Over the years, KA-BAR has built up a name for itself in the military, outdoor community, knife community, and just about everywhere else you can think of as a high quality and well-respected knife maker. But where does KA-BAR make its high-quality knives that so many people use and love? After a ton of research, this is what I found out.
KA-BAR makes most of its knives at its headquarters in Olean, New York, U.S.A, while making the rest of its knives in Taiwan and China. As a subsidiary of Cutco knives, KA-BAR shares manufacturing space for producing their U.S.A.-made knives. Nearly all iconic KA-BAR knives are made in the U.S.A.
As you can see, where KA-BAR makes their knives is not exactly a simple matter. There have been many changes throughout the company’s history, and likely more to come. Below I’ll take a more in-depth look at KA-BAR’s current manufacturing locations, production processes, headquarters, and more!
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Where are KA-BAR Knives Made?
KA-BAR is a trusted and loved company with a long and rich history dating all the way back to the 1800s. The company has moved, changed its name, evolved, and changed ownership MANY times, but its high quality and renowned knives have stayed surprisingly consistent over all those years.
Currently, KA-BAR manufactures its knives both in the U.S.A. and overseas. Let’s take a closer look at both of these primary manufacturing locations.
KA-BAR’s Manufacturing in the U.S.A.
In the U.S.A., KA-BAR manufactures its knives and products in Olean, New York. This where KA-BAR produces some of their most iconic and famous knives, such as the USMC KA-BAR and the KA-BAR Becker Campanion.
Cutco Corporation (you know, the company with those kitchen knives…) owns KA-BAR, so the two companies share manufacturing space in New York. In addition to the many knives KA-BAR makes in their U.S. facilities, they also produce a good portion of their KA-BAR accessories and apparel.
KA-BAR has had its operations and manufacturing located in Olean, New York, for MANY years. And while they have moved some of their production overseas and to Mexico (I’ll talk more about that in a second), it doesn’t look like they’ll ever entirely leave the U.S.A. I mean, they’ve been around for well over a hundred years and haven’t completely moved overseas yet!
KA-BAR’s Overseas Manufacturing
KA-BAR has been widely known for its U.S.-made knives, so some of you may be surprised that they produce a good portion of their knives overseas.
As of now, KA-BAR manufactures their overseas-made knives in Taiwan and China. Many people see knives made in Taiwan, China, and other Asian countries to be inferior to U.S.-made knives, but knife companies such as Cold Steel and KA-BAR prove that it can be done while still maintaining a high-quality product.
It is also important to note that KA-BAR makes many of its accessories and all of its leather sheaths outside of the U.S.A. KA-BAR sheaths made from leather are currently made in Mexico, while many of KA-BAR’s accessories are made in Spain, Taiwan, and China.
While Ka-bar makes a good chunk of their products in Mexico and overseas, the quality hasn’t taken much of a hit since this change occurred. In fact, the KA-BAR leather knife sheaths produced in Mexico are some of the most high-quality ones out there for the price!
Which KA-BAR Knives are Made In the U.S.A.?
At this point, you might be wondering, “so, which KA-BAR knives are made in the U.S.A.?”
It can get a little confusing to know where your knife was made when a company splits its products between many manufacturing locations. But luckily, KA-BAR makes it pretty clear which knives and products are made where.
Let’s take a quick look at some of KA-BAR’s most popular knives and products that are made in the U.S.A. Things change over time, so check out the official KA-BAR website for more information.
|Brand||Manufacturing Location||Model Name|
|KA-BAR Knives, Inc.||Olean, NY, U.S.A.||USMC KA-BAR|
|KA-BAR Knives, Inc.||Olean, NY, U.S.A.||Becker Campanion|
|KA-BAR Knives, Inc.||Olean, NY, U.S.A.||Becker Eskabar|
|KA-BAR Knives, Inc.||Olean, NY, U.S.A.||Becker Tac Tool|
|KA-BAR Knives, Inc.||Olean, NY, U.S.A.||Tanto|
Obviously, there are a TON more KA-BAR knives made in the U.S.A., but I simply couldn’t possibly list them all.
As a general rule of thumb, the iconic bowie style knives (think USMC KA-BAR, U.S. Army KA-BAR) are all U.S.-made. The KA-BAR Becker and fixed blade Tanto lines are also made in the U.S.A.
Manufacturing locations of particular knives change, so make sure you check your retailer or the official KA-BAR website for up to date information.
Which KA-BAR Knives are Made Outside of the U.S.A.?
Whether you’re looking for one or trying to avoid them for some reason, you may be wondering which KA-BAR knives are made outside of the U.S.A.
From all of my research, information on the exact locations where KA-BAR manufactures its knives within China, Taiwan, and Mexico is very limited. Just the country of origin is going to have to suffice for now!
Alright, let’s take a look at some of KA-BAR’s most popular knives produced overseas. Over time, particular knives’ manufacturing locations are likely to change, so check out the official KA-BAR website for more information.
|Brand||Manufacturing Location||Model Name|
|KA-BAR Knives, Inc.||China||Folding Hunter|
|KA-BAR Knives, Inc.||China||Warthog Folder|
|KA-BAR Knives, Inc.||Taiwan||Original TDI Knife|
|KA-BAR Knives, Inc.||Taiwan||Dozier Folding|
|KA-BAR Knives, Inc.||Mexico||Leather USMC Sheath|
There are many more KA-BAR knives produced in the countries mentioned above, but I couldn’t possibly list them all, so I went with KA-BAR’s most popular models.
Generally, it appears like KA-BAR produces the VAST MAJORITY of their folding knives overseas. In fact, I didn’t currently see a single KA-BAR folding knife made in the U.S.; they’re all made overseas. The KA-BAR TDI lineup and their hunting knives are also typically made outside of the U.S.A.
All of the KA-BAR leather sheaths are made in Mexico. There is clearly a high standard of quality for the KA-BAR leather knife sheaths; they are very well-made and durable. KA-BAR also offers a selection of hard plastic sheaths, which are manufactured overseas in Taiwan and China.
If your knife’s manufacturing location is super important, make sure to check with your retailer or the official KA-BAR website because where particular knives are made may change.
Where is KA-BAR’s Headquarters?
KA-BAR Knives, Inc. currently has its headquarters in Olean, New York, U.S.A.
Since the early 1900s, KA-BAR has been running out of its headquarters in Olean, NY. In the beginning years of what would one day become KA-BAR, the company was in quite a few locations, but they seem to have finally settled down for good.
It is also important to note that Cutco Corporation owns KA-BAR and shares manufacturing space in New York with them. In fact, there is a shared Visitors Center in Olean for both of the companies where you can learn about KA-BAR and Cutco.
A Quick Overview of How KA-BAR Makes Their Knives
For a KA-BAR knife to go from a sheet of metal to the knife you receive, it must go through quite a long and intensive manufacturing process. In the KA-BAR manufacturing process laid out on their website, a KA-BAR knife must go through a nine-step process:
- Tang stamping
- Leather handle compression
- Cap/pin assembly
The processes change for each type of knife being made (you wouldn’t do any sort of leather handle compression on a plastic-handled knife!), but it shows you a little inside peek into how KA-BAR makes its knives.
KA-BAR’s folding knives, which are currently made overseas in China and Taiwan, likely go through a similar process but with an added assembly step. The manufacturing processes KA-BAR uses are relatively standard, but you simply can’t deny the final product is quite impressive!
KA-BAR has carved a place for themselves in the knife market, and they are likely not going anywhere for a long time. KA-BAR has a rich and long history intertwined with that of the U.S. and its military and law enforcement.
While the fact that not all of their knives are made in the U.S. is a downside for some people, KA-BAR has pulled off the overseas manufacturing pretty well. If it had to be done, Ka-bar did it the best way possible.
If you’re interested in where other companies make their knives, check out my article on Cold Steel’s manufacturing locations!
All of the iconic and widely recognized knives that KA-BAR is famous for are all made in Olsen, New York, while the folding knives and less important blades are not. Overall, KA-BAR is a very well respected company that makes some truly iconic and high-quality knives.
KA-BAR offers quite an extensive lineup of knives for nearly any purpose out there. Below are some of my favorite KA-BAR knives of all time, which I think you’ll genuinely like if you don’t already own them: