The Yarborough Knife: Symbol of a legacy

October 11, 2022
yarborough knife

What is a Yarborough knife?


While Special Forces Soldiers are known for their prowess with many weapons, one weapon in their arsenal stands out in particular and that is the Yarborough Knife.


The Yarborough knife is a special award given to graduates of the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course. Named after Lieutenant General William P. Yarborough, a major player in the U.S. Army Special Forces history, the idea for this unique knife was introduced in the 1960s. Yarborough felt that Special Forces soldiers should have a symbol for their elite status. And so, the Yarborough knife came into existence and continues to be awarded to graduates today. But here’s a fun fact: even though every Green Beret gets one, not all of them actually carry it during missions. It’s more of a symbol of the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to become a Green Beret.


Lieutenant General William P. Yarborough

This knife is named after Lieutenant General William P. Yarborough, who is known as “the father of modern Special Forces.” The 12.5-inch combat utility knife originated from a simple conversation about the need for a standard Special Forces knife between Yarborough and Lieutenant General Doug Brown at lunch. Yarborough wanted Special Forces Soldiers to have excellent edge blade weapon, like their ancestors had during World War II.

General Yarborough

Since August 2002, every soldier who graduates from Special Forces Qualification Course at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School has received a Yarborough knife. The knife had its own serial number and each soldier had to sign in a special ledger along with most of the elite members of the United States Army, including that same Yarborough. The knife was originally also available for current Green Beret and Special Forces veterans.

The issuance of Yarborough knives was discontinued in 2004 after about a thousand custom knives were produced. Maj. Gen. Thomas R. Csrnko, USAJFKSWCS Commander, reinstituted the issue of the knife and he was the first to sign up for the new blades in 2008. Moreover, each knife now contains not only the serial number, but also the limited edition number of its blade.

Yarborough knife

The moment every Green Beret takes the stage after SFQC, they are receiving the legacy of the Brotherhood of Special Forces, signing the pages of an illustrious history that is accessible to a select few. Just a few years after its inception, the honor of the Yarborough knife has become almost as much of a Special Forces legacy and tradition as the Green Beret itself, and also has been shared with a small number of dignitaries such as President George W. Bush.

hunting knives

Serialized Yarborough Knife

The knife had its own serial number and each soldier had to sign in a special ledger along with most of the elite members of the United States Army. LTG Yarborough was the first to receive the knife serial-numbered 001 hand-delivered to his home.

Beginning in August 2002, every soldier who graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC), part of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, was issued the Yarborough Knife with its own serial number and signed a special record book. Since 2008, when the issuance of the Yarborough knife was resumed, each knife now contains not only the serial number, but also the limited edition number of its blade.

serialized yarborough knife

Navy Seal Yarborough Knife

There is the Navy SEAL version of the Yarborough knife called the “Neil Roberts Warrior”. It was designed by Bill Harsey with input from Chris Reeve to commemorate Neil Roberts, the first U.S. Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan in 2002. This knife is made of the same steel and steel processing as the Yarborough knife given to each graduate of the Special Forces “Q” course. A numbered edition of 184 knives is reserved for the Navy SEAL community – as Neil Roberts graduated from Class #184.

navy seal yarborough knife


Chris Reeve Yarborough Knife

A version of the Yarborough knife branded as the Green Beret Knife, is available at Chris Reeve Knives. It was designed by renowned knifemaker Bill Harsey with function and manufacturing input from Chris Reeve. The reliable, hardworking tool fully copies the looks and the operational factors of the original Yarborough knife – except that the civilian model has no “Yarborough” inscription or serial number on the blade.

chris reeves yarborough knife

Yarborough Knife Sheath

The Yarborough knife, as well as the Chris Reeve’s Green Beret Knife, comes with an American-made nylon sheath with a Kydex insert that helps guard the blade. The nylon outer and the Kydex lining make a great combination to protect the famous knife from the influencing factors it may be exposed to.

yarborough knife sheath

Yarborough Knife Display Box

A Yarborough knife is an achievement that you would like to display. It looks great when displayed in a case designed specifically for this symbol of fortitude of mind and body. The Yarborough knife box  holds the Yarborough securely in place. Black Velcloth enables easy attachment of velcro backed tabs. Stained alder or oak frame offers a choice of colors. 

yarborough knife box

Green Beret knife – Review and Test

Get a comprehensive understanding of the Green Beret knife with a video review and test. Learn about its features, pros and cons, and what makes this knife special for your tactical needs.

Share your thoughts, leave a comment, or pitch a burning question — we’re all ears and eager to chat.

And for those with a discerning eye for exceptional craftsmanship, why not treat yourself? Step into the Noblie knife store and embark on a journey through a myriad of  custom knife  options, each telling its own story. Whether you’re an expert collector or just starting your knife journey, there’s a blade waiting to capture your imagination.

Come explore, engage, and immerse yourself in the art of the blade. We can’t wait to welcome you!

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  • Casey Turner

    Great insight into the history and significance of the Yarborough knife. For someone interested in obtaining a Yarborough, are there any specific authentication marks or features to ensure its genuineness?

  • KnifeEnthusiast_91

    Can a civilian buy a Yarborough knife?


    While the Yarborough knife presented to graduates of the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course is a unique symbol of their hard-earned status, civilians can indeed purchase a knife of the same design. However, it’s important to note that the version available to the general public won’t carry the specific serial number or the exact markings found on the knives awarded to Green Berets.

    Chris Reeve Knives, the manufacturer, offers a civilian version called the ‘Green Beret Knife.’ It’s essentially the same knife in terms of craftsmanship and quality, but without the specific distinction the Yarborough holds within the Special Forces community. So, if you’re interested in owning a piece of this storied craftsmanship, you definitely can, even if you’re a civilian!

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