Schrade Old Timer Bowie Knife Review.
The Schrade Old Timer Bowie knife is full tang, large knife, over 15“ long. In this knife review, I put it through its paces and field test it.
I wanted a large Bowie knife where I could use it for duties like, helping with shelter building, de-limbing branches, some carving, foraging and general bushcraft duties.
If I got and expensive custom built Bowie, I think I would feel guilty about being a bit rough on it and getting it dirty, so to speak. That is where the Schrade Old Timer Bowie knife comes into play. Plus it is always good to buy and test a new knife. (Just don’t tell my wife.)
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One concern I had, was that I couldn’t find out the exact steel blade specs, (Alarm bells should be ringing. Possible, High Carbon 8Cr13Mov Stainless Steel?) But for the price, the Bowie was worth a try.
It look solid enough, especially knowing the older model Schrade knives had a good reputation.
Initial impressions – Out of the box.
It felt solid out of the packaging. The Schrade Bowie has the nice profile of the clip point and hollow grind of the traditional Bowie knife, which most people know.
The brass looking hand guard, rivets and Old Timer plate in middle of handle, gave the bowie knife a distinctive pleasing look. For me, it is a nice looking knife.
Upon further handling the knife, the handle scales on the top of the knife were lower than the tang. This made a slightly rough feel when grabbing and gripping the knife. Not a deal breaker though and could be sanded and polished down.
The bottom of the knife scales were level with the tang, but the butt end was also uneven, with the tang higher than the handle creating a slightly uneven handle.
To test the sharpness of the knife out of the box, (Package.) I ran the blade across my thumb nail to see whether it bites in, I also scrape it across the nail. It bit into the nail a little indicating a reasonable sharp blade.
While it is not recommended, I also like to see if the knife shaves my forearm. It took a bit of effort to shave hairs. It could have been a touch sharper, but not bad out of the box. (A lot sharper than some of the knives I have field tested.)
Just a note on, out of the box sharpness, it is nice to get it scary sharp out of the box, but it is a non-issue for me, if it sharpens up with a touch of work.
The Bowie knife specs.
Looking at the images and specifications of the Schrade Old Timer Bowie knife, it appears there are a few different models and designs of the Old Timer.
Here are the specs of the Bowie Old Timer, full tang model I have.
The overall knife length: 15 1/4″ (390mm.)
The marketing material stated 15 ½” length. Some websites and knife shops, stated the “Old Timer” Bowie was 14 ¼ inches overall.
Blade length: 10″ (254mm) (It was a touch under 10”.)
Blade material: Stainless Steel (Unknown what type?) Some advertising material stated it was high carbon, stainless steel, but no specific type? Another website selling the knife stated it was, High Carbon 8Cr13Mov Stainless Steel? But that marketing material suggested the knife was 14 ½”, even though the Old Timer Bowie knife images looked identical to the knife I had.
Knife spine and tang thickness: 5/32 (4mm.)
Handle length: 5 1/4″ (133mm.) Other marketing material suggested 4 ½”.
Handle material: Delrin.
Weight: On my un-calibrated scales it averaged out at. 14.74 oz. (418 grams.)
Weight in sheath: 18.41 oz. (522 grams.)
Blade design: Clip point Bowie design with hollow ground.
Country of origin: China.
The overall knife length in the sheath is: 16 1/4″ (412mm.)
Above picture, for size reference: Cold Steel Frontier Tomahawk, cut at 18” (457mm.) at top, Schrade Old Timer Bowie, Mora Garberg knife, Schrade Uncle Henry Next Generation Bowie, Mora Heavy Duty Companion knife.
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The Old Timer Bowie Field Test.
The Bowie Handle
The grip felt reasonable and solid, you could feel the weight of the knife.
The black Delrin, (Durable polymer. It sounds better then plastic.) with the saw cut pattern on the handle felt okay. It has a brown underlay which I believe gives it a pleasant look. (Perhaps not as good as wood grain, but nice enough.)
After a bit of field work with the knife, the handle felt fine. Not slippery, even when processing some native reeds that were damp.
Below are some images of hand grips on the knife and it’s relative size.
The Bowie has a lanyard hole, which I didn’t use. Except in the image above to point out that for a bigger knife you can grip the blade high and use the lanyard to take the weight off for long detail work.
The lanyard / cordage goes over the forearm, (Green highlighted circle.) taking the weight of the hand and reducing hand fatigue. (Obviously not ideal as a small knife for carving and finer detail work, but you can get away with it as an option for longer carving tasks.)
The balance point for my knife was directly over the choil. (Just as an example, for a fighting knife and hunting knife this is fine, for chopping, the weight forward would be a better option.)
The knife sheath is made of a nylon material. While not as pretty as a leather sheath, for the price, the nylon material does a good job securing the knife safely.
The word, “Old Timer.” Is embroidered in white on the black sheath. Which matches the style and period of the knife design.
A press stud snap on the retaining strap secures the knife. It also has Velcro on the strap, so you can adjust the tension to hold the knife more firmly or loosely. Or adjust the strap if it stretches. While it may not look or feel traditional in any sense, the Velcro is practical and works well with the press stud strap.
For the minimal time I used it, the sheath held up well and worked fine.
Above image: Putting up the Polish Lavvu tent. The knife and sheath, although a larger size, didn’t get in my road when bending down to set up the tent and other tasks. The sheath held the knife securely.
Fire lighting with the Bowie knife.
The back of knife, or spine was okay to strike / scrape the ferro rod for sparks.
The choil on the knife was good, as it scrapes more surface area off the ferro rod and produced more sparks.
As the weight of the large knife is heavy, it is better to pull the ferro rod back and keep the knife stationary. The blade can be rested firmly on some firewood and the spine used for the ferro rod. Or even the knife can be chopped in slightly on some wood to hold it fixed, or placed in a crack. (This can be an option for striking the ferro rod with just one hand.)
Bow Drill friction fire.
I used the Bowie knife to help make a hearth board (Base board.) and help carve a spindle for a fire bow drill.
Gripping the big blade high up near the tip of the blade, it can carve a divot and notch on the heath board, with a bit of patience and practice. (A smaller knife would be clearly better, but it is good to test out the knife on finer tasks.)
Flint and steel.
Using the spine of the knife as a substitute for the steel and some quartz in place of the flint. I tried to get some sparks. I wasn’t expecting any sparks as the steel or carbon steel content was unknown.
After about roughly 50 strikes with a few different pieces of quartz, I only got three small sparks. I had to give the test up, because it was eating the back of the spine up for little result.
A positive of the long blade of this Bowie, was when collecting wild edibles like prickle cactus pear. The length helps avoid the spines and glochids. (Ouch, I hate those tiny hair like spines.)
Above picture: I used the spine of the knife on a few dried thistles to remove their spines for friction a fire spindle. The Bowie was also used for harvesting green thistles for foraging.
I also used the “Old Timer” Bowie to shape a couple of digging sticks, to dig up tubers. A simple chisel point was shaped on one end and a spear point on the other end.
The knife done well on chopping small saplings. As stated the balance point was in line with the choil, so the blade wasn’t weight forward, but still performed well for its capabilities, design and balance. (For a chopper field test, click on Ka-Bar Warthog fixed blade knife review.)
I put some wood about 3’ to 4” in diameter on a log and tried batoning. The wood was a hardwood, but not super dry or hard. After the timber was split, I noticed the blade edge had bent and twisted in two spots.
I am not expecting it to be totally bulletproof for the price, but it should be a solid knife for the size and thickness. It should be able to take some occasional batoning work, even with the hollow grind. (Which has less blade material and is not ideal for chopping, or batoning, etc., but more for hunting tasks, like skinning and slicing.)
Maybe I am being over critical of the knife and its limitations, but a knife that size and thick should be able to perform some bushcraft and survival functions for its size. It that regards I am disappointed in the knife.
I also tested it out batoning at home with some pine, (Which the pine wasn’t that hard.) the blade edge slightly twisted in a small spot as well.
Summary of the Schrade Old Timer Bowie Knife Review.
I would have liked to test the knife for a longer period of time, but when the batoning test let the knife down, I decided not to prolong the field test.
If you used the knife occasionally for light bushcraft work or a backup blade, the knife might be okay. Depending on the exact model of knife. (As there appeared to be a few different models of the Bowie Old Timer knife, on the market.)
However, and a big however, for batoning and heavier work the steel is very disappointing. Even with a hollow ground blade design, a knife this size should be able to take a bit of work, as the Old Timer Bowie is a so called large solid knife.