NOTE: This thread is initially started without pictures. Pictures will be added to my posts over time as quickly as I can get my act together. Edits will be made for picture additions and, if necessary, for factual corrections as errors or updated information is located/verified.
This method is to ensure that the right pictures get put in the right posts. Also, some of the knives are "temporarily misplaced", hiding in the wrong tubs.
One of my favorite knives of all time is the Western W49 Bowie Knife and its variations.
This thread is started as an information repository for folks trying to identify/verify/date their Western Bowie knife. It will only contain information on THIS Western knife “family”. Other Western knife models that have been called “Bowie knives” are not included in this thread.
I have identified multiple variations of the W49 with the earliest dating back to WW2. I am certain that there are variations that I have not even encountered yet. I have tried to get the postings in the order of the knives’ manufacture, but as with any endeavor, what I don’t know is bound to jump up and bite me. Any dates I have assigned to a variant are based on the best information I have at this time, as gleaned from books, advertisements, anecdotal evidence (stories) and SWAGs.
If the date looks wishy-washy because of a “?” or “/”, it’s because it is wishy-washy. Due to the manner in which Western catalogs were promulgated, exact dates for some versions have been elusively difficult to nail down. In the case of a dual year designation, e.g., 73/74, what is known is that different info sources will list different dates. Obviously, the year code versions are a piece of cake. Other versions have initial/final dates that overlap. Examples of this are “Versions 2, 3, and 4”.
Many times, dates are based on when someone says they bought Version X. The problem with using purchase records for dating is that a particular piece could have sat on a shelf for a while, becoming “NOS”. A reported date of purchase (along with a receipt) can be used to move the initial use date of a stamp backwards in time, but such evidence can never definitively indicate when the use of a particular stamp ended. “Stock on hand” will extend “sales dates” by months or even years. Western never came out (that I have found, that is
) with an announcement in the press saying “We just changed our stamp on the W49”. What really happens is that some user or collector happens to notice that a change has occurred. Just remember, some of the info I have is set in concrete, while other info is set in Jello.
If anyone spots an error in what I have here, please let me know (along with the source of your information) and I will correct it. If is a matter of differences in opinion, please post what your different opinion is and we see if someone can set us all on the right path.
Across various knife forums and websites, I have seen the variations referred to as being a “Type X”, a “Generation X” or a “Version X” where the “X” is some single digit integer, generally between 1 and 6, depending on who made the reference based on whatever information they had at the time.
In compiling this information, however, I have broken the knives into significantly more version designations, based on manufacturer’s stamps, construction, dates of construction, etc.
My abbreviations for references used are:
refers to “The Knife Maker Who Went West” by Harvey Platts, 1977
refers to “US Military Knives, Bowies and Machetes” Books 1, 2, 3 or 4 by M.H. Cole
So, here is MY list of the Western Bowie/W49 version descriptions as of 12/14/2017 -
Version 1 – WW2 Bx-54 Bushman (mistakenly called a V44 by many folks) 1943 - 1944
Viet Nam Era versions
Version 2 – Western Bowie (two sided tang stamp) 1964? – 1965/66
Version 3 – Western Bowie (single sided tang stamp) 1965/66 - 1967
Version 4 – Western Bowie (Guard Stamped – both sides) 1967 – 1968
Version 5 – Western Bowie Stainless Steel (Guard Stamped – both sides) 1967
Version 6 – Western W49 (Guard Stamped – both sides) 1968 – 1973
Version 7 – Western S-649 Stainless Steel (Guard Stamped – both sides) 1968 – ????
Post-Viet Nam ERA versions
Version 8 – Western W49 (Guard Stamped – both sides) 1973 - 1976
Version 9 – Western W49 Year Code Stamped (Western Produced) 1977 - 1984
Version 10 – Western W49 Year Code Stamped (Coleman-Western Produced) 1985 - 1991
Version 11a (High Carbon) and 11b (Stainless) – Western W49s Camillus Era 1992 – 2006
Versions 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and Other – “Specialty” Variations