A Great Original WW2 US Paratroopers M3 in Original M6 Scabbard
M3 knife Made by Imperial, with the M6 scabbard made by Moose Co.. Named to original owner underneath the scabbard maker stamp, but difficult to read , we think its a Private... Richard?. Now ranked by many alongside the rare Ist Pattern British FS Close Combat Knife for both desirability and value. Totally untouched since WW2. Certainly one of the most desirable fighting knives of WW2 for collectors of Allied combat knives and USA militaria, as the M3 was only made for around 1 year during the war, but this particular early type was manufactured for only two months, at the beginning of the 1943 production, and issued in the M6 all leather scabbard, by Moose, one of the rarer scabbard makers, with steel protection plate and coffin shaped seam rivets. The bottom scabbard protection plate was to ensure the blade tip didn't protrude from the scabbard on high impact landing by parachute . If one is very lucky to fine one of these rare and desirable US fighting knives, it will more usually be in the original WW2 late 1943 M8 scabbard, this little beauty is in the much rarer M6 scabbard made by Moose dated 1943, in all leather and steel. It certainly shows this combatant certainly saw considerable combat in his service in the Airborne division. The M3 fighting knife or M3 trench knife was an American military combat knife first issued in March 1943. Initially issued to US paratroopers in early 1943, these M3's are very collectible fighting knives. Especially if they are equipped with the initial production M6 leather scabbards. These sheaths alone by themselves, command a pretty hefty price when sold outright. Out of the years production they are only seen stamped with the 1943 date, for 60 days apparently. That in itself makes these early examples quite desirable.
This example is in good overall condition, showing quite a measure of wear and age as expected for a military knife, which doubled as a survival weapon in hand to hand combat under extreme conditions. The leather washers are nice and tight on the handle, The end of the pommel has been stamped with the flaming bomb proof mark, as proper for these knives. As for the blade, it is tight within the hilt of this knife, and exhibits normal wear, use, and age with hand sharpening. It is stamped U.S. M3 Imperial. This edged weapon is accompanied with the proper M6 leather scabbard marked; U.S. M6 Moose 1943. The scabbard is complete, good and intact. All of the metal reinforced sheath lip ribs, lateral coffin side rivets, and protector plate, are secure and in place. A very desirable early U.S. M3 fighting knife, with M6 leather scabbard.
The M3 was originally designated for issue to soldiers not otherwise equipped with a bayonet. However, it was particularly designed for use by elite or 'shock' forces in need of a close-combat knife such as airborne troops and Army Rangers, and these units received priority for the M3 at the start of production. As more M3 knives became available in 1943 and 1944, the knife was issued to other soldiers such as Army Air Corps crewmen and soldiers not otherwise equipped with a bayonet, including soldiers issued the M1 Carbine or submachine gun.
The M3 trench knife was discontinued in August 1944. After the M1 Carbine was modified to accept a knife-type bayonet, the M3's blade and handle design was incorporated on the new bayonet, officially designated the Bayonet, U.S. M4. The M6 Moose scabbard alone can these days command prices from 500 to 600 pounds. Sheath Contracted numbers
Milsco (Milwaukee Saddlery Co.) 140,494
Viner Bros Shoe Co. 66,457
L&C (Lyon & Coulson) 40,000
L.J. Barwood Co. 29,000
Moose River Shoe Co. 28,000
SBL (Service Boot & Leggins Inc.) 7,000
Total = 310,951
M6 Sheaths Shipped to M3 Knife Facilities
Aerial Cutlery Co., Marinette, Wisc. 20,000
H. Boker & Co. New York, NY Not Listed*
Camillus Cutlery Co., Camillus, NY 35,900
W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co. Bradford, PA 38,300
Imperial Knife Co. provenance, RI 38,300
Kinfolks Inc., Little Valley, NY 29,000
PAL Blade & Tool Co., Plattsburg, NY 20,000
Robeson Cutlery Co., Perry, NY 35,000
Utica Cutlery Co., Utica, NY 49,000
However, despite the appearance of so many being made, the amount of service arms and kit manufactured for the US military for WW2 means these figures are relatively small in the scheme of things, plus, the huge casualty rate and vagaries of combat meant likely 90% of these knives and scabbards, were lost in combat or destroyed by the end of 1945