BLADE Magazine

Trench Knife: The WW1 Relic Still Endures

With More Than A Century Of History, The Trench Knife Soldiers On As A Historical Collectible And A Modern Outdoor Knife.

The trench knife may be the ultimate weapon for close-quarters combat. With a sharp blade designed for stabbing, and a finger guard that doubles as a knuckle duster, the blade is excellent for messy, claustrophobic situations, which you would expect as it was named for the intimate and brutal trench warfare of World War I.

By the time World War II began, trench warfare was nowhere near as common as it had been previously. In turn, the trench knife evolved.

The United States issued the Mark I in 1942 and 1943 to certain special military groups like the Army Rangers and Marine Raiders. The Mark I was a newer version of WWI trench knives, including a finger guard, a stiletto blade, and a skull crusher cap built into the pommel. 

However, over the course of WWII, the trench knife gave way to the combat knife. Most notable of these, the US M3 fighting knife, which was adopted in 1943. The M3 became the framework upon which more contemporary bayonets and fighting knives like the M4 and M7 were built.

Can I Own A Trench Knife Today?

That’s a complicated question to answer. 

The trench knife is classified as a dangerous weapon in many states and countries for a variety of reasons. Some places prohibit them because they have double-sided blades while others focus on the knuckle dusters or the length of the blade as reasons to ban them.

Owning or carrying a trench knife is banned in numerous countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Canada, China, and Singapore, among others.

In America, the knife is outlawed in some form in 23 states, and even among the states where it’s legal to own and/or carry, 18 of those states either only allow you to keep the knife in your home or require a permit to carry it on your person. 

The only states with no permit rules for owning a trench knife are Texas, South Dakota, Indiana, South Carolina, Idaho, Hawai’i, Georgia, Arizona, and Alabama.

Modern Trench Knives

There aren’t many companies left making trench knives similar to those blades from a century ago. However, the two below are modern takes on the combat classic.

M48 Liberator Trench Knife

This is the souped-up version of the original trench knife. Everything about the Liberator is big and bold and in your face.

It starts with the 7.5-inch 2Cr13 cast stainless blade that is ground sharp on both sides. The blade has a satin finish and black oxide coating to add to its intimidating aura. The handle scales are made from a light, rugged fiberglass-reinforced nylon that provides a strong grip without adding too much weight.

And then there’s the knuckle duster tang. It both acts as a knuckle guard and an intense defense weapon. The added spikes on the handle allow you to use more force in case you are defending yourself. The knife fits into an injection-molded Vortec and nylon belt sheath that snaps shut and easily fits on your person. 

It’s bad. It’s unapologetic. It’s the ultimate modern version of the trench knife.

MSRP: $79.99

Cold Steel Chaos Double Edge

A more muted version of the trench knife, the Chaos Double Edge from Cold Steel gives a modern, tactical spin on the old classic.

The blade itself is made from SK-5 high-carbon steel and is 7.5 inches long. The full-tang construction allows for a well-weighted knife that can be used to defend or to slice through dense brush. Both sides are ground sharp and meet at a spear point so the knife can puncture as you would expect.

The handle is made from 6061 aluminum and features a pair of D ring guards, which are a newer version of the old-school knuckle duster guards that is used for the same purpose. The pommel of the knife is tapered to allow for more force when using the cap to strike.

The included sheath is made from Secure-Ex and is both Molle-Lok and Tek-Lok compatible so transporting the Double Edge will be a breeze.

MSRP: $99.99

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