Kabar Short Review: Does It Get the Job Done?

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By Elijah Langford •  6 min read

Finding a good knife can be a daunting task. There are so many brands on the market today, and each brand has a plethora of styles to offer when it comes to knives. Kabar has been a dependable brand for quite some time.

Their quality is excellent, and the knives that they offer are not extremely overpriced. In this review, we will be taking a look at the Kabar Short to get an idea about whether it is a good knife for you compared to other Kabar knives. We will start with the features of the knife and then cover some pros and cons, what customers think, and some frequently asked questions. Let’s dive in.

  • The handle of the Kabar Short is made of stacked, genuine leather
  • The style of the blade mimics that of the original USMC fighting knife
  • The Kabar Short has a straight edge
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Kabar Short Review


The blade of the Kabar Short is 5 ¼ inches, while the overall length of the knife is 9 ¼ inches. Compare to it’s “big brother”, the Kabar Big Brother, which measures at 14 inches or so, this is comparable smaller and compact.


The handle of the Kabar Short is made of stacked, genuine leather. There are intermittent gaps in the leather of the handle to provide extra grip.

Blade Style:

The style of the blade mimics that of the original USMC fighting knife, making it the most famous knife design in the world.

Blade Action:

The blade of the Kabar Short is fixed. This assures the user of safe handling in fighting situations as well as others.

Comparative Size:

When compared to the classic USMC fighting knife, the Kabar Short blade measures in at ¾ of the length of the USMC fighting knife. This makes it more easily packed or carried.

Edge Style:

The Kabar Short has a straight edge, just as the longer USMC fighting knife does. All edges of this knife are buff polished. The buff polishing helps to microscopically guard against scratches or breaks and also improves the appearance of the steel.


The knife is made of a high-carbon (1095) steel for durability. High carbon steel is made for heavy use and has less ‘memory’ than other steel, making it more difficult to become misshapen.


The Kabar Short has a powder epoxy coating for durability. Though it is possible to chip, flake, or scratch this coating, it is very difficult.


The guards on the knife are also made of powder-coated, 1095 steel. The guards are also secured well and do not wiggle or become easily loosened.

Butt Cap:

The butt cap is made of metal and is also powder coated. The cap at the butt of the knife helps to hold the handle together and provides extra overall strength of the knife. The butt can also be used for a blunt striking-point in combat situations. 

kabar short knife


The sheath included with the knife is made of leather and comes stamped with the U.S.M.C. Eagle and Globe. The sheath is made to ‘wear-in’ and becomes patinated over time.

Pros and Cons of the KaBar Short Knife



What Do People Think of the Kabar Short?

KaBar has always been known for its quality and variety of products. The KaBar Short seems to be a ‘go-to’ knife for a lot of customers. People who buy the KaBar Short often say that they will purchase it again.

The reason that people tend to choose the KaBar Short is the simple fact that it is a smaller, more versatile version of the USMC fighting knife. One of the attributes of this knife that people seem to really like is the classic shape of the knife with the powder coating. Another thing that sets this knife apart from others like it is the stacked leather handle.

The leather feels good in the hand, is made to last for a long time, and has an aesthetic appeal that is unmatched with handles made of plastic polymers or metal. As with other KaBar products, the KaBar Short is a sturdy knife that looks great, feels good to hold, and is super sharp straight out of the box.

The only negative comments that people have had about the KaBar Short are related to the initial stiffness of the sheath and the short handle length. Some customers have said that the handle is too short in the hand.

This is simply because the knife is designed to be a more compact version of a widely used fighting knife. The handle length, however, has not proven to be an overall disappointment, but merely a matter of preference.

Common Questions about the Kabar Short

We get asked these questions regularly. Here are our answers:

Q: Does the KaBar Short have a full tang?

A: Yes. The tang of the KaBar Short runs the length of the knife, and the butt of the knife is securely attached and very durable.

Q: Is the leather handle rough?

A: No. The leather is tightly stacked and polished smooth. The gaps in the leather are ‘filled’ and provide grip despite the fact that the leather is smooth.

Q: How easily does the coating wear off?

A: This, of course, depends upon how much wear and use that the knife undergoes. Powdered epoxy is a very tough material that adheres well to steel, however, and will decrease corrosion and abrasions to the steel itself.

Q: Is the sheath made of quality leather?

A: Yes. Though it is initially stiff and fairly light in color, with some wear and proper care, the leather will patinate and become more supple and darker in color.


The Kabar Short is not unlike other KaBar products. The steel is strong and durable. The handle is comfortable and of good quality. The knife is made to last.

The KaBar Short is a small version of a popular fighting knife, making it easy to carry and hold. If you do not have extra-large hands, you will find this to be a great knife to carry with you or in your pack. In my opinion, the only potential problem that this knife might have is the short handle. This will not be an issue, however, if you do not mind the butt of the knife touching the bottom of your palm adjacent to your pinky. The coating that KaBar uses on their steel is a major plus. The knife will not disappoint, nor is it a short-lived utensil.

  • The handle of the Kabar Short is made of stacked, genuine leather
  • The style of the blade mimics that of the original USMC fighting knife
  • The Kabar Short has a straight edge
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Elijah Langford

Elijah is proficient in flintknapping, fire-making, fly-fishing, and foraging. After leaving Arkansas, and then Tennessee to chase the trout he dearly loves, the Colorado Rockies have become his permanent home where he resides with his wife and daughter. Read his full interview here.