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  1. #1
    Legacy Member 2AD_Vet's Avatar
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    US pocket knife - practical configuration?

    I was cleaning a pocket knife I have (1976 imperial) and it got me to thinking - were the chosen blades on the knife really the best configuration for a GI?

    I carried a P38 can opener on my dog tag chain when I was in the service, and the awl and screwdriver were not in my ‘must have handy’ list….

    Any thoughts? Were there other blade configurations ?


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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    We had those on issue also and I never warmed up to that can opener. I far preferred a swiss knife and carried one instead. We had to have these for inspections but they at least were better than their fore runner of the giant clasp knife. We had a large copy of the P38 and guys would grab the little P38 to show they were an old soldier. Even though I have one on my work bench and I think one of these service issue clasp knives, I still prefer the tools on a swiss knife, carried an old version of "Huntsman".
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member Sapper740's Avatar
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    We were originally issued what we called the "Field Engineer's knife" which was a copy of the The D.H. Russell Boat Knife #3 also known as the "Jump knife". Later on we were issued Leathermen which were handy. I ordered two of the 'Jump knives' for my nephews from Grohmann Knives in Nova Scotia last Christmas.
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    Contributing Member BEAR's Avatar
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    I carried one of those (Camilus 72) from 72 to 87. The only attachment I would add to that old war horse is a Philips-head. SF sniper guys turned me onto the Leatherman, so, I carried that until 91. My last few years I carried an issued Gerber and still carry it today.
    I still have an old P38 in my silverware drawer for emergencies. My wife and kids know how to use it. Oh yeah. I still carry one on my old dog tags.

    BEAR

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    Legacy Member old tanker's Avatar
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    That style Camillus knife was in the "demo bag" and referred to as a "demo knife" by the Combat Engineers when I was in RVN. Pretty much like the classic Boy Scout knife. As a proper old soldier, I still have a P38 on my key ring, and the ring is, naturally, a recycled grenade pin.

    Last edited by old tanker; 12-31-2023 at 09:58 PM.

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    I own an interesting little piece of history: an Army Air Forces part number 44D5150 "KNIFE,FOLDING,HUNTING" orered from the Colonial Cutlery Company of Providence, R.I and delivered from 1943-1945. It was a pilot's survival knife meant to be carried in the C-1 survival vest. It had a 4 5/8" 1095 steel locking knife blade with a Rockwell hardness rating of HRC 53-57 and a 5" cold rolled saw blade with 15% tungsten content.



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    When I was in the Civil Air Patrol and training at Eglin AFB I "dined" with the Red Horse Squadrons on C-rats (Meal, Combat, Individual ration) and developed an affinity for the pound cake. I also accumulated a handful of P38s. I also ended up with a red smoke grenade.

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    Legacy Member 2AD_Vet's Avatar
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    If I recall correctly, the P 38 was included in the C ration carton. I remember vividly the John Wayne bars, and the almost indigestible can I food lol. Nobody wanted the bean and franks or the spam and potatoes!
    Last edited by 2AD_Vet; 01-01-2024 at 02:18 PM.

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    Old tanker has already mentioned what I was going to add to this discussion. In SF we also referred to to these pocket knives as "Demo" knives, as they were an integral part of the demo kit.

    These all-steel knives look to be a well-made, long-lasting and very useful little item, but a word of warning to those handling one. If both blades on one end of the knife have been opened, please refrain from closing them both at the same time. While in the service I did so, which promptly broke the spring. Years later I purchased one to add to the collection, and with the CRS of old age kicking in, after examining it one day did so again, with exactly the same result! Perhaps it is just my magic touch, but this experience suggests there may be a weakness, or perhaps even a fatal flaw in the design, so proceed at your own risk.

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    Comparatively speaking: Here's a 1940 dated Britishicon Commonwealth knife handed down to me from my Grandfather sitting next to a 1958 U.S. knife. The can opener on the Brit knife is definitely more useful and I like the marlin spike but the American knife's awl would be very useful.
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    Last edited by Sapper740; 01-02-2024 at 04:46 PM.

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    Date of U.S. knife:
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