How to Date a Camillus Kabar Knife: An Expert’s Guide

Knives, especially those with a long history and rich heritage such as the Camillus KA-BAR, are more than just tools. They are artifacts that carry with them a multitude of stories. For knife enthusiasts, one intriguing aspect of collecting is the ability to time-trace these knives, a practice that involves discerning details about the knife’s manufacture period. This informative guide will help you understand how to date a Camillus KA-BAR knife using semantic entities. Semantic entities help capture the context within which an information source is talking about an object, in this case, a Camillus KA-BAR knife. We’ll delve into the history, markings, construction, and other relevant informative pieces about dating your treasured blade.

Understanding Camillus Kabar Knives

Before we discuss how to date these knives, let’s first understand what they are. The Camillus Cutlery Company was an American knife manufacturer established in Camillus, New York in 1876 which went bankrupt and closed in 2007. During their 131 years in operation, they produced numerous military knives, one of the most popular being the Camillus KA-BAR.

Using Semantic Entities to Date a Camillus Kabar Knife

Semantic entities are vital in providing a deep understanding of how to date these specific knives. Here are the significant points to consider:

1. Company Markings

Examining company markings on the knife blade can provide essential information regarding the knife’s production period. Early Camillus KA-BAR knives were stamped with the ‘Camillus, NY’ marking. The markings evolved over the years, and some knives started having the brand’s logo included in markings. Understanding this progression will help in dating your knife.

2. Blade Style

Blade shape and construction are another way to date the knife. Early Camillus KA-BAR knives had a full tang blade. They later shifted to a partial tang design. So, if the knife you have has a full-tang blade, it could be an early model.

3. Materials Used

Materials can also give clues about the age of the knife. Early Camillus KA-BAR knives used different materials, such as bone and stag for handles, while later models started using synthetic materials. Therefore, if your knife has a bone or stag handle, it may be an older model.

4. Knife Features

Certain features unique to specific periods can offer decisive information for dating as well. For instance, early models of Camillus KA-BAR knives did not have a crossguard, while later versions did. Looking for such specific elements could be critical in pinning down a manufacturing period.

Comparing Different Models

Here’s a comparison table to help you understand the different features of Camillus KA-BAR knives from various periods:

Period Company Marking Blade Style Materials Extra Features
Early model ‘Camillus, NY’ Full Tang Bone/Stag Handle No Crossguard
Later model ‘Camillus, NY’ with Logo Partial Tang Synthetic Handle Added Crossguard

Detailed Guide to Date Your Camillus Kabar Knife

Now that you have a theoretical understanding of how to discern the manufacture period let’s guide you through a step-by-step process:

  1. Examine the Company Markings: Look at the blade for any company markings. If it has ‘Camillus, NY’ with no logo, it might be an early model.
  2. Inspect the Blade Style: Check whether the blade is full tang or partial tang. Full tang indicates an early model, while partial tang denotes a later model.
  3. Check the Handle Materials: The handle material can also give clues. Bone/ stag handle implies an older model, while later models switched to synthetic materials.
  4. List of Extra Features: Look for unique features like the crossguard. If missing, it could be an early model. Presence of such features is an indication of a later model.

Museums and Online Forums

You can also make use of online knife forums and museums to get more precise date identifications. These platforms often have extensive information on knife production periods, model variants, and specific manufacturing details. Additionally, you might be able to talk to knowledgeable collectors or historians in these forums who can provide more in-depth understanding and insights.


Dating a Camillus KA-BAR knife can be an enjoyable and educational process. While it may take a keen eye to spot the necessary details, understanding the import of each feature can be highly rewarding. Not only do you get more detailed information about your knife, but you also gain insights about the rich history of the Camillus Cutlery Company. So, take your time, do your research and immerse yourself in exploring the age of your cherished blade.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How old is my KA-BAR knife?

The age of your KA-BAR knife can depend on various factors such as the specific model, manufacturing markings, and historical context. Some ways to determine the age include researching the knife’s features, checking for date codes or markings, or contacting KA-BAR customer service with detailed information and photos of the knife.

2. Did Camillus make KA-BAR knives?

Yes, Camillus Cutlery Company was one of the manufacturers of KA-BAR knives. The United States Marine Corps awarded several contracts to Camillus during World War II to produce the iconic KA-BAR combat knife. Camillus manufactured KA-BAR knives until 2007 when they filed for bankruptcy.

3. How old is Camillus?

Camillus Cutlery Company was founded in 1876, making it over 145 years old. They produced a wide range of knives, including military and civilian models, and gained significant recognition for their quality craftsmanship over the years.

4. How much is a KA-BAR knife worth?

The value of a KA-BAR knife can vary depending on factors such as its age, rarity, condition, and collectability. Vintage and limited-edition models, especially those from specific wartime periods, are often more valuable than modern production knives. It is recommended to consult price guides, online marketplaces, or reach out to knife collectors and enthusiasts for a better estimation of its worth.

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