The Bowie knife has a really long history of nearly two centuries and it makes sense why it’s stood the test of time given how great quality and how versatile it is!
It was first popularized in the early 1900s and named after the legendary knife fighter James Bowie.
The exact origins may be a little foggy since it’s pretty impossible to differentiate fact from the legend that precedes it today but as far as the world knows, the knife became legendary after James Bowie used it in the Sandbar brawl following a family gun duel.
That being said, nowadays there are quite a few models you can choose from which is why you might want to make an informed decision before purchasing your own Bowie knife.
What Exactly is a Bowie Knife?
It can be confusing at first but even experts and the most enthusiastic of users cannot always agree on what qualifies as a Bowie knife.
This is because, over the years, many different variations have appeared.
However, all you need to know are the basics – it’s a large knife that features a long, fixed blade, generally measuring around 12 inches that can fit into a sheath.
What Are Bowie Knives Used For?
They are useful in a lot of different situations including chopping down trees, self-defense, fishing, hunting and sometimes even gardening!
What to Consider Before Buying Your Own Bowie Knife
The traditional material for this type of knife used to be carbon steel but the modern Bowie knife also features stainless steel alloys which are just as good if not even better!
Still, both options are really strong and durable, allowing you to throw them around and abuse them in all kinds of ways without the knife breaking or getting damaged.
Not to mention that they are generally easier to sharpen and will remain sharper for longer than your run-of-the-mill knife.
The blade of a Bowie knife varies in length. That being said, it could be as short as only five inches or as long as fifteen!
Of course, the larger models have more cutting edge and are ideal for heavier duty tasks such as hunting or chopping wood.
But that’s not to say that smaller blades are not just as useful!
They are better suited for tasks that need higher precision such as skinning.
Naturally, the size of the blade will also influence the knife’s total weight so keep that in mind.
For example, if you are looking for a self-defense tool, a knife with a larger blade may be more difficult to use.
In that case, it is recommended that you go for a medium-length, lightweight blade that will allow you more control over it.
The Material of the Handle
Of course, the blade and what it is made out of is really important but so is the handle.
After all, one made out of poor quality materials will not last you for a long time at all!
As a result, when you compare handles, look for something that is both comfortable to grip and hold as well as made out of a durable material.
Some of the options are wood, bone and antler and they are all aesthetically pleasing and easy to hold.
However, synthetic blends such as micarta, Kraton polymer, and rubber tend to provide you with an even firmer grip in addition to being more durable.
Design of the Handle
Of course, the materials the handle is made out of are essential when buying one but the design can also play a big role in its usability!
There is no doubt that an ergonomically designed handle will be easier to hold and provide you with a firmer grip, making it easier to hold and avoid accidents.
That being said, Bowie knives tend to have contoured handles or even hooks at the end.
There is also an option for you to add a covering material over the handle like natural rubber, which will undoubtedly make the grip more comfortable.
The tang is the shank that connects the blade to the handle and a full one will ensure that the blade does not easily break as a result of heavy use.
On the other hand, a half tang is likely to break, especially when combined with a heavier blade option.
Finally, the sheath is what protects you and others from accidental cuts but that is not its only role.
Thanks to the plastic lining, it also helps keep the blade sharp for longer.
Not to mention that you can attach the knife to your belt or pants when you need to carry it around, providing you with safety and easy access.
It is important to know, however, that not all sheaths are as great as each other.
A sheath made out of nylon is not very durable but the leather ones will last you a long time without damage.
Now that you know all the basics and how to choose the best Bowie knife for you, here are some great options in no particular order, accompanied by links to where you can purchase them!
Ontario Knife Company 8684 SP10 Spec Plus Marine Raider, Fixed 9.75″ Blade, Kraton Handle
The OKC Marine Raider Bowie Knife is made out of 1095 Carbon Steel and has a matte black finish and traditional clip point end.
This knife is especially durable as a field knife more than most others that have a wooden handle thanks to the 5.25″ long grooved Kraton handle it features.
Another great plus is the lanyard hole on the handle that can be used to attach a retention line if you wish.
The overall length of the blade is 15 inches.
The polymer handle and the blade’s durable finish are the reason why this knife is easy to maintain.
Timber Rattler Western Outlaw Bowie Knife
The Timber Rattler Western Outlaw has a classic gray hardwood handle which makes the knife look really aesthetic.
But the product being so charming is not its only pro, of course!
It is also high performing and designed with an 11 and 3/8 inches full tang steel blade that is sharp right as you take it out of the box.
This is the ideal knife if you are planning to use it for a variety of different tasks as it can perform them all with high performance.
Aside from making the knife more aesthetic, the brass finger guard has a practical role as well since it combines with the hook at the back of the handle in order to ensure that your hand does not slip while performing heavy-duty tasks.
Finally, the knife can be easily carried around with you thanks to the leather sheath it comes with.
Mossy Oak 15-Inch Bowie Knife
The Mossy Oak 15-Inch Bowie Knife is actually a lot more than a classic Bowie knife.
The usual power, cutting ability and functionality are taken to the next level with this knife.
It is a 15 inches long knife with a 10-inch blade that is made out of stainless steel and protected by an extra durable black anodized coating.
The blade is 5/32 inches thick with a serrated spine that lets you cut a variety of materials more easily.
At the end of the blade, there is a razor-sharp clip point the role of which is to keep the edge sharp even after a lot of repeated use.
But aside from all of these traditional benefits, this knife even features a fire starter as well as a sharpener meaning that you will be prepared for anything at any time, even if the blade becomes a little dull after a while or if you find yourself in a situation where you need to start a fire.
For many people out there, the USMC KA-BAR is the best Bowie knife out there which is why you can’t go wrong by picking this one.
It features a stacked leather handle, a 7″ black 1095 Cro-Van steel blade and a flat metal pommel.
As a result, it is able to do pretty much any task with the utmost efficiency!
From opening MREs to digging latrines, this knife can do it all.
United Cutlery USMC Marine Force Recon Giant Bowie Knife and Sheath
This knife is dedicated to the United States Marine Corps and has a total blade length of 11-1/2″.
The overall length is 16-1/2″.
The United Cutlery USMC Marine Force Recon Giant Bowie Knife’s blade is made out of AUS-6 Stainless steel which means it is corrosion resistant.
To make it even better, there is also an overmolded rubber grip handle and lanyard loop.
The blade of this Bowie even features partial serrations towards its rear and along the spine of the knife there is also some really aggressive jimping.
Buck Knives 119 Special Bowie Knife
If you are someone who likes the classic look, the Buck Knives 119 Special Bowie Knife might just be the one for you!
This tool measures ten and ½ inches and features a classic hardwood cocobolo handle that also has palm sells meant to make gripping the knife safely as easy and comfortable as possible.
Furthermore, it comes with a strong 6-inch clip point 420HC steel blade heat-treated by using the manufacturer’s unique heating treatment that involves heating, freezing, and reheating.
This special treatment not only makes the blade stronger but also makes it resistant to corrosion and sharper.
Finally, the product has a really good quality leather sheath as well, which will help retain the knife’s sharpness for a lot longer.
The sheath also has a snap fastener as well as a belt loop that obviously lets you attach it to your belt or jeans loop if you wish.
Whetstone Clip Saber 16″ Bowie Knife
The Whetstone Clip Saber 16″ Bowie has a lot to offer and it’s worthy of your investment.
The product measures 16 x 3 x 0.5 inches in overall size and 1.35 pounds in total weight.
More precisely, the handle is 5 inches while the blade is 11 inches long as well as coated in a protective layer of black material.
This black material is meant to increase the knife’s durability so you can enjoy your purchase for a really long time.
Even right out of its packaging, this Bowie knife is already really sharp.
It can withstand all kinds of uses in addition to looking so great, including cutting, jabbing and carving.
The knife comes with a standard nylon belt sheath so you might want to upgrade it at some point since the material is not the most durable.
The Schrade SCHF3N is a great tactical knife as well as one of the largest and most recent from this manufacturer.
The blade measures 6.4 inches.
The product has been getting great reviews, even from knife experts that might have a collection of the best ones out there already.
And it makes sense as to why! After all, this combines the high-carbon steel with a really comfortable Micarta handle.
Cold Steel Trailmaster
This is one of the most popular knives of its kind out there, especially when it comes to large knives.
It features a 9.5-inch blade which means that this item is definitely categorized as a weapon.
Despite this, it has excellent balance and with the classic Bowie blade, handle shape, and silver guard you will definitely get the best of the best.
Basically, this is a product that perfectly combines art and functionality!
This model is a full-custom fighting and utility blade commissioned by the Combat Weapons Team of the United States Military Academy in West Point so you know that by purchasing this, you’ll get nothing but quality!
The blade is S35VN steel and the DLC coating provides yet another layer of resistance to corrosion.
The fit and finish are perfect and so are the grip, lines and balance.
SOG Tech Bowie Fixed Blade Knife
If you would prefer a more modern Bowie knife, the SOG Tech Bowie Fixed Blade Knife might just be the one for you!
This is because it is really good quality and made with impressive materials.
Not to mention that it features a more tech-savvy design so if that’s your thing, you will surely love this knife.
The blade measures 6.4 inches and it is made out of high quality stainless steel with a sleek satin finish.
Furthermore, thanks to the layer of Hardcased Titanium Nitride (TiNi) matte black coating, this knife is super durable as well, making it resistant to things like peeling or even scratching.
Thanks to the anchors, the knife is super sturdy and well connected, keeping the rubber handle in its place.
The handle is also covered in a raised diamond pattern that helps prevent any accidents or slips by improving the grip.
Last but not least, the sheath is of great quality as well! This sleek and sturdy accessory will make sure to keep your knife like new for a really long time.
Buck Knives 124 Frontiersman Fixed Blade Knife
The 124 Frontiersman Fixed Blade Knife model from Buck Knives combines is both beautiful and functional.
It features a 16 and ¼ inches high carbon steel blade.
The handle fits comfortably and safely in hand and there is also an aluminum finger guard that is able to prevent any slipping to the blade.
This may be a large handle but the knife as a whole still somehow manages to remain quite lightweight.
The product is pretty much a multipurpose knife being just as useful while hunting as it would be in combat or in a survival situation.
The manufacturer is so confident in their product that they even offer a lifetime warranty for it!
United Cutlery UC2863 Marine Force Recon
This 16 and 3/8 inches long knife is only an inch short of being considered a machete so if you are looking for such a weapon, this might be the best choice for you.
It is the ideal knife for the toughest situations and can be really intimidating.
The blade measures 11 and ½ inches and is made out of AUS-6 stainless steel.
Unfortunately, the size comes with a disadvantage – it’s obviously not easy at all to conceal the blade.
However, thanks to the measurements, this knife allows for a really wide range of practical uses.
ESEE Junglas Bowie Knife
The ESEE Junglas Bowie Knife was originally created for counter-narcotics operations in the Latin American jungle. However, nowadays that is not its only role as it’s come to be used for a lot of other things all over the world!
The blade is made out of high carbon steel and it is really sharp right out of the box.
That being said, it is also easy to sharpen if it happens to get a bit dull in time.
To protect it from corrosion and rust, make sure to clean and lubricate it properly.
The gray micarta handle fits perfectly in the hand, ensuring that the user keeps a stable grip on it while working.
Finally, you’ll be pleased to know that this knife comes with a lifetime warranty.
The manufacturer promises to either repair or replace it if it ever breaks, at any point in time, no questions asked!
Timber Rattler Western Outlaw Bowie Knife
The Timber Rattler Western Outlaw Bowie Knife measures 17 x 4.5 x 1.5 inches in size and has an 11-3/8 inch stainless steel clip point blade as well as a wooden handle.
The full-tang design offers you some more reliability and sturdiness.
The guard is brass-plated, ensuring that you don’t accidentally run your fingers on the blade and hurt yourself.
The handle features dark blue accents as well as brass bolsters, all set against sharp corners and a curve, making the knife’s design stand out.
To make its appearance even sleeker, there is a brass end accent as well.
The item comes with a leather sheath too, keeping your blade sharp and safe for longer.
Snake Eye Tactical 16″ Bowie Knife
This large knife features a traditional clip point blade and serrations along its spine which makes it really versatile in addition to just looking really intimidating in combat.
The stainless steel blade measures 11.5 inches and has a rubberized handle that greatly improves grip.
It comes with a nylon sheath.
Just keep in mind that this knife has a fixed blade instead of a full-tang design which means that it might end up snapping if you try to use it for any heavy-duty or survival.
Instead, it’s more intended for lighter tasks.
Poshland Reg-215 Handmade 14 Inch Bowie Knife
The Poshland Reg-215 Handmade 14 Inch Bowie Knife is as far from basic as possible!
This is because of the unique design that makes it stand out from most other knives of its kind out there.
It is made with a Damascus steel blade which gives the knife those enchanting, swirling patterns.
Damascus steel is used to create blades in layers which not only makes it look great but also makes it really strong and durable as well.
The blade measures 9 inches and the wooden handle is 5 inches long which provides you with enough balance while also allowing a lot of grip room.