January 1968 was a nightmare at the Marine Corps base in Khe Sanh Valley in the remote northwest corner of South Vietnam. A C-130 cargo plane sent to resupply the beleaguered leathernecks was hit by a shell as it slowed to land on the makeshift steel tarmac, bursting into flames even before it slammed to earth. A courageous marine who climbed up to the cockpit from outside repeatedly smashed his k-bar combat knife against the Plexiglas in an attempt to reach the seriously injured pilots, but was forced to retreat from spreading flames after the blade snapped.
Terrible lessons like that one have not gone unheeded by knifemakers, who have always understood that a knife intended for combat, survival and search-and-rescue must be designed to perform heavy tasks and withstand abuses that would destroy a traditional hunting knife. In recent years, steady advances in metallurgy, close tolerance manufacturing, and hardening processes have provided ever better materials for achieving the dream of an unbreakable blade that never needs sharpening or maintenance.
January 1968 was a nightmare at the Marine Corps base in Khe Sanh Valley…
by Charles Karwan / Jan 1, 2008