A key early contract for Herr Gaston Glock, two years before the inventor would submit his first prototype pistol for review, was for a polymer-handled field knife.
The engineer had founded GLOCK Ges.m.b.H in 1963 and spent over a decade as a manufacturer of injection molding parts and components located in the town of Deutsch-Wagram in Lower Austria, working with just three employees on a second-hand metal press. Since Austria during the Cold War was a cautious neutral on the front lines between NATO and the Warsaw Pact in Central Europe, Vienna strived to produce as much of their military gear domestically as possible – such as fielding Steyr-made rifles and machine guns – while buying big-ticket items when possible (e.g. Saab strike aircraft) from other neutrals such as Sweden.
What does all this have to do with knives?
It was in that theory of local production that the Bundesheer, the Austrian federal army, released a tender in the late 1970s for a feldmesser, or field knife, to meet requirements drawn up by the country's special forces and alpine troops. Having some experience making military wares such as training grenade casings and machine gun belt links, Herr Glock designed and submitted a prototype fixed-blade knife that was sturdy and functional with a simple but effective polymer sheath and handle.
The hilt was upturned to accommodate the muzzle device of the country's new Steyr AUG (StG 77) rifle system while the hollow handle had a port under the removable butt cap in the pommel that doubled as a mount so it could serve as a bayonet for the rifle – although Steyr supplied purpose-designed Eichhorn-made bayonets complete with wire cutter scabbards.
Nonetheless, the lightweight and rugged knife submitted by Glock won over Bundesheer purchasing agents and it was quickly adopted by the Austrian military as the FM (Feldmesser) 78. As its name would imply, it was intended for all-purpose field use ranging from opening ammo boxes and bottles to food prep and camp chores.
In 1981– the year after Glock's first 9mm handgun was pitched to the Bundesheer as the P80 pistol, using contacts he made with his knife contract – the burgeoning company introduced a modified version of the field knife, with a deeply serrated spine to the blade. Other than that, the FM81 has the same characteristics and layout.
The FM78 is available only in black while the FM81 offered in battlefield green, grey, black, and flat dark earth, with the sheath matching the blade handle.
On the downside, the carbon steel is prone to rust once the coating is worn off, so users need to keep it lubed for the best results in rough weather, but the same blade composition allows it to hold an edge and be easily sharpened-- especially if you reprofile the grind.
Best yet, the Glock knives aren't made in China and typically only cost about $40 brand new, making them both an easy choice for either Glock fans who want a "Glock 78" or "Glock 81" or for those who can use a solid piece of outdoor equipment known for its durability and reliability that doesn't break the bank – or your heart – if you lose it in the woods.
Banner photo: Glock 19X and Glock FM81 (Chris Eger/Guns.com)