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What are Certified Marine Swords?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about certification, so we are often asked about the certification our Marine Swords have received from US Marine Corps Systems Command.

Marine Corps Systems Command Certification

While all branches publish specifications for their swords, the Marine Corps is the only service branch that has a program to independently inspect swords and to certify that each retail vendor meets the specifications. The certification program is described in a Marine Corps Technical Manual -- TM10120-15/2, which requires the following major actions for the Marine swords:

  • A vendor submits two sample swords to the Marine Corps Systems Command (MarCorSysCom) for inspection.
  • Once the swords pass inspection, MarCorSysCom issues a certification letter and certification number to the vendor.
  • The vendor must etch the certification number into the spine of the blade, next to the grip.
  • The vendor must renew its certification every five years (TM10120-15/2, page 4, as changed).

Once a vendor is certified, MarCorSysCom will issue the vendor a certification letter with an expiration date.

Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support

DLA Troop Support issues many of the large-scale government contracts for all branches of services. During this process, DLA Troop Support self-inspects the items to make sure these items meet the published specifications. The US Marine Corps requests purchases through DLA Troop Support for the Marine NCO swords that are used at the unit level. We in no way want to malign DLA Troop Support, but we have found that the mass government-purchase contracts for items have a bit lower interpretation of the standard than that demanded by retail customers who individually purchase the same items. DLA Troop Support's focus is ensuring serviceability to achieve the mission. For optionally purchased retail items, MarCorSysCom adds a level of excellence of quality and appearance to the serviceability requirement.

As an example of the difference in interpretation, the Marine NCO Sword specifications list "Etching not well defined or not accurately executed in fine contrast" as a "Minor" defect. Blemishes in the metal are also listed as "minor" defects. First, the term "not well defined" is not well defined; the term means different things to different people. Secondly, DLA Troop Support generally accepts the minor defects as not impacting serviceability. From our own experience, MarCorSysCom has rejected certification samples for these same defects.

Let us be clear here: DLA Troop Support has a completely different mission than MarCorSysCom. Neither organization is "wrong" - they are simply different with different missions. The end result is that an "official" letter from DLA Troop Support is not the same as a certification letter from MarCorSysCom, so do not confuse the two.

Photo Comparison Buying Guides

We have a photo-based comparison of various sword manufacturers for both the Marine NCO sword and the Marine Officer sword. Doing a comparison of this nature leads to an obvious question -- "Doesn't Marlow White have a conflict of interest since they only sell WKC swords?" Absolutely, but Marlow White holds a reputation of trust within the industry that was built on our integrity and our commitment to quality. We choose to offer only WKC swords because of WKC's commitment to quality and value. Furthermore, our photos are completely unretouched. No other vendor that we know of is willing to offer such open comparisons, which leads to the other more important question - "What are other vendors trying to hide?"

"Replica" Swords - Don't Go There

There are many cheap "replica" versions of the Marine NCO Sword and Marine Officer Sword (Mameluke) on the Internet, more so than any of the other service swords. Such swords do not even come close to meeting specifications, whether interpreted by DLA Troop Support or MarCorSysCom. We take a detailed look at a cheap "replica" to explain the difference.

Buyer Beware - Be Suspicious of:

  1. Vendors who claim "official certification" but present no proof of such.
  2. Vendors who present certification letters more than 5 years old.
  3. Vendors who confuse DLA Troop Support with MarCorSysCom certification.
  4. Vendors who place certification numbers on the flat portion of the blade instead of the spine (the location standard changed a few years ago).
  5. Vendors who avoid telling you where their swords are made.
  6. Vendors who use the word "replica" to describe their sword.