Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sharps: Camillus MIL-K-818D

There is, by the way, an American-made alternative to the Victorinox knives I described in yesterday's post. It's worth talking about, even though it's no longer in production and the company that made it for over six decades is gone.

The Camillus Model 1760 "Demo" pocketknife, manufactured to U.S. Government Spec MIL-K-818D, first appeared in the mid-1940s and was issued to countless military personnel from World War II through Vietnam and beyond. An identical consumer version was advertised in the New York-based knifemaker's catalog beginning in 1946. And the Model 1760 was still there in 2006, the last Camillus catalog before the 134-year-old company collapsed into bankruptcy in 2007.

One of these inelegant all-steel knives, minted in 1988, lives in a survival pouch within my primary go-kit. While it may lose a beauty pageant to the old-design Victorinox Soldier, the Camillus is just as bulletproof -- and maybe more so.

A quick search of
eBay just now uncovered at least a dozen such Camillus mil-spec pocketknives, even a few brand-new ones, ranging in price from $15 to $40. (I ignored one delusional listing for a well-used Camillus Demo, allegedly dated 1960, priced at $240. The seller noted no particular provenance. Sheesh.)

When a Swiss-made Soldier can be had new-in-box for 20 bucks, it might be difficult to justify paying twice the price for a comparable pocketknife made by a defunct American company.

On the other hand, it might not. Buyer's choice.

Earlier posts
Sharps: A modern-day Soldier
Sharps: Rite of passage
Sharps, Part I: In the pocket

The Demo Knife

The federal government's NSN (National Stock Number) for the Camillus Model 1760 is 5110-00-162-2205.