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Galleries of beautiful bowie knives
November 24, 2012 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Each year Bladeforums members vote for the best bowie knife. The result is a gallery of absolutely beautiful and innovative custom bowies by master craftsmen.
posted by Foci for Analysis (47 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those really are beautiful works of art.
posted by HuronBob at 1:52 PM on November 24, 2012


*drools*
posted by restless_nomad at 1:56 PM on November 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It looks like Damascus steel is now just a pattern you print on a laser, and then etch into something, instead of having nature take it's course.

Otherwise, those are some very cool knives.
posted by MikeWarot at 1:57 PM on November 24, 2012


It would be great to own something as nice as that, but I wouldn't want to cut just anything with it. I might need an ugly knife, too.
posted by Segundus at 1:58 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm conflicted because the ones without the fake Damascus folding (is that just pattern welding?) look like kitchen knives with fancy handles, and while the ones with the patterns are neato, they're a little too... something. idk. Ongepotchket.
posted by elizardbits at 2:02 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


man those are some incredible knives.
posted by facetious at 2:09 PM on November 24, 2012


Purty.

But can they cut through a hanging slab of beef?
posted by Egg Shen at 2:13 PM on November 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The cutting edge of fashion
posted by Chipmazing at 2:21 PM on November 24, 2012


I have a hard time agreeing that any of these are the "best Bowie knives," on the basis that if I had one I would never want to actually use it for fear of marring the finish or something. A knife is a functional thing. To me these are sort of "Bowie-knife-shaped-objects", the sort of knife equivalent of a bodybuilder's muscles -- impressive, but more for show than anything else.
posted by Scientist at 2:21 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


If a guy ever carves me up in a fight over water rights, I hope it is with one of these.
posted by thelonius at 2:28 PM on November 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


These are beautiful. Thanks for posting this.
posted by jammy at 2:37 PM on November 24, 2012


I'm gonna have to wait for the bar killin' round to choose.
posted by cmoj at 2:39 PM on November 24, 2012


These are lovely, and this link led me to read about Bowie knives and their origin.

Bowie seemed like a pretty good sport about everything though: "Col. Crain, I do not think, under the circumstances, you ought to have shot me." I'm not sure I would have been as gracious or used such language.
posted by el io at 2:44 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like how one of the descriptions uses the phrase "If you could only carry one knife...", as if it's obvious that only an idiot would do that, while real men carry half a dozen.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:45 PM on November 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


These are showin' knives. If you want fightin' knives take a look at this page of rusty Wusthofs with duct-taped handles.
posted by griphus at 2:51 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's definitely a chef's-knife shape to some of these. But man, this one, or the ones with this shape, or this (and that sheath - man, half of my fondness for knives is for the accompanying leatherwork) or this pattern, which I've never seen before and is just fucking gorgeous.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:58 PM on November 24, 2012


Most of them just look gaudy to me, though there are a few with nice lines.
posted by Forktine at 3:00 PM on November 24, 2012


I like how one of the descriptions uses the phrase "If you could only carry one knife...", as if it's obvious that only an idiot would do that, while real men carry half a dozen.

I assume this is some kind of propaganda from the octopus lobby because why on earth would you ever need to carry more knives than you have hands to use?
posted by elizardbits at 3:08 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


But that's still two, not one!
posted by OmieWise at 3:17 PM on November 24, 2012


This is relevant to my--oh, wait.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:18 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting stuff, although the point of Damascus steel is "really sharp" not "looks cool", but whatever. The thing that started me wondering was this quote: "The design goals of combining BIG power AND speed in a compact, portable fighting knife were admirably achieved here."

Maybe I'm coloured by the fact that I'm looking for a new computer in my other tab. But how, exactly, do you test the speed or power of a fighting knife? Aren't these entirely user-driven? Is there some sort of standard KnifeMark 2012 where you stab people under specifically controlled conditions? And who gets into so many knife fights that they can tell the difference?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 3:20 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Guh...and then my brain went out for a bit. So pretty. Thanks for this post!
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:31 PM on November 24, 2012



Funny thing about Bowie knives is that they are illegal to have in many places - mainly to prevent dueling according to wikipedia.

Maybe it's the boy scout in me, but, there is something reassuring about having a good knife close at hand. I can make a fire, perform surgery, or fight off a bear with a good knife.*

Restless_Nomad is correct, the leatherwork is almost the best part.

funny story - I actually got stabbed once. Some guy at a house party went ballistic for some reason and stuck a kitchen knife 5 inches into my thigh. I beat the living piss out him before the cops arrived and took me to the hospital. If I ever make it to a meet up, I'll show you the scar. Didn't hurt much, though, surprisingly.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:32 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


These are showin' knives. If you want fightin' knives take a look at this page of rusty Wusthofs with duct-taped handles.

One of the knives in one of the links is actually described as a great fighting knife, and I could only think, how the hell would you know? You get in a knife fight with that pearl handled thingum?
posted by kenko at 3:46 PM on November 24, 2012


But that's still two, not one!

Yes, exactly.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:49 PM on November 24, 2012


Some of these were quite beautiful, but I (naively) thought the damascus was actual, you know, beaten steel. Drat.

The descriptions sounded like wank material for internet tough guys, sadly. But the craftsmanship is genuinely awesome.
posted by maxwelton at 3:55 PM on November 24, 2012


I'm a bit amazed at some of the images; some of the knives look like they're CG renders rather than real-life, tangible, will-cut-you objects. I guess that's part of the craftsmanship...
posted by cornmander at 3:55 PM on November 24, 2012


I spend enough time at a keyboard that I can pretty quickly make a decent judgement of a keyboard's usability. I think if you spend enough time in knife fights you may just be able to quickly judge the knife's suitability in fight.

Somehow I doubt the likelihood that any of these people writing the reviews have been in many knife fights though.

In my experience, the purpose of these kind of show knives is that one shows them off to other men as a way of displaying one's manliness. Talking about them in terms of their suitability for fighting is part of that masculine mystique.
posted by idiopath at 5:04 PM on November 24, 2012


I assume this is some kind of propaganda from the octopus lobby because why on earth would you ever need to carry more knives than you have hands to use?

To always have one ready, regardless of where your hands are and whether you've dropped one or not. I've heard of people attaching around a half dozen to themselves on ankles, hips, shoulders, back, etc. Always seemed like unhealthy behavior to me

how the hell would you know?

As far as I am aware, most anything with a blade is made for a specific purpose, just like any other tool. Most kitchen knives are shaped in a specific way in how they are supposed to cut, and just like swords, fighting knives are generally shaped to be used in a certain way. Granted anything pointy with a sharp edge will do, but if you look at something like a stiletto you can see how it has a very specific purpose of stabbing and not much else. That also means a very specific way of fighting with the knife. Some knives are great as a utilitarian tool like for hunting, and others have more specific purpose.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:24 PM on November 24, 2012


One of the knives in one of the links is actually described as a great fighting knife, and I could only think, how the hell would you know? You get in a knife fight with that pearl handled thingum?

you could always practice with your buddies
posted by kagredon at 5:24 PM on November 24, 2012


Well DUH. Of course you get into a lot of knife fights since all the other knife nerds see you with these uberknives and then get all MY PRECIOUSSS.
posted by benzenedream at 5:37 PM on November 24, 2012


Ah, yes, that thread. Wasn't there also a pile-on meta? I believe it was basically "You want to carry a knife?" *eyes wide monicle popping stare* " How barbaric!"
posted by P.o.B. at 5:40 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, pretty pretty pretty! Why did you post this? Why did you tell me about these gorgeous knives?
posted by rtha at 6:33 PM on November 24, 2012


I am not sure that this is actually a bowie knife.
posted by Scientist at 6:40 PM on November 24, 2012


This might be a place to ask: does anyone here have a link to more practical/utilitarian knives?

I mean, I carry a Victorinox "Classic" because a 35mm knife blade is occasionally useful - so I can be persuaded that there's a case to be made for carrying a Real Knife.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:46 PM on November 24, 2012


It's a Bowie letter opener.
posted by Pudhoho at 6:46 PM on November 24, 2012


Wow, that's the sort of knife you'd stab a Pope with.
posted by griphus at 6:51 PM on November 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


But can they cut through a hanging slab of beef?

Awesome demonstration. Thanks for the go-to when I need to hack the legs off a piano or butcher cattle on the spot. I was especially entertained when the guy carved up that jug of urine.
posted by Pudhoho at 6:57 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


this thread's starting to tick me off. i thought one of the rules of common courtesy around here was that if you don't watch football, you don't visit football threads and tell everybody how stupid football is and how it's just for pretend tough-guys and weekend jocks, etc..

many, many, many people like knives, carry knives, collect knives, display knives, and have at least some idea of how to use knives. if you're not one of them, why do you care?
posted by facetious at 7:44 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


if you're not one of them, why do you care?

I love knives and own probably too many. I found most of the featured knives to be gaudy and silly. Others found them beautiful; there was a range of opinions expressed, as would happen with football, one presumes.
posted by Forktine at 7:54 PM on November 24, 2012


I don't really count as a hardcore fan/expert on knives, but I know enough that sharpness != prettyness != durability.

For display, you basically just want a really nice pattern (fake Damascus? Damn, that hurts - it really does).

For filleting a fish, you want sharp and don't care much about disposable. Ceramics work ideally in that situation - They start amazingly sharp, they stay sharp, but if you drop it on the floor, time to buy a new one.

For post-apocalyptic survivalism, you want durable followed by sharp, and could care less what it looks like.

/ Me, I'll take a ranged weapon for post-apocalyptic situations any day. But gotta love a pretty knife!
posted by pla at 8:15 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


My father has taken up sword smithing. He's built his own forge (3, actually), set up an electro-plating bath, and bought a scrimshaw machine for my stepmother to do the handles. He gets in billets of demascus steel, and it is not lazer etched. It is as far as I can tell the real deal. I think machines do the folding, but other than that it is authentic. He makes knives similar to that in the post, but they are meant to be used.

I got one of his folding knives as an Xmas present. He made the blade out of, I want to say A1 or O1 tool steel. Takes about 3 times longer to sharpen on a ceramic whetstone than my Kershaw, but you can cut cabling with it and shave afterwards.
posted by The Power Nap at 10:42 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Where did you read that this is fake Damascus?

I can not tell from the pictures, and I have no opinion if it is real or fake, but I have seen some really good real folded steel in knives like these.

I live in San Francisco, where carrying almost any knife is illegal, but I still buy beautiful carrying knives once in a while. I'd love to own almost anything on this page, even if these knives are way too macho for me.

Right now I carry a vintage Italian knife. It is a little folder, greenish bufallo horn handles, thin flexible 2 inch long razor blade honed to whittle hair. It had the tip ground down to a square, from when pointy pocket knives became illegal in Italy, and it has stamped on the blade permesso dalla legge regol.p./s.n. 62/81.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 10:49 PM on November 24, 2012


I'm I missing something about the authenticity of the Damascus? While someone may have snuck in a laser-etched blade, I believe those are all the real deal.

Armory as art- a very long tradition going back as far as civilization. The original wootz Damascus was medieval and that metal formed a pattern of crystalization- a lost art because the people who made it didn't know why it did what it did. Only more recently did metallurgists figure out that it was due to the trace amounts of vanadium and other elements in the metal mined in India causing the crystalization patterns.

The blades pictured here were made by folding two different steel alloys together during the forging of the blade, more closely resembling Japanese bladesmithing. That pattern comes out with age or by dipping in an etching solution.
posted by INFOHAZARD at 11:04 PM on November 24, 2012


Today my partner said he wanted two of these knives for Christmas. Now I know to blame this thread.
posted by kendrak at 11:24 PM on November 24, 2012


These are lovely, and this link led me to read about Bowie knives and their origin.

I'm unsurprised to learn that Bowie knives were strongly inspired by Spanish navajas. Us Spaniards have a long tradition of cutting each other up in anger, a tradition now mercifully on the wane, but which reached its summit just a few years before Bowie's Sandbar Fight, when Napoleon's generals found out, to their great consternation, that a knife-wielding Spanish rabble could turn even a cavalry charge into (literally) mincemeat.
posted by Skeptic at 3:35 AM on November 25, 2012


It is fake Damascus because the original technique to make Damascus steel was lost to artisans in the 1700s.
posted by elizardbits at 8:49 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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