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Bowie Knives

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Patrick_Henry, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. Patrick_Henry

    Patrick_Henry Well-Known Member

    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?
  2. ArfinGreebly

    ArfinGreebly Moderator Emeritus


    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.
  3. RLsnow

    RLsnow Well-Known Member

    get a same knife ;)


    or im sure you could find something at cold steel :p
  4. coelacanth

    coelacanth Well-Known Member

    try A.G. Russell's catalog. . . . .

    there is a pretty decent selection there. Go to agrussell.com and then to knives by type - straight.
  5. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    You'll have trouble getting a good "Bowie" for $50-$70.

    How big a knife do you want?
  6. Patrick_Henry

    Patrick_Henry Well-Known Member

    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...
  7. Patrick_Henry

    Patrick_Henry Well-Known Member

    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.
  8. Timthinker

    Timthinker Well-Known Member

    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.

  9. Chester32141

    Chester32141 Well-Known Member

    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 ...


    Last edited: Mar 4, 2008
  10. eliphalet

    eliphalet Well-Known Member

    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

  11. Chester32141

    Chester32141 Well-Known Member

    WOW !!

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

    Timthinker Well-Known Member

    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.

  13. Patrick_Henry

    Patrick_Henry Well-Known Member

    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?
  14. Timthinker

    Timthinker Well-Known Member

    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 www.atlantacutlery.com. 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.

  15. ArfinGreebly

    ArfinGreebly Moderator Emeritus

    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.
  16. islandphish

    islandphish Well-Known Member

    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.
  17. RLsnow

    RLsnow Well-Known Member

    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.
  18. Patrick_Henry

    Patrick_Henry Well-Known Member

    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.
  19. auschip

    auschip Well-Known Member

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

    TerryBob Well-Known Member

    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.


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