Updated Jan. 4, 2004
Bayonet Points #15 - January, 2004
Some Further Notes on Kiffe
My thanks to those who emailed me with some comments on the Kiffe Company. It seems there are a lot of stories out there, most of which conflict with what few facts are known. The most common stories seem to center around Kiffe being a Japanese company that had contracts with the US military during the Korean War to supply M4 bayonets. Two different people emailed me with this information. I don't like to disagree, especially when these folks are adamant that their father or some other person carried a Kiffe M4 in the early 1950s, but there is no documentation that I can find at all that would support this.
As far as I can determine, Kiffe never had a contract with the US military, but as stated, there are several people who disagree with me. If anyone has any documentary evidence to the contrary, I will be happy to admit my error and publish the evidence for all to see.
During the past month, I have seen a few other Kiffe items on the Internet. The first is a "Camper's Knife" and probably dates from the late 50s or 1960s. It fits nicely with the cooking kit and compass that I illustrated last month. It is marked KIFFE / JAPAN on the main blade.
Kiffe Camper's Knife
The other two items are a totally different category, and raise some questions in my mind. Both are dress swords and marked KIFFE / GERMANY. These are obviously designed for specific sales, and are apparently of fairly high quality. If anyone has further information about these, I would appreciate hearing it. Both were sold on the Internet and my information on them is limited to what was in the descriptions. It is possible that this is another Kiffe rather than the one on Broadway in New York that we have been discussing, but I can find nothing on the Internet to indicate another company that would have been likely involved in this sort of item.
US Model 1902 Officer's Saber
The saber is described as "PRISTINE M1902 US Army sword for all officers. Brown composition grooved grip. Maker "Kiffe", Germany, pre-WWII." The photo shows a very standard looking M1902 with the typical German style proof mark and clearly marked KIFFE / GERMANY. I have to agree that it is likely 1920s or 1930s. Anyone know anything further?
Ecuadorian Police Sword
This one was sold by LionGate Arms and Armour, Inc. and is described as: "A sword for an officer of the Ecuadoran Police, ca. 1st half 20th century, based upon the French 1882 pattern. Nickel mounts with black celluloid grip and chrome-plated blade, triple-etched with floral and geometric patterns and "POLICIA DEL ECUADOR." The guard bearing the Ecuadoran national crest. Stamped at forte "GERMANY / KIFFE." Again, this may be some other Kiffe, and if it is the Kiffe being discussed I would expect it to be in the 1960s when the company was actively selling to Central and possibly South American countries. But I am willing to be proven wrong, and encourage anyone with further information to share it with all of us.
Model 1905 Bayonet Grips
In my book I mentioned that Model 1905 grips show cutter marks that were not smoothed off after the grips were shaped. As I have had some questions about these, so I will illustrate them here. On the earlier grips these marks are fairly shallow and spaced at about 11 cutter passes per inch. Later the cutter grooves are slightly deeper and further apart, at about 7 passes per inch. These numbers are not perfect, depending on exactly how the measurement is made.
Due to wear and normal refinishing, the grips are often "smoothed out" which makes it difficult to count the grooves. It should also be remembered that during normal maintenance or repair the grips often were switched, so late grips can be found on early bayonets and vice versa. This also makes it difficult to be certain just when the change was made, but observations make me believe it was done about 1917, possibly to speed production.
Upper, early narrow groove grip.
Lower, later wide groove grip.
Replacement grips continued to be made long after production of the bayonet ceased at Springfield and Rock Island. The replacement grips are of the later wide groove style, and by the late 1920s or circa 1930 they are marked inside with the drawing numbers C64036 in the right grip and C64037 in the left grip.
Later replacement Model 1905 grips showing the drawing numbers.
The Wilde "Wrench"
I made some comments back in Bayonet Points #1 about Wilde Tool, a World War Two maker of the M1905 bayonet. Until recently, collector's knew very little about Wilde, and most of us were not aware of the history of the company or that it still existed. I found that Wilde was founded about 1928 to manufacture a newly designed pliers, which were patented by Otto Froeschl in 1931. Because it improved the grip and the mechanical advantage of the pliers, they nicknamed it the "Wilde Wrench".
The Patent drawing for the Wilde angle nose pliers
Awhile back, Bill Wallace was kind enough to send me a currently made Wilde Angle Nose Pliers, subject of the above patent and still in production. Although Wilde makes large numbers of tools, many of them are made under other trade names, and this is the first I have personally seen with the Wilde trade name.
A currently made Wilde Pliers
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