The 5 Best Bowie Knives
What is the one thing you can’t forget to pack during your outdoor excursion? The answer to this question varies with some people talking about tents, firestarters, warm socks, hammocks, food, or an insect repellant.
Only a self-respecting outdoor or a survivalist will give ‘tactical/ survival knife’ as the answer. This is because, a knife will keep you from harm's way, get you food, make a fire, and help you set up a temporary ‘tent’ for you to shelter.
The best Bowie knife is the most important survival item you should carry in your bag because it is a utility knife too. Your chances of survival increase when you have the best bowie knife in a sheath whether in your boots or your backpack.
What is a bowie knife?
To understand this knife, we’ll take you to class for a few seconds. It was named after Jim Bowie, the guy who sent off his assailants using a knife in the infamous ‘Sand Bar’ fight, on a sandbar in the Mississippi River near Natchez-Under-the-Hill on September 19, 1827. The knife got lost, and there is no definitive description of how it looked like.
However, earlier that year, Jim’s brother Rezin Bowie, an Arkansas plantation owner was attacked by a bull, and he drew his belt knife and attacked the bull in self-defense. Rezin’s knife didn’t pierce the bull’s skull, but Rezin survived the attack. Following his survival, Rezin had to find a reliable knife and commissioned James Black, a blacksmith to grind down an old file into a large, single edge knife. The knife measured over 9 inches in length and about 1 ½ inches in thickness. The knife had a large quillons and a simple wooden grip.
This is the knife believed to have been used by Jim Bowie in the ‘Sand Bar’ fight. Some of the recognizable features of this knife include the large sheath, the clip point, and the cross guard. This knife is an excellent hunting and general survival or tactical knife.
A bowie knife is, therefore, the most reliable defensive weapon.
- Defense against predators.
- A perfect skinning knife for hunted carcasses.
- You can use it to whittle wood to make spears or even traps.
- Clearing camping sites.
- All these uses are the result of the knife’s heavy duty construction and design.
Best Bowie Knife Reviews 2017
1. Winchester Large Bowie Knife - corrosion resistant, stylish
Anyone who is into outdoor sports and activity, in general, understands the importance of a good knife. Firstly, a knife is an important safety element, and secondly, it is a critical part of your survival kit when in the wild.
As such, you have to get the best knife that won’t buckle under pressure or after a few uses. This 8.57-inch Winchester 22-41206 Large Bowie Knife is the kind of knife you’ll need in your hand to cut ropes, to skin a carcass or to make a fire.
Its main features include:
- Reliable engineering
This knife features a stainless steel blade that is corrosion resistant. The blade is also easy to sharpen. Its full tang construction means that the blade extends through the handle increasing the usability and the strength of the knife. The large size makes it a good choice as it can handle just about any outdoor activity.
This knife has an 8.57-inch blade, and it measures 14.25 inches in length. It weighs 14.4 ounces. This length and weight give you top notch control and stability over the knife when using it. The blade’s tip is lower than the blade’s spine for better control.
A Winchester 22-41206 Large Bowie Knife comes with a sheath which protects the blade. The sheath is a durable ballistic nylon sheath, ideal for carrying the knife comfortably and safely. The hard plastic protects the blade, and the two retaining straps keep the knife in place when not in use.
- Elegant design
This knife incorporates a high aesthetic appeal into its highly functional design. It has warm-toned wood on the brass handle as well as brass rivets. The handle also has finger grooves for a comfortable grip, and this ensures that you don’t lose grip of the knife even when it is wet.
To separate your hand from the blade, this knife features a brass cross guard functionality. It matches the other brass accents meaning this knife looks great at all times.
This Bowie knife is unmatched in its functionality. You can use this knife to skin carcasses with ease thanks to the bevel edge at the point streamlining the tip and the curved edge near the point. The notch close to the tip is the best sharpening starting point, and you can use it to strip wires or sinew.
This knife is also an excellent choice for repairing ropes of nets. The clip point and the notch near the handle make it easy to use.
- It has a comfortable feel around your fingers and your hand.
- The blade is corrosion resistant.
- It has a stylish design.
- It is versatile thanks to its design features like the notch, the tip, and the bevel edge.
- The packaging is dangerous.
- It’s only for light duty work.
2. SE Bowie Knife - inexpensive, sharp
Survival in the outdoors has never been easier. This is one of the cheapest bowie knives on the market, but, this isn’t the case of a cheap but a crappy knife. This knife exceeds your expectations.
It is versatile, and you can use it as a spearhead, for split kindling, to cut ropes, make tubings, cut small branches or to make tent pegs with it. It is small enough and flat enough meaning that you can stow it anywhere.
It has a rugged design showing that this knife gets work done. You can use it for fishing or camping.
It has a solid stainless steel full tang blade which makes it corrosion resistant and durable. The sheath will keep you safe when not using the knife. Thanks to its small size, you get to put it in your bug out bag, toss it in the glove compartment or drop in the backpack.
Its handle is a nylon rope wrapped to provide an excellent grip in wet conditions and to prevent your hand from getting blisters. It is also attractive adding to the knife’s attractive appeal, and you can use the winding as emergency cordage. This winding rope matches the reinforced belted sheath that keeps the blade and the Firestarter safe when not in use.
This knife makes an excellent survival tool as it comes with an emergency fire starter, a magnesium alloy with a striker. You know how important your ability to start a fire is when in the wild – warmth, food and protection from wild animals. It generated 5000+ degrees Fahrenheit sparks, and it is always ready to go. This fire starter will work for years.
The blade has a fixed construction, and it is 4mm thick, 7 inches in overall length, and it also features a 3-inch tanto point black finished blade.
SE is a registered trademark protected by the US Trademark Law.
- Inexpensive and you get great value for your money. It comes with a Firestarter too.
- The blade is sharp.
- High-quality design.
- Fits in the sheath perfectly.
- It is too sharp, and you may cut yourself if not careful.
3. MOSSY OAK Bowie Knife - genuine leather
Have you been looking for an elegantly designed bowie knife to make all your outdoor excursions more fun? Like you, we have used several types of bowie knives, and they disappointed, unfortunately.
However, coming across Mossy Oak Bowie Knife turned out to be the best blessing thanks to our love for the outdoors.
This bowie knife comes with a genuine leather sheath which is a great add-on to the knife given the fact that most bowie knives have plastic or nylon sheaths.
It has brass guards and brass pommel pieces held to the knife by rivets. The handle is a luxury classic non-slip grip handle. The handle is predominantly a 15-inch synthetic deer antler.
Its blade is razor-sharp, full tang and measures 10 inches. The handle is 5 inches making up the knife’s overall size of 15 inches.
As a result of its sturdy construction, this knife is suitable for hunting, military, tactical, survival, industrial and any other outdoor situation. It weighs 1.6 pounds, and it’s, therefore, the best knife to carry when on the move.
- It is a strong and a durable knife.
- It comes with a sheath made of genuine leather.
- The blade is full tang.
- Great price for an elegant bowie knife.
- The sheath’s belt loops and the straps aren’t the best, and they don’t hold up well.
- Not suitable for throwing because it is heavy.
4. SOG Fixation Bowie Knife - excellent design, good balance
This knife features a wrap-around checkered handle, blade grooves, notches, spanner nuts and crossguard cutouts.
For quick and deep cuts, this knife has a blade made of 8CR13MOV steel. It has an attractive black oxide finish, and the 7-inch straight edge of the blade has a clip point shape. This edge also sharpens easily making it easy to get work done in a short time.
The handle on this knife has an ergonomic contouring and balancing with a black finish making it functionally attractive. The handle is black and made of Kraton such that it fits comfortably in your hand.
The non-slip feature of the handle is the result of the use of a synthetic rubber material on the surface. This synthetic rubber material has a higher resistance to heat, chemical corrosion, and weathering.
For safety on the move and when the knife is not in use, the knife comes with a black nylon sheath with a belt loop attachment to hold it in place at all times. This black sheath has a hook and loop closure keeping this bowie knife safe, and you protected at all times.
The knife has an overall thickness of 12.12 inches, and the blade is 0.20 inches thick. The knife weighs 10.5 ounces and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
The futuristic, innovative and unique design of this knife makes it a must-have bowie knife for any outdoor enthusiast. Cleaning with mild soap and water, drying, oiling, and whetting will keep this and any other knife for a long time.
- It has an excellent design with a good balance.
- The blade remains sharp for a while, and it is easy to sharpen.
- The sheath is strong, and it works.
- It has a comfortable ergonomic design thanks to the Kraton handle.
- The blade isn’t full tang.
- Black oxide coating doesn’t prevent the knife from rusting.
5. CRKT Folts Minimalist Bowie Knife - full tang knife
As the name suggests, this is a minimalist bowie knife that makes the outdoors, even more, fun and manageable. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have been searching for a small bowie knife, one with an overall length of 5 1/8, this is it.
The blade of this knife is 2 inches, and it is a black 5Cr15MoV stainless steel bowie style clip point blade. This blade is full tang meaning that you can expect superior performance from the knife.
The handle features three finger choils with green and black Micarta scales. The scales enhance grip and thanks to the friction-grooved top, the edge, the knife will remain in place in your hand. You’ll also like the black braided fob and the black Zytel sheath with a neck paracord.
The detachable belt clip helps to hold the knife in place when not in use. It comes with a high-quality neck plastic sheath.
- It has a sturdy design, and it won’t move around or shake in the sheath.
- It is a full tang knife.
- It has an excellent grip thanks to the Micarta handle.
- It has a strong plastic sheath, sharp and light.
- None for now.
Factors to consider when buying a bowie knife
Size of the blade
When looking at the size of the blade, you should keep an important factor in mind, the intended use of the knife. If the task at hand requires some level of power, you’ll be better off with a knife with a large blade. For instance, to chop small pieces of wood or clear weeds choose a larger blade. When undertaking a task that calls for precision, you should opt for a knife with a smaller blade. Hunting (skinning) or fishing requires the use of smaller blades.
Fortunately, there are bowie knives with small and large blades on the market.
Pro tip: look up user reviews to determine if the knife will get the necessary work done. Any knife whose blade measures between 7 to 9 inches will work perfectly with light jobs.
Bowie knives are characterized by straight spines extending forward from bolster to the handle. The blade then incorporates a straight or a concave drop to the tip, and the knife looks as if has a clipped end. This design lightens the tip of the blade enhancing its performance. This design also allows positioning of the tip below the spine but close to the center line offering greater control and better piercing ability.
These knives feature either drop points or straight back blade designs. The Drop Point blade has a straight spine which extends forward from the handle before incorporating a continuous convex curve from the blade’s spine to the tip. This makes it easy to control the knife when performing tasks that require precision.
The straight back, on the other hand, has a straight spine extending from the handle to the tip. It provides little control over the knife’s tip. It is, therefore ideal for slicing.
Pro tip: the blade should be razor-sharp regardless of the blade’s design. The blade design should provide momentum when chopping.
Bowie knives are predominantly steel. This is because steel is strong. There are different types of steel used in knives including the tough and hard steel. These two hold different properties, and you can only have a knife with either type of steel.
Besides these two, you will also come across high carbon steel, stainless steel, and laminated steel. The high carbon steels are predominant preferable mostly because they are tougher than stainless steel. They are also easier to sharpen, and you can hone it to get a finer edge. The downside of high carbon steel is that it is prone to corrosion and they don’t hold well.
Cheap steel rusts easily and may not hold the edge well.
Pro tip: even though high carbon steel is common, you can opt for the knives made with alternative materials which measure up to high carbon. The material used should make the knife utilitarian and also great for hunting.
Does the knife feature a straight or a recurved edge? Recurved edges are suitable for chopping while the knives with straight edges are excellent for general purposes.
The tang is the connecting shank between the blade and the handle. Since bowie knives feature heavy blades, the tang should be able to keep the blade from breaking. Full tang knives are the strongest. Partial Tang knives are narrower, and the tang doesn’t extend through the entire length of the knife.
Choose full tang blades over partial tangs to prevent the blade from breaking prematurely. Otherwise, you’ll sustain injuries from the knife or worse; you won’t be safe from an attack from an animal. Only but non-full tang bowies when you need them as wall hangers or historical displays.
Pro tip: a full tang gives maximum support and adds strength to your knife.
The handle must have an ergonomic design giving you control over the edge as well as the tip of the knife. A good handle means that you will still retain the handle in your hand even when chopping and the handle is wet.
Even though full tang bowies are the strongest, the bladesmith has to attach two slabs on either side of the tang creating a comfortable handle. Sadly, you don’t get protection from shocks and vibrations that result from batoning.
Pro tip: to lessen the shock from batoning, choose a knife with a handle made using Kraton, Micarta, Zytel, G10 or Hypalon. These materials have shock absorbing properties, and they also provide an excellent grip when the knife is wet. You may also want to choose knives with riveted handles.
A bowie knife is incomplete without a sheath. You cannot call your knife a bowie knife if it lacks a sheath. With this importance according to the sheath, you have to get the best material for the sheath. The most common sheaths are plastic or leather. Just make sure that the sheath is strong and durable.
Pro tip: the presence of straps or attachment loops makes the sheath more functional. Note that the role of the sheath is to keep the knife’s sharp blade away from your body when it is not in use. You have to get a sheath that keeps you safe.
By now you know that a bowie knife is your best survival tool. With its unmatched and its rich history, you have to get the best. Unfortunately, the search for the best isn’t the easiest thing to do. The market is full or real and fake bowie knives, and just like you, we’ve all made the wrong choice. With this guide, however, your chances of buying the wrong bowie knife are diminished. As we wrap up, you may want to remember that a bowie knife has a blade size ranging from 5 to24 inches. The whole knife measures anything between 12 and 30 inches.
The best bowie knife will help survive the night in the wild, and it will also help you skin the hunted carcass keeping you full through the cold night. You can also chop small pieces of firewood with the knife.
In this review, our favorite bowie knife is the Winchester 22-41206 Large Bowie Knife. It features an 8.57-inch surgical stainless steel fixed blade with a full tang construction making it the strongest survival knife. The handle has durable finger grooved wood with a brass cross guard. It also features brass rivets which make the knife very stylish.
You can use this knife for skinning carcasses thanks to the blade tip located lower than the blade’s spine. This provides control. The beveled edge at the point streamlines the tip, and the curved edge near the tip is perfect for removing the skin. The inclusion of a durable ballistic nylon sheath keeps you safe when not using the knife.
This is, therefore, the best survival bowie knife on the market.
Despite our preference for the Winchester 22-41206 Large Bowie Knife, the other four knives are excellent fits for bowie knives.