WWII USN MKI 5 Shark Knives


November 5, 2012, 03:00 PM
Officially called the NAVY MK. I, the knives were collectively called Shark Knives, regardless of who made them.
They all had a 5” +/- blade, sometimes bright polished, or blued, or Parkerized, and somewhat similar handle shapes.

Early war MK. I knives usually had aluminum butt caps.
Later in the war, most all companies changed to Bakelite, Plastic, or Wood butt caps, as all available aluminum production was allotted by the War Materials Board to aircraft production.

The issue sheath was either a leather one provided by the manufacture, or later the USN MK. I grey fiber hard sheath.

They were made by Boker, Colonial, Camillus, Geneva Forge, Imperial, Ka-Bar, Kinfolks, RH PAL, Robeson, Schrade, Western, and possibly other companies.

Left to right:
Kinfolk with aluminum butt.
Robeson ShurEdge with plastic butt.
Western SeaBee steel butt. (not a true Shark Knife)
PAL RH-34 with plastic butt.
Western with plastic butt.
Boker with black Bakelite butt.


RH-PAL & Boker USN marking:


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November 5, 2012, 03:44 PM
Very cool,
the second from the right looks like a Marbles Ideal


November 5, 2012, 04:11 PM
oooohhh... Pretty :)

November 5, 2012, 06:35 PM
RC, is the tang on the second from the right with the bakelite guard and butt visible?

I've never seen the Mk I called a "Shark".
I have always seen that term reserved for the less common Western Shark.
Bakelite pommel
Rare minty "Baby Shark" like your next to the last on the right. Note the cross guards and forged fullers on the Sharks and single guard and flat side to the Mk Is


IT HANGS READY at a sailor's belt-and
it's a TOUGH customer! It has to be
tough, because its an all-purpose knife
- a fighter and a worker, ready to cut loose
from wreckage, slice bread, open cans, trim
toenails, kill laps, or wrest a living from a
desert isle. It must resist salt water corrosion,
hold its edge and stand the gaff. Shark
knives are made for the Navy by Western
- of high carbon crucible chrome steel that
takes and holds an exceptionally keen cut-
ting edge. Proved originally in the hands
of America's sportsmen, these knives are
now carrying on in the nation's fight at sea.
None available for civilian use now, of
course - but after the war, your dealer will
have them again.


Make a note of the
Western name. You'll
be needing some GOOD
cutlery after the war.
There’ll be 200 Western
styles to choose from.

Another great ad.


November 5, 2012, 06:50 PM
Boker and KaBar are making modern versions of the USN Mk I.


Kabar (black coated blade and kraton)

Kabar special edition for Blue Ridge Knives

November 5, 2012, 07:03 PM
Hello friends and neighbors// Nice set of MK 1s , ty for the tips.

Recently, I have become aware of the many knives, made for the war, without U.S. markings.

Burns me some to think of all the Western knives I've checked out and put down.

Please keep the pics and info coming. It is like a free class on WWI knives.

November 5, 2012, 07:44 PM
RC, is the tang on the second from the right with the bakelite guard and butt visible?
I've never seen the Mk I called a "Shark".
Yes it is.
Typical Western dual tang construction.

Perhaps the Shark name is a regional thing?
All I know is my late dad the WWII Navy Seabee, called all 5" MKI's shark knives, and all 7" MKII's were Ka-Bars. Whether they were or not!
Collectors here in the mid-west seem to group all 5" Navy knives into the "shark knives" group too.

We all know there were SeaBee's, and Sharks, and MK I's, and also 5" hunting knives used in WWII.
Even Coles BookIII seems to be slightly confused on what a MK I is.
He shows several MK I's with flat steel butts and no USN marking such as the Western Seabee & several Imperials & Schrades under MK I's, and they are not.

The two modern Ka-Bars in post #5 are not MK I's or "Sharks" either.

The only thing all real NAVY MK I's have in common is the USN ricasso marking, a 5" +/- blade length, and the knob shaped butt cap.

Without those three common features, it isn't a NAVY MK I.

Perhaps I should have said "typically called Sharks" instead of "collectively called Sharks"??


November 5, 2012, 08:44 PM
I love the designs in the Western ad. Any comments on how durable leather handles are? I lose knives before mine can wear out or rot.

November 5, 2012, 08:51 PM
Great stories. I wish my Grandpaw had not lost his WW2 Shark while hunting after the war.

November 5, 2012, 09:05 PM
Any comments on how durable leather handles are?Well most all of these you are seeing pictures of in my WWII knife threads are leather handles, and most of them were in WWII, doing something 70 years ago!

I have a Marbels Woodcraft with a 1916 patent date on it and the leather handle is nearly perfect.

The thin leather sheaths they often came in were awfully prone to wet combat conditions, and succumbed to jungle-rot way before the handles did.

But properly cared for, not subjected to jungle rot bacteria, and waxed or treated with leather conditioner occasionally?

A 0-washer type leather handle could last several lifetimes it seems to me.
IMO: The dual-tang H-washer ones as used by Western don't survive as well in my experiance.


November 6, 2012, 08:07 AM
And then there's the Quartermaster's knives to further complicate the issues around the 5 and 6 inch knives and the 8" Westerns to increase the chaos of the "KaBar" USMC Fighting/Utility and USN MkII knives.

Mk I's are distinctly different from the Shark model in the blade, tang, washers and materials. I've never seen bakelite used on any of the MkIs, but I have seen a wood pommel used (which I never saw on a Shark). Sharks have a cross guard, MkIs a single guard. Sharks are longer (except for the "Baby Shark") and usually have fullers while the 5" MkI blades are flat. Pommels on the MkIs are never "L" shaped while Sharks may be flat or L.

Your Baby Shark with bakelite guard and pommel is probably the rarest knife in that set pictured considering it looks to be in 100% condition.

November 20, 2012, 11:37 PM
Two of my Mark 1s. Both PAL 35s but one is decidedly prettier. I seriously dig the tri colored fiber filler washers - if only they'd done Red-White & Blue.

It's interesting to note that one of the sheaths is a factory marked Mark 2 but Mark 1 length.

November 20, 2012, 11:41 PM
Well, Al B. Jiggered!

That sheath is a real oddity right there!


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