The cutlery world is strewn with century-old company names existing only as figments of re-branding. KA-BAR is one of only a few who have truly stood the test of time — and done it without losing their identity and reputation for making one of the most famous fighting knives in history. KA-BAR’s soul of steel may be rooted in the past, but it also propels them into the future with sharp, fresh additions to their line-up.

“KA-BAR was founded out of the remnants of a few other small cutlery companies in the 1890’s by Wallace and Emerson Brown, and their father John W. Brown,” Marketing Manager Joe Bradley tells Handgunner. “Wallace and Emerson previously had a company called Brown Brothers Razor, as well as a knife sales firm called Union Razor. They had a warehouse in Little Valley, New York, where they essentially charged knife companies rent to store their products. When one company, Tidioute Cutlery Company, was no longer solvent the Browns took control of the assets and began to make knives. This process began in 1898.”

The Tidiuote Cutlery brand was formally changed to the Union Cutlery label in 1915, though the Union Cutlery name was used much earlier. KA-BAR Knives grew out of the Union Cutlery trademark in the mid-1920’s, but it became particularly well known — indeed famous — for the introduction of a fighting knife in the latter part of World War II. The USMC Fighting/Utility Knife remains today as the single knife most often associated with the company’s name, but the cutlery manufacturer has a much more diverse product line today. The company’s headquarters is located in Olean, New York, which has been KA-BAR’s base of operations and manufacturing since 1911.