There are many considerations when purchasing a bowie knife. Customers decide how they intend to use the knife; survival, combat, decorative, hunting, and skinning, or self-defense. Some of the qualities are personal preference, but many are necessary for a specific purpose. Here is a complete guideline that will help you to choose the best bowie knives which are available in the market.
A Brief History of Bowie Knife
James Bowie’s brother, Rezin P. Bowie, made the first bowie knife for his brother after being shot in a fight at Sanbar. The bowie knife resembled a butcher knife with a thin blade.
Jim Bowie’s friend got into a duel, and soon both side’s friends began shooting. A bullet passed through Bowie’s lung, and Norris Wright and Alfred Blanchard attacked him with swords. Jim drew out the bowie knife and stabbed Wright in the heart, killing him instantly.
The Sandbar fight initiated the legend of Jim Bowie, and soon the demand for bowie knives dramatically increased. Jim Bowie fought with his knife in many battles after Sandbar, such as when three assassins attacked Bowie, he disemboweled one, cracked one’s skull open, and decapitated the last.
Bowie knife sales kept increasing as the legend of Jim Bowie grew. Jim Bowie is most famous for making the last stand at the Alamo, where he fought to death from his sickbed. Soon the Bowie knife developed a coffin-shaped handle, heavy cross guard, sweeping clip blade, and partially sharpened top edge.
The Musso and Searles-Fowler Bowie Knives
The Musso knife has a blade that is 14 inches long, and some believe it is Bowie’s original knife. The Musso knife is likely a version between the first and final design. The Searles-Fowler bowie knife is on display at the Alamo and has the seal of approval from the Bowie family. The Searles-Fowler knife has a checked ebony handle, a tiny cross guard, and a straight-backed blade.
Design Your Own Bowie Knife
Since there are several variations of the bowie knife, ranging over 100 years’ time, there are many options for customers to purchase. It’s essential to understand the bowie knives’ potential designs to decide what style of bowie knife customers prefer.
Several companies will design bowie knives to meet customer specifications. Through the or Knifemakers’ Guild or the American Bladesmith Society, people can search for quality companies to reproduce high-quality replica bowie knives.
Considering the Purpose
During Jim Bowie’s lifetime, people often used knives for hand-to-hand combat. But nowadays bowie knives are more useful for skinning animals, clearing a campsite, and making tools, traps, or weapons, due to the popularity of handguns. When shopping for a bowie knife, consider its purpose, which is for heavy-duty, outdoor use.
The Major Key Features You Need to Consider
Size of the Knife
When considering purchasing the right Bowie knife, customers must consider the appropriate size. The blade needs to be seven to nine inches long to enable light chopping tasks and batoning. The knife needs to be useful for delicate tasks such as cutting rope, cutting notches for traps, and sharpening stakes.
The blade design is a critical factor when considering the right bowie knife. Clip point blades are the best choice for tip control. Clip point blades are better for piercing and control. Drop points, and straight backs are better if the bowie knife’s primary use is for the outdoors. A straight spine that extends from the handle and curves from below the spine gives greater control for cutting tasks.
Edge design is another factor to consider when choosing a bowie Knife. The majority of bowie Knives have a straight edge, which is adequate for general purposes, such as cutting or slicing. If the customer seeks a bowie knife for chopping, a recurved edge is the better choice.
When considering blade steel, the bowie knife needs to be made of blade steel to be strong enough to chop, slice, and pierce. Using a softer steel blade and laminating it with harder steel provides a flexible and impact resistant blade. There are three types of steel to choose from; high carbon tool, stainless, and laminated.
High carbon steels are easier to sharpen and much stronger than stainless steel. High carbon steel rust easier and does not hold an edge as well as the other two types. Stainless steels are harder and hold an edge better, but are more brittle than high carbon steels. Stainless is less likely to corrode than high carbon steels.
Method of Construction
Another factor to consider in choosing the best bowie knife is the method of construction. The weakest point of any knife is where the blade meets the handle. The tang is the portion of the knife that connects the blade to the handle.
There are three popular types of tangs; full, partial, or hidden. The full tang is the strongest and is the correct choice for most customers.
A full tang allows a better grip and provides better control over the tip. The full tang provides little to no protection from shock when chopping with the bowie knife. Hidden and partial tangs reduce shock by completely enclosing the tang.
The last of all factors to consider is what type of handle to purchase. The goal for the handle is to choose one that is ergonomic to maintain a good grip on the handle when wet.
The quality of the handle will affect the ability to use the bowie knife for hours at a time. The handle must be ergonomically designed, comfortable in hand, and lightweight to reduce hand fatigue and permit long-term usage. The full tang is useful for breaking glass- as it extends out of the handle’s bottom. The handle’s nuts and bolts need to be easy to remove to provide for better cleaning of the blade.
Handles are made with Kraton or Hypalon, which provides an excellent grip. No matter what tang you choose, the handle needs to be made of the toughest material. The handle material needs to have a grip that does not slip when wet or crack when subjected to extreme temperatures.
Effectiveness for the Bowie Knife
When purchasing a bowie knife, the customer needs to evaluate how effective the knife is for the desired purpose. Some people love a big blade, full tang, and a wooden handle for survival in the outdoors.
The handle needs to feel comfortable while cutting, slashing, scaling fish, skinning animals, or hunting. A hook at the end of the handle and a brass finger guard makes for easy handling. The weight of the knife needs to be well-balanced for effectiveness.
Cutting and Strength Considerations
In the 1800s, advertisements for the bowie knife stated that it was long enough to be used as a sword, wide enough to paddle down the river, heavy enough to use as a hatchet, and sharp enough to use as a razor.
The minimum strength and cutting requirements require the blade to be at least six inches long, have a full tang, a clip point, and a full false edge for use as a rugged knife. While most people use the bowie knife for hunting and skinning, with its average 12-inch blade, it is also useful as a weapon of self-defense.
In the times of Jim Bowie, guns were unreliable, and a good knife was a more reliable weapon. When the blade and handle have similar lengths, the result is an increase in power at the tip of the blade.
Fighting with a Bowie Knife
While most people hope they never have to use a knife to protect their loved ones or themselves, the Bowie knife can be an effective weapon for self-defense. People may be able to take knives in places where guns are not permitted. Some occupations where a bowie knife may be beneficial against attacks from criminals include teachers, law enforcement, convenience store clerks, and public transportation workers.
A finger guard at the base of the blade is a technical necessity for hand to hand combat. If the bowie knife’s purpose is fighting, a heavier blade is necessary to develop the ability to cut through flesh easily.
Using the Bowie Knife for Survival
If the primary reason for purchasing a bowie knife is to use in the wild for survival, the user must seek out a different set of qualities. Many bowie knives contain a partial or rat-tailed tang that many customers purchase for decorative purposes.
The survival bowie knife requires the more durable full tang and a lighter blade, no longer than 10 inches. The more lightweight blade allows the entire weight to be between 10-12 ounces and makes it easier to carry. Shorter is not always better; the blade must be long and sturdy enough to be a weapon, baton, fire starter, and enable the user to build a shelter.
For survival purposes, an excellent heavy-duty leather sheath is best. When using a plastic or nylon sheath, it is best to insert a hard plastic insert. The plastic sheaths are too brittle and often break, but are easier to clean.
People can purchase a bowie knife at a reasonable price to allow the purchase of multiple knives to allow for specialization. I recommend owning multiple knives to carry and utilize for survival, hunting, and self-defense.
Bowie Knife says
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