Wednesday, 8 June 2016

From My Drawer of Sharp, Pointy Objects: The British Army Pocket Knife

Alrighty then. So you want to be that fella who is always equipped for any situation that you may happen to encounter on your urban work commute. I think I have mentioned the need of a hat or an umbrella as well as a proper bag to lug around so that you can carry all your stuff with ease. Here I am not talking about tiny sling man bags or those small hand held pouches you see some carry around. Some make you look like you are carrying a toiletry bag instead. Anyway, I am diverging from the topic I wish to present here. A good pocket knife would actually come in handy inside that bag of yours.

A pocket knife is a good thing to store in your bag, your car or close to where you can reach it easily. It is not something that is deemed as dangerous (this are the normal sized ones where the main blade does not cross 4 inches in length) and is actually convenient when it comes to opening envelopes, cutting off price tags, peeling fruit or even screwing in stuff (those that have a screwdriver bit on it). I personally use a Victorinox Swiss Army pocket knife most of the time around the house and it is a handy piece of kit for you to have. 

I could talk about that but I actually want to talk about the more macho looking British Army Pocket Knife now. Especially the one with the Marlin Spike built into it. This is one mean looking pocket knife. I suppose this is all because of that big spike. The Marlin Spike isn't for spiking Marlins, but it is mainly used for shearing rope into smaller strands or to untie a knotted rope or to use the spike for extra leverage when tightening a knot. It is used mainly for rigging and it has more of a maritime provenance to it. You could use it for pitching tents though. And yes. It is plain useless most of the time in an office environment. you have bragging rights though. Because of the big spike on your small knife.

Anyway, the British Army Pocket Knife has been around in one main style since the early 1900s. There are two main types, one with a diamond patterned grip and one the full stainless steel versions (these came later). There were the ones equipped with the Marlin Spike, a foldable blade, a foldable can opener and a screw driver bit at one end of the grip/body. There was another without the spike. But the one with the spike is the one to have.

These are actual Malaysian army surplus items that I happened to get my hands on. They are not British Army issue. The reason why you see British army equipment here in Malaysia is simply because we were a British colony. We inherited their systems and equipment standards. These days we have progressed and the latest Malaysian Army Knife is the larger sized variant (111mm) instead of the smaller and more common medium sized ones (like you see as comparison to the British knives here).

I believe the diamond grip version is the last version before the Malaysian Army switched to the Victorinox knives. Don't take my word for it as whilst I do end up with a few sharp stuff in my collection I do not go anal about it. The full stainless steel version was used for a long time and there are a few. Some earlier ones even have the Broad Arrow Markings but most are unmarked (the stainless steel ones) or like the one with the grip, just some light stamping to mark it as army issue. 

They just look so cool actually. Not as common as the Swiss Army knives. I actually wanted to use these as my daily pocket knives but whilst they are not at all a rare item, I ended up getting various Swiss Army pocket knives as gifts over the years. So I use the more easily acquirable Swiss ones. These are just for viewing pleasure these days. 

And the diamond grip one has a bloody sharp blade. Ridiculously sharp out of the box. A simple piece of British engineering this Army Knife. An option you could bring with everyday if you wanted to instead of the usual Swiss knife. 


  1. [IMG][/IMG]

    I came to own this. Originally my grandfather's, who provided many services to the British Army in Cameron Highlands and who also participated in the search for the missing Jim Thomson.

    1. Yours is a British Army Issue from 1954. The Broadarrow mark is there which is put on various British military issues including watches. I have one of these from the 1960s lying around. This variant does not have the marlin spike.

      The hunt for Jim Thomson was a big thing in those days. I remember being at the bungalow and the trail where he was last seen when I was a kid in the 1980s. It was eerie on the trail. Like someone was watching you. Ah, the mysteries of life.


  2. About two weeks ago I bought the knife I've always wanted to buy but kept putting off: an Opinel No. 8. Went with the oak handle. Stainless steel blade for low maintenance. It's for fruits and parcels of ebay purchases. It's still on its way to me from Greece.

    1. A very good looking and practical knife from what I see (the No.8). With some heritage behind it too. It would definitely suit the purpose you're buying it for. Enjoy it in good health.



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