Original U.S. WWII V44 Pilot Survival Kit Bowie Knife by Kinfolks with Scabbard

Item Description

Original Items: Only one available. The very first US Army Air Corps survival knife was adopted in 1934 for use in the “bail out” kit of flyers stationed in tropical climates like Hawaii, Panama and the Pacific Islands. The original knife was the No 18 Machete, which was manufactured by Collins & Company. The original variant had an overall length of around 14 ¼”, with a clip point Bowie style blade that varied between about 9 ¼” to 9 ½” in length. The Collins made variant was initially produced with horn grip scales that were secured by brass rivets and had a brass crossguard with lobe shaped finials at the end that almost resembled a barbell. During the production run of the Collins V-44, four variations were produced. The first two used the horn grip scales, initially secure by brass rivets as noted and the only difference between them was the type of blade stamping identifying the knife and the maker. The third and fourth versions replaced the horn grip with Bakelite, initially secured with brass rivets and with the final variant secured with steel rivets.

This particular V-44 Survival Knife is one of the rare knives produced by Kinfolks. The Kinfolks company was an outgrowth of the success of the W.R. Case & Sons and Cattaraugus cutlery companies. Case family cousins Dean and Russ Case, along with Tint Champlin started the company in 1925, in Little Valley New York to help provide production support and fixed blade knives to the other two companies. During the Second World War, Kinfolks produced a variety of edged weapons for the US government, including knives and bayonets. In the post-war period Kinfolks returned to their pre-war production of utility, household and hunting knives, but by 1957 were unable to remain in business due to labor disputes. The Kinfolks brand was acquired by Robeson Cutlery of Perry, NY, where knives with the Kinfolks name were produced under the direction of another Case cousin, Emmerson Case. In 1965, Robeson ended production of Kinfolks knives.

The “V-44” offered here is in very good condition. The knife is 14 ½” in overall length, with a 9 ½” clip point Bowie blade. The blade has a 4 ½” false edge, and a pair of very narrow, 3 5/8” long fullers, near the spine on each side of the blade. The reverse ricasso is marked Kinfolks / INC. near the spine, with a sweeping forward leg of the “K” underscoring the word in an arc. The blade is in lovely condition and is mostly smooth with only some minor staining. The blade shows a moderate amount of freckled surface oxidation. The metal shows some light toning and scattered areas of age discoloration as well, but it is completely free of any real pitting.

The bulky Bakelite grip scales are black and have a mostly smooth texture. The knife has the cast brass “barbell” shaped crossguard typical of most V-44 knives, with the exception of the Western produced knives. It measures 4 ½” in length. The grips are retained by three ¼” aluminum rivets that show some minor oxidation and discoloration. The grips are in FINE condition and are free of any breaks, cracks or repairs. They show only some light handling bumps, dings and surface scratches. The grip, guard and blade are all tightly secured to each other and there is absolutely no movement or wobble in any of the components.

The knife retains its original leather scabbard which is in lovely condition as well. Like all of the scabbards except those delivered with the Western knives, this one has no hilt retaining strap. The scabbard is of the correct pattern and is seamed up the rear with no additional reinforcements or edge stitching. The 4 ½” belt loop is 1 ¼” wide and is secured by a pair of brass rivets that have a deeply oxidized patina and some green surface verdigris. The scabbard is complete and solid, with all of its original stitching tightly in place and no visible loss. The scabbard retains the large majority of its original finish, with only some tiny patches of loss due to surface scuffing, light handling and use. The tip of the scabbard shows the most wear, with some minor creasing at the scabbard tip. The belt loop is solid and intact and remains very crisp, which is uncommon as the design was prone to excessive wear and breakage. Other than some light handling marks and minor wear, the scabbard is really in fantastic condition.

Overall this is a very attractive and displayable example of the classic World War II era “V-44” Survival Knife”. The Kinfolks Cutlery variant is an extremely scarce knife and the most difficult to find for sale, particularly in high condition.

This would be a great addition to any advanced collection of US military knives, and you will certainly be very proud to display this fine example of a very rare WWII era knife.


Blade length: 9 1/2”
Blade style: Clip-point "Bowie" knife
Overall length: 14 1/2”
Crossguard: 4 1/4”
Scabbard length: 10" with belt loop

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