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Bowie Knives

Bowie knives were first popularized by Colonel James "Jim" Bowie. Although definitions might vary, bowie knives are usually large sheath knives with a crossguard and clip point. At Unlimited Wares, we offer a variety of bowie knives for you!

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Comprehensive Bowie Knives Buying Guide

Bowie knives are often categorized as special types of hunting knives or survival knives. Generally speaking, a Bowie knife refers to any huge sheath knife that has a clip point and a fixed blade. It is usually used for self-defense, but is now more popular among hunters. Designed for all around use, these heavy-duty knives are very effective in striking. These days, there are a wide variety of Bowie knives to choose from.

The most famous Bowie knives that you have probably seen are those used by Sylvester Stallone in his Rambo movies. Australian comedian-actor Paul Hogan also used one, when he played the role of Mick in his 1986 blockbuster movie Crocodile Dundee. You remember him in his famous quote, “That’s not a knife…that’s a knife!”

History of Bowie Knives

The term "Bowie Knife" became famous when it was originally created by James Black and was designed by Colonel James “Jim” Bowie in the early 19th century. However, the Bowie knife was not a single design, but rather a series of knives that was improved by Jim Bowie several times. The first version was believed to have used by Bowie in 1827 during the Sandbar Fight in Mississippi. It was designed by Rezin, Jim’s brother and was created by a noted blacksmith named Jesse Clifft. Today, there are many variations of Bowie knives and the pattern is being well-loved by knife collectors.

Factors to Consider When Buying Bowie Knives

Huge bowie knives are extensively being used in hunting, but the medium sized ones can also be used for striking fire and cutting wood or meat. When the bowie knife was first introduced, its design was a combination of a knife and a sword. It has a thick blade that is at least 6 inches long. But while you may find it easy to buy one, here are some factors you should always consider:


Traditional Bowie knives were designed for slashing or stabbing, which means the blade should be sharp and durable enough. Earlier versions were made of carbon steel, but have a huge tendency to rust. As times went by, stainless steel blades became more popular than the carbon steel version, because they are more durable and can penetrate better. Choosing either type depends on your personal preference.

Blade Size

Rambo knives, which have larger blades, may look scary and powerful. However, they are less efficient in many specific tasks. Huge knives are ideal in chopping wood and cutting weeds. On the other hand, shorter blades are handy and provide more precision in chopping meat. Therefore, choose the blade size according to your plan of using Bowie knife. But note that this kind of knife is not intended for home use and small tasks, and the pocket knife type is not applicable.


Because bowie knives are typically heavier than pocket knives, full tang are better than partial tang because it will not slip off your hands. The tang of any knife is a piece of metal that is attached between the portion and the handle. Once it is broken, you can still use it by wrapping the remaining portion with a cloth. In general, Bowie knives with full tang will last longer than the partial tang type.


Choosing the right handle for your Bowie knife can be tricky. The first factor you should consider is you safety. A good knife has either a ramp or any form of safeguard to protect your fingers from touching the blade. The second factor is convenience, which depends on the material of the handle. Bowie knife handles can be made of aluminum, bone, horn, rubber, wood, plastic, or leather. It is very important that the grip is comfortable to your hands.

Famous Bowie Knives

  • Ka-Bar Bowie Knives - Ka-Bar trademark is owned by the Union Cutlery Co. of Olean, New York, and is a popular name manufacturing the newer versions of Bowie knives. The blade of Ka-Bar Bowie knives is made of carbon steel, while its handle provides a very good grip and will not slip off your hands.
  • Cold Steel Bowie Knives - Cold Steel Inc., which was founded in 1980, is another famous brand in manufacturing swords, machetes, fixed blade knives, folding knives, and Bowie knives. Cold Steel Bowie knives are usually made of stainless steel material and being used for hunting in the wilderness. They provide a strong grip and have thicker blades.
  • Damascus Bowie Knives - This unique type of combines the traditional styling of Bowie knives and a wide variety of blade shapes. Damascus steel was traditionally used in sword making in the Middle East and India in around 300 BC. These days, Bowie knives are primarily used for crafting purposes. 

Now that you're an expert on bowie knives, check out our own collection of Bowie knives!