Some thoughts on the discontinued Zombie Knives...

Discussion in 'KA-BAR Knives' started by PocketKnifeJimmy, Nov 22, 2020.

  1. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    I remember when I first encountered KA-BAR's Zombie Knives. It was me entering a now defunct sporting goods store, (Herb Philipson's), and seeing the then new Taiwanese made Kabar Zombie Knives in their behind glass wall knife display. Since I was a regular customer, I had a good relationship with the guys working that area of the store, (guns & knives section). Anyhow, seeing the knives, I jokingly made some comments about them, finding their neon green handles and blade shapes to be a bit comical. Well, the guys joked back and forth with me about the possibility of the undead, and these new Kabar tools being just what the Doctor ordered for curing their disease.
    While discussing this tongue-in-cheek scenario, they managed to pull a couple of them out of the display case and handed them over to me for a fun inspection. I must admit that the whole time I had no actual interest in owning one, even with my usually liking to add some unique things into my collection... But, that made in Taiwan marking kind'a didn't bond with me, my knowing that Ka-Bar is such an American brand icon. We had our fun that day with our totally un-serious conversation of whacking dead people that somehow were walking around again. I even wound up having one of the guys there take a picture of me posing with the knives in my hands, (a silly photo op moment).
    It was all soon put to the back of my mind, as I just was not at all partaking in any of the Zombie merchandise craze.
    Fast forward to a few years ago, while I was perusing Kabar's website, I ran into their discontinued/clearance section. Well, I had not realized that they had expanded into offering more models in the Zombie line. I was also peaked in interest when I realized that these clearance priced models had been made in the USA. Hmmm... Well, now my collecting juices began to flow! I figured, this would be pretty cool to include into my collection. I eventually wound up including the Zomstro, Swabbie, Pestilence, Tanto, and War Sword into my mix of "interesting objects". I also purchased one of the Kabar Zombie Knife tin signs.
    For me it's just a collecting thing. I have wondered about the beginnings of the Zombie Knives, as to what company was actually the first in offering them. I imagine that Ka-Bar may have at least been the first to offer them in steels and heat treatments that actually qualified them to be respected as "real user knives", rather than for just wall hanger status.
    I do believe the Kabar line of Zombie knives will someday be a neat asterisk in their history. I mean, Kabar, which is so famous for such a serious knife as the F/U knives they made for the US military during WW2, and then to go into this totally tongue-in-cheek Zombie line. But, again, they did so, (at first), with Taiwan made knives in the respectable SK-5 steel, and then with their USA made models made in their well respected 1095 Chrome Vanadium steel. So, although there was some fun tongue-in-cheek bred into them, there was also the quality knife beneath the fun aesthetics. I just think that history will see this breaking of their norm as something pretty historical in the company's past. In any case, I enjoy having some of these specimens in my collection.

    Here's the way I have one of my KA-BAR Swabbies, (I have two of them), displayed in a glass front loading display case. The first tin signs that Kabar offered were made overseas, but this one is one of their later USA made versions...


    And here is that fun "photo op" moment back in, (I believe), 2012...

    I did change out the green scales on all my specimens for the included black ones. I keep the original green scales, packaging, sheaths, paperwork, and their included small Ackeron knives, tucked away in careful storage. I went for the all black as to not totally clash my interior decor by using the neon green scales :)

    Looking from left to right at the four side by side shelved displays, the third one houses the other Kabar Zombie model knives that I own...

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
  2. eveled

    eveled Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 11, 2016
    The whole zombie thing always bothered me. Especially on gun and knife forums. It seemed to give people permission to talk about some pretty gruesome stuff under the guise of killing zombies. With the drug problems we have I wonder if the zombies are already here.

    So I avoided all zombie marketed products. Maybe I missed out on some nice KA-BAR’s along the way. Nice collection and display you have. All that is missing is the little sign that says. “In case of emergency break glass”
    1066vik and PocketKnifeJimmy like this.
  3. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    Thanks :)
    Yes, I may have to make up some sort of a display that has the "break glass in case of emergency"... And, of course have a tiny hammer attached to it :)
    eveled likes this.
  4. JohnnyMayhem


    Aug 6, 2006
    The Pestilence chopper was my favorite, because it was like the old Cattarangus/case folding machetes. (which fits nicely in my disk golf bag) Real handy little thing to have.
    eveled and PocketKnifeJimmy like this.
  5. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    Yeah, I guess Kabar based their initial Zombie knives on historical military blades.
    I have one of the WW2 era Camillus folding military machetes in my collection... The blade profile definitely shares that of the Pestilence.

    Btw, I truly feel that the folding WW2 era machetes are one of the biggest sleepers in WW2 collectibles. They can still be had in the $100 price range, (I actually paid only $75 for mine), and their uniqueness is quite easily worth their price.
    It seems the highest priced ones are those that were made by Case. But, there were at least two other contractors that made them, (I forget if it was 3 or 4 total USA makers). I know the Brits also made them during the war.
    Thanks for adding the Pestilence' similarities into the mix :)
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
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  6. NapalmCheese


    Aug 24, 2006
    The zombie phase was a double edged sword. Sure some people used it to talk about some pretty gruesome stuff; but it also gave people an outlet to talk about the more mundane details of preparing for and surviving natural disasters. Suddenly you could have a bug out bag or a get-home bag without being considered one of those weird prepper people since "you totally just have it in case of zombies, lol". Sure lots of people used it as an excuse to stockpile 500,000 rounds of ammo and build a fallout shelter, but a lot of people used it as an opportunity to figure out how they were going to store or make enough water to get them through the next large earthquake or super hurricane (all in the name of surviving the zombie apocalypse).

    At the end of it zombies were always cool, but I could have done without the toxic green...
    eveled likes this.
  7. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    For me, personally, I never felt the Zombie merchandise fad was more than just being a silly tongue-in-cheek collectible thing.
    The only thing that I purchased during that period, was a box of 9mm Hornady Zombie ammo, and it was for that same reason I state above... A tongue-n-cheek collectible thing. I still have that box of ammo. I never criticized the manufacturers for putting out items to fill that silly niche, or their silly marketing. I, of course, would never place Zombie ammo as a self defense load in my firearm, since using it in such a scenario could be used against you in any case following the incident. I guess one should use common sense with these things, but I also know that for some folks, that "common sense" thing is anything but.
    I purchased my Kabar Zombie knives only after their heyday had passed. And, it was only because they were the U.S. made versions. Also, because their prices had dropped to the point where I thought it would be a cool addition to my "eclectic" collection of interesting objects. I feel that these Zombie knives having come forward from such a historic company as Kabar, and having actually been made with decent quality steels and heat treatment, will go down as a standout moment in their history. When folks look back at the company's timeline, people will likely say much of the same as what folks say today about them. They may say that it was irresponsible and beneath Kabar for having participated in this fad. Others may praise the decision as one that shows a company can think outside the box and not always take everything so serious. And, there will be those that won't opine on the matter one way or the other.
    No matter what may be said in the future of their Zombie Knife series endeavor, I do believe one thing will occur... That is that the series will become a sought after collectible. It's just my opinion, of course :)

    The pics below show a couple of displays within my "eclectic" collection, which are things that I consider to be "interesting objects". One of these displays has the other Kabar Zombie Swabbie that I own. It just sort'a blends right in with the rest of my items...

    Last edited: Nov 26, 2020
    W. Anderson and eveled like this.
  8. Larry Turko

    Larry Turko

    Oct 4, 2007
    The War Sword is my favorite knife of the zombie line. I put the black handle scales on it and had a kydex sheath made for it. Not very zombiesh at all.
    PocketKnifeJimmy likes this.
  9. Charlie_K


    Jul 16, 2012
    I always saw the zombie knives as something worth having on hand for St. Patrick's Day. That way you're wearing green on your knife, and nobody would dare pinch you.
    PocketKnifeJimmy likes this.
  10. upnorth

    upnorth Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    That line always struck me as being marketed toward teenagers/adolescents. Death dagger ?, WTF.
  11. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    And your opinion is exactly my point concerning these knives and the controversy of they ever having been made in the first place.
    This is the kind of product that will stick out in Kabar' history when folks look back at the Zombie fad period.
    They are not for everyone, that is very certain. They were made to fit a targeted tongue-in-cheek niche that has now pretty much come and gone.
    Now their final inventories of these knives will continue to be sold off as clearance items that have no fit with any current fad.
    Who will buy these from Kabar now?... Well, some will acquire them as cheap alternatives to more expensive traditional camp knives and such. Others will see a possible inexpensive fun project knife, where they can be modified into something they've imagined in their minds they can create from them.
    And then there are folks like me, just going to pick some up for the sake of adding them to a collection of some sort.
    In the end, I feel my assessment, (although based on just my opinion), is likely pretty spot on.
    These will go down in Kabar' history as an asterisk line of knives, and will almost certainly become a true serious collectible in the future, (unlike today, where they are seen more as an un-serious collectible) :)
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  12. BitingSarcasm

    BitingSarcasm Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    I have been using a Zomstro as my “hang on the garage wall for when I need to chop something” knife for what feels like a couple of years now. For $45, it has been quite useful and been put through a lot of wood. I stripped it and ground the handle to fit my hand, and I regularly use it to get stuff to fit in my bins. I am one of those project guys, so I picked up a Swabbie to turn into an Elven outdoor knife for hiking because I am also a huge nerd. I regret not buying a second when they were on clearance. The sheaths are a bit rubbish, but the steel is good and I am happy that KA-BAR took the detour down Zombie Lane.
  13. Mr opinionated

    Mr opinionated Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 5, 2021
    I own a KA-BAR Swabbie and it has excelled in everything from chopping firewood branches and batoning to food prep and camping tasks without failure.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2021
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