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How KA-BAR Knives Are Made

The unique process to make a KA-BAR knife combines the talent of experienced craftspeople, expertise of knife enthusiasts, detailed finishing and rigorous inspection and testing.

Here are just a few of the steps it takes to make knives in our world-class facility, which we share with Cutco Corporation, our parent company and maker of the finest kitchen cutlery.

  • Blanking


    Blanking is a shearing process in which the blade of a knife is punched out of a larger piece of metal. Using a 100 ton blanking press, KA-BAR can blank out nearly 9,000 knife blades in one full day of operation.

  • Tang Stamping

    Tang Stamping

    After blanking out the blades, tang stamping is used to identify the knife. The manufacturer's name, the country in which the product is made, and an item number are stamped into the blade of the knife.

  • Heat-Treating Oven

    Heat-Treating Oven

    In the first phase of our well known heat treatment process, blades are run through a heat treating belt oven. This 70 foot conveyor oven is one of the largest in the country and takes a full hour to complete one cycle.

  • Tempering


    In the final phase of heat treatment process, blades are tempered in a walk-in oven for several hours, enhancing steel toughness.

  • Grinding


    KA-BAR knives feature flat or hollow ground blades. Flat grinds are best for jobs with which there will be great lateral stress. Hollow grinds provide a fine, extremely sharp edge perfect for more delicate tasks.

  • Leather Handle Compression

    Leather Handle Compression

    Our eye for detail does not end with the blade; KA-BAR also takes great pride in the handle finishing process.

    The oval-shaped leather handle construction on the famous USMC knife is made by first compressing leather washers onto the tang, shaping and coloring them, and then fastening them on with a pinned-on butt cap.

  • Cap/Pin Assembly

    Cap/Pin Assembly

    The butt cap or pommel is attached to the handle of a knife with a headed steel pin. The pin is inserted into the butt cap and driven part way through the tang.

  • Inspection


    Finally before being released for shipping, each
    KA-BAR knife is subject to a multiple step inspection guaranteeing the ergonomics, aesthetics, and functionality.

  • CATRA Testing


    KA-BAR uses four different product tests to determine the sharpness, edge-holding ability, hardness, and edge angles of all knives:

    • CATRA Testing
    • Rockwell Testing
    • Goniometer Testing
    • Field Testing

    Learn more about each of these methods:

  • CATRA Testing

    CATRA Testing

    Cutlery and Allied Trades Research Association (CATRA) Testing - One of a handful of machines like it in the world, the CATRA tester uses controlled pressure, stroke length, number of cycles and a certified sand-impregnated paper to determine the sharpness and edge-holding capabilities of a blade.

    Learn more about each of these methods:

  • Rockwell Testing

    Rockwell Testing

    KA-BAR Rockwell tests knives to determine the hardness of the steel. A diamond brale presses into the blade and makes an indentation. The harder the steel is the higher the Rockwell reading.

    Learn more about each of these methods:

  • Goniometer Testing

    Goniometer Testing

    A goniometer measures the edge angles of a KA-BAR knife by using a laser beam. The laser beam is aimed at the cutting edge of the blade and is split by the honed edge onto a protractor that reads the edge angle of each side of the blade.

    Learn more about each of these methods:

  • Field Testing

    Field Testing

    KA-BAR puts prototype knives and sheaths through vigorous field tests to find and eliminate problems before introducing new products to the public.

    Learn more about each of these methods: