gunner500 may be writing a poem called "Ode to Saint Bagwell."
He sent some inspirational images to be posted here, with thoughts on Saint Bagwell:
"Pic 1, Old buffalo rifle in half cock with firing pin pulled firmly to the rear from the new firing pin Saint Bagwell gave and installed for me, there's also a new firing pin inside he turned down on his lathe."
"Pic 2, The small screw between the triggers is one Saint Bagwell saved in his box for over 30 years, said he always knew he'd need it someday, he installed that and set my triggers on the old 45-110 buffalo rifle."
"Pic 3, The shot from the video at 700 yards landed a bit right and high using the factory barrel ladder hunting sight and old copper penny front, high and right stands to reason, Saint Bagwell was often high and right, high on knowledge, ethics, history, friendship, dedication and morals, and damn right on everything else ; ] " (There is a video of this shot at the 700-yard gong by gunner500, I need to figure out where to post it.)
Pic 4: "Headed out to the shop to trim 458 Win Mag+ brass, along for the trip was Saint Bagwell Damascus Bowie, Model 70 458 Win Mag+, Colt LW Commander 38 Super, and my favorite sweatshirt for ardotcom members and liberals the world over!"
Bill would get a chuckle out of that sweatshirt. I sure did !
Above image was heading up an obituary: https://www.vivianfuneralhome.com/obituary/bill-bagwell
Bill Bagwell was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on January 11, 1944 to Alice Posey Bagwell and William Bagwell. He grew up in rural northwest Louisiana and was introduced to the outdoors at an early age by his uncles, who were avid hunters and fishermen. Bill was also a talented athlete and lettered in football, baseball, and track during his high school career. His senior year at North Caddo High School saw him named to the High School All-American Football team as a tackle, and he attended Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship. He also attended Northwestern State University and had an educational background in engineering, English, and history.
Bill was always fascinated by knives. He made his first knife at the age of 10 from an old saw. While he was in high school he began to forge knives in the industrial arts shop, and by the time he was 15 he was forging hunting and Bowie knives as a hobby. He made and sold knives while he was in college and became a full-time professional bladesmith in 1969. Bill's skill and talent as a bladesmith was due in part to the fact that he grew up in an area that was rich in the lore of James Bowie and the early history of both Texas and Louisiana. The Bowie knife played a prominent role in the early history of the area, and the young Bill wanted a good one for himself. Since none were available for purchase, he began to make his own. Bill always sought excellence, and his early quest for a better Bowie knife ultimately brought his knives to the point where they are today.
Bill was one of the true pioneers in the making of Damascus blades in the United States. He completed his first successful Damascus blade on December 1, 1973, after about six months of trial and failure. In early 1976, with the late Don Hastings, B.R. Hughes and Bill Moran, Bill became one of the founding members of the American Bladesmith Society and wrote the original charter for that organization. He also served as the society's first secretary and was on its first board of directors.
Bill lectured on blades and forging at the University of Wyoming at Dubois, the University of Florida at Tallahassee, and Texarkana College at its facility at Black's Forge in Washington, Arkansas. Bill also made wootz steel and began work in that field in 1979.
In 1984, Bill became the knife editor for Soldier Of Fortune magazine, and the monthly "Battle Blades" column was begun under his byline. He continued to write the column until 1988 when pressing family matters called him to Belize for 18 months. Upon his return from Belize, Bill resumed his knifemaking career. Paladin Press released the long-awaited anthology of Bill's "Battle Blades" columns, entitled Bowies, Big Knives, and the Best of Battle Blades. Advance copies were on display at the Soldier Of Fortune Convention in Las Vegas.
In September 1995, Bill attended the prestigious Paris Knife Show, where one of his Damascus Bowies won the award for the best fixed-bladed Damascus knife at the show. The following spring he was commissioned to go to Theirs, France, and conduct a forging and knifemaking demonstration by the Theirs Department of Commerce and Industry.
Bill focused his knife energies on his "Hell's Belle" fighting Bowies. The Hell's Belle is acknowledged by many to be the finest fighting Bowie knife ever made, and those examples hand-forged and made by Bill himself were without a doubt, in a class by themselves. Bill's research and studies into tactics and application of the fighting Bowie knife in a combat environment have not gone unnoticed, as he served as an instructor to selected units of the U.S. Army's Special Forces at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
Bill was also an accomplished rifle shot. His primary interest was in black powder firearms, and he served as a consultant to GOEX from 1993 - 2009. His love of the outdoors remained strong over the years, and his interest in history led him to study the arms and weapons of early America. While Bill's early studies were focused on muzzleloaders (which ultimately led him to good Hawken rifles), he also developed the knowledge and skills necessary to shoot the black powder cartridge rifles. The long-range marksmanship of the buffalo hunters of the plains was not just legend, and Bill could take a Sharps rifle and hit a gallon jug at a quarter of a mile with cast lead bullets, black powder, and iron sights.
Bill was a rarity in today's world. He was a man at the top of his game who did exactly what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it. He is survived by his wife Sidra Bagwell to whom he was happily married for 24 years."
Memorial funeral services will be held at 2 PM on Saturday, February 27, 2021 at Gorsulowsky Funeral Home Chapel in Vivian, Louisiana.
More here: ABS FOUNDING MEMBER BILL BAGWELL HAS PASSED AWAYhttps://www.knifemagazine.com/abs-founding-member-bill-bagwell-has-passed-away/
KNIFE Magazine is saddened to report the passing of legendary master bladesmith Bill Bagwell, one of the four founding members of the American Bladesmith Society. Bill became a full-time knifemaker in 1969 and is believed to have been the second modern bladesmith to achieve the making of pattern welded damascus steel. In addition to pattern welded steel, Bill also perfected cable damascus techniques and frequently used plain carbon steel in his blades as well.
Working from locations in Vivian, LA; Niceville, FL; Marietta, TX and a stint as the resident ‘smith at the recreated James Black forge in Washington, AR, Bagwell was influenced by early bowie knife designs and was keenly interested in knife fighting techniques. He built his reputation not only on his knives, but also on the knife writing he did for such magazines as Soldier of Fortune and Tactical Knives. He also authored a book: Bowies, Big Knives, and the Best of Battle Blades (2000). His knife combat techniques have even been taught as part of the Special Forces training at Ft. Bragg.
Two Bagwell fighting bowies. Top is an example of the “Hell’s Belle”.
Many of Bagwell’s bowies had long but well balanced blades that were very quick in the hand. His best known design is surely the “Hell’s Belle”, a slender coffin hilt with clip point blade and a C-shaped guard derived from the Bart Moore bowie. In the late 1990s Ontario Knife Co. offered a well executed production version of this knife and a couple more Bagwell designs, which have a strong collector following today.
A fiery and opinionated personality, Bill Bagwell pulled no punches and held strong to his convictions. This caused some rifts through the course of his career and has certainly denied him more recognition for his contributions to our community, but I don’t think that Bill cared. He was his own man, and all will agree that he was a skilled and dedicated bladesmith who made a hell of a fighting bowie and influenced a great many knifemakers and knife-fighting practitioners.
May he rest in peace.
Photos (of Bill at the forge) courtesy Sidra Bagwell.
gunner500 photographed his Bagwell Damascus Bowie: