The Cutting Edge: Ek Fairbairn-Sykes Mk II Fighting Knife

“In close-quarter fighting there is no more deadly weapon than the knife.” W.E. Fairbairn, 1942. Get Tough (New Ed.), Paladin Press.

Ek® Commando Knife Company has a long and distinguished history. Since the company was founded by John Ek in 1941, Ek knives have been battle-tested and proven by American military personnel in six wars: World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq.

John Ek called his knives “Ek Commando Knives” in reference to World War II Allied Commando-type units. According to company records, Ek requested and received permission from the British War Office to use the term “Commando.”

LC-2 Ek sheath is included with every Ek knife. Ek sheaths come in choice of colors (Black, Desert Tan, A.C.U. or O.D.) for best camouflage.


Robert A. Buerlein, the current president of Ek Commando Knife Company, took over control and ownership of the company in 1982, after its move to Richmond, Virginia. At the time, Buerlein was president of the American Historical Foundation (he’s now Chairman Emeritus).

The Ek Fairbairn-Sykes Mk II™ Fighting Knife was introduced in 2008. It’s designed to be the “spiritual carry-forward” of the legendary Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife of World War II fame. The F-S Mk II is not a copy of its World War II predecessor per se, but an updated and improved American version that utilizes the best materials and strongest design. Like its predecessor, the F-S Mk II is a single-purpose, purebred fighting knife—it is the official knife of the U.S. Army Ranger Association.

New Ek Fairbairn-Sykes Mk II Fighting Knife is official knife of U.S. Army Ranger Association. F-S Mk II is available with either checkered American walnut or black Micarta grips.

The F-S Mk II has a 6 5/8″ long, 3/20″ thick, double-edge, spearpoint, wasp-waist blade. The blade on the F-S Mk II is designed for both thrusting and slashing. It has a sharp stabbing point (but not so sharp that it will get stuck in bone) and good cutting edges—both essential features on a fighting knife. The blade is flat ground and has a low-glare satin finish. The blade on my F-S Mk II came out of the box with a razor-sharp edge.

The thrust is the quickest way to end a fight. The spearpoint design of the F-S Mk II blade concentrates 100% of the thrust force along the exact center of the knife. It’s of more than sufficient length (as determined by Fairbairn) to penetrate heavy winter clothing and reach vital organs.

The knife has superb balance and is lively and quick in the hand. The 6 5/8″ blade is the ideal length for balance. A balance toward the handle adapts more easily to maneuver, and therefore the F-S Mk II tends to fall into the hand rather than out of it.

Rightly or wrongly, the sturdiness of the blade on the original F-S Fighting Knife has been the subject of some criticism. That is not an issue with this knife, as the blade is substantially more rugged than the blade on the original. It is sufficiently thick to prevent brittleness, yet thin enough to not compromise thrusting penetration.

Ek knife blades are made of HCS1415 high-carbon surgical stainless steel, hardened to RC 57-59. HCS1415 is a proprietary steel that’s closest to 440C, but with a little less chromium so that it’s easier to sharpen. It’s an excellent steel for this type of knife. The steel is heat treated to 1950°F then quenched at -120°F.

The blade on the F-S Mk II is etched with the F-S Mk II logo on the presentation (left) side and the Ek logo on the reverse (right) side. Custom personalization and special blade etchings are available from Ek at the time of order at extra cost.

Like all Ek Commando knives, the F-S Mk II features full-tang construction. This design provides maximum strength. The original F-S Fighting Knife utilized a rat-tail tang, which is substantially weaker.

Also, as with all Ek knives, the F-S Mk II has an extended butt. This is a direct extension of the tang, extending 3/4″ beyond the grip. It protects the grips and hand if the butt is used as a hammer and could be used as a light-duty pry bar.

Legendary W. E. Fairbairn demonstrating art of “Silent Killing” at Camp X, the top-secret World War II spy training school in Canada, in July 1942. Photo courtesy Lynn Philip Hodgson, author of Inside Camp X. Read more about Camp X at Hodgson’s website, www.camp-x.com.

The F-S Mk II features a forward-curving crossguard constructed of solid brass. It measures 1 15/16″ long by 13/16″ wide and is 3/16″ thick. The crossguard on the F-S Mk II is a much better design than the crossguard on the original F-S Fighting Knife. The crossguard on the F-S Mk II allows the thumb to rest on it, facilitating the diagonal, cross-palm “fencing grip” position advocated by Fairbairn. The shorter, forward-curving design prevents “jamming” of the thumb. The crossguard also facilitates concealment and makes it less likely to snag on clothes during the draw.

The F-S Mk II features a Coke® bottle shaped handle that’s unmistakably Fairbairn-Sykes in style. The palm swell facilitates a secure grip. Handle shape is actually more important than friction to maintain a secure grip on the knife.

The design of the grips on the F-S Mk II eliminates the indexing issues that are common criticism of the round handle on the original F-S Fighting Knife. The grips on the F-S Mk II are precision machined and measure 5″ x 1″ x 3/8″.

The F-S Mk II is available with either checkered (21 lines/inch) gunstock-grade American walnut grips or black Micarta® grips with Gripping Grooves. Micarta is nearly indestructible. The checkered American walnut can’t be beat for beauty. The choice is yours.

Both grips are designed to provide better gripping power than other designs. The Gripping Grooves on the Micarta grips were inspired by the military “lug” tire pattern utilized on U.S. military vehicles.

All grips feature Ek’s ergonomic Handprint™ grip shape and X-Head fastener System™. The X-Head Fastener System utilizes precision-made solid-brass screw fasteners. Head and nut are 1/2″ in diameter and 3/16″ thick. The brass fasteners provide the desired weight of the old-style Ek lead rivets (for knife balance) while allowing the grips to easily be removed and replaced, if desired.

An LC-2 Ek knife sheath in choice of colors (Black, Desert Tan, A.C.U., or O.D.) is included with every Ek knife. You can also order extra sheaths.

Every Ek knife is custom crafted at the Ek Commando Knife Co. facility in Richmond, Virginia. The price for the Ek F-S Mk II Fighting Knife is $299. Priority is given to orders from military personnel. Satisfaction is guaranteed or return in 30 days for a full refund.

I couldn’t be more pleased with my F-S Mk II. Not only is it a superb fighting knife, it’s also a work of art. It’s destined to become a classic.

SOURCES:

Ek Commando Knife Co.
Dept. S.W.A.T.
6767 Forest Hill Avenue, Suite 305
Richmond, VA 23225
(804) 257-7144
www.ekknife.com

Paladin Press
Dept. S.W.A.T.
7077 Winchester Circle
Boulder, CO 80301
(800) 392-2400
www.paladin-press.com

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