There are several different styles of knives used by the green berets during the Vietnam War, but two of the most common are Gerber Mark II and John Ek. Read on to learn more. The Gerber Mark II is a tactical knife that's made by Gerber.
The North Vietnamese troops, the South Vietnamese army, and the American military are frequently pictured as the war's three main actors as American special forces recall the Vietnam War.
Gerber Mark II
The Gerber Mark II was one of the most commonly used knives by the Green Berets during the north Vietnam War. Though it was not officially issued to the american troops in Vietnam, it was available for purchase through base PXs. As a result, it became popular among special forces units, especially in the elite MACV SOG units on military service. The Gerber knife underwent a number of changes during the war, but remains an iconic combat blade.
The knife was first used in Vietnam by the 5th Special Forces Group, led by Master Sergeant Jerry Michael Shriver of U.S. Army special forces, like ariborn troops, special air service, air Force, airborne troops, mobile strike forces and hatchet force. It has an inverted grip, allowing for easy access to the blade when needed. The ballistic knife also had a ricasso for quick access. In the picture, you can see the ricasso, but it is only barely held in place by a sheath retaining strap. The sheath does not have a wrist tie and has a leather belt fastening system.
The Gerber Mark II knife was designed by retired U.S. Army Captain Bud Holzman. He adapted a sword from the Mainz Gladius and re-designed it to make it lighter, more effective and more comfortable to use. The original blade was deemed too savage, and the knife was discontinued. A subsequent design by Gerber included sawtooth serrations on the hilt. The bowie knife gained popularity after the release of the cult film The Road Warrior in 1981.
A Gerber Mark II is a highly effective and durable combat knife that was designed by a former Armed services Captain. Its blade is 6.5 inches long and can strike a vital area from any angle. It also features a dagger-like design that allows it to penetrate hard, thick materials with ease.
This Gerber Mark II knife was a popular choice of the green berets and was used by many Special Forces members in the war. Its cost was under $25, but it was not meant to be carried on a daily basis. It was also used by American military personnel on the ground. A similar model was sold in the states by Randall Made Knives.
The Gerber Mark II was designed by US Army Captains Bud Holzman and Al Mar and was inspired by the Roman Gladius. Its sheath was originally made from leather, but around 1985, it was replaced by a black Cordura(r) ballistic nylon sheath. The Cordura version of the sheath has a MOLLE/PALS compatible belt loop.
John Ek knives
This knife is a Vietnam Era John Ek Model 6-Patton Occupational Fighting Knife. The blade is approximately 6 1/2" long and marked at the ricasso with an ink stamp of Miami, Fla. The back of the blade is marked "John Ek Commando Knife." The sheath is marked Seminole Gun Shop.
The price tag on this knife is well over $200! This is a great knife for anyone who's into knives. It's made of stainless steel and features a slash guard. The blade of choice is also very sharp, making it ideal for combat. However, be sure to check the specifications of this knife before making the purchase.
Other knives used by green berets in the Vietnam War were the Conetta Mark 2, Camillus and Utica. The Jet Pilot's Survival Knives were especially popular in Vietnam. Originally five inches in length, they were reduced to five inches in 1962 and issued to airmen and ground forces. This knife was one of the first to feature saw teeth on the back.
During World War II, John Ek began producing military-grade knives and employed disabled American veterans to create them. Beginning in 1941, he produced six models of knives. Some of these were classified as "Ek Commando Knives," and they were specifically designed for close quarter combat. During the war, they became a hallmark of US Army Rangers and Marine Raiders, as well as the Office of Strategic Services Operational Groups.
The knife's pommel is made of cast iron. The leather handle has white plastic spacers set into it. The blade is a plum-blue color and is engraved with the Special Forces Crest and 5TH SPECIAL FORCES GROUP (ABN) / VIETNAM. The sheath and scabbard are unmarked.
The EK45 Model 5 Commando is a modern version of the original Commando knife. Its blade is made from Cro-Van 1095 steel. This type of steel is much more resilient than conventional 1095 steel. Its chromium and vanadium content makes it stronger and more ductile. Aside from the blade, the handle is incredibly durable.
In every military conflict since 1967, soldiers have carried DAN-D green beret knives. This is the story behind the first DAN-D green beret knife that its manufacturer, the soldier who commissioned it and the tumultuous times that surrounded it. The SOG knife was designed and issued for the undercover personnel of the Study and Observation Group during the Vietnam War. It was not marked and supposedly could not be traced back to the country of origin or manufacture to maintain a plausible denial of undercover operators in the event of death or capture.
American soldiers in Vietnam
The MK-II was originally designed for Gerber by Bud Holzmann, a veteran of the 101st Airborne Division of World War II. The basic concept was to correct some of the flaws of the classic Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife and thus create the perfect hand-to-hand weapon. As all collectors know, approximately the first 2,700 knives had a 5 percent “slant” in the blade and handle that was supposed to better position the legendary knife in the hand for thrusts. This proved to be more of a theoretical advantage than a real one, and many buyers thought they had received a damaged knife.
From serial number 3751 on the blade and handle were in a straight line. While Gerber expected to produce the knives under an official government contract, he never received them. Thousands of knives were purchased by individual military personnel out of their own pockets, and the knife was especially favored in elite units. Finally, as anti-military attitudes poisoned the American public, Gerber was forced to add striations to the blade so that it could be sold in the mail exchange system (PX) as a “survival knife”.
Several changes have been made to the knife over the years, but it is still the classic combat blade of the Vietnam War. As Jon says, he was well known for practicing knife throwing in camp, but he really didn't expect to need to put that skill to use in the field. For questions about the JFK SWC Museum and Gift Shop, including purchasing the Yarborough knife for Special Forces soldiers and veterans, please contact 910-223-0780 or 910-485-5433 directly. Any knife is as good as the man behind it and Jon Caviani proved time and time again that he was one of the best.
In 1986, a company called SOG Specialty Knives based in Santa Monica, California, marketed a knife manufactured in the city of Seki, Japan, very similar to the original SOG knife. The handle of the Green Beret knife is completed with two raised double protectors and a cord to help secure the knife in the hand. This survival knife has a 6 to 4 inch blade made of durable carbon steel, along with a solid Grip-Tite rubber handle that gives you excellent grip while using it. This MAC-SOG combat knife from Vietnam is a replica of the combat knife once used by the United States Special Forces.
SOG knife replicas have also been made by Al Mar Knives, Ek Knives, Tak Fukuta for Parker and Strider Knives. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, received the Yarborough Knife with its own serial number and signed a special log book along with the most elite members of the United States Army. A durable sheath made of highly abrasion-resistant Cordura nylon material is included with the purchase of the Vietnam MOC-SOG combat knife that will protect your military knife when not in use. Although SOG's office based in Kadena and Yogi Shokai were in Okinawa, it is believed that only a major knife manufacturing source like Seki could have fulfilled all of these orders,.
In the 1980s, a company called SOG Specialty Knives manufactured a knife very similar to the original SOG knife in the city of Seki, Japan, and marked it with the U.S. UU. .