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Western Model 49 Bowie Knife

Discussion in 'Camillus Collector's Forum' started by Goldpanner, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. Goldpanner


    Feb 24, 2006
    This being my first post on this site I figured I'd start off with asking the question: How can I tell how old my Western Model 49 bowie is? I have heard that the models with the small rivets are the older models, and the ones with the Model 49 stamped into the brass hilt are also signs of it's age, where as the newer models all have the big rivets in the handles.
    Same goes for the sheath that goes with it, the older sheaths have a raised part molded into them and the strap that holds the blade in goes around the handle, the newer ones are flat, not molded and the strap that holds the blade in locks around the hilt tang.

    Are any of these things I mentioned true. You would think with such a popular knife there would be volumes of info. on the net about it, I can't find anything that will tell you the details of it, that is how I ran across this site by looking for help finding answers to my questions:)

    I did a search on this site and didn't come up with any threads on it.

  2. textoothpk

    textoothpk Banned BANNED

    Sep 24, 2003
  3. edbeau


    Jan 20, 2006
    What the thread is all I have found about the Western markings. I have a W49 K, W84, W39, W36 and W38. Only the W49 has a year mark. Mine has the large rivets you mentioned and a darker wood handle. I have found other various information about the company and when they were bought by Coleman then Camillus. I almost made a crazy bid on a knife on EBay because it came with a catalog but I let it go.

  4. textoothpk

    textoothpk Banned BANNED

    Sep 24, 2003
    I've lamented here before about the fact that Camillus / Western is not a more desirable brand to collect (hence the lack of information available) I really can't understand it... Long history of making quality production knives, interesting patterns, huge contract knife player and over 100 years old.

    Give CAMCO a chance to drop in and help us out here.
  5. Goldpanner


    Feb 24, 2006
    Thanks you guys for your responses, I appreciate it, I will keep checking back to see what CAMCO says on this:)

    I should add that on my Bowie, the only letters or numbers that are on it are: Western Bowie USA, it looks just like a W49 but there are no numbers anywhere on it that would confirm that, not on the tang either.
  6. CAMCO

    CAMCO Moderator Moderator

    Dec 29, 1999
    I do not have information specific information for dating the Western model #W49 Bowie knife but I have observed certain features that can date this knife.
    Early models are stamped on the guard.
    The sheath is either a one piece design or the "Swing" sheath that was
    introduced in 1968.
    Bowies made 1977 or later (through the early 1990's) may have a letter
    stamped on the blade indicating the date of manufacture-A=1977,
    B=1978, C=1979, etc.
    Camillus acquired the Western brand in 1991 and these Bowie knives are
    stamped "WW49" (W=Western and W=wood handle). This stamping is still
    in use.

    Camillus received some Western Cutlery Co. information in 1991 and I have read everything and there is nothing about dating the model #W49 Bowie knife.

    I hope this information is helpful.

    Tom Williams
  7. Goldpanner


    Feb 24, 2006
    Thank you all for your responses, excellent forum you have here, me being a newbie on here and you all taking the time to respond to my message.
    Some forums you join won't answer you at all unless you have been on there for awhile or have a few posts behind your name.
    I appreciate your help, and the info. you gave me does help:)

  8. edbeau


    Jan 20, 2006
    As I look for knives on EBay I save some of the information they have to try to create a small history. Here is some stuff I have found. The second is for the w49.

    Western States Cutlery
    In 1911, Western States Cutlery and Manufacturing Company was founded in Boulder, CO. Western Cutlery moved from Boulder, CO. to Longmont, CO. in 1978. They became Coleman-Western in 1984. In 1991, Camillus bought Western Cutlery of Colorado, a competitor that was in business since 1896.


    Offered to you by Western Knives in the classic stying originating in 1896 after the famous Jim Bowie. In 1991, Camillus Cutlery Company acquired Western Knives. Originally located in Boulder, Colorado, Western has been manufacturing knives since 1896. Almost in existence as long as Camillus Cutlery, Western shares the same vision to producing quality cutlery. The Western line includes such pieces as their brawny Bowie knife, Kraton handled fillet knives, and a full line of leather handled fixed blade hunters.
    • Blade Length: 8.875"
    • Handle Length: 6"
    • Overall Length: 14.875"

    This WESTERN knife was made in Longmont Colorado before the company went out of business. It's the model W46-8. The tang stamp is WESTERN U.S.A. W46-8, N W46 is the model number, it has an 8-inch blade and N signifies that it was made in 1991 (I believe this was their last year in business). They started with the letter A in 1977.
  9. Goldpanner


    Feb 24, 2006
    EBay is also the place I got my info from. Awhile back there was a person selling the W49 on there and was telling about how to tell the old ones from the new ones, and the biggest way to tell was the rivets in the handles, they said the small rivet heads were the old style w49, the newer models have the larger rivet heads in them.

    You would think with all the hoopla about this huge knife, mine weights about 1 1/2 pounds and is 14 1/2" long, it is a huge knife to say the least, you would think that the company that owns them now would put out a book or information on the different times that these knifes were made, there has to be info. somewhere in their records of the making of the knife and how to tell the model years, I know the code dating you say started in 1977 with A, well mine don't even have the W49 on the blade, all it has is "Western Bowie USA", nothing more anywhere on it, plus it has the small rivets, with all the reading on EBay I do and other auction sites the small rivets put my knife at least into the 60's.

    Anyhow once again I thank you guys for the help!!!
  10. edbeau


    Jan 20, 2006
    Picked up a Western W83 today on Ebay to go with my Western W84. Really like the look of the knife and the sheath for the W84 is the formed one not the new type. I also have a bid in on a W66 and a W46-8. The W46-8 I will not get because the price always goes to high. The way the bidding goes on Ebay the old Western knives are quite in demand.
  11. olddogdakota


    Mar 10, 2006
    it was first made for WW2 then western brought back the
    46-8 in the 70's,if you want to know about western cutlery
    their was a book called The knife makers that went west,
    it has the history about western and case because
    western and case families were connected by marraige.
    they made great knives,coleman ruined western.it's a shame

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  12. wornsmoothout


    Dec 21, 2010
    I have one of the w49 c's . the blade is dulling but in good shape . wouldn't trade it for the world. big sucker but when you pull it their faces go white. I'm new here, signed up because of the bowie threads.. love them clip points.
  13. edbeau


    Jan 20, 2006
    This thread is quite old but I see I was on it once and a while. Welcome!
  14. mustang6


    Feb 17, 2012
    I know this thread is from 2006 and is quite old, I was wondering if your info comes from Wikipedia ? It has about the same info you posted plus a lot more info and explains why a lot of the company info stamped on the knives were lost .
    I'm here because I was using my old Western Bowie knife I cleared a lot of brush when I bought this place in the Country back in the '70's it is stamped W49 on one side and Western USA on the other side of brass guard.
    Makes me wonder what Coleman was thinking when they let the info disappear .
  15. zzyzzogeton

    zzyzzogeton Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 17, 2013
    Unfortunately, Camco passed away a couple of years ago.

    Coleman didn't "let the info go away". The reason catalogs and such are difficult to locate is that when in business, companies put out new catalogs FOR DEALERS, not for general public use, with the exception of folks like Sears and Montgomery Wards. When a new catalog came out, the old one had outdated info and was usually tossed.

    This thread has some misleasing info. The best folks knew when posted, but off.

    Western was bought by Coleman when Western was already having difficulties. Coleman bought the company in 1984, and kept all the folks employed and the knives churning out. In 1991, Coleman sold the company to some Boulder businessmen who turned around and sold off the assets and name a few months later. Camillus bought the name and moved production to New York. Any company literature stored in Colorado was probably dumped at that time as no one wanted to pay shipping on old paper from a company that was defunct.

    Camillus dropped the date stamp codes. They did add an extra "W" to the model number, but only on paper - on receipts and boxes, not on the knives. Camillus went bankrupt in ealry 2007 and closed the doors. Everything was sold off. Camco got a lot of the old documentation, but I don't know what happened to it.

    Your W49 was made between 1973, when "Boulder, Colo" was dropped from the stamps and replaced with "USA", and 1977, when Western added the date code to the stamp and returned the stamp to the blades. The stamps moved to the guard in 1967 for some models and 1968 for others.

    I'm still working on a "W49 Identification" set of postings. I'm down to proof-reading and picture taking. My current goal is the post it by Christmas, but the goal has slipped a couple of times due to life getting in the way.
  16. edbeau


    Jan 20, 2006
    ZZYZZ, It is fun to see these threads re-appear and look at what I wrote years ago. The Western Catalogs I have are always available on Larry's site http://www.collectors-of-camillus.us/Western/Western.htm I hope that the catalogs are of interest to new Western owners and collectors alike.

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