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I am thinking about buying a ontario made Hells Belle. Saw a real one this weekend at a gun show and fell in lust with it ( But not for the $850.00 price asked) Just need it for cowboy action shooting and because I want it. Anyone seen these knifes?
I've handled the Ontario "Gambler" model (the shortest one pictured above). Balance was *awesome*, felt great in the hand, balance was superb. Like a Mad Dog, that full flat grind makes the blade FAR lighter than anything that big has any right to be.
Especially for the money these are *great* "fast blade" fighters.
These are great knives. Just keep in mind that they are true fighters, by which I mean that they are tempered on the soft side to increase shock resistance(low 50's on the Rc scale). They are not going to win any edge holding contests.
I own the Fortress model and it is VERY alive in the hand, the coffin handle feels really good in the hand and once you pick the knife up, be ready because it fairly screams "USE ME"!
If you decide you want one, be ready to look over a few specimans because the back edge on some of them is almost a true "false" edge. This will save you some sharpening time if you want to bring that back edge up to speed.
If it's stupid but works, then it isn't stupid.
[This message has been edited by misque (edited 09 September 1999).]
One of the traits of a Bill Bagwell knife is the way it feels and moves in the hand. The Ontario Bagwells all come as close to this feel as you can get in a production knife. Tremendous amount of "bang for the buck". Very quick and light in your hand.I have both a forged Bagwell Hell's Belle and an Ontario Bagwell Stealth and the Stealth feels almost as good as the Belle. Ontario did a heck of a job in producing this collaboration. Well done!
If you want a Belle but don't yet want to put out $200+, may I suggest the Frontiersman. It is a Spec Plus 3/16 blade, not like the Belle's 1/4 blade, and goes for $40+. 1095, same blade length, and mine is sharp! I've complained about Ontario's edge profiles before, but every Spec-Plus I picked up at the OKC gun show was properly edged, and at the minimum would slice paper, and my thumb said it would do hair too.
I see old man Bagwell's influence in this! Doing 1" newspaper rolls right out of the box is a lot of fun. -Brian
Frontiersman IS a Bagwell influenced blade and definitely a cost effective way to go. A useful modification which will make the Ontario Bagwells handle feel like a Bagwell handle is to flatten out the two sharp edges at the back of the coffin shape. This small modification makes a big difference in feel, particularly when thrusting hard.
Will you be going to Southern Steel Oct.30-31? Email me.
These are really fine knives, but I don't share the religious ferver for them that others display. I have the "Stealth" and acquired it second-hand for $75.00. I do like the knife a lot, but I'm glad I did not pay more for it. I really think the retail tag on this line is way out in left field. Especially when you consider the knives you can get for the same price or less.
What I don't like about the "stealth" is the reflective studs and nameplate, that contradict the whole purpose of a black blade. Someone responded to a previous post that the reflective stuff on the handle did not matter since it was intended to be a "concealed carry" knife. Then why bother with a non-reflective blade in the first place? I also would never carry a knife this large under my arm or down my back. Anyone who has ever fallen hard on an awkwardly-carried weapon will know why.
I realize the name-plate is to orient the blade in the hand sight-unseen, but I would much rather have something non-reflective. The nails are likely to loosen with any intensive use. Mine were loose when I got the knife.
The feel of this knife is very dynamic. It is a fast, slick design. It is lighter than most other bowies I have had, and is more for slashing and thrusting than the abanico or hacking impact effect of more front-heavy designs.
These also some of the best looking knives on the market. It is visually a work of art. I'm sure the western style Belles will look good at your old-west period function. I have always found it amusing that many of the best-made knives are the least aesthetically pleasing (re: Cold Steel, the Glock of Knives).
I have to disagree with Jim about the balance of the Ontario Gambler. Jim is just too big and strong, and he has been swinging the Outsider around too much.
I found the Gambler to be significantly blade heavy with the balance point well out in front of the guard. The best fighting bowies balance right at the guard, or only slightly to one side or the other in accord with the owner's preference. A perfectly balanced knife would feel amazingly more nimble than the Gambler did. I have never handled a real Bagwell fighting bowie, but I can't imagine that they are this out of neutral balance. I notice that the handles are bigger on the Helles Belle, so maybe they balance better.
These things don't need to be that soft either. They are ground from .25" steel, and the Gambler had a full width spine right out to where the clip starts. 440C has never been known as a brittle steel that I know of.
They look pretty cool if you are into period reinactment though.
it is a matter of fact that a slight bent on the HELLE'S BELLE is desirable.bagwell himself is bending the blades slightly to the left if you are a right hander or to the left if you are a left hander.
it has to do with a fighting tecniqe used on fighting bowies called "back cut".
some of the ontario BELLE'S even most have this bent on the blades and all of them to the left which brings me to the cunclusion that it is probebly intentional.