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The Odd History of the Tru-Bal “C. W. Dux Combat Bowie”

Tru-Bal Combat Bowie


This is one of only a small known handful of custom knives made with a cross-guard by Harry K. McEvoy, Jr. of the Tru-Balance Knife Company. It came with a very interesting origin story that says it was made for the controversial martial artist figure, Frank Dux of Bloodsport fame that, unfortunately is just not true. Frank Dux made no such claims himself, but others tried to tie this knife to him, perhaps in order to boost it’s reputation. More on that later.

The C.W. Dux “Combat Bowie” is the biggest of the “Classic Bowie” style knives known to exist with an overall length of 16-3/4″. The blade is mirror polished and measures 11-1/2″ long by 2-1/2″ wide and 3/16″ thick. The handle has three brass rivets where normal Tru-Bal knives have only two, making it even more unique. It weighs 2 pounds 1.5 ounces. It has a brass cross-guard in a teardrop shape on both ends. It has a custom sheath where Harry wrote on the back, “Handcrafted exclusively for C.W. Dux by H.K. McEvoy Sept – Oct 1970.” in his flowing cursive signature.

Mistaken History

This knife was sold on eBay twice. The first time was prior to 2011, which was recorded on the Vietnam Military web site.

Vietnam Militaria Web Site
Vietnam Militaria Web Site

US Vietnam War Period Tru-Bal Large Bowie Knife bayonet

We find the most interesting Vietnam Militaria. Here are the best deals we found for the US Vietnam War Period Tru-Bal Large Bowie Knife bayonet for sale on the Internet.
US Vietname War Period Tru-Bal Large Bowie Knife bayonet Picture(s) and Description:

Very Rare and Outstanding Tru-Bal Large Bowie Knife made for C.W. Dux. Made in 1970 by Harry McEvoy for C.W.Dux, whose exploits were chronicled in the movie “Blood Sport”. Mr. McEvoy only made 2(two) of these Bowies and this 1(one) is the Combat version with 3 rivets securing handle slabs. The other 1(one) with 2 rivets securing the handle slabs is still with the McEvoy family. The winner of this auction will own the scarcest Tru-Bal made during the Vietnam War Period. The massive blade is 11 1/2″ long and unused. It comes with the original Tru-Bal marked scabbard with the notation on the back by Harry McEvoy. Provenance for this knife includes 2 letters about how this knife was found, 2 books by Harry McEvoy and a copy of the movie “Blood Sport”. I will also update the winner on how I aquired this Awesome Tru-Bal Combat Bowie. You will not see another.



The second time this knife was sold in an eBay auction was in 2011 and I was there to snatch it up.

US Vietnam War Period Tru-Bal Large Bowie Knife bayonet
US Vietnam War Period Tru-Bal Large Bowie Knife bayonet

VIETNAM WAR TRU-BAL LARGE BOWIE KNIFE I OF ONLY 2

MARKED HANDCRAFTED FOR C W DUX BY H K McEVOY 1970

YOU ARE BIDDING ON A A RARE AND OUTSTANDING TRU-BAL BOWIE KNIFE MADE IN 1970 BY HARRY McEVOY FOR C. W. DUX WHOSE EXPLOITS WERE CHRONICLED IN THE MOVIE “BLOOD SPORT”. MR. McEVOY WAS THE OWNER AND OPERATOR OF THE TRU BALANCE KNIFE COMPANY THAT MADE MANY OTHER TYPE BLADES FOR THE TROOPS DURING THE VIETNAM WAR. MR. McEVOY MADE ONLY TWO OF THESE BOWIES AND THIS ONE IS THE COMBAT VERSION WITH THREE RIVETS SECURING THE HANDLE. PROVENCE FOR THE BOWIE INCLUDES 2 LETTERS ABOUT HOW THE BOWIE ORIGINALLY SURFACED BACK IN 1993, 2 BOOKS BY McEVOY, AND A COPY OF THE MOVIE “BLOOS SPORT”.

AS SEEN IN MY PHOTOS THE BACK OF THE SCABBARD IS MARKED “HANDCRAFTED EXCLUSIVELY FOR C. W. DUX BY H. K. McEVOY SEPT. – OCT. 1970”. THE MASSIVE BLADE IS 11 1/2 INCHES LONG AND THE BOWIE MEASURES A WHOPPING 17 INCHES OVERALL. BOTH BOWIE AND SCABBARD HAVE THE TRU-BALANCE MARKINGS AS SEEN IN MY PHOTOS. BLADE IS BEAUTIFULL WITH A BRASS CROSS GUARD. GRIP ALSO PERFECT WITH NO CHIPS. RIVETS ON THE GRIP FIRMLY IN PLACE. THE SCABBARD ALSO FINE WITH ALL STITCHING AND RIVETS IN PLACE. THIS IS TRULY ONE OF A KIND AND A REAL FIND FOR YOU COLLECTORS OUT THERE.

Later he said,

GLAD IT FINALLY ARRIVED. I BOUGHT EVERYTHING TOGETHER JUST AS IT IS. HAD IT FOE ABOUT 6 MONTHS. THE ENTIRE SET ORIGINALLY CAME FROM JOHN GIBSON OF OHIO WHO HAS A MASSIVE KNIFE COLLECTION AND A WEBSITE WHERE HE SELLS KNIVES AS WELL.

The Provenance Given

When the original collector’s of this knife saw the last name “Dux” written on the back I’m sure there was a slight thrill at the thought of being able to link this knife to Frank Dux.  So they started digging and they did their homework.

Alamo Military Collectables Letter

ALAMO MILITARY COLLECTABLES
ALAMO MILITARY COLLECTABLES
ALAMO MILITARY COLLECTABLES

Date: October 22, 1993

Dear Mr. Brent,

On the weekend of July 23-24, you attended a gun show in Collinsville, Illinois. At that show, my partner purchased (for me) a massive Tru-Bal knife from you. Pete thought it would make an interesting addition to my Viet Nam knife collection, considering the date on the scabbard and the fact that Tru-Bal knives were extremely popular with Viet Nam era vets. He was correct.

In an attempt to trace the history of this unusual blade, I contacted Mr. Harry K. Mc Evoy, Jr., current owner/operator of the Tru-Balance Knife Company. I was advised that this was one of only two knives of this pattern ever produced by his Father. One remains in the family collection and is identical except for the fact that the handle material is different and the grips are held on with only two rivits – the three rivit attaching method indicates that my knife was intended for combat use. Mr. McEvoy further informed me that my knife had been expressly created for C. W. Dux, some of whos’ exploits were chronicled in the motion picture “BLOOD SPORT”.

Both Mr. Mc Evoy and I are extremely curious as to how you came to acquire this knife. Pete seemed to recall that you indicated that you had purchased it from the son of the owner at a yard sale. Whatever the circumstances, we would both appreciate and/all information you can offer that might help solve this pending mystery.

Thanks you in advance for your time and trouble on my behalf.

Sincerely,

Thompson D. Knox

Brent Knox Letter

Brent Arms Page 1 of 2
Brent Arms Page 1 of 2
Brent Arms Page 2 of 2
Brent Arms Page 2 of 2
Brent Arms

Mr. Knox,

At one time I was the owner of 2 of the largest Gun & Military shops west of the Mississippi; one in Denver and one in Colo. Spgs. I sold my Buildings in 1984 & retired. I collected Colt Firearms & also collected anything that went with them, Militaria, Knifes, Holsters, spurs, Badges & the like.

I still have hundreds of thousands of dollars in Knives, Militaria, Police Badges, and accessories —

This knife was bought at a garage sale put on by the person’s son. I also bought Handcuffs from him, I matched it up with a Colt that was used in Viet Nam plus other things. I am in the process of selling everything off. I sold 3 thousand patches to one dealer. I still have hundreds of other things for Military, D.I.’s, Unit Crests, Hats, Helmets, Bayonets all from U.S., Germany, Japan & other countries around the world —

I had the knife for about 5 years the people were young & lived near my home but I can’t remember where.

If I can remember the address I will write to you. The boys father had the Knife made for himself, he was in the Viet Nam war.

I don’t know if he is still alive. If there is anything I can do let me know.

Respectfully,

Gene Brent

Unfortunately, although they came up with an excellent story, there is one fact that just can’t be substantiated. And that was that “C.W. Dux” was “Frank Dux”.  Consider that Frank W. Dux (of the Bloodsport movie fame) was born July 13, 1956. So he would have been 14 in 1970. I really doubt this knife was made for him. I once tried reaching out to Frank Dux by sending an email through the address on his personal web site once and it was returned as non-deliverable.

I strongly suspected that C.W. Dux was not actually Frank Dux, but I didn’t care about that connection. I knew this knife was special for what it was, not for who it was for, and I had to have it in my collection.  But I still wanted to know all that I could about this knife and others like it that were in my personal collection.

The Actual Tru-Bal “Classic Bowie” History

I contacted Stephen McEvoy even before the auction ended to see what he could tell me about this knife. He is the son of Harry K. McEvoy, Jr. and was the actual owner/operator of the Tru-Balance Knife Company in 1993, so if anyone would know anything about it, he would.  I asked him if he could substantiate that this knife was made for Frank Dux and I asked him to look over these letters and tell me what he could recall.

Stephen read the attachments and said the letter dated 10/22/93 was of interest. He had no recollection of ever speaking to Mr. Knox, and Stephen’s name is not Harry K. McEvoy, Jr. (Technically, his Dad was Harry K. McEvoy, Jr.)  Stephen wrote…

“If I did speak to him in 1993, (and it would have been me and not either of my brothers) I would not have told him that C. W. Dux was Frank Dux, as I had no confirmation of this fact then or now. I definitely would not have told him that only two such knives existed as two such were already in family possession, making his knife the third such. Also, I am aware of a least 5 such (maybe 6 including the one with the copper cross guard). Also, the remaining knives are not identical, as the Dux knife is the only version that large. The statement about the three rivets in the handle is true, and only I would have been able to verify that fact after my fathers death. (My personal combat Bowie-Axe – one of a kind – which I carried in Viet Nam also has three rivets in the handle, and both the cutting edge as well as the swedge are fully sharpened.) Much of the letter is “assumption”, not confirmed by me. Even though some of the information is not correct regarding ownership, etc., you still have a one of a kind “Classic Bowie” combat variant, very collectible. I am surprised that the knife went for the price you paid. I have seen far more “production model” Viet Nam era Bowie-Axes selling on E-Bay in the three hundred dollar plus range. You have a very good buy. Hope this helps clarify.”

Stephen said that his father made a large Classic Style combat bowie with a brass cross guard for someone named Dux in the 1970’s. Exactly when, he did not recall. He did not know if this individual was the legendary Frank Dux (although it was later reported to him that he was the intended and original owner). He could not verify nor substantiate this as fact. Stephen did not know if C. W. Dux is Frank Dux. But he said, regardless of the original owner of this knife, the item is very collectible. Harry K. McEvoy made only a handful of Classic Bowie’s. Stephen has one, his brother has Harry’s original and personal Classic Bowie, Bobby Branton had one and it is the rare one with a copper cross guard, Dux had one and there was one more out there that he knew of but did not know the owner. He remembered that the Dux version was slightly larger than the others.

I purchased the “Classic Bowie” from Bobby Branton a while back (pictured below in the middle) that has the only known copper guard. I won the large, three rivet C.W. Dux “Combat Bowie” in the eBay auction (pictured below on the left). I also traded with Joe Darrah for a “Mountain Man Bowie” made for Fred Dye (pictured below on the right) that is the same length as the Classic Bowie but has a much more contoured blade. That answered the question as to the one he could not remember.

I noticed the words in the original eBay auction called this knife (made for C.W. Dux) a “Combat Bowie” and that Stephen had referred to the five that were made as “Classic Bowies”. The other one I have is called a “Mountain Bowie”.  So I asked Stephen if these were all different things and sent him the photo above.  He replied…

In the photo of the three knives, the first knife on the left (Dux) knife is a “Classic Bowie” style. This knife is overly large for the typical “Classic Bowie”, however, which is why it may have been referred to as a “Combat Bowie”. Both the “Classic Bowie”, and the “Combat Bowie” names are generic names for these designs. Likewise the name “Mountain Man Bowie”, which Dad ascribed to any one of a number of large generic Bowie style knives. The Mountain Bowie Model # 94 which we currently offer in our catalog is the only “officially” named Mountain Bowie. I would actually characterize all three of these knives a Harry McEvoy “Classic Bowie” variations. We never actually offered a “Classic Bowie” model in the Tru-Bal line. That is one reason that this style of knife is so valuable as a Tru-Bal collectible today. Only a very few knives were ever produced with brass or copper cross guards. Dad was reluctant to make this style of knife because you could not effectively throw this knife style without damaging the cross piece, and Dad was really all about throwing the knives he made. As you know, he made only a very few knives with cross pieces, I have two, a “Classic Bowie” and an “Arkansas Toothpick” (one of a kind) made specially for me when I was a teenager. The original and personal “Classic Bowie” made by Dad is owned by my brother. The three knives you own were all “special orders” when he made them. I am sure he cautioned the intended owners of these knives that they should not be thrown. (I know this because he cautioned me several times that I should not throw my cross piece models.) With the three models that you have, and the others that my brother and I have, we account for all that I know of.

So now we had accounted for all five known “Classic Bowies” that were made by Harry K. McEvoy with a brass or copper guard. Six if you count Stephen’s “Arkansas Toothpick” as one of the known “Classic Bowies” which it seems he is not.  He was just saying that it was rare because it had a cross-guard, not that it was one of the “Classic Bowies”.

Interestingly, I have also acquired a Tru-Bal Bowie-Axe that has red handles (which Harry used occasionally) with a (nickel or steel) cross guard.  But I have not verified that it was put on by Harry K. McEvoy and not just added on by someone else later.  However, even if Harry did put the cross-guard on this one by special request, which he would do reluctantly I suppose, I don’t think the Bowie-Axe would considered to be in the “Classic Bowie” style.

Later, I was approached by someone representing a large collection of Tru-Bal knives for sale and he sent me some pictures.  There were two more “Classic Bowies” in those photos but I was not able to acquire them at the time.  That makes a total of 7 in the “Classic Bowie” style that I have ever seen or heard about.

So there you have it. An amazing knife with an amazing history. And my personal favorite Tru-Balance knife of all time…

 

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