Best bowie knife

Gear

The bowie knife was designed and made by Jim Black for Jim Bowie, who had won an infamous duel known as the “Sandbar Fight” with a large knife during the 19th century.

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Which bowie knife is best?

Although the bowie knife has made a big name for itself in Wild West lore, video games and action movies, its real home is in every hunter or adventurer’s toolkit. Since it was first designed in 1830, bowie knives have come to incorporate modern versatility features such as serrated edges for bushwhacking and blood grooves for cleaning an animal.

Picking the right bowie knife can be a challenge because they can vary in size, shape and look, yet claim to be the same style. If you’re in the market for a premium, versatile bowie knife, the Tops Knives Prather War Bowie Knife is a quality option.

What to know before you buy a bowie knife

Edge geometry

While all bowie knives have the same broad clip point design, there are a variety of different edge geometry options optimized for certain uses. If you want a bowie knife for chopping and clearing, then a wider blade edge (around 30 degrees) works best. While wide blades are less prone to chipping and rolling, they don’t produce cuts as clean as a narrow blade edge (around 20 degrees).

Cleaning and maintenance

If you plan to use your knife regularly and don’t want to carry cleaning and sharpening tools around, look for a bowie knife made from stainless steel. On the other hand, if you don’t mind cleaning and sharpening often, choose a bowie knife made from carbon steel, as these hold their edge longer and sharpen easily. 

Blade length

While the original bowie knife is 9.5 inches, they come in all sizes today. Longer blades are ideal for clearing weeds and other agricultural purposes, while shorter blades are better for precision and accuracy. Shorter blades are preferred by fishers and hunters.

What to look for in a quality bowie knife

Weight

Although the bowie knife was originally designed as a lightweight knife, it’s considered heavy by today’s standards, and this is on purpose. The purpose of the heavy bowie knife blade is to cut through thick material such as dense grass or animal skin with ease. A good bowie knife has  the heft needed to get the job done.

Tang size

The length of the tang, which connects the blade to the handle, plays a large role in determining the durability of your bowie knife. Heavy knives with small tangs are prone to falling out of the handle during moderate use, whereas bowie knives with a full tang provide the support required for heavy usage.

Blade thickness

Finding the right thickness is a balancing act. While thicker blades may sacrifice sharpness, the purpose of the bowie knife is to swing and slash, not to make precision incisions. Look for a blade between 1/8 and 1/4 inch to maximize strength as well as sharpness.

How much you can expect to spend on a bowie knife

Good quality bowie knives start around $50 and can cost well over $200 for blades from reputable manufacturers. The biggest factor affecting price is the quality of blade steel.

Bowie knife FAQ

How do you maintain your bowie knife?

A. Regardless of your blade material, everyone wants to keep their bowie knife as long as possible. To ensure its longevity, make sure to clean and dry the blade after each use and to sharpen it after every few uses. It’s also good to get into the habit of washing the blade with soap and water from time to time.

Can you polish your bowie knife?

Rolite metal polish paste

A. Although bowie knives are an excellent, useful tool, many people find they make great display pieces as well. To keep your blade looking its best, use Rolite metal polish paste for most blades.

What’s the best bowie knife to buy?

Top bowie knife

Tops Knives Prather War Bowie Knife

Tops Knives Prather War Bowie Knife

What you need to know: Constructed from the highest-quality materials and exactingly designed and tested by military and outdoors experts alike, this blade is a great long-term investment.

What you’ll love: From the unique handguard to the thumb groove on the spine for extra precise cuts, this bowie lets you get the job done safely. Plus, the blade is a full 1/4-inch thick, which is nearly unbreakable as far as knives go. This bowie has a forward balance point that naturally facilitates slicing and chopping, making it an excellent choice for hikers and hunters.

What you should consider: Made in the U.S. from premium materials, this bowie knife is quite expensive compared to its competitors.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top bowie knife for the money

Bigcat Roar Custom Handmade Survival Knife

Bigcat Roar Custom Handmade Survival Knife

What you need to know: The Bigcat Roar bowie knife offers a unique take on a classic design, solid construction and robust practicality at an affordable price.

What you’ll love: Boasting a hammer-forged Damascus steel blade and a full tang construction, this bowie knife offers high performance at an unbeatable price. It also features a natural walnut handle that perfectly balances the patterned blade while enhancing its aesthetic. Plus, this bowie comes with a complementary leather sheath complete with a snap fastener and integrated belt loop.

What you should consider: While solid wood handles are beautiful, they’re also porous, making them susceptible to rot.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

SOG Seal Strike Tactical Bowie Knife

SOG Seal Strike Tactical Bowie Knife

What you need to know: This hard-hitting tactical bowie knife is highly portable, reliable and useful in a variety of situations.

What you’ll love: Designed and manufactured in the United States by veterans, this knife is a meticulously constructed multipurpose tool. Featuring a full tang and glass-reinforced nylon grip with stainless steel banding, this is one of the sturdiest bowie knives on the market. The stainless steel has a cryogenic heat treatment that boosts its hardness rating. It’s accompanied by a molded nylon sheath outfitted with a built-in sharpener, fire starter and line cutter.

What you should consider: At just below 5 inches in blade length, this bowie knife is not the best for heavy chopping.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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William Briskin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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