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Author Topic: Why the clip point ?  (Read 11067 times)
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Dean
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« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2008, 08:02:28 PM »

I have a personal theory on why a clip point was put on a Bowie.

The time period when bowie knives where being produced, was a period when knives had a much greater importance in every day life and the availability of steel was not like it is today. A knife was a very expensive item to purchase and was essential to everyday life. Imagine "having" to purchase the equivelant of a custom made or high end production knife. So the idea of style being the driving force might be what drove the design later on and even today, but I believe that it is not what drove it in the early days of production. Remember, protecting ones life with a blade was a common thing back then and blade makers were masters of their craft.

The bowie was an all around daily tool, but it was also built with the intent of being used as a fighting weapon. True this was capitalized on by builders of bowie knives for the public, but that in no wise changes the need for good design. As a fighting weapon the blade is designed to not only to slash but also to thrust. Thrusting being the key point to this. (bad pun I know)

If you look at a lot of good bowie designs you will notice that the point of the blade lines up with the center of the tang or as close as possible. This is to align the thrust all the way through the blade and to keep from twisting the blade out of ones hands either forward or back. In a fight this is a very important concideration.

Look at a dagger. A stright through knive intended only for thrusting.


The Searles Bowie. Very much a working knife, but with thrusting built into the design.


A traditional clip point bowie. Notice the point to tang relationship.



Just my thoughts on the whole clip point question.


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Ed Fowler
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« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2008, 12:21:15 PM »

One aspect we must always remember: All clip points are not the same, just as all convex grinds are not the same. Some very functional without losing performance in other aspects.

I have never been able to appreciate a dagger, a knife with only one function. While no knife will be able to do everything, the dagger is a very limited design. While many are killed with knives, the usual tool is a kitchen knife. The only two knife fighters I know stepped outside of a bar in Shoshoni Wyoming and fought with knives, both suffered wounds , both crippled for life and both sentenced by the judge to the Pen for 5 years. The old dueling law put them away.

The first Searles is well designed for a Bowie, the recessed ricasso is well obscured functionally due to the proximity of the cutting edge to the guard. Much like Bill Scagel knives were developed.

I could dearly love the blade on the second bowie if only the maker would have developed the edge level with the ricasso. (Who made that knife?)

While most of the population of the future United States enjoyed the frontier, the makers of Sheffield at the time were city folks, I also believe most of those who designed their bowies were city folks and their designs were greatly influenced by the kitchen knives of their time. A dropped edge to allow work on a counter or butchering block. Compare many of the early bowies to the French Chef knife and you will note a strong similarity.

A working knife with the edge close to the hand allows for the greatest amount of power to the edge with the least fatigue to the hand and wrist.

Thanks for posting the photos and I do so love these discussions! Feel free to discuss, disagree with me and enjoy the times.
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Bil_johnson
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« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2008, 01:58:11 PM »

Just a couple of points (lousy pun, it can join the others) relative to the clip point. A clip point on a large Bowie probably saves weight without sacrificing strength at the tip. Having a sharpened false edge (why is it 'false' if it's sharp?) could give you at least some chance against a large predator (or that 'bonzai' whitetail we have been hearing and seeing so much lately)-if you can kill a grizzly with a pocket knife as one hunter, who was in his early 70s, did a couple of years ago, you should be able to discourage one at least; yeah, right!

I always had a knife with me when I was a kid, and have never stopped carrying one since then. I was prime 'bully bait' until I was in my senior year of high school. Before then I was your typical 98 lb. weakling. I can't even venture a guess how many times I found my self on my back with one of my local tormentors sitting on my chest and beating the 's***' out of me. It never occurred to me to grab my knife when I saw them coming; yeah it was always 'them', never 'him.' I finally found something, unintentionally, that worked, however, I found my hand touching a brickbat (why did we call a brick a brickbat), grabbed it, smacked him in the side of the head with it, rolled him over and started to rearrange his features with said brickbat. Thankfully, his friends pulled me off. Am I proud of what I did?, well, I was then. Would I do it again, I don't know, what is the jail term for 'brickbatting' as opposed to knifing.

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Dean
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« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2008, 02:21:26 PM »

Ed that last bowie was found on an old auction site. I picked it for a picture becasue it was a very traditional production piece. I could not tell you who made it. I too like it and would throw in one other problem with it; I don't particularly like the file work on the back of the blade. I do however like the overall design.

Something else I should have mentioned and I am sure that every one in here will agree. A good design features always follow function.

The clip as many bennifits and I take nothing away from those, I do however feel that the clip was first incorporated for thrust.

just an opinion.
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Ed Fowler
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« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2008, 05:34:43 PM »

Dean: We agree, we tested some bladed for penetration some time ago, the photos are still up on this form. We did find the clip better for penetration.

Thanks to this thread I decided to grind a clip point blade to refresh my thoughts.

There is a great difference between a combat knife and a fighting knife. Much more is expected of the combat knife than of the fighter. This is one reason so many of the old Fairborn Sykes blades failed. They were built for penetration but not strength, I read an order forbidding officers from throwing their FS blades or attempting to use them for anything other than sticking the enemy due to broken blades. Somewhere I have a small book that describes the development of the FS blade. They did not test it on anything, at least that they mentioned, all evaluation was comments on the design by high ranking officers who offered their opinions.

The challenge to the designer of a clip point blade is to maintain as much strength to the tip as possible  while maintaining the optimum penetration potential.

I like to develop convex ground clips as well as blades as my contribution to both tasks convex is the strongest design we can provide to promote a useful.

No knife can do it all, we need specialists. The more who realize this fact the easier the task of the maker.

I agree with you, the file work on the spine of the blade is a beautiful source of stress raisers and sure to limit function.

One thing about the human body, it is very frail, offers much less resistant to penetration than a phone book, flesh cuts easily - we have all experienced that fact.

In the kind of work I do with a knife, I need a tip that can get me into my work and support stress getting the job done. Look down on one of my field blades from the spine and it looks like a cold chisel, but you can still shave with the cutting edge below the tip.

Have you read George Patton's thoughts on clips on the Patton Sword?

I greatly enjoy this discussion!
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Ed Fowler High Performance Knives
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caknives
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« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2008, 06:49:18 PM »

It is great to hear some fresh thoughts on this topic. I had not noticed or considered the point in relation to the center line before. Bravo ! The bowie is my favorite blade style ( from a romantic point of view at least ). I agree that bottom knife has alot of good points. The clip looks to have a bit of a convex grind to it, it would have been a good penetrator for sure. The Searles ,I have always though ,was a glorified chefs knife but given the thickness of the blade and its high tip it would have been a great knife around the camp site. I think I will make one as close to spec. as I can just to see. Much has been written about the blade up fighting style as an expanation for the handle design of bowie #1. It was a butcher knife and that handle allowed your kniuckels to clear the block for chopping. That BS has always bugged me, sorry, needed to vent. Great thoughts.
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cdent
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« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2008, 10:08:17 PM »

The thread made me remember hacking and slashing through play jungles with an old cheapy production bowie as a little kid. Thinking back, the clip might have been a way of trying to make a bigger knife into a do it all knife. Even though it wasn't ideal, the pointier tip could carve, whittle, clean out tight spots. It allowed a bit of detail type use for a relatively big blade. Just thoughts, I was probably well under ten at the time, and I have little doubt the original intent were along the lines of fighting knives.

Take care,   Craig
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danbot
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« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2008, 01:18:45 AM »

  I wonder if the aspect of knife throwing had any influence on the tip placement?  If someone liked the idea of the knife being good for throwing, a centrally located tip is ideal. --Not that a lot of people threw thier knives, but they may have liked the idea that if they ever did, it would be well suited to it.

  As far as the clip point goes though, you wouldn't want a clip point on a knife you were going to be throwing for a passtime or for sport, your tip would break off quite quickly if not properly designed.

  Just some more thoughts.
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Bil_johnson
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« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2008, 03:02:47 PM »

Dan,

I think to many people have watched too many movies ("The Magnificent Seven" and some of the older war movies) when it comes to knife throwing. They show fatal throws to the neck, heart, and back from distances of thirty feet or more, sometimes repeatably. If you want to control what you are doing with your knife, keep it in your hand. Throwing a knife is fun, I'll grant that, so are sharpened pencils, scissors, and most other straight metal or wood, with the right amount of heft. But, unless you are "The Great Throwzini," don't try to just miss your girlfriend with your knives.

Ed mentioned the use of the reverse grip in knife-fighting. You often see (once again in the movies) the blade forward position, with the thumb on the back of the knife, rather than crossing over the fingers on the handle. Try this some time, you need to people (one with an unsharpened blade, the other with like-sized piece of fairly dense wood). First, hold your knife in the blade forward position, with the thumb on the blade back, grip the knife hard and extend your knive toward your buddy. Let your wood-bladed buddy use his to hit your knife on the flat -- hard. Next, hold your knife in the blade forward position, with the thumb curled over the fingers (what we might facetiously call the full grip grip, sorry), once again grip it hard, let your wood-bladed buddy smack his knife hard against your knife on the flat. I have done this "test" several times with live steel, but wouldn't want anyone to get hurt. Can you tell any difference in the blade stability (in terms of which will resist the strike best in the two grip styles). I found this to be a rather dramatic demonstration of the strength of the full grip. If this seems kind of counter-intuitive, think about the grip used on the bat by a baseball player, the used on the racket by the tennis player. There a bunch of little bones (sesamoid bones, named after sesame seeds, which they resemble in size and shape) in the metacarpal of the thumb (the metacarpal of the thumb is the large joint where the thumb joins the wrist). If you have ever 'jammed' your thumb, just recall how long it took the joint to heal.

Bill
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caknives
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« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2008, 04:24:17 PM »

Alot of good points and thoughts have been shared on this topic. What about fashion? The design was "new" at the time, romantic, and mean looking if nothing else. It may have been comparable to the "tactical" trend we see today. All similar but each with its own twist as per the maker. Marketing is nothing new. Most tactical knives will never go into combat, much like most bowie knives were never used to tame the frontier. Just another though.
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Synghyn
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« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2009, 07:09:12 PM »

I don't post often, sorry.  Ed, sorry to miss you on chat for the last several weeks, it's been busy.  Always a treat to chat with you and all the folks on there.

I am only arguably a knifemaker(life has done got in the way), and I don't have all that much to add to the pros and cons of a clip over a butcher style tip.  I do have my thoughts on the tip geometry and more so on the fighting part of knife fighting.  I like the sharp point for a number of uses from drilling to carving, and of course for the splinters etc that have been mentioned.

First, I agree with the general consensus that a clip is a better penetrator.  This is both common sense and held up by testing(yeah I've stabbed meat, more to test the strength of folders than the penetration of a clip versus other, but still)

More importantly to me, there was a post a good while back now  Grin , that talked about what a "real" knife fight is like.  I won't really argue.  I have fortunately never been in a real knife fight, and god willing, I never will be.  But I have very little doubt that that is what a knife fight would be like with a couple of untrained fighters going at it, whoever gets the first good slash or thrust pretty much wins.  Nothing pretty, not a duel kind of thing, certainly not a west side story squaring off. 

But I am a martial artist, as in fisticuffs, karate, what not.  I have a couple black belts in a couple styles and a lot of practice and actual fights.  I make a point of the actual fights for a reason.  Plenty of folks who have spent many years in martial arts have never been in a real fight, never gotten their ass whooped, never whooped anyone else's ass.  I've worked as a bouncer and been in fights that just came about by having a big crowd of drunk folks in a small space.  No, I'm not a big bad guy, and no I don't think I'm even close to being an authority.  That's just to say I have some clue, and it's from experience, not guesswork.

In a normal bar fight it goes something like this: drunk #1 shoves drunk #2, drunk #2, shoves back.  One of the drunks takes a (usually) ugly swing at the other one and they go down in a heap.  First problem, lets call that first swing the first stab/slash from a knife wielding attacker.  In a non knife fight, he just clocked the other guy, unless the other guy has any clue or training(yes, of course you can get caught unawares), in a knife fight, he just stuck or slashed the other guy.  In a real fight with someone who has been around a bit or trained at least some(we'll assume that someone with a proper knife has been), he didn't connect, he just made it clear he's serious.  This is where it gets serious.  In a non-knife fight, the trained fighter blocks and counters, or locks up the attacker.  In a knife fight maybe he evades and steps back, maybe he parrys and steps back, maybe he breaks the guys wrist and takes the knife away.  Any way, the trained fighter counters in some way, steps back, evaluates and acts. 

That's a really quick process, and makes all the difference in the world.  My training taught me to evaluate quickly and act quickly.  I have never had to live by it, or die  by it, but I think we can fairly assume the frontier folks did.  I think it's fairly certain that they would have some practice and training, whether from the military or dealing with Indians, what not(or from the folks teaching them from that experience).  If your carrying a knife worthy of the name fighting knife, I would guess you have at least some kind of training, or you should leave it at home. 

I'd certainly grant that times have changed, and that knife fights now a days are different than knife fights back then, but in a discussion of knife styles and use, I think we have to factor in a realistic idea of what the folks back then would be capable of and have in their heads, common background for the time kind of thing.  It was a harder time and more folks would have had training and experience, and maybe more importantly would have been more wary. 

Just some thoughts
Syn

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