BOWIE POINT- Preferred length and shape?
If I ever had to use a bowie knife for defensive purposes, I’d want to cut with maximum effect at the longest possible distance. This means putting the Center of Percussion (C.O.P.) as far forward as possible; while still retaining a functional, piercing point (1). Therefore, I’d want to have a relatively short false edge or swedge (2). For most of my bowies, it seems that a swedge length falling between 1/4 and 1/3 of the overall blade length strikes the right balance.
The longer the swedge, the more gradual the angle to the point of the blade and the easier the penetration into a target. However, the longer the swedge, the further towards your hand the C.O.P. becomes, which shortens the reach of your most powerful cuts with the primary edge.
While too long a swedge can reduce the effective reach of your power cuts, too short a swedge can mean a severe angle that may interfere with penetration.
Knifemakers commonly solve these problems of swedge design in several ways: by sharpening the swedge, by thinning the blade stock (traditionally with a distal taper), by making a concave angle on the swedge, or with a combination of all three.
So, what are your thoughts on this subject? What is your preferred length and shape for the swedge on a bowie that may be used for defensive purposes?
About the knives in the photo: I find that the Center of Percussion on most of my bowies sits opposite of where the swedge begins (marked by a silver line in the photo). Therefore, I will aim a cut so that the C.O.P. lands just to the far side of the target (the coins in the photo).
Knives shown, top to bottom:
Cold Steel 1917 Frontier Bowie.
M-Tech 151 ( a clone of the Cold Steel Trailmaster, made with cheaper steel).
Ontario SP-10 Raider Bowie.
"Come, let us reason together,"
Tuhon Bill McGrath
Note 1: For more on the Center of Percussion and other physics of blade use, read this informative article from Swordstem: Center of Percussion? Vibration Node? Balance Point? What does it all mean?
Note 2: Knife Anatomy chart: https://www.offgridweb.com/gear/knife-anatomy-101-infographic-terms/
Peter Johnsson's practical demonstration of sword dynamics at Ashokan Sword year 2016.
Centre of Percussion on swords, or 'the sweet spot' - what, where and how.
Centre of percussion, nodes of vibration and stiffness of swords.