related knife- Searles/Fowler Bowie


June 10, 2006, 05:32 PM

this is a close copy of a knife on display in the Alamo. It was made at the request of Rezin Bowie for presentation to capt henry fowler, USMR sometime between 1836-41. The original was made by Daniel Searles of New Orleans who seems to have been the Bowie's favorite knife maker. It has a 9 1/4" blade- that and all other measurements being the same as Rezin Bowie described for the first Bowie Knife. The earliest bowies look exactly like butcher knives with no handguard. One legend says the guards were added after one owner ruined his hand stabbing a wild cow. Resin Bowie had a lot of this general design made for presentation and never departed from the big butcher knife overall shape. He denied any credit for the "improved designs of various cutlers.." Meaning the knives we generally think of as Bowies.
This one is made in Italy for Dixie Gunworks and comes with a period correct lace up sheath as well as an optional metal toed and wrapped sheath that is even more correct for 1830 knives from the Spanish influence. It has the same dimensions as the original with a high carbon steel blade, african ebony grip and silver plated brass hardware. It is tough metal but the shape made sharpening easy and it now shaves without effort.

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The Sicilian
June 10, 2006, 11:00 PM
Very nice mec.

June 11, 2006, 08:56 AM
Beautiful blade, Mec. I firmly stand that anyone who hunts big game with black powder, should carry a large and sturdy blade. It could save your life! Ask any wild pig who has absorbed a bullet and isnt quite ready to call it quits:fire: I havent made many knives, but they were much earlier period.:evil:

June 11, 2006, 09:01 AM
earlier period? so, you know something about these (whiich I don't). Do you know where the knives we generally think of as "Bowie Knives" came from? The knife people seem to think that James Black was bs ing when he claimed to have invented it based on a design by Jim Bowie. Some people believe that the traditional bowie knive was a scaled down cutlass It is clear that sheffield/wilkerson, etc were selling that style knife all over the british empire.

June 11, 2006, 02:39 PM
I beleive these knives have evolved from an early blade. A long, heavy blade, some with antler handles, some with slab grips of either antler, bone or wood. Most have heavy hilts or guards between handle and blade. Some examples of those were called rifleman's knives, carried by the earlyest frontiersmen. I had recently seen a blade of kentucky origin, from the period of 1780-1810. It bears a strong resemblance to the knife in the picture. Are these knives really pieces that have evolved from examples from europe, just like the kentucky rifle?

June 11, 2006, 03:11 PM
the one in the picture was called a simple hunting knife and some of the knife people say it looks a lot like a Spanish knife/dagger. this would make some sense as the local is Lousiana/ New Orleans.

June 11, 2006, 03:23 PM
You gave me another word to look up. rifleman's knife. I did and sure enough there are a bunch of them that look exactly like some of the ones called "bowie" and a bunch more that look a lot like bowies.

June 11, 2006, 11:22 PM
Mec, I dont know what revelance it has to the bowie, in europe in the early days, there was what resembled a short sword, looking much like a larger, streched out bowie. They carried those blades to aid in boar hunting...just a thought:evil:

June 12, 2006, 09:47 AM
The Vikings often carried a knife called a scramsax, or long sax. Some of them were little more than short swords, but I have seen a few that looked like the Searles bowies shown. Interestingly sometimes the curved edge was sharpened, but sometimes the straight edge was and it would appear upside down to us today.

I think if you take a large piece of steel and forge out a blade shape, down through the ages, some things work time and time again and get developed, invented, re0invented, and fashionable both with and without input of prior developments. Any mythical iron age culture would probably, over time, develop a large knife with a similar blade shape, a guard, and handle we would call a Bowie.

June 12, 2006, 10:08 AM
I suspect that is correct.

June 12, 2006, 01:13 PM
I've seen that knife in the DGW catalog. From my readings the blade shape was Spanish in origion....The shape of the Argentinian 'Gaucho' blades show the same origians, minus the hilts. Whether the design is descended from Hunting Shortswords (Hangers) or not I can't say, but the American of the fromtier and the Western expansion definately had a need for a large knife as a sidearm/backup for the singleshot firearms of that era. :cool:
What's the Pistol BTW. :confused: :)

June 12, 2006, 01:43 PM
"my readings the blade shape was Spanish in origion....The shape of the Argentinian 'Gaucho' blades ..."

Same here. this design is well provenanced as Rezin bowie had a number of them made. all had variations but the overall shapes were similar. The other design, supposedly a collusion between jim bowie and James Black also has my curiosity. A lot of people think black was a great big fibber and it could be that the familiar design was just something sheffield sent over here and called a "bowie", frontier, or california " Knife.

this shape:
It was a conceit among the "serious hunters!" a few years back that huge knives like this are pretty useless. this one has a shaving edge. I just used it to trim all the fat off a big brisket and found the job much easier than with several other knives I've used. I incidently found out I could thrust it through 4" of tough brisket with no effort. I believe it will make an adequate squirrel skinning knive too and will eventually find out.

June 12, 2006, 02:53 PM
I bought one of these blades from Dixie, just the blade not handled, etc. Eventually I want to look for a piece of Mammoth Ivory and have it made up to match my 1851. I like the blade, about 1/4" thick, nice grind, blank silver plate on the spine for engraving. Then I just need to find someone to put it all together for me.

The Sicilian
June 13, 2006, 02:45 AM
Beautiful gun mec...Is that a super Blackhawk?

June 13, 2006, 06:18 AM
The superblackhawk does shoot very well and photographs better than It looks in real life.

The Sicilian
June 13, 2006, 10:47 AM
I lke the squareback trigger on them and the fatter hammer pull. I wonder why they made the hammer grip wider, more force to cock it? The squareback trigger gaurd doesn't seem to make too much sense to me considering it's a .44, doesn't it put a hurtin' on your knuckles? Looks great though, but what about function over form? I just put some Hogue grips on my Old Army, I have big hands and the stock grips were just way too tiny for me to shoot it comfortably. It may not look as good but it feels a lot better. I'll be testing the new grips out tomorrow or Thursday, can't wait to see what it does for my shooting. They actually don't look bad at all, but you can't really compare rubber finger grooved grips to beautiful antler or a niece piece of wood.

June 13, 2006, 11:30 AM
I believe the "dragoon" shaped trigger guard came along because people complained about the round ones smacking their Knuckles. Now people are going for the round ones because the square backed ones hit their Knuckles. go figure. The wider hammer spur is supposed to be easier to access.-but is more a matter of style than anything else.

The Sicilian
June 13, 2006, 05:21 PM
Go figure is right! People are nuts! I like the look of it bigtime but I wonder about the function. I do like the style of the wider "thumb pull" on the back of the hammer, looks nice and is a little more functional, at least I imagine it is. Did you see the pair of ROA's from 1973 with the Squareback trigger guards made out of brass? Pretty sweet looking Old Armies. I think I'm going to get me a fixed sight 5-1/2 high gloss stainless ROA at some point this summer, if I can gather up the funds, considering all of the other "wants" floating around in my head. I think I'll get the Lee conical bullet mold for the ROA's very soon. I keep hearing good things about the conicals it puts out. Don't you have a Lee conical mold for your Old Army mec?

June 13, 2006, 06:01 PM
Those brass gripframes become something of a mini-fad among Blackhawk and super blackhawk owners. You could buy them and replace the anodized aluminum in the same way people swap them out for stainless. The lee 200 has produced some good groups from my Old Army though I haven't worked with them extensively.Vel Spread Energy
Lee 200 Grain Conical
25Gr/Vol. Swiss FFFg 862 29 330
30Gr/Vol.Pyrodex P 924 24 392

The Sicilian
June 13, 2006, 11:27 PM
Pretty good velocity with the Swiss and the Pyro. I was speaking of the brass squareback trigger guard on the Ruger Old Army. If you check out my post about getting a ROA you'll see a picture of an Old Army with the brass squareback on it. It looks pretty sweet. So the correct terminology is "Hammer spur"? I like to make sure I'm calling something buy its proper name, makes communicating ideas and describing problems a lot easier. I recall when I first started shooting and I came here for advice about what to use, real black powder or substitutes. At first I liked the substitutes, but after some careful shooting and load experimentation I really like the Holy Black much better than the synthetic stuff. It seems to give me better accuracy. Do you think it's just all in my head or is real black powder just better for accuracy mec? I'm using Goex but I want to eventually get a hold of some Swiss.

At this point, considering my lack of experience, I like a 22 grain load with about 15 or 20 grains of corn meal on top and a Hornady swaged ball. I like to make my own paper cartridges and this is the load I fill them with. I tried 35 grains of Triple 7 in my ROA and the accuracy was horrible. I also tried 35 grains of something else (Don'r remember what, probalby Pyrodex P) and I got the same result. I haven't tried to go higher or in between 22 and 40 grains to see if I can find another more powerful accurate load. I figure 22 grains works well so why fool around with what works. On the other hand I would like to work up a powerful defense or hunting load, would you happen to have any good suggestions? Are guns so unique that each one differs as to what kind of charge it shoots well with or is 22 grains pretty much a standard target load? Would you ever try shooting 50 grains out of your Ruger Old Army mec, and what kind of accuracy would you expect from such a powerful load?

Thanks for the help,


June 14, 2006, 07:11 AM
I suspect that every ruger Old Army is going to be different as to favorite loads and charges. Thirty five grains of h777, pyrodex and black worked vere well for me with .457 balls. Accuracy was poor with less poweder and fell off greatly with more. another revolver might favor a different charge altogether:
.457" Ball Velocity Extreme Spread (5) Energy
35 Grains Swiss FFFg 1088 90 376 ft.lbs.
35 Gr/Vol. Pyrodex P 992 88 313
35 Gr/Vol.H777 1046 89 340

there are usually smaller velocity spreads with black powder when compared to pyrodex or other substitutes. this is not always the case and the consistency is generally about the same. as far as accuracy goes, I have no idea whether black powder is more acccurate than pyrodex p or other substitutes at optimum loading. My shooting ability is not sufficiently honed to be able to detect the difference. On occasion, I will shoot twenty five yard groups with pyrodex that range between one and a half and two inches with various replica revolvers. generally, my shooting is not quite that close but I can shoot these pyrodex loaded revolvers about as well as I can a modern revolver. If it should come to pass that black powder would shoot groups half the size of the above, I would neither know it nor benefit from it.

The Sicilian
June 14, 2006, 10:14 AM
Very good point about these thing being hard to notice. I think a lot of my variations have come from poor pistol skills. I have noticed a real difference with lighter charges though. I"ve been shooting with an empty chamber to see how bad I'm flinching and I was surprised at how bad my flinch really was. Shooting like this is one of the best ways to erase flinching and barrel movement, etc. My shooting improved by around 60% the first time I tried this technique. That was last week, when I go this week I'll be loading an empty chamber and replacing percussion caps when needed as subsequent chambers become empty. I think it's the best thing a new shooter can do to improve accuracy and become aware of his or her bad habits. I'm not just focusing on flinching and trigger pull, also foot placement and keeping my arm strong yet not tense, my lower body moving like a turret. I also make sure not to hold the revolver loosely...I grasp it with the same pressure as I would use when holding a hammer.

I guess I'll have to work out more powerful charges after I get down the basic skills. I have a good accurate target load and thats what I was after, now I can practice with confidence that the load is sufficent. At this point I like the genuine black more so then the subs, that could always change in the future. This is also because my Ruger Old Army can handle the fouling better than the replicas. How many shots before a good bore cleaning at the range mec?

June 14, 2006, 12:33 PM
I usually give the bore a cursory wipe with a patch after every cylinder full. I suspect that most shooters down clear their fouling quite that often. I find that black powder lays down more fouling faster than pyrodex p and that I can shoot for a long time without significant build up with h 777. Also find that fouling is easier to wipe out and doesn't accumulate quite as fast when I use wonderwads under the bullets rather than over ball grease. The way I shoot, this does not have much influence over accuracy- due to frequent bore cleaning.

althought I hesitate to recommend it, I frequently just load the ball down on the powder column and omit the over-ball grease. I haven't had a multiple discharge from this method...YET. I choose balls that are oversize enough to seal the chambers. I never have any degree of leading and the addition of grease of various kinds- crisco- the commercial products just seems to cause more fouling than shooting the ball plain. Some revolvers gum up faster than others and require more cleaning and greasing of the cylinder arbor. Again, I notice this more with black powder than with pyrodex. Substitutes like Pinnacle and clear shot leave the gun fairly free of fouling and are easy to clean out but they are often very erratic with my loading methods.
to the best of my recollection, this was 28gr/vol equivalent of Pyrodex P and either a .454 or .457 ball loaded with the ball loaded down over the powder and probably with crisco on top. It is fairly common to put all of the shots in the head with this revolver at 25 yards. sometimes I screw up and sometimes the holes are a little closer together. I expect the same results with goex or swiss fffg or with pyrodex p with or without wonderwad or grease. I also believe that the gun/ load combinations are capable of considerably better accuracy than I can produce firing off hand.

I/ve found that Pyrodex RS performs a lot like Goex fffg -at least in the larger chambers while pyrodex p an swiss fffg are pretty close equivalents. This string at longer range is good enough to make me happy and I am certain that the one off to the right was my fault rather than a product of the gun /load.

I believe that everybody should choose the loading modalities that work for them.-Also that results are going to vary however careful we are to provide exact details, groups and chronograph data. I choose to keep mine as close as possible to the simple instructions provided by colt for loading and shooting these revolvers. This way I can imagine that I am useing the guns in the same manner as was customary when they were state of the art.

The Sicilian
June 14, 2006, 10:41 PM

That's funny, I don't use wads anymore, I just got sick of punching them out and figured a .457 ball would seal the chambers just fine. And like you, I've not had a problem either---yet. A chainfire is always a possibilty I guess. I use grease every so often to keep the fouling soft but I do not use it religiously, maybe once every three cylinders. At 25 yards I've been getting the groups you get at 45 yards but I suspect they will tighten up in the next few weeks, especially since I've had some good direction from a respectable teacher. At 20 yards my groups look like your 25 yard groups...just not as consistant. Every once and awhile I shock the sh*t out of myself and get into a serious shooting zone, it's hard to miss when that happens, it just doesn't happen often.

A quick topic change Mec: I just put a Colt 1860 signature series on layaway, it's very beautiful revolver, probably the sweetest blueing job I've ever seen, it looks sort of silver gray charcoalish. I think this revolver was made in the late eighties? It was fitted and finished by Colt but the parts supposedly came from Uberti. Would you happen to have any idea as to what a good price is for this gun? And do you think it will ever be worth something? It's priceless to me, the best loooking 1860 I've ever seen.

I was at a CAS shooters home today and his basement was like a museum! It was awesome, you would have fell in love! He had every old revolver I've ever read about or gazed at on the net! Original Colts, Remingtons, all kinds of rifles, you name it, he probably has it. I even got to handle a few 19th century Colt cap and ball revolvers, it was really a great opportunity for me to see what the originals were like. I was kind of surprised, for the most part our replicas are a fine representation both in quality and style. I still haven't seen a reproduced 1860 with a percussion cap wallow though. I wonder why Uberti and Pietta don't replicate that feature? It would make putting the caps on an 1860 much easier.


June 15, 2006, 07:38 AM
"At 20 yards my groups look like your 25 yard groups...just not as consistant"

Keep in mind that I only publish pictures of my good groups.
that wallow- I believe my fluetted 60 army has one . Maybe not quite as pronounced as the original.
As an experiment, beartracker put several hundred 380 balls through his pietta navy with the same results we have been getting. .

The Sicilian
June 15, 2006, 08:12 AM
Now that's a beautiful group! How long did it take you to pull that one off? Mec, could you tell me anything about the Colt 1860 Signature series? I also noticed the fluting in one of your last pictures is very pronounced! Was that some sort of special job or something? I'm paying $345.00 for the Colt Signature (Tax included). Without tax it was $329.00 with the original box, looks like the revolver was never shoot, or if it was only a handful of rounds were run through the gun. I think they call the finish charcoal blue but it doesn't look like that really metallic blue (almost like aluminum that has been painted metalllic blue) that I tend to see on certain guns. I really don't care too much for that look. This gun looks silver-gray or antiqued bone, very smooth and even with a beautiful shine and finish! The only thing I'll need to rework are the grips, the finish looks like crap, either they are replacement grips or just a really lame finishing job.

June 15, 2006, 08:25 AM
I really don't know a thing about pricing and such but would probably pay that for such a revolver. People tend to talk down about the Signature series compared to the run of reissues that came earlier. they look fine to me and should take new uberti parts. the prominency of the fluets is a function of how the light is hitting when I take the picture. some angles appear sharper in some pictures than in others. The army above was one I bought two or three years ago when I started accumulating pistols and revolvers for The Book. It has a very light mainspring and trigger pull like mos of the current Ubertis, times up perfectly and I didn't have to do a whole lot to get it hitting to the sights. That group is actually the larger of two bench groups i fired comparing .451 balls to .454. The smaller ball made a slightly better group though I might get the opposit results on another occasion. Being as how it is a fifty foot group, its not miraculous or anything.

June 15, 2006, 10:34 AM

Not ta get back on knives or anythin, thought i read once tha BOWIE is made ta be used upside down that is tha long edge up, and tha hook/curvy side for slashin and tha backside fer catchin tha other guys knife was reasoning for tha design or behind it.

Any idea?

June 15, 2006, 10:48 AM
The upside down thing was mentioned and demonstrated by one of the Carridines on "wild west tech". I haven't studied knife fighting but have been told that most peckerwoods just rush in drunk and thrusting wildly more or less at the proposed victim. the reason usually given for the sharpened false edge/clip was that it allowed a back slash cut as employed in the spanish style of sabre fencing.

June 15, 2006, 11:57 AM
Thanks Mike! Now i gots ta look up spanish fencing! DOes spanish fencin have bob ware? :)

June 15, 2006, 12:39 PM
Can't blaime the barbed wire on the Spanish, the Mexicans or anybody but some greedy capitolist on the east coast.

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