Carter Rila's

Carter's Cutlery Commentaries

Nov 2005


GI or non-GI To be or not to be?


The myth "All GI items have to have property marks in order to qualify as genuine GI, i.e. U.S., U.S.N., etc."
And a corollary is that "All GI items are military."

Of course this contradicts the "unmarked equals O.S.S." theory but why be consistent? Facts are just so inconvenient sometimes. The facts are that any items that fit the specifications or are "of the pattern" that are GI, could be. Certain characteristics can identify an item positively. It's the best evidence to have the original packing and labels with the items.

Any items of general government wide use such as the all metal General Purpose Pocket Knife and tools in general are stocked by the General Services Administration (GSA), Uncle Samís procurement and landlord agency. Only clothing, weapons, and munitions are Defense Supply Agency (DSA) items. Even the Pilotís Survival Knife is in the GSA side of the system as it can be used by civil agencies. And civil agencies can get most DoD items if needed.

But it is true that all military items are GI. It is also true that all items marked with GI markings are not GI in that they were never in the Federal Supply System. Makers operate today using the open stock method. They do not make all metal GP knives with U.S. and without U.S. for the civil market. They just sell off all the overruns to the trade.

It is unnecessary to list every example here. Most cutlery items pictured in current GSA catalogs do not have property marks.

Here are some more examples:

I bought unmarked General Purpose Pocket Knives (the all steel knives) made prior to December 1945 from the Quartermaster Sales store at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. in 1959.

The U.S. Navy jackknife specifications of World War II had three revisions. The final one called for all steel liners and bolsters and no escutcheon plate.

The utility jackknife of the 1945-1960 period has no marks yet is readily recognizable once it is seen.

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Copyright 2005 Carter Rila