Best Bowie knives


January 20, 2009, 02:56 AM
Could someone list the best bowie makers they know of? The more traditional looking, the better. Also, I am not too fond with most Cold Steel products, but if their bowies are really fantastic, let me know.

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Lone Star
January 20, 2009, 09:43 AM
Frankly, unless you are going to look at expensive handmades, I think you should consider Fallkniven.

When you select "English" and see the main models display, select NL1 and NL2.Look hard at them. They balance beautifully in the hand.

I think one or the other is what you may want. Here is a large pic of the NL-2:

Fallkniven knives aren't cheap, but they do the job, and look good as well.

You have the advantage that a university performs stress tests on them, and they are very strong. The Swedish Air Force issues their F-1 model as a pilot survival knife. They have also passed USAF and USN survival knife tests and are authorized for unit purchase. (F-1 and S-1 with the black blade option.)

If you want a more practical size for most use than the big NL series, but still basic Bowie lines, see the S-1 and the A-1.

Lone Star
P.S. If you have limited funds, get a Buck Model 119.

January 20, 2009, 09:56 AM
Can't beat the Western Bowie. I've had mine since about if for Christmas like Ralphie and his BB gun. "The best Christmas gift I ever received or ever would receive". Big, sharp, balanced, sturdy, and priced for a normal budget...maybe $125 bucks these days?

Lone Star
January 20, 2009, 10:00 AM
Western is out of business, and their knives were of average quality.

January 20, 2009, 11:34 AM
Could someone list the best bowie makers they know of?

"best" is an awfully vague word. What's your criteria? What's your price range? Production or handmade? What use do you intend to put it to? Which pattern of "traditional" Bowie? There's a lot implied in the word "best" that only you can know.

There are knifemakers that produce "traditional" knives that will cost you a thousand dollars and those that will make them for a few hundred dollars. Do you want forged, which would be "traditional" or would stock reduction work for you?

January 20, 2009, 12:57 PM
I was afraid of that...Western out of business. I am sure happy with is sharp as a razor and holds an edge like crazy.

January 20, 2009, 02:14 PM
Western was part of Camillus and went when they did.

January 20, 2009, 02:41 PM
"best" is an awfully vague word. What's your criteria?

I am just curious as to who make some of the better (in quality) bowie knives which are designed as fairly historically accurate, or traditionally styled bowies. As far as my purchasing interests go, forged is certainly preferred and I am the type to buy a knife I can trust every day for the entirety of my life, but it can be production if it is good.
So just keep 'em coming and bring pictures if you got 'em.

January 20, 2009, 02:59 PM
I make bowies in my 7" Super Camp and 6" Fighters. Here's a Super Camp with stag that I just made:

January 20, 2009, 03:30 PM
If price is a concern, you can get some nice bowie knives from Atlanta Cutlery. ( The bowies they make are handforged in India by Windlass Steelcrafts. The quality ranges from good to excellent. They aren't masterpieces handcrafted by artisans, but Atlanta Cutlery has a dozen different patterns available and none of them is priced over $100.

Here is one, the 1850 coffin hilt:

A.G. Russell sells a couple of bowies, also. You can check his website, you can search under the term "bowie" and come up with some good stuff, including the Bill Bagwell bowies made by Ontario Cutlery.

In the end, you get what you pay for. If you wish to pay $5000 for a handcrafted bowie made of damascus steel, made by a Master Smith of the American Bladesmith Society, you certainly can do so. Not all of us have that much spare cash. :rolleyes:

January 20, 2009, 03:53 PM
I always liked Mike Wise. Hand forged just like in the old days. Top quality work and he is a super nice guy. Very reasonably priced.

I have a few of his blades and have never been disapointed by them.

January 20, 2009, 04:13 PM
for me, less than 500 would be great. Under 250 for a starter would be better.

January 20, 2009, 04:22 PM
Mine are $250 with "regular" handle materials, +$100 for stag or giraffe bone. I finished one last night (Super Camp) with killer spalted maple handles, $275 for that one but no sheath has been made yet. Custom leather sheaths run $50 extra.

Travis Bickle
January 20, 2009, 04:34 PM
Also, I am not too fond with most Cold Steel products, but if their bowies are really fantastic, let me know.

I don't know much about knives, but someone has a review of Cold Steel's bowie knife on youtube that might help:

Lone Star
January 20, 2009, 06:42 PM

Here, a reviewer who can't even pronounce the names of the knives he reviews covers Fallkniven's A-1. He just turns it in his hand, but you can see the knife, here in the optional black blade version, with the Kydex sheath that is no longer offered. It has been replaced with a Zytel sheath A leather sheath is still offered.

I think this guy is not as informed as he'd like us to think he is. A man who can't even pronounce names like Fallkniven and Camillus shouldn't be reviewing knives. But Nutn' Fancy is a prolific reviewer of outdoors products.

For the record,
"Fallkniven" is pronounced, "FELL-ka-neeven". I can't reproduce it here, but the "a" has an umlaut over it, changing the pronunciati0n to an "e" sound in Swedish. I have this information directly from Peter Hjortberger, the company president.

"Camillus" is pronounced as, "Ca-MILL-us." He says "CAM-uh-lis."

He said that he managed to chip the blade on a Fallkniven A-2 by hitting it on a rock. Well, whoop-de-doo! You can chip almost ANY blade by hitting the edge against a rock. All it takes is enough force, at the wrong angle. The Fallkniven knives have been extensively tested by the Technical University of Lulea (in Sweden) and by US military evaluators, and tbey came through with flying colors. The only reason why the A-1 isn't listed for unit purchase is that it's too big for the sheath on US aircrewmens' vests. I think it's an outstanding knife for military or survival purposes. It has been extensively used by Norwegian Marines, and is a favorite private purchase knife with them. I believe these men are also the ones who requested the A-2 model, which they use to check for mines in Afghanistan.

Don't understimate the Buck Special, their Model 119, either. It's an excellent knife, at a reasonable price. It is the favorite knife of the Canadian guy who has a survival program on Discovery TV. His is the valid survival program. (The former SAS man who stays in hotels and creates unneccesary trials for himself has a knife designed for him. It's quite probably a fine knife, but the reputation of his show detracts from its image.)

Look at this video to see the Fallkniven knife, but I distrust the reviewer's comments at times.

Lone Star

Lone Star
January 20, 2009, 07:09 PM
Additionaal Fallkniven reviews:

S-1 Forest Knife: (Different reviewer)

A-1 chopping:

S-1 and Frost knife:

January 20, 2009, 07:35 PM
burnse , If you asked me first, I ask you first whatcha going to do with it?

You can get a Bowie with a 5 inch long blade, or a 15 inch long blade, and I mean just the blade.

What kind of steel?

Safe queen? User? If so what for?

If you buy a silly stainless blade and it is 5 inches long and you take it to pre 1840 VOO to show it off, the Buck Skinners will laugh at you!

In the other hand if you bring a 15 inch carbon steel blade to the local SWAT gathering they will laugh at you for that monster?

Just the word Bowie means about a million things to the same number of people.

The supposed historical blade, sometimes sold, that is supposed to be a reproduction of the 'Sand Bar' knife probably isn't, not that I wish to be involved with any endless debate. The fact is on that; No One Knows..

January 20, 2009, 09:20 PM
I like strong tools that can also be weapons. My Himalayan Imports Crow is about my ideal hard use bowie. You should be able to find one for less than $140. It won't be perfect, but it should last a lifetime with just a little maintenance now and then. It's one of those 15" blades Mac's mentioning.

On the other end of the usage spectrum (but still nowhere near the top end of what you could pay!), Valkman's Camps and Fighters are very attractive, clean, sturdy pieces that are smaller than short swords. :)
Crow next to Kim Breed fighter



January 20, 2009, 09:27 PM
I've used a Himalayan Imports kukri before and found it to be a damned fine tool. Slightly crude, imperfect to be sure, but a really enjoyable knife that worked, was tough, held an edge well...

If the crow is anything like, it'd be plenty good enough....


January 20, 2009, 09:55 PM
Yeah, they're great knives (, both the kuks and the Crow. HI makes several other "bowies", including the Cherokee Rose.

The Rose is mostly a dedicated (LARGE) fighter, and seemed oddly delicate for a HI piece. The Crow is a tool that can be a weapon.


January 20, 2009, 11:39 PM

You haven't answered the question of what will you use it for. Honestly, what will you use it for? Please be realistic. The answer matters a lot.

Big Daddy Grim
January 20, 2009, 11:48 PM
lotta nice bowies here and to think I still carry my old Buck bowie

January 21, 2009, 01:47 AM
hso and macmac,

This one will, first and foremost, be hanging on the wall for now, but I want something that will do in a pinch for HD, (I have moved for school and am away from the guns for the semester). And if the S were to HTF, I am more than comfortable with heavy blades, and am doing pekiti tersia. That being said, I know that I could get a barong from traditional filipino weapons in the same price range, but I like the feel of a bowie, and a clip point is a plus.

So anywhere around 12" is great. And I do prefer convex grinds, but as long as it would look pretty on a wall, I'm happy. So, yes, a usable display piece.

I should also mention that I think carrying a bowie makes me feel more god than man because it is such a thing of legend and great American stories of the past.:) (that sounds dumb but that's how i feel.)

January 21, 2009, 07:54 AM
Here are two of the bowies that Ontario Cutlery makes, designed by bowie authority Bill Bagwell. A.G. Russell sells them for $144.95 (check to see if they are in stock). The larger of the two sounds like what you describe, these are very light and quick in the hand, yet attractive enough to serve in the wall-hanger role.

January 21, 2009, 08:42 AM

That information helps a lot. Since you're taking PKT I'd recommend focusing on the narrower bowie styles than the big bellied styles.

If you want the best bang for your buck look at Ontario's SP-42 and-43. While they don't have the look of a "traditional" bowie Dan Maragni has completely redesigned them and retooled the manufacturing for Ontario. The reviews on them are impressive, especially for PKT.

Next notch up in price for production pieces would be the Cold Steel bowies. The Laredo (~$100) and Natchez (~$350) would do well.

Next would be Ontario's Bagwell Bowies, if you can find one.

Customs range from $300 up.

January 21, 2009, 10:19 AM
Have you looked into Bark River Knife and Tool? They make (in my opinion) a very nice production knife (close to custom) at a relatively reasonable price. Here is a link to a limited run bowie they made:

Good Luck!


January 21, 2009, 01:45 PM
That Bagwell designed plainsmen would certainly do the trick for now. It's not huge, but looks very quick, and the coffin handle makes a very nice, showy touch. I can go hunting for giants later.

Thanks, everyone and keep them coming if you know of any more.

January 21, 2009, 02:30 PM
What's your upper price limit on a custom? Do you have any stag scales or rounds suitable for the grip (or ivory or buffalo horn or ...)? That can help drop the price.

January 21, 2009, 02:33 PM
A Puma Bowie is a nice knife and can be had for $70.

Here's a hand-forged Japanese Bowie with stag handle:

January 21, 2009, 08:18 PM
Ok, now were talkin.. You like the so called classic pattern. This site has some interesting bowies and other knives they call bowies. The name Bowie just about can mean anything. This is a auction site I think.

If you want the right price, and a custom made blade I might suggest you check this link.

I met Don Fogg in his home when that was in NH. He has a forum, where other people can sell their wares, some of which can be reasonable, different and very nice. These are not anything anyone else will have. Most blade makers make one in their style and never again make that same thing over again.

Even the out of date old posts show some fine working , although not many are bowies. There is a nice skull pick made of a hammer you could buy for me! :D

Oh this kid is a real sicko... hso this stuff is just off the wall, this kiddie is going places. just look at this sick work! I am so disgusted!

It is a good thing that blade is long gone for my poor wallet...

Lone Star
January 21, 2009, 08:42 PM
Although they are not in the class of the Fallkniven that I mentioned above, do consider Buck's discontinued General (#120) model. It has a seven or 7.5 inch blade and was a good seller for Buck for many years. You can find them at gun shows and the like.

Keep in mind any legal issues pertaining to carrying such knives.

If you need a shorter one, the Fallkniven S-1 at a fraction over five inches would be my quick choice. Randall's Model 5 with five-inch blade is comparable. Either is legal in my state. (Neither has a sharpened false edge, although Randall will sharpen it on special order. But that opens the can of legal worms. Check your laws.)

Lone Star

January 21, 2009, 10:34 PM
Lamey, Lancanio and American Kami are a few of my "Available" favorites :evil:


January 21, 2009, 11:10 PM

Now why did you have to go and bring young Mr. Moss to my attention?!?! That's an awfully nice piece of work he did. Now I'll have to start looking for him.

January 22, 2009, 01:04 AM
really. Thanks, macmac. That thing is beautiful.

And, yes, I am a big fan of the "classic" style (or maybe "so-called classic" is a better description), especially after reading a very old book in my university's library covering a history of the bowie (I'm going to get it again later, so I can get the author).

The Highlander
January 22, 2009, 02:00 AM
I have a few Case Bowies which have stood up to years of abuse. I've got a special edition one that I keep in an old leather sheath in the dresser next to my bed. Classic bowie lines.

January 22, 2009, 03:29 PM
Guys, there is no "classic bowie" because no one knows exactly what the knife at the Sandbar Fight looked like and subsequent knives owned and given away by the Bowie brothers were in a range of patterns.

Most folks think a "bowie" knife is a heavy big bellied blade with a clip point. Historically that isn't correct and Jim Bowie's knife that fateful day could have just has easily been a big "butcher" knife made a bit pointier for thrusting.

Look over the previous bowie threads for pictures of "real" bowie knives.

Tell me if you think the knife in the picture is what you think of as a "bowie knife".

January 22, 2009, 05:01 PM
hso, To me on page 1 in this thread the 'plainsmen' is a classic style, where as the one you show to me is a natchez.

As I see it the classic has a longer slender clip point, and some form of a straight guard. Mostly the only reasons I would think this definition was important is because the internet is a hell of a way to communicate.

The next thing to figure out is 'IF' burnse wants a copy of a bowie anyone can buy any time he has money, and so there are likely to be hundreds owned all over the world, or he wants one of one, as custom makes don't really make one clone after another for many of much.

Some custom makers might make as many as 1,001 sometimes, but that is probably pushing it, unless a particular pattern really floats their stick.

That is up to the maker, and whom ever he serves. I know I have never come close to duplictaing any thing like that number, while I may have made 10 similar blades, really trying to make each one the same.

The type of people I served wanted the one and only one. Buck Skinners don't like mass produced blades and if they did the only one still around would be 'Green River'.

burnse, I really don't think you are going to get in a situation where a bowie saves your hide, not from any two legged predators anyway. I think what is really going on is you want to collect a bowie you can use, and i also think you want one of a kind. So what that means to me is you should save up more money than you really wanted to spend. I am assuming you have a good part of that right now. If you just doubled that amount and took your good time searching for a new young maker, one where he is carefull and you are carefull, that would supply your future needs more than just once.

If you choose one from Don Fogg's site there is nearly no risk, so long as you are carefull. What that gets you will be a blade that will live longer than you do, even if you grow to be wealthy and very old.:D

In todays world there is very little left as classic and very little left that will be a quality heirloom and or antique. I had some serious doubts a Glock pistol will ever be a classic antique, and I an dead sure no cars made today will ever be collectable. Even the so called best wooden furniture these days under that paper thin veneir is no more than saw dust and glue.

A top notch custom blade well cared for in carbon steel will always either be usefull or collectable.

When I made knives often times a year after i sold one to someone, that same someone would return to see what else I had. That worked out well for both of us.

AND if I can, I would like all you guys to call me Mac.. just plain ol' Mac.. :neener: Most sites plain ol mac is taken... see?

Todd A
January 22, 2009, 06:19 PM
Tell me if you think the knife in the picture is what you think of as a "bowie knife".
Actually, yes it is.

January 22, 2009, 11:36 PM
mac you're probably right on the not needing to use it in defense some day (let's hope the same for any gun that goes into my hand), and I would really like something one of a kind, so I probably will just keep saving. I think I'm also going to make a practice blade for.. practice, anyway.

Generic Name
January 23, 2009, 02:08 AM
This site has some interesting historically inspired custom knives for "gentlemen".

A less expensive version would be Bark River's Rogue.

January 23, 2009, 03:21 AM

That one is especially beautiful.

January 23, 2009, 08:17 PM
I got my Ontario Bagwell "Plainsman" in Dec 2003, its a pretty serious knife for the money.

Travis Bickle
January 23, 2009, 08:28 PM
In todays world there is very little left as classic and very little left that will be a quality heirloom and or antique. I had some serious doubts a Glock pistol will ever be a classic antique

January 23, 2009, 08:57 PM
Travis Bickle , I'll be... looke thar at that glock! Ah! but will it stand the test of time? No one knows do they? In truth I have no idea. I know the plastic parts will de-grade like anything in time. Maybe it will last5 1000 years huh?

burnse, Once I knew a wealthy man who wanted a 12 ga shot gun for home defence. Well he went to buy one and when he came home he was something like 10 grand lighter! LOL After work in ther evening he say in a over stuff cahir and held the gun in his lap admiring the over all quaility, the rick grained wood, the charcoal blue, the engraved art, and the gold leaf.

A bit of time passed and then he went back and bought another pump gun this time for about $125.00.

Anyway if you choose well you may use a very well made and expensive knife with no harm.

The day I met Don Fogg here in NH was at his home, long ago when he lived north of me. At that time he had just finished a short sword. It was beautiful.

The blade was a 'leaf' blade with viking helmets forged down the center line standing up on both sides.

Don handed it to me and I thought at first to admire, which I did, but what he ment was for me to attack a 55 gallon barrel, and when I refuse he took the weapon from me and did it himself. He hit the crimped edge first, and then stabbed and slashed that barrel, always making deep cuts ahd holes.

He was aggressive and I thought he was angery. When he was done he handed the piece to me again to see if I could find any damage. I couldn't.

I have never seen him face to face since. He moved to the south east coast, and just 3 days ago I learned he has returned to Maine. I doubt he would remember me, but I never forgot him.

I learned alot in that one day, about men, blades and fire. I like that Plainsmen alot too. If I had one I would pull off the tag plate and either buff it out for my inicials, or make another plate like it in silver.

But then my tastes are in more simple things.

Travis Bickle
January 23, 2009, 09:21 PM
Travis Bickle , I'll be... looke thar at that glock! Ah! but will it stand the test of time? No one knows do they? In truth I have no idea. I know the plastic parts will de-grade like anything in time. Maybe it will last5 1000 years huh?

I actually think it's the ugliest, tackiest thing I've ever seen. I just posted it so everyone could laugh at it.

January 23, 2009, 10:13 PM
That Glock is close to the ugliest thing I've ever seen.

And I like Glocks.


Byron Quick
January 24, 2009, 01:30 AM
You two gentlemen are incredibly fortunate in your viewing of ugliness. While I think that Glock is very ugly; it is far from the ugliest thing I have ever seen. You both have lived sheltered lives.

January 24, 2009, 02:22 AM
Tacky guns are a thread unto themselves, and there have been a couple right here on the forum. I assure you, that Glock looks like a million bucks compared to some of the gaudy, tacky and flatly horrible stuff that people have posted.

As to the bowie knife question, I have never been real sold on a knife that big as being particularly useful, but that's just me. I think they are cool to look at, and I have had a few guys show me Bowies that are works of art, but in the end, they are just not my particular cup of tea.

January 24, 2009, 02:14 PM
close to

Byron, you were there for the ugliest thing I've ever seen. If you recall.

January 24, 2009, 02:29 PM
Byron, you were there for the ugliest thing I've ever seen. If you recall.

Was there or was?


January 24, 2009, 04:02 PM
His comment was, "Aw, John. She needs love, too." :barf:

January 24, 2009, 06:53 PM
WOW! 3 guys on one thread agree that the fancy Glocks are ugly!

About Glock all I know is what I read. I prefer another type of hand gun, and the only plastic gun I have like a glock is as ugly, one EAA poly Witness Compact, but it has a 1911 sort of feel. i wanted to know what a poly gun was like, and this EAA Witness was cheaper.

Now I own a pretty big bowie, because i found the blade in a stone wall, which was once a cellar. Around here we call em cellar holes.

So I can't tell you any make for this Bowie, and or how old it is. All I can tell you is that it is 15.5" long, is a full 1/4" thick, is high carbon steel, that was rusted and is pitted, but that just makes it better.

Since it had no guard and no grips I made them. The guard is plain brass, and the slabs grips are moose antler, held on with brazing rod pins.

Getting this sharp is pretty easy, and so it is sharp enough to shave hairs off my wrist all the time.

It weighs apx 1.5 pounds, and is a dammned handy camp knife.

The scabard is made of walnut, pinned in the same brazing rod brass.

The scabard has a copper wire belt hook, so when it is worn, the knife in the scabard is thrust between me and my belt crossing my back.

I can sit in a saddle this way and not feel it. When I rode horses with this i tied it in the scabard, so if somehow it fell and I did to we wouldn't have a bad meeting.

Once a wild raccon came into a canvas tent when I was nearly asleep. The coon began to drink from a still on fire citronella bucket candle!!!

Somewhat less than thrilled I reached over and swatted that coon with the scabard, and cracked the wood slightly, and just recently with this thread I began to fix it. This is one of my favorite knives.

January 25, 2009, 04:00 PM
I'd really like to see a picture, Mac. It sounds pretty neat.


January 25, 2009, 05:25 PM
John, That just woke me up. Time to slather more linseed oil on that scabard.

I need to get a lot of pics taken, in a very over all way. Not being very computer savey the task falls on my Bride...

I did get her to take a shot of my latest axe project, which is for fun and a What I did, over a how to, but in some ways it will be a how to.

So far the axe has been cut to be re-shaped to a profile I want, and I have another axe in this same profile only better.

This Bowie I have may not be all that old, and it just might be that connecting a date to a cellar hole, is all wrong, and it could be a kid hide this blade some years before I came on to it. I was hired to clean up the area, and build on it again.

Moving old cellar stones out of the hole I ended up the ground man to chain up large hunks of granite.

I have seen similar looking bowies, but upon inspection the blades have been apx 1/2 " shorter.

on edit: I forgot to mention that in time something happened to the scabard, and the blade sort of self locks in place inside it.

The scabard was designed on purpose to appear too small for the blade to fit, but it does fit.

This was the first scabard I made and so both halves are inlet 1/2+ a little more for the blade to be inside. I did this with some dirks I made latter, and with these scabards I cut the wood a bit different, and did all the inletting on one side only, and then put the top back on.

I still have one of these dirks, because my wife saud she wanted it. other wise it would be long gone. This one has the other side of the same moose antler rack, left alone as it came off the moose. The bowie being sanded and most folks think it is bone.

The dirk has a Amethest installed in the button end, with a sliver of sterling silver embedded under it. The idea being to reflect light. The problem is I can't get the stone out myself, if ever the silver turns black. The wood for the dirk is birdseye maple, and the scabard is lined in thin deerhide on the inside. I can't take a picture of that ever either, and it is because i wanted the dirk to be silent. This dirl scabard has a chain to suspend it, but I didn't like the way it worked, and so one day I will have to build a leather frog to suspend it. I'll get pics of this one too.

Byron Quick
January 26, 2009, 10:48 PM
I'm not sure if he's referring to the Korean gal who bit him or the, shall we say, incredibly hefty lady who fell for him like a ton of bricks.

January 27, 2009, 10:36 AM

This is one of the bowie pics, others are on this page, with other knives.

January 27, 2009, 03:48 PM
I think it was a picture you sent me, Byron.

January 27, 2009, 05:37 PM
I mentioned somewhere that the blade is ment to appear to big to fit the scarbard.
What do you think?

January 28, 2009, 02:34 AM
certainly seems a tight fit. Also, the last knife on the linked page is very nice looking.

January 31, 2009, 01:54 PM
Good looking knife. Good shape.

January 31, 2009, 05:15 PM
Yeah considering it was buried in a stone wall, meant to be a cellar that blade cleaned up real well. It seemed worthy of a moose antler grip.

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