some USN Mk1 knives. According to knife collector, researcher and author Bill Walters, only one example of the wooden pommel USMC knife is known.
This standard production PAL USMC Fighting Knife remains in about FINE condition. The knife is one of the wartime production knives which his blade marked PAL on the obverse ricasso and USMC on the reverse ricasso. The blade is full-length and appears to retain its original factory edge, although it may have been very lightly sharpened. It retains about 70% of its original medium gray parkerized finish, which is thinning and shows light wear and some finish loss. The blade also shows some scattered freckles of darker surface oxidation and minor staining. The guard shows some scattered surface oxidation and discoloration as well. The pommel cap retains about 50% of its thinning original finish and like the guard shows some freckled oxidation and age discoloration. None of the metal parts, blade, guard or pommel cap, show any pitting. The knife tang is secured to the pommel cap by compression peening, with a perfectly round dome at the end of the tang. The tang and pommel cap joint remains very tight and stable. The expected thick red synthetic spacer is present behind the guard before the beginning of the stacked leather washer grip, with an additional red spacer between the grip and the pommel cap. A much thinner black spacer is present in both locations between the red spacers and the leather washers. The leather washer grip is in FINE condition and shows only some light surface wear and minor use. The leather is free of any deep gouges or dings and has a fine, smooth, dark brown surface.
The knife is retained in a period correct USMC leather sheath, but not the type typically associated with the knives delivered by PAL. Pal knives were delivered with sewn scabbards that were reinforced with domed washers. This knife is contained in a very scarce BOYT/USMC/43 marked scabbard that is reinforced with staples, which was typically delivered mid-production KA-BAR knives. The scabbard has had the marking stamped out with a cross-hatch pattern, but close examination reveals the marking underneath the stamping. It is not clear when the scabbard was mated with the knife. While not the officially the correct scabbard for the knife, the rarity of the marked scabbard makes up for this minor issue. The Boyt produced sewn scabbard is reinforced with nine steel staples which have a thick layer of green verdigris on them. All of the original stitching remains intact and is tight and secure. The scabbard shows some scattered light scuffing and finish loss from carry and use, as well as some scattered discoloration from dirt and moisture. There is also some light crazing from use, mostly on the reverse of the leather belt loop. The original leather hilt-retaining strap is present, complete with its fully functional metal snap.
Overall this is a really nice example of a scarce, PAL marked and produced example of the classic USMC “KaBar”. The knife is in really fine condition. Although it appears to have been lightly used, it remains in very crisp condition and displays wonderfully. This is a scarce blade marked, “red spacer” USMC knife that was produced by the second rarest of USMC knife contractors. If you have been looking for a really nice example of a scarce PAL produced USMC fighting knife, this would be a nice one to add to your collection. This rare variant is one that is missing from even some of the most advanced USMC WWII knife collections.