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One of my many grand sons just "graduated" from "Airborne" and "Ranger" school. The military has sure been good for him. I'm very proud also.

I will ask him this question when he comes home for CHRISTmas. But in the interim, does anyone know?

Can you open a "Gravity knife" when in a free fall during a parachute jump? Has anyone tried it?

Now I mean open it like it was intended, by sheer gravity and not by flinging it out with a snap.

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Michael to this question Michael is no. The current auto knives have a spring which constantly places pressure to the blade to open. They will open under water...or should, and will open in the 100+ winds while free falling.

Colonial makes a $90 auto for paratroopers: https://www.colonialknifecorp.com/

Bladehq is a good place to buy on the Internet: http://www.bladehq.com/cat--Smith-Wesson-Auto--86

The above S&W is an inexpensive auto with serration. $18.

Now nothing works better than a fixed blade knife. Pull it from the sheath and the blade is already open. Check out the TOPS:http://www.bladehq.com/item--TOPS-Knives-PRY-KNIFE--5382

So here are some ideas. Tell him thank you for his service and from the wife and I we wish him and your family a Marry Christmas.


Having been a paratrooper myself (50 years ago), I would agree with Clint on this one. I always jumped with a fixed blade knife strapped to the outside of my right calf just above my boot. I never made a freefall (HALO - High Altitude Low Opening). All of my jumps were static line and fortunately it was never necessary to use my knife during those very brief descents. 

Godspeed to your son, Michael! You have every reason to be just as proud of him for his service as I'm sure he is of yours!

When you see your boy tell him that an old Trooper gave him a snappy salute and an AIRBORNE shout!



Hey Ron,

What outfit were you with? 82nd, 101st, ???? and what brand and type of knife did you carry?

Thanks to all who have served and are still serving today!

Hey Clint,

Those auto knives are nice for the price. My every day carry is a Benchmade Auto....Mel Pardue edition. I've been carrying it about 10 years now, maybe more. I think it cost me about $150.00 back then.....they might be cheaper now. I've enjoyed this Benchmade because it's thin and you could even forget you have it clipped to your belt.

I was with the 101st, Michael - 2nd battalion of the 506th Abn. Inf. - HQ. Company. Recon Pltn.

I carried a Puma White Hunter throughout my service ~ 1963 thru 66

I don't think it work but then I've never tried opening a gravity knife in freefall ( or even been in freefall for that matter!). I can on only think of one reason to use a knife while jumping and that would be due to major catastrophic failure of the main chute.

The main reason for the knife is normally to cut yourself free from the chute upon landing which is, for the most part is pure Hollywood. The chutes have a quick a release harness so the need to cut out of one is almost nil.

That said, early on American Paratroopers were issued switchblades which were a better option than a gravity knife in most situations. The Germans used a gravity knife.

Also, for the most part Rangers and airborne troops tend to make static line jumps. Only select Special Ops guys, trained in HALO make free falls.

Ron, you make a sharp looking soldier! I've got a Puma in my box of knives but I'm not sure if it's a White Hunter or not....have to go look.

WE WERE SOLDIERS ONCE AND YOUNG..............great movie.

Tobias, what brand of switchblade were our paratroopers issued early on? I'll have to try to find one.


If they were issued a knife at all, it would have been a fix-blade KA-BAR type. During WWII most all soldiers bought their own fix-blade knife. There are many examples out there. Many of the Marines, no paratroopers to any extent, were issued the KA-BAR combat knife. Today the Marines are not issued a combat knife.

No doubt many troopers bought their own. To my knowledge, the first mass produced auto would be the orange single straight blade with a second hook type blade. There was a "Snape Blade" model which was a model MIL-K-10043 ordered by the military. In my experience the orange single bladed/hook auto knife were cheaply made but were not intended for any long term use. I believe they were intended for the Air Force. Any experts here, jump in and fill in the blanks.


Thanks for the information. Over the years I've seen these orange switchblades in knife shops here and there. I always gave them a look but never lusted in my heart for one. Now I want one.....hehehe. Every day brings a new quest in collecting.

There are some very good articles that have been written on the history of the MIL-K-10043 and other variants. I know where one is located at a local antique shop. I'll have to go there and see exactly what it is. I also found a schematic or diagram for this type knife that I find interesting. Here it is:


In doing a bit of research I found this on Ebay of all places:


Probably more than you'll ever want to know.

Ron Cooper,

I forgot to tell you that I live in far Western Kentucky.

Fort Campbell, home of the 101st is only about an hour south of me. I go down there all the time to shop the pawn shops.

Tonight I opened one of my "knife drawers" under the bed and there was my "PUMA Original Bowie" and it appears to be unused. I always liked the "White Hunter" for it's blade shape but just never bought one. I found the Original Bowie at a gun and knife show. This picture came off Ebay but it's just like the one I have.



That Puma Bowie is a great knife! I should be so fortunate as to find one that I forgot I even had! Christmas came early for you. 

In case you're not familiar with Puma date codes I am attaching a link for a website that will help you determine when you Puma knife was made. Check the finger guard on your knife for a 5 digit set of numbers and the put those numbers into the small box that you will find provided under the section "When was my Puma knife made?"

Here is the Link: Puma Knife Info

I managed to hang onto my White Hunter up until about 5 or 6 years ago. When I tried to find it I discovered that it had apparently "walked" right out of my home without my knowledge. My did not have a date code as it was made prior to the 4th quarter of 1964. I bought mine in one of those shops directly across from the main gate on Hwy. 41A. We used to call 41A Blood Alley because so many of us who were stationed at Campbell would have traffic accidents driving South to Clarksville and Nashville or North to Hopkinsville, Hendersonville, or EV (Evansville, Indiana). Good Times!

Here's another link to a date code chart: Puma Date Code Chart

Enjoy your Puma discovery in good health, my friend!

Cheers & Merry Christmas!

What a smart looking young guy Ron !!

I would love to hear that you found that White Hunter tucked away somewhere .


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