Cross guard or not


March 21, 2013, 01:41 AM
I've dabbled in a few home made knives, and my current project is a heavy fixed blade, kind of a bastardized Bowie. I'm not sure if I really want to put on a cross guard or leave it off.

The blade on this beast is about 8" or so, with an OAL of 15"

I see this blade getting used, mostly as a general purpose camp knife, and I don't see a lot of cross guards on camp knives.

I have a nice piece of brass I can fit to folks blade if I choose to add in the cross guard. I'm also facing the dilemma of just exactly how to attach it.

Is appreciate some suggestions and advice from some of the more experienced blade smiths.

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March 21, 2013, 03:19 AM
For a working/utility knife, a cross guard just gets in the way for me. I'm not an experienced bladesmith. Just a knife-using-guy.

March 21, 2013, 08:05 AM
I like a single guard, to help keep fingers off the blade.

March 21, 2013, 08:14 AM
On a classic Bowie, the crossguard served three purposes: to prevent the user's fingers from sliding onto the blade (Rezin Bowie, the story goes, asked his plantation blacksmith to add a crossguard to his butcher knife after this happened to him; this knife was given to Rezin's brother Jim to use at the Vidalia Sandbar); to protect the user's fingers when engaged in combat (some early Bowies even had "thumb guards" to prevent thumbs from being lopped off); and to block an opponent's slashes and thrusts.

Some historical Bowies didn't have guards at all, such as the "Natchez" pattern; Searles Bowies (Rezin Bowie's favorite pattern) had a guard on the edge side only, or with only a vestigial trace of a guard on the spine side of the blade.

It's your choice, in the end. If you're going to use the knife as a camp knife or machete, a guard will just get in the way. An index finger groove might be enough to keep your hand secure on the knife.

March 21, 2013, 10:59 AM
Can you post a picture of the blade?

It would be easier to say yes or know if we knew what the blade looks like.


March 21, 2013, 12:23 PM

It's got a raised area at the top of the handle to prevent slipping, and a notch on the spine for thumb placement.

Ill post much better pictures when its finished, it is still pretty rough.

March 21, 2013, 12:39 PM
I would probably skip the guard.

But extend the handle scales further forward and round them off to match the finger notch in the tang.

That will give you a better looking handle, and a 'self-guard incorporated in the handle scales.

Kinda like this:


bubba in ca
March 21, 2013, 09:07 PM
A short bottom guard, not much wider than your pointer finger, is a safety item, as is a lanyard. the top guard is for appearance and gets in the way. If you stabbed something hard with a top guard in place I think you would have a good chance of jamming up your thumb joint, a very painful and distracting injury..

There was a goofy, in my opinion, theory in the heyday of the bowie as a combat knife, that you would use the knife like an European sword and the guard would catch the opponents blade just like in a Errol Flyne movie. How many people plan on fencing with a bowie?

March 21, 2013, 10:49 PM
How many people plan on fencing with a bowie?
You might want to check out James Keating's thoughts on fighting with a large knife. Large blade techniques can be very different than those for a smaller blade

March 21, 2013, 11:13 PM
How many people plan on fencing with a bowie? Apparently more then you would think.
Many early Bowie imitations had a soft brass 'blade catcher' braised along the top of the spine to snag a sharp edge of an opponents blade and keep it from sliding up the spine toward your fingers and guard.

Of course, some of that could be attributed to the tenderfoot combatant of then, and like today, needing 10 pounds of accessory's on a perfectly good 7 pound AR-15 combat rifle before it is Tackcool enough to fight with.

Never mind the extra weight and complexity just slows their gun, or knife handling down!

A good man with an iron sight AR-15 carbine could kill you several times over while you are getting your red-dot sight turned on.

Same with a good man with a worn slick butcher or skinning knife without a guard 150 years ago.

Those that knew how to use a plain old knife would bleed you out and kill you while you were polishing your brass guards and blade catchers getting ready for the fight.


March 21, 2013, 11:34 PM
And fighting with a K-Bar is nothing like fighting with a Bowie

March 21, 2013, 11:44 PM
If you even get in a knife fight today?

You need to review and revise your tactical awareness planning somehow.

You screwed the pooch well before a fight even came close enough to you to turn into a knife fight.

You don't win knife fights.
One guy just loses more blood and appendages then the other guy.
Until both of you fall down, and give up.

Then wait for a body bag, or life support, and the cops, because you can't fight anymore without blood in your body.


CA Raider
March 22, 2013, 01:02 AM
your Bowie is a camp knife. that's fine. but any Bowie can always serve a fine role as a self defense weapon. i am in favor of metal guards on all knives that could be used for combat. unfortunately - its rare to find good knives with a solid metal guard these days. anybody who fights without one could find their fingers lying on the ground very quickly. :-)

it's your knife and definitely your choice. as a compromise - consider putting on a small guard. and i do definitely agree with the idea that a guard also protects the users hand from sliding down the blade.


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