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#7096439 - 11/21/12 Opinions on blade design sought
Birdwatcher Offline
Campfire Kahuna

Registered: 08/05/02
Posts: 16518
Loc: San Antonio TX
Ain't had much use for a big belt knife until now, prior to this a 5" blade seeming about right.

But with a recent foray into 1830's Texas historical reenacting on my part, a bigger knife was needed. Jim Bowie's famous sandbar duel occurred in 1827, the renoun of that knife mirroring a general trend towards a big-knife-as-a-sidearm, a thing which continued until the arrival of affordable revolvers.

Wanted to stay away from a Bowie knife as it is too cliched, and also they have guards. The thing is, a knife without a guard can more or less disappear into a long sheath that covers most of the handle, whereas that of a knife with a guard necessarily covers only the blade, exposing the handle.

This for me is an important consideration when one is reenacting among crowds in public; a knife mostly concealed within a sheath seemingly less likely to get grabbed by someone other than oneself is all.

Anyhoo... I opted for a heavy 8 1/2" butcher-style blade, widest near the end, figuring such a knife would have a long working life in constant use back then, though maybe less than ideal as a fighting knife.

The smaller knife in the pic is a way-cool deer leg bone handled one, locally made from an old tool, intended of Rev War era reenacting. A great knife but a tad small as a primary belt knife for the Texian era.

The larger one is the latest acquisition. A relatively inexpensive import and too polished and shiny but it'll do for now.



Seeking opinions here; if you were tasked with wearing a 7" or longer belt knife for constant carry and use, what blade design would you choose and why?

Thanks,

Birdwatcher
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"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744

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#7096480 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: Birdwatcher]
mtnman1 Offline
Campfire Tracker

Registered: 12/09/03
Posts: 5545
Green River
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#7096532 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: Birdwatcher]
antlers Offline
Campfire Outfitter

Registered: 06/02/08
Posts: 8502
If you're big into those Texas history reenactments, it might be worth it to you to have one made. I remember seeing a big knife in the museum at the base of the San Jacinto Monument that was owned and carried by Sam Houston. I later saw that same knife at the State History Museum in Austin. It had a blade shape that was similar to the one you're using, except it was bigger. One of these guys can make you one without a guard so it'll fit in the kind of sheath you mentioned (like the sheath used by Robert Tedford in Jeremiah Johnson). They could make it with or without a bolster. I'd use that Sam Houston knife as a model, although you might not want a blade as big as the one on his knife. It would certainly qualify for being period correct.
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Every hunter should carry a positive attitude. It weighs nothing and can make or break a hunt.

Hunt hard and hunt long.

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#7096533 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: mtnman1]
CrowRifle Offline
Campfire Outfitter

Registered: 05/28/04
Posts: 7581
Loc: The Piedmont of NC
Mannlicher should wade into this soon. He has several camp knives that look very good. Not sure their shape would be true to the period, but they are great looking knives and according to him very functional.
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#7096538 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: mtnman1]
Birdwatcher Offline
Campfire Kahuna

Registered: 08/05/02
Posts: 16518
Loc: San Antonio TX
Quote:
Green River


Which one?
_________________________
"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744

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#7096589 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: antlers]
Birdwatcher Offline
Campfire Kahuna

Registered: 08/05/02
Posts: 16518
Loc: San Antonio TX
Quote:
I remember seeing a big knife in the museum at the base of the San Jacinto Monument that was owned and carried by Sam Houston. I later saw that same knife at the State History Museum in Austin. It had a blade shape that was similar to the one you're using, except it was bigger.


Thanks for the info, I'm overdue for an Austin visit cool

Nice to hear that my instincts were correct, dunno that I'd want to haul an even BIGGER knife around tho. That knife I bought came from Crazy Crow as their "Taos Trapper's Knife", they say its based upon a fur trade-era knife from New Mexico.

Years ago when I was in Africa, what started out as machetes in the hands of the locals gradually became kitchen knives and finally paring knives as they were gradually sharpened away to nothing in constant daily use.

And these were of British-made steel, Wilkinson IIRC. Sounds reasonable to assume a similar situation prevailed around these parts too, once.

So when I look at depth of blade, I'm mostly thinking useful life under circumstances like that is all. That smaller knife I have would have been sharpened to a sliver in no time.

Birdwatcher
_________________________
"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744

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#7096623 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: Birdwatcher]
Mannlicher Online   happy
Campfire Oracle

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 49140
Loc: N. Central Florida, and Miami
I'd be inclined to go with a period correct Bowie style knife.
Randall's Model 12 is supposed to be spot on correct.
http://www.randallknives.com/knives/model-12-raymond-thorpe-bowie/
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#7096644 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: Birdwatcher]
antlers Offline
Campfire Outfitter

Registered: 06/02/08
Posts: 8502

This is the knife I was referring to.
_________________________
Every hunter should carry a positive attitude. It weighs nothing and can make or break a hunt.

Hunt hard and hunt long.

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#7097335 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: antlers]
poboy Offline
Campfire Tracker

Registered: 05/16/10
Posts: 6679
Loc: Central Texas
Howdy Mike, I reconfigure old butcher knife blades all the time. That imported knife I'd grind off the hump on my belt sander. Make it shaped more to the "Houston" knife. Also it would make the sheath easier to make. Just my .02. So far none of my knives have guards.
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#7097388 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: mtnman1]
2muchgun Offline
Campfire 'Bwana

Registered: 02/25/05
Posts: 13931
Loc: Michigun
Originally Posted By: mtnman1
Green River


This is the first thing that came to my mind also......
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#7097540 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: 2muchgun]
2muchgun Offline
Campfire 'Bwana

Registered: 02/25/05
Posts: 13931
Loc: Michigun
AA Forge is another that comes to mind......

http://www.aaforge.com/Home_Page.html
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#7097545 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: 2muchgun]
SteveRandall Offline
Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 33
Loc: Lincolnton, NC
How about the coffin handle bowie style knife. Some are made without guards or with very small guards so would work for the pouch type sheath.

Steve
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#7097553 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: 2muchgun]
2muchgun Offline
Campfire 'Bwana

Registered: 02/25/05
Posts: 13931
Loc: Michigun
Here's a customized Green River Ripper and a camp knife. They make some larger knives also.

Ground some finger grooves in this one and acid etched the blade:





Camp knife:



I've another camp knife blank. I'm going to put a finger groove in it and probably some American black walnut scales.....
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#7097572 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: SteveRandall]
2muchgun Offline
Campfire 'Bwana

Registered: 02/25/05
Posts: 13931
Loc: Michigun
Thought of that also. Some here:

http://www.knifemaking.com/category-s/329.htm
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#7097991 - 11/21/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: 2muchgun]
poboy Offline
Campfire Tracker

Registered: 05/16/10
Posts: 6679
Loc: Central Texas
My main skinner is a Green River paring knife. Easy to keep sharp.
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#7098332 - 11/22/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: Birdwatcher]
JSTUART Offline
Campfire Outfitter

Registered: 06/17/07
Posts: 9524
Loc: Land of milk & honey, for some...
Just look on Ebay for an old I Wilson in good knick.

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#7098555 - 11/22/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: JSTUART]
1234567 Offline
Campfire Guide

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 4320
This is a picture of my idea of a Bowie I made several years ago.

This one has a 10 inch blade and stag scales.


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#7101313 - 11/22/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: Birdwatcher]
Journeyman Offline
Campfire Ranger

Registered: 11/18/03
Posts: 1549
In that style Daniel Winkler is the man. I've bought 2 as gifts for mountain man rendezvous-ist friends.

Winkler Knives

Mike Mann of Idaho Knife Works (his website appears to be down) is also well lauded for his period knives. I traded for one of his cliff knives once and while I didn't use it before re-trading, it appeared very well made.

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#7111754 - 11/26/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: Journeyman]
Birdwatcher Offline
Campfire Kahuna

Registered: 08/05/02
Posts: 16518
Loc: San Antonio TX
Than for the input all cool

I was agreeing that for a simple, period-appropriate knife a Green River would be a no-brainer for the 1830's.

Maybe not as it turns out.

http://www.mman.us/jrussellco.htm

By September of 1834 Russell felt that he had the experience to commence manufacturing of knives. His first prototype knives were simple butcher and carving knives, but as with the chisels and axes, made from the finest raw materials available....

The early knives were stamped "J.Russell & Co American Cutlery." Although these knives had a local reputation for quality, most Americans of the time who were unfamiliar with the J. Russell Co. preferred knives from Sheffield...

By February 1836 Russell had purchased land and moved the factory to a location on the Green River (Massachusettes). The new location came complete with buildings, a dam and was set up for utilizing water power. The factory had barely been set up when on March 15, 1836 a fire burned out the forging shop and production was halted. Insurance paid out $4,000 for rebuilding the shop. The reconstruction had hardly commenced when a major flood swept away the dam and most of the buildings...

During the early 1840's was the beginning of the great westward movement of settlers to Oregon and California. J.Russell & Company began manufacturing a simple, rugged, utilitarian hunting knife for these emigrants and buffalo hunters of the plains. The knife, known as the "Green River Knife" was to be rugged enough to serve in any situation that might arise. These knives were often shipped unsharpened so that the individual owners could then sharpen according to need and use. The blade was about 8 inches in length with simple wooden handles.

...it was this simple hunting knife, the "Green River Knife" which assured the success of the company, and was the source of the myth and legend of the Green River Knife. The Green River Knife became the source for various sayings and phrases related to quality and or doing a job right.

The Green River Knife became a favorite of emigrants, buffalo hunters, Indians, miners and settlers. Between 1840 to 1860 it is estimated that 60,000 dozen Green River knives were sent west.


So, there were a small number of Green River knives around before 1840, but production really started in a big way only after 1840, almost too late too for the fur trade era.

Birdwatcher
_________________________
"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744

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#7112220 - 11/26/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: Birdwatcher]
348srfun Offline
Campfire Regular

Registered: 01/12/09
Posts: 380
Loc: South East Georgia
I would go with an old flea market butcher knife. It should not be hard to find one with a worn and period looking handle and lots of life left in the blade. The curve of the point nicely fits the bottom of a peanut butter or mayonnaise jar too. If you are looking for a working knife it might as well work well.

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#7114052 - 11/26/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: 348srfun]
mtnman1 Offline
Campfire Tracker

Registered: 12/09/03
Posts: 5545
Guess it sort of depends on what you're really looking for. For a custom, I think Journeyman has already mentioned a couple of great period makers, but you'll pay accordingly. For a simple piece appropriate for the times (albeit, not exactly period correct given your previous info), I'd look at the green river. Crazy cow, has a couple of versions. There's the cheaper plain hunter version, the buffalo skinner and the more expensive hunter version with bone or maple scales. All probably decent options.

Don't know if this sort of thing floats your boat, but here's a vintage Green River bowie with a bit of interesting color on the paper label.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-John-Rus...=item53f076f697
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http://www.howemtnknives.com/

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#7114546 - 11/26/12 Re: Opinions on blade design sought [Re: mtnman1]
2muchgun Offline
Campfire 'Bwana

Registered: 02/25/05
Posts: 13931
Loc: Michigun
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