Sykes-Fairbairn? Fairbairn-Applegate? HELP!


March 13, 2003, 09:54 AM
Hear this, all you experts out there. I have a WWII Sykes-Fairbairn commando knife (dagger?) carried by my father during the Big Two. It's kind of worn, but still very functional.

I want to buy a modern version to carry from time to time (don't want to risk damaging the original). I don't know which companies make replicas of this. I've also heard of a "Fairbairn-Applegate" development of the Sykes-Fairbairn design, but never seen one. Does this creature exist? What are the differences between the two? Does anyone make a modern version?

Finally, I've heard that there are folding versions of the S-F and/or F-A available. Does anyone know anything about these? Availability? Price?

Many thanks in advance for the help. I'm not very knowledgeable about knives (for 20 years, I carried either the S-F or, when concealment was necessary, a Kershaw "Secret Agent" fixed-blade which is basically a very scaled-down S-F), so I really need input on this one.

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March 13, 2003, 10:25 AM
Here are a couple of companies who make reproductions of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando dagger:

And here is a place to look at the A/F folder:

and another:

I've been wanting to order one from esa-swords for a while right now, but my other addictions (aka hobies) have kept me from doing so. My personal preference is for the pattern 1.

If you can take and post a picture of your father's original, I for one would love to see it. The originals are fairly rare and collectible.


March 13, 2003, 10:49 AM
The Applegate folder originally came out w/o a blade locking mechanism. Present models have a blade lock. You could find an original on the secondary market, I'm not sure if there's a price difference. Prices for resale seem to be depreesed right now. I'd prefer a lock, but you may prefer first edition?

March 14, 2003, 04:35 AM
'Woohoo, my first post'

Ok, with that out of the system, my wife and I collect knives, and we've owned a few F/S's, though we don't currently. If you have a need for a specific F/S, we can probably point you in the right direction.

As to Applegate/Fairbairn's, that's a completely different animal. We currently collect those, and are writing a bit about them too.

A web search under 'Gerber A/F' will show you the dozen+ folding varients, and under Boker A/F will turn up the dozen+ fixed blade models...

If you need more specific information, please email....

Sod, the '1st production run, 1996' Gerber folding A/F's utilized a fully functional 'Walker' liner lock, as have all variant's since...possibly you were referring to the secondary lock on the new models?


March 14, 2003, 10:10 AM
Melvin-Pervis is a good fellow to trust on this question. (MP, you now owe me $20 for the "unsolicited" validation of your genius ;) )

Regardless, I would not recommend carrying a FS as an EDC due to it's very purpose specific design.

I would carry an AF as made by Al Mar, Blackjack, Boker, or one of the custom makers (Before anyone yelps, my AM and BJ Applegates don't get carried).

Both the custom and Gerber folding AF have always had a blade lock (walker/liner) in both sizes offered. I like the "Covert" better but other folks prefer the original full size. Pick which you like.

Could you send pictures of you dad's knife and a little history behind it?


March 14, 2003, 10:15 AM
Thanks for the information, folks.

From what I've read on the Web sites provided, my father's knife is a First Pattern weapon with the "S"-shaped handguard. It still has the original sheath. Its handle bears several scars (honorably gained in service), and there's a slight nick near the tip of the blade, which my father once told me was the result of "an uncooperative enemy with metal objects in the wrong pockets!" He obtained this knife during his service with the Royal Air Force. In the Western Desert campaign he went on a couple of missions with the Long Range Desert Group and the SAS, and later in Italy went out on a few reconnaissance missions with an outfit known as Popski's Private Army, an SAS-type unit. Apparently he did well enough to be presented with this knife by one of the guys in these units (he didn't tell me exactly which one). He was very, very proud of it, regarding it as his "badge of admission" to Commando status. It's now an honored relic in my home. I don't have facilities for digital photography, but I'll see what I can do about getting a picture in due course.

I'm going to do something about getting a folder and a fixed-blade for carry. I'll spend some time on those Web sites, and try to find out more information by a search, before deciding. Thanks once again for the help.

March 14, 2003, 10:01 PM

I have just received a first pattern knife (ser# 002) from Peter Parkinson in New Zealand that beats any other F/S maker I have seen in quality, fit and finish. I provided Peter with dimensions taken from 5 original first pattern knives and he did an incredible job creating a fully functional, combat worthy knife. It is nickle plated and the finish is impeccable. This is my 3rd purchase from Peter in the past year! I also own both a black and a nickle plated 2nd pattern. The sheaths are very well made and fit to each individual knife not like the sloppy gunny-sacks some manufacturers call sheaths. When I bought this last knife I also got one of his custom mahogany presentation cases. It wasn't cheap but it makes a real nice display in combination with the sheath. Take a look at his website. The quality of the site is a great indicator of the man's attention to detail and aesthetics.


Old Fuff
April 6, 2005, 11:04 AM
Several years ago I was standing in a small group listening to Col. Applegate discuss the F/S vs. his adaptations. He pointed out that the former had been designed to be used as a stabbing weapon, rather then in a cutting context, and while it could be used to slash as well as stab it was not well suited for this purpose. One particular negative was the small (and usually soft) tang within the handle that would allow the blade to bend, and the blade's points sometimes being broken off. His adaptations, among other things, tried to address these weaknesses.

April 14, 2005, 02:21 PM
To add to what old fluff said, A-F daggers also have the added benifit of a curved cross guard that fits the thumb very well, compared to the F-S daggers flat cross guard, which can actually snap off your thumbnail if you stab a hard object. I have carried a Boker A-F dagger for the past year, and I have found it to be superb.

April 14, 2005, 02:54 PM
I have the Lewis International model that you can purchase for around $45. I had it professionally sharpened. It has a great edge and a fairly strong point. I wouldn't trust it too much for cutting though because the tang is very thin.

April 15, 2005, 01:13 AM
You experts fill me in Ive got one of those A/F knives made by Blackjack and I think its junk can't get a good edge on it. I have a cold steel peace keeper thats twice the knife. I would rate the BJ a Butter knife and the CS a fighter. But then I'am not a expert. :D

Lone Star
April 20, 2005, 02:20 AM
I have all three sizes of the A-F folders by Gerber, and like them very much. Which I carry on a given day depends on how I'm dressed and where I'm going.

I once owned an A-F dagger by a custom maker named Yancey. This design is now made by Boker. I should mention that I know quite a bit about knives, and knew Col. Applegate.

Although I regard the folders very highly, I really think that a sheath knife should be more versatile. I suggest the Fallkniven S1 (5-inch blade) or A1 (six-inch) for utility or military use. The Randall Models 1,5, and 14 are also very good, but cost more and can be hard to locate from dealers. Current Randall order backlog is some four years. The Fallkniven knives are stocked by some US dealers, and are ready for immediate shipping, and use a better stainless steel than does Randall. The company is for sale, as the owner has heart problems, so you might want to order one from stock on hand; there's no telling who might buy the firm, or what quality control they'd have. Present knives are excellent!

For classic F-S knives from the original maker: Click on "knives" within the site, then on First or Third Pattern. Oddly, they no longer offer the Second Model. Prices aren't cheap, and I don't think these are good modern "using" knives.

Lone Star

Texian Pistolero
April 21, 2005, 12:06 AM
Lacking the historical lineage, but I think the venerable Gerber Mark II handles this mission superbly.

Not sure why you need a floder.

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