Harry K. McEvoy (1910-1993)
Harry K. McEvoy, considered to be the Father of modern day knife throwing was a long time resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
He founded the Tru-Balance Knife Company in 1949 and was one of the primary suppliers of quality throwing knives to professional and sportsman throwers alike.
He authored such books as Archery Today, Crusader in the Wilderness, Knife Throwing “A Practical Guide”, Knife and Tomahawk Throwing, “The Art Of The Experts”, For Knife Lovers Only, and Co Authored, Knife Throwing as a Modern Sport, with Charles Gruzanski.
McEvoy also authored numerous articles for Knife World Magazine, Blade Magazine, Muzzleloading Magazine, Fighting Knives Magazine and many more too numerous to name.
He had coached and demonstrated knife and tomahawk throwing for more than 40 years and was the founder of The American Knife Throwers Alliance which is still in operation today by knife thrower and knife maker Bobby Branton of Awendaw, South Carolina.
Unfortunately, Harry passed away after a brief illness in 1993.
Below is a timeline of ownership after Harry K. McEvoy’s passing.
1993 – Stephen D. McEvoy takes the helm.
2016 – Bobby Branton takes over sales and marketing
May 2017 – Bobby Branton purchases Tru Bal Knife Company from Stephen D. McEvoy.
Stephen D. McEvoy and Bobby Branton
Tru Balance Franchises
In the early eighties, Harry offered franchises of Tru Balance knife company. He sold one franchise to a couple of guys in Florida who named the company Tru Bal South. Another one was sold to a guy in Oklahoma who named his Tru Bal West. I purchased the name and assets of Tru Bal South in the mid nineties and changed it to Tru Bal East. I also received permission from the son of the owner of Tru Bal West to remake those designs. Harry also helped his Son in Law, Terry Madden start a throwing knife company named American Target Knives. American Target Knives (ATC) made knives for a few years before calling it quits. Harry had people asking about buying Tru Balance knife Company, but eventually decided not to sell.
Sheath progression throughout the years
Patents and Trademarks held by Harry K. McEvoy / Tru-Bal
Expired trademark for the Bowie Axe
McEvoy; Harry K.
State of Tru Balance knives as collectibles.
The market has been very slow for vintage Tru Balance Knives. The older collectors have died out or left the market.
Beware of sales ads listing crazy high prices. I watch social media sales as well as E Bay listings daily and track actual sales, not over exaggerated prices.These listings are just phishing and trying to find an unsuspecting buyer. Knives that are truly rare and one of a kind should command high prices, just do your due diligence before you buy.
“Excellent Condition” are knives that command the highest prices. Those knives are absolutely in mint condition and have never been used.
“Good condition” are knives that show little use and have a few rub marks.
“Average condition” are knives that show a lot of wear from throwing of handling, but do not have rust marks.
“Poor Condition” are knives that have deep pits of surface rust that can not be cleaned off or need to be sent back to Tru Bal for refurbishing.
Most Tru Balance Knives that show up on E Bay are average to poor condition. Beware of knives listed with buzz words such as “Vietnam era, Rare, etc” do your homework or contact us. I try to update the price guide to reflect the current market.
The early Tru Bal years 1950’s -1960’s
In 1951, Harry McEvoy began to exchange letters with W. D. “Bo” Randall a knifemaker in Orlando, Florida. Harry decided that he wanted to design and specialize in throwing knives much like his friend, Bo Randall who had been manufacturing hunting and military style knives long before him. Fortunately, Bo possessed an interest in knife throwing and had been making his world famous model # 9 throwing design.
With three sons to raise, Harry was able to convince Randall to accept a couple of Tru Balance knives for one of his throwers. He was extremely generous and always ready to lend a hand to a fellow knife maker. When Harry’s throwers went into production, it was Randall who became his first dealer.
A few years before they actually met in person, Bo realized that Harry lived a short distance away from William Scagel. Randall wanted him to visit Scagel and asked him if he could purchase some Scagel knives for Randall’s personal collection.
As Randall’s fame grew, so did the friendship between Bo and Harry. Harry visited Bo on many occasions at the Randall’s summer home on Waloon Lake in Michigan and at his home in Orlando, Florida. As their friendship grew even more, Bo put two Tru Balance Models, The Model # 1 professional thrower and the now world famous Bowie-Axe throwing knife into his catalog beginning in 1960. That move sold a lot of throwers for Harry. Bo even gifted one of Harry’s Tru Balance Bowie Ax throwers to astronaut, Gordon Cooper. In the sixties when NASA was looking for a machete to carry on the Gemini missions, It was Harry’s friend Bo, who took Harrys world Famous Bowie Axe design and made it in to a large machete style knife and summited it to NASA. As luck would have it, they were looking for a much thinner design and eventually went to Case Knives to make their machete.
I will add some Tru Bal trivia for fun and to dispel many of the myths that have plaqued the brand over the years.
Discontinued and current Tru Balance Models
To see a collection of the different styles of Tru Bal knives, click on the link below.