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A Smatchet is a short, heavy fighting knife/sword 16.5 inches (42 cm) in overall length (including grip). It was designed by knife fighting expert and instructor Capt. William E. Fairbairn during World War II.


  • Design 1
  • Use 2
  • Manufacturers 3
  • Other links 4
  • Books and references 5
  • References 6


Though described in the Office of Strategic Services catalogue as a cross between a machete and a bolo, it was actually based on the Royal Welch Fusiliers Trench Knife of World War I, and was designed as a pure combat knife. It has a broad, leaf-shaped blade sharpened the full length on one side, and from the tip to half of the other side. The entire blade is coated with a dull matte finish to prevent detection at night from stray reflections.[1][2][3]

Smatchet lodged in wood


According to Fairbairn, the Smatchet was an ideal close-combat weapon for those not armed with a rifle:[4]

The psychological reaction of any man, when he first takes the smatchet in his hand is full justification for its recommendation as a fighting weapon. He will immediately register all the essential qualities of good soldier - confidence, determination, and aggressiveness. Its balance, weight and killing power, with the point, edge or pommel, combined with the extremely simple training necessary to become efficient in its use, make it the ideal personal weapon for all those not armed with a rifle and bayonet.

The Smatchet was used by British and American special forces (Special Air Service and Office of Strategic Services, respectively) during World War II.

In the late 1980s, Col. Rex Applegate licensed a modified version of the smatchet he and Fairbairn designed late in World War II. He called it the "Applegate-Fairbairn Combat Smatchet".


Other links

Books and references

  • Fairbairn, W.E. (Lt. Col.), Get Tough!, 1942 ISBN 0-87364-002-0 (1999 reprint)


  1. ^ Walker, Greg (1993). Battle Blades: A Professional's Guide to Combat/Fighting Knives. Paladin Press. p. 210.  
  2. ^ Buerlein, Robert A (2002). Allied Military Fighting Knives: And The Men Who Made Them Famous (Second ed.). Paladin Press. p. 200.  
  3. ^  
  4. ^  
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