Jet Pilots Survival Knife Collectors Notes


Jet Pilots Survival Knife

The Jet Pilots Survival Knife makes a great entry level collecting knife. With so few manufacturers and few variations, it does not take extreme effort for one to collect the major variations. Prices of these knives have been steadily climbing over the last few years so grab yours now!

Jet Pilots Survival Knife History

In 1957, in collaboration with the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics the The Jet Pilots survival knife was born. The knife quickly became a favorite of pilots. With its distinctive double edged blade tip, saw tooth back, and stacked leather handle the JPSK (Jet Pilots Survival Knife) has a distinctive look that is easily recognized. The octagon pommel added to the uniqueness of the knife and also provides a variation for collectors to focus on. 

Although the knife was developed by Marbles their production was short lived. Camillus Cutlery Company was awarded the contract to produce the JPSK. Marbles would continue to produce their creation for civilian markets. A big part in Camillus winning the contract would undoubtedly be due to their efforts in lowering the cost of the knife. The Camillus knife was most different in that it was no longer blued but instead parkerized and the distinctive octagonal pommel peened in place. Prior to the cost cutting decision to peen the pommel in place, Camillus produced some knives with screw top pommels which are extremely rare and collectible. 

After a few years at war, thousands of hours of flying, some ejections, and parachute landings, the JPSK saw its next major change. In 1962 the 6 inch blade was shortened to 5 inches. This change was a result of pilots complaining of the knifeā€™s length and either poking them in the legs or ribs. The shortened knives also came with a new sheath which featured a black aluminum guard to prevent the blade from protruding through the bottom. 

Variations

Length - Knives produced between 1957 and 1962 have a 6 inch blade. Knives after 1962 have a shortened blade to 5 inches.

Markings - The first two variations of knives produced (6 and 5 inch blades) had manufacturer markings on the blade. The final variation, and the most widely seen, has the manufacturer markings on the pommel. 

Camillus Jet Pilots Survival Knife Pommel and Blade Markings
Example showing the early tang marked style of Camillus knives and the later pommel markings with manufacturer and date.

Pommels - The pommel provides another slight variation for collectors. Camillus produced both screwed on pommels as well as pinned pommels. The screw pommels are slightly more scarce and fetch a premium over the pinned on.

 

Jet Pilot Knives with sheathes
Jet Pilots survival knife collection. Note the 6 inch knife on the left with early sheath featuring full belt loop and no aluminum guard on the tip. Middle sheath is example of a private purchase Japanese made variation which still has a place in some collections. 

 

Accessories and Other Items of Interest

The Jet Pilots survival knife was also issued with a leather sheath. Much like the knife, there are variations which outline the history of both the knife itself and its involvement in conflict. 

  1. Belt loop
  2. Sewn in
  3. Aluminum Bottom 

Manufacturers

  • MILPAR
  • Camillus
  • Marbles
  • Utica Cutlery Company
  • Ontario Knife Co.
Colonel Robert Olds and his pilots survival knife
Famed pilot Colonel Robert Olds wears his pilots survival knife attached to his harness. Note the octagon pommel. USAF photograph.