Field Trial Spartan Ka-Bar
By M. Willson Offutt IV

The new Spartan Ka-Bar’s dimensions and optics are close to the original Ka-Bar knife, first mass produced for US military issue early in WWII, now with modern materials and finishes.
To over-simplify in three categories, there are WWII-Korea-Vietnam era “Old Ka-Bars” mostly issued by the US military, “New Ka-Bars” for sale to civilians in recent decades that are closely similar to “Old Ka-Bars” but better finished, and the brand new “Spartan” which slightly alters the design and substitutes all new materials. Multiple firms made Old and New ‘Ka-Bars’, for use in multiple wars, and for civilians, with myriad small design and material variations, not detailed here. The Ka-Bar silhouette is recognized by every soldier and most civilians. The knife was featured in Tom Clancy’s book “Without Remorse”. One glance triggers historical memories and patriotic emotions. From old photos, I infer that a large percentage of our soldiers at war since 1942 carried a version of the Ka-Bar. I inherited from my great uncle the military issue Ka-Bar he carried in WWII, through the battle for Okinawa, remembered for the scale of savagery and kamikaze attacks. My neighbor confirms he carried a Ka-Bar through his military training, and while serving in Delta force, culminating in command of an airborne brigade. He calls it an “essential tool.” Historically, and right up to the present, soldiers still prefer the Ka-Bar design; when not issued a Ka-Bar, soldiers go purchase a civilian version “New Ka-Bar” on their own.


This article appears in the March 2024 issue of KNIFE Magazine. You can read the whole thing below.