KA-BAR’s latest historical knife project is the E.W. Stone Knife, a faithful modern replica of what might be the most famous theater knife of all time. The replica is made by the son of the original maker, using his father’s original cast, with its famous skull and cobra motif.
Theater knives are a deeply fascinating part of knife history. These were knives made by servicemen in theaters, crafted to cater to the needs of their fellow soldiers with the materials at hand. Sometimes, those materials were standard issue knives that were modified to suite the conditions soldiers found themselves in. Eugene W. “Bill” Stone, a machinist with the Navy, made his mark on knife history throughout World War II, when he produced around 300 theater knives during his time in the service.
Stationed in far-flung places like Java and Australia, Stone made aluminum knife handles to replace the stacked leather ones that were common on fixed blades at the time. Compared to the leather, these cast aluminum handles better withstood the vicissitudes of the Pacific theater’s climate. But, in addition to their higher resilience, Stone’s handles stood out with a now legendary visual motif: skull on the pommel, and a cobra-skin pattern on the grip. At the time, Stone asked for $15 for his service – along with the knife whose handle he would replace – but now, original Stone knives are highly sought after collector’s items.
These replicas from KA-BAR are made by Bill Stone Jr., son of the man himself, and they use an original cast as well; as KA-BAR puts it, each one is touched by Bill Stone himself. The blade is the usual – and appropriate – USMC blade, with a 7-inch, 1095 carbon steel blade. This one has been blued, which will help ward off rust, complimenting the anti-corrosive properties of the aluminum handle that made it so desirable in the first place.
These are available now, and probably won’t be for long.
Knife in Featured Image: KA-BAR E.W. Stone Knife
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