The Top 5 Best Bowie Knives
The Legendary Bowie knife is one of the most popular blades worldwide for a variety of reasons but its largely due to the tale surrounding the tale of Jim Bowie who allegedly used it in the infamous “Sandbar Fight” of 1827 near Vidalia, Louisiana. Jim Bowie overcame his attackers with his trusty knife that was designed and made by Rezin Bowie for Jim. The knife is an extremely popular carrying knife for people in the southern regions of the United States for the same reasons. Several famous uses of the Bowie knife by Bowie himself as well as other notable people took place in the 19th century and as such, the knife has gained somewhat of a reputation for being one of the best fighting knives out there. Today the knife is more commonly used in fieldcraft for things like field dressing, camping, and survival applications. While there isn’t a hard-set definition of what a Bowie Knife is, they all generally have long fixed blades, a cross guard, and terminate in a clip point (although, there are exceptions to these rules).
The Quintessential Fighting Knife: The Top 5 Best Bowie Knives
Table of Contents
1. Ontario Knife Company 8684 SP10 Spec Plus Marie Raider Bowie
The OKC Marine Raider Bowie Knife is made from 1095 Carbon Steel, features a black with a matte finish and traditional clip point eng. The knife also features a 5.25″ long grooved Kraton handle making it more durable as a field knife than other knives that feature a wooden handle. The handle also features a convenient lanyard hole for attaching a retention line if you’re into that. The blade has an overall length of 15-inches and usually retails for around $85 although it does go on sale from time to time for about $60 or so.
Pros/Durable blade finish and polymer handle for easy maintenance
Cons/Doesn’t feature the same charm as the original Bowie design
Bottom Line/A great option for an affordable heavy-use bowie knife
2. United Cutlery USMC Marine Force Recon Bowie Knife
Affordable and dedicated to the United States Marine Corps, the United Cutlery Bowie knife has an overall length of 16-1/2″ and a total blade length of 11-1/2″. The blade is made from AUS-6 Stainless steel for corrosion resistance and comes complete with an overmolded rubber grip handle and lanyard loop. Finally, this Bowie’s blade features partial serrations towards the rear and features some pretty aggressive jimping along the spine of the knife.
Pros/Affordable and Marine Corps themed
Cons/Handle seems a bit small for the overall length of the blade
Bottom Line/Great as a gift for a Marine friend or for just supporting your favorite branch of the military
3. Cold Steel Marauder Bowie Knife
Cold Steel has a long-lasting reputation for making some very affordable and high-quality knives that are useful for everyman. While the Cold Steel Marauder looks plain, the blade is made from AUS8A stainless steel, features a Kray-Ex handle complete with a finger guard for an added layer of safety when slicing or stabbing. The blade’s material also lends itself well to being sharpened at home so you shouldn’t have to worry about long laborious sharpening sessions if you maintain this blade. Currently, this blade is on sale for $84.99 as opposed to its normal near $130 asking price.
Pros/Decently sized bowie with a tough Japanese AUS8A stainless blade
Bottom Line/A great all around knife that has an added layer of safety for hard use
4. KA-BAR USMC Fighting Knife
While it could be argued that the KA-BAR Infantry knife is in a class all of its own, it still technically meets the requirements set out to qualify as a bowie knife. Made from 1095 Cro-van steel and featuring a 7-inch blade, the KA-BAR Fighting knife features all the classic lines that you’d come to expect from an old fighting knife and even comes complete with a leather sheath with an embossed USMC logo.
Pros/Light weight, leather sheath, and beautuiful to look at.
Cons/Blade dimensions are quite a bit smaller than a standard bowie knife
Bottom Line/A great carry knife that should be suited for any use
5. Buck Knives 119 Special Bowie Knife
Buck Knives is another great name in the knife-making industry and their Bowie Knife is no exception to their awesome reputation. The blade is made from 420HC stainless steel and features excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. Meanwhile, the traditional black phenolic handle features subtle palm swells and finger grooves for giving you a solid grip on the knife while doing fine detail work or attempting to pierce thick hide. Best of all, the Buck Knives 119 is made right here in the USA and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Pros/Solid 420HC Stainless Steel Blade for superior corrosion resistance
Bottom Line/A great combination of beauty and utility
What are Bowie Knives good for besides fighting?
While we are far removed from our frequent knife fighting days here in the USA, the Bowie knife still has a lot of good uses for modern owners. The primary use you’ll find for a bowie knife is for the field-dressing wild game right after a kill. The Bowie knife is particularly well suited for this as it features a fine clip point blade which is great for precision work, yet still has a long and broad blade for skinning work. Bowie Knifes are also somewhat of a collector’s item and many people will buy them just to have them as part of their growing collection. They are also apparently great for use in crocodile hunting.
Are Bowie Knives Legal to own?
Laws vary from state to state but generally it is legal to own and carry a bowie knife in public in most states. Many states have outright banned the Bowie along with many other types of blades like switchblades and ballistic knives are illegal to conceal in certain states (like Virginia). So if you’re planning on carrying one of these afield with you, you should check your local laws and regulations before doing so.
Where did the Bowie Knife Come from?
Despite being the state knife of Texas, the Bowie knife actually originates from Arkansas and was made by Rezin Bowie, Brother of James (Jim) Bowie in 1830. The knife itself was given to James Bowie who we mentioned earlier in this article and this is where the blade would gain its legendary name and reputation from. Jim Bowie was in several engagements with his Bowie knife and used it to great effect even after being shot and stabbed during several fights. Jim Bowie would later go on to die gloriously at the Alimo along with his fellow soldiers. Although Santa Ana briefly considered burying Bowie out of respect for his legendary status, he later recanted this thought and had his body placed on the funeral pyre with the other defenders of the Alamo.
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