When gear is issued, it can sometimes be a hit with troops on the ground. Other times, not so much.
In the curious case of the Marine Raider Stiletto, it was the right knife made from the wrong material that ultimately led to its replacement by the venerable Ka-Bar knife- though the change ultimately made the stiletto a coveted collector’s item.
The first knife in USMC history to be designed by a Marine Officer, the stiletto was the work of then-Lieutenant Colonel Clifford H. Shuey, who would later retire as a Brigadier General.
While Shuey largely copied the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife of British design (which was developed by two British soldiers stationed in Shanghai years prior), he unfortunately didn’t use the same type of steel, choosing to use cheaper materials (during to wartime demand).
Ultimately, this would make the knife rather brittle over time and susceptible to corrosion- something that Marines could do without.
While Marine Raiders and Paratroopers carried the knife for some time, they ultimately found it was only good for stabbing and not much else. Considering that fighting knives were more often used as can openers and hammers than…well, knives, they discarded it for more durable blades such as the Ka-Bar.
Despite its short-lived tenure in the Corps, the knife wasn’t forgotten. It holds much historical value and -due to the fact that the zinc alloy decomposes easily- is one of the rarest knives in the world of militaria collecting.
If you happen to have one of these knives, hold on to it. These knives can be worth over $2,000 in good condition!
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