The puukko is a Finnish knife, and the name lends itself to the Finnish word “puukotta,” which means “to stab/knife.” The prefix, “puu” means “wood” in Finnish. The design of the puukko is attributed to the indigenous Sami people, who created several knives to use for day to day tasks; the puukko was the smaller option, used to skin fish or animals. Although historical records vary, the puukko dates back about 1000 years. Both men and women carried (and carry) puukkos, although the sizes change depending on the person, as the puukko handle is meant to fit the hand size of the user.
They are an article of national pride, with scouts typically receiving them as a rite of passage. It is actually in the Finnish army regulations that a soldier may wear a civilian puukko as part of their military gear. Ironic because it is apparently not legal to wear one on the street as a civilian.
They also are iconic for their military role. Finnish fighters would carry them and use them for both daily tasks and in last ditch combat with the invading Soviets.
By World War 2 large number of puukko-knife designs individual to certain manufacturer or manufacturers of certain geographical area had become available from multitude of factories and smaller scale manufacturers spread all over Finland. Hence when each Finnish soldier brought his own puukko-knife with him, they brought extremely wide variety of puukko-knives with them, which would make making any effort of trying to determine standard puukko-knife for Finnish soldiers of World War 2 completely impossible. What can be notes is, that during the war soldiers apparently had certain tendency of favoring puukko-knives with longer blade than typical – presumably because longer blade made knife better suited to be used as a weapon in hand-to-hand combat. Especially during long trench war period of Continuation War making trench-art items developed into such a wide-spread hobby among Finnish Army, that it reached almost industrial scale. Besides puukko-knife being the most common tool for trench-art it also become with one of the most common trench-war items to be made by soldiers. These trench-art puukko-knives and their sheaths tended to be more lavish and decorative than the everyday puukko-knives that most of soldiers otherwise carried with them.
Worth a watch…but this guy could probably use an espresso or two.
There are an enormous number of custom makers, both in Finland and out, who are making this useful and utilitarian blade. Even major manufacturers, like Spyderco and TOPS Knives are getting in on the puukko game.