TOP/Szabo (top), USMC Fighting/Utility (center), Ontario bayonet (bottom)

TOPS/Szabo USMC Combat Knife | Bayonet Review

The TOPS/Szabo USMC Combat Knife uses the Marine’s unique bayonet to create a real Devil Dog fighting steel!

Left, USMC OKC3S bayonet, center, US M-7 bayonet, right an Onatrio product improved version of the M-9. The M-7 was USMC issue from Vietnam up to the adoption of the OKC3S in the early part of the last decade. Ontario’s OKC M-10 simply replaces the less than useful round grip of the standard M-9 with an oval model. A simple change but a major improvement.

In virtually every army of the world, bayonets are thought of by the troops in the field as just extra weight that some chairborne commando decided to make them carry. This is because, while they may look like knives, very few models are actually designed to serve as functional cutting tools. One of the classic examples of this is the Russian AKM-47 bayonet. At first glance, it appears to be a very practical and reasonably lightweight weapon with a built-in wire cutter. A closer examination will quickly prove that they are ground with a single-bevel chisel-edge that, as issued, is duller than the average butter knife. Good luck trying to sharpen it in any kind of real life field situation. I have yet to find a used AKM bayonet that was ever honed to a serious cutting edge by its original owner.

Since the adoption of the M-4 bayonet for the M-1 carbine during World War II, U.S. troops generally have been much better off than those in most armies. The long series of weapons based on this blade pattern—the M-5 for the M-1 Garand, M-6 for the M-14, and the M-7 for the M-16 family—were all at least marginally adequate for use as hand-held knives. The army’s more recent M-9, adopted during the 1980’s, was one of the first really serious efforts to give the troops a weapon that was a knife first and “spear-point” second. I know not everyone loves the M-9, but it is a whole lot better weapon than most of our enemies have access to.

Laci Szabo’s prior service in the Marine Corps was instrumental in his creation of the TOPS/Szabo USMC Combat knife. Keeping the design within the basics of use, form, and fit—this knife was made not only for the military, but also as a great general use outdoor tool. STEVE WOODS PHOTO

Though the U.S. Marine Corps took a serious look at the M-9, and actually issued several thousand for testing, they eventually adopted an entirely different weapon, the Ontario OKC3S. Let me go on record here as saying that I think this is the best bayonet currently issued to any military organization in the world. At 8 inches in blade length, the OKC3S is the longest standard model since the 10-inch M-1 for the Garand. The blade and point style are reminiscent of the legendary USMC fighting/utility (kabar) with the addition of modern serrations at the base of the blade. While I’m not a big fan of this last feature, it is certainly true that the troops in the field are sold on them. The cutting edge on all the OKC3S’s I’ve handled was sharp enough for most field use and it was no problem to make them still sharper if needed. Like the blade, the comfortable grooved handle is similar to the time-proven USMC combat knife. Probably the only really negative thing I can say about this bayonet is that, like all of the M-16 family of blades, it requires a large muzzle ring to fit over the rifle’s flash suppressor and a heavy latching mechanism in the butt of the handle. This isn’t the end of the world, but it does make the bayonet a little awkward as a hand-held knife in some situations.

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  • Donald A Byars

    I would say the same things that was stated in this article, as a combat vet with special ops. and a combat corpsman I would love a beter sheath and will go out and get on.But the knife is a work of art.

  • Marty Ross

    …one more negative abbout velcro, it loses grip when wet. Merely crossing a swift stream will open it. Found this out with an Ek a few years back when I myself was a jarhead. Not cheap. Why even great companies like Benchmade offer blades for military use with this opening system is beyond me.

  • Bruce

    Overall length of these “weapons” was not adequate for use as a bayonet. The lack of a serious bayonet point would relegate these to “ornamental” status. No comment was made on the type of material or hardness of these blades. Who would issue a “no name knife” to troops is beyond me.