Bowie Knives


March 4, 2008, 08:52 AM
Okay, so I'd kind of like to get a descent Bowie in the near future. I am thinking of something that will look good (translated: not black mall ninja crap, wood handles or something pretty like that) but not look so good that I'll be scared to use it as I plan to make it a camp knife. I am thinking 50-70 dollar range. Anyone know of anything that fits that niche pretty well?

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March 4, 2008, 09:38 AM
How traditional do you want it?

You want the original Bowie look, or the more modern clip point, swept blade, large guard kind of thing?

The original Bowie design was a fairly plain looking knife, by all accounts, rather like a heavy, oversized kitchen knife -- a bit like a chef's knife on steroids.

The number of modern variations is a pretty broad spread, so quite in addition to blade quality and actual materials, you have a wide variety of styles available.

Ontario makes a Spec Plus Bowie that's large enough to do camp stuff and light enough to carry. Made with modern materials, all black. Very practical for a knife that size. Don't recall price off top of my head, but I think it's in your price range. It's not "mall ninja" but it is definitely black.

There's some Swedish and Finnish knives you might want to look at, having blades in the five-to-nine-inch range, and quite suitable for camping. I have a few. They don't much look like the "American Bowie" but they're good quality stuff, and priced well, too.

I don't normally surf the Bowies as I have found them a bit big for my liking. I find in a camp setting that I like my knife tasks to be distinct from my hatchet tasks, so I have a light hatchet and a modest (four-to-five-inch) hunting knife for camp kitchen and other duties.

I bought half a dozen Bowie patterns a few years ago, and quickly concluded that they were just too awkward for general use in my hands. I gave a couple of them away, had one re-handled, and the remaining few languish in a box.

I have one unusual Bowie that I got from a guy in Texas. He had commissioned about a hundred of these, based on the best-documented data he could find on the original Bowie design. Except for a small "token" guard, it looks rather like a chef's knife -- an extra large, extra thick chef's knife. Still, it's too heavy for me to wield with any competence.

I will be interested in seeing what you finally choose, and how you qualify it for the various camp-related tasks.

Most of mine (except the Ontario) failed the "camp kitchen" task test, being just too large and awkward.

I'd like to see how your choice differs from mine.

March 4, 2008, 10:48 AM
get a same knife ;)

or im sure you could find something at cold steel :P

March 4, 2008, 12:16 PM
there is a pretty decent selection there. Go to and then to knives by type - straight.

March 4, 2008, 12:42 PM
You'll have trouble getting a good "Bowie" for $50-$70.

How big a knife do you want?

March 4, 2008, 12:51 PM
Well, I tried AG Russel. Some beautiful knives there but a bit outside of my price range or way out of my price range depending on the knife.

Where can the aforementioned Swedish and Finnish knives be found? I've seen a couple of them posted here that looked quite attractive.

Has anyone found any "blanks" of good quality? I have no qualms about making handles I just can't really do blades well right now...

March 4, 2008, 12:52 PM
I'm thinking some where in the 8ish inches range, I have a Kabar, but kind of want something with a more traditional hunting/bowie knife look and feel... I guess I'm just gradually coming to really like things that look and feel historic.

March 4, 2008, 04:59 PM
Traditional is a sticky word when it comes to bowie knives. Some people think a "traditional" bowie knife resembles a Case XX bowie. No doubt, this perception comes from good advertising and Hollywood. Yet, the original bowie may have resembled a butcher's knife on steroids, as Arfin Greebly previously stated. The truth is bowie knives were produced in a variety of shapes and sized during the 19th century. Some are large daggers and others resemble the Case knife I mentioned. If you are interested in bowies, then I suggest you research this fascinating topic.

More to the point, Ontario bowies fall into your price parameters. Another knife that may be out of production is the bowie produced by Western Knives. It resembled the Case knife but was a bit smaller. Again, it may be out of production or your price guidelines.


March 4, 2008, 05:52 PM
Tim ... sounds like you're referring to the Western W49 ... it has been discontinued, is about the same size as a Case XX and is available occasionally on Ebay in about the right price range ... both the Case XX and the Western W49 are more of a broadsword than a knife ... my favorite Bowie would be the older style stag handled Bowie by Puma ... if a person takes their time and shops carefully these too can be found new on Ebay for under $100 ...


March 4, 2008, 07:12 PM
I also like the Stag handled Puma Bowie they look great and are a nice shape. Bought my Dad one in the 60's, he has used on many deer and elk through the years, used on his deer last fall. Here are some for under $70, good buy IMHO, also available at Amazon for about $80

March 4, 2008, 07:18 PM
WOW !!

Sportsman's Guide is a great price !! I paid about $100 for the same knife 5-10 years ago ...

March 4, 2008, 09:26 PM
Chester, the knife I referred to was the Western W49. Thanks. As I stated previously, many people today consider such large bowies as authentic replicas of the first bowie knife. To understand why this occurs, please read what knife expert Bernard Levine says about the history of the bowie knife. It is interesting. I hope Patrick Henry will research the history of this knife before making his purchase. Such research may steer him in a different direction than he originally intended.


March 4, 2008, 11:24 PM
It does indeed appear I need to do some more research. However, I have plenty of time and currently very little money so research will not be a problem.

Ideas on where to get started?

March 5, 2008, 12:43 AM
Patrick Henry, books on bowie knives fall into two categories in my opinion. The first group are historical works that narrate the story of the Bowies and the knives that bear their name. A classic example of this is Raymond W. Thorp's book on the bowie knife which is still in print. The second group are instructional books. By instructional, I mean books that explain how to use a bowie knife in a self-defense senario. Perhaps the best example of this category is Dwight McLemore's work on bowies and big blades. Both of these works would provide a good place to start your research.

Let me provide you with a website for some "eye candy". Please see This website displays several pics of bowies that will whet your appetite. I hope these recommendations provide a useful starting point. No doubt, others will suggest other books. Please consider those suggestions as well.


March 5, 2008, 02:04 AM
The Swedish and Finnish knives can be found in various places.

Several common and traditional designs can be found at Ragnar's Forge (, to include Finnish knives ( (the Leuku is comparable to the Bowie), several Swedish knives ( (particularly the #749 and the #C-173 or #C-223), and various pieces from his Norwegian catalogs (which see).

The one RLsnow mentioned, called a "Same" or "Saami" knife can be found also here: LINK (

Those should provide you with plenty of food for thought.

March 5, 2008, 04:56 AM
I dislike Ontario Spec-Plus knives. Had one years ago...the handle came off. I still have the blade somewhere...

I've got a "bowie", from Bora knives. I like it.

March 5, 2008, 05:14 AM
just thought i should mention that the link arfin gave for "Same" knives was where i got the picture, but site is in norwegian :P

so might not be of much help.

March 5, 2008, 07:59 AM
Thanks for the info. I've been thinking about getting Dwight McLemore's book for a while now anyway, that was just one more reason not to wait. The antlanta cutlery link was indeed a good website to just go and see what was out there. Thank you very much for that. If you have any other good thoughts just let me know.

Arfin, Good links on the Swedish and Finnish knives. I will definitely keep looking at them. Thanks.

March 5, 2008, 09:14 AM
ust thought i should mention that the link arfin gave for "Same" knives was where i got the picture, but site is in norwegian :P

so might not be of much help.

He did say he has plenty of time ... :evil:

March 5, 2008, 09:58 AM
I bought a Winchester Bowie knife at Dicks Sporting Goods for $25.00. It's a good looking knife with good looking wood handles. The sheath is black nylon (not traditional).

I take it on hikes with me. I've cut down 2 walking sticks for my kids and the blade seems no worse for wear.

I'm thinking of another one just to leave in my truck.


March 5, 2008, 12:31 PM
I've seen the Winchester one before, but I wasn't sure about the quality. I've heard they can be hit and miss, you get what you pay for as the saying goes... How long have you had yours? Does anyone else have experience with these?

March 5, 2008, 12:40 PM
How about a KA-BAR USMC fighting knife? (

March 5, 2008, 12:46 PM
I have one :) It's a wonderful knife and has served me well for quite some time. However, on this particular purchase I am going for something with a more Old Timey/Traditional/Historic etc. feel to it...

March 5, 2008, 12:58 PM
Get a copy of Shotgun News if you are looking for blade blanks.
There is a company that advertises there that sells blanks for pretty large knives.
They also sell handle scales and other supplies.

March 5, 2008, 06:07 PM
I have a Winchester Bowie ... not a bad knife but I wouldn't buy another ... the two knife sizes that Winchester makes that are smaller than the Bowie would be my choice ... excellent knives for very little money and sized right for multiple uses ...

March 5, 2008, 07:10 PM
Does anyone here have an hands-on experience with the knives offered by Atlanta cutlery? I have always found their Bowies to be attractive and well-priced but have never ordered one since they are made in Pakistan or India IIRC.

March 5, 2008, 08:26 PM
Thanks for the tip on the Pumas guys; I ordered one this afternoon!

March 6, 2008, 01:23 PM
I second the question on Atlanta Cutlery. I've heard of them but know nothing of their quality...

March 6, 2008, 02:00 PM
Atlanta Cutlery: I have owned several Atlanta Cutlery pieces. Some items are excellent and some are sub par.

Puma: What an outstanding deal these days, but it's so good it makes me wonder if these Pumas are made in Germany, Italy or even China. Anyone ordering one of the Pumas please let us know how it's marked.

Bowies: Anything from the Western "fantasy" bowie to the old Sheffield bowies to the, probably more accurate, bowies that look to come from Mediterranean dirk lineage gets called a "Bowie". Truth be told, the accounts of the time describe the knife used in the famous Sandbar Fight is of a "large butcher's knife", but what does a news paper trying to describe a knife used against desperate odds in the midst of treachery use except a description it's readers can quickly grasp? We don't and won't ever exactly know what Jim Bowie's knife looked like, but we do know that it fired the imaginations of millions and inspired a whole industry supplying "Bowies" to those excited by the tale. We only can say that a large knife with a sharpened clip point and cross guard that is fast in the hand of the wielder can describe a bowie knife. If you want to study Bowies, get a copy of Knife World and order a couple of the books on them.

March 6, 2008, 03:16 PM
Puma: What an outstanding deal these days, but it's so good it makes me wonder if these Pumas are made in Germany, Italy or even China. Anyone ordering one of the Pumas please let us know how it's marked.
I own the Puma Bowie in discussion. I think I paid around $60 or so from a knife store on eBay. It measues 11.75" overall with a handle of 4" (which is a little short for my hand). Included is a very nice leather sheath.

The markings on the blade include the Puma logo as well as the following:

116396 Handmade

On the opposite side of the blade is a small punch mark where hardness was tested. As I understand it, all Puma knives have the mark.

March 6, 2008, 08:13 PM
Puma: What an outstanding deal these days, but it's so good it makes me wonder if these Pumas are made in Germany, Italy or even China. Anyone ordering one of the Pumas please let us know how it's marked.The ad in Sportsman's Guide says "German Solingen Stainless Steel", so I would think made in Germany. Will be interesting to hear from a buyer.

I "rescued" one from a second hand store about 20 years ago for 30 bucks and thought that was a good deal even at that time, even though it had been sharpened. left in the sheath where it sweated and doesn't have a perfect finish. It was made in 1969 according to the numbers stamped in the guard. I have used it on a few game but it is too long for my preference gutting a critter and returned to a old Buck 110 made with 440C for my deer and elk hunting.

March 6, 2008, 11:01 PM
The ad in Sportsman's Guide says "German Solingen Stainless Steel", so I would think made in Germany. Will be interesting to hear from a buyer.
eliphalet, look above your post. Mine is the same knife sold in Sportsmans Guide.

March 7, 2008, 01:17 AM
This Linder might fit the bill for you:

Runs about $110, genuine stag and brass. Very nice...

loud-mouth shnook
March 9, 2008, 12:03 PM
I read someplace that the gear from Becker Knife and Tool are going back into production. At one time, I was looking for a "working" bowie, meaning tough and utilitarian. A BK&T BK-9 "Combat Bowie" cost me about $70.00. A brickwall-strong 9" blade that I've since batonned nearly a half cord of firewood with through the years along with a lot of other things. Kind of halfway between a knife and a hatchet, utility wise. For that kind of money, I just absolutely can't say enough about the BK&T's. I tried a buddy's Swamp Rat for awhile and it was every bit as good but was also about 300% more costly.

Good luck with whatever you decide upon.

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