November 12, 2012, 01:14 PM
The stainless steel MIL-K-818 was introduced in 1944, and continued to be issued at least up until 1986, and maybe still today??
Can anyone with recent military service shed any light on that?

It is estimated that well over 10 million of them have been made.

The knife contains a 2 3/4" spear-point blade, can opener, screwdriver, cap lifter, and leather awl. It also has a handle bale for attaching a laynard.

Anyway, the “Eagle Beak can opener” in the knife was invented and patented by Imperial during the war, and since it was thought nobody would have a clue what it was for, it was deeply marked “CAN OPENER” on the blade!

Another feature on the knives made between 1944 and 1972 is a serrated stud projecting from the side of the screwdriver/cap lifter blade.
For years nobody, including most of the manufactures, knew exactly what it was for.

Some suggested it was to keep dimes from sticking between the blades.
Others thought it was to open the screwdriver/cap lifter blade.
But if either were the case, why didn’t the can opener on the other end have the serrated pin too??

Finally, some obscure WWII document was found in the Camillus factory archives stating the stud was
”To Assist in Taking Down Small Arms.”

It turns out the serrated non-slip stud is perfect for prying the extractor off an 03 Springfield bolt, punching the pins out of a 1911 pistol, M1 Garand, or M1 Carbine trigger group, holding down the stock band retainer spring on M-1 Carbines and 03 Springfield’s, and a host of other uses, on a host of other weapons of the time.

Some unknown designer really did his homework on that little feature right there!
Anyway, the handy dandy pin-punch was eliminated on the 1972 contract, and never seen again.

The knives were officially made by:
Camillus, Imperial, Queen, Ulster, & Schrade.

But it seems I have a U.S. marked Western I picked up somewhere!
Maybe it is a commercial version??

Imperial with stud:
Western without stud:

They are very useful knives for a solder, and Pvt. MacGyver could probably build a GT-40 Ford out of beer cans and a dead monkey with one. :D

I should have one from each maker, but 30 years ago, my two young sons kept using and losing them faster than I could get them.


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November 12, 2012, 01:54 PM
Love them things. and the pre 1980s ones take some good edges.

November 12, 2012, 02:13 PM
Yep this is what folks called a demo kit knife. It was the part most likley to be missing from an infantry platoon's demo chest.

My current one was given to me a Vilsek Training Area by Graffenhohr in 1975. The one I "lost" (grew legs and walked off from where I had set it only a foot or so behind me it seems)in AIT was given to me by my Pa-pa who was given it while working at Moody AFB Ga as a civilian carpenter. They had been remodeling a store room and found an open steel six gallon pail of them each wrapped in wax paper. They did ask the USAF representative what to do with them and he said "take what you want and throw out the rest" Pa-pa took several and gave me one still in the wax paper.

When in the late summer of 1968 JROTC was getting ready to start I was helping out, initially doing paper work, but when the M-1 Garands showed up 200 or the 240 had to be stripped down to have the bolts taken out long enough to be defanged. That is what we called removing the extractor and spring/plunger, ejector and spring/plunger, and firing pin and then reassembled. Having already seen my Demo knife ( and they called it that) one suggested I use that stud to push out the pin that holds the clip release in place and the lifter arm(?) (been a while) that also held the operating rod spring, cartridgelifter and also held the bullet guide in place.

We were more than half through before someone showed us you could defang them by just pulling them to three main groups and using the cleaning rod handle with the barrel and reciver group intact.

When my CMP M-1 came in a few years back I still managed to take it apart blindfolded and put it back together the same thanks to working in that JROTC arms room a couple of years. BTW we got M-14s my senior year and did the same.

At home I used the demo knife on my M-1 Carbine (every 14 year old should have one!).


November 12, 2012, 03:44 PM
I have several around from Camillus.

The "Demo Knife" moniker is one of those memes that get started and are too cool to crash.

Jeff White
November 14, 2012, 01:28 PM
It was called a demo knife because it was a component of the demolition kit that was part of a rifle company's MTOE equipment.

It was replaced by Gerber and Leatherman multitools in those kits sometime in the 90s.

I am sure that same knife was a component of other tool kits besides the demo kit.

I have a Camillus that I have had for years.

November 14, 2012, 01:32 PM
All I remember is they were available from the supply room if you ask nice enough.

And with over 10 million made over the years?

Thats an awful lot of Demo Kits!


Jeff White
November 14, 2012, 01:39 PM
I got stuck inventorying those kits enough to know they were a component of them, that has to be where the demo knife moniker came from.

There are probably a hundred or more different tool kits for various purposes that included a pocket knife of some type.

IIRC at one time the TL-29 knife was part of the General Mechanics (automotive) tool kit along with the linemans kit.

I may still have a CD at home that has the components of a bunch of different tool kits. Might be interesting to find out all of the kits those little knives were part of.

November 14, 2012, 02:21 PM
I have one marked U.S. Marine Corps and have seen others marked the same. I have been told that a few were actually marked U.S. Navy, but I have never seen that marking in person.
The Marine corps one that I have has carbon steel blades

Texan Scott
November 14, 2012, 03:05 PM
Don't believe these are issued, but I've seen a couple in service ... commercial models, nostalgia pieces, given as gifts and still carried and well used.

November 14, 2012, 03:32 PM
According to what I have found.
There was a brass-liner stainless-steel handle MIL-K marked U.S. Marine Corp. issued in WWII.

Later all stainless ones marked USMC were supposedly never GI issue.
They were made for some hardware company & sold commercially in the 1970's.

All issue knives other then the U.S. Marine Corp. marked one in WWII were either marked U.S., or were not marked at all.


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