What Is A Bowie Knife? And Why Should You Care?

With a rich history dating back more than 180 years, the Bowie Knife is a legend of sorts, and if you don’t know what it is, it’s time to learn all about it!

What is a Bowie Knife and who created it?

Designed by Colonel James Bowie and created by James Black, the original Bowie Knife is a massive part of the legend of the “Old West”, that’s still as sought after in modern times. The first Bowie Knife was made famous by Jim Bowie during the 1827 “Sandbar Fight” in Mississippi

Did you know?

In the films “Crocodile Dundee” and “Rambo”, the Bowie knife was the weapon of choice for the actors, and we don’t blame them, the Bowie is probably one of the most functional knives ever made!

Uses of Bowie Knives

You would exactly use a Bowie Knife as a self-defense weapon, but in modern times, hunters and outdoors-men like a good Bowie for tasks such as skinning and butchering game.

The Bowie knife is also a great survivalist tool, easily managing tasks such as cutting wood and scaling fish.

What’s in a great Bowie Knife?

Bowie knife

There are a lot of different Bowie Knives on the market today, with some of them including saw-tooth backs which are perfect for survival scenarios. Others are modernized with more composite materials. Whatever the material, the following is always important in a Bowie Knife:

  • The Blade – Obviously you need a razor sharp blade, so opt for carbon steel or stainless steel, which are both great at retaining their edge.
  • The Length – Bowie Knife’s are at least 6 inches long
  • The Weight – A good Bowie is heavy enough to help you with tasks such as cutting wood, so you don’t want something lightweight. The weight however, shouldn’t be too much, as it might decrease mobility.
  • The Tang – Bowie’s are HEAVY, so they need to be full tang, and if you get one that’s non-full tang, be prepared to hand it as a display piece.
  • The Sheath – The sheath of your Bowie is just as important as the knife itself. Ideally, you want to opt for something leather or synthetic with a great design.

The best Bowie’s are longer than 6 inches and have a sharp, wide blade. They are longer and heavier than daggers, but shorter than sabers.

The idea to go by is: “it must be long enough to use as a sword, sharp enough to use as a razor, wide enough to use as a paddle, and heavy enough to use as a hatchet.”

Types of Bowie Knives

When it comes to Bowie Knives, there are so many models out there, which is why we’ve rounded up some of the best on the market today

1. Old West Bowie Knife – The collector’s item

United Cutlery GH5013D Gil Hibben Old West Bowie Damascus Knife with Sheath

Hibben Old West Bowie Knife


Designed by Gil Hibben for United Cutlery, the Old West Bowie Knife is about the sharpest tool in the shed. The stylish hardwood handle, the mirror finish blade and the gold-plated knife catcher makes this one super appealing knife.

This piece, in our honest opinion, is so good looking that your best bet is to display it as a showpiece among your collection, although it’s still going to do some serious cutting out in the field.


2. Alamo Bowie Knife – The stunning replica

The Alamo Bowie Knife

The Alamo Bowie Knife


Designed and manufactured by Master Cutlery, this is the closest to the original Bowie Knife you’ll ever come. This model is a museum quality replica of the knife Jim Bowie carried during the battle at Fort Alamo, defending the republic of Texas. If you’re a true Bowie enthusiast, this is one serious collector’s item to get your hands on.


3. Winchester Large Bowie – The Showpiece


Winchester Large Bowie Knife

Winchester Large Bowie


We love this Bowie replica from Winchester! The wooden handle, brass cross guard and stainless steel clip clade all contribute to that famous Wild West appearance.

While it looks great, the functionality is just as impressive with perfect balance and an ergonomic design. Did we mention the fact that this might be one of the best replicas at the lowest price?


4. Bear & Sons Damascus American Bowie – The Hunting Bowie Knife

Bear & Son Cutlery 502D American Std Bowie Damas Genuine India Stag Bone with Lth Sheath Knife

Bear & Sons Damascus American Bowie


Hunters and outdoorsmen alike will love this American hunting and camping knife! The Damascus blade knives all have their own unique patterning and the unique multi-layer forging lends unsurpassed strength and edge retention to the knives.

Check out some of our other recommended hunting knives


Featuring a long blade, cross guard and a clip point, the Bowie Knife’s history might be a little ancient, but the demand for this classic knife is higher than ever before!

Collectors of Old West memorabilia, modern hunters, outdoors-men and survivalist alike all cherish this knife for its unique look and amazing strength.   The Bowie might just turn out to be the best darn knife you ever invested in, given that you take our pointers on the best Bowie into consideration!

Once you’ve got your hands on the perfect Bowie, you’ll need to consider a great sharpener which is why we recommend you take a look at our article on the best Hunting Knife Sharpeners

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