Bowie Knives

bowie knife

The Bowie knife is a knife that derives its name from a deep, rich and rather interesting history. It is basically a sheath knife with a crossguard and a clip point. It is very common among knife collectors.


History of Bowie Knives

The first Bowie knife was made by James Black (a famous American knifemaker) for the American frontiersman James Bowie in the early. James Bowie was an American pioneer and a fighter in both historical and fictional stories. He’s a legendary hero and figure in the American folklore, particularly in Texas.

The fame of the Bowie knife is due to the fact that Jim Bowie used it in the Sandbar fight, a famous one-on-one duel that he survived with serious injuries.

However, the exact history of the Bowie knife contains a lot of conflicts and vague information. Although it is traced back to James Bowie, he has left little to no paper trails. All the information offered about the Bowie knife was by James’ brothers years after his death, and the evidence was questionable.

The historical Bowie knife is believed not to be a single knife but rather a series of knives improved by James Bowie. The first Bowie knife was made by Jesse Clift at the request of Rezin James’ brother and is believed to be a combination of a butcher’s knife and a Spanish hunting knife. An article dating back to 1847 stated that the initial incarnation of the Bowie knife was due to the need for a wearable, strong and fierce combat weapon.

The most famous Bowie knife is the one made by James Black, a blacksmith from Washington, Arkansas. The knife was ordered by Bowie and the handle was made of carved wood. This was followed by mass production of similar knives called Sheffield Bowie knives in Sheffield, England in the 1850s.

Black’s business boomed and he was selling Bowie knives at his shop in Arkansas. He kept his technique secret and worked alone until he lost his sight and was no longer able to make the knives.

The birthplace of the Bowie knife is now part of the Old Washington Historic State Park.

Types of bowie knives


The Most Popular Types of Bowie Knives

There are so many types of Bowie knives today, with a blade length anywhere between 8 to 24 inches. Here are some of the best and most popular types of Bowie knives:

1. Ka-Bar USMC Bowie Knife

This is Ka-Bar’s most famous knife of all time and it will probably look familiar to you. It was first introduced over 50 years ago and is still the most common knife used by people in service. It is strong, durable and will not disappoint you. This Ka-Bar knife has a characteristic 7-inch Cro-van steel blade and is reliable for years. It has a grooved leather handle and comes with a very attractive leather sheath. It is made in the USA and is very affordable.


2. Ontario Knife Co. Marine Raider Bowie Knife

This knife looks like everything you need: elegant, big and scary.

With a characteristic full tang high carbon 1095 steel blade measuring up at 9.75 inches, this beast comes with a lifetime warranty. Its Kraton handle is responsible for an excellent grip under any conditions. It is made in the USA and is highly affordable.


3. Cold Steel Mini Tac Bowie

The highlight of this Bowie knife is its size. It is a small Bowie knife with a 3.6-inch blade. It is lightweight, small, and easy to carry around in its sheath.


4. Condor Undertaker Bowie

A strong, sharp and durable bowie knife that is suitable for every adventure. It comes with a high quality leather sheath and is suitable even for kitchen use. It is a full tang knife with a field sharpenable 1075 blade.


5. Buck 120 General Bowie

A 7.3-inch Bowie knife made in Buck’s Post Fall’s factory in Idaho. It is made in the USA out of 420HC steel. It is durable, efficient and comes with a heavy-duty leather sheath.


How to choose a good Bowie knife?

A huge part of the decision process when buying a Bowie knife depends on your taste and style.

However, there are several other technical factors that you need to consider when purchasing one.

  • Build: Non-fulltang Bowie knives are very heavy and hard to use. They could break in half when in use and are not very practical.
  • Material: the blade should be strong and razor sharp. It should be made out of stainless steel or carbon steel, as both materials are durable even under the toughest conditions. Any cheaper steel could rust or hold edge badly. The handle material is also an important thing to consider as it should allow for a firm grip that doesn’t slip.
  • Length: the right length of the blade is a very important thing to consider. While a 20-inch blade Bowie knife is definitely cool to carry around, it’s not very practical for outdoor use. Average blade length (10 to 12 inches) is usually preferred.


Uses of Bowie Knives

Bowie knives can be used in a wide range of activities and purposes.

  • It is a perfect outdoors knife. It can be used for hunting, constructing shelters, cutting through canopies, etc.
  • It is used by various branches of the military for multiple purposes. In the Vietnam wars, Bowie knives were given to chopper pilots who were trained to use them in case their choppers drowned and they needed to cut through acrylic canopies.
  • Long blade length Bowie knives are very intimidating. As self-defense weapons, you can solely rely on their intimidation factor without actually having to use it.
  • As weapons, Bowie knives are very sharp and can cause serious injuries.


How to use a bowie knife

To sum things up, Bowie knives are very popular knives with a very rich history, especially in the USA. They’re considered heavy-duty and have been used by various branches of the military for a very long time. Bowie knives are not only very efficient, they’re also a very valuable addition to your knives collection. Choosing a good Bowie knife is very important and various factors are to be considered. You can purchase Bowie knives online of in stores. To help you better choose your suitable Bowie knife, you can reader online reviews from passionate knife collectors.