A bowie knife is a type of folding knife that uses an archer’s grip on the handle to hold the blade in place. The name comes from the Spanish word for “bowie,” which refers to a type of hunting knife with a curved, tapered blade between 10 and 28 inches long that features a large bolster at the base of the handle. While this kind of knife is popular among outdoorsmen because of its durability and versatility, it also makes a great everyday carry knife because of its simplicity.
The best bowie knives are made out of high-end steel that can withstand continuous use, while some have additional features like serrations along the blade, finger rings on the handle, and more. Because these knives are designed for warfare, they often feature a larger blade than other types of folding knives. Additionally, most are built with a sturdy handle that allows them to be easily carried by a user. When shopping for a new bowie knife, there are several factors to consider before making a final purchase. The following list includes some of the best bowie knives for daily use as well as some top models for hunting purposes.
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Bowie Knife
When shopping for a new pocket knife, there are many factors to consider. The three main considerations for buying a quality blade are its tang, material, and finish.
Tang vs Steel
The blade’s metal component that joins to the handle’s steel core at the base is known as the tang. It may be constructed from a single steel piece or from several parts that have been welded together. As a result of being less prone to twisting when in use, multiple-piece blades typically have stronger tangs than single-piece knives. There are certain drawbacks to having a strong tang, though. When you need to get your phone, keys, or wallet out of your pocket, a big tang will make a bigger hole. A large-tang knife could also cause you to fall badly if you lose control of it.
- Full-length stainless steel blades are most common among professional chefs but also popular in home kitchens for their durability and clean look. These blades feature a full length of 18 inches or more from the tip of the blade to the end of the handle. They’re constructed entirely of stainless steel without any plastic parts that might show water damage.
- Partial-stainless steel blades typically range between 12 and 16 inches long and consist of either straight or slightly curved segments of stainless steel connected by a thin layer of titanium. These blades are less durable than full-length stainless steel blades but often perform better in terms of comfort and balance.
- Ceramic blades are becoming increasingly popular due to their natural resistance to corrosion, wear, and tear. However, these blades don’t quite measure up to stainless steel blades when it comes to performance.
Most outdoor enthusiasts prefer a bowie knife with a blade length of 7 to 9 inches because these lengths are good for light chopping and batoning while also giving them enough control over the tip and edge to perform more delicate tasks like sharpening stakes, cutting notches for traps, and removing hide.
The blade design should also be taken into consideration while selecting a bowie knife. For instance, a clip point blade type is frequently the ideal option for instances where a large level of control over the tip is necessary. The legendary Bowie Knife actually has a traditional clip point blade design, which is defined by a straight spine that runs forward from the support or handle and then includes either a straight or concave drop to the tip of the blade in order to give the impression that that piece of the blade has been “clipped off.” This design serves to both lighten the tip of the blade for good balance and to put the tip of the blade below the spine, close to the user.
A high-quality blade should resist stains, scratches, and smears, showing pride in ownership rather than needing to be washed every day. Most blades today are polished using synthetic diamond polishing pads, which provide superior results compared to other abrasive materials like carborundum (a type of aluminum oxide). While this process removes dirt and grime, it doesn’t remove all traces of manufacturing imperfections so these blades will eventually need to be cleaned and oiled.
Another option is to hand polish them yourself, though this takes much longer and may not produce as smooth a surface as a machine polisher can.
Types Of Bowie Knives
Bowie knives are available in a range of sizes and forms. Each has its place, but before making your final purchase, you need to understand what you’re getting into.
Clip Point Bowie Knife
The clip point blade was named after American frontiersman Jim Bowie. It’s sharp enough to cut through clothing or skin without damaging anything. The tip is pointed for piercing and the edge is slightly curved for cutting smoothly. This type of knife is very user-friendly because it doesn’t require any maintenance to remain effective. However, it isn’t as strong as other types of knives. If you plan on using this knife for self defense purposes, make sure that the person/people who are attacking you aren’t wearing leather jackets or armor. Leather will absorb some of the force from an attack, so if they have body protection, you’ll be able to penetrate it.
Drop Point Bowie Knife
This drop point blade features a straight cutting edge with two convex curves meeting at the tip. These blades tend to be stronger than clip points because the curvature helps distribute stress across more surface area. The concave curve at the tip makes penetration easier too. However, these blades are bulkier and harder to manufacture compared to clip points. They also don’t hold up well against heavy use. Therefore, this type of knife should only be used when necessary.
Hawkbill Blade Bowie Knife
A hawkbill blade is similar to a normal blade except it has one less corner (bevel) near the top. This allows them to stand up straighter and be held firmly while cutting. These blades are great for piercing tough materials like thick leather or nylon webbing. However, they aren’t as good for slicing due to their lack of a full tang.
Spear Point Bowie Knife
These spear point blades feature a long narrow cutting edge designed specifically for piercing hard objects such as wood, bone, etc. The sharpened steel point can pierce even deeper once it gets past the first obstacle.
Tanto Point Bowie Knife
Also known as a “butterfly” blade, tanto blades have one sharpened section much longer than the rest of the blade. This creates a large amount of penetrating power concentrated in a small area. Tanto blades were originally developed by Asian warriors as a fighting technique called chukkaling zhang. Today, there are many different kinds of tanto blades available including speartips, sheepsfoot blades, karambit blades, etc. Make sure you buy one with a lot of buildup metal (hardening steel). This will increase the durability.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
We started by searching for knives that fit the criteria of being a fixed blade, durable, and versatile. We also considered things like how easy it is to maintain or clean the knife, how sharp is it, and does it have any special features. To choose our top picks for the best Bowie knife, we looked at various factors including style, materials, size, weight, and purpose. Style was important because if a knife looks too much like a piece of gardening equipment, shoppers won’t buy it.
The material was crucial since carbon steel blades are more durable than stainless steel ones, but they’re heavier to carry around. Finally, the length and weight were important considerations when choosing a good folding knife, especially one with a decent sleeve or holster for loose ammunition magazines.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bowie knives
What is the Bowie knife?
The Bowie knife is a famous fighting knife from the 1800s. It was named after its inventor, Alain Bernardo “Alby” Bowie, and has been used in combat by both sides of the battlefield.
How sharp should a Bowie knife be?
Sharp is relative to what task you’re using it for. For general utility tasks, keep it as dull as possible while still being able to shave with it. For more precise work, like skinning an animal or opening a package, go with something that’s either very sharp or, if you plan to carry it around regularly, heavily coated with some sort of protective material (such as G10) so that it won’t wear down your pocketbook or scabbard.
Are Bowie knives legal?
In most states, carrying a concealed Bowie knife is legal, but there are exceptions. Laws that limit the length of your blade or forbid carrying concealed fixed blades can severely restrict your options.
Can I bring a bowie knife onto a plane?
Most planes allow passengers to carry-on luggage which includes personal items such as books, cameras, etc., but not specifically intended for use in an emergency. In these cases, it may be necessary to check baggage.