A Combat Knife is the ubiquitous back-up melee weapon for warriors all across the Imperium of Man, be they lowly hive city scum or the elite soldiers of a Planetary Governor. During the time of the Great Crusade, combat blades were a catch-all category which described a variety of lethal hand-to-hand weapons favoured by the Space Marine Legions, the exact form varying from Legion to Legion by its culture and tradition. They ranged from heavy razor-edged chain-bayonet, to adamantine gladius and Thule-alloy battle-axes that would be too heavy for an unaugmented human to wield.
In the 41st Millennium some of these blades, such as the Catachan Fighting Knife, are designed for a specific purpose, whilst others, such as the ubiquitous Astartes Combat Knife, are more generic in nature. This latter weapon is still utilised by Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines, though these blades are easily the size of a human sword.
Known Imperial Patterns of Combat Knife
- Astartes Combat Knife - Every Imperial Space Marine is issued one of these blades as soon as he recovers from receiving his gene-seed implants, and he carries it up until his final moment of battle. This large knife -- easily the size of a normal human's short sword -- holds a mono-molecular edge that never dulls, even through centuries of service. In some Chapters Combat Knives are passed down through the generations, with the deeds of their owners etched upon them. In others, the forging of metal into blade is simultaneous with the forging of a recruit into a Space Marine, and his Combat Knife is laid to rest when he is.
- Combat Blade - A Combat Blade is a catch-all category which describes a variety of lethal hand-to-hand weapons favoured by the warriors of the Space Marine Legions of old, the exact form varying from Legion to Legion by its culture and traditions.
- Sol Pattern Astartes Combat Knife - The Sol Pattern Combat Knife is a common pattern utilised by the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy.
- Catachan Knives - Utilised exclusively by the regiments of the Catachan Jungle Fighters of the Imperial Guard, every Catachan Jungle Fighter learns the craft of making knives from his parents and making one's own knife is considered one of the tests of adulthood on that jungle Death World. While the basic design of the knives remains the same, there are subtle variants between family groups and individuals, depending on the height and preferences of the user. The following are the most common Catachan Knives found throughout the Catachan Jungle Fighters regiments:
- Catachan Fang - Measuring up to 20 inches of gleaming steel, the Catachan Fang is the most common type of Catachan Knife used by the Catachan regiments. Equally useful for cutting your way through jungle or a deviant Eldar, the Catachan Fang is renowned throughout thousands of star systems. This knife is also used for settling disputes between Catachans. Usually, one knife is placed in the centre of a fighting pit and the combatants must each strive to get hold of the knife. The duel ends when one fighter draws blood, though this can often mean death as well.
- Night Reaper - Smaller than other typical designs, the blackened blade of the Night Reaper is especially suitable for infiltration and night missions when light reflecting from a blade can mean the difference between life and death. The blade itself is triangular, so any wound caused by the Night Reaper is unlikely to clot or heal. Catachans are also known to poison these knives using one of the many animal and plant venoms or toxins native to their inhospitable planet.
- Devil's Claw - Named after the fearsome predator known as the Catachan Devil of the fearsome Catachan jungles, this is the largest type of the traditional knives of Catachan. Anywhere between three and four feet long, the Devil's Claw is closer to a short sword than a knife. It is used mainly on the battlefield in close quarters and it has even achieved a fearsome reputation amongst the Orks, who call it "Da Cutta." The blade itself is hollow and half-filled with mercury to give it greater swinging power. Power Swords wielded by senior members of the Catachan regiments are often identical in design to the Devil's Claw.
Known Chaos Patterns of Combat Knife
- Æthéme Blade - A weapon popular among assassins and cult leaders, an æthéme blade holds various types of poisons or other foul liquids within specially designed channels. A simple press of a small button releases enough to coat the edge of the blade, allowing each slash to bring about more pain than a simple knife ever could.
- Chain Dagger - Small in size, these miniature weapons can easily be brought into play from hidden holsters. Their increased deadliness can literally give an edge in knife fights.
- Flensing Blade - The refined version of the more common meatworking knife, a Flensing Blade is designed for actual combat where its wide and thin surface can slide to the bone, removing flesh in long strips of raw meat. Most are perhaps a metre long and made of special ceramics that can hold the edge despite their thinness. All are a product of underground cults of carnivores commonly found amongst the crews of vessels that frequent the Screaming Vortex. These sadistic cults take special delight in making their foes part of their ceremonial feasts.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG) pp. 166-168
- Black Crusade: The Tome of Excess (RPG), pg. 37
- Codex: Catachans (3rd Edition), pg. 17
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 156
- Index Astartes I, "Lightning Attack - The White Scars Space Marines Chapter, and "Blood Frenzy - The Flesh Tearers Space Marine Chapter", pp. 41, 49
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 187
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal (Imperial Armour), pp. 19, 234
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition), pg. 97
- Games Workshop Online Catalogue - Space Marine Tactical Squad
- Games Workshop Online Catalogue - Chaos Space Marines