How to choose a bowie knife

Bowie knives are a type of large knives traditionally used by European men. They have a blade that curves downward and is sharp on both sides. The bowie knife was designed in 1834 by James Black "Jim" Bowie as he tried to find a way to stab an adversary without being stabbed himself. 

The name comes from the Bowie family members who were famous for their fighting skills in the 1800s and early 1800s. Jim Bowie is also said to be honored with this name because of how easily he could stick his enemies with his infamous blade design which was named after him.

This knife was made popular in the United States when Jim Bowie fought in the Sandbar Fight along with his brother Rezin. The fight took place in Texas after a man insulted Jim Bowie and his brothers. The two were outnumbered, but they won because they had swords while their opponents only had guns. Jim Bowie is buried with this knife near him at his grave site in Louisiana.

Categories of Bowie Knife

This knife is used for various purposes, such as hunting animals and self-defense. For these purposes, the much more modern tactical fixed blade makes a better weapon than an old-fashioned one that resembles an ancient sword. Tactical knives are lighter, stronger and sharper than traditional knives. Usually, the blades of knives are mounted in leather sheaths or handle sheaths.

There are several types of these cool knives that can be distinguished. The three main categories are:

  • Military Knives

The military knife is used for self-defense and hunting. It uses a sharp edge for self-defense and a blunted edge for hunting. A classic military knife has a straight blade, making it easy to stab someone from any direction at the same time with a single motion of your hand. 

Bowie military knife

The blade is made out of hardened steel, or sometimes stainless steel or carbon steel, which makes it quite durable and strong. The straight blade is also the most durable, but it is more difficult to sharpen.

  • Utility Knives

The utility knife is used for different jobs, such as cutting wood and meat, slicing fruits, and removing bones from fish. It also serves an important role in close combat situations, due to its handy size and sharpness. 

Utility knives are often used as survival knives because of their rugged design and empowering factors. Some military knives are made from dual-element steel or carbon steel to be strong enough to withstand higher temperatures without bending or damaging the blade.

Bowie knife

  • Hunting Knives

The hunting knife has a curved blade made out of high carbon steel coated with hard dark flint or stone so that it will hold an edge even after repeated use. The hunting knives are used for skinning and fur removal. The Bowie is the classic choice for a hunting knife, due to its versatility and reliable use in various applications. 

The modern version of the Bowie has a straight tang with one or two blades, depending on the shape of the handle. The blade can be up to long and thick. It often has decorative ornaments, such as a "winged" guard or an integrated pommel that helps with grip when throwing or cutting.

Choose the Right Bowie - Factors to Consider

If you're going to carry a knife - a bowie knife at that - you need to know how to use it. Sure, the intention may be self-defense, but the point is moot if you don't know how to deploy your blade in the event of an attack. 

  • Material Used in Making

When choosing how to make your knives you can choose between several different materials. They are typically made out of metal but there are some out there made of plastic which is not very popular anymore. 

Metal knives tend to be stronger and more durable while plastic ones tend to be lighter and cheaper. The bows are typically made out of metal but some of the more modern knives feature a composite bow that is made out of steel and synthetic graphite, this type of composite being fairly new and somewhat uncommon.

  • Size of the Blade

Nowadays there are still many different types of these fixed blade knives available for purchase; some have blades that are 20 inches long, while others are much smaller at around 5 inches long. The blade style varies as well, with some being straight, others curved and still others a combination of the two.

A Bowie knife is typically a heavy-bladed knife with an interesting history. The original designer of this particular type of knife has never been confirmed, but it's most likely that six or seven different people designed it independently. It also has been difficult to define the size and shape of this type of blade; there have been many variations on its design throughout the years.

Bowie knife

  • Length of Blade

When a blade of a Bowie knife is 9.5 inches in length, it is considered to be one-handed. However, when the blade has an 8 inch blade that can be switched between left and right handed use, it's called the bowie knife.

The classic Bowie is typically made with a 6 inch clip point and 4 inch semi-sharpened sheep's foot point stainless steel blades on either end of the handle with a round pommel to prevent slipping off of your fingers while in use. The handle comes in at 2 inches and tapers down to 1.5 inches near the blades for your fingers to grip onto securely during use or storage.

  • Type of Blade

There are a few different types of bowies, but the ones we're most familiar with are the drop-point, clip point and sheep's foot.

  • Drop Point Knife

As the name implies, this is any knife that has its point or tip at an angle, usually 60 degrees or more. A steep drop minimizes the chance that your knife will snag on fabric, hair or other items, which can result in severe injury if it slips out of your hand. 

Because of this, it's generally considered more desirable from a defensive standpoint than a straight-pointed one. On the other hand, the harder material on a drop point can make it more difficult to penetrate the body of an attacker.

  • Clip Point Knife

A knife in which the cutting edge is concave up or has a clip. A clip point is an alternative to a standard drop-point, and you should consider them if you want something between these two extremes. This style of "sword” blade was popularized by Browning and made famous by these knives of Alamo fame. 

Though this design tends to be considered less than ideal for most chores, they are useful in situations where you cut yourself while performing other tasks (for example, if you try to peel with your bowie knife).

  • Sheep’s Foot Knife

This is a type of back-blade knife, the distinguishing characteristic of which is a straight cutting edge, or a cutting edge that curves upwards toward the tip of the blade. As we mentioned earlier, this design minimizes the risk that your blade will cut yourself if you're using it for common tasks like breaking down boxes. 

They also tend to be tougher and easier to sharpen than drop points. The issue is that sheep's-foot knives are generally not as great for self-defense because they're more difficult to hide due to their distinctive shape and larger size.

Pros and Cons of Bowie Knife

These knives have always been a popular, versatile tool. In addition to being very effective in combat they are also easily concealable and can be made with materials including regular kitchen cutlery. 

However, there are some disadvantages that you should be aware of when making this purchase. One is that the blade and handle often don't fit together perfectly causing movement that could lead to injury if working with an opponent or prey. 

Another is that the blade may not hold an edge for as long as other blades because it lacks a hard metal such as steel or titanium metal, instead relying on being sharpened more often than a metal knife would need to be sharpened.  

The use of a bowie knife also requires a little more maintenance than other blades because the handle is less ergonomic, requiring some added care when using the knife.