Edged weapons fell out of favor on the battlefields of the world as firearms — deadlier and with a much longer reach — came into common use. Few military forces train with blades today, except as a last resort skill and in ceremonial drills. Today’s combat knives, swords and other traditional weapons grace the walls of collectors’ homes and offices much more often than they see actual use.
The mystique of these weapons carries on, regardless of need. Modern edged weapons are as versatile as ever, ranging in quality from souvenirs to true combat sidearms. Today’s military knives rival anything made when a good blade meant survival on the battlefield or dueling park. Many people who will never use them in actual combat train as intently as ancient warriors did, carrying on the old traditions and keeping the knowledge of their ancestors intact.
Collectors may find new versions of the old weapons as interesting as the faithfully detailed reproductions of historical pieces. Many of the combat knives popular with the soldiers of the world became big sellers in the peacetime markets as hunting and fishing knives and trusted survival tools. Not all military knives made that transition — some of the most beautiful knives were also too specialized for deadly work.
The Cold Steel Pistol Grip Sword Cane is a proven old design rebuilt with new techniques and materials. The practical quality of this carbon fiber and carbon steel piece surpasses anything in my grandfather’s collection of antique blades and I’m sure he would have been fascinated.
Many unusual Asian weapons followed the same trail, from origins as farmer’s tools to defense weapons of monks and travelers, and then sometimes to the professional military. Typical of these interesting and complex combat weapons, the Shaolin Monk’s Spade has a history as intriguing as its shape.
Back-engineered to functional basics after WWII, the combat dagger lost much of its artistic quality along the way. Our pick for the “best combat knife” is the MK-4 Commando Knife by John Ek — with an extensive military history of its own — brings back the look.