There is probably no US fighting knife more associated with the war in the Pacific theater than the US Navy Mk 2 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. It 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. Pommel caps were secured by a variety of methods, including screwed on washers, peened and pinned tangs, just to name a few. Some of the makers used different methods to secure the pommel cap to the knife tang during their production runs. The most prolific deliveries of the knife were made by the Ka-Bar Cutlery Company of Olean, NY as even though the knife was produced by three other companies during the war, the Marines referred to is as the “KA-BAR”, and still use that name for their fighting-utility knife today. The knives began to be issued to the Marines in early 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. The Marines utilized 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. As a result, the early blade marked knives are 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. As previously noted KA-BAR delivered the most 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.
This particular USMC 1219C2 Combat Knife was produced by the PAL Cutlery 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 used both the “Blade Company” and “Cutlery Company” monikers interchangeably during the next two decades. They purchased the cutlery division of Remington in 1941, along with all of their machinery, tooling and designs. They soon 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, M-3 Trench Knives, TL-29 pocket knives, a variety of bayonets including the M-1 and M-4, 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.
The knife is in about VERY GOOD condition. The knife is one of the early production knives which his blade marked on the obverse ricasso: PAL and on the reverse ricasso: USMC. The blade is full length and has been lightly sharpened. It retains about 50% of its original dark gray parkerized finish. 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 leather washer guard is in VERY 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 leather washer grip has a thin black and thick red synthetic spacer at each end. These are located against the cross guard and in front of the pommel cap. This construction style is referred to by collectors as a “Red Spacer” knife. The knife is retained in its correct and original leather sheath. The sheath is unmarked, but has the correct round domed rivets for a PAL knife scabbard. The rivets reinforce the stitching that joins the front and back of the sheath. All of the original stitching remains and is tight and secure. The leather sheath shows some moderate scuffing and finish loss from use, as well as some dirty discoloration on the front. The sheath also shows some light to moderate 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. The sheath was field decorated by its owner. His initials are on the front, although they are not fully legible due to wear. They appear to read HGC. He also added a very artistic rendering of his wife (or girl friend) on the upper portion of the belt loop, between the sheath body and retaining strap.
Overall this is a really nice, PAL made example of the classic USMC “KaBar”. The knife is in really good, as used condition and displays wonderfully. This is an early and very scarce blade marked, red spacer USMC knife that saw use, but was never really abused and has lots of eye appeal. If you have been looking for a nice example of this scarce, early production World War II era 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. SOLD