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The many Knives of the Early American Frontier Part 1
The Patch Knife
What is a patch knife?
A patch knife during the 18th century carried by the long hunter, trapper, mountain man or frontiersman could be said as long as you could cut a decent patch for your long gun it was considered a patch knife. Most commonly this was a smaller to medium sized knife with no specific blade design.
Many years ago a patch knife could have been a knife with a blade size as large as 5 inches or as small as three inches the specifics of the blade length wasn't of that great importance for patch cutting as long as it cut patch. If a Frontiersman was lucky enough to have had only one knife on him worn in the sash or belt, and the blade being of nine inches in length. I am sure it would be used just the same as a "Patch knife", as well as being used for everything else that he came across on the Frontier or woodlands.
A patch knife has also been called a bag knife, as this knife sometimes was carried in a sheath that was attached to the bag strap of a possible bag or even inside the bag. Also commonly a knife such as this was carried in a sheath that would be made so the knife could be attached to the backside of a possible or shooting bag.
Another option for a patch knife in early America was the folding knife. This knife as well could be carried in a hunting pouch, pocket, or possible bag.
What is a patch? A muzzle loader (flintlock, cap lock) was loaded with blackpowder, patch and ball down the muzzle. A patch was basically a piece of cloth cut to fit behind a round ball that was oiled with various things, one being bear grease. Many today still hunt this same way that favor traditional black powder hunting and shooting. The patch also acts to hold the ball firmly in the breech as well as functions like a gasket.