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Page Armory » Blades
Posted: 8/5/2003 6:23:20 PM EDT
When the subject of knives comes up, sooner or later the Bowie enters the discussion.

We all know the stories about Jim Bowie, the fight on the sand bar and his famous fighting knife. But actually, we don't have a clue what it really looked like. We have some samples of knives from that period, in fact, one that was owned by his brother. But not one sample of the original Bowie still exists.

The good part is that each knifemaker is free to enterpret the Bowie to meet his own vision. And the result is amazing, big knives, small knives, heavy knives, light knives, just about anything you can imagine. Over the next few weeks I'll explore the Bowie through the eyes of makers from around the world.

The first is a really big knife. It was made in Germany by a maker named Edward Cleff. It has a 8" blade and a stag handle. It's a heavy knife with only a small guard but a big pommel.



Head east to Poland and the Gerlach family see the Bowie diferently. If you can call a knife made to slice and dice an opponent as lovely and delicate, this is it. The Gelach Bowie also has a antler handle and small guard, but no pommel and the blade is much lighter than the one made by Edward Cleff.



So what does Bowie mean to you?
Link Posted: 8/6/2003 12:52:02 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/6/2003 12:54:02 PM EDT by Fox]
Nice knives, Sig. I especially like the Cleff. It reminds me of some of the older Marbles blades.

Here are three of my own from earlier this year. I tend to like the more modern Loveless styled clip points. This first one was just what I call a small combat Bowie. The steel is 1/4" thick and the cutting edge is 6.750" with an OAL of about 12.5". This is a forged 5160 blade, edge quenched, triple-tempered and with a convex edge. The choil cut is rounded for comfort when choking up on the blade. The handle is burgundy micarta and the fittings are nickel-silver with black spacers. The customer wanted a very small guard and actually uses the knife for working around his property. The sheath is by Gerald Barrowcliff.



This second is similar to the above, but the blade is slightly longer, about 7.250", the spacers are bright red and the handle material is stabilized mesquite burl. This customer wanted a much thicker guard and a longer clip for more of a fighting look. The choil is rounded. He also wanted his initial on the sheath, which is by Kenny Rowe.



This last was a request for a modified copy of a Randall Model #1. The owner wanted a thick, strong blade with the slimmed downed look of a CQ fighter and a variation of Randall's Commando styled handle. The blade is forged 5160, just over .250" thick. The cutting edge is 6.25". He did not want the clip sharpened. The fittings are brass with brass, red and nickel-silver spacers. Sheath is by Gerald Barrowcliff.

Link Posted: 8/6/2003 1:09:56 PM EDT
I was watching a History Channel show recently and they claim there are knives with a JB stamped or carved in the steel or brass of the guards, or blade.

There are also portraits of Bowie with his knives.

In my mind, the Bowie is defined as closely as 99% with the knife you have in the very first picture.

Although, I like this, more modern, version:



Called "The Yardborough" obviously available from MSTN.

I ordered one to send with my best friend to the Afghani desert, and I ordered the shorter one to complete my set upon his return.
Link Posted: 8/6/2003 3:22:03 PM EDT
As said above, there is a great variation in what the real bowie might have looked like. And that's part of the enchantment.

Here is what Robert Washburn from Dublin, GA envisioned. This is a copper guarded primitive Bowie that he forged.





Link Posted: 8/7/2003 7:42:06 PM EDT
Well, not all Bowies are really big knives. Here is one that Ken Largen made, Damascus blade, Mokume bolster and bone handle. It's next to a common object for size comparison.

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