Contents at a glance
- 1 What is a Bowie knife?
- 2 Bowie Knife Comparison Chart
- 3 The Best 10 Bowie Knives
- 3.1 Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie Fixed Blade Knife
- 3.2 Muela MAGNUM-26 Red Stag Crown Antler Handle Hunting Knife
- 3.3 Ka-Bar Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife
- 3.4 Buck Knives 120 General Fixed Blade Knife with Leather Sheath
- 3.5 Buck Heritage Series Frontiersman Micarta Handle
- 3.6 SOG Specialty Knives & Tools SB1T-L Super SOG Bowie Knife
- 3.7 Schrade SCHF45 Leroy 16.5in High Carbon S.S. Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife
- 3.8 Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife with Leather Sheath
- 3.9 Timber Rattler Western Outlaw Bowie Knife
- 3.10 Cold Steel Drop Forged Series “Survivalist” Fixed Blade Knife
- 4 Conclusion
Bowie knives are here since the 19th century. That is a long time, but do you know how to choose the best Bowie knife? I’ve read countless Bowie knife reviews and tried many of them myself to put together this top 10 list and Bowie knife buying guide. We will go through a bit of the knife’s history, important factors to consider when choosing the right Bowie, and of course, there will be a top 10 list to quickly choose one of the best-rated Bowies.
What is a Bowie knife?
A lot of time has gone by since the birth of this knife and it has undergone so many design changes that many of today’s Bowies are no longer looking like the original. The original Bowie knife was created by James Black for Jim Bowie back in 1830.
Since there are no set definitions of the Bowie knife, it’s hard to describe it. It is typically a large fighting knife with its length ranging from 12 to 30 inches. The blade is usually between 5 to 24 inches long but be assured that the 24 inches Bowies look more like short swords or machetes than knives.
Bowie Knife Comparison Chart
The comparison chart below contains some of the most popular bowie knives. You can sort the rows by clicking the column headers. Weight is in ounces, the length is in inches. Happy sorting!
|Image||Model||Construction||Blade Length||Steel||Handle||Sheath||Our Rating||Price|
|Buck Heritage Series Frontiersman||Full Tang||6.25||420HC||Micarta||Leather||4.7||$$$|
|SOG SB1T-L Super Bowie Knife||Full Tang||7.5||AUS-8||Leather Washer||Leather||4.8||$$$|
|Timber Rattler Western Outlaw Bowie Knife||Full Tang||11.375||TR65||Hardwood||Leather||4.5||$|
|Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie||Full Tang||9||1095 Cro-Van||Grivory||Nylon||4.8||$$|
|Muela Magnum 26||Full Tang||10.75||X50CrMoV15||Stag Antler||Leather||4.7||$$$$|
|Ka-Bar USMC Fighting Knife||Full Tang||7||1095 Cro-Van||Leather||Leather||4.9||$$$|
|Schrade SCHF45 Leroy||Full Tang||10.4||8CR13MoV||TPE||Nylon||4.7||$$|
|Buck Knives 120||Full Tang||7.375||420HC||Dymalux Cocobolo||Leather||4.8||$$$|
|Buck Knives 119||Full Tang||6||420HC||Phenolic||Leather||4.9||$$|
|Cold Steel Survivalist Fixed Blade Knife||Full Tang||8||52100||?||Secure-Ex||4.7||$$|
How To Choose a Bowie knife?
What factors should you consider when choosing the best Bowie knife? There are many general factors related to picking the right knives that also apply to Bowie knives.
Construction – First and foremost, don’t even think about purchasing a non-full tang Bowie knife. It is a large and quite heavy knife, you surely don’t want it to break into two halves.
Length – Depending on what you are planning to use a knife for, choose the right length of the whole knife and the blade. Carrying a 20-inch Bowie will surely make you look badass, but it won’t be practical if you want to use it for camping and hunting. I would personally shoot for something in the 12-inch range.
Material – Go for high quality stainless or carbon steel. Cheaper steel may rust easily or hold the edge badly. Also, take into account the material of the handle. It should be made of something that doesn’t slip easily.
The Best 10 Bowie Knives
In this section, we will go through 10 of the best-rated Bowie knives currently available on the market. Not all of them are the traditional Bowie, but I’m sure, you will like them anyway. Please note that they are not listed in any particular order. Let’s get started!
Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie Fixed Blade Knife
Ka-Bar’s knives have always been used in all kinds of military branches. Today, they are available to average users as well. You can get a professional Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie Fixed Blade Knife and use it in your everyday activities, on your camping trips or while hunting. It has a fixed blade. Just like any other Ka-Bar unit, it is fully tested for quality before being delivered. It comes with a powerful 1095 Cro-Van steel blade, as well as a compact Grivory handle. The handle is ergonomic and fits any hand out there. It feels comfortable and reduces fatigue over long sessions.
The blade measures nine inches in length, while the handle is 5-3/4 inch long. The rapport is perfect to deliver more strength to the blade. However, with 1.05 pounds in weight, it might feel a bit heavy for newbies. Also, the sheath could have been better, especially for such a quality knife.
Muela MAGNUM-26 Red Stag Crown Antler Handle Hunting Knife
It is a beautiful but quite expensive knife that features a 10.25-inch blade made of the popular X50CrMoV15 stainless steel. It is steel that is often used for chef’s knives. It is neither too soft nor too hard and it is easy to sharpen. The whole blade has a satin finish to it and has all the attributes one would expect from a traditional Bowie knife. Those include – an S-curved edge, a clip point, or a blood groove.
The handle is made of a genuine red stag crown antler and features a brass inlay depicting a hunting scene. It was a pleasant surprise that the handle feels quite nice in hand.
Between the handle and the blade, there is also a solid brass crossguard.
Overall, this knife is a work of art and is highly recommended for those who love unique knives.
Ka-Bar Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife
From hunting and building shelters to camping and gardening, finding a general knife for all these activities can be hard. You want something strong and reliable, such as Ka-Bar Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife, Straight. This knife is widely used in military operations too. If it can meet a soldier’s necessities, it can definitely meet yours as well. The seven-inch-long blade is ideal for all kinds of ops, but it also maintains its razor sharpness due to the 1095 Cro-Van steel construction. The handle is just a little shorter, so the knife is thoroughly balanced. All in all, this kind of design is currently the best rated one in terms of efficiency.
The knife is made in the USA and built to North American quality standards. The handle comes with leather for a non-slip profile and durability. It also has its own professional sheath. However, the sheath could have been sturdier.
Buck Knives 120 General Fixed Blade Knife with Leather Sheath
It is a knife that sports a traditional look and features a 7-3/8-inch fixed blade made of 420HC steel. The blade has a clip point which makes it easier to use the knife for example for de-boning. Unlike some other knives featured in this article, this one does not have an S-curved edge. There’s also a blood groove ground into the blade.
The overall length of the knife reaches 12 inches, which is a pretty standard size for a Bowie.
The handle is made of DymaLux Cocobolo material and is shaped in such a way that it fits nicely into most hands. A brass cross guard sits between the handle and the blade. A brass pommel sits on the other side of the handle.
A genuine leather sheath is provided by Buck knives which is a nice touch.
Overall, this is an excellent choice for those looking for traditional looking Bowie knives. The knife enjoys very positive reviews and the good thing is that it is one of the not-so-expensive Bowie knives.
Buck Heritage Series Frontiersman Micarta Handle
When looking for a portable and lightweight hunting knife, Buck Heritage Series Frontiersman Micarta Handle Knife might become the ideal choice. This knife comes with a 6.25-inch long blade. It is straight and made of 420HC steel, but it also comes with a satin finish. As for the handle, it measures 5.5 inches. Proportions are fine to deliver more power toward the tip of the blade. The black Micarta handle adds to its durability. The good news is that it also comes with a guard, so getting injured is almost impossible.
Finding a perfectly matching sheath for a knife can be tricky, but this model has its own. It is black, sturdy, and made of genuine leather. At first, the sheath might feel a bit tight, so pulling the knife out can be difficult. Be careful when you put it back in or you risk damaging the sheath. After a while, it will loosen.
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools SB1T-L Super SOG Bowie Knife
SOG Specialty Knives & Tools SB1T-L Super SOG Bowie Knife does not leave room for misinterpretations when it comes to its construction. It is a solid knife that can make your outdoor adventures a breeze, whether you like to go camping or your craft around your backyard. It has a straight and fixed blade that measures 7.5 inches. It is entirely made of AUS-8 steel, but it also has a clip point shape. The black TiNi finish is durable and good looking. On the other hand, the handle consists of leather washers. It fits comfortably and is less likely to slip.
This knife has a black leather sheet, as well as a belt loop attachment. It weighs 17.4 ounces, so it is quite lightweight for its size. The handle measures 5.38 inches. If you have a small hand, it might feel a little hard to control. The good news is that it does not slip.
Schrade SCHF45 Leroy 16.5in High Carbon S.S. Full Tang Fixed Blade Knife
Schrade is well known for making knives that are anything but traditional looking. With its sleek modern look, Schrade SCHF45 is not an exception.
This is a 16.5-inch full tang knife that’s equipped with a 10.4-inch Bowie-style blade. The titanium coated blade is made of 8Cr13MoV high carbon stainless steel. It has a clip point but no blood groove, which is not necessarily a con.
As for the handle, it is made of thermoplastic elastomer and it’s shaped in such a way that it fits nicely in the hand.
To complete the package, a belt sheath is included. There are also grommet holes on the sheath which allow you to lash the knife to a bag.
The knife enjoys positive reviews with people praising the good price-performance ratio.
Buck Knives 119 Special Fixed Blade Knife with Leather Sheath
Yes, another Buck knife. This one is among the most popular Bowie type knives available on the market. If you look at it closely, you will notice that it looks very similar to the Buck 120. The 119 is pretty much a shorter version of the 120.
The Buck Knives 119 comes with a 6-inch blade which means it is 1-3/8 inches shorter than the 120. The blade has a clip point and a blood groove. It is separated from the handle with a crossguard.
You can choose from two versions of the knife. The one on the photo is the version with an aluminum pommel and guard, and a black phenolic handle. The other version features a Dymalux cocobolo handle with brass pommel and guard. Needless to say, the “wooden” version is slightly more expensive.
Just like with the Buck 120, the 119 comes with a genuine leather sheath.
Apart from the size, there are no differences between the 119 and 120 so you can choose the one that has the better size for your needs.
Timber Rattler Western Outlaw Bowie Knife
When in need of a quality knife for hunting or other outdoor activities, Timber Rattler Western Outlaw Bowie Knife steps in to add to your overall experience. Its long blade makes it suitable in a series of situations. Overall, it measures 11-3/8 inches in length. It is razor-sharp and entirely made of stainless steel. The handle is smaller, but altogether, the longer blade draws most of the strength. The knife feels like it works by itself. When it comes to the handle, it is gray and made of hardwood. It is treated to prevent swelling or shrinking though. It has a brass-plated guard as well, so injuries are properly prevented.
The knife comes with a genuine leather sheath. It also has a full tang blade for durability and power. The bad news is that it may not be too suitable to those with small hands. Given its size, it will feel uncomfortable.
This knife is often marked as the best cheap bowie knife on the market with it price being set so low.
Cold Steel Drop Forged Series “Survivalist” Fixed Blade Knife
The knife is forged from a single piece of high carbon steel. While it is primarily designed for military applications, no one’s going to stop you if you’d like to use it for hunting or bush-crafting.
The knife has received positive ratings from the buyers. Note: If you are going to read the reviews on Amazon, make sure you are reading the reviews of the correct knife, as the listing has two other knives linked and the negative reviews are targeted towards those.
Have you read all of the Bowie knife reviews presented to you and not chosen the best one for you? Then you may find it useful to read some of the customer reviews on Amazon or checking out a couple of forums dedicated to knives to find more inspiration.