This is a nice example of the US M-1880 Hunting Knife. The knife was designed as a multi-use implement for the US soldier serving on the frontier, and could be used as a traditional knife, as well as a makeshift entrenching tool, and for other light tool or small camp axe type duties. The first knives were produced at Springfield Armory in 1881 and were produced with iron cross guards. These are exceptionally scarce knives and are rarely encountered these days. The second variant was produced in 1882 and for the next few years and was manufactured with a brass cross guard. The knives had 8“ long, 2” wide spear point blades with a peaked spine down the center of the blade. The blade was mated with a 3 7/8” long turned maple hilt which was grooved for a secure grip. The blade and hilt were mated via a brass cross guard and tang, which was marked US / SPRINGFIELD on the obverse and with a serial number on the reverse. The overall length of the hunting knife was 13 9/16”. The knives were carried in brown leather scabbards, which were produced at either the Rock Island Arsenal or the Watervliet Arsenal. The scabbards were originally produced with a leather belt loop. However, this proved unpopular in service and the loops were subsequently replaced with a brass hook, which allowed the scabbard to be attached to the soldier’s belt.
This US M-1880 Hunting Knife is in about good condition. The blade is full length and shows some sharpening and minor dings along the edge. The blade has scattered patches of lightly oxidized peppering and discoloration along both sides of the blade. The brass guard has a nice golden patina and is very attractive. The guard is marked US / SPRINGFIELD on the obverse and has the serial number 4389 on the reverse. The maple handle is also in GOOD condition as well. It has one crack, which can be seen in the photos, along with the usual light handling bumps and dings present. The leather scabbard is solid. Long term wear prevents the identification of the manufacturer. The belt loop is a replacement. It is unknown if this was a field repair, or an alteration at Rock Island Arsenal to replace the original belt loop or the original brass hanger. The repair looks to have been well done, and the remaining part of the scabbard retains all of its original stitching, which is tight and secure throughout. Please review photos and make your own decision on the condition of this item.
Overall this is a really nice looking and much better than average example of a US M-1880 Hunting Knife. This would be a fantastic addition to any Indian War militaria collection or any collection of military knives. It looks great and display well and is absolutely 100% complete and original
Based on the serial number of 4389, it was probably made in 1883 or early 1884 in the first run of the 5000 knives that came after the original 1000 iron guard knives. There were 5000 more ordered in 1884.