Bowie knife help!


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Cooldill
July 19, 2014, 01:41 AM
Well, there has come a time in my life that I've decided that I need a Bowie knife!

However, there are so many makes and models out there I have no possible idea where to begin. Let me say first I want one for historical purposes, second as a utility knife in the field for tasks like cutting cord wood and sticks etc. Also, God forbid, as a possible defensive knife if it really comes to that.

I'm looking for a historical style Bowie, something along the lines that Davy Crocket would carry or something carried by a bushwacker in the Civil War or something. No modern "tactical" (:barf:) knives that are called Bowies for what ever reason. I'm not wanting to spend over $250 dollars, but might budge a little on the price if it's well worth it. I would prefer American made but that's not necessary as long as it's quality regardless.

So, what do you all recommend for a historically accurate Bowie knife that is capable of the mentioned tasks and is not much over $250 in price?

Thank you so much for your help, I'm not really a "knife guy" and that's why I'm asking this question. I've wanted a Bowie ever since I was a kid though, and I think now is as good a time as any to get one.

Thanks! :)

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ugaarguy
July 19, 2014, 02:37 AM
With that budget you could have Sam Cade make you one. His use of simple carbon steel heat treated by heating in the forge and quenching in oil is about as historically accurate as you're going to get on the method of manufacture. Having an individual craftsman like Sam make you a knife is also following in the historical aspect of having the knife made by the local blacksmith. Sam's well versed on the history of large fixed blade knives too, so I'm sure he could make a proper Bowie to your liking.

Gordon
July 19, 2014, 02:42 AM
yes that !

Sam Cade
July 19, 2014, 11:35 AM
I'm looking for a historical style Bowie, something along the lines that Davy Crocket would carry or something carried by a bushwacker in the Civil War or something.
*snip*

Nine times out of ten something similar to a boning or butcher knife would be in their belts.


So, what do you all recommend for a historically accurate Bowie knife that is capable of the mentioned tasks and is not much over $250 in price?


Well..."historically accurate" and "bowie knife" aren't phrases that get along very well since knife folk have been arguing for nearly a century about what constitutes a "bowie" knife. ;)



The first Bowie knife was made by myself in the parish of Avoyelles, in this state (Louisiana), as a hunting knife, for which purpose, exclusively, it was used for many years.

Rezin P. Bowie, Planters Advocate: August 24, 1838.

"The length of the blade was nine and one-quarters inches, its width one and one-half inches, single edged and not curved"





That said:

The Svord Von Tempsky Bowie fits the ideal that most folks have of what a bowie knife should be, has a historical precedent and is under $200 with a good sheath. The ergonomics are non-existant. Grip retention is very low and the monster guard is constantly in the way.
http://www.messerforum.net/fotoalbum/data/787/von-tempsky.jpg
http://www.svord.com/SvordMainFrameset.htm


The real question is this "What does Cooldill think a Bowie Knife is?"

hso
July 19, 2014, 03:52 PM
historically accurate Bowie

Sadly, as Sam pointed out, that's a terribly misunderstood term since what most folks think of when "bowie" is used is nothing like the various historically accurate bowie knives.

It would be MUCH better if you posted pics of what you think you want so people would know what style of bowie fit what was in mind and then some help pointing you in the right direction could be given.

BTW, Davy Crockett probably wouldn't have carried a Bowie on a bet since he would have had a good hunting knife and even then the Bowie had become first and foremost a fighter. That makes historical bowies ill suited to camp use (another misunderstanding common due to the use of the term "bowie" as a marketing instead of historical description).

Here's a short reasonably accurate description of the fight that made Jim Bowie famous. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandbar_Fight

Wiki has an adequately accurate piece on the history of the Bowie knife (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowie_knife), but it should probably be modified with this information http://home.windstream.net/cobym/56/jim.htm. Note that the knife Jim Bowie used in the Sandbar Fight was described as a large butcher knife and historians of these knives consider it most likely to have been a modified butcher pattern of the time for breaking cattle and hogs down instead of the large broad bladed Bowie made famous in the movie "The Iron Mistress". Supposedly Jim Bowie's brother Rezin had a hunting knife made for Jim Bowie and it was that knife that Jime Bowie used in the Sandbar Fight. Think something more like this Old Hickory than the fancier Bowies.
http://images.knifecenter.com/thumb/295x295/knifecenter/ontario/images/OH710b.jpg


Below are some "historically accurate bowie knives". Note the strong resemblance of the first two to what would be a period butcher knife (only dressed up).
http://www.historicarkansas.org/images/gallery/ham_gal_knife08.jpg
http://www.historicarkansas.org/images/interior/ham_gal_knife06.jpg
http://www.historicarkansas.org/images/gallery/ham_gal_knife01.jpg
http://www.historicarkansas.org/images/gallery/ham_int_img_knife2.jpg
http://www.historicarkansas.org/images/gallery/ham_gal_knife_watchmaker.jpg
http://casiberia.com/img/prod/ip-203_1.jpg

You'll get a lot of good info from Flayderman's site http://www.antiquebowieknife.com/

dprice3844444
July 19, 2014, 04:13 PM
http://www.coldsteel.com/Product/39L16CT/TRAIL_MASTER_O-1_High_Carbon.aspx

here's what i bought

scramasax
July 19, 2014, 04:45 PM
Gary Wheeler in Clarksville, TN

He makes excellent knives both period and modern. Good man and great value. He and Kim Breed work together.

Cheers,

ts

Sam Cade
July 19, 2014, 04:52 PM
I think Mr.Wheeler's big knives might be outside of the OPs price range now.

Sam Cade
July 19, 2014, 05:09 PM
Now that I think about it, other than the (easily removed) plastic scales, a BK9 wouldn't look a bit out of place tucked into the sash of a 19th century American man of action.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=200726&stc=1&d=1405799817

Pictured with a Greco bowie and a MONSTER Crow Bowie from HI that blurs the line between knife and sword.

So, dig this:

http://www.relentlessknives.com/bowie008.JPG

So...Bowie typology is a very nebulous thing.

Will this be a bowie after I clip the point? I honestly don't know. :confused:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=200727&stc=1&d=1405800443

JShirley
July 19, 2014, 05:47 PM
A butcher knife with a bit of a guard would be my ideal of a "bowie".

Sam Cade
July 19, 2014, 05:57 PM
That is pretty close to what a lot of the "trade" knives were.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=200729&stc=1&d=1405803636

AJumbo
July 19, 2014, 06:07 PM
Lifted directly from Carl P. Russell's "Firearms, Traps and Tools of the Mountain Men," a comment of two of my own added because I just couldn't help myself, and with full credit given to the author:

"In the autumn of 1836, after the fall of the Alamo and and after the early orders for bowie knives had reached England, Hiram Cutler [great name for a knifemaker, huh?] of Sheffield sent to Ramsay Crooks of the American Fur Company a sketch of a "Texian knife tha would probably suit Indians." Crooks replied: "We have the drawing of the Texian Knife for which we thank you. The article is not wanted yet in our region." [Green river skinners and butcher knives, however, were in great demand, and I've seen the term "butcher knife" used over and over in Fur Trade-era writings.] There is small evidence that the true bowie knife ever found favor in the northern Plains and the Rockies until after the day of the mountain man; it did come into limited use among trappers and traders in the Southwest and among emigrants in the North before the close of the 1840's."

I love the look of that Svord bowie, but can see where it would be awful to actually use; additionally, it really doesn't resemble many of the examples from Russell's book. I built a pair of bowies from German-made "Natchez" blades bought from Dixie Gun Works, and won one of them back in a shotgun competition. They have full-tang "coffin" handles, and I put some thought into shaping the scales to make them as usable as I could, but...... well, I've never found anything I could do with that bowie that I couldn't do with my Green River knives. People just love the look and the romance of a bowie, and don't think about having to lug that half-pound of steel around all day.

Granted, no single source should be considered the last word on anything, but in the context of the Fur Trade era, Russell's work has held up admirably since its publication in 1967.He also reports that demand for bowies surged again during the War Between the States, then fell off again. Maybe the thought of carrying a huge, heavy, dedicated fighting knife paled once it became unnecessary.....

AJumbo
July 19, 2014, 06:15 PM
At Sam......... both the Caiphas Ham bowie and the unfinished blade in your hand strongly resemble a knife reportedly made and carried by mountain man Jim Baker, per Russell.

hso
July 19, 2014, 06:21 PM
I agree that if you took a grinder to the thumb ramp and the nubbin on the BKs and stripped the coating and slabbed on a set of walnut grips it would be a credible "bowie".

That's not even an expensive way to go to get something that would be a working credible "bowie".

WRT Civil War Bowies, most were dumped after several days of marching as the troops discovered that lugging anything around more than 3 or 4 days that wasn't needed during that time made a miserable time even more miserable. Lots of romanticism around Jim Bowie and "bowie" knives.

AJumbo
July 19, 2014, 06:25 PM
Hso- if one were to make it more of a spear point, it would bear more than a passing resemblance to the Rio Grande Camp Knife, reportedly the arm used by John Wilkes Booth to stab Lincoln's bodyguard, and wielded by him when he took that ill-advised "stage dive."

AJumbo
July 19, 2014, 06:40 PM
http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff32/tonka1911/Mobile%20Uploads/0222121600a.jpg (http://s236.photobucket.com/user/tonka1911/media/Mobile%20Uploads/0222121600a.jpg.html)

The second knife down here is my Natchez bowie, 12" overall with a 7" blade. Probably more functional than a lot of bowies, but I've never used it. The next three blades are Green River blades that have been on a lot of camping trips and hunts. The skinner with the antler handle has unzipped three elk in one day before it needed the edge touched up. The little feller at top is another German kit knife that has nothing to do with this thread. I apologize for the cruddy cellphone pics.

TennJed
July 19, 2014, 06:51 PM
Great thread, very interesting stuff

Piraticalbob
July 19, 2014, 06:55 PM
A butcher knife with a bit of a guard would be my ideal of a "bowie".
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v375/PiraticalBob/hydetools14inchbutcherknife_zpsd32d5cb8.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/PiraticalBob/media/hydetools14inchbutcherknife_zpsd32d5cb8.jpg.html)

Like the Hyde Tools 14" butcher knife, John?

Sam Cade
July 19, 2014, 07:02 PM
I love the look of that Svord bowie, but can see where it would be awful to actually use; additionally, it really doesn't resemble many of the examples from Russell's book.

It is supposedly based on a historical pattern ca. 1863, though from the other side of the planet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustavus_von_Tempsky

Sam Cade
July 19, 2014, 07:05 PM
Like the Hyde Tools 14" butcher knife, John?

He has one of those. ;)

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=720692&highlight=hyde

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=185677&d=1372209200

Glock Doctor
July 19, 2014, 07:33 PM
1. Why would you want a Bowie knife like, say, Davy Crockett carried? Davy Crockett AND Jim Bowie died together at the Alamo! So, how about a knife like, say, Jim Bowie, himself, carried. (Crockett was NOT known to be a, ‘good man’ with a knife.)

2. Nobody knows what kind of knife Jim Bowie carried. The only thing that's authentically known about Bowie’s knife is that it had a large blade. Many large early American knives have far from flawless designs. For instance smooth handled and, ‘coffin-handled’ large knives are difficult to hang onto’ and a large knife with a substantial crossguard isn’t well suited for use as a utility knife.

3. So, where’s this leave you? Most of the really good, well-designed, and well-made large knives that I know of are going to cost you a heck of a lot more than $250.00 dollars. (Like, at least, double that amount!)

4. One of the finest large knives in America, today, is a modern, ‘Bowie’ design manufactured by Randall Made Knives in Orlando, Florida. I don’t know if you’d consider it, ‘tactical’ or not; but I’ve owned mine for almost 40 years; and it’s one helluva big knife - Better in my opinion than anything Jim Bowie might ever have carried.

5. The other name for Randall’s Model #14 is, ‘The Vietnam Jungle Knife’. Many of the Army Officers who served there carried one of these knives. Lt. Colonel Anthony Herbert even mentions using his Model #14 in his well regarded book, ‘Soldier’. Here’s mine:

http://i1034.photobucket.com/albums/a422/69204Me/RandallModel14SurvivalKnife_zps0b96fe0d.jpg

Sam Cade
July 19, 2014, 08:52 PM
One of the finest large knives in America, today, is a modern, ‘Bowie’ design manufactured by Randall Made Knives in Orlando, Florida.

How do you define "fine"?

While they have very nice fit and finish, there isn't anything special about a Randall performance wise. It is just a simple stick tanged knife in a common steel.
http://www.randallknives.com/images/construction9.jpg

If we ignore the mystique, based on materials and finish, a Randall is worth a couple hundred bucks bare of sheath.

Cooldill
July 19, 2014, 08:55 PM
Thanks so much for the replies friends!

I've seen the Case Bowie knife before, it to me is exactly what I'm wanting in terms of style. I LOVE Case knives. But, is this a real working knife, or just a decoration piece? Is it made of good steel that holds an edge, etc. ?

I also LOVE the looks of that Von Tempsky Bowie! I don't think the smooth wood handles look too utilitarian though... but man, what a beautiful knife. Would it also be a good "working" knife?

Okay... now after a little research I think I've found the knife I would be buying (http://www.steelcitycutlery.com/cutlery/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=450&products_id=7452&osCsid=cckgjaj87f1814ead4vt0m84b7)...

If only it weren't £310, AKA $529.68!

So won't be getting that one anytime soon! :(

Glock Doctor
July 19, 2014, 09:02 PM
Sam, your picture shows the construction details of a Randall-Made Model #1. The construction of a Model #14 is appreciably more substantial. Which takes nothing away from the Model #1's design. It's a solid knife design! I've owned and used three of them for several decades, now, and haven't broken or worn one out yet.

Besides, with the history of American knives in mind any blade originally designed by Wm. Scagel is more than worthy of serious consideration.

Sam Cade
July 19, 2014, 09:16 PM
Buy the knife, not the story.

hso
July 19, 2014, 09:28 PM
Cooldill,

The Case is far from a practical design, but it helped define what folks commonly think of as a "bowie" in spite of the fact it has no historical accuracy.

Glock Doctor,

I don't think anyone is questioning whether Randalls are any good or not, they're just not "bowies" (with the exception of the one intentionally done as such).
http://www.youwantit2.com/RAN129200.jpg

Sam,

For forged Randalls I'd disagree and say $200 is shy of value by about $100 if you didn't take their reputation and quality into account.

Sam Cade
July 19, 2014, 09:36 PM
I've seen the Case Bowie knife before, it to me is exactly what I'm wanting in terms of style. I LOVE Case knives. But, is this a real working knife, or just a decoration piece? Is it made of good steel that holds an edge, etc. ?


It's 420HC so while it is possible that it could be a functional knife (IMACASA makes great machetes from 420HC) I've seen half a dozen broken Case bowies over the years so I suspect that Case is running them too hard for much use.

I'd recommend you the Ontario raider Bowie for about 1/3rd the price but it has a durable modern handle construction so does not conform to your specs.

http://www.amazon.com/Ontario-Spec-Marine-Raider-Bowie/dp/B001BMTZSY/ref=sr_1_1?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1405816383&sr=1-1&keywords=raider+bowie



Von Tempsky Bowie! <snip> Would it also be a good "working" knife?

You can do stuff with it, it is well constructed of quality materials but I don't enjoy using mine at all. It hasn't seen the light of day in two or three years.

Glock Doctor
July 19, 2014, 10:06 PM
hso, I might agree with you; but, as I've already pointed out, nobody really knows what Jim Bowie's knife actually looked like. The most that can be said is that it was a large knife and, probably, had quillons on it.

That's it! There's little more that can be authentically stated. The Randall Model 14 is a much of a, 'Bowie' as any other large early American knife. Do I think that the original Bowie knife was closely designed after one of the early Colonial trade knives? No, I don't think Bowie would have spent his money on anything quite so basic.

So your best guess, or mine is as good as anyone else's. Perhaps what we're actually discussing here is THE POPULAR CONCEPTION of what a Bowie knife should be.

ugaarguy
July 19, 2014, 10:26 PM
For forged Randalls I'd disagree and say $200 is shy of value by about $100 if you didn't take their reputation and quality into account.
hso, are Randall's really worth $100 more than a comparable Blackjack?

Sam Cade
July 19, 2014, 10:33 PM
The Case is far from a practical design, but it helped define what folks commonly think of as a "bowie" in spite of the fact it has no historical accuracy.


I call that pattern the "North American Falchion". They are pretty good choppers and the tang shape gives good grip security unlike the Von Tempsky.

An old carbon steel W49 was a much more functional version of the same basic design, especially with a short guard. The OP should be able to find one of those pretty cheap.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR11.TRC1.A0.H0.Xw49+bowie&_nkw=w49+bowie&_sacat=0&_from=R40

In a bit of parallel cutlery evolution:
https://antiqueswords.com/dynamic/products_2771_1_large.jpg

https://antiqueswords.com/product-2771-An-Outstanding-M1853-89-Austro--Hungarian-Pioneer-Short-Sword-Falchion--Private-Purchase.htm#ad-image-0

Cooldill
July 19, 2014, 10:53 PM
It's 420HC so while it is possible that it could be a functional knife (IMACASA makes great machetes from 420HC) I've seen half a dozen broken Case bowies over the years so I suspect that Case is running them too hard for much use.

I'd recommend you the Ontario raider Bowie for about 1/3rd the price but it has a durable modern handle construction so does not conform to your specs.

http://www.amazon.com/Ontario-Spec-Marine-Raider-Bowie/dp/B001BMTZSY/ref=sr_1_1?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1405816383&sr=1-1&keywords=raider+bowie



You can do stuff with it, it is well constructed of quality materials but I don't enjoy using mine at all. It hasn't seen the light of day in two or three years.
Care to elaborate?

I have done some more research on the Von Tempsky Bowie and I really am liking it. It is made of L6 tool steel... is that a good thing?

So far I'm liking it the best of the knives I've seen, but if it isn't good for actual use than I'm not interested.

R H Clark
July 19, 2014, 11:23 PM
I don't know of a good bowie under $200. This is pretty close for a good 5160 blade.
http://www.shrewbows.com/bowieknife/


I wanted one so bad I started making my own. But I charge about twice that and you will know why if you build yourself one. 5160 is cheap and easy to work at home if you want to give it a try. I'll be happy to talk you through it. Just shoot me a PM and we can trade phone numbers.

Here are some of mine I made the first year I started.
http://i961.photobucket.com/albums/ae96/RHClark/PictureCADbowie001.jpg (http://s961.photobucket.com/user/RHClark/media/PictureCADbowie001.jpg.html)
http://i961.photobucket.com/albums/ae96/RHClark/PictureCADbowie003.jpg (http://s961.photobucket.com/user/RHClark/media/PictureCADbowie003.jpg.html)
http://i961.photobucket.com/albums/ae96/RHClark/P1000358.jpg (http://s961.photobucket.com/user/RHClark/media/P1000358.jpg.html)

hso
July 19, 2014, 11:50 PM
is that a good thing?

Lord, YES, L6 is a "good thing", but that handle on that thing would produce enough hot spots to cook your blisters to a nice medium well.

Sam Cade
July 20, 2014, 12:05 AM
Care to elaborate?

Since the scales are prefect flat and smooth retention on hard cuts is poor. The scales are also relatively sharp edged and make for hot spots during heavy use.
It isn't exactly useless but there are lots of better choices for a serious tool.


It is made of L6 tool steel... is that a good thing?


Yup.

https://www.hudsontoolsteel.com/assets/f4c716e7/skin/images/html/blockL6.jpg

https://www.hudsontoolsteel.com/technical-data/steelL6

hso
July 20, 2014, 12:07 AM
are Randall's really worth $100 more than a comparable Blackjack?

While that's a discussion for another thread - You're going to have to define what that means a bit more. Current Blackjacks? Current prices for Effingham Blackjacks? Original prices for Effingham Blackjacks? How about that Effingham Blackjacks were too low in price to begin with? Of course, neither the Randalls or the Blackjacks are any more accurate Bowies than any other wide range of what are called Bowies these day and a far sight less accurate.

Glock Doctor, I completely agree that THE POPULAR CONCEPTION of what a Bowie knife should be is what the thread is about and not the historical bowie either wielded by Jim Bowie at the 1827 fight that made him famous, the knives he and his brother had made in the decade subsequent to that, or even the popularized "Bowies" of the 1850/60s that capitalized on his fame since very few people are interested in the history that contrasts with their popular image of the bowie.

Cooldill
July 20, 2014, 12:14 AM
While that's a discussion for another thread - You're going to have to define what that means a bit more. Current Blackjacks? Current prices for Effingham Blackjacks? Original prices for Effingham Blackjacks? How about that Effingham Blackjacks were too low in price to begin with? Of course, neither the Randalls or the Blackjacks are any more accurate Bowies than any other wide range of what are called Bowies these day and a far sight less accurate.

Glock Doctor, I completely agree that THE POPULAR CONCEPTION of what a Bowie knife should be is what the thread is about and not the historical bowie either wielded by Jim Bowie at the 1827 fight that made him famous, the knives he and his brother had made in the decade subsequent to that, or even the popularized "Bowies" of the 1850/60s that capitalized on his fame since very few people are interested in the history that contrasts with their popular image of the bowie.
Yes I agree.

I should have said that! Sorry! :(

hso
July 20, 2014, 12:18 AM
Cooldill,

Not to worry, but that does put the ball back in your court to find images of "bowies" you like to toss up for us so we can actually help you find something in the price range you can tolerate.

I'm assuming you want a cross guard and a clip point? I recommend googling "bowie knife" and hitting images to sift through what's out there in the form of blade heights (big bellied vs slim), clip styles (long vs. short, flat vs. half moon), guards (S vs straight, flat vs rounded), grips (round/flat, coffin/straight/palm swell/...), length. After that we can talk about materials.;)

Makes your head hurt, don't it!:evil:

hso
July 20, 2014, 12:39 AM
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6zMHqdWGtNg/UxTKw_xh_hI/AAAAAAAADgw/DMxmGpdGyyU/s1600/Cold-Steel-Frontier-Bowie-88CSAB-09.jpg

As much as it pains me, the new Cold Steel Frontier Bowie might be about what you're looking for, after fixing the grip.

Cooldill
July 20, 2014, 02:29 AM
Cooldill,

Not to worry, but that does put the ball back in your court to find images of "bowies" you like to toss up for us so we can actually help you find something in the price range you can tolerate.

I'm assuming you want a cross guard and a clip point? I recommend googling "bowie knife" and hitting images to sift through what's out there in the form of blade heights (big bellied vs slim), clip styles (long vs. short, flat vs. half moon), guards (S vs straight, flat vs rounded), grips (round/flat, coffin/straight/palm swell/...), length. After that we can talk about materials.;)

Makes your head hurt, don't it!:evil:
I apologize, I did not realize that the term "Bowie knife" was such a touchy subject!

I guess I should state it better like this... I am in the market for a large, perhaps 19th century patterned or inspired, knife with a full cross guard. A 10-12" blade is preferred. A clip point is not necessary. I would prefer to pay no more than $250. Also I am looking for something able to do light tasks like cut cord wood and brush, vines, etc. and to provide emergency self defense against wild animals and human beings. The knife in quesiton may or may not conjure up the popular image of the word "Bowie knife".

The Svord Von Tempsky Bowie looks great, and I really like the profile of the blade. I like how the grips look but they don't very utilitarian. They look pretty slippery. Still I am digging the knife and I like it's rugged old world style a lot. I find these more traditional designs far more appealing than anything with black rubber grips slathered in matte black tacti-paint.

I am really sorry! I didn't know what I was getting into with this one. Thank you so much for the help! :D!

hso
July 20, 2014, 09:23 AM
I wonder if anyone has taken a BK-9 and put a guard on it?

Derry 1946
July 20, 2014, 11:40 AM
I am in the market for a large, perhaps 19th century patterned or inspired, knife with a full cross guard. A 10-12" blade is preferred. A clip point is not necessary. I would prefer to pay no more than $250. Also I am looking for something able to do light tasks like cut cord wood and brush, vines, etc. and to provide emergency self defense against wild animals and human beings.


You may like to check out Sam Cade's excellent articles on machetes. It may be that the functions you describe above are better spread among several blades. Chopping wood and clearing brush sound like jobs for bigger tools. Emergency self defense sounds like it might call for a blade you carry at all times (since attacks are not always on a schedule of your making), and might call for a smaller blade.

bubba in ca
July 20, 2014, 11:57 AM
I got rid of most of my bowies when I discovered that a $10 machete works just as well. The only one I kept was a 40 year old veteran of yardwork campaigns and camping trips, a Western model 49. I trimmed the handguards because they got in the way, and added a lanyard.

If I were buting a ``modern collectible`` i would favor the coffin handle design or an original Boulder Western Bowie with the original swivel sheath. Neither with a high historical pedigree, but part of the culture and attractive knives.

If I wanted a whacker for field use, I`d look an an Ontario bowie, a cheap Western post-Boulder, or a Condor Hudson bay. i don`t buy chicon, so Cold Steel is usually not on my list, although I hear they are pretty good.

Meanwhile, I have a 12 to 16 inch machete in every shed and my truck tool box, my old Western is doing emergency letter opening duty in my desk, and my Hudson Bay is avaiting sharpening and will eventually get used for yard work or BBQs to test it out before it gets squirreled away in an emergency kit.

Cooldill
July 20, 2014, 12:32 PM
Thanks for the replies gang.

The Von Tempsky Bowie is just really calling my name. It's pretty much exactly what I'm looking for. I think it will do well for light camp work and as a defensive knife in the rare occasion it's needed, plus I just want it because it looks so cool!

The only thing that's keeping me away are the smooth wooden handles.

Is there any way to wrap leather around the handles to improve the grip? I've heard of some people using rubber or "tentacle wrap" but I'd rather keep it traditional if at all possible.

Sam Cade
July 20, 2014, 01:04 PM
Cooldill, you could cut some checkering or other texture into the scales easily, but I think the real problem is the lack of a positive stop at the pommel end.

Gordon
July 20, 2014, 01:23 PM
Ideas ......
http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i203/gordonhulme/001-11.jpg

jerkface11
July 20, 2014, 01:42 PM
Couldn't you replace the scales with something with a little texture and a bit of a hook at the end?

Cooldill
July 20, 2014, 02:18 PM
I really like the one fourth from the left, with the brass crossguard.

Piraticalbob
July 20, 2014, 03:52 PM
I really like the one fourth from the left, with the brass crossguard.
That's a Western Cutlery W49. Used to be one of the few factory-made Bowies, along with the Case. It's no longer made, but it's easy to find on eBay.

hso
July 20, 2014, 03:58 PM
Yeah, I was thinking a W49 would be about what you were looking for. Ebay has several and you want to stick with the pre W49s for the quality.

Dirty Bob
July 20, 2014, 04:00 PM
I'm pretty durn' sure that's a Western Bowie. They're available on the used market, and probably are well within your price range. I think it's a great choice for you, if you like the look. The blade is thinner than some other bowies, so it's light and fast. It can also slice and do more "useful" things than one of the bowies with blade thickness of 1/4-inch or 5/16" or even more. I have one of the old Westerns and love it.

I suggest you may also want to pick up a 12-14" machete for the weed-whackin', etc. I use an Ontario 12" a lot around the house, as well as a heavily-modded Cold Steel Heavy Machete and a Tramontina 13" bolo-style. I find that occasionally I encounter a nail in some wood, or wire snarled up in branches, or a rock when taking off stuff near the ground. A machete can shrug off this abuse and can be replaced if heavily damaged. The edge of a well-used 'shete often looks pretty rough, even though the dings have been filed out and the blade is sharp and ready for work. It would be a shame to beat up a nice knife with such abuse.

All my best,
Dirty Bob

R H Clark
July 20, 2014, 05:37 PM
Shorter blade but better quality and more useful IMHO. Pair this with a good Machete and it's all you need.
http://www.knivesshipfree.com/bark-river-knives/rogue/bark-river-knives-rogue-bowie-antique-ivory-micarta/

Or just skip the machete
http://www.knivesshipfree.com/bark-river-knives/grasso-bolo-iii/bark-river-knives-grasso-bolo-iii-natural-canvas-micarta-green-liner/

Or

http://www.knifecenter.com/item/BR580/Browning-CrowellBarker-Competition-Knife-Fixed-10-inch-High-Carbon-Steel-Blade-Micarta-Handles-Leather-Sheath-Included

Or
http://www.valiantco.com/

If I had the budget
http://www.dlttrading.com/nl1.html?cmp=googleproducts&kw=nl1&gclid=CN-V9pvf1L8CFZDm7AodZSwADw

Cheapest option that will do all you want
http://www.machetespecialists.com/12-inch-cocoa-machete.html

hso
July 20, 2014, 06:37 PM
http://cdn1.bigcommerce.com/server3200/k2pame/products/47127/images/28444/r2_mesquite_brl_359_95_600__06073.1374800622.290.220.jpg?c=2

That mesquite burl Rogue is mighty nice!

Cooldill
July 20, 2014, 07:35 PM
Sorry but I am wanting a full cross guard, but it does look nice!

ugaarguy
July 20, 2014, 08:24 PM
Okay, so you like the Western W49, and you like the Svord Von Temsky if it had a better handle.

How about a Svord 280H Hunter (http://www2.knifecenter.com/item/SVO280H/Svord-280H-Hunter-Fixed-7-inch-Carbon-Steel-Blade-Brown-Hardwood-Handles-Leather-Sheath)
http://images.knifecenter.com/thumb/295x295/knifecenter/svord/images/SVO280Hnw.jpg

Svord 280B Bowie (http://www2.knifecenter.com/item/SVO280B/Svord-280B-Bowie-Knife-Carbon-Steel-Blade-Brown-Hardwood-Handles-Leather-Sheath)
http://images.knifecenter.com/thumb/295x295/knifecenter/svord/images/SVO280Bnw.jpg

Or The UK MOD's Jungle Survival Knife made by IXL Wostenholm (http://www2.knifecenter.com/item/IXLJSLS/ixl-wostenholm-jungle-survival-knife-7-carbon-steel-blade-leather-sheath) of Sheffield, England
http://images.knifecenter.com/thumb/295x295/knifecenter/ixl/images/IXLJSLSn.jpg

I know those don't have the big S shaped guards you like, but they do at least have full guards, and none are expensive.

R H Clark
July 20, 2014, 08:49 PM
Here are some by a buddy of mine. Matt taught me everything I know and I certainly didn't learn all he knows. His are considerably more than you want to spend but this is my idea of a Bowie. IMHO a huge guard only gets in the way of everything you want to do.
http://www.lameycustomknives.com/Site/Bowies%20%26%20Fighters.html

Sam Cade
July 20, 2014, 09:28 PM
If Mr.Baker would put the bolstered handle (which feels amazing) on the Von Tempsky he would have a best in class knife.

Cooldill
July 20, 2014, 09:39 PM
Wow! I love the Damascus & Stag “Southern Bowie”!

Still leaning towards the Svord VTB. If only the handle had more grip to it!

R H Clark
July 20, 2014, 10:23 PM
You could always change the handle of that Svord. All you need is to get some bowie slabs about 2" wide and 3/8"- 1/2" thick. All you do is inlet the straight tang so it fits inside the two slabs. The slabs have to be sanded to perfectly fit together with no visible glue line. You will also pin the handle just like it is now but you will basically wind up with a heavy hidden tang inside the wood. This will allow you to shape the end any way you want as well as the rest of the handle. You might have to narrow the tang slightly to get the shape you want.

hso
July 21, 2014, 12:50 PM
I agree.

You're liking the Von Tempsky so you could get it and play with it and decide if you want to have someone mount a bird's head butt on it if you thought there was a need.

Cooldill
July 22, 2014, 12:52 PM
I agree.

You're liking the Von Tempsky so you could get it and play with it and decide if you want to have someone mount a bird's head butt on it if you thought there was a need.
YES! This sounds like a good plan!

I'm limited on both tools and knowledge for reshaping/modifying the handles but I will probably be ordering this knife soon and might seek help from other if I find the handles need changing!

Thanks for the help everyone! Can't wait to get my very own Svord VTB soon!

hso
July 22, 2014, 03:25 PM
Sounds like a plan!

***

For those liking the idea of hacking a BK into a frontier bowie -
http://i1055.photobucket.com/albums/s520/tommythewho99/DSCN0722.jpg
http://i1193.photobucket.com/albums/aa359/terrioknives/BK-501_zpsfcf94a70.jpg
http://i1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff470/clichtenwalner1/knife.jpg
http://i1167.photobucket.com/albums/q639/tmhunt05/2012-07-26171155.jpg

Madcap_Magician
July 22, 2014, 06:02 PM
Wow, hso, who did that last conversion?

hso
July 22, 2014, 07:17 PM
http://www.tmhuntcustomknives.com/

BUT as a knifemaker instead of a knife modder, he's not likely to make any others.

AJumbo
August 2, 2014, 08:14 PM
Just in time for this thread to peter out, True West magazine's September issue has a well-illustrated, well-written 7-page article on "Fighting Blades of the Frontier,'' by Phil Spangenberger. Trouble is, most of the knives pictured are sheathed, so the pics are of fighting knife HANDLES of the frontier; coffin handles were really popular. Of interest to this thread is the image of a knife said to be one of Jim Bowie's own weapons.

Just look for the picture of Billy the Kid on the front cover....... wait, no...... every other issue of True West has Billy on the cover....

SlamFire1
August 2, 2014, 09:57 PM
Norm Flayderman’s book “The Bowie Knife” will destroy any idea that a Bowie knife follows any exact pattern. The history of bowie knives is shown in the pictures, they follow patterns, or types, depending on the decade, but they change just like any other fashion accessory. Everything I have heard or read indicates the original Bowie knife was as HSO says in post 5 http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=9550406&postcount=5, a big butcher type knife.

One of the earliest types has been duplicated by Bark River:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/knives/DSCN2090BarkRiverRougeleftbonegrip_zpsc5fc2844.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/SlamFire/media/knives/DSCN2090BarkRiverRougeleftbonegrip_zpsc5fc2844.jpg.html)

I own this Bark River Rouge and it makes for a surprisingly good utility knife for a fighting knife. It is big, but not so big, and the lack of a guard and the belly on the blade make for a good slicing knife. The bone stag knives allow a better grip when wet than the other grips Bark River offers.

If you want something oversized to chop trees, a Cold Steel Trail master is within your price range. Maybe not this one, but there are less costly, rubber handled versions.

Cold Steel Trail Master
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/knives/90sColdsteetStagtrailmaster2.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/SlamFire/media/knives/90sColdsteetStagtrailmaster2.jpg.html)

I did find a bowie in Norm’s book that was close in profile to a Trail Master, so it is not too far off from what was available prior to 1900.

Personally, I like the looks of the San Francisco Bowies of Micheal Price and Will & Finck above all the historical bowies.

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