The Fairbairn Sykes Fighting Knife

The Commando Dagger has become one of the Royal Marines’ most enduring emblems. It’s based on the World War II Fairbairn Sykes fighting knife, a now-iconic design that was originally created by experts for close combat. At Mallards, we’ve used its graceful shape to create a lapel pin that commemorates both Britain’s special forces and the blade’s original designers.

We were helped along the way by Fairbairn Sykes Defence, who taught us more about their famous combat knife and its history.

The History of the F-S Fighting Knife

This classic fighting knife was created in 1940 by William Fairbairn and Eric Sykes, who taught close-combat techniques to units including the Commandos. Regarded as the best fighting knife ever designed, features included a turned-metal grip for purchase and double-edged blade. Fairbairn himself believed a blade should be highly polished, to give the wielder a psychological advantage.

The Anatomy of a Commando Knife

The original batch of Fairbairn Sykes daggers was ordered in 1941 by Captain Leslie Wood, who was in charge of procuring weapons for the special forces. The first pattern knives were made by Wilkinson Sword (today of razor fame), and each blade was hand-ground. The later second pattern was released to a range of companies for manufacture.

When we began talking to Fairbairn Sykes about creating a replica lapel pin, they kindly sent us a diagram of the classic first pattern knife, to assist us in our design

Diagram of a Fairbairn Sykes knife
Diagram of a Fairbairn Sykes knife. Image thanks to Fairbairn Sykes

The diagram shows the sharp, 7″ blade, and the cross-hatched palm swell (handle). The handle, pommel and crossbade were either steel or brass, polished then attached to the blade by an expert knife maker. Fairbairn Sykes’ name and crest always feature on the ricasso (at the base of the blade).


Mallards’ Silver Lapel Pin

Sterling silver Commando dagger lapel pin

With this template, we had the perfect proportion and details to be able to create a replica commando knife in miniature. Our lapel pin and fastening are crafted from sterling silver, making a striking contrast with a darker suit. We can’t copy every little detail on a piece this small; however we have focused on the key features that make the Fairbairn Sykes knife instantly recognisable.

You can see the textured palm swell, designed to recreate that grippy turned handle. The pommel at the end of the handle has the classic F-S fighting knife shape, and the slim blade and slightly curving crosspiece are the correct proportion to the palm swell.

We are delighted with the end result, and hope that our miniature version has captured the design skills of its creators, back in 1940.

If you have an emblem or iconic symbol that you’d like to see recreated as a piece of jewellery, please get in touch with us at Mallards. We specialise in creating perfect little replicas in sterling silver, that make exquisite gifts or mementos. We work with heritage organisations and also take private commissions.