Ontario-Bagwell Bowie -- WOW!!!

Jan 21, 1999
Folks -- I just bought the 1999 Petersen's COMBAT KNIVES magazine. The cover story about the four new Bill Bagwell designed and Ontario Knife made figther Bowies. James Keating was quoted as speaking highly of these bowies.

The bowies look awesome! Unfortunately, no suggested prices were mentioned. Does anybody own one of these bowies?
I believe knifecenter and stellarknives have got them in.

Can anyone tell me the steel used for this series? Is it staineless or high carbon?

[This message has been edited by tallwingedgoat (edited 11 April 1999).]
I think some type of 440. There is a whole thread on this subject here. You just have to search for it.
Steel in the Ontario Bagwells is a proprietary stainless. I've seen and handled all models and they compare very favorably to Bill's custom knives Very quick and live in hand. I have two Bagwells, one a Hell's Belle, and have ordered one of the Ontario Bagwells if that's any recommendation. Sheath system has belt stud for IWB carry and is well executed. Price for Hell's Belle is $275, the Gambler $175 and fortress and Stealth some where in $230 range.

What's the difference between the Hells Belle and the Gambler, besides length??????
Main difference between the Hell's Belle and Gambler is that the Belle is one. The Hell's Belle is a fighting knife in the purest form. No other knife can touch a Hell's Belle when it comes to fighting if you understand the techniques used when toting a Bowie was considered normal behavior. There is nothing in/on this knife without reason. The length (11" blade) gives you speed,leverage, and reach. The"devil's horns" guard and Spanish notch allow you to catch, disarm, or break an opponents blade. The coffin handle tapering down down to a thin circumference lets you set and keep the blade in motion while delivering it from unsuspecting places. The escutcheon plate on the handle tells by feel how the blade is oriented and the pins help index the hand. The sharpened false edge used in conjuction with the techniques that have been absent for 150 years, delivers a devastating, unseeable, and unstoppable blow.
There are reasons the Bowie was considered such a fearsome weapon in the hands of someone who knew how to use one. The Hell's Belle is the Bowie knife at its zenith.

I've had the privelege of watching the Hell's Belle evolve from Bill's first forged prototype to it's present form and now the Ontario Belle. I spent hours over the four days of the SHOT Show talking with Bill and fondling the Ontario Belles. I've trained with him, and in fact, met him at one of James Keating's seminars. That's where and when I had my eyes opened. There are techniques that give you absolute life saving advantages that few people understand. James Keating has researched and revived these techniques, and Bill Bagwell has built the ultimate vehicle to deliver them. If you are serious about fighting/defending with a knife, you need to know these techniques. On several occasions I have seen people with no other martial arts training other than these techniques, defeat repeatedly, someone with 10-15 years martial arts experience, who is both younger and in better physical condition. Heresy? No, I said I had my eyes opened. This stuff is in a class of it's own. Check it out for yourself. (You can get in touch with Keating at www.combattech.com) If you ever had to fight a knowledgeable practitioner wielding a Hell's Belle and you were using any knife other than a Belle, you would be Surely Out of Luck. If I couldn't have my Bagwell Belle, the next knife I'd choose would be the Ontario Hell's Belle. Because it is one. There is that much advantage.


I must admit a lust for the Hell's Belle that began the first time I saw a picture of one in TK mag. I fought the overwelming desire to buy one by telling myself I couldn't pend that kind of $$$ on a pure fighter. Now this Ontario version comes out. I'm pissed.
Now what am I gonna do? (Let's see...where is that emergencies only credit card?)


Mike Melone

"One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them." --Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1796

Here's a pic of the Ontario Bagwell Gambler from KCI

According to the article written by James Keating, the Ontario bowies are made of Q13 proprietary steel. Is this 1095 in disguise?

[This message has been edited by Titan (edited 11 April 1999).]
I thought someone had mentioned in the Bowie thread that they were a modified 440C. So what is it, stainless or Carbon steel?

Carbon steel would make sense due to that being the typical steel Ontario uses. Does anybody really know? I really hate it when I hear proprietary.
My _guess_ is that the QS in QS13 stands for Queen Steel. Unfortunatley, considering that we're talking about a pair of companies that produces scalpels to swords, and everything from "Big Chief" brand to Schatt & Morgan collectables that tells me nothing. They may have used Quackenbush Stew for all I know. Anyway, I just emailed OKC sales with a query and we'll see what fetches back.

I really wish more mfrs understood that an increasingly knowledgeable customer base is going to demand more and more technical info. prior to purchase. Even with proprietary alloys, listing the carbon content shouldn't be something one has to inquire about.

mps -

This keeping in the dark stuff, a la Carbon V, drives me nuts. Just give me the main alloying components, ie. Carbon, chrome, if nothing else.

It's most likely a batch of a regular steel, with some minor ingredients of another product to make it a little tougher or a little more edge holding. And if they are not giving out the spec.'s then chances are that this steel may change when batches become unavailable. Since everyone is in the dark about it, they can go to any steel and no one would know.

I hope they do give an answer.
440C is a stainless steel with quite high carbon content, 0.95-1.2 %. Often used by European makers, like in Boker's Applegate-Fairbarn Combat knife. Ossi
Ossi, we all know about 440C and it's very good qualities. The issue is, as to what we have in these knives. If you know one way or the other, let us know, because we are in the dark about this.
Well, I just got off the phone with the Ontario people, who were very nice. The answer is, that it is a slightly modified 440C.

By the way, what are Bill Bagwell's custom bowies being made out of?
Cobalt, you beat me to it. Gotta love this internet thingee though. OKC emailed me while I was still surfing this forum and gave me the exact same response. QS13 is a proprietary blend of "slightly modified 440C".

Now what does that tell us?
Not much. Why? Well, you could slightly modify 440C by taking away a couple of carbon points and have 440A. Or you could "slightly modify it by adding the whole alphabet soup of other tangential ingredients and wind up with AUS8A. Or you could do like somebody I know of, and add minute bits of nickel to 440A and wind up with something that performs a heck of a lot like standard 440C.

So the real q becomes do I trust Ontario/Queen to have made a good enough choice to risk $160-$175 on a Gambler? (Interesting name when looked at in that light.) Hmmm, that's not too far from custom territory, but if it's really a good enough blend it'd be worth it. If it's just another variant, then it really ought to sell on the nearer side of $100. This is the kind of thing that the better magazines could really address if only they'd do serious side by side comparisons and print up results, warts and all. I'd love to see a serious combatives comparison between the Ontario Bagwell Bowies, some of Newt Livesay's knives and say, a pair of Randalls in O1 and 440C.

The Bagwell line are pure fighters not camp utility knives. Big difference in what type of steel is used for the type of use its mean't for.I don't think you would be doing mundane cutting chores with the bagwell.
See June 99 Blade magazine page 124, center column, third paragraph:

"I've been quoted as saying no stainless had the combat qualities that would resist shock and stress. This steel will."
Bill Bagwell
mps, my conversation with the rep. basically came out that it was 440C. In fact I asked; "So the chrome and carbon content is the same as 440C, with only some minor ingredients added". His answer to that was, "Yes". So it would seem that we are looking at a 440C, whith something added if really anything at all.
Hi All,

This subject has been discussed in details in my post , it is only due to the fact that the SEARCH option doesn't work so I can't refer you guys to the exact link.

I own the Ontario-Bagwell Hell's Belle and it is indeed a slightly modified 440C. It is beautiful to the eye and the quality put into it amazed me at first as someone who is used to Ontario's Spec-plus line of cheap fixed blades. I highly recommend it and again, when the search option comes from the dead look for a post with "AG" or "Hell's Belle"

take care
Let's take on some things as if they are at face value:

Assume OKC is using mostly unadulterated 440C:

1. Why not advertise it that way, since surely the public's reception of such a long trusted favorite would greatly outweigh the benefits of making it sound exotic.

Assume Bagwell's quoted statement at face value:

2. He's long been suspect of various stainless materials but endorses this one.

Guys, there's probably more pure scientific examination of 440C type stainless out there over the past 20 or 30 years than all other knife making stainless steels combined.

I haven't formed any opinon on this yet. I have no beef whatsoever with 440C. In fact, I like it. But something here just isn't jibing for me.