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Bowie knives have been around since the 19th century and are named after Jim Bowie who used one in a fight to kill another man during a brawl between two families. In regards to the 19th century, that is a pretty long time, but the question is – do you know how to choose a suitable bowie knife? There are countless bowie knives available on the market these days, making it a little difficult to know which one to purchase.
With so many changes in the bowie knife design since the first one was made back in 1830, bowies in today’s market no longer look like the original. These large fighting knives typically come with a blade length ranging between 5 and 24 inches. If you are looking for a great bowie knife, there are certain things you should keep in mind.
What to Look for in a Fabulous Bowie Knife
So what should you look for in a marvelous bowie knife? There are some key factors that you should consider to make sure that you buy the best bowie knife.
Construction: First and foremost, you should never even think about buying a non-full tang bowie knife. A tang is a connecting prong or shaft that connects the handle with the blade. A Bowie knife is large and heavy, so the last thing you want to do is break the blade at the hilt while you are using it. A full tang will keep this from happening.
Materials: Carbon steel was traditionally used for bowie knives due to its ability to maintain a sharp edge. With the advancement of stainless steel alloys, people who make blades found materials that could surpass, or at least match the carbon steel. If you want a traditional bowie knife, pick one with a carbon steel blade. But keep in mind that other types of steel are also available if you prefer – they work just as well as carbon steel.
Blade Size: You should choose the blade size based on what you intend to use your bowie knife for. Small blades give you precision while large blades tend to be more powerful. A bowie knife with a large blade is handy for tasks such as chopping small pieces of wood or clearing brush or weeds. If you go camping or hunting often, this is the best type for you. Smaller blades are an ideal choice for fishermen and hunters as they help in cleaning or skinning meat and other such tasks.
Blade Length: The trademark of bowie knives is long blades. Bowie knife makers manufacture this type of knife in different sizes, but they are generally no shorter than 5 inches. When you are in the wilderness, this length is important as it helps in performing various tasks that pocket knives are unable to.
The Top 10 Bowie Knives
Here is a comparison chart of our top picks so you can choose the right knife for you:
At a Glance: Our Choices for The 10 Best Bowie Knives
Click to one of the links to go directly to our overview, opinion, and specs of bowie knife.
- SOG Super SOG Bowie Fixed Blade SB1T-L Knife
- Schrade SCHF45 Leroy Full Tang Bowie
- Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Knife
- Buck Knives 124 Frontiersman Knife
- Ontario Spec Plus Marine Raider Bowie
- Cold Steel 39LSWB Marauder Knife
- Case Cutlery Bowie Knife
- Timber Rattler Western Outlaw Bowie Knife
- Smith and Wesson Extract & Evasion Bowie knife
- Fallkniven NL4
1. SOG Super SOG Bowie Fixed Blade SB1T-L Knife
This is a superb blade that comes with some outstanding features. Made of AUS-8 steel with a black TiNi finish, the Super SOG Bowie has a 7.5 inch, fixed, straight edge blade with a clip point shape to give you a deeper and quicker puncture. It is incredibly easy to sharpen and performs any task with ease.
The leather washer handle is ergonomically contoured and well-balanced, ensuring a comfortable grip. The SOG Super Bowie knife comes with a lanyard hole, leather lanyard as well as a leather sheath with a belt loop attachment and a snap closure to keep it safe and close to you at all times. It also includes a sharpening stone so you can grind the blade to perfection when it starts to get dull.
Opinion: We really like the SOG Super Bowie, we think is a solid buy and you’ll be happy to pick one thanks to its unmatched craftsmanship. We believe that this excellent product is awesome for every day as well as survival use. Because it is highly resistant to rust and other environmental threats, we are sure that it will last a lot longer than many knives out there, giving you value for your money.
The only thing that we did not like is the sheath – it is too small, causing problems trying to insert the knife into it. Apart from this, there are no issues and we can say that anyone looking for a high-quality blade should pick the SOG Super Bowie.
|(+) Sharp blade||(-) Small sheath|
|(+) Ergonomic contoured handle for better grip and comfort||(-) A little heavy for some users|
|(+) Perfect length for all types of tasks|
|Our Rating:||4.8 stars|
2. Schrade SCHF45 Leroy Full Tang Bowie
Made of titanium coated 8Cr13MoV high carbon stainless steel, the SCHF45 Leroy bowie knife is a full tang that comes with some really cool features. It features TPE handle slabs with finger grooves, choil and finger guard and a lanyard hole. This great knife is sharp and strong, making it the perfect companion to take to the amazing outdoors whether you are camping or hunting. This is a well-designed and well-built knife that feels comfortable in the hand and allows you to perform any cutting task with ease.
Opinion: We believe that the SCHF45 Leroy bowie knife is an awesome choice. It is big and heavy and will last many years, which is why we think it is the ideal choice for hunters, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. You can’t go wrong carrying this knife every time you head out into the wilderness. It is sharp and feels good in the hand, allowing you to perform various tasks with ease, from skinning game to making tinder to kindling.
If there is anything that we would change, it would be the weight. It may be a tad heavy for some. Apart from this, there are no complaints and we can say that anyone in need of an outstanding knife should definitely give this one a try– it is a beast of a knife that is worth every dollar you spend. And it if you are going up against The Saviors from The Walking Dead show, it will come in handy as well.
|(+) High-quality materials||(-) Handle scales and tang not well-matched|
|(+) Sharp, sturdy, and durable||(-) Slightly heavy for some users|
|(+) Comfortable to use|
|Our Rating:||4.7 stars|
3. Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Knife
This knife is used by all branches of military and service members, which means it is a top-notch combat bowie knife. The Ka-Bar Becker is a great knife for outdoor enthusiasts as well as collectors. With a 1095 Cro-Van steel, it has been tested to ensure durability and quality.
It features an ergonomic Grivory handle which is designed to minimize user fatigue. It is sturdy and easy to sharpen, and also feels good in the hand. Whether you are in combat or in the wilderness, you can be sure that this knife will help you perform all your tasks with ease.
Opinion: We can confidently say that this excellent knife from Ka-Bar is another great choice if you are looking for a quality knife for your outdoor adventures. Strong and reliable, this knife can handle all types of cutting tasks, including heavy-duty ones. We like that the blade holds its edge extremely well. This is among the best Bushcraft survival knives you can pick and we would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an awesome combat bowie knife.
If we could change one thing, it would be the handle. Although well-made and good-looking, we find it slippery when it is wet – dangerous while working with it. Apart from this, there is nothing negative and we can say that the Ka-Bar Becker BK9 is a sagacious choice to anyone in the market for a top-quality knife.
|(+) Comfortable to use||(-) Screws can come loose|
|(+) Sharp, heavy-duty blade||(-) Handle slips when wet|
|(+) Versatile and durable|
|Our Rating:||4.7 stars|
|Steel type:||1095 Cro-Van|
4. Buck Knives 124 Frontiersman Knife
The Buck Knives 124 Frontiersman is a solidly built and well-designed straight-back bowie hunting knife made with 420HC steel and a satin finish. It looks and feels great in the hand. It has excellent strength, corrosion resistance, and edge retention. The black Micarta handle with finger guard and aluminum pommel gives you a decent grip, no matter what task you are performing. This full tang bowie knife will make a stellar companion whether you are camping, hunting, backpacking, or engaging in any other outdoor activity.
Opinion: We really like the 124 Frontiersman bowie knife. It is a thick full tang knife that has a full handle that feels extremely comfortable while cutting. We can also say that the large guard is a bonus as it is nice and comfortable as well. The blade is very sharp, so cutting anything is a piece of cake. The fit and finish are thought to be excellent as well.
If there could be changes made to the 124 Frontiersman bowie knife, it would be the size. It is a tad large for some who want to take it camping or on the trail. Overall though, we believe that this bowie knife is a fantastic buy and anyone looking for a top-notch blade at an affordable price should get this one – we are sure you will be happy to pick one of these Buck Knives 124 Frontiersman.
|(+) Made with the finest quality materials||(-) A little big for some users|
|(+) Razor sharp||(-) Leather sheath could be improved|
|(+) Great for all outdoor tasks|
|Our Rating:||4.6 stars|
|Steel type:||420HC Steel|
5. Ontario Spec Plus Marine Raider Bowie
The Marine Raider is an amazing looking knife that comes with some awesome features. Made with 1095 carbon steel and an epoxy powder coating, the full tang blade is designed and built for strength and durability.
The Kraton handle gives you a good grip and feels comfortable no matter what the task at hand. It also has a piped lanyard hole and comes with a high-quality leather Cordura sheath. Whether you are in the military or an outdoor enthusiast who appreciates a wonderful knife, you can bet that the Marine Raider is perfect for you.
Opinion: We believe that when it comes to combat bowie knives, this great knife is worth considering. We find that its weight, size, blade length, and style are all great, allowing anyone to use it for a wide range of tasks. We also like the handle, it is extremely well made and grips well, ensuring that it does not slip while you are using it. Another great thing is its sharpness as well and its ability to retain a sharp edge.
If there was any complaint, it would be the sheath’s quality. We found that some users made their own Kydex sheath which was much better. Apart from this, there is nothing that we would change about this knife, we really believe that Ontario did a splendid job with the Marine Raider. It is a well-made, upper heavy-duty knife. If you are a serious outdoorsman looking for a serious bowie knife should pick this one.
|(+) Robust and solidly built||(-) Small lanyard hole|
|(+) Impressive handle that absorbs shock||(-) Sheath could be improved|
|(+) Excellent edge retention|
|Our Rating:||4.5 stars|
|Steel type:||1095 Carbon Steel|
6. Cold Steel 39LSWB Marauder Knife
Made with Japanese AUS 8A stainless steel, the Cold Steel Marauder is another great choice if you are looking for a superb knife for your outdoor trips. The long, double quillon sub-hilt Kray-Ex handle feels grippy and comfortable while performing tasks and is impervious to the elements.
The deep, wide blade bevels, continuously curved cutting edge and formidable clip point will allow you to cut, slice, chop, hack, pierce, and shear with ease. If you are looking for a tough, long-lasting bowie knife, this is the one for you.
Opinion: We believe that the Cold Steel Marauder is an extraordinary blade – beautifully designed, light, and functional. It is everything that you need in a knife for your outdoor activities, whether it is hunting or camping.It feels fabulous in the hand no matter what task you are performing. We think that this knife is the best large knife for the price, giving you excellent value for your money.
If there was anything that we would like to change, it would be the sub hilt which we find is a little uncomfortable and limits the grips that you can quickly change while you are cutting. Other than this, there are no complaints and we can finally say that the Cold Steel Marauder bowie knife is an awesome knife with a great balance and feel. Many knife enthusiasts say that they would buy it again when they need a new survival knife.
|(+) Super sharp||(-) Blunt clip|
|(+) Light and comfortable to carry and use||(-) Slightly uncomfortable sub hilt|
|(+) Strong, performs all cutting tasks including heavy-duty ones|
|Our Rating:||4.5 stars|
7. Case Cutlery Bowie Knife
The Case Cutlery is a must-own knife. This fixed-blade knife is designed and built for quality and durability. It is the ideal for a wide range of activities such as hunting, hiking, camping, and so forth. With its Tru-Sharp surgical-sharp blade, this knife will make any cutting task as easy as possible. The Case Cutlery is a beautifully made knife that will serve you well in all your adventures in the great wide open.
And even the characters in Fear the Walking Dead would have an amazing use for this knife.
Opinion: We believe that the Case Cutlery Bowie knife is beautiful and makes a fabulous addition to any survival kit or bug out bag. We like the sharp blade and how well-balanced the knife is as well. It feels harmonious in the hand while performing any task. It also comes with a very good leather sheath. We think that this product is a high-quality knife that is sure to last many years. It is easy to use and sharpen, which is important when you are out in the wilderness.
The only thing that we would change is the blade’s thickness – we find it is a little too thin. But apart from this, we have no complaints, and we think that the Case Cutlery Bowie knife is a profound knife with unbelievable craftsmanship. If you are looking for a wonderful knife at an affordable price, we have no problem saying that you should definitely pick this one.
|(+) Beautiful design||(-) Blade a tad thin for some users|
|(+) High-quality steel||(-) Poorly made sheath|
|(+) Versatile and durable|
|Our Rating:||4.5 stars|
|Steel type:||Stainless steel|
8. Timber Rattler Western Outlaw Bowie Knife
This awesome-looking knife is made of quality stainless steel with a full tang blade and brass-plated guard. It also features a classic gray hardwood handle and a well-made leather sheath. If you are looking for a remarkable knife that offers both good looks and excellent performance, the Western Outlaw is definitely the one for you. It is sharp and strong, allowing you to handle all your tasks in the wilderness with ease and comfort.
Opinion: We really believe that the Timber Rattler Bowie knife is an extraordinary knife that is one of the most affordable Bowie knives on the market. It feels extremely comfortable in the hand and has a concrete grip. We also find that the thickness of the spine is solid and it feels well balanced when you are doing whatever task you have at hand. It is a large and heavy knife that feels strong and sturdy, which is why so many users say they love it.
If there was any improvement we would like to make, it would be the blade – we find that it needs to be sharpened quite often. Apart from this, there are no complaints. We can say that the Timbler Rattler is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a tough and powerful survival knife. We think that you cannot go wrong with this one, especially with that type of price.
|(+) Large and hefty, great for many tasks||(-) Needs to be sharpened a little too often (you do not want to buy a bike tire that you have to pump up all the time because it slowly leaks but this tire is fantastic in other aspects so it still could be a salient buy)|
|(+) Sharp blade||(-) May be a little too big and heavy for some|
|Our Rating:||4.3 stars|
9. Smith and Wesson Extract & Evasion Bowie Knife
When it comes to knives for desert, wilderness, and so on, there is nothing like the Smith and Wesson Extract and Evasion Bowie knife. It is a well-designed and well-built knife that you can carry to use, whether you are out camping, hunting, backpacking, and so forth. This knife is quality tested and offers maximum durability. This is a sturdy knife that is designed with the roughest, toughest users in mind. If you are looking for quality, comfort, and performance for your blade, the Extract & Evasion Bowie knife is the ideal choice for you.
Opinion: We think that the Smith and Wesson Extract & Evasion is a really good option worth checking out. We like the shape and overall ergonomics of the knife. We also find that it is sturdily built and can perform even the toughest cutting jobs with ease. It feels comfortable in the hand and you never have to worry about it slipping from your hand while you are performing tasks. We believe that this is an awesome knife for EDC as well as survival kits.
If any changes had to be made, it would be the sheath – it is poorly made, and some users say that they made their own for their Extract & Evasion Bowie knife which was much better than the one that came with the knife. But all in all, we have nothing negative to say about the knife, and we believe that this is a top choice for hunters, campers, backpackers, and EDC as well.
|(+) Excellent quality||(-) Poorly made sheath|
|(+) Tough 1070 high carbon steel blade||(-) Needs frequent sharpening|
|(+) Comfortable handle scales|
|Our Rating:||4.3 stars|
|Steel type:||7Cr17 High Carbon Steel|
10. Fallkniven NL4
When it comes to survival tools, nothing beats Fallkniven, and the company does not disappoint with the NL4. It looks and feels fantastic and cutting edge in the figurative sense in the hand and is made with the finest materials available. It has an ox hide handle which gives you a sensational grip while cutting and minimizes slipping.
The Fallkniven NL4 is strong and holds its edge extremely well. It has a thick spine, making it very sturdy, and is extremely sharp as well. If you are looking for a high-quality knife with sterling value, you should definitely pick up the Fallkniven NL4.
Opinion: If you are looking for an exceptional knife, we think that the Fallkniven NL4 is a poignant choice. We like the fact that it has an impressive craftsmanship and is extremely sharp and strong. We find that it looks and feels awesome. We believe that the NL4 is the perfect companion for any camping, hunting, or Bushcraft trip. It has world-class construction, which we are sure any buyer would appreciate because they can be sure that this blade will last a long time even after hard use.
If there was anything that we would like to improve, it would be the VG-10 steel. VG-10 is a quality and expensive steel, but not the best choice for Bushcraft in our opinion. Apart from this, we do not have any complaints and we can finally say that the Fallkniven NL4 is excellent and you will not be disappointed with your purchase.
|(+) Comfortable ox hide handle||(-) Steel could be better|
|(+) Holds edge extremely well||(-) Sheath needs improvement|
|(+) Exceptionally sharp|
|Our Rating:||4.3 stars|
Bowie Knife Design Advantages
The Bowie knife has a design that is unique to other survival knives on the market. It is this design that sets it apart and makes it a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts, including hunters, campers, hikers, and the list continues. Here is a look at a few advantages of the Bowie knife design:
- Helpful for Hunters: The Bowie knife has a sharpened, curved tip that hunters like as it helps them skin carcasses. The blade’s flat portion is equally useful slicing or cutting meat. This type of survival knife can help in reducing the number of tools you will need to carry into the wilderness.
- Campsite King: Hunters are not the only ones who make good use of the bowie knife design. Its versatility makes it the perfect companion on any camping trip. The large blade is wide and heavy and can serve as a small hatchet or machete when you need one. It not only works as a chef’s knife for the camping cook but also in chopping wood to keep the campfire burning. You want to remain warm and you want to keep the critters at bay!
- Tough Performance: When it comes to tools for survival and outdoor activities, the Bowie knife is unequaled. It is tough and strong, helping you with a range of tasks such as chopping wood, acquiring food, cutting branches, and clearing brush. No matter what the job, the Bowie knife is always up to the task.
Bowie Knife Best Uses
With its strength, power, and versatility, the bowie knife is one of the most indispensable tools to carry on your outdoor adventures. Here is a look at some of the best uses of this incredible knife:
- Hunting: As mentioned earlier, the Bowie knife design makes it perfect for hunters. Apart from the curved tip, its blade length is also helpful for hunters as it gives them improved cutting power for cleaning and skinning game. Additionally, the handle which provides a comfortable grip gives hunters the dexterity they need to attack awkward areas on a kill.
- Combat/Defense: A Bowie knife is large and strong, making it the perfect weapon to defend yourself against predators in the wild. Of course, you do need proper training to use this type of knife for self-defense, so you minimize the risk of harming yourself or others unnecessarily.
- Survival: When you are in the wilderness, there are a lot of tasks and chores you need to perform. Food and shelter, play an important role in any survival situation. When you have a bowie knife, you can hunt for food and chop wood, cut sticks, cut a slice of pie, whatever! To build a shelter and to eat! You can use your Bowie knife as a multi-function tool to help you survive in the wild.
- Making Other Tools: A bowie knife can also be used to make other tools that you need out in the wilderness. For example, you may need a spear to hunt or fish. Your Bowie knife can help you make one quickly and easily. You can also make wooden spoons and other items you need to cook when you are out hunting, camping, and so on. As mentioned earlier, this is a highly versatile tool that can be used for many different tasks.
Your Predilection… Take Your Time!
If you want a powerful multi-tool for your outdoor expeditions, you should pick up a bowie knife. They are heavy, strong, and excellent, even for heavy-duty chopping and cutting tasks, making them one of the most useful tools you can carry for camping, hunting, and survival in the wild.
Many people also use this kind of knives for EDC. No matter what you need a Bowie knife for, you can be sure that it will always come through for you. It is an excellent addition to any survival kit, bug out bag, EDC kit, or camping gear. If you do not own one yet, considering purchasing for yourself a Bowie knife – you will be glad for it when you are out on one of your adventures or even have a threat occurring to your home!
All these bowie knives are fantastic. The choice is yours. Are there any other great bowie knives that we missed? Let us know in the comments.
Image Credit by Richard Sunderland