Ontario's Bagwell Bowies

Oct 2, 1998
Has anyone had any experience with these knives? How's the fit and finish and the quality of the steel? What about the handle material? They say laminated wood; I'm a little leery of that.

I'm thinking of getting the "Hells Bells", what do you think?

"Every Dog Has His Day"

I got an Ontario "Hell's Belle" a few weeks ago and have been very pleased with it. The fit and finish are excellent. I know that the handle is made of a laminate (pakkawood?), but it looks very nice and feels solid. If I hadn't known its composition I would have assumed it was "solid" hardwood (although I must admit to being a little curious as to why Ontario chose to use a laminate for a relatively high-end production piece). The balance of the knife is very good; it feels very "lively" in the hand. The primary edge of the knife was quite sharp out of the box. I understand that the proprietary steel used in these bowies is a modified 440C; I would expect similar edge retention but I really haven't used the knife enough to find out. My only complaints are the fact that the clip is unsharpened (which is correctable) and the presence of an escutcheon plate which rather conspicuously identifies the name of the model (I don't find the escutcheon particularly appealing, but I've heard that it can help in "indexing" the blade). All in all, I'm very pleased with this knife and am glad to see a traditional company like Ontario expand its product line beyond functional (if inelegant) "beaters".

One of the predominant reasons for owning a Bagwell knife is the way it feels and moves when set in motion. This is the "lively" feel that Jim talked about. Ontario has done an excellent job of capturing the Bagwell feel. My Ontario Bagwell Stealth feels so close to my Bagwell Hell's Belle that it's scary - especially since there's well over a $600 price difference. Ontario deserves a pat on the back for this project. A few of the very first OB's left the factory with unsharpened clips (mine included), but this has been corrected and anyone having one of these can send it back to have it put right for free. Ontario seems commited to upholding the Bagwell reputation for excellence and I want to thank them for making a quality peice that I can take into environments that I might hesitate to take my custom Bagwell. I know several Bagwell Belle owners that have purchased the Ontario versions also, and this is quite an endorsement cuz we tend to be a little "picky". The Ontario Bagwells are a lot of knife for the money.

I'm curious about the Stealth model of the Ontario Bagwell Bowies. I've heard the coating on these blades variously described as "black oxide", "black Ti", etc. I guess my primary concern is whether this is a well-executed, durable coating or if it is a baked-on epoxy powder coating a la the Ontario Spec Plus line (I don't have anything against the Spec Plus products; I think they're a great value for the price. I just expect a little bit more refinement in the price range of the Master Series products). Also, does the Stealth come with the same type of leather sheath as the Hell's Belle or is it cordura?

Yeah…I know I shouldn't, but I'm thinking about buying another one…


Coating on Stealth blade is baked on epoxy, but seems to be very durable. My Stealth came with a cordura sheath, but I was able to get a leather one from Ontario. Thinking of getting another? Don't blame you.