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Do Soldiers Carry Knives? (With Examples of a Few Favorites)

Guns are the weapons most associated with soldiers; you will be hard-pressed to find a soldier wielding any other instrument in combat. As such, one might wonder whether or not soldiers carry other arms like knives. 

Soldiers do carry knives, although rarely in full display, as they opt to conceal the blades on their person. No rules prohibit knife-carrying, and soldiers are sometimes issued knives when they join the military. Should they choose to do so, soldiers can also purchase and carry knives of their own.

Here is a popular knife used by the Army, found on Amazon.

Just keep in mind that the various branches of the military issue different knives to soldiers; consequently, there is no single knife that all soldiers carry. Keep reading to find out what knives the US army issues to soldiers and those used by the US special forces. 

Does the US Army Issue Knives?

The US army generally issues M9 bayonets to its soldiers. The M9 has been in use since the 1980s, but the army reduced its bayonet use in 2010 as it began scaling back on bayonet drills to focus instead on calisthenics. In addition to the bayonet, soldiers may also get Gerber or Leatherman multi-tools, which have blades and can serve as pocket knives. 

Two Soldiers at a Ceremony With Bayonets

What Knives Does the Military Use?

Besides the army and its bayonets, other military organizations use knives as well. The following are some knives that the various US military organizations use.

M9 Bayonet

Officially adopted by the US in 1986, the M9 is a versatile knife and bayonet. The blade is seven inches long, and when combined with the sheat, the M9 can serve as a wire cutter. Throughout its reign in the army, the M9 has been made by five different companies, with the Ontario knife company and Tri-Technologies being the current makers of the knife. Counterfeit M9s are also produced in China.

ASEK Survival Knife

The Aircrew Survival Egress Knife, made by Ontario Knife Company, was commissioned in 2003 for US army aircrews. The knife is 10.25 inches long, with a 5 inch 1095 carbon steel blade capable of cutting through an aircraft’s aluminum skin. 


The KA-BAR is perhaps the most famous knife in the US military; it remains active with the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. The blade of the KA-BAR has a clipped point, is made of 1095 steel, and is seven inches long. The entire length of the knife is 11.9 inches, and it weighs 0.7 pounds. The KA-BAR lives up to its reputation, being able to take on challenging tasks without compromising.

Ka-Bar Knife on a Sheath

Related Article: The 3 Best Best Ka-Bar Alternatives.

US Special Forces Knives

Special forces like the Navy SEALs and US marines also use knives similar to the type the army uses. Some of these Knives include;

Mark 3 Navy Knife

The US Navy and Navy SEALs issue this knife to sailors. The blade is 6.5 inches and made of 440A stainless steel with a saw-toothed back and a black oxide finish.

The original design of the Mark 3 featured a reverse curved point, which suffered damage when the knife was used as a prying tool. As such, the Navy requested that the tips be reinforced. Subsequent Mark 3 knives have been strengthened, and the curve removed. The Mark 3 is an adequately functional tool, as the high-impact hilt and pommel can be employed as a hammer while the blade works well as a pry bar.

Yarborough Knife

This special forces knife is named after Lt. Gen William Yarborough, who is generally considered to be the father of the green berets. Accordingly, soldiers graduating from the special forces course have been issued the Yarborough along with their green beret. 

The Yarborough is 12.4 inches long and features a 7-inch CPM S35VN stainless steel blade. Chris Reeve knives are the Yarborough makers, and they provide a civilian variant of the knife known as a green beret.

OKC-3S Bayonet

These knives were made for the US Marines as a replacement for the M7 and M9 bayonets for its M16 rifles. 

The OKC-3S also functions as a combat knife, with its 8 inches long, 1.4 inches wide, and 1.25 lb high carbon steel blade. The knife is broader, thicker, and heavier than the M7 but slimmer, thinner, and lighter than the M9. The entire weapon is corrosion-resistant, and the sharp point of the blade is capable of piercing the body armor of an opponent. 

The OKC-3S is similar in appearance to the Ka-bar but is made exclusively by the Ontario Knife Company. 


Along with the Navy and Army, the US Navy SEALs issue KA-BARs upon graduation. On one side of the knife is the SEALs logo, and the flip side has the name of a SEAL who died in active duty.

United States Army rangers during a military operation

What Knives Do Soldiers Use?

Although the various military organizations issue knives to soldiers, they are not compelled to use the knives. In some instances, a soldier may not find the knife he was issued distasteful and opt for something else. Soldiers usually go for inexpensive, lightweight, but tough knives with blades around six inches in length. The most common choices include:

KA-BAR Becker BK-7

This knife weighs 12.9 ounces and has a 7-inch long blade of 1095 steel. The BK-7retails for about $80

Cold Steel SRK

SRK measures 10.75 inches in length and weighs 8.2 ounces. The blade is six inches and madeof AUS 8A stainless steel, which is tough enough to be used as a pry bar. The SRK sells for around $60.

Fallkniven Knives (A1, F1, and S1)

These Swedish-made knives are not inexpensive, as they cost around $200, but the VG10 steel and heat treatment justify the cost. 

Gerber Knives

Since 1968 Gerber has manufactured survival knives for the US military. As such, many military men carry Gerber knives.

Related Article: Buck vs. Gerber Knives | Which Is Better?

Military Knives: Combat vs. Survival

Depending on their use, military knives can be classified as combat knives or survival knives. The two types of knives may sometimes be difficult to differentiate as they share certain similarities.

Combat Knives

Combat knives are designed solely for military organizations and special forces to be used in hand-to-hand combat or close fighting. Accordingly, the blades of combat knives are designed for slashing and puncturing. 

In the wake of the trench war, most combat knives have been designed to also perform secondary utility roles like breaking glasses, digging shallow trenches, and bush clearing in addition to hand-to-hand combat. 

Combat knives generally have an overall length between nine and 11 inches. The blades have sharp and reinforced tips for slashing and piercing opponents. The M9 bayonets, Yarborough knife, and KA-BAR are examples of combat knives.

Survival Knives

Survival knives are designed to handle situations that are typical of forests and wilderness. As such, hunters, foresters, and survivalists also use these knives. 

The knives are intended for tasks like batoning wood, carving, skinning animals, and so on. Consequently, these knives, either with fixed or folding blades, are designed with sharp points, single straight edges, and flat-ground spines. The flat-ground spine will allow the user to safely add pressure to the knife if there is a need to do so. The US Army knife I mentioned works great for a variety of tasks.

Related Article: Is it Legal to Carry a Knife on Your Belt? | 4 Key Factors.

Survival knives usually have an overall length of 8 to 11 inches; they have solid handles with relatively flat pommels that can be used for hammering. Gerber and Fallkniven knives are good examples of survival knives.


The importance of knives as weapons has reduced over the years. Still, military men and women continue to carry knives. The knives are either self-acquired or issued by the US Army and other military organizations.

Military knives differ based on function. Some knives have the length and shape suitable for close fighting, while others are meant for survival tasks like bush clearing and trench digging.

For more, check out How Many Rounds of Ammo Does a Soldier Carry?