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Talkin' about knives; knives are useful tools to muzzle-loaders, and here's some cutlery products which should be of value to black powder shooters.

* Several years ago, while attending a muzzle-loading rendezvous in Montana, I purchased a handsome Indian beaded knife sheath, complete with a new Russell Green River Works carbon steel skinning knife encased within it. I was immediately impressed with the set's colorful looks, the quality of handcrafting that went into its construction, and the obvious attention to historical detail. The sheath carried the beaver and flag motif of the old Hudson Bay Company (it has been included in the grouping shown on this page). Since that first purchase, I've accumulated several of these attractive knife and scabbard sets, and have found them to be not only a flavorful addition to my frontier gear, but each is as practical a belt knife as I have ever used.

Several of my rifle and pistol cartridge belts have had these sheaths attached as permanent fixtures, and believe me, they have each stood the test of time--and hard usage--under all types of weather, wet and dry, from the extreme desert heat of the Southwest to the sub-freezing climate of the Northern Rockies. They have been carried by me on hunting trips, black powder shoots, horseback treks into the high country and virtually any time I have felt the need for a belt knife. Sometimes I have relied on other larger belt knives, as well as the ever-present pocket knife, along with one of these Green River knives in the beaded Indian sheath, but when in the back country, one of these outfits is always included in my personal gear.

After totin' one of these knives around for some time in one of these old-time Indian beaded scabbards, I can readily see why the 19th century frontiersmen liked them so much. The blades are easy to sharpen, yet seem to hold a good edge under normal circumstances, and this style of sheath carries the knife deep within for maximum protection. Another point of consideration is that replacement knives are inexpensive (generally $5 to $10 each for most styles).

All of the beaded knife sheath sets I have were purchased from Preston Miller, owner and operator of Four Winds Indian Trading Post & Old Time Reservation Store, Dept. GA, St. Ignatius, MT 59865, telephone (406)745-4336. As an active buckskinner, Preston attends many of the muzzle-loading shoots and rendezvous. His tradin' tent and blankets can be found at many of the western gatherings, but a world to the wise is in order. Miller's trade goods are so sought after by buckskinners that you've got to catch him on the first day of any rendezvous. While he has plenty of great handcrafted Indian items in addition to these beaded knife sheaths, the lineup at his lean-to is something like a "January White Sale" in a department store--what a clamor! The Indian beaded knife sheaths are among his most popular items and it seems that every time I see Mr. Miller, I walk away with a least one more colorful knife and scabbard set, and he's left smilin' and countin' my cash. But that's okay with me because they are among the finest modern-made Indian articfacts I have ever seen.

Preston has these sheaths specially beaded by an Indian woman who workd from original old-time designs and uses 19th century color schemes exclusively. As far as I'm concerned, each purchase is not just the acquisition of another colorful trinket--it is an investment. This is a piece of Native American art, as well as a practical buckskinner's tool, and with they way the world is becoming more and more computerized, such handwork is getting harder to find. Each sheath is beaded on Indian-tanned white buckskin and sues a hard, strap leather lining to protect it from the knife's sharp edge. A buckskin belt loop is provided on the backside and many of them are lined inside the buckskin with a colorful calico print cloth (I have seen many original scabbards done this way). Each sheath measures about 8 inches long and comes with a new Green River skinner. Four Winds retails these outfits for $45 plus $3 postage. That, my friends, is what I call a good deal for such quality handwork.

For further information on these beaded knife sheath/skinning knife sets, get in touch with Four Winds Indian Trading Post & Old Time Reservation Store at the above mentioned address, and send $2 for their illustrated brochure. Besides the beaded scabbards, Four Winds has an extensive line of first-class, new-made Indian and buckskinning trade items such as beaded pipe and tobacco bags, small possibles pouches, a replica Revolutionary War era folding knife, old-time trade silver, Crow Indian-style "Strike A Light" pouches, beaded moccasins, Hudson's Bay "Half Breed" sashes, blanket coats and more. I've shopped with Four Winds for several years and have always been satisfied with their service and offerings, and I'm sure you will be too. Give them a try, because their Indian trade items are among the best!


A couple of years ago A.G. Russell, the well-known kinfemaker, sent me one of his "Crock Stick" knife sharpener kits. Since then, I've used it countless times to put an edge on my skinning and general utility blades. Now, I have to conffess, I had always been one of those guys who, no matter what I did I had lots of trouble getting a decent edge on a knife blade. However, once I gave A.G. Russell's Crock Stick a try, those days were over. The very first time I tried the Crock STick, I got one of the best cutting edges I've ever been able to get on a knife. Since then, I use nothing else to sharpen my blades when around home. Because of the ceramic material these Crock Sticks are made of, I am hesitant to take them into a hunting camp in the back country, although they are housed in a convenient and protective wooden carrying and sharpening tray. I suppose the kit could be transported in and out of the boondocks okay, but I am hesitant to place anything like that one a pack animal--they are nearly as bad as the airlines when it comes to damaging gear! But for use around the house, kit is great.

The crock Sticks themselves are made with a high alumina cermaic content, making them a top quality sharpener, and the kit is designed to set the sticks in a sharpening position of 30 degrees-an ideal angle for knife sharpening. The set, which includes two Crock Sticks and the wooden base, is housed in a plastic snap-closed sleeve and retails for $13.95 plus postage and handling. Replaceable single Crock Sticks are available for $3.80 each plus postage and handling. Incidentally, you can write to A.G. Russell for his free catalog. Send to: A.G. Russell, 1705 Highway 71 N., Dept. GA, Springdale, AR 72764. Let's face it, if a ten-thumbed critter like me can get an excellent cutting edge on a knife blade, then you shouldn't have any problem . . . and with A.G. Russell's Crock Stick, I don't have any problem.


My friend, Madison Grant, who authored an published the excellent research work, The Kentucky Rifle Hunting Pouch,has just published his second book. Entitled The Knife in Homespun America, Madison's latest effort is a treatise on handmade, or non-commercially produced, knives from America's early years. This hardcover volume, which measures 8-1/2 inches by 11 inches, contains 187 pages of every type of primitive knife imaginable. Each blade is fully described and clearly photographed for easy identification. Included in this work, which should prove valuable to both historical arms students and muzzle-loading hobbyists alike, are such tools as butcher knives, daggers, pouch knives, skinners, boot, belt and hunting knives, Indian, folding and pocket knives, combination knife and fork utensils, tomahawks, and much more.

Along with the photos of actual specimens from museums and private collections all over the U.S. are several flavorful sketches by artist Tom Elisii, depicting the colorful frontiersmen who might have used the various types of blades within this book. Madison's text is both enjoyable and informative. His descriptions are clear and concise and his knowledge of the subject is clearly evident. Priced at $27 postpaid, this work is certainly worth consideration by any antique arms student or muzzle-loading shooter. Copies can be ordered from Madison Grant, 1151 Thornton Road, Dept. GA, Glen Mills, PA 19342.

I don't know of any shooter who doesn't appreciate knives, and Madison Grant's book, The Knife in Homespun America, is chock full of interesting historical blades. Do yourself a favor and order a copy right away. Incidentally, if you haven't seen his first book, The Kentucky Rifle hunting Pouch, you should definitely consider adding it to your collection of reference works. It is the best volume I've ever seen on the subject. It sells for $24 postpaid from Madison Grant. Check it out, I'm sure you'll find it worthwhile.
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Author:Spangenberger, Phil
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1985
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