what to give my brother who got recalled to active duty


March 9, 2003, 10:34 PM
Hi Folks,

While I was otherwise occupied with the US Army about 20 years ago my little (well younger anyway) brother put himself through college and law school and then went through Marine OCS...did some time on active duty and since has been doing the one weekend a month two weeks in the summer routine. He got recalled for the Desert Storm festivities and has been recalled again now. So never having been anything even vaguely close to what he is, what do I give my little brother the field grade officer? We're not independently wealthy here and he'll get upset if I spend three or four hundred bucks on a knife, but I'm thinking a hundred or so is within reason - suggestions? All I know is that he wasn't too thrilled with the balance of a ka-bar, so it's gotta be something better than that, but I don't see that as too much of difficult criterion.

thanks in advance for any suggestions,

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March 9, 2003, 11:04 PM
Strictly my opinion, but if I was on my way over, I'd be THRILLED if some decent relative gave me a Applegate-Fairbairn knife.
These are now made in Germany by Boker, and can be found on-line for as little as $70.00 or so.

Col. Rex Applegate designed the knife with input from Mr. Fairbairn during WWII. He was dissatisfied with the utility of the Sykes-Fairbairn Commando knife, and designed what many people think may well be the best fighter/combat knife ever.

The Lexan handle has lead weights inside that can be moved around to give the balance desired.
The guard is usable as a thumb rest, and the handle is tough and non-slip, non-twist.

The blade is stainless, double edged, and unlike most daggers, it's hollow ground so it takes an absolute razor edge.

I'd get the new version with the Kydex scabbard, and my choice of smooth double edged, or one edge with serrations for cutting rope, etc.

Unlike most of these type knives, this one was designed by somebody who knew what was REALLY needed. It isn't too big, doesn't have a weak, easily broken blade, and stays sharp.

Many "fighting" knives aren't very useable as utility knives for cutting rations, rope, and all the other thing troops use a knife for.

Picture of smooth edge version attached.

March 9, 2003, 11:13 PM
dfarriswheel - I was looking at those - what's you're (or anyone else's) opinion of their smachet - is that as good/better/worse/ whatever?

March 10, 2003, 03:09 AM
The Smatchet seems to be on the order of a tool/weapon.

Applegate designed it for use as a general purpose implement that could be used as a machete, axe, short sword, or emergency digging tool.

A somewhat better item might be the LC-14-B "Woodsman's Pal" tool. these were used during WWII, and were standard issue on helicopter's in Vietnam. They are still being made.

The Woodsman's Pal is available with or without a knuckle guard.

here's a link to pictures and discriptions.

I do wonder how much utility a woods tool like the Smatchet or Woodsman's Pal would have in the desert.

Another factor to consider: Todays military personnel are loaded down like no soldiers ever before. With the enormous loads they carry, he might prefer an actual knife. That's why I recommended the Applegate knife. It's a good combat knife that's also a good fighter.

Other good choices might be some of the excellent knives made by SOG. Some of their combat knives are first rate.

Since at least WWI, American service men have most appreciated combat knives as gifts. Nothing quite says "I care" like a very personal last defense item like a knife.

March 10, 2003, 03:40 AM
what to give my brother who got recalled to active duty

If it were me I would like to receive a couple stars for my shoulders! :rolleyes: Something a little easier and less expensive might be a Becker Combat Utility 7, it's like 50 bucks...


I just got one and the boxes get real scared when I pull it out. If you can give him a big thank you for all of us it would be appreciated! ;)

March 10, 2003, 04:39 AM
If you can give him a big thank you for all of us it would be appreciated!And wish him Godspeed.

March 10, 2003, 08:28 AM
If your brother may actually need a solid cutting/prying tool in the field, he may be better served by a Cold Steel SRK [ survival rescue knife ].

They are about 90.00 retail and made from one of the best steels out in the market today.

Blade is 6 inches long, neoprene type handle and comes with a custom kydex sheath. The knife is extremely strong and light enough to wear all day.

As a combat veteran during VN in the late sixties and a defensive knife instructor I would not be considering the A/F knives at all.
They are a specialized tool designed for one thing during ww2 and that was for killing.

Your brother will be better served with an SRK, twice the knife in tuffness/durability, won't break [ they have a video out on the blade steel being put in a vise and bent with the help of a piece of pipe ].

A survival tool like the SRK will stand him in good stead. He is more apt to need that than a A/F which is not a very good survival tool. As well, the steel in the A/F or smatchet is 440 stainless and though that steel is great for rust resistance due to it's chrominum content, it lacks the strength and durability he may need if he finds his @ss in trouble. The A/F and smatchet are very hard to sharpen at best and in the field almost impossible.

The smatchet is too big and he won't carry it long. It will be in the way and heavy. Also, both of those models have double edged blades which could lead to confiscation somewhere along his lines of travel. They'll only draw undue attention to him which he probably does not need either.


Joe Demko
March 10, 2003, 08:45 AM
Get him a Swiss Army Knife to go with a moderate sized sheath knife. I guarantee you he'll use the SAK a lot. Many models to choose from. I be sure to pick one of the ones with scissors.
As for the sheath knife, AG Russell has a wide selection in just the price range you mentioned.

March 10, 2003, 10:58 AM
Leatherman Supertool (the strongest of the Leatherman tools, IMO). Gerbers break under hard use, so spend the few extra bucks and get something that will work.

As far as a fixed blade goes...while my own LBE has a Cold Steel Recon Scout on it, I must admit that I haven't found much use for the thing. Still toting it around, though :)

Actual milage may vary.


March 10, 2003, 10:59 AM
Is your brother in the JAG corps? If he is, he is unlikely to need a "Combat" knife. Things any soldier can use are a good multi-tool & light source. Get him a multi-tool of your choice & a Sure-Fire G2 (less than $35 online) or another decent light (I'm partial to princeton tec's wares - they are inexpensive & sturdy products)and a few extra sets of batteries. I would think that these would be more useful for daily activities.

If you're set on a knife, I would second the Becker - not very expensive, good quality. I definitely like my BK7 better than my SRK.


March 10, 2003, 11:07 AM
If you get your brother a multi-tool look at the swiss army multi.

I carry one daily on my belt. I sell all kinds of the tools as a retailer and have not found one more durable than the Swiss army tool.

Buddy of mine showed me the Leatherman super tool he got recently. When I showed him the Swiss army I carry he wanted it instead of the Leatherman.

It weighs a bit more than most tools. Also, they will replace it forever even if he abuses the tool and breaks something on it while performing his duties.

Oh Ya--tell the bro I wish him the best while out of the country.


March 10, 2003, 11:48 AM
If your brother went through college and law school and then went through Marine OCS what would he be doing while on active duty? That may help define what type of knife to get. If he's going to be JAG (they may actually put all that training and experience to work) he probably doesn't need as robust a knife vs being assigned as a front line troop.

For mule tough durability and utility I'd vote for the Beckers. If he won't be busting ammo crates open I'd go for the AF. If something in between I'd look at one of the Marbles or new Blackjack offerings for something special.

March 10, 2003, 02:41 PM
I would get him a Leatherman Supertool (or Wave) and a Becker Utility 7. He is going to be using tools infinitely more than he is going to be removing sentries or knifefighting...

Al Thompson
March 10, 2003, 03:06 PM
HSO nailed it the key question. What does he do? I have a few years experiance and a swiss army knile or multi tool will actually get used. FWIW, several units in GW 1st Edition banned large sheath knives. Can't see the Corp being so stupid though.

March 10, 2003, 10:01 PM
okay for right now he's still a jag, but the thing he's found out is that at field grade the Marines apparently see the oak leaves and worry about the other stuff later - a buddy of his (also jag background) is now assigned on the regular staff of a combat arms unit...so...apparently his buddy's reaction was 'hey wait a minute I've been a JAG officer all my life and I'm a major!' to which they responded: 'yes, and we need a major right now!'. end of discussion. Good thing their reserve unit really stressed PT all those years!

So anyway yeah, I'm looking at a sheath knife - I believe he already has a good wenger multifunction knife. Besides, I'm the one who coordinated getting him his sword when he graduated from OCS.

It seems the Becker has a slight edge (no pun intended) so far...any other nominees?

I will also gladly pass along the thanks and best wishes from those here. As to stars, well I don't know whether he's looking that way or not, but right now his wife and kids just want him to get the job done and come home again, as rapidly as possible.

Al Thompson
March 10, 2003, 10:58 PM
The Becker is a heck of a field knife. If he's at a higher HQ, stealth is an issue, hence the SRK. I really like my SRK, but if I was with a for real Infantry or field unit, the Becker would be a better choice. In any event, get it engraved, "from - to" sort of thing.. Really makes it a nice gift.

March 11, 2003, 02:52 PM
It will take a little coordination with him (for a photocopy of his ID card), but you could skip the cheap stuff like the Becker or Cold Steel and go right for the gusto, should you want a sheath knife.

Randall 14.

As a GI, he can order one for delivery in three months instead of five years.


March 11, 2003, 03:00 PM
What about a Benchmade Mini Nimvarus? or a nice folder like the AFCK? Odds are if he is reassigned to staff job at a Combat Arms Unit he still wont need a fighting knife. I seriously doubt the Marines will send a Jag officer to be a company commander or to job where he will see lots of combat but hey ANYTHING is possible.

Al Thompson
March 11, 2003, 03:44 PM
Can't speak for the Corp, but the Army has a JAG officer per Brigade HQ and that's not that far from the sharp end.

March 11, 2003, 04:03 PM
Let's all keep in mind what one of the criteria is, "he'll get upset if I spend three or four hundred bucks on a knife, but I'm thinking a hundred or so is within reason", so let's not quote knives over that price unless you are personally going to guarnatee to get it to ahadams for $100 or less. That being said, there are some older Randals out there and interesting customs that can be picked up in pawn shops, flea markets and such if you get lucky. I'll make a comitment to look in a few places where I've had luck before and if some treat pops up below the $100 price I'll pass it along without marking it up. Let's see if anyone can beat me to it.


March 12, 2003, 12:39 AM
hso - thanks and you must live on the outskirts of knife heaven if you've got Randals floating around flea markets out there! around here there's an occasional collectible folder, but other than that it's mostly :cuss: from india or the prc...

March 12, 2003, 07:29 AM
You'd be surprised what you find in the oddest places. A buddy of mine goes to flea markets, garage sales, pawn shops, etc. and finds 2 to 3 Randals and 6-8 custom knives a year that way. Of course, he covers a lot of teritory doing it (N Gerogia, E and Middle Tenn., SE Kentucky, W Carolinas), but it works for him.

I've stumbled across 3 or 4 such over the years just stopping on a whim. Made a nice profit on them as well.

Zak Smith
March 12, 2003, 10:57 AM
Take a look at Fallkniven knives. Very high bang-for-buck ratio.


Dave Markowitz
March 15, 2003, 11:25 PM
Let me second the suggestion for a Becker Combat/Utility 7, if you're looking for a good all-around sheath knife. I got mine from the Cutlery Shoppe. The price was right ($49!) and delivery was quick. It's a heck of a knife with a good blade and a very comfortable handle. It comes with a good sheath, as well, which will slide over a GI pistol belt.

Another poster here suggested a good multitool, which is a very good idea as well. Heck, you could get the Becker AND a good multitool and spend about $100 total.

Good luck and Godspeed to him.

March 18, 2003, 06:19 AM
Gotta agree with the SAK / multitool / flashlights (good idea to avoid only white-light capable, and make sure everything can be attached to a dummy cord), he'd probably take a healthy dose of sh*t from the guys who worked their way up from grunt units if your brother was carrying a big old pig-sticker around.
Best regards.

March 18, 2003, 11:29 PM
Becker 7 - it'll eat a KaBar's lunch
Gerber MultiPliers - any configuration though the 8239 and 7400 are favorites right now with the military guys
Leatherman Wave - a classic
CMG Reactor flashlight ($24 & runs on AA's)
CMG Infinity Ultra
SureFire G2 ($29.99!!!!)
A good pair of gloves - Hatch Operators or Hellstorm SOLAGs are pretty popular
Lewis International SAS Shermagh to keep the dust off his grill
Bolle goggles

There's plenty more...

March 23, 2003, 06:48 PM
Back in the 60's, when both my brothers went off to VietNam, I gave each a Randall #1 knife, and a .357 Smith Mod.19. Thankfully, they both came back unscathed. They have their Randall Knive and Smith to this day. Younger Brother was LRRP mostly in Laos, and my older Brother commanded Swift boats in the Delta. The knife and Smith got work outs, and performed as designed.

March 24, 2003, 11:07 AM
I think Spark has it covered.

Don't know anything about the Becker. I do know about Benchmade and Spyderco knives they are high quality and utilitarian.

I would probably add a red lens filter to the Sure-Fire to save his nightvision and keep the BGs from spotting the retina-searing light beam.

Tell him to kick their's and cover his.

March 24, 2003, 07:12 PM
I too would get him a Leatrherman Supertool or Wave, plus a Becker 7.

He'll be able to appreciate both in the field while appreciating your fiscal responsibility at the same time. :)

March 25, 2003, 12:46 AM
ahadams, did ya get one yet? The way the war is going your gift may turn out to be a welcome hone present!

March 26, 2003, 10:19 PM
the Leatherman supertool ( don't get the black,it gets to damn hot in the sun)and a Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri...They will laugh until he needs to use it.:D

March 29, 2003, 09:42 PM
had to wait until the beginning of April - a riotgun followed me home last month and ate the checkbook. Will be getting him the Becker - it seems he already has a leatherman.

April 5, 2003, 08:12 PM
A nephew is getting ready to ship out with his reserve unit. They've been a Ft Riley KS for about six weeks now, spent this weekend loading their equipment onto rail cars.
I sent him a Leatherman Wave, some Tobasco for the MRE's, a couple of cans of nuts and four cans of Skoal. Bought a twelve pack of Bud lite but couldn't get it in the box. :D

April 7, 2003, 12:22 AM
well I actually ended up getting him the Becker 9 (aka "field grade") since I found out the little bugger got himself on the promotion list (or whatever they call it at that level)... now *I* want one!

Sisco: word of advice - as soon as you get his forwarding address / APO start sending him rolls of skoal - as in the day you get it and send him at least one a week. Word has it that the APO system is having problems keeping up with folks once they cross the kuwaiti border and so it's probably a good idea to front end load the system.

Too bad about the beer - hope you didn't let it go to waste!:D

April 7, 2003, 09:06 AM
A Busse Natural Outlaw can pretty easily be found used and in brand new condition.

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