Ka-Bar Knives have been a staple in the world of military and law enforcement as far back as I can remember. Many of you and many of your fathers and even grandfathers have used the famous U.S. Marine Corps Ka-Bar fixed-blade knife.
Today, Ka-Bar is still best known for its Marine fighting knife, but the company also makes a complete series of folders and fixed blades suitable for hard use. The latest rough-and-ready Ka-Bar knife is the Mule pocket/sheath folder.
The Mule is not your standard-size folding knife and, at first blush, it may seem too big and heavy for daily duty use. But many folks are not fans of clip-it folding knives, which is why big folding blades like the Mule exist. The Mule can be used as a pocket knife, even though it might be a tad large, but it also comes with a sheath that can be mounted vertically or horizontally on your belt.
Despite its size, the Mule balances well in the hand. In fact, one advantage this knife has over many other knives is the way it fits in your hand. It is long enough to be used as an impact weapon, and its design makes the Mule suitable for use as a pressure-point control device much like a kubaton.
While it’s all well and good that the Mule can be versatile, it is first and foremost a knife, and it should be judged accordingly. And the verdict is, guilty. It’s an excellent knife.
Ka-Bar uses AUS8A stainless steel for the Mule’s 3.5-inch cutting surface blade. AUS8A is a durable stainless formula that is prized for blades because it sharpens fairly easily and holds a keen edge. The Mule’s blade also has a black teflon coating that makes the knife more rust resistant and makes it less likely to give off reflective glare. The Mule’s blade is available with and without serrations to fit the user’s needs.
The Mule’s blade is secured by a back lock. Many knife users are more comfortable with this “lock blade” design over the ever popular liner lock. Liner locks require the user to put his or her fingers between the blade and the frame when unlocking and closing the knife blade. This has caused many operators to slice one of their favorite digits. The back lock generally requires two hands to close the blade, making it safer. Many will also argue that this is also a more secure/durable locking system, but that’s an endless discussion like the endless debate of car lovers over which is better, Chevy or Ford, and it’s best left to the “experts.”
Unlike many lock blades, the Mule is a one-handed opening knife. Ka-Bar has installed an ambidextrous thumb stud on the blade. Most lock blade knives have a single side notch to aid in opening of the blade, and are generally for right-handed opening. Ka-Bar, however, realizes that numerous knife users are southpaws and, even if you are right handed, there are instances where and when you will need to use your off hand.
The Mule’s grip is Zytel. This not only keeps the weight down but it also performs well in a wide range of climatic conditions. To enhance the grip ability of the Mule, several horizontal rubber inlays are molded into the Zytel. Since the Mule does not have a clip to attach it to your pocket, it is best carried in a heavy-duty sheath. Ka-Bar includes a vertical/horizontal carry knife sheath with every Mule. The sheath is made of Cordura and can be easily attached to your LBE or duty belt, thanks to Velcro loops. It closes with a Velcro flap but, to ensure your knife stays put, it is secured with a heavy-duty snap.
All in all, Ka-Bar’s Mule is one heckuva knife. It is designed to fit a wide range of situations that the operator will encounter, features quality construction and materials, and it’s affordably priced with a suggested retail under $60.
Weight: 8 ounces
Closed Length: 5.25 inches
Open Length: 91⁄16 inches
Blade Material: AUS8A stainless steel
Lock: Lock back Handle Material: Zytel
Scott Smith is a disabled veteran who served as an active duty Army MP and in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as a security policeman.