1917 Frontier Bowie?

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I am interested in buying one, but I have read conflicting reviews regarding the quality control and out of the box sharpness of these knives. The idea that they are made in India also has me wondering. I have also read about sheath issues.

Does anyone have any opinions after actually purchasing one? Thanks.
 
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They seem to be hit or miss...
With that said, because of their pretty primitive hand made nature, (one's just gotta watch the Windlass Steelcrafts video on how they actually hand hammer forge these products), the variations from one to another is something I cut them some slack on, (especially at the $100 range they can be found at). The sheath seems decent enough, old school for sure in construction methods and materials. The steel tip is glued on, rather than pinned to the leather. So, I have read reviews where these front end pieces have come apart from the sheath. I think maybe the best thing that could be done if this happens, is to fully clean the inside of this metal tip piece and the leather section it will go back onto with some denatured alcohol, and use a quality two part epoxy to reinstall it. Scuffing up both contact areas a bit would help in getting a good bond.
The metal work and bluing on these blades can be pretty impressive, especially for their old school method mass production, but it may not be so impressive, (those possible deviations coming into play).
The sharpening will be really good, pretty good, or definitely needing a little extra work.
If you can buy in person... Great! You should be able to find a very nice specimen
If ordering via an online vendor, then it will be that 50-50 hit or miss.
I personally like my specimens, but now having three, the deviations can be seen enough for me to like two of them more-so than my third one. They are all acceptable to me, but the third one has blade grinds that are not up to the more nicer done other two.
I pretty much hate having to order almost any such item, old school method made or not. I just can't stand the whole crap shoot thing, but my options are to order them, or not get anything at all. No brick and mortar stores anywhere in my area that would have such things to actually see and handle before purchasing. So, for me, it's order from a reputable dealer... And if the item simply does not pass muster, I may have to deal with a return. That all depends how acceptable or not the item is to me.
Do I personally like the CS Frontier Bowie knives?... Yeah, they got to be seen and handled to appreciate them. I like "old school" stuff, and these are made to look and feel that way, and it's not faked... I think it's the way they are made that gives them that old school charm. Again, something very hard to fake if made using mostly modern manufacturing methods, but these Frontier Bowies involve some pretty "old school" method manufacturing.
All just my personal observations/opinions, of course :)
Hope this helps.
 
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I like the look of the blade but that handle doesn't look very comfortable. How does it feel in the hand? Is the knife balanced? The Natchez is similar in size and weight and feels very good in the hand, actually feels light due to the excellent blance.
 
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Thank you Jimmy, you answered my question completely! I also have no option but to order online, so I suppose I'll have to decide if I want to spin the roulette wheel or pass. Nothing worse than receiving a new knife that you are excited about and having it turn out to be a dead fish.
 
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The Natchez is a Cold Steel Bowie where the focus was fighter first, with any other purpose being secondary in mind, (although my understanding is it does it's secondary purposes very well). I believe that fighter focus is the reason for it's cable tang assembly.
I think when the Frontier Bowie was thought up by CS, the focus may have been more of a, well, frontier type bowie, with more general tool in mind, with fighting knife being only secondarily built into it. The cost was also to be in a more affordable range than the Natchez, while still offering it's own distinct look and appeal.
The handle is a one piece, very reminiscent of the kind of one piece grip used on Colt Peacemaker revolvers. It seems like someone with a basic handiness in woodworking could make a replacement handle fairly easily. Under that handle is a tang that is as thick as the blade, (1/4"), and having a width not too far less than the handle's width. The guard has two weld spots, one on both sides, to keep it solidly attached.
The handle, while squared, has enough of it's edges rounded off as to feel okay in the hand. Also, because the handle's wood adds no needed structure strength to the tang, that wood, (a rosewood), can easily be shaped with some judicious sanding to a more personal like in it's feel.
I acquired my Frontier Bowie knives as collectibles, but reviews of their use in the field can be found online. They seem to be rated as very decent tools, including one gentleman that prefers it's use for pig hunting.
These knives seem to achieve a decent level overall, without breaking the bank, and while offering a real cool factor for it's uniqueness. The fact that they are hand hammer forged, is part of what adds to that "cool" factor for me :)


 
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I am interested in buying one, but I have read conflicting reviews regarding the quality control and out of the box sharpness of these knives. The idea that they are made in India also has me wondering. I have also read about sheath issues.

Does anyone have any opinions after actually purchasing one? Thanks.
Mine has decent fit n finish. Nothing to write home about, but not bad. The sheath is okay also. Good retention.
 
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Thank you Jimmy, you answered my question completely! I also have no option but to order online, so I suppose I'll have to decide if I want to spin the roulette wheel or pass. Nothing worse than receiving a new knife that you are excited about and having it turn out to be a dead fish.
I totally get that sentiment.
I have a Cold Steel Cinquedea on backorder, and can only cross my fingers on that one too... It's basically the same situation with that model.
 
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I like the look of the blade but that handle doesn't look very comfortable. How does it feel in the hand? Is the knife balanced? The Natchez is similar in size and weight and feels very good in the hand, actually feels light due to the excellent blance.
The handle is not comfortable. The knife feels like a cinder block. I'll have to find mine and check the balance point again, but from what I remember, this would be a terrible choice as a fighting knife. The Natchez balance and feel are light years ahead of the 1917 Frontier. This might work well to fight off a grizzly bear, as it is built like a tank and feels like it weighs a ton. It could serve as a hard use heavy duty knife. In that case, you'd probably want to wear leather gloves while using it. The handle is kind of a curious design. It's certainly not designed to fit your hand perfectly and be ergonomic.

If you're familiar with large TOPS knives, they have very heavy knives with full tangs but usually have ergonomically designed handles. This 1917 Frontier bowie would be a worse handling knife with a handle that is a lot less comfortable. But it certainly has a look that you're not going to find elsewhere.

Edit: see my post #12 below for an update. I changed some of my opinions.
 
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Here is a video link that has Lynn Thompson discussing the Cold Steel Frontier Bowie.
He explains the reasons for it's handle's shape.
I surely will miss Lynn being the force behind this company.

His discussion on the Frontier Bowie starts just after the 2 1/2 minute mark...


During the following Frontier Bowie "Proof Video", Lynn Thompson says a few more things about this model and some of the reasons why it came to be...

 
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Last night, I searched for and found my 1917 Frontier bowie. I had not handled this knife in maybe a year or two. During that time, I had purchased a barbell rack and had been lifting weights. So when I handled this knife again last night, I was very pleasantly surprised. It did not feel nearly as heavy as I remembered it, and it handled pretty decently. (I must have gotten that much stronger.) I weighed it on my postal scale, and it came in at approximately 25.5 ounces. The balance point is about 2 inches north of the guard, on the blade side.

The handle is uncomfortable, for sure. Just too rectangular and boxy in hand. And perhaps the guard is too big, making the knife a little clumsier than it should have been. The sheath has excellent retention, you can hold it upside down and shake it hard, without the knife creeping out. Yet, it draws easily.

I considered deleting my earlier opinion about it feeling like a "cinder block". But then I decided to let that alone. Because that was when I had ordinary strength, so probably for most people, it would feel like a cinder block. YMMV.

Still not a good choice as a dedicated "fighting knife", but not bad as a huge user bowie. Overall, I liked it when I first got it and I like it even more now!
 
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I see it as a great starting point for someone that likes to tinker with things. It's already forged, heat-treated and ground. Just modify the handguard and make some new handle scales to your preference. It's definitely high on the cool, fun factor!✌️
 
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I see it as a great starting point for someone that likes to tinker with things. It's already forged, heat-treated and ground. Just modify the handguard and make some new handle scales to your preference. It's definitely high on the cool, fun factor!✌️

My one Cold Steel 1917 Frontier Bowie specimen that I removed the bluing from the blade, satin finished, and convexed the edge on, turned out to be quite a rewarding project for me. I think it came out pretty darned good! :)
The one thing I would had loved to have done to it, would have been to replace it's rosewood handle with a quality made polymer ivory one, (just to have added a bit more uniqueness to it). I don't have the proper tools or skill to make my own, but had hoped that this model's popularity would have caused some creative entrepreneur to make and offer different material handles for them. If someone ever does so, the replacement handles would likely have to be made in an ever so slightly oversized fashion so that one could judiciously sand the inletting and such down a little to make it fit just right to one's own specimen, (because these Bowie knives involve some hand made factors that cause some deviations in their dimensions)
There was, (maybe still is), a handgun grip company, (Ajax), that used to offer that polymer ivory stuff in their products, and the material did not look "plasticky" or "mickey mousey" at all! I think it would be a great alternative look for these knives, (with the blued or for the in the white blade).

Just looked online for that grip company, and they are still in business.
Here is what their polymer ivory looks like....



I most definitely agree that this Cold Steel Bowie knife lends itself very well to performing modifications in order to make them unique items suiting your own wants and/or needs :)

 
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I was wiping down one of my Cold Steel 1917 Frontier Bowie knives last night. While doing so, I couldn't help but to think about the current times and the way so many people today think. On the man made goods issue, like knives, many folks in our society never learned to appreciate things that, while often less perfect in their final execution, are great representations of old school manufacturing. Of course some things made in old school fashion today are closer to perfection when the item is made by a custom knife maker, but the time required for that extra refinement usually comes at a much higher price tag.
While watching an episode of 'Forged in Fire', the participants were given 10 hours to make a knife of the type they were shown at the show's start. The participants were not beginners, they were true custom knife makers with a lot of experience in everything from forging knife blades, to the final fit, finishing, and construction of handles and all.
Watching the program showing short glimpses of all the work needed to make these knives by the participants, really gives the viewer a greater appreciation for this work.
The end result were specimens that one would think are pretty crude in their appearance, but these masters of the craft were not using CNC machinery or any other really state of the art modern equipment. Also, ten hours is not the kind of time frame a custom knife maker requires to achieve his full level of quality.
Then one looks at something like these Cold Steel Frontier Bowie knives, knives that have hand forged blades that require all sorts of steps afterwards for their completion, and much of that work being done by methods that modern knife companies would balk at. They would see them as being way too time consuming and too high in actual manual labor, not to mention causing too many deviations from one piece to another. Tie all that with them still being made in numbers that are considered "mass produced", (even if far from it when compared to more modern manufacturing methods), and with the workers being under time constraints to keep the products flowing and profitable... one should easily be able to see that the end product is still quite an achievement.
The Windlass Steelcrafts firm, (the company that makes these Bowie knives for Cold Steel), has had that video out where they show some of their processes during manufacturing. The start of that process has men in less than a modern environment heating steel and banging away at shaping blades by hammer and anvil. Even the tools themselves, (like those hammers and anvils), are primitive looking. To think that for just over one hundred American dollars, you can actually purchase a specimen, (like one of these bowie knives), that represents that sort of "old school" and dying commercial manufacturing method. I think that is quite the cool thing!
I believe that CNC use, along with so many other modern day knife manufacturing equipment, has made the newer generations of average knife buying folks more oblivious to what was all involved in making such items like these knives. So, they often expect an affordable priced hand made product to be as perfect as the one made mostly with modern equipment. Again, a custom knife maker can do this, and then some, but the man hours involved usually place those knives in the "very expensive" category.
When I watch the Windlass Steelcrafts video, and then handle one of my Frontier Bowie knives, I still feel an amazement of what they have achieved, (especially at the prices they go for), with such rudimentary tools and with the limited time they likely allow the workers to do what they do.
One hundred American dollars will not usually buy you much of anything nowadays, and I really believe these to be an incredible bargain.
My being 55 years old may be part of the reason I view them in this manner. Newer generations of folks were not overlapped in living in old school manufacturing times, they have been groomed to mostly, (if not completely), appreciate modern tech manufacturing, not "old school" manufacturing.
The Natchez and Laredo Bowie knives by Cold Steel will very much represent items being made using State of the Art manufacturing equipment, while the 1917 Frontier Bowie will mostly represent the opposite of that. Both types, (old tech & new tech), have a place in my collection, and for different reasons :)
 
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I was wiping down one of my Cold Steel 1917 Frontier Bowie knives last night. While doing so, I couldn't help but to think about the current times and the way so many people today think. On the man made goods issue, like knives, many folks in our society never learned to appreciate things that, while often less perfect in their final execution, are great representations of old school manufacturing. Of course some things made in old school fashion today are closer to perfection when the item is made by a custom knife maker, but the time required for that extra refinement usually comes at a much higher price tag.
While watching an episode of 'Forged in Fire', the participants were given 10 hours to make a knife of the type they were shown at the show's start. The participants were not beginners, they were true custom knife makers with a lot of experience in everything from forging knife blades, to the final fit, finishing, and construction of handles and all.
Watching the program showing short glimpses of all the work needed to make these knives by the participants, really gives the viewer a greater appreciation for this work.
The end result were specimens that one would think are pretty crude in their appearance, but these masters of the craft were not using CNC machinery or any other really state of the art modern equipment. Also, ten hours is not the kind of time frame a custom knife maker requires to achieve his full level of quality.
Then one looks at something like these Cold Steel Frontier Bowie knives, knives that have hand forged blades that require all sorts of steps afterwards for their completion, and much of that work being done by methods that modern knife companies would balk at. They would see them as being way too time consuming and too high in actual manual labor, not to mention causing too many deviations from one piece to another. Tie all that with them still being made in numbers that are considered "mass produced", (even if far from it when compared to more modern manufacturing methods), and with the workers being under time constraints to keep the products flowing and profitable... one should easily be able to see that the end product is still quite an achievement.
The Windlass Steelcrafts firm, (the company that makes these Bowie knives for Cold Steel), has had that video out where they show some of their processes during manufacturing. The start of that process has men in less than a modern environment heating steel and banging away at shaping blades by hammer and anvil. Even the tools themselves, (like those hammers and anvils), are primitive looking. To think that for just over one hundred American dollars, you can actually purchase a specimen, (like one of these bowie knives), that represents that sort of "old school" and dying commercial manufacturing method. I think that is quite the cool thing!
I believe that CNC use, along with so many other modern day knife manufacturing equipment, has made the newer generations of average knife buying folks more oblivious to what was all involved in making such items like these knives. So, they often expect an affordable priced hand made product to be as perfect as the one made mostly with modern equipment. Again, a custom knife maker can do this, and then some, but the man hours involved usually place those knives in the "very expensive" category.
When I watch the Windlass Steelcrafts video, and then handle one of my Frontier Bowie knives, I still feel an amazement of what they have achieved, (especially at the prices they go for), with such rudimentary tools and with the limited time they likely allow the workers to do what they do.
One hundred American dollars will not usually buy you much of anything nowadays, and I really believe these to be an incredible bargain.
My being 55 years old may be part of the reason I view them in this manner. Newer generations of folks were not overlapped in living in old school manufacturing times, they have been groomed to mostly, (if not completely), appreciate modern tech manufacturing, not "old school" manufacturing.
The Natchez and Laredo Bowie knives by Cold Steel will very much represent items being made using State of the Art manufacturing equipment, while the 1917 Frontier Bowie will mostly represent the opposite of that. Both types, (old tech & new tech), have a place in my collection, and for different reasons :)
Definitely agree with you, but I do see a lot of detail variation in the Taiwan SK5 Laredo specimans that I have. There are grind lines that are slightly different from knife to knife. A couple have blades that are almost an 1/8 inch longer than the blades on a couple of others. Doubtless, there must be slight differences in the way they did the weld in the cable tangs as well as in cutting out the wood in the faux cocobolo handle to fit the tang assembly. This resulted in balance points and overall weights that vary from knife to knife. Thus, some of my Laredos are definitely better than others (feeling lighter and quicker in hand). On the Natchez, I only have one example each of the SK5 and SMIII, so I do not know how much variation there is with that model.
 
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The two pictures above show the outcome of my little project today.
By lightening up the Rosewood handle's very dark stain, I feel it looks sooo much better!

This next picture shows how the handle looked before I began working on it...


It's one of my Cold Steel 1917 Frontier Bowie knives that had it's wood so darkly stained, that it hid all the natural grain from coming through. That is why I decided to lighten that stain application up a bit.
It's VERY easy to accomplish this with these Bowie knives.
For future reference, (for anyone that may want to do the same with theirs), here's how I did it...

*Removed the Rosewood handle from the tang, (nothing more than a proper fitting flat-head screwdriver was required).

*Used a small piece of 0000 steel wool and about an ounce of denatured alcohol poured in a small open container to keep the steel wool saturated with it.

*Gently, evenly, and in the direction of the wood's grain, I steel wooled the entire wood handle, (making sure to keep the steel wool saturated with the alcohol), until I achieved the desired look I wanted. By using the very little amount of alcohol I was using in the open container, it basically helps convert that alcohol into a light stain in itself as you keep placing the steel wool back in to re-saturation it.

*Rubbed the remaining "wetness" of the alcohol with my hands, (having nitrile gloves on), until it dried, (it happens quickly with this type of alcohol).

*Buffed it all out with a soft synthetic cloth. The cloth was like polyester/nylon type material, my avoiding cotton or similar material that could catch on the grain and possibly cause the wood to get splintered, and that more likely could release cloth fibers into the wood's grain.

*Reinstalled the wood handle, (lightly oiling the tang prior to doing so).

*Lightly oiled the entire knife down, (including the wood itself), and then wiped most of it off, (leaving just a very thin protective film).

Well, that's all it took. This wood does not require anything but a hand done buffing to it, a top finish not being required, (and which was not present on the Rosewood handle to begin with). :)

Btw, I didn't just wing this project... Many moons ago, I worked for about a decade at a well established East Coast wood restoration business. We worked on high end jobs that were brought to our facility's location, and we also did prestigious jobs needing the work to be done at the clients location, (including contracts for historical government buildings located in many various States). So, again, I was obviously not winging this little project :)

I'll be pairing this Bowie up with a Cold Steel Rondel Dagger that I have on backorder to finalize a display project I have in mind. All just part of my collecting hobby :)
 
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This is the Cold Steel 1917 Frontier Bowie that I removed the bluing from it's blade and hand applied a satin brushed finish to it.
Anyhow, it received a light oil wipe down today, and back to it's display case it went.
The reason I chose to house the reproduction Kentucky belt pistol with it, is because I assembled the pistol from a kit. So, the pistol and my modified Bowie, both are representations of some of my creativity/handiness applied to my collecting hobby.

The .50 caliber percussion black powder pistol kit was not a project I would have purposely chosen to get involved in doing, but... the story goes like this....
A friend of mine had received it from another friend of his, which had also received it many years before as a gift as well. You see, the original recipient of the kit had never found time to put the work into it to have it properly assembled. When he gave it to my friend, it had already sat in storage, (new in the box), for a couple decades. Then, my friend, that ultimately gave it me, continued to hold onto it in hopes to someday get it built. Well, many more years went by, and that project never got accomplished. So, he knew I would get a kick out of it, and gifted it to me. Well, I was now it's third owner, and thus far, after 30 to 40 years, it's assembly was never attempted. I truly appreciated the gift, as my friend likely did as well when he had received it, and his friend prior to that when he had received it. But, this chain of putting it aside, needed to be broken. And, that is what I set out to do... build it!
It actually involved quite a bit of work, but in the end, it sure was satisfying to see the project's end result.
The kit's components were made in Spain and sold in the USA under the CVA brand.
Back in the day, I used to recreationally shoot some black powder pistols and cap & ball revolvers, but this one I simply put together to keep as a neat collectable for my collection :)

The few pics below show the starting point of the pistol kit.
One pic shows the rough trigger guard casting as received, and the after appearance of that trigger guard after I put the effort required in getting it done.





 
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It looks much better now and The handles and blade turned out nice, good work.

Thank you, Sir!
Actually, there are a couple different projects that I did on two separate 1917 Frontier Bowie knives that I own, (I own three total).
One of them I simply lightened up the stain color on it's Rosewood handle.
The other I worked on by removing the bluing from the blade and convexed it's cutting edge.
My third specimen was my first of them purchased, (in 1055 carbon steel), and it's completely in factory form, my not having done any modifications to it :)
 
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