Carter Rila's

Carter's Cutlery Commentaries

Oct 2005


The Engineer Machete (Bolo Type)

The Myth: The Collins No. 1005 Engineer machete was used in the Spanish American War."

The full story will be covered in my forthcoming book. This particular myth has been picked up and elaborated upon by at least two other authors since Howard Cole was misled by a well-meaning but ill-informed reply to a query. 

First, all Collins pattern numbers were assigned in numerical order and are otherwise meaningless. This is not true for many cutlery manufacturers but it is for Collins. Thus the No. l005 has to succeed the Collins No. 1001 which is the U.S.M.C. Intrenching Machete which was adopted under a specification dated in 1915. The Engineer machete could not have been used earlier because it did not exist! 

Two, this Collins pattern 1005 implement was adopted by the U.S. Army Engineer Corps in 1918. Two different drawings show it. And it came out so late that it was not used in WW I either and by WW II it was already obsolete though a few were in CCC stocks. The quote in Cole attributing it to the Spanish American War is a simple example of someone answering a letter who simply did not known where to look for the proper answer. The Collins Register of Edge Tools would have given this answer. Instead trying to be helpful, the writer led many astray. Ask a leading question and you get the answer you expect. 

Third, writers persist in trying to sort the handle variations of the Engineer machete into some time-logical order. There is none! All of the variants were produced concurrently. Why look for phantoms? The drawing by the Engineer Depot shows one pattern, another drawing by the Engineer Department shows another, and specimens differ again. No one tries to sort out Mk l Navy knives this way. It's simply irrelevant.

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