Sunday, September 27, 2009

Boker M3 Trench Knife Reproduction Review

I recently acquired a reproduction of the M3 Trench Knife, as manufactured by BokerUSA. The M3 was originally issued in 1943, went through a couple of minor modfications in 1944, and by the end of WW2 it ceased to be manufactured as a knife, and was finally issued as the standard issue bayonet for the M1 Carbine. Since I'm here to review the knife, rather than go into a lengthy discourse on it's history, I will simply provide the following link for those of you who are interested: I'll get right to the point (excuse the pun), this knife is a very well made, faithful in detail reproduction of the knife that you usually see adorning the ankles of members of the 101st Airborne in most pictures that show up in books about the history of WW2. The knife blade is 6-1/2" long from the front of the guard to the tip. There is a small ricasso at the base of the blade which makes the effective cutting length 6-1/8" for the primary edge of the blade. The overall shape of the blade is similar to a double edged dagger, however the secondary edge along the top of the blade (normally the spine) is just about 3-1/2" long. The spine of the blade that runs from the guard to the start of the secondary edge is a full 1/4" thick. The blade is made of SK-5 high carbon steel. It has a phosphate coating to protect it from rust. This is a solid, beefy knife that was designed for hard usage. The handle is made of the stacked leather washers that were common to US military knives of that period. The washers are machined into an oval shape that fits the hand, is extremely comfortable, and provides an excellent grip. From the back of the guard to the base of the handle measures just over 4-7/8". The guard itself is 1/8" thick, and when you add it all up, this gives you an overall length of approx. 11-1/2" A quick note about the guard before it slips my mind. The overall length is 2-1/2". The portion of the guard that cover the "top" of the blade, which is to say the side of the blade that has the spine and the secondary edge, is curved forward at about a 45deg. angle. Accordingly, when you hold this knife in a saber grip, it is extremely comfortable. Unlike knives where the guard is just straight across, your thumb is not jammed up against the back of the guard, thereby causing discomfort and compromising your grip. The knife is held together at the bottom of the handle by a 3/8" thick oval metal plate with a rectangular slot cut into it that allows the tang of the blade to slide into position. A small hole drilled through the sidewall of this plate and into the tang allows for a steel pin to be inserted. I can assure you, this knife is solid as a rock. OK guys, enough with the details and minutiae, it's time for the fun stuff. As I stated above, this design of the handle provides an excellent, comfortable grip. Whether using hammer, saber or icepick grip, this knife will stay in your hand. It is slightly handle heavy, with the balance point being about 1" behind the guard. The design lends itself more to thrusting/stabbing as opposed to slashing. From the factory, both edges were above average sharp. Oddly enough though, the secondary edge was actually better than the primary edge. It took about all of 2 minutes on my ceramic sticks to bring both edges up to their real potential. I tried thrusting on multiple layers of cardboard, and on an old duffel bag filled with carpet remnants, old clothes, and rags. The average penetration was in the 3" to 4" range. Factoring in that I screwed my arm up about a month ago installing an air conditioner at my parents house, I probably could have gotten better results than those. On cutting/slashing tests against cardboard, the results were good, but not spectacular. I attribute this primarily to the thickness of the blade. It has been my experience that when cutting cardboard, thin blades and/or serrated blades, are the way to go. On the other hand, when I attempted to slashing cuts against canvas material that was wrapped around foam covered tubes, I did get better results. My testing leads me to conclude that M3 shines primarily as a thrusting weapon. As manufactured by BokerUSA, the M3 is supposed to sell for a cost of $99.95 MSRP. Upon scouring the internet, I've seen it going for prices ranging from $49.99 to $74.99. In my opinion, even at the $99.00 pricepoint it would be worth the money. Considering some of the poorly made junk for sale these days that is being sold for hundreds of dollars, the Boker M3 is a solid value. It is a well-made, faithful reproduction of a fighting knife that would serve either the collector, or the active duty military person, equally well.

NOTE: I originally wrote this review about a year ago and posted it in a limited number of online forums. Seeing as how my blog seems to getting more attention than I ever suspected it would, I decided to republish it here. If I can bring more attention to the well-made and reasonably priced products being manufactured by Boker, I will consider this minor effort on my part as a job well done.

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