The Fairbairn-Sykes Dagger: Top 10 Facts

Here is the scenario… You are in a situation where you will have to defend yourself against 3 men who are set on killing you. No one has any guns, only bladed instruments… knives, machetes or bayonets. It will be close quarter fighting where there will be many places to hide and be ambushed or do the ambushing.

You are given several choices of a weapon you can carry:

  • a KA-BAR American fighting knife
  • a 2 foot machete
  • an M4 bayonet
  • or an English made Fairbairn-Sykes Dagger

What is your choice?

Personally, I choose the Fairbairn-Sykes Dagger.


After reading today’s complete post, you will probably understand why. Here are the top 10 facts about the Fairbairn-Sykes Dagger.

#1: The Year Of Design

The Fairbairn-Sykes Dagger was designed in 1940-1941 and production started in 1941. The first producer of this famous knife was Wilkinson Sword.

#2: The Creators

It is quite obvious the inventors of this knife were Fairbairn and Sykes…

William Fairbairn 1885-1960 was a member of the British Royal Marines and during the interwar period, he was a police officer in the worst parts of Shanghai, China.

Fairbairn became quite skilled in martial arts and was stabbed several times while policing the opium infested areas of Shanghai.

Besides the creation of this iconic fighting knife, Fairbairn is credited with creating a martial arts style of combat called Defendu.

Eric Sykes 1883-1945 was also a British soldier and he also joined the Shanghai Police Force where he and Fairbairn became closely acquainted. This is when, working together, they knew that they could help both soldiers and police agents everywhere with close quarter combat skills and weapons.

Sykes also became a member of British Intelligence – MI6.

Fairbairn and Sykes both resigned from the Shanghai Police just before the outbreak of World War II. They sailed back to Britain bringing many illegal weapons with them.

#3: Designed To Kill Quickly


The design of the Fairbairn-Sykes Dagger was not to peel potatoes or use as a screwdriver. It was designed for one purpose only… Killing.

Those who were issued the Dagger were also taught on where to use it to achieve the desired outcome. How to penetrate clothing, bypass the rib cage and “hit” vital organs.

Sharpened like a razor blade, the penetration would not seal itself but would continue to bleed until the “victim” bled out.

#4: Metal Hilt And Superior Steel Blade

Many would think that having both a metal handle and blade, the Fairbairn-Sykes Dagger would be heavy and not balanced.

The great design made the handle “grip-friendly” and the balance was magical. The knife could even be thrown with accuracy.

#5: Tapered Blade

The blade was razor sharp on both edges and was tapered starting at the point, 19/32nd’s wide about 1 inch down, 3/4’s wide half way and 7/8th’s near the hand guard.

#6: Still Issued

While many World War II weapons have been archived, the British Royal Commandos are still issued the Fairbairn-Sykes Daggers to this day.

#7: An OSS Version

The United State’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS) had their own version of the Fairbairn-Sykes Dagger manufactured for its agents.

The OSS version was quite inferior to the original. It was not tempered correctly and the scabbard was like a dull knife itself injuring agents who parachuted.

#8: Other Users Of The Fairbairn-Sykes Dagger

All of these were users of this fighting knife:

  • United Kingdom – Royal Marines and personnel who have completed the All Arms Commando Course
  • France – Commandos Marine and personnel who have completed the Stage Commando in Lorient
  • Poland – 1st Independent Parachute Brigade and 1 Samodzielna Kompania Commando
  • Belgium – ParaCommando Brigade
  • Canada – Armed Forces
  • Cambodia – 911 Special Forces
  • Indonesia – Kopassus
  • Malaysia – Grup Gerak Khas
  • Singapore Commandos

#9: Fairbairn Quote

In close-quarters fighting there is no more deadly weapon than the knife. In choosing a knife there are two important factors to bear in mind: balance and keenness. The hilt should fit easily in your hand, and the blade should not be so heavy that it tends to drag the hilt from your fingers in a loose grip. It is essential that the blade have a sharp stabbing point and good cutting edges, because an artery torn through (as against a clean cut) tends to contract and stop the bleeding. If a main artery is cleanly severed, the wounded man will quickly lose consciousness and die.”

#10: You Can Own One

Yes, you can check ebay or other online sources for an original, but you can also get these beautiful remakes at a fair price on Atlanta Cutlery Corp.

No, I am not affiliated… I am just impressed so I shared.

Final Thoughts

Okay now… Back to that choice.

If I can’t have my Smith & Wesson, give me the Fairbairn-Sykes. I will do some serious damage to those predators with the best fighting knife ever made in my opinion.

You can post your opinions below.


Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. Top 10 Knives Used By Army Soldiers
  2. Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders: 25 Cool Facts
  3. Roy Benavidez: Vietnam War Hero
  4. Army Combatives: What Every Soldier Should Know
  5. Times When Disobeying A Direct Order Is The Right Thing To Do
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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