KaBar Mark 1 Survival Knife Review: Features, Pros, Cons

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By Joel Jefferson •  6 min read

KaBar undoubtedly makes some of the best knives that exist, and at first glance, the Mark 1 looks like the perfect general-purpose knife.

The brand first emerged during the second world war, and the USMC Mark 2 knife used in the war became a blueprint for professional knife design. The Mark 1 was also subsequently used by the navy in the war.

The current generation KaBar Mark 1 has a very similar design to the original Mark 1, but the improved design makes it a lot more durable.

In this review, I will determine if the knife lives up to its excellent reputation.

Last update on 2024-07-12 at 21:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

KaBar Mark 1 Review

KaBar Mark 1 Review

Construction Style and Build

The KaBar Mark 1 has a full-flat ground blade, making the blade both slender and durable.

It has the same pommel the USMC knife has, but the USMC knife has a flat-saber blade, making their designs fundamentally different.

The common, flat pommel that the two knives share is not intrusive, but if you have large hands, it may bother you.

But the pommel does offer an advantage – it is large enough for you to hit it with a mallet comfortably and drive it into a piece of wood if needed. The knife’s design is aimed at utility more than combat.

The most recent iteration of the knife is a lot different than the original – but in a good way. The changes in design make the knife a lot more versatile and durable.

The first and most obvious difference is the tip of the knife. The clip point design of the new design makes the tip of the blade a lot stronger.

The blade is 5.125 inches long and is made out of 1095 Cro-Van carbon steel. The 1095 steel is known for being easy to sharpen. It is also known to hold a good edge.

You likely won’t need to sharpen it on the field, but if you need to, it won’t be much trouble.

The knife’s full-tang design makes it well-balanced, and it won’t bend or break under pressure.

The black powder coating makes the knife less reflective and more resistant to corrosion, which is another huge advantage.

The blade’s guard is shorter than the typical knife but just broad enough to protect your index finger if your hand slips.

The spine is sharp, which, coupled with the powder coating, makes it almost impossible to use a Ferro rod with it.

Overall, though, the knife is well balanced, and the new design makes the knife a lot sturdier.

Size and Weight

In my opinion, the size of the KaBar Mark 1 is as perfect as it gets. The blade and the handle are beautifully proportioned, and any hold will feel comfortable with the knife.

The knife is a little over nine inches long, and the handle is a little shorter than four inches. It feels perfect for gripping onto, but if you have larger hands, you likely won’t enjoy the grip as much as I do.

The KaBar Mark 1 weighs 0.45 pounds, which is super lightweight for the size. It feels perfectly balanced and has a great overall feel.


The curves of the handle feel natural. The knife’s handle has a barrel shape, but towards the end, it is squished sideways slightly, which gives it an excellent feel. It feels like an extension of my arm.

The Mark 1 shares the handle design with the USMC knife, whose handle is also made from stacked disks of leather.

Regardless, the leather handle enhances your grip and makes it more comfortable to wield.

While I find the handle to be perfectly sized and my palm never rides the butt of the handle, I think an extra quarter of an inch would ensure that the knife feels comfortable to those with larger hands.


The KaBar Mark 1 comes with a beautiful leather sheath. The quality is impeccable, and I’d expected nothing less.

The sheath comes oiled from the factory, and while it looks thin, it is super sturdy. You never have to worry about the knife poking you when you use the sheath.

The snap button is tight, and the knife remains secured. The chances of it slipping out are slim.

If you’re not going to be using the knife every day, you can rub some wax on the leather sheath to protect it from hardening.


Like most other companies, KaBar offers a lifetime warranty on all of its knives.

However, you must remember that the warranty is limited to material and manufacturer defects only.

If the knife breaks due to misuse or abuse, the company will neither repair nor replace your knife for free.

KaBar Mark 1 Pros and Cons



Last update on 2024-07-12 at 21:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

FAQs About the KaBar Mark 1

Q: Is the knife made in China?

A: The knife is made in the U.S.A., and the sheath is made in Mexico.

Q: Is it marked USN?

A: Both the knife and the sheath are marked “U.S.N.,” which stands for “United States Navy.”

Q: Does the knife get rusted easily?

A: As long as you dry the water off the knife when it gets wet, it will never rust.

What People Are Saying About the KaBar Mark 1

Customers report that the handle feels perfect and that they rarely need to sharpen the blade.

Other than the super rare quality control issue, customers have no complaints with the knife.


Aside from the historical value of the knife, the KaBar Mark 1 impresses with its excellent build quality and aesthetic that rings true to the first iterations of the knife.

The knife is well-balanced and weighs just right, which, coupled with the excellent handle, makes it feel like an extension of your arm. It’s one of KaBar’s best knives and one that I can unreservedly recommend.

Last update on 2024-07-12 at 21:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here.