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The Wait Is Over. From this thread, orders for the 2023 BladeForums Traditional Knife are open & here's your handy order button. OPEN TO ALL MEMBERS $200 ea, one per household, must have been a member prior to 3/2023
The Randall Model 14 Attack should fit the bill exactly. Seven and one half inch Bowie style blade with an unsharpened swedge. Comes in O-1 with full tang for about $250, a little less for cut down tang.
I'll 2nd Sid's advice. Save up a little more and check out the Black Cloud fighting bowies. The man understands edge geometry, and his fighting bowies are incredible in the hand. He's a custom maker, so if there are features you don't like -- say, the goofy-looking forward-facing guards on the latest "generation" -- you can ask him to change them.
In the less expensive range, Cobalt's recommendation of the Bush Ranger is a great one. Be sure to handle one!
Cobalt: I read in A.G.'s catalog that Marble uses 5160 steel for their bowies, and 52100 for smaller knives like woodcraft etc. It doesn't look like a "fighting" bowie to me, though. Kinda bulky. Perhaps it's more suitable as camp knives.
I agree with people on Back Cloud. I am also ordering a Black Cloud FB4 in A-2 from Ernie. I don't much like big knives in ATS-34.
Does anyone have comment on the Bill Bagwell's Hell Bells and Ontario's replica?
I saw Ontario ad in the latest Blade magazine. Have no idea about the price (and what the heck is proprietary steel QS13).
I know I can't compare Ontario with Busse or BC, but, well, if it's not so expensive ...
The real Hell Bells price is well above the range and 2-years waiting period, as stated in Bagwell's website. Anyway, you might want to browse the site since it gives some interesting info on fighting bowies.
I think sooner or later I'm gonna get James Keating videos about this subject, too.
I will definitely recommend the new Ontario-Bagwell Hell's Belle Replica. It has a great design and balance and the blade steel is basically a modified 440C, price should be around 220$ retail so expect to pay even less.
Why all the concern about the steel? A fighting bowie will be pretty light in the hand, so won't be much of a chopper. If this was a utility bowie or survival bowie or whatever, I'd understand the concern about using a good tough steel. But a fighter isn't designed for hard work, so I'm willing to put up with lesser steel in it. 'course, it's nice to have good tough steel "just because", but in a fighting bowie, balance, ergonomics, and edge geometry are everything, I feel steel is secondary.
If I remember right, the Helle's Belles from Ontario are some kind of 440-C-modified, or at least that what another poster here said. I don't think that would stop me from getting one, if I felt everything else about the knife worked for me.
I'd let the steel be the tiebreaker between two knives I couldn't decide between.
Were can I see a picture of the hells belle knife from Ontario-Bagwell?
Also, Joe, I understand about weight and balance, but it's nice to know that a knife is guaranteed against damage. Shows that the maker believes in his knives. Doesn't Black Cloud offer such a guarantee?