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Bowie Knives

The Bowie Knife was first described in print in an article dating all the way back to 1847. The original purpose of the design was to provide the user with a convenient weapon suited for close combat that had a heavy, effective blade, but was much shorter than the standard military swords of the day (e.g. Cavalry sabers). The cleaver-like knife blade delivered a heavy, punishing slash when necessary, but retained the maneuverability and length required for common sword fighting techniques of the day. By the mid-nineteenth century, multiple manufacturers were already producing “Bowie” type knives with a variety of different lengths and blade shapes. Contemporary users defined the ideal blade length as “close to that of a carving knife.”

Ontario Knife 8684 SP-10 Raider Bowie

Ontario Knife Bowie

Made in the USA, the blade on this Bowie Knife is high carbon epoxy textured powder coated 1075 steel, with a full tang blade and a comfortable Kraton handle. This is a very viable bush/brush clearing, hunting/camping knife that’s built to take abuse and last. I think it’s good value for the money.

Many Bowie knives started to appear with a notch cut into the blade close to the hilt; this was commonly called a “Spanish notch.” Some individuals point to a combat function of this feature, suggesting that it could be used to catch an opponent’s blade during a fight. More careful researchers have determined that the Spanish notch is not actually suited to this task, frequently failing to capture blades when used in this fashion. The more likely explanation for this feature is that it had a more mundane function. It made the knife into a better tool for a variety of jobs, including dressing game animals and repairing ropework. The notch would also serve as a guide for sharpening the Bowie knife’s blade by indicating how far down the blade the cutting edge should run. The Spanish notch might even serve a structural purpose of relieving blade stress.

Schrade SCHF45 Bowie

Schrade Bowie Knife

A Bowie knife that will give you confidence strapped to your hip either in splitting kindling, dressing game, or even defending your honor in a post-apocalyptic saloon. Made of 8Cr13MoV Titanium Coated High Carbon Stainless Steel with a full tang and black TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) handle. This is a beast of a knife.

One of the Bowie knife’s truly iconic features is the clip point at the end of the blade. This drops the tip of the knife below the spine and puts it in line with the handle; the net effect is a more controllable weapon for thrusting use. Because the point of the knife is intended for stabbing, most Bowie knives feature a beveled clip point. This is usually ground at least a quarter of the way up the clip, but some examples carry the beveling all the way down the spine of the blade. Whether the false edge is sharpened or left blunt, the beveling process serves to streamline the tip of the blade and make it more capable of stabbing penetration. One notable example of a Bowie knife with a fully sharpened false edge was produced by a blacksmith named James Black. It allowed the knife to be used like a European saber in a maneuver known as the “back cut.” The blade of the Bowie knife typically leads to a brass quillon which was usually cast from a mold.

Moorhause D2 Bowie

Moorhaus Bowie Knife

This is a Bowie that everyone seems to like. Made from D2 Tool Steel tempered to 60-62 HRC. This is a very hard steel and will remain sharp for a long time, but it may be difficult to sharpen and possibly more brittle than a lesser hardness. This knife is very well made, the shape of the handle is perfectly fitted for your hand, with a great fit and finish.

As noted above, the Bowie knife is shaped to make it a useful tool for skinning and butchering game animals. With a sharpened clip bevel, the tip of the knife becomes excellent for skinning carcasses. The straight, heavy edge closer to the guard, makes an excellent cleaver for jointing and cutting meat. Researcher Russell T Johnson noted that the James Black example of the style exhibited all the quintessential qualities of the Bowie knife. It is sharp as a razor, heavy as a hatchet, wide as a paddle, and long enough for use as a sword. Most Bowie knives designed for hunting feature only one sharpened edge in order to minimize the risk of accidents while dressing game.

SOG Super SOG Bowie

Super SOG Bowie Knife

The Super SOG Bowie is a new adaptation of the original SOG Bowie and features unbelievably precise gridlines with a natural handle. Made of AUS-8 steel with an attractive hardcase black TiNi finish, the 7.5-inch straight edge, fixed blade has a clip point shape that delivers a quicker and deeper puncture, sharpens easily and makes quick work of any task. The ergonomically contoured and well balanced handle has a brown finish and is made of leather washers to provide a natural look and fit comfortably in your hand. The TiNi finish, makes this blade that much more resistant to any and all environmental threats. The Super SOG Bowie, as a whole, is a great, great knife!

A Sure Defense: The Bowie Knife in America

A Sure Defense, The Bowie Knife in America

Built upon excellent scholarship, coupled with exquisite graphics of more than 200 important knives, this authoritative text tells the story of the bowie knife, an early American weapon and one of the most iconic objects in American history.

With over 400 pages, this book provides an in-depth history of the bowie knife, from its inception in the 1830s to its modern revival including knives owned by Jim Bowie himself as well as Davy Crockett, Theodore Roosevelt, and Gen. Winfield Scott.

William B. Worthen served as director of Historic Arkansas Museum for more than 40 years. Mark Zalesky has penned hundreds of articles about knives and has served as an appraiser, museum consultant, and is a director of the Antique Bowie Knife Association.


Survival Self Defense - How to protect yourself and your family
Survival Self Defense - How to protect yourself and your family

Discover the secrets to defending yourself and your family when disaster strikes!