Firearms

The Edge of Perfection

“Cowboy Bob” Giles makes spitting images of the knives carried by Jim Bowie and his contemporaries

/bowie-knives

Regardless of whether a frontiersman carried a simple pocket-sized folding knife, a skinner, a camp knife or a full-sized fighting blade, he generally went “heeled” with some sort of cutting tool.

Most carried two or more knives—each for a specific purpose. However, of all the various types of knives used in the Old West, none has gained the fame and reputation of the Bowie.

On the frontier, any knife with a blade of seven or more inches in length qualified as a Bowie, although in actuality many had shorter blades. While some Bowie styles are still used today, most newly produced Bowie-type blades have been relegated to the status of collectibles, admired by history buffs for their graceful, powerful lines and decorative embellishments.

Although several commercial firms mass produce Bowie knives, along with those crafted by custom knifemakers, one bladesmith, in this writer’s opinion, ranks among the top-notch Bowie artisans today. In Whitefish, Montana, Bob Giles, better known to his amigos as “Cowboy Bob,”...

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