December 10, 2022

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KA-BAR / Ek Commando Knife Company Model 4 – Updated Version of a WWII Classic

6 min read

KA-BAR / Ek Commando Knife Company Model 4 Commando Knife

The Ek Model 4 was the first and most anticipated Ek Commando Knife Company knife since company’s acquisition by KA-BAR Knives. The new Ek Model 4 is an updated version of the original Ek Model 4 Commando Knife that first saw service in World War II.

The John Ek Commando Knife Company has a long and distinguished history. Since John Ek founded the company in 1941, Ek knives have been battle proven in six major conflicts by American personnel. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, General George S. Patton, Jr. and Captain Clark Gable were among the proud owners of Ek Commando Knives during World War II.

US Marine Raiders gathered in front of Japanese dugout on Cape Totkina on Bougainville, Solomon Islands. Although not officially issued, the original Ek Model 4 was a favorite of the Raiders during World War II. Photo: US National Archives.

John Ek called his knives “Ek Commando Knives” in reference to the World War II Allied Commando-type units for which his knives were designed. According to company records, he requested and received permission from the British War Office to use the term Commando. Ek Commando Knives were sold only for use by members of the US Armed Forces until Ek’s death in 1976.

The John Ek Commando Knife Company entered a new era with its acquisition by KA-BAR Knives. The Ek Model 4 was the first Ek Commando Knife to be released by KA-BAR. The Ek Model 4 also happens to be one of my personal favorites. In addition to the Ek Model 4, KA-BAR also offers the Ek Model 5, Ek Commando Presentation Knife and the Ek/Jarosz Boot Knife in its Ek Commando Knife Company line. As with all KA-BAR knives, they’re made in the USA.

The new Ek Model 4 is made from 1095 Cro-Van® steel, hardened to RC 56-58. 1095 Cro-Van is the same steel that’s used in the KA-BAR USMC Fighting and Utility Knife. Based on 1095 high-carbon steel, 1095 Cro-Van has a little chromium added for better hardening, some molybdenum for edge strength and more edge holding, some nickel for added toughness, and a little vanadium for better bonding. It has an excellent balance of edge retention and ease of resharpening. 

The major drawback to this type of steel is that it rusts fairly easy. For this reason, most 10xx series steel blades have some type of coating to prevent rust. The Ek Model 4 has parkerized finish for protection. Parkerization creates a non-reflective iron-phosphate layer on the outer surface of the steel that helps to protect against corrosion and also increases wear resistance. in any case, with just a little care you won’t ever have any rust problems. The use of a good knife oil or a dry film rust inhibitor will provide optimal protection.

The Ek Model 4 features a 6.625-inch (16.83 cm) double-edged full-tang spear-point blade, 12-gauge commercial-grade steel crossguard, textured fiberglass-filled nylon scales (handles), traditional X-head fasteners and a lanyard hole. Blade thickness is 0.154-inch (0.39 cm). The Ek Model 4 measures 12.62 inches (32.05 cm) overall and weighs 11.2 ounces (317.51 g). 

As a close-quarters combat knife, the Ek Model 4 is designed for both thrusting and slashing. The spear-point design concentrates 100% of the thrust force along the exact center of the knife. The blade on the Ek Model 4 provided to me for evaluation came out of the box razor sharp, as my bloody hand attested to in a careless moment.

John Ek included a copy of his instruction booklet Your Silent Partner with every knife he shipped. Exact reprints of the booklet are available from Cornell Publications. It’s a must-have for every Ek Commando Knife collector or aficionado.

Although KA-BAR refers to the grind as flat, technically it is a sabre grind, which differs from the flat grind in that it begins at the middle of the blade or lower, not at the spine as is the case with a flat grind. A sabre grind produces a strong, more lasting edge, albeit at the expense of some cutting ability. It’s commonly used on tactical and military knives. The Ek Model 4 has a 20-degree secondary bevel (sharpened cutting edge).

The Ek Model 4 has superb balance. It’s quick and lively in the hand. The balance is toward the handle, making the knife easy to maneuver. It tends to fall into the hand rather than out of it. The handle and S-shaped cross guard facilitate the diagonal, cross-palm fencing grip that was advocated by W.E. Fairbairn and Rex Applegate.

The textured scales feature deep scalloped finger grip depressions that assure a quick, firm grip and enhance the overall ergonomics of the knife. The X-head fasteners allow the scales to be easily removed in the field for cleaning. A coin or cartridge rim works.

All Ek Commando Knives have an extended butt. It’s a direct extension of the tang, extending 0.375-inch (0.95 cm) beyond the grip. It protects the grips and hand if the butt is used as a hammer and can be employed as a light-duty pry bar. And according to Ek’s 1944 manual, Your Silent Partner, it can be used for “an upstroke to lay your opponent out.”

John Ek included a copy of Your Silent Partner with every knife he made. Full color restored and digitally enhanced reprints of the 30-page 1965 edition are available from Cornell Publications (Item # 3492) for $14.95. Cornell Publications is the world’s largest re-printer of old gun catalogs and manuals.

The Ek Model 4 comes with a tough Celcon® acetal copolymer thermoplastic sheath that offers multiple carry options. The sheath is of friction fit, self-locking design, with multiple tie-down points and a nylon secondary-retention strap and belt loop. The knife secures solidly in place with a positive click yet is easy to withdraw when one has a proper grip on the knife. The sheath is fully jumpable.

John Ek offered a shoulder rig for his sheaths to be worn under or over clothing. Galco Gunleather® offers today’s Ek Commando Knife owner a similar option with its SHUKA (Shoulder Holster Universal Knife Accessory).

The SHUKA attaches to any of Galco’s modular shoulder harnesses and allows carry of most medium and large fixed-blade knives. You can carry the knife as a primary weapon or attach it with your pistol on one side and your knife on the other.

John Ek offered a shoulder rig for his sheaths to be worn under or over clothing. Galco SHUKA (Shoulder Holster Universal Knife Accessory) provides you with a similar option today. The SHUKA attaches to any of Galco’s modular shoulder harnesses and allows carry of most medium and large fixed-blade knives. Photo courtesy Galco Gunleather.

Besides providing a means for low-profile carry of larger fixed-blade knives, the SHUKA keeps the weight off the gun belt and also frees up belt space. Employed in conjunction with belt tie downs, the harness itself acts like suspenders to uniformly distribute weight.

The SHUKA is made of premium steerhide and is available in black or tan. The quality and workmanship on the SHUKA, as has been the case with all Galco products I have used or examined, are top notch. Also, as with all all Galco products, it’s made in the USA. The SHUKA retails for $75.00.

To sum it all up, the KA-BAR Ek Model 4 (Item # EK44) is an outstanding knife and definitely worthy of the name Ek Commando Knife. The Ek Model 4 retails for $140.03 and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

KA-BAR / Ek Commando Knife Co. Model 4

Manufacturer: KA-BAR Knife Co.
Model: Ek Model 4
Tang Stamp: KA-BAR / Ek Commando Knife Co.
Blade Length: 6.625 in. (16.83 cm)
Blade Width: 1.25 in. (3.18 cm)
Blade Thickness: 0.154 in. (0.39 cm)
Handle Length: 5.88 in. (14.92 cm))
Overall Length: 12.62 in. (32.05 cm)
Blade Material: 1095 Cro-Van (RC 56-58)
Blade Style: Double-Edged Spear Point
Blade Grind: Flat
Blade Finish: Black Parkerized
Handle Thickness: 0.86 in. (2.18 cm)
Handle Material: Glass-Filled Nylon
Lanyard Hole: Yes
Sheath: Celcon with Nylon Retention Strap
Weight: 11.2 oz. (317.51 g).
Origin: USA
Warranty: Limited Lifetime
MSRP: $140.03

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.


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