KA-BAR’s legend needs no introduction here. They’ve been producing finely made fighting, utility, and pocket knives for Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors since World War 2. KA-BAR teamed up with Ek Knives to bring back the classic EK Model 4 commando knife for the modern market. John Ek produced these knives during the height of World War 2. The Ek Model 4 killed Japanese and Nazi soldiers in the hands of Marine Raiders, the Army Rangers, the First Special Service Force, and the OSS.
This was the height of the Commando dagger, and John Ek’s Model 4 quickly became a popular choice for the boys doing the throat-slitting and lung piercing. Demand grew so fast, and the need for knives was massive. John Ek eventually had three shifts working 24/7 to produce knives for military service. President Roosevelt and General Patton both own Model 4 knives, and Clark Gable reportedly purchased several.
The Ek Model 4 – KA-BAR’s Entry
Over time the Ek knife company moved around quite a bit, and eventually, KA-BAR purchased the brand. This is where we sit now with the new Ek Model 4. KA-BAR made some minor changes for ease of production.
Notably, the grips are no longer wood but glass-filled nylon. KA-BAR ensured the grip design was identical to the classic knives. This unique grooved system gives you a very sure grip on the blade. Eighth scallops are cut into the grips, and it’s an ingenious way to provide a good grip without using G10 style scales. Old school doesn’t mean outdated all the time.
The crossguard is slightly different, with one side going upwards and one curving downwards. It’s small, and small is good to prevent the knife from snagging on your gear when drawn. The handle is also massive for an easy draw and plenty of room to grip. It’s like a hand and a half sword, but on a dagger.
Digging the Blade
An Ek Model 4 features a blade similar to most fighting knives of its time. Back in the day where the Model 4 came to be, fighting with a knife wasn’t out of the question. Fighting men wanted long blades that could extend their natural reach as well as reach the vital organs from nearly any angle of attack. The original KA-BAR had a 7-inch blade, the Gerber Mk2 had a 6.5-inch blade, and the Ek Model 4 comes with a 6.625-inch blade.
Daggers mean dual-edge, and the Ek Model 4 doesn’t disappoint. The blade is dangerously sharp on each side and made from 1095 Cro Van steel. The grind is absolutely beautiful and even on both sides. It cuts through meat cleanly without stutter or interruption. I know that because I’ve been meal prepping a lot, and cutting chicken is a daily chore.
This is no kitchen knife, but that’s the only way I can see how this thing cuts through meat legally. I have a big pile of broken-down Amazon boxes, and I stacked ten layers of cardboard up, taped it together, and pushed the blade right through it with little effort.
John Ek chose the 1095 Cro Van steel, and it was a smart choice. This steel is extremely strong, has great edge retention, holds an edge for a long time, and can be used hard without worry. The downside is the corrosion resistance isn’t great, but KA-BAR coats the blade to help.
A combination of the long blade and long handle gives you the ability to chop. Being able to chop with a dagger is a rare feat. The big hefty design allows you to swing the blade downward with surprising force. The pointy tip and dual-edge design make this a natural stabbing tool, and it’s likely slipped through the ribs of the enemies of Democracy more than once.
The Ek Model 4 In Action
Daggers do not lend themselves to versatility like a traditional KA-BAR. You can’t baton wood, strike a fire starter, and the lack of a belly makes cleaning game more challenging. You can strap the Ek Model 4 on your belt as a survival knife, but it most certainly excels more like a fighting knife than a survival tool.
I couldn’t be happier to see the return of the Ek brand, and I’m happy to see it in the hands of KA-BAR. The Model 4 is an excellent example of John Ek’s design with KA-BAR’s quality. I’m excited to see what other Ek blades they bring back.