Ontario/Bagwell Hells Belle


Feb 4, 1999
Anyone have one yet? what do you think of it?

Cry "Havoc" and let slip the dogs of war. Wm Shakespeare
If it helps, I have the Fortress.
Initial impressions:
1. The false edge is just that. I needed to sharpen it myself (thank GOD for Mr. Belt Sander!).
2.The handle had areas that were not polished. Thank GOD for Mr. Buffer!
3. The Rc hardness of the blade will not win any edge holding contests.
Now the good news:
1. What you lose in edge holding ability is made up by a substantial gain in shock resistance.
2.The balance of the blade is awesome! The knife comes alive in your hands when you pick it up. It fairly screams "Swing me! Parry and Thrust with me! Let's Rock and Roll!!
3. The Blade guard and Spanish notch are pure, brutal function. The possibilities for traps and blocks and offensive moves even, make this a fighting knife to be reckoned with. Seriously.
If I had to defend myself with a knife(GOD forbid!!) I should be so lucky as to have this piece with me to do it with. Unfortunatly here in central Fla. the every day carry of Bowies is mucho restricted by those in power who think they know how to run our lives better than you or I. Oh well, back to task.
Cosmetics aside though, this is a very formidable Battle Bowie IMHO. You should be prepared to look several speciman's of this species over to get the one with the sharpest back edge in order to save yourself some work. Good Luck and I pray that this helps!

[This message has been edited by misque (edited 17 July 1999).]
I also have a fortress. Echo the above comments. The factory willsharpen the false edge at no charge if you send it in. My fortress is satin finish. Great alive feel in the hand. Only other bowie I have is a cold steel. It is good for utility, but does not have that great balance and feel. Hope this helps.

What? Another knife? Don't you have enough of those things already?
How many does one person need?

I wnet to a gun and knife show yesterday. It was my first chance to handle a Ontario Bagwell. The only one the dealer had left was the smaller Gambler but I was very impressed by workmanship and feel in the hand. But right next to it was the Ontario spec plus full size version. Now I know what you guys are going to say but since it is only 1/4 of the price of the Helles Belle I think it is worth looking into. Anybody have one? Any and all opinions appreciated.

who dares, wins

The Ontario Spec-Plus Frontiersman has a blade profile very much like their Bagwell models, but the generic Spec-Plus handle is completely different from the Bagwell design, and the blade stock is much thinner and lighter, so it would not behave like a Bagwell design in an edged weapons contest. It's probably a better choice than the Bagwell for a camp or yard work knife.

I second that emotion Mr. Mattis!
I also have the Frontiersman and although the blade profile is similar they are two different animals.

[This message has been edited by misque (edited 19 July 1999).]
First Ontario Bagwells had some problems with the clip profile and sharpness, but this has been corrected. Versions Ontario had at Blade Show were on the money in both departments. Awesome fighter and very concealable and easyto carry with the belt stud sheath.

You slide the sheath between your belt and your pants for open carry, or down your inside your pants for discrete carry (Legal note - don't do that in California or a bunch of other jurisdictions). The belt stud hangs up on top of the belt and keeps the sheath from sliding all the way through and down to the ground.

AKTI Member # SA00001
Does anyone know where the Ontario Bagwells are made?

Maybe I'm just suspicious, but I've heard "440 surgical stainless steel with pakkawood handle" before. And they are all found on the Pakistani bowies sold on the Home Shopping Channel.

Just recieved a Fortress on a trade, I love it. It's large and in charge. But I dont really care for the sheath, anybody know a good sheath maker(leather)?

Cry "Havoc" and let slip the dogs of war. Wm Shakespeare
If you are looking for a leather sheath, I would highly recommend Gary Graley. He does fantastic work. You can mail him at


I have the "Stealth" model in this line. I agree with the above comments about the fighting profile. It seemed contradictory to market a tactical "stealth" version of this knife with all of the cheap, shiny studs, and highly reflective silver nameplate on the grip. I removed all of the glitzy junk on the grip, but it left small nail holes in the hardwood. I did not pay very much for mine, so I am hoping in the future to get someone to replace the grip with a better material. I like the feel and design of the grip-shape, but for this model I would have preferred the same material used for the SOG Pentagon (Kytel or Kraton, I forget). Although I would keep the classic coffin-shaped grip design.
This is not a $250.00 knife by any stretch of the imagination.

[This message has been edited by James Sass (edited 28 August 1999).]
I think they call the proprietary steel in this family of knives Q13.
Can anyone share some knowledge about the composition?

Luke 22:36, John 18:6-11
I have been waiting for a little while for my Bagwell made Hell's Belle, and having discussed th Ontario model with Bill himself, I do believe I can add a bit of insught here.

The grip is not Kraton b/c a Kraton handle will impede a proper back cut (made with the false edge)as the kraton sticks rather than "snaps" in the hand. The swedge is not razor sharp as it is designed to do other things; a back cut if properly done will take of bits of anatomy even without a razor edge. It acts sort of like an axe blade in this respect.

The handle plate is for determining where the edge is in the dark, shiny or not shiny has no actual relevance per the design as Bill makes this as a concealed carry piece. The sheath is designed to hide inside clothes and therefore any shiny rivets or snaps or whatever wold not be seen in the larger scheme of things.

Rockwell I cannot attest to nor as to finish on the factory versions, but this is a special purpose knife to be sure. Like all edged weapons, it is not made for much else and even Bagwell will tell you this. If I want a camp knife, I will have Bob Schrapp make me a good heavy leather sheath for Trail Master with a pouch or a DMT butterfly sharpener or an EZ LAP rod along the front, but to each his own. I have talked with another (Bram Frank) who was having a kydex break-out rig made for his Hell's Belle so he could carry it in shoulder rig. James Piorek may be the man for you to have do this sort of shoulder harness.

Have a better day.


As Parker stated, the escutchen plate lets you know which way blade is oriented by feel. The studs help to index your hand with grip variations. There is nothing in the design without reasons - very well thought out reasons. The Hell's Belle belt stud sheath is meant for concealed carry and until you've tried it, you won't believe how well it conceals comfortably. HOT TIP - back two edges of Ontario coffin handle should be flattened a touch. This is Bagwell's actual configuration and makes the handle more user friendly, particularly when thrusting. My Stealth now matches the feel a my Bagwell Belle and I'm doing this modification to an Ontario Hell's Belle for one of the guys that just completed James Keating's Bowie Instuctor's Seminar. Small mod, big difference.


[This message has been edited by Mike Sastre (edited 29 August 1999).]