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~ Variations Of The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife ~



The Ribbed & Roped Pattern

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The Ribbed & Roped F-S

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~ Introduction ~

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The so-called ‘Ribbed & Roped’ F-S knife variation is another one of those scarce incarnations of the WWII F-S that almost nothing is known about.  What we do know is mostly conjecture and supposition derived from the examination and careful study of those surviving examples, this being no small task as such examples are incredibly scarce.

To my knowledge there is no known contemporary information available on these knives, be it first hand accounts, documentation or photographic.  The lack of such details is not strictly an impediment to study as this has been the case with other variations and through careful analysis it is possible to extrapolate details that not only inform but expand our understanding of these knives.

What follows is sadly not a comprehensive study or analysis of this rare variation, the lack of examples and information preclude such an endeavor and to ‘fluff’ out an article with stories or fantasy would be detrimental to the topic.  What I will attempt here is to share some fine examples and to discuss some of the details that not only define this variation but also demonstrate the variety of examples which make is so intriguing and an F-S variation worthy of further research and one that should be high on any collectors list.

~ Why ‘Ribbed & Roped’? ~

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As is so often the case with rare F-S variations the name by which many are known amongst collectors is derived from a simplified description of physical characteristics.  This is normally attributed to the material, construction or form of the grip, the blade of course being of more uniform construction across the variations.  In this case the term Ribbed & Roped is in reference to the design of the raised area of the hilt intended to aid in a more secure grip.  A very similar variation is the more common (I use the term ‘common’ relatively) Ribbed & Beaded.

Ribs

Beads

Roped

The more often seen Ribbed & Beaded (shown above left) has as part of the grip design concentric rings interspersed with rings of what one could describe as ‘beads’, hence its name.  In contrast the Ribbed & Roped (shown above right) has a grip of concentric ringers interspersed with rings that bear a resemblance to a piece of rope which understandably has influenced this name.  The number of roped rings can vary with examples being noted with 7,9 & 10.  These may seem subtle differences but to the collector’s eye, all important.

~ Production Details ~

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One could be forgiven for forming the opinion that both the Roped and Beaded variants of these knives have many similarities and this is certainly true when only given them a cursory glance.  However when studied more closely and aside from the general similarities of the grip from they are indeed quite distinct and deserve to be studied and collected as separate and unique F-S variations.  Perhaps the only true similarity in these knives is actually in the variety of production details that both variations seem to share.

The style of the pommel nut is an area that appear very distinctive on the Ribbed & Roped F-S.  Unlike the more conventional ‘peened over nut’ type that is normally encountered on F-S knives, here we see a cap which threads on and covers the tang.  This is often in the form or cap with parallel sides or the so-called ‘acorn’ style.

This fine example has a grip made of alloy which was once blackened, must of the finish has worn off but can still be seen in the groves of the grip.  Not the modified scabbard.

Although a few nickel plated examples are noted, it would seem that a standard dark or black finish is more the norm.  Crossguards are of the flat sided type and this detail seems consistant.  A machine ground blade seems to be standard on most examples but along with the nickel finish, hand-ground example are known.

The flat-sided crossguard on this example displays the US import stamp of ‘ENGLAND’ indicating that it was sold as surplus just post-war into the US market.

Although little official information is known about the Ribbed & Roped, many example are known with the US import stamp of England, indicating that these remained in stores at wars end and were sold as surplus just after WWII.  This is perhaps a strong indication that such knives were actually manufactured later in the war.

To date I have not encountered an example with any kind of manufacturers marking and with the vast array of subtle variations, it seems clear that more than one maker was involved.  There are examples though of knives with Ministry of Supply (MoS) ownership/inspection markings.  The later (along with the import stamp) proving that these were not isolated to private purchase as has been suggested by some.

This page along with this topic is still very much a project in development, so as and when new information or example surface and as time allows, there will be updates, so please check back periodically.

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