Original U.S. Spanish-American War Era Army Model 1880 Hunting Knife with Leather Sheath

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is only the second example of one of these hunting knives that we have had! Developed during the same period of American "multi-use" military experimentation that produced the Springfield Trapdoor ramrod and trowel bayonets, the Springfield Model 1880 "Hunting Knife" was quite similar in size and appearance to the entrenching tool developed in the same year. The handle and bolster design is very similar, though it is fitted with brass, and not steel.

The M-1880 Hunting Knife was designed for concurrent use with the M- 1881 and the M-1888 Rod Bayonet Rifles also manufactured at the Springfield Armory. The first 1002 knives were made in 1881 and had iron guards. Subsequently another 9,000 or 10,000 were made with brass guards (records vary). In 1883, the first 4,000 or 5,000 M-1880 Hunting Knives were made with brass guards and another 5,000 were made in 1885.

All M-1880 Hunting Knives were serial numbered. This one is numbered 2149 and is also marked U.S. / SPRINGFIELD on the top brass portion. The knife was used heavily in western outposts, accounting for the wide distribution and usually sharpened or pitted condition found by collectors. This one is pitted throughout the blade but does retain a sharp edge! The purposes of the knife included skinning game, digging shallow trenches, and clearing brush.

Reproductions of this sought after knife are common, as are finding legitimate ones with replacement handles. Collectors should use caution. This knife is 100% genuine with an original lovely condition wood handle. All of the factory ribbing is intact with minor chipping around the base. The brass fitting for the handle has a lovely aged patina. These were typically used, abused, and in some cases thrown away by the troops they were issued to, so examples in any condition are rare.

Several variants of leather scabbards were designed for the M-1880 Hunting Knife, including experimental versions, and many still exist today. Some are more rare than the knife. Scabbard designations include the leather long- and short-loop, two versions of the brass hook, and the Varney scabbards. All were manufactured at Watervliet Arsenal.

The scabbard has unfortunately dried out from its age and the environment from which it was used in but is still in solid condition and still has visible initials of JAC from the soldier who carried it. There is no extensive damage and the brass belt hook is still attached and untorn.

In very nice service used condition, ready to display!


Blade Length: 8 ½”
Overall length: 13 ½”
Crossguard: 2 ½”
Scabbard Length: 8 ½” inches

Watervliet Arsenal

The Watervliet Arsenal is an arsenal of the United States Army located in Watervliet, New York, on the west bank of the Hudson River. It is the oldest continuously active arsenal in the United States, and today produces much of the artillery for the army, as well as gun tubes for cannons, mortars, and tanks. It has been a National Historic Landmark since 1966.

The arsenal was founded on July 14, 1813 to support the War of 1812, and was designated as the Watervliet Arsenal in 1817. It occupies 142 acres (57 ha) of land, approximately 8 miles (13 km) north of Albany, New York. The location is adjacent to the Hudson River. The site contains manufacturing, administrative offices and storage areas. It also houses the Army's Benét Laboratories, which does product development, improvement, research, and testing.


The arsenal was chosen to be built at the edge of the village of Gibbonsville, directly opposite Troy, New York. It was chosen to be built there due to its key location on the Hudson River, only 60 miles (97 km) from Lake Champlain, 140 miles (230 km) from New York City, and a short distance via the Mohawk River to Lake Ontario. During the early stages of the War of 1812, attacks could be expected from many key ports and other locations. At the time, the Colonel of Ordnance was Decius Wadsworth; he originally designated the arsenal to produce fixed ammunition and small articles of equipment including gun carriages, drag ropes, ladles, wormers, sponges, and shot. The original plot of land acquired by the Department of Ordnance was 12 acres (49,000 m2). Construction began in the summer of 1813 on fourteen buildings: south and north gun houses, a brick arsenal, two stables, a guard house, commanding officer's quarters, a woodshed, two enlisted men's quarters, a hospital and one office. The cost for the land was US$2,585.


Nearly 70 years after the arsenal produced its first products, it gained national prominence when it became the Army's first large caliber cannon manufacturer in the late 1880s. During this period, production changed from the manufacturing of saddles and gun carriages to cannons. Remnants of this period are still in operation today, as evidenced by the continued use of historic Building 110, "The Big Gun Shop," for manufacturing missions. This gun shop once produced 16-inch guns and many other weapons for the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps.

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