This knife was developed just a little too late for WWI and never actually saw action during that particular conflict. The 1918 combat knife became the American military standard for decades after WWI — even to the early years of the Vietnam war. The 1918 WWI Trench Dagger recreated here embeds a 6-1/2-inch double edged high carbon stainless steel dagger blade in a solid cast brass handle. Obviously not an ordinary knife, the design features several interesting fighting perks.
The knuckle guard shows the pattern chosen by military hand to hand experts for knife and brass knuckle combat action and weapon retention. Even when the owner falls unconscious, the knife stays in the hand. Sharp points discourage grappling and disarming moves and add to blunt force damage. The spiked brass nut fixed to the end of the concealed steel tang doubles as a skull-crushing blunt instrument. The dagger styled blade of the 1918 knife was actually toned down a bit from the model really used by troops in WWI. The original trench knife was more spike than knife, with a three-sided blade that American soldiers found deadly in close combat but awkward for camp chores. Feedback from the troops prompted manufacturers to substitute a practical cutting blade.
Though the 1918 was eventually replaced by less cumbersome fighting knives like the Ka-Bar, some fighting experts still prefer this old style, lethal in so many instinctive ways. For civilian use it’s a bit heavy, and hunters or fishermen might find themselves doing the same modifications soldiers made in WWII — sawing off the guard first, then the knuckles, and eventually replacing the heavy brass handle with one that makes practical sense. Then you grab a Ka-Bar, first chance you get.
The 1918 WWI Trench Dagger is a piece of history. We have better, now, but this is where those better knives began.
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