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Ka-Bar USMC fighting/utility vs Ka-Bar EK Model 5 (EK45)

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by Kubo, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. Kubo


    Jun 4, 2019
    Hey guys,

    I'm getting a new knife and narrowed it down to the traditional Kabar USMC (1211/1217) vs Kabar EK model 5 (EK45).

    For what I know, the EK45 is essentially a better version of the USMC. Almost identical size, weight, shape and purpose. The only major differences are that the EK has a full tang and removable scales. I see that as direct upgrades to USMC's stick tang and fixed handle which are often criticized and considered USMC'S weakest points. (Please let's not discuss the EK's guard rattling which is extremely easy to fix and irrelevant really.)

    Which one would YOU get if money wasn't a factor ?
  2. dirc


    Jan 31, 2018
    personally, the kabar kephart ; p
  3. GIRLYmann


    Nov 7, 2005
    Imho, an ek would make a sound
    choie between the two stipulated
    given models.
    Based upon reasons in which you
    have spelt out so clearly in your
    opening post, the ek does have
    a better tang between the two.
    So any cost factors should instead
    be viewed as something befitting
    a long term investment.
    Kubo likes this.
  4. goldie


    Feb 18, 2000
    I saw a video where the guard on the ek came loose that's the only thing that worries me about it unless it was a fluke...
  5. bikerector

    bikerector Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 16, 2016
    I've not held an EK45 so take this with a grain of salt, but I would take the USMC every time. Why? The leather handles fill my hand well and is oh so comfy, and that's nearly as important as the blade design. The EK handles just look really small.

    I just gifted away a well used USMC and I plan to get the dog's head edition, as I don't care for the thin guards on the USMC version. They do make it easy to mod, however.

    You didn't specify a use, but both should be decent for well-rounded uses. However, my swamp rat ratweiler is my fave in that blade length range, but weight isn't a concern which is it's downside.
    metallic1 likes this.
  6. akguy59


    Aug 19, 2017
    My vote goes to the USMC Kbar. A couple of years ago I just had to try out the Ek so I ordered one. I ended up selling it because of the handle. It was just too small and was (IMHO) too long. You might feel differently but to me it was just not a keeper.
  7. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    The EK's were designed to be fighting knives and primarily for military use (hence the thinner handle). I have a Model 5 Comando Bowie made back in the early 90's and like it. That was back in the days of my re-born knife interest being directed toward fighting survival knives and fairly practical designs at that. I think the regular USMC Kbar is more of a general use with a lean toward being a fighting knife if necessary during war time. I don't own a USMC Kabar as I couldn't see myself ever using it over other knives I own. The EK remains a time-reference piece marking my evolving interest in fixed blade knives. But I have little use for it to be honest. So, my honest response to your question is get neither but go for the USMC if you want something that is more general purpose.

    Until the late 80's, I didn't even own a fixed bladed knife and saw little need for one other than in the kitchen or processing meat. I had been using knives for years at that point in time. So, the fixed blade thing was an evolution in thought for me.
  8. JBC6650

    JBC6650 Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 19, 2008
    Dont get stuck on the Marine fighting knife pattern. I love my Ka-bar but there are great fixed blades all the way from cheap Moras to high priced customs. I think you can get anything your heart desires in a utility format for under $200, and you'll probably end up with several favorites and a few you find you dont like as much as you thought you would.

    Check out the Ontario line for some good budget options in a variety of models that you won't be afraid to beat on. Might have to touch the edge up now and then on a new one but they are still a good value.
    19-3ben likes this.
  9. Kubo


    Jun 4, 2019
    Damn, didn't even think about it but you're right. Considering that I returned my BK2 because the handle was too small for my hands, the EK is a no-no.

    You're probably right too man. The EK is too thin for general utility. To be honest I got a better look at it and it's probably too thin for killing too. I can see it easily breaking when stabbed between boar's ribs and pulling in a wrong direction. I need to get a better look at these knives before I make decisions, or post threads. Guess I'm just too damn indecisive I'd get the USMC in a second but can't get myself to trust that damn stick tang. Probably gonna pull the trigger on that Jarosz Turok, really smart design, both for combat and for utility. What do you guys think ?
  10. justjed


    Oct 23, 2010
    Get whichever one YOU like best. The Kabar has history, no doubt. And it's a decent knife, IF you're not planning on doing any chopping. There are better(read: bigger and heavier) knives for that. But as a general purpose tool, a Kabar is about as good as any. Ek knives have history too, but most people have never heard of them. The narrow handles are something of a detriment as far as general use goes, but John Ek was a practical man, and his knives gave you no more than was needed. You simply have to adjust your cutting technique for this type of handle. The Kabar is a little more user friendly, the Ek is just a cooler knife. You can't really go wrong with either, as long as you recognize their limitations, and work within them.
    22-rimfire likes this.
  11. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    With the thinner handle you just have to adjust your technique a bit. If you are thinking killing hogs with a knife, I would think of a thinner blade profile than say the BK-7 (which I like by the way). In general I feel a little "funny" carrying the BK-7 in the woods. It was designed to be a "better" combat utility knife. The BK-5 (discontinued) might be a good choice for stabbing, and certainly a good choice for meat processing. It's a brute.

    I wish I would have returned my BK-2, but I sharpened it and used it a little as I recall. It was money just poured down the knife hole for me. The handles are a bit large for general use for me also.

    I wouldn't worry about the stick tang breaking on the the USMC Kabar.
  12. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    The Blackjack 1-7 might be a good choice for you by the way.
  13. IS2 Chris Wilson

    IS2 Chris Wilson

    Sep 27, 2019
    I have a USMC Kabar with the Kraton Handle and a Kabar Navy MK1 with Kraton that I dearly love, but most of the time I find myself using my Kabar Becker BK7 with Micarta upgrade because of the additional capability. Out of the three if I had to go back to war tomorrow I would be taking the BK7. The true full tang is an incredible advantage for hard use.
  14. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    The BK-7 was designed to be a "better" military utility knife. For me and my uses, it is generally too large for me to comfortably carry. I would rather carry the Blackjack 1-7 personally as it has a slimmer profile.
  15. foxdoublegunner


    Aug 20, 2010
    I don't think that I saw your reason for buying the knife in your original post. Is it for general camp use/hiking, for meat processing, self defense against the communist hordes when you run out of ammo, admiring in your collection etc? For general use I don't think that you have anything to worry about with either one of your prospective choices as far as durability. I carried my USMC Kabar around the world and never felt as if I had to worry about it breaking. It was easy to sharpen in the field and always opened my MRE's and boxes without any problems. One of my fondest memories was seeing a young Marine with a Kabar in Tikrit skinning a freshly killed deer on the grounds of one of Saddam's former palaces. The city had just fallen two days before and he had a big smile on his face, as did the rest of the members of his fire team, as they eagerly awaited some fresh venison for dinner. With the USMC Kabar you get history and utility. Yes, there are better made and more stylish knives as well as more purpose built knives available but you don't necessarily buy a USMC Kabar for that. The knife is heavy, the leather can rot and the high carbon steel blade can rust. A person typically buys one because of the history (and secondarily the utility), because they are a Marine or aspiring to be one or have respect for the Corps, or their Dad/Uncle/fill in the blank was a Marine. It is a good solid knife for a reasonable price that will not let you down. Nothing fancy-it just works. If you wear it, people will probably stop you to ask when you served in the Corps and what Regiment you were in.

  16. AntDog

    AntDog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    If the “stick tang” is all that’s holding you back, don’t worry about it. You’ll get tired before you break it.

    The Ek isn’t fragile either, and wouldn’t bust shoving it into a boar. You planning on doing some up close and personal hunting, pal?

    I tend to buy knives based on needs. What do you need this knife you’re contemplating to do?
    Hologram likes this.
  17. Kubo


    Jun 4, 2019
    Guys, I decided on this a long time ago, no need to answer anymore (I tried like 10 different knives and ended up with a folder because I realized I don't really need anything more). But thanks for the input ! If any moderator sees this thread you can lock it, or even delete it if you want

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