1917 Frontier Bowie Knife


This 1917 Frontier Bowie from Cold Steel screams rugged function. Almost sword-like in its cutting and thrusting, it features a wide, sharp full tang blade with a generous clip and huge fuller. Made from heat-treated 1085 carbon steel.


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From its huge imposing blade and full tang that’s 1⁄4" thick to its handsome rosewood handle, every inch of this 1917 Frontier Bowie from Cold Steel screams rugged function. Almost sword-like in its cutting and thrusting, it features a wide, wickedly keen hand-sharpened blade with a generous clip and huge fuller. Made from 1085 carbon steel, it is heat treated to a hard spring temper and beautifully blued to a lustrous finish.

The blade is both long and stiff enough to oppose even much larger weapons, while wide and sharp enough to make the most of every opportunity to cut, thrust and deliver a 'palpable hit'.  Its big "S" shaped guard offers excellent hand protection while the slim, flat profile stops it from twisting in your hand. Its modified pistol grip also keeps the knife locked safely in your hand even when utilizing a palm reinforced grip for extended reach. Includes leather sheath with removable belt frog.

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Attribute nameAttribute value
Overall Length17-5/8"
Blade Length12-1/4"
Blade Thickness1/4"
Weight1 lb / 7.8 oz
Blade Material1085 High Carbon Steel


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Superb Forest Bowie
Superb Forest Bowie
Worth it as 9 out of 10 after many searches

I found myself wanting a “forest” bowie so that my cherished much used “kitchen” bowie wouldn’t be at risk of being lost. Many review videos were watched. Cold Steel’s 1917 Frontier Bowie came up the most often for a durable, strong and reliable design, the sort of one wanted both for bushcraft and any can’t-avoid-critter situations. Plus my activities include re-enactments so something that looked historical vs modern rubber was desired.
The 1917 arrived in with an appropriate layer of protecting grease protecting from corrosion that was easy to clean off. Initial sharpness was decent enough to swipe down lawn weeds right away. There is a slight rattle in the handle on power swings but nothing serious. It was also my desire to have a dark coloured forest bowie to cut down on reflections.
One thing really jumping up the value is the sheath. In re-enactments 90% of time its sheathed and this sheath looks both period and a conversation starter. In particular it was all but unique in my searches in having a chape, a metal end cap, that is both attractive and designed to avoid accidental self wounding, say if tripping while hiking or falling while climbing.
The one thing likely to change or be modified is the handle. Video reviewers very also pointing this out. A wonderful rose wood that is rather thick with my more computer friendly hands finding it a little outside ideal. Still it will at some point be easy to shape down the wood. Also unlike most others the handle uses double-screws making it possible to swap in a new handle all together. For a bushcraft forest bowie it is preferred if the rear tang is exposed on the top for occasional batoning on the handle side. A replacement handle will be needed for that. It is also good to point out that being a double-screw should there be a handle failure on a trip you could very much craft field replacements. Something not likely to be possible with rivet or torx style mountings.
Inspired from the Cold Steel’s 1917 Cutlass and knife fighting it is a large bowie. This though means in defense situation, remember my options include wild animals, that wrist only movements cover a wider arc. It also gives more momentum for chopping plants or wood.
Overall this is a 9 out of 10 for me. The points to change being the handle width, tange exposure and a slightly shorter ideal length. However from all the research over several possible companies no one else scored this high.
Price wise this 9 of 10 is likely to survive for years, decades and possibly be passed on in my estate. If you can manage the funds then look at this as making one of those purchases that is so much higher durability that it will last the lifetime of several lower price point cheapos. Plus that reliability means far more likely coming home safely from a survival or dangerous encounter. Its use for re-enactments also justifies putting into this price rather than buying a separate re-enactment piece.
- Brian, September 21, 2022
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