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Cattaraugus 225Q

Posted by Abner Fitzwillie on

The Cattaraugus 225Q is an iconic WWII knife produced in 1942-1944 by Cattaraugus Cutlery Co for US military Quartermasters but was treasured by soldiers and often referred to as the Commando or WWII fighting knife. Often when you see a picture of a theatre knife from WWII they used a Cattarugus 225Q as the blade. The "Q" in the Cattaraugus 225Q stands for Quartermaster for which the company designed the knives. The knife is a stout 10 3/8″ fixed blade knife, constructed of 1095 steel with a point designed to be used like a pry bar to open up cases of supplies in WWII by Military Quartermasters and the pommel of the knife has 3 heavy steel washers to act like a hammer to close the cases back up. The last washer in the pommel has serrations similar to a framing hammer to help grip the nail and prevent slipping. The handle of the knife was made up from leather washers and the tang of the blade goes all the way through the handle. Cattaraugus developed a unique and simple system to hold the washers and pommel together. The middle steel washer is slotted to fit over the tang and than rotated to lock the washer and leather handle disks in place and the final washer on the pommel has a slot to fit the tang inside and than 2 ringed nails are driven through the steel washers in holes drilled for that purpose directly into the leather washers.The stout blade of the knife is just over 6" in length. The quality of this knife is evidenced by the condition of many of the knives after more than 70 years of being used. Many still have the leather washers still attached (although many are corroded) and the pommel is still securely attached. 

The Cattarugus 225Q is also unique in that the leather sheath is left handed. Exactly why this was done is not sure but the opinion is that soldiers who carried pistols did so on the right side therefore the knife was designed to be carried on the left so as not to create any obstacles to getting to the pistol in a hurry. Over time the knives being stored in the sheaths suffered from blade corrosion by the chemicals used in tanning back than and the fact that the leather would absorb water which causes the Cattaraugus to corrode. While many of the Cattaraugus 225Q knives suffer the effects of time, it is still a great blade to use, sharpens easily, is extremely durable and makes a great bug-out kit/survival knife if you can locate one. Many no longer have sheaths or you may want to have a right handed sheath made or locate a similar sized replacement. Many of the Cattaraugus 225Q's were sent to the Pacific Theatre during WWII so salt water was also an issue. 

Cattaraugus remained in business until 1963 making knives and in the 70's A.G. Russell revived the name and occasionally produces knives under that name.

One of my favorite knives that I handle and sell at knife shows is the Ontario Quartermaster. It is patterned after the Cattaraugus 225Q with it's leather handle and stout blade and is a knife that has a great feel and balance. While the Ontario Quartermaster is similar to the Cattaraugus 225Q there are several differences. The Ontario Quartermaster features a 440 steel blade while the Cattaraugus 225Q is 1095 steel. The blade also seems stouter on the Cattaraugua at the point with a different spear type point for opening crates, the pommel is heavier on the Cattaraugus and designed for pounding and the Cattaraugus 225Q came with a left handed sheath. I would not want to try to pound nails with the Ontario Quartermaster. More recent Ontario Quartermasters are still made in the USA, but the sheaths are made in Mexico. It is still a well built and attractive knife with the leather handle and brass pommel.

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