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Q: Musso Bopwie knife ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Musso Bopwie knife
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: pathfinder100-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 25 Sep 2004 15:10 PDT
Expires: 25 Oct 2004 15:10 PDT
Question ID: 406306
I need detailed informatin and drawings and/or photo's of the orignal
Musso Bowie knife. Also, the type of steel used for the blade, and the
type of meterail used for the handle.  the overall length of the
knife, the length of the blade from the guard to the point and the
whith from the spine to the to whidest part of the belly, and the
thickest part of the blade.  the length of the handle and the type of
meterial.  I think it was made in the 1800'

Request for Question Clarification by nancylynn-ga on 26 Sep 2004 18:42 PDT
Hello pathfinder100-ga:

There don't be appear to be any online photos of collector Joseph
Musso's Bowie Knife. However, I can provide you with offline
resources: magazine articles that detail Musso's Bowie knife and
include photos of the knife. I can also give you information on how
you can order back issues of those magazines.

Would that be a sufficient answer?

Best regards,
Google Answers Researcher

Clarification of Question by pathfinder100-ga on 26 Sep 2004 22:15 PDT
Hello Nancylynn:  Yes that would be ok with me.
Subject: Re: Musso Bopwie knife
Answered By: nancylynn-ga on 27 Sep 2004 09:18 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello again pathfinder100-ga:

Thank you for responding. Here are the resources I found for you: 

This official site for the recent film "The Alamo," contains an
article, written by historian Jeffrey Dane:
with this reference:
"J.R. Edmondson's article, 'The Brass-Backed Bowie,' appeared in two
successive issues (January & February, 1993) of Knife World Magazine.
Reading almost like a Stephen King thriller, the article is positively
riveting and assumes edge-of-your-chair "Twilight Zone"
characteristics with nearly cinematic, Hitchcock-like overtones. It
discusses the extraordinarily shaped and massive Bowie knife owned by
California artist, blade collector and fellow Bowie historian Joseph
Musso. The weapon is pictured in the article with the studio prop
knife used in the Alan Ladd film, The Iron Mistress, based on the book
by Paul Wellman. Though the handsome prop knife is unusually large,
Musso's brass-backed Bowie is even larger: the blade itself is almost
14 inches long, making the weapon effectively a small sword - which is
how Bowie's knife has been described. " (There's also an illustration
of the knife at that page.)

You can order copies of the January and February 1993 editions of
Knife World Magazine here:

See Jeffrey Dane's article about Musso:
which cites Musso's " . . .illustrated articles for various knife and
other weapon-related magazines. One of the most outstanding is 'Jim
Bowie's 'Iron Mistress - Reel Knife vs. Real Knife,' published in the
1991 Guns & Ammo Annual. The article is lengthy and profusely
illustrated with mouth-watering specimens from Musso's own collection.
. . ."

It looks like you can obtain a copy of that 1991 Guns & Ammo article
via "Southwest Archives", whose homepage is:

Go to their resources page, at:
See the listing there for the 1991 Guns & Ammo Annual article:
by Joe Musso, published in Gun and Ammo Annual, 1991, 6 pgs with pictures."

At the top of that page, see "If you would like to know more about a
file or have it copied, send an e-mail to
and give the letters and numbers of the file. We will view the file
and give you more information or make an estimate of the charges to
copy and mail it to you."

If that doesn't work out for some reason, contact Primedia, which owns
and publishes Guns & Ammo. Here's Primedia's contact information for
Guns & Ammo Magazine: 
They may be able to sell you a back copy, or at least tell you where
you may be able to buy a copy of the 1991 Annual.

The Spring 2000 issue of "Texas Gun Collector" contains a ". .
.pictorial presentation of some of the bowie knives from the
collection of California collector, historian and illustrator, Joseph
Try contacting the Texas Gun Collectors Association (which publishes
the magazine) to see if you can purchase a copy of that issue:

Other Resources:

Paladin Press Author of the Month - Dwight McLemore (April 2003 issue):
This interview with the author of "Bowie and Big Knife Fighting
System," may be of interest:
Check this Paladin link to learn more about the book and how to order it:  

The only image results I got for the knife were these photos:
which shows two young men holding a knife. But there isn't any
information accompanying the photo, so I can't exactly vouch for its

And this page from a University of Georgia site:
But once again, there's no explanatory text, although the knife shown
is identified as the "Musso Bowie."

At MUSSO BOWIE - NetSword Discussion Forums:
I found a thread that led to this photo from an undated issue of the Star Tribune: 
which shows a man holding "...what some believe to be the original
Bowie knife. It was allegedly made about 1830 for James Bowie, whose
portrait is on the wall. One of the many treasures found in the Buck
Horn Museum in San Antonio, the knife is part of a collection on loan
to the museum by Joseph Musso, Bowie historian and California-based
cinematic artist. The knife's blade is 14 inches long with the owner's
initials -- JB -- engraved on the it, along with a six-pointed
officer's star on the cross-guard. The collection is valued at 1.2
million dollars."

Search Strings:
"Bowie knife +Musso"
"Musso Bowie knife"
"Musso AND 'Bowie knife'"
"Joseph Musso"
"1991 Guns & Ammo Annual"
"1991 Guns & Ammo Annual +Musso"

I hope my research is of help to you. If you need help navigating any
of the above links, or require clarification or further assistance,
please post a "Request For Clarification," prior to rating my answer.

Best regards,
Google Answers Researcher

Request for Answer Clarification by pathfinder100-ga on 02 Oct 2004 17:07 PDT
Nancylynn-ga:  In your research did you find the demintions of the
Musso Bowie, length of the blade, handle and the overall length.  A
knifemaker friend is going to make one for me.

Request for Answer Clarification by pathfinder100-ga on 02 Oct 2004 18:20 PDT
Nancylynn-ga:  Would you see if you can find out how the brass back is
attached to the spine of the blade.  In one photo it looks like the
brass is folded over the blade, in another it lookls like the spine of
the blade is notched out and a solid strip of brass is welded in, this
mack more sence to me  if in fact it was to be used to catch the blade
of another knife.

Clarification of Answer by nancylynn-ga on 03 Oct 2004 08:25 PDT
Hi pathfinder100-ga:

As I said in my RFC posted on Sept. 26th, the dimensions of the knife
-- that sort of detailed information -- isn't available online. So I
checked with you to see if you'd be satisfied with offline resources,
which are those three print articles and resources on where to obtain
back copies.

Note that descriptions of those articles -- particularly the
description of Musso's 1991 Guns & Ammo article on his Bowie knife --
indicate that those articles give specific details on the knife and
contain many illustrations of the knife.

I have no way of contacting Mr. Musso, but I have just e-mailed
historian Jeffrey Dane to see if he can verify that the articles I
listed provide details on the knife's dimensions. I have also asked
him for references on any other resources that can provide you with
those specifics. When I hear back from Mr. Dane, I'll let you know
what he has to say.

Again, you are probably going to have to purchase copies of those
articles, as I noted in my RFC and in my answer, in order to obtain
information on dimensions and materials.

Also, re: the three images I posted for you, as I noted, I can only be
certain that the last one is indeed Musso's Bowie knife (the other two
don't have accompanying text).

Google Answers Researcher

Clarification of Answer by nancylynn-ga on 03 Oct 2004 18:43 PDT
Thank you for the tip and the kind words.

I've been in touch with Mr. Dane. He told me that his 1993 Knife World
Magazine articles, which I referenced in my answer, don't contain the
knife's specs. Mr. Dane also told me, "The blade on Mr. Musso?s knife
is just about 14 inches long and that the piece is from the 1830s era.
It thusly has more of an actual historic connection than do most of
the Bowie knives seen in most Alamo-related films. While some of those
blades are more 'symmetrical' (for lack of a better word) than the
Musso Bowie, and while they are certainly very handsome and visually
appealing pieces, they are largely of Hollywood conception and design.
Apropůs, I should mention that the knife carried by Jason Patric
(portraying James Bowie) in the new Alamo film is based on that very
knife Mr. Musso has, and my understanding is that the weapon was
copied, with his express permission, for use in the film."

Mr. Dane is kindly trying to put me in touch directly with Mr. Musso.
I'm also trying to verify that Mr. Musso's 1991 Guns & Ammo article
contains the specs. (The article does have illustrations of the Bowie

I hope to hear from Mr. Musso within a few days. I will ask him for
the exact specs and then post an update for you here.

Thank you again,

Clarification of Answer by nancylynn-ga on 06 Oct 2004 06:14 PDT
Mr. Musso very kindly provided these details:

The blade is "13 3/4 long."  "The blade is about 2 1/2" wide and 1/4"
thick at the back, with an overall length, including the handle, of 19
1/2."  The handle "is an ebonized hardwood."

"As far as the steel that should be used in making this knife depends
on the purposes one ultimately plans to use the knife for.  Perhaps
the one the closest of modern steels to the 19th century knife steel
used in my knife might be 9260H Silicon steel.  Even though the
percentages of elements in 9260H are higher, they're still low enough
to replicate within reason the 19th century forging techniques.

"Bill Moran, the knife maker who rediscovered the 19th century art of
hand forging steel in 1972 and one of the founders of the American
Bladesmith Society, prefers 9260H of all the modern steels to
replicate 19th century bowie knives.  Another ABS director, Dr. James
L. Batson, a former aerospace scientist, studied my knife's
microstructure and metallurgical reports and believes that the type of
steel used in my knife is a form of 19th century 'double shear steel,'
which I don't believe is readily available anymore. Needless to say,
the metallurgical tests show that my knife steel doesn't match any of
the modern standard steels.

"One of the toughest steels used today for heavy duty purposes is D2,
followed by A1.  For a nice balance of good steels with low
maintenance for display purposes, the 440C rust resistant stainless
steel is preferred by many modern

"The overlay brass strip has been sweat-soldered onto the back of my
13 3/4" long blade. The handle is an ebonized hardwood. Some believe
it to be a form of oak, others insist that it's maple (the only way to
be certain is to cut out a 1/2" chunk of it for scientific analization
and I really don't want to disfigure the handle under those

Again, the Bowie replica for the film "The Alamo" (which is now out on
DVD) is a very good replica. You can see a photo and glean some
information from the knifemaker who created it, at this site:
So, you  may want to look at that film, freeze-frame and zoom in on
good shots of the knife, and study those.

According to this link I gave you: 
You can see a photo of the original Bowie in the 1993 Knife World
magazine articles I cited in my Answer, so those should be worth

pathfinder100-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $15.00
The info. I have received from naccylynn=ga is very helpfull.

There are no comments at this time.

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