Bowie Knives

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by dispatch 510, May 25, 2009.

  1. dispatch 510

    dispatch 510

    May 17, 2005
    Does anybody use one? Pros and Cons.
  2. sidecutter


    Nov 28, 2008
    hmmmm... i use a buck 119 in the kitchen a lot. its kind of bowie-ish.:D
  3. sidecutter


    Nov 28, 2008
    more i think about it that is a great question. would anybody out there use a traditional bowie as a hunting, camping, or fixed EDC ? lots of bowie descendants out there , but the real thing??? btw what does a REAL bowie look like? thanks . paul:)
  4. Ron53


    Jul 30, 2007
    Yes, I do. I have an 8 1/4" Bowie that I assembled myself, using a John Nowill & sons (Sheffield) blade. I installed a nickel silver guard and bottom bolsters on the scale tang, and Sambar stag handle scales. I've used it around our ranch to clear brush and dig roots out of our garden. It's a great chopper and takes and holds a good edge.

    I patterned it after a Sheffield Bowie from the mid-19th Century.


    Here's a pic of mine:
    Last edited: May 26, 2009
  5. dispatch 510

    dispatch 510

    May 17, 2005
    Great looking bowie. I picked up a cheap one yesterday at SMKW. I thought I would see how useful it will be.
  6. stockmanlover


    Jun 2, 2009
    the bowie is in my opinion is one of the best patters of all time
  7. mdauben


    Oct 24, 2005
    What do you mean "real thing" and "decendant"? :confused:

    I would pretty much consider any large, clip point, fixed bladed knife as a "bowie". That would include lots of relatively modern knives from the USMC Ka-Bar, to the Cold Steel Trailmaster, to the SOG Trident. For years most hunting and survival knives were of this pattern.

    IMO there is really nothing fundamentally different between them and what were first called bowie knives back in the late 1800's except for materials.
  8. PA Woodsman

    PA Woodsman

    May 23, 2009
    I use a CS Trailmaster Carbon V pretty often. Very happy with it.
  9. brownshoe

    brownshoe I support this site with my MIND

    Sep 6, 2002
    I use an old german made one every weekend to chop wood chunks into smaller pieces for the weber grill. It then sits by the door in case anyone tries to reach in around the chain, I'll lop off their hand :)

    In olden day when boyscouts could carry anything, i used to carry mine on camping trips. Too big, too heavy, too thick to be really useful for anything other than making kindling, but it sure got some admiration at jamborees.
  10. sunnyd

    sunnyd Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 17, 2004
    Yes, I do. I have trained with Bowie's several times a week outside on my property on a hand built set of cutting posts and targets for quite a few years since the late 1990's. I also use them in the field often for my outdoor adventures. I utilize several different sizes depending on the cutting chores..

    Bowie knives are one of the all time greatest patterns of knives in existence.

  11. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998
    Please, let's not start spamming the forum with superfluous ebay ads. Thanks. (I realize it's a joke.)
  12. Samael


    Sep 30, 2007
    Actually, "what is a real Bowie knife?" is an excellent question, simply because we have absolutely no idea what knife (or more likely, knives) Jim Bowie actually owned and used. Most "experts" would agree that it was a large (9+ inch, and probably much longer), double-edged blade. The whole clip-point thing probably came afterwards.

    Yes, many of our modern Bowie knives owe their design to the knives of the late-1800s. But let's not forget that Bowie didn't live in the late-1800s.

    That said, this one gets carried a fair amount when I'm up in the high country. And yes, it gets used.

  13. sunnyd

    sunnyd Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 17, 2004

    I believe you are confusing the Arkansas Toothpick knife pattern with the Bowie knife pattern when you describe a "double-edged blade".

    Also, what information--documentation are you using to legitimize the aforementioned statement I've highlighted in bold?

    Kindly provide links--references please.
    ~ ~ ~ ><> ~ ~ ~

    Edit to add: A good using Bowie pattern knife built to my spec's by Rick Smith.. Full tang. O-1 hi-carbon and vintage pre-ban Elephant ivory scales on her Coffin handle..



    Last edited: Jun 10, 2009
  14. Samael


    Sep 30, 2007
    Probably the best resource on Bowie knives is Raymond W. Thorp's Bowie Knife: A Saga of Early America. Sadly, it has been out of print for many, many years, but your library may have (or have access to) a copy.

    On the Internet, both the Arkansas History Museum's website ( and Wikipedia ( are fairly competent. I believe both sites discuss the importance of the Black and Rezin Bowie influences on what Jim Bowie may have carried, and pretty strongly suggest the double-edged element (not an Arkansas toothpick), at least for a portion of the false bevel. Please note that, by "double-edged blade," I don't mean a full double edge, but I am referring to something more than the traditional "clip point."

    In addition, some of the rationale behind my statement is derived from the preferred "fighting knife" even today. Most custom "fighting knives" are in the 9-11" range, with a predominantly straight blade, and with at least half of the false bevel sharpened. Why? Because it's the best solution to the problem. I have a hard time believing that a knife fighter of Jim Bowie's distinction wouldn't have learned these lessons for himself.

    As I said earlier, we can argue these questions ad infinitum and never arrive at a resolution, because the simple fact is that Bowie's blade most likely perished with him. We'll never really know what he carried.
  15. sunnyd

    sunnyd Basic Member Basic Member

    Jul 17, 2004
    I have read so much about Jim and Rezin Bowie over the years that I dare say its difficult to say what knife these fellows actually carried at any given time or when..

    I submit to you that they carried different knives for different tasks and no one knife was an exclusive carry. At least not until they're side arms(knives were the self defense of choice in the early 1800's) evolved over time. Which I am sure was in stages.

    As an aside.. I have read about both the brothers describing an incident regarding knife sticking--mortally wounding and eventually killing rouge steer in the jugular veins in either Tennessee or Louisiana where in one incident younger brother James slid his hand down the handle onto the blade thereby wounding himself badly.. On later reflection of this error the boys decided to add the extended guard for protection.. This is the knife evolution I am referring too.
  16. Samael


    Sep 30, 2007
    I certainly carry different knives for different tasks; I can't think of a reason in the world why Bowie wouldn't have also.

    In a way, it's kind of nice that there are no definitive answers to all these questions. One man's theory is just as valid as any other's. We're all "experts," such as it is.
  17. Bors


    Mar 23, 2000

    You can't be serious.....

    Bowie's sandbar knife was really nothing more than a large butcher knife. Over the years "Bowie Knife" has become synonymous with any large knife although one is generally considered to have a full length single edge and a partial sharp clip edge. These were probably more dueling knives than anything. Today pretty much any "BIG" knife is considered a "Bowie" knife.

    Now to answer the question I have a variety of large knives that fall into the modern classification and I do use study and train with them. It is with out a doubt one of if not the best dueling knife there is bar none.
  18. Samael


    Sep 30, 2007
    Yes, Bors, I am serious.

    And Anthony and I weren't discussing "what the Bowie knife has come to be known as." I think we all know what that means (just about anything anybody wants it to mean).
  19. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998
    I'm decidedly in the camp that "nobody knows" the facts per se (based upon my admittedly somewhat limited reading on the subject).

    That said, it's interesting to mull over the possibilities.

    Which is my way of saying that I'll have nothing more to contribute on the topic and only ask that we keep any differences of opinion from getting heated (within the forum).

    (Feel free to take any duels offline to email or PM. "Seconds" appear to be readily available. ;))

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