Every once in a while someone spots one of these for sale and wonders if these are indeed issued to French Troops. I have wondered the same thing each and every time someone has asked, and now, thanks to Ptisuisse, we have the answer.
Some time ago I sent him an email asking if he knew- being in France he seemed like my best bet for finding an answer. The conversation went something like this:
Me: the question of a French Army Knife has come up numerous times on the various forums. As you are the only person in France I know reasonably well, I thought it would make sense if I asked you if you know what the official issue was? We see all kinds of knives that are marketed as "The French Army Knife" like this one from a fairly respectable retailer here in Canada:
I don't own one of those, but everyone I know who does says the
quality is horrible, so my guess is that it's probably not issued. Any thoughts or facts you could provide would be appreciated.
Ptisuisse: I confirm the official issue French army tool looks like that, I confirm it is terrible.
I confirm it does not deserve to call itself a "knife".
I got contacts in the military, thorough as you know me, I will look into it and get back to you.
Me: Thanks for the input. That seems kind of depressing to issue such a
thing to the military.
I await the results of your extended digging!
Ptisuisse: It puts the emphasis on the feeding with all the cutlery implements typical French.
You know, it has come to my ears that soldiers would trade up to three Nato war rations for one French ration.
As you can see, this knife does appear to be actual military issue, which as you read in the above emails is a bit of a disappointment because it’s really not a quality piece. It is made in France though, so at least it’s a national thing and not an import from Parts Unknown.
Still, I had to try one out for myself and see what it was really like, and to be honest, while it is well below the standards of the Swiss Army, I have seen a lot worse. For those not familiar with this particular knife, here’s a short synopsis.
The frame of the knife is high impact plastic and holds a fork and spoon- both of which are removable for use. The handle of the spoon also incorporates a ¼” wrench and flathead screwdriver for maintaining equipment- everything from a service weapon to a camp stove. Tucked inside is a rather large blade, which gives a whole set of eating utensils, important for those exceptional rations Ptisuisse mentioned above! The blade locks open, using a typical backlock mechanism. In addition, the French Army Knife has a corkscrew and a can opener, which appears to be standard fare for military knives these days.
In use the French Army Knife functions as well as any other fork, spoon and knife, and the can opener has a pretty large blade and so was able to open a can fairly quickly. All in all, while it’s not the usual EDC standard I’m used to from Victorinox or Wenger, it is a handy enough piece to keep in a hiking or camping kit. While it may be a military issue knife, this one is more oriented towards camp chores than actual military action, which makes sense because a soldier has to eat sometime.