Vintage Western Bowie


The knife as it looks at the moment.
Reground the already convex blade but now to a zero edge of about 30 degrees inclusive & contoured the handle.
Still have to work on the swedge & guard and restitch the sheath.



Since the guard was a bit loose i immobilized it with two narrow shards of brass sheet (one on each side), which were lightly tapped all the way to the tang using a small hammer & small section of a snap-off blade which i ground blunt & square.
The larger piece of brass sheet in the pictures is what was left after i used a pair of scissors to cut the two shards from, each one about a millimeter wide.
Also rounded the edges on the brass guard and polished it a bit.

The 1095 Cro-Van blade steel also holds up well; after taking down several thin trees / thick saplings (think upper arm size) the edge can still shave the hair from my leg.
And this is with a 400 grit wet & dry SiC finish deburred with 1.0 micron diamond compound on MDF.


Yesterday i continued playing / testing / finetuning the knife somewhere in the Veluwe nature reserve.
About a week ago i thinned the blade just a bit more and the new apex now fits neatly in the 25 degrees slot of my Tormek WM200, and so far the knife seems to be able to handle that angle without any problem when chopping various kinds of mainly green wood.
No rippling and no catastrophic edge failures.
The only visible damage i could see afterwards when i got home was caused by the tiny sand particles which are omnipresent in and on practically all the wood in the reserve, and which cause those telltale minute dents in the apex.
Sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less, depending on how close the chopped wood was located near the sand dunes.

But after about 10-15 minutes of stropping on a piece of MDF coated with 1.0 micron diamond compound & checking with my loupe all damage was gone and the apex was hairwhittling sharp again.
I intend to find out how often i can get away with just stropping the edge in this manner before i need to sharpen it again, which i do on a used sheet of 400 grit wet & dry on top of a big piece of fiber reinforced & semi-hard rubber conveyor belt.
On the wet & dry paper i use WD40 spray, which makes the silicon carbide grit cut more effectively, it keeps the swarf floating in suspension better than water, and it prohibits flash rust on the carbon steel.

Iirc the handle received 5 coats of IKEA cutting board oil, and after a long period of drying 1 more coat of Granger's wax to seal the wood.
Due to the contouring the handle now offers 3 hand positions:
- Exactly in the middle for a neutral grip (for general cutting)
- Against the integral pommel for maximum chopping power (for thick branches & smaller trees)
- Up front held loosely with your pointing finger in the cut-out for tip speed / snap cuts (for brambles, twigs, and thinner branches)

So far i have absolutely nothing to complain about this more than 50 year old knife, and it has already proven itself as an excellent chopper made in very well hardened steel.


Found a twin brother of my own knife, also from the first generation (around 1965-1966) but in better overall condition.
The blade has seen less sharpenings over the years, only the apex was a bit blunt & damaged due to the use of a pull through device.
The guard has no play and the wooden grip panels also look good and have no gaps.
Reground the blade by hand to a full convex zero edge using 2 new sheets of 400 grit wet & dry and WD40 as a lubricant, then removed the small burr with 1.0 micron diamond compound on MDF.
No machine was used for this regrind.
The new apex fits in the 25 degrees inclusive slot of my Tormek WM200, just as the other one.
Currently busy cleaning up the swedge a bit with a couple of DMT Diafolds.
The handle & guard on this one will remain unmodified, for the new owner to decide upon.

The two knives together:



A little belated follow-up story:

Upon closer inspection it turned out that this second Bowie had a number scratched in the brass guard, very small and only readable through a magnifying glass.
That number was a social security number or SSN, which i managed to trace back to the man who put it there.
The knife once belonged to James Michael Barnett, born: 08/23/1947, died: 11/12/2003, of 4301 Greenback Road; Utica, Kentucky.

Then a friend of mine who still uses Facebook managed to find and even contact his widow, and asked her if she would like to have the knife sent back to her.
While she declined that offer, she told my friend that she remembered the big Bowie as the knife Michael carried and used while stationed in Vietnam, and also after he returned to the US.
Michael enjoyed woodworking and the outdoors, through gardening and working in his yard.
His knife now has a prominent place in a display cabinet in the Netherlands.



Premium Mitglied
Hi kwakster,
what an amazing history! That Bowie Knife is a wonerful piece! Thank You for showing!


Premium Mitglied
Schickes Bowie, das ebenfalls in dem 1970er Western "Barquero" mit Lee Van Cleef in der Titelrolle auftaucht. Dessen Spezi "Mountain Phil" (Forrest Tucker) verwendet das Bowie artgerecht ab 26:35.

Ein schönes Wochenende


Premium Mitglied
... und gerade erst wieder genossen: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) heißt der herrliche Western, in dem Paul Newman den "Knife Fight" glorreich beendet, bevor er überhaupt erst losgeht. Sein Gegner führt dabei (erfolglos) ein Western Bowie, wenn ich mich nicht täusche.