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Review Request; Factory Hell`s Belle

May 2, 1999
Has anybody had a chance to rip one of these apart to see how tough it is yet? I`m a Western stylist, I`ve been waiting for an affordable knife with a trapping gaurd for years. A few people have mentioned they had`em, but does anyone know how much they can take, beyond speculation? If they`re rugged enough, I`d trade-up to one in a heartbeat!

"One of God`s Prototypes. A powerful mutant, never even considered for mass-production.
Too weird to live. Too tough to die."

Just bringing it to the top of the list. I'll be interested in an answer to this one myself.

I got a feeling they would have sold better with a carbon blade. Had this been a Cold Steel line with Carbon V, they would have been snatched up! Maybe thereis still hope Ontario will wise up.

No, I was never lost. But I was mighty bewildered one time for three days.

--- Daniel Boone
I think these knives are more of a fighting knife than a utility style blade. They have very thin flat ground edges that probably would not stand up to super hard abuse. I could be wrong on this however, since no testing on these has been done yet. These are not being marketed as super tough either. I think the Marine raider bowie is probably as tough as Ontario gets(which is pretty tough according to Cliff S.).
I have no worries about the strength of the flat-grind. I owned a Western(manufacturer) utility knife of 7-inch carbon-steel blade, flat-ground, as a child. I drew great pleasure at throwing it at everything and anything. It never broke. While the "saber" grind may make for a beefier chunk `o' steel, the flat-grind is quite strong. I think this "tactical" thing is starting to get a little out of hand. This comes up in the "defensive folder" thread in the general forum. Regards to how a lock can never be too strong, but it can be strong enough. Like I say, kick out the style, bring back the jam! NOTE: not a personal attack on you. only an observation of a trend.

I don`t expect this thing to be a utility knife, I don`t expect it to be a "prybar". What I`m after is a good fighter, strong enough, and well-suited to the arts I train in. I can make you a slab of steel with an edge that`ll withstand a direct nuclear blast, question is, when does a knife cease being a knife and become an ingot? I just wanna make sure this thing doesn`t have a critical weakness, or is delicate. If I can`t smack it around, it`s of no use to me. If I do adopt one, it`ll probably see duty dispatching large game. I`m a primitive hunter.

Thanks for the input! Let`s see where we go from here!

"One of God`s Prototypes. A powerful mutant, never even considered for mass-production.
Too weird to live. Too tough to die."

Well then I think you will like them because they are over 1/4 inch thick at the spine and plenty strong for most uses. The only weak area may be the tip since it is thin.
Tallwingedgoat, if cold steel made it it would be too heavy, clumsy, badly balanced and have a sheath with non-releasing snaps, oh and Lynn Thompson would find a way to claim he invented the fighting guard

I own several CS pieces. I like them for what they are, which is a sharpened pry-bar. They are indestructible, but not what Mr. Bagwell had in mind. I have talked to Bagwell regarding the knife and he likes it. Not up to the standards of his handmades, but nothing else are.

C'mon, whoever has one is just teasing us, show us you teeth and do those nasty back cuts...trap a couple blades and snap em with the notch...Mr. Bagwell, if you are listening, your input please...

Sickersnee, you are part of a breed too rare, Western stylists do not come out of the closet enough, in my opinion. I too am interested in the knife, more as a training piece to accompany my Bagwell made knife, which I await delivery with patience...after all, perfection cannot be hurried.


I don`t have anything against Eastern arts or Eastern stylists, or even Easterners. My ancestors were Europeans, and they had some very effective weapons and associated martial arts. It makes sense for me to pursue the fighting arts and weapons of my people. My cultural heritage.

Too many people just don`t realize Western arts exist, too many have watched all those chop-socky flicks and think that only the Orientals had effective weapons and skils. This just isn`t so.

There`s some guys out there doing some good work with the Western arts, John Clements, James Keating. I`m doing what I can to promote and educate. You might want to check out my "western blades" thread in the general forum. Right now I`m debating the origins of the saber, but have also posted a bit about a 19th century fight manual I`ve been translating. I encourage anybody who has anything to say on the subject of Western weapons or martial arts to post there. It doesn`t have to be profound. I just want to get the word out that this stuff is out there, and it`s every bit as good and effective and exciting as the Eastern stuff.

You`re right, I`ve known some people who were actualy embarassed to say they practice these arts. I think it`s high-time we got our pride in our martial arts back.

"One of God`s Prototypes. A powerful mutant, never even considered for mass-production.
Too weird to live. Too tough to die."


Go ahead and get the Ontario Belle. Bill has tested the blades to see what it takes to break one and they definitly meet his requirements for a fighting knife. No, this is not a sharpened prybar and not intended to be used as such. This is a fighting blade that is designed to optimize western techniques. Bill has let Ontario know a few of his blade making secrets, and these can be felt in the way the knife moves in the hand, particularly when doing back cut flows. I have a Stealth as an adjunct to my Bagwell Helle's Belle and I feel no need to torture test it or have any doubts about its ability to perform.
Serious western stylists should check out Jumpgate II at www.combattech.com.

i join mike regarding the fact you can buy an ontario bagwell bowie with a peace of mind.
i own a bagwell HELLE'S BELLE and it is a masterpiece.
but i talked to bill bagwell in length last shot show and he said that ontario outproformed his expectations,and that he tested the knives himself and they proformed very well,so i bought them too.
ontario's HELLE BELL is the closest knife you can get to the real stuff and it is realy well made,it is is the closest thing to PREFECTION of the original.
buy it and as a westener you might find the GAMBLER bagwell bowie from ontario interesting.
If Bagwell says it`s up to snuff, and those who own one agree, then I reckon it`ll serve me just fine. James Keating did a write-up on them in one of the knife rags I picked-up the other day. He didn`t go much into actualy testing in the article, but he did mention the were tough and well made. Since he has a reputaion for putting things through their paces before he stands behind them, I think this could well be just what I`m looking for. I was eyeballing the stealth.
Snick, I will look for your western threads, in order that I may learn a bit more. I find it asinine that folks I have studied with who know zilch about western blade arts feel that FMA are tops in the world. My FMA is better than my bowie, for now, but I do not have any doubt in my pea-brain ego that proper bowie training will not only complement my edged weapon ability but turbo-charge it. Hence, Excelleration. Let's come out more often. Geez, maybe we can even blend 'em together in a sort of synergy, huh?


If you study FMA, you already have a certain familiarity with the Western arts. As has been noted, they are Spanish in descent. You will find that the concepts are quite similar. For instance, the idea of using the same basic theories of mechanics for multiple weapons or empty-hand techniques.

This is readily apparent when you start working Western arts. You start seeing the common patterns in stickwork, knives, cut-and-thrust swords, rapiers, as well as in boxing and other empty-hand arts.

James Keating's ABC's are a great place to start. After that I reccomend picking-up various historic European fight manuals, a number of the sword-related ones are online through HACA, and apply the techniques to the knife structure you`ve learned. Half my best moves that have allowed me to overcome Eastern stylists or FMA-ers when sparring have been derived from cut-and-thrust sword technique, which was my first love. Western arts are all about bringing together the various techniques from related arts and finding ways to make them work together. They are more dynamic than traditional. The bowie is a great weapon, but just the tip of the iceberg. Oh yeah, and you will find you will have to spar A LOT to validate your techniques in the eyes of many of the Eastern-indoctrinated. It`s a good idea to cross-train anyway. It keeps you from getting stagnant. Now, I more "cross-spar" than train in the strictest sense. I study and practice my own art, then find others who practice different arts to spar with, which is easy because they represent the majority of martial artists. I might have them explain a technique or two they have that I don`t get, but I don`t actively study their art, rather how to make mine work against theirs.

I feel, and experience bears this out, that this is a better approach than true cross-training. There are only so many hours in the day, and there are SO many arts. The net result is that while there are better martial artists than me, I am able to use my skills against nearly anyone else and make good account of myself. It also has proven a more effective approach when it comes to street application. And yes, I do have some small experience there.

Oh yeah, and work with people who don`t practice any blade art, but rather just have a knife and think they`re tough. These guys represent the bulk of who you will face, and they are all too often underestimated. These are also representative of the skills most people who have studied whatever the latest knife-defense course offered by the trendiest weapons school have. Like I said, determination, bloodlust and a knife are a dangerous combination, irregardless of level of skill. Too many people promote this martial arts fantasy that since the study a formal, structured art, they will be able to easily defeat all the ruffians in the world. This is simply and demonstrably NOT the case.

Boy, after all that writing, I sure hope you come back and check this thread!

"One of God`s Prototypes. A powerful mutant, never even considered for mass-production.
Too weird to live. Too tough to die."