Fixed blade knife preference for combat


April 2, 2003, 11:50 AM
I notice that fighting knives come in many styles and weights. If we assume for the moment that concealment is not an issue, which style and weight (size) of blade would you choose?

Would you go for a single edge or double edge?
Light and good for quick slashes or heavy and good for choping blows?
What about ideal length?

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April 2, 2003, 12:21 PM
"Fighting knives" should be light, strong, easily maintained in the field and capable of penetrating hard objects without the tip breaking off.

A heavy fighter is a detriment to it's intended purpose of self defense.

If the straight blade is heavy for it's size it will be slow to change directions in a fight which you should not have to find out when it goes down for real and you have to actuaklly use the thing to defend with.'

Heavy knives lend themselves to chopping, survival scenarios not self-defense roles. Camp knives are usually heavier in nature as they will be used for a miriad of chores around the countryside like cutting tent poles, stakes, digging holes, opening containers, etc.

The Bagwell Hells Belles Bowies that I own are pure figting knives. One has a blade length of 11 1/8" and the other 10 1/2", yet if you hold the knife in your hand and close your eyes you can not tell there is a blade at the end of the handle at all.

This is the ultimate in a defensive longblade. Quick to move into ones inner circle for those moments when the opponent opens his defensive posture allowing you to reach into his AO and get back out before he sees it.

On a heavier blade you will be telegraphing your moves to your opponent and may not be able to redirect the blade in time to stop his assault.

In a knife fight, timing is right up there near the top of importance.
You can have all the timing in the world but will lose if you can't make the cut when presented with a target.

Keep in mind it works conversely with the light fast fighters that you will be able to get your blade into a block/deflect situation quicker as well which could mean the difference of whether you take a cut or not.

I prefer clip point fighting knives. I have been trained in the finer points of the "backcut" using the sharpened swage. Any other design can not perform this task and so you are then limiting your ability to defend/attack if you have chosen something that doesn't work as well.

In the 1830-1850 timeline in the Southeast USA Bowies were carried by almost all men in one form or another. Duels with the knives ocurred daily in New Orleans. Some made a living of training others in the finer points of the long knives. Most of the techniques came from spain and france [fencing moves modified to the bowies ].

If there had been a better designed fighter they would have used it. These were times when men lived and died by the knife.
The Bowie with sharpened clip [ swage ] was the knife everyone chose to defend with and schools were established in the area which taught long knife fighting in preparation for the inevitable duel you may have found yourself in during those times.

I want my fighter to be lightning fast with a blade length of at least 10", have trapping guards and be made from a tool steel and differentially heat treated so the blade edge is hard and the spine is soft preventing the knife from failing if put under lateral pressures for any reason.

I have two Bagwell fighters in the collection. They are the premier fighters in the world of long long knives. Not just because I own them or have been trained in their use by Bill Bagwell but because I have not found another design or maker who can execute them as he does.

Bill Bagwell is considered the authority on fighting Bowies, the design, function, and use of them. He has studied extensively the background and history of the fighting knives and reproduces them today using better steels and heat treating ultimately making them the best of the best.

They aren't cheap but they sure will get you out of a mess if you have the knowledge to weild one in anger/selfdefense.


April 2, 2003, 07:53 PM
What Brownie said

April 2, 2003, 09:04 PM
I used to prefer heavy blades for fighting. Then I got the chance to play with an Ontario Bagwell Helle's Belle. Wow! This knife handled with precision and power all at the same time. I can only imagine what a real Bagwell feels like..

April 2, 2003, 09:36 PM
Daniel Flory:
I had the Ontario Bagwell knockoff in Belle guise. Bought it as a trainer to save the McKoys.

Though it is a good rendition of his Belle I sold it, it was too heavy and the speed wasn't there. :rolleyes:

Threw the timing off some. The McKoys are as stated in the blade lengths I have, you can not tell the blade is there, like you are only moving handle.

Bagwell has mastered the art of balance to the point that he can now make them 13" with the same effect. When I got mine they were the longest he could get balanced. When you think about it, these are handforged 5160, differentially heat treated by Bill himself, with handles just over six inches in length, trapping guards, and a spanish notch [ blade catcher ]. The blade catcher is there so when the opponent runs his blade down yours as you defens, his edge gets trapped in the notch and with a flick of the wrist the knife is launched/wrenched out of the guys hand.

My long one has a reach of 13 inches easily when you slide your hand to the end of the coffin handles grip. The coffin handle is very effective at keeping the knife in your hand as you move it through the air.

The reach and effective range of this knife is truly amazing. I have not handled any knife more balanced.


April 2, 2003, 11:28 PM
Brownie- And you've given me reason number #3,789,987 to graduate college and get a good job :D

April 3, 2003, 11:49 AM
Fixed blade knife preference.

A pattern 1831 basket-hilt broadsword or a two-handed Claymore. I want all the reach I can get.:D

April 3, 2003, 08:55 PM
Did a Google search for the Bagwell Hells do you know if it is the original or the Ontario?

April 3, 2003, 10:37 PM
Good Question Bruz,

I also experience the same thing, all the WEB seems to have for sale are the Ontario Knives rendition of the Bill Bagwell bowies. Anyone know where I can get hold of an original Bagwell bowie?

April 3, 2003, 11:04 PM
Did a Google search for the Bagwell Hells do you know if it is the original or the Ontario? Well to paraphrase George C. Scott as Patton, “when you put you hand onto the quivering and seeming alive chunk of steel that is a Bagwell custom, you’ll know.”

April 4, 2003, 09:40 AM
Bill Bagwell makes these one at a time, by order only.

They can not be purchased through the internet unless someone has one for sale privately on one of the boards.

The only outlet for these is his forge in Texas through himself or through one of the bigger shows he attends and has a table at. I'm not sure of his schedule this year for shows but know he makes two of the bigger ones every year. The last one I'm aware of that he attended was the "Blade Show" in Atlanta last year.

Once ordered, it's a two year wait. No money up front until he calls and says ship the funds as he starts the knife. Each blade takes him one week to complete [ including the custom leather sheath he makes for each blade individually ].

If it didn't come from Bills forge to you and it wasn't purchased second hand somewhere you won't find one in the open market.

When he sets up at shows, the knives on the table have been purchased before noon on the first day. Interesting story I'll relate to the forum as it pertains to "supply and demand" of these knives. BTW--there have only been approximately 150 of these made to date. He does make straight bowies as well that sell like the rest of his knives [fast].

Here's the story as related through a good friend of Bills and a training partner of mine over the years at Keatings riddle of steels south [ Mike Sastre of ].

Mike was working the table with Bill in Atlanta and Bill had no knives on the table for sale after 11:00am that Sat. morning having sold all he had brought by then.

This japanese dude walks up and states he came to this show to buy a Bagwell Hells Belle. Bill explains he has sold out and can take his order [2 year wait ]. The guys wants to buy Bills personal Belle on his waist. Bill says no way, thats his personal knife. Guy walks away.

An hour or two later he is back and wants Bill to sell his Belle to him. Bill says no again. The guy wants to know what he would sell it for. Bill says it isn't for sale. Dude walks away.

He's back in the afternoon and asks again what Bill wants for his Belle. Bill says he wouldn't sell it for less than 5000.00. The guy pulls out a wad of bills from two pockets and sets out 5000.00 in front of him.

The japanese businessman walks out with Bills knife and more than happy to have been able to get one while in the US at the show.

I am contemplating selling the 10 1/2" Belle I have which was purchased and stored upon arrival and is as new as the day he shipped it to me.

I own two, the other being blade length of 11 1/8". If anyone is really interested I would sell it for 1100.00. If you were to order one from Bill thats what it would cost and then the two year wait on top of that.

I have another project getting off the ground and so I am thinking of reallocating the resources through sale of the second Belle. The one I'm thinking of letting go has some great speed and power built into it. It is mirror finished as they all are from Bill. He does them this way as the more polished the steel the less they are prone to oxidation.


April 4, 2003, 10:30 AM
I am jealous Brownie. I have not had the opportunity to own a custom Hells Belle, but it is on my list of “must haves”. They are something else.

April 4, 2003, 11:03 AM
14" blade double edged dagger, handle is counter-weighted at the end. It is the quickest and longest blade I have, but would be a might bit bigger to lug around than I'd care for.
HAven't actually handled a Bill Bagwell so can't compare, but I've heard nothing but praise for them from a friend who has two of the Ontario reproductions.

April 4, 2003, 11:22 AM
For a pure fighter... I'd go with the custom bowie I am building myself. Based on the Hells Belle, but it is my own design through and through. 11" long, 3/16" thick, 1084 blade, with spanish notch, and a sharpened back clip (about 4 inches long). Its full tang, and will have Macasar ebony handle scales, and a blued steel Y shaped half moon guard (Slipped on right infront of the scales, and pinned in place, with the two forward curved prongs ont he top, to serve as a secondary blade catcher (secondary to the one arm forward curved lower guard and spanish notch),

Or I'd go with a re-curve drop point design of my own, that has a blade fitted to me, my arm length, using Fibonnaci's series, which makes it, very roughly, an 8.5" blade, a similar Y half moon guard, textured micarta scales, with black and bead blast tiger striping.

For a smaller size pure fighter I'd go with a Greg Covington custom Warrior reproduction. A very nice repro of the REKAT Hobbit Warrior, with Micarta handles, and a blacked blade.

Now, for a combat knife I could fight with in a pinch, since a combat knife is primarily a heavy utility tool, a Duane Dwyer D-9 with sharpened clip would be my choice, or a Strider MT-L.

Joe Demko
April 4, 2003, 11:50 AM
Old Hickory butcher pattern with handle scales reshaped for better grip. Light. Sturdy. Sharp. Disposable.

April 4, 2003, 03:18 PM
So far, as for the fighting knives that I have held.... though that's not many.... I'd go with the spec ops jungle bowie....
I like the weight, it both cuts and slashes well.... so far as my uses of it have gone...
However, I've never seen any type of combat, so my opinion isn't all that...

April 5, 2003, 07:30 PM
I am contemplating selling the 10 1/2" Belle I have which was purchased and stored upon arrival and is as new as the day he shipped it to me.

I hate this forum...was completely satisfied with my guns and knives before I started reading this forum. Started off in the various gun sections of the forum, now I have twice as many guns as I did before. Switched to this section of the forum so as not to get too excited about guns and now have four times the amount of knives I had before...never knew I really needed them! Brownie, sent you an e-mail on your Bagley Belle. :rolleyes:

April 5, 2003, 08:32 PM
Got it on the Bagwell
replied back to you.

I'll let you tell the forum.


Dave Williams
April 7, 2003, 01:49 AM
We want pictures if you got it.


April 7, 2003, 04:34 AM
You got it Dave, hopefully in a couple days...:)

Dave Williams
April 7, 2003, 04:35 AM
Can't wait to see it


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