Ontario Frontiersman - Bagwell inspired

Feb 28, 1999
I received Ontario SP-18 Frontiersman last week. It is inspired by Bagwell designs Ontario also makes, but this one is much cheaper. It costs $ 40.32 at Discount Knives, and I have not noticed any other Internet knife dealer to offer this Ontario model at all. Since I still have found no real reason to buy $ 100plus knives this is the Bagwell style knife for me (and possibly other economy minded persons).

Blade is 11" long blackened 1095 steel, flat ground, and has a 4" swedge (upper edge). It has a typical 5" long Ontario handle made of rubber (Kraton?). The handle feels good to my hand and is sticky enough for a good grip even when hands hand are wet etc. What is missing of the Bagwell desingns is the metal handguard, there is no such thing in this knife.

Sheath is typical Ontario leather/nylon combination, but in this knife it is swiveled, and that is really needed when sitting with a 16" knife.

The point of balance is not on the forefinger, but in the blade in front of it. I think making a knife with this long blade handle-heavy would mean adding too much to it's total weight, and I can live with this kind of balance. Actually it feels good and "lively" in hand.

The knife's main edge came partly sharp (near the handle), partly dull (near the tip). The swedge has not been sharpened, but can (and in my case will) be sharpened.

Aa a conclusion, I like this knife. It is longer than I am used to, but the swiveled sheath makes carrying more practical. The knife feels good in my hand and the flat grounded blade probably cuts well when sharpened. When I buy a knife I want a knife, not a prybar, and this one looks sturdy enough for my use.

For the price I think this knife is an excellent value for those who like fighter-type blades. Hopefully it also works as a utility knife.

The Ontario Frontiersman has a similar blade outline, but it is made from considerably thinner stock than their Bagwell design knives. Between that and the standard Ontario Kraton grip with an integral double guard, as opposed to a hard forward-tapered "coffin" handle with a metalic guard, the handling characteristics are very different.

Ossi, what a coincidence (with a considerable delay, sorry)! I've been very interested about the SP-18 for a couple of months, but found remarkably little information of it on the net. This may be due to the fact that your informative review PREDATES the "official" introduction of the knife (in Jan 2000 Tactical Knives) by several months. And that, in itself, is a compliment.

You mention Discount Knives. Any more information about availability and ordering (and how about the local Finnish customs; frankly, I thought the false edge of the Frontiersman was already sharpened, like it was stated in the TK review, so I tried desperately to locate an EU-dealer; any info to exchance with respect to this, personally)?

Any more EXPERIENCES with the tall and slim one yet? After all, it's been almost half a year since your initial review. Personally, I've tried most of the things in, e.g., Keating's Crossada video with "clubs" like CS Trailmaster (modified), but I really NEED something livelier. As a matter of fact, I think everyone who's tried something similar, but is not (yet) sure, if the Hell's Belle is the (practically/financially only) way to go, would appreciate your opinions.

James -- [06 June 1999 11:16 AM] "the handling characteristics are very different" (SP-18 vs. the "proper" Bagwell designs in the Ontario line). Could you please elaborate? I'm VERY interested.

A Happy New Year to you all and let's see if an old but a VERY worthy thread can still be revived!



I have not used the Ontario SP-18 Frontiersman much because it's size makes it too cumbersome for casual carry-and-forget-it's-there wear, like when walking in forests or going to reserve military excercices (kertausharjoituksiin). But if I knew I needed a long blade, that would be my choise. It is really fast for it's length.

As I said, the false edge was not sharpened in my knife. It took hours to get it sharpened with stones, but sitting in the sun (last summer) and sharpening knives is not a bad way to spend vacation.

I ordered mine from Discount Knives (www.discountknives.com) when they had received their first shipment of Bagwell-style knives from Ontario. I used on-line order form in DK's homepages and paid with credit card. The Frontiersman arrived by Air Mail to local customs office with some other things I had ordered, and I paid customs fee plus value added tax (totally about 30 percent extra cost).

No problems with the customs, and that's how it shall be, because the Finnish Law of Edged Weapons (and the Act [asetus] based on it) says that import and production of dangerous edged weapons (like daggers, bayonets and stilettos, plus some more types listed in the Act) for COMMERCIAL porposes as well as selling them is prohibited. That means ownership or import for non-commercial use is not prohibited, and I have checked this from the Ministry of Interior. So it does not matter if a knife has a sharpened false edge or not, you have the legal right to own and import one for your own use. If a customs official etc. claims something else show him/her the law text (and in extreme case take the case to administrative court). You can find the law books at the nearest library, and there are only two pages to copy including both the law and the act.

Bagwell-inspired huh?
I think I'll pass.
-Redleg out.

"Blessed is the Lord my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle..." excerpted from Psalms 144.
Thanks for the additional information, Ossi. I agree that there shouldn't be any problems with the customs in importing even "double-edged" knives for non-commercial use, but the passage you referred to in the Law and the Act is, in fact, interpreted in (at least) two ways, one of which allows the officials to (try to) seize all "dangerous edged weapons". A friend who is an established gun-magazine writer even had serious problems with the CS Trailmaster, as the officials claimed it to have a sharpened false edge. That was, of course, ridiculous, but it did happen. For my part, I have often had to explain what "legitimate" use might a particular knife have, and the officials put it bluntly that they can exercise discretion in unclear cases. It's most interesting that you've checked the interpretation from the Ministry of Interior. If you have any document about that verification, it would be invaluable for many fellow-Finns, I'm sure. In any case, I shall copy the two pages from the Code of Laws as soon as possible. Thanks for the tip.

A few questions about the SP-18 still. I'm not familiar with the Spec Plus handles, so excuse a stupid question: is the "integral double guard", as James put it, stiff or soft? (My CS Peacekeeper has, believe it or not, soft "guards".) How about grips: does it allow a comfortable saber grip, where the thumb is behind the upper guard? Any other observations with respect to grip transitions, grip shock in hard impacts, etc.? And about the point of balance: how much "on the blade"? Where the edge starts, or maybe even further forward? And finally, about sharpening the false edge (while agreeing heartily about the worth of such pastime): exactly how you did that? By free hand? What stones? From the pictures I've seen, the swedge seems a bit concave. Did that maybe pose any particular problems? (I have "falsified" the swedges on some big knives, but they were straight, and the CS "Nogales's" just needed some finishing.)

Thanks for your time.

The guards in SP-18 are made of some kind of plastics so they are not "real" guards and cannot be used to stop an opponent's blade, they just stop your hand from sliding to the blade if you hit something hard. How good the handle feels in hand is subjective, but at least I can get good saber grip with it; notice however that my hands are relatively small so I cannot comment how it feels to someone with large hands. The knife is just slightly blade-heavy.

I sharpened it with handheld equipment, first with a normal water stone, and then used a Gerber diamond sharpener (a round sharpener) to get the concave swedge profile sharpened. I know there are better equipments for that, but that is what I had in hand and I had plenty of time.

About the legal issues, I have read about import problems. The guy from the Ministry of Interior (a lawyer) I spoke with said the knife import ban can be interpreted only one way, but that was a side issue since I actually called to ask about the new gun law. I also remember that someone mentioned he had asked and got a paper from the Customs head office (Tullihallitus) about the interpretation, and it clearly stated that the import ban only applies to commercial import, not private. I suggest you contact Tullihallitus to clear things up with the customs officials in your hometown.

If you want to discuss more about issues concerning just us Finns you can e-mail me ovuorila@urova.fi

Markku, There should be no problems with doule edged knives. I asked about those in Finn Enterprise (a knife store in helsinki) and salesman told that there is no problems with double edged knifes (they are not mentioned in Law if I remember correctly). Of course a police can take it away if he considers that a dangerous edged weapon but you should be able to get it later back from police station. I'm ordering soon one Randall maybe # 5 or bird and trout and in B&T there is sharpened top edge. I really hope that my investment is legal. BTW bayonets (pistin mainitaan laissa, mutta tarkoittaako se aseen pistintä) are forbidden but Finn Enterprise and Salainen Agentti are sellind some. What should one think? That is commercial import.

Damn! Ossi you were faster

[This message has been edited by Tommi (edited 01-05-2000).]
Thanks for your replies, gentlemen! And Ossi, thanks for the e-mail address; I was hoping for that, but thought it would be unpolite to ask (as it's not in your profile).

A happy weekend to you all,

Tommi, thanks for the heads up with this thread.
Ossi, are these the law and the act you talked about? I'm just asking because they seem quite old and leave quite a lot open in terms of what one can carry. Also for other Finns... just click on the links and print. Don't have to go to the library


[This message has been edited by Hugo (edited 01-21-2000).]
Hugo, that law and act are still the current legistlation of edged weapons in Finland. Nice you found them from Internet, I hadn't found them. A law from 1977 is not that old, some laws are hundreds of years old. I have heard that the coming Security Law (this or next year) will include some rules for edged weapons, but I don't have any exact info on that.