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~ Introduction ~

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~ Variations Of The Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife ~



Studying F-S Variations During The Second World War

One of the joys of collecting is that such pursuits inevitably lead one down avenues that were hitherto unknown.  Collecting the original Second World War Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife is no exception.  It is true to say that those knives manufactured by Wilkinson Sword Co Ltd are at the forefront of most collectors minds when embarking on creating a collection.  However as the war progressed and the need for this weapon grew on all continents and in all theaters of conflict, a multitude of variations by other makers both domestic and foreign proliferated.  With few exceptions, very little is known about these non-Wilkinson F-S knives and what details we do know have been pieced together from surviving examples; the occasional period photograph or an anecdotal piece of history, the latter more often than not being rather unreliable at best and complete fantasy at worst.

The A.A.S - A Guest ArticleThe_Australian_Army_Stiletto_by_Michael_Lobb.html

Despite the obvious challenges in researching many variations of the F-S Fighting Knife, the collector can take heart knowing that there are some truly wonderful and fascinating examples to seek out.  Some of these are well known and relatively easy to find, while other are excessively scarce and can take many years to track down.  However all add their own unique footnote to the wartime history of this iconic fighting knife giving the enthusiastic collector the opportunity for a lifetime of exploration and discovery.

This page is an introduction to both the topic of collecting F-S Variations but also as a vehicle to introduce and share some original and specific examples along with general advice on collecting.  Some variations have attracted ‘interesting’ names over the years some of which have been - well a little flamboyant at best but often quite misleading, resulting in at times, confusion especially amongst the less experienced collectors.  For those reasons the names I have chosen to allocate to each specific variation are those I have used for many years and which I feel are the most accurate and descriptive which I hope will help more adequately aid in identification.

Below are a few thoughts on creating a collection, some basic advice, suggestions and experiences I felt it prudent to share.  But remember that this topic is extensive and can never be fully and completely covered.  However as new knives and details surface I will endeavor to update this area as time allows.  Also the knives represented are those variations that I have thus far encountered and believe to be correct and of the period.  I have not included postwar knives in this section as for now it is beyond the scope of this project.  I may continue to add knives as time and specimens allow but for now I hope you enjoy this area of the site and please check back from time to time as it grows.  Always feel free to contact me with any questions or critique. 

When I first started collecting the F-S, one of my initial goals was to seek out a near perfect example of each of the important or then known variations.  Had I realized back then that such an undertaking would take more than a quarter of a century and still not be complete, I may have given such an endeavor seconds thoughts.  Although I no longer personally collect variations of the F-S Knife, I can say that it has been a profound pleasure to have discovered some of the finest and rarest of those examples known.  All of these have now found good homes with fellow collectors and friends.  But as I continue to write about and trade in the F-S, many rare and fine examples still find there way to me and in keeping good records and photographs I am able continue my studies and to share such examples here with you, continuing to build this important area of the website enabling it to develop into a valuable and possibly unequaled resource for the F-S collector.

More and more military history enthusiasts are discovering the joys of creating a unique collection of F-S knives.  Perhaps one of the more oft asked questions is in the direction one should take when starting out.  My answer is often the same - in that one should always follows one’s own passion.  It may be that a particular variation speaks to you and you wish to create a grouping of that particular type.  This is often quite possible as there are of course sub-variations within a particular F-S style.  The Wooden Gripped, Ribbed & Beaded and Third Pattern are good examples of this - with differences in blade configuration, markings and finish etc, there is more than enough to keep any collector busy.  Or perhaps you are drawn to a particular region or country?  In this regard those versions of the F-S produced in the US are an area of high interest by many a collector.  Such would be true of India and Australia too.  There is of course always the possibility that like me in my early days of collecting, that you enjoy variety and for such a collector then there is certainly plenty to choose from as the above categories will testify.

Collecting anything historical can have its pitfalls and the F-S knife is certainly no exception.  Some of the variations are very scarce and avidly sought out by collectors - novice and experienced alike.  As such I’m afraid some variations have attracted the unscrupulous fraudster who values money above all else, even their own character.  In part it is such low acts that have motivated my desire to create this website and to share not only knowledge but offer for sale examples of knives that are correct.  For it is only in such sharing that we can protect ourselves from such individuals of low character and continue to grow and enjoy ‘our’ passion.  For the most part it is not bad news as many of the rare examples you see here on this site have not as yet attracted any such attention.  This however cannot be said of all variations, as I have personally examined a number of exceptionally good fake examples of the ultra scarce Steel Hilt.  So please exercise caution when parting with your hard earned cash, especially if you are not sure on a particular variant or are new to collecting the F-S.  If in doubt I’m always just an email away and happy to share what knowledge I have.

While on the topic of advice in regards collecting variations of the F-S, it is worth pointing out that these knives and their scabbards or sheaths are now more than seventy five years old and as such the reality of finding a ‘perfect’ example in as-new condition is often simply just unrealistic.  One must also remember that these were working knives and not ceremonial daggers.  With those thoughts in mind I would strongly encourage collectors to embrace the idea that an honest original example is one to be proud of and if it happens to have a little wear from use then it certainly should not be excluded from your considerations.  Of course the one bonus of a used knife is that you will not be expected to pay the premium value so often placed on exceptionally fine examples.  And don’t forget a less than perfect knife today can fill that gap in your collection, provide you with experience, enjoyment of ownership and all the while giving you plenty of time to trade up when something a little nicer comes along.  The best thing of course about owning such a knife is the knowledge that is is a real Commando Dagger and most likely too part in some of those astonishing and historic raids of WWII.

A very rare Steel Hilt F-S along with its even rarer correct sheath.

~ Some Thoughts & Advice On Building A Collection ~

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A scarce Wooden Gripped F-S variation.  These were used by the R.A.F.  and can be found with both a fat grip (shown) and slim grip.

A rare and desirable Australian F-S or Australian Army Stiletto.  As well as my introduction to this knife in the top navigation bar, be sure to read the excellent guest article by Michael Lobb for a more detailed perspective on the A.A.S.

Whatever direction your collecting may take, the important thing is that You enjoy it and the knives you acquire are those that bring you the most happiness.  After all at the end of the day, it is only You that has to be happy with your collection.  If I had one golden rule to share it would be to buy the knife that You like, the one that speaks to you and don’t let it get away.  I can tell you with all honesty that decades later I can still tell you all the details about the knives I missed out on due to my hesitation but I have long forgotten about how much a paid for those favorites I grabbed.  In any event, always remember that I am here to help with any and all questions, so whether novice or experienced collector, if you have something to ask or share, I would be pleased to hear from you?


Cheerio and happy collecting,

~ A Few Comments To Leave You With ~

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As with collecting in general there is many directions you can go in and a plethora of areas to explore.  For me this is what makes collecting so exciting.  If you wish to just jump in and start collecting, then that is wonderful, why not!  Or you may wish to study this website, do a little research and take a more focused approach.  I don’t think it really maters what your motivation or direction is, as both of these can change with time and experience.  The most important thing is that it is the direction that You choose.  I have in the past focused on every aspect of F-S collecting, from Wilkinson examples, historically attributed knives and even late-war Third Patterns, that latter of which can be quite fascinating in their own right.  If you have no specific direction in mind, then don’t worry, just buy knives that for one reason or another really just speak to you.  That can be very exciting in itself as you never know what is around the corner.

The classic late-war Third Pattern F-S.  Although this examples is a little more interesting as it has the seldom seen MoS inspection mark of ⩚6.  Collecting examples with varying inspection marks can be a whole project on it’s own.

Roy .

From October of 1942 when Wilkinson supplied the MoS with technical drawing of the then Second Pattern F-S, many other makers went on to fulfill contracts and manufacture this knife.  My research indicates that well in excess of two dozen other makers received orders for F-S knives.  Such a large quantity of F-S manufacturers, at least in part explains why today we find such a variety of F-S knives.

The Second Pattern F-SSecond_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Third Pattern F-SThird_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Wooden Gripped F-SWooden_Gripped_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Australian F-SAustralian_F-S_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Cast Hilt F-SCast_Hilt_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Indian F-SIndian_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
Variations Of The F-S Knife
The J. Clarke F-SJ._Clark_%26_Son_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The American F-SAmerican_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Ribbed & Beaded F-SRibbed_%26_Beaded_Pattern_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Steel Hilt F-SSteel_HIlt_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Fat Gripped F-SFat_Gripped_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Ribbed & Roped F-SRibbed_%26_Roped_-_Variations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
Variations Of The F-S Knife