You have probably already surmised that GunsAmerica is an enthusiast site run by enthusiasts. Therefore I feel it my duty to report on really cool stuff I encounter that relates specifically to guns and shooting sports, and other stuff that gun guys usually like. If you have been following my Prepping 101 series, you may have already read the “What is Your Fighting Knife” story, and in that I mentioned that there are some great deals to be had right on Ebay. Why these idiots from Pakistan don’t sell on GunsAmerica is beyond me of course, but I’m an Ebay junkie anyway. What I found of late is that as Christmas gets closer, the opposite of what you would expect is happening. Demand has been slow, and the prices have been coming way way down. Incredibly gorgeous Damascus pattern Bowie knifes and other patterns of hunting knife are going for crazy low money, and I can’t help but share you with you the deals I have found. The digest for this article is coming out on December 22nd, so if you don’t visit here during the week you probably missed out on gift buying for others, but who needs other people when you can can just buy gifts for yourself?
Knifemaking Damascus is not the same as you find in pre-war era shotguns. The shotguns were made by winding steel layers around a mandrel, and that led to the historic “Damascus” pattern. Today these guns are very collectible, and you generally have to shoot them with black powder loads unless they are stamped “P” for pressure tested. Even then I wouldn’t use high brass with a Damascus shotgun, just target loads.
In knife and swordmaking, the term Damascus means almost the same thing, but not quite. Since 1973, Damascus in blades means “pattern welded.” There is such a thing as a historic “Damascus” steel, originating in the Middle East, but the Damascus that you are going to find on Ebay is always going to be pattern welded, created from a number of layers of steel melted together in a forge. The blacksmith folds the metal back on itself until he reaches the desired consistency and visual effect. Then the pattern can be accented by burning away some of the metal with acid and other techniques. Modern Damascus patterns can be very subtle and elegant, or they can be thick, crude and also downright pretty. If you want to read the actual history of Damascus, the Wikipedia page is fairly well done, and I’m embedding the first in a series on making Damascus steel here in the article.
This article isn’t, however, about the nerdy details in making Damascus. It is about buying modern, gorgeous, Damascus knives for cheap, and if you look through the pictures and links, there are a number of examples that really blew me away when the knives arrived.
Shipping from Pakistan only takes about 3 days to arrive at your door after they send it. From what I have seen, they all use DHL, and I noticed that the same seller is often selling under several accounts on Ebay. How quick the sellers ship can be extremely disparate though, so be very aware of the estimated delivery date in the ad. In the captions of the pictures I will link to which sellers were quick shippers and which were slow shippers. I also HAVE TO MENTION that the Ebay sellers have never seen the tidal wave of orders that a GunsAmerica article can generate. The early bird might be getting the worm here
Pitfalls? From what I have seen there are only two. One is that some sellers show you a picture of what looks like a heavy knife with a heavy stag handle, but the knife itself is extremely lightweight. This was a big surprise when the knife arrived, and a big disappointment for me. But even the lightest among the knives I got seem very sturdy, and though I am disappointed in the product, I don’t think it is necessarily a bad knife. I will show you which knives were heavy and which knives were not.
Otherwise, the quality of the knives is very good, in my laymans opinion. I was initially concerned about the quality of the sheaths, because the pictures on Ebay clearly have the wrong sheath in the picture. But they are great. I think that the large order was delayed because the sheaths were not actually made yet, and when the knives were purchased, the seller contracted to have the sheaths made in Pakistan. All but a couple of the sheaths are high quality synthetic leather. You can’t expect real leather at this price. I am not at all unhappy with the quality of the sheaths.
But as with most things in life, Damascus from Pakistan is you get what you pay for, yet only to a certain point I think. Really gorgeous big stag handle knives with lots of filework are listed on Ebay from $80 – $150 or so. Many of these have a “Make an Offer” button, and if they do, don’t be afraid to offer $40. The seller may come back with a $68 offer, and it is up to you whether to take it or not. I had several sellers that just took the $40, or thereabouts, and some of those knives turned out to be the light ones. Rarely do you see free shipping ads from Pakistan, so expect to pay $20 or so per knife. Shipping discounts are also pretty rare for multiple purchases, unless they list more than one for sale in the ad, which I’ll show you.
If you are what I call a knife snob this stuff isn’t really for your benefit. We all get it that this isn’t “real” Damascus, and that there are US bladesmiths that will charge you an arm and a leg for “high quality” work. But even they would agree that these are incredible deals for the work involved. How did I get started on this path of purchasing dozens of knives on Ebay? A few weeks ago I went to a Renaissance fair and one of the exhibitors was a hand made Damascus guy. There I bought a fixed belt knife for $70 and a short sword for $150. When I returned home I decided to work on my “Fighting Knives” article and began to research in Ebay. Upon seeing the prices, I thought wow, this would be a cool resource for holiday gifts. I wonder if they are too good to be true or if they are really nice? So I ordered a bunch, for as little as $20 per knife. The knives totally rock for the money. How do I not share that with you guys?