hunters carrying dead turkeys on their backs

Big Green Blog

History of Remington Cutlery and The Bullet Knife

01.09.2024 | By Remington Contributor

Remington was one of America’s leading manufacturers of knives during the post World War I and the pre-World War II period. The Remington Cutlery Works, as the knife making division was called, hit the ground running in 1919. The first Remington Cutlery catalog listed an incredible 182 pages featuring full size images of over 600 models of knives. By 1926 annual production had topped 2.5 million units, more than any other domestic manufacturer. Remington divested itself of its cutlery division in 1941 to make room for manufacturing World War II, 30 caliber cartridges. At that time over 2,000 different styles of knives had been offered.

Among sportsman the most prized and popular of these were the “Bullet” knives, so named because the handles featured a nickel-silver inlay in the shape of a round-nosed rifle cartridge. Hailed as a “supremely functional and uncommonly handsome” pocketknife, the Bullet Knife was produced in some twenty-six variations.

three Remington knives

Cut to 1982 - to boost sales of two new centerfire rifles, the Model Four semi-automatic & the Model Six pump-action centerfire rifles, Remington decided to issue a replica of the Bullet knife that started it all, the R1123 Trapper and make it available exclusively as an “incentive” to purchasers of these firearms. The Bullet knife was not a “freebie” – you still had to pony up $29.95 – but the only way you could get one was to purchase a Model Four or Model Six rifle first.

The promotion was a huge success. The early 1980’s witnessed an explosion of interest in sporting collectibles: decoys, firearms, fishing tackle, books, art and of course knives, including the original Bullet knives. In reissuing the Bullet knife, then Remington’s aim was not only to capitalize on the receptive environment for “classic” products, but to market in such a way as to emphasize its potential to become a collectible in and of itself. The marketing and advertising agency out of Rochester, New York envisioned a poster that would be distributed to dealers as an integral component of the Bullet Knife promotion. Consciously evoking the nostalgic feel of the sporting arms and ammunition posters of the early 20th century, the poster for the new Bullet knife would depict this contemporary product being used in heroic fashion.

After a lengthy search, Remington chose illustrator Larry Duke as the artist for the Bullet knife poster project. Duke’s style, blending strong composition and crisply delineated figures with a keen sense of whimsy, humor, and nostalgia, would be perfect for the Bullet knife promotion.

While there was always plenty of creative exchange between Duke and Remington stakeholders in the early “conceptualizing” stages of the Bullet knife program, once the basic theme had been agreed upon, the final design became Duke’s baby in toto.

The promotion was enormously successful, so much so that Remington decided to reissue another knife, the Model R1173 “Baby Bullet” the following year – but with no strings attached, i.e., no requirement to buy a rifle to purchase the knife. Remington elected to recycle the first poster headlined with “Remington Brings Back the Bullet Knife.”

The Baby Bullet, too, was a rousing success, however feedback from Remington’s dealer and customers alike indicated a huge desire to publish a new poster with each year’s knife introduction. From then through 1997, a new Bullet Knife poster appeared annually.

Duke would go on to create fifteen of the sixteen posters in the series.

three old Remington cutlery posters

The posters themselves would become highly collectible and the Bullet knife would be commonly referred to as “America’s most collectible pocketknife.” Bullet knife poster images would become available on a host of products throughout the years such as collectible ammo tins, puzzles, t-shirts, and coffee mugs among others adding to the desirability of knife collectors.

Although the Bullet knife poster program was discontinued after 1997, a rendition of the Bullet Knife has been issued in limited quantities on an annual basis. In addition, during select anniversary years or milestone events, a “Silver Bullet Edition” of the Bullet knife has also been produced in extremely limited quantities.

Remington bullet knife laying on a table

The 2024 Bullet Knife, Model R1123-W “The Waterfowler,” is based on the platform of the original R1123 and features 1095 Carbon Steel Clip point, long spey partially serrated blades, a birding gut hook and the famous nickel silver Bullet shield inlayed in a genuine jigged bone handle. As with all Bullet knives, the Waterfowler is 100% U.S made by skilled American craftsman. With the limited production, it is sure to be a highly sought after edition.

After a lengthy search, in a revival of Remington’s tradition of years past, the company has partnered with award-winning wildlife artist Scot Storm to produce an annual painting celebrating each year’s introduction of the new Bullet Knife. The 2024 Waterfowler painting entitled “Tangled Moment” highlights a father & son caught by surprise by an inbound flight of cupped wings waterfowl.

duck hunters setting decoys by a buck blind

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