Best Bowie Knife – Reviews and Buying Guide

A good bowie knife has three essential qualities—a big blade, a full tang, and a wooden handle.

Custom-made for Jim Bowie, a famous knife fighter in the early 1800s, bowie knives have stood the test of time thanks to their versatility.

With a fixed blade, at least 8 inches long, and a curved tip, they are just as suitable for skinning or butchering meat as they are for cutting brush on a hike—but let’s cut straight to the heart of the matter—the best bowie knives.

Quality Bowie knives do not have to cost you an arm and leg.

Our Top 5 Picks

From chopping down trees to build a camp and stripping barks as survival knives, to fishing and scaling, hunting and skinning, and all the way to gardening, we ask: What are the best 10 Bowie knives on the market right now, especially for the money?

  1. Best Overall: Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie
  2. Best Budget: Timber Rattler Western Outlaw Bowie Knife
  3. Big, Tough, and Heavy-Duty: Ka-Bar U.S. Marine Corps Knife
  4. Iconic American Fixed Blade: Buck Knives 124
  5. Effective and Affordable: Cold Steel 39LSWB Marauder Knife

Top 10 Best Bowie Knife Reviews

1. Timber Rattler Western Outlaw Bowie Knife

Timber Rattler Western Full Tang with Leather Sheath on a wooden table
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The Timber Rattler Bowie Knife is a stunning attention-grabber for its charming good looks. But does it perform nearly as well? There is so much you can do with this full tang steel blade. For one, it is a perfect big Bowie to have handy in the woods for most activities.

The 11-3/8 inches blade is heavy for some and ideal for others but feels solid in hand like a quality Bowie knife ought to feel. And the gray hardwood handle looks classic as well. The hook on the end of the handle, in addition to the brass finger guard, adds to the sure grip and helps keep the knife on your hand for those hard-pressing, hard-duty sessions. The guard is made from durable brass and gives some amazing aesthetics too.

Its blade and handle sizes allow for excellent stability—weight is well balanced and every swing feels well-controlled like you’d want it to. Still, the tough steel blade comes with a genuine leather sheath. It also comes sharp, but you will have to sharpen it from time to time.

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2. Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat Bowie Knife

Black Color Ka-Bar Becker BK9 Combat
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Looking for the best Bowie on Amazon that also doubles in as a fixed blade Bowie?

This American-made, 16.8-ounce knife measures 14-3/4” with a 9” blade that is craft out of 1095 high carbon steel. That means it’s a good option for chopping and limbing. If you are looking for a medium-long knife that’s splendid for preparing campfire wood and pruning invasive trees in the backyard or yard, the BK-9 holds its own.

And for less than $100, you get a well-designed, ultra-sharp, durable, and quality one that can easily stand in as a survival or combat knife too. The 3/16” thick and clip point blade is suited in a decidedly thick powder coat that helps beat off the rust, although we recommend oiling the whole knife (including the bolts after use). Check out our recommended oil for knives.

The handle feels firm and great in the hand. It is coated in Ultramind and finished with an attractive and smooth matte black exterior.

The BK-9 nylon sheath (black in color) is also lightweight, looks good, and comes with a molded Kydex finish, so you do not have to take off the belt for you to use the knife. And, a Velcro underneath the retention strap to ensure you can draw out the knife with the strap well off the way.

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3. Buck Knives 124 Frontiersman Bowie

Buck Knives 124 Frontiersman with Black Leather Sheath
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Perhaps the most underrated affordable one out there, the Frontiersman fixed blade continues the traditional Bowie knife heritage of the Buck Knives brand. You will be hard-pressed to find a better knife that is worth ferrying around for your next camping and hiking trip too at this price point.

Although not an efficient stripping or chopping knife, the 124 Frontiersman fixed blade is big on taking on exacting demands.

It sports a satin-finished, 420 high carbon stainless steel blade that is 6-1/4” long. The whole thing is spot on at 11-3/4”, so it is not mammoth so much so that it pisses while working through smaller tasks—it could as well swank in to carve a turkey, much to the surprise of your hunting or camping friends.

Unlike the larger knives here, this Buck works like charm as a multi-purpose knife despite the hunting knife talk all around it. It should not disappoint as a survival Bowie or big combat knife. Also, you’ll want to keep your digits off the sharp blade, and the large aluminum pommel and crossguard do a good job keeping you off its business.

This Buck is nicely thick (4mm at the spine and tapers down to 1 mm at the tip-end) and durable, lightweight at 13.3 oz, and is an American-made Bowie. Still, that Micarta handle and adequate leather sheath come in nicely to aid in handling and safe storage.

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4. 12″ Survival Bowie Knife

12 Inch Bowie Knife with ABS sheath
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Overall, this Survival bowie measures 12” with a 7-½” blade-one of the biggest Bowie knives in its category. The black blade is made of stainless steel, which makes for excellent durability. In addition to that, the blade is further anodized and is hence corrosion resistant. It sharpens excellently, and it is not brittle.

The plastic handle makes for an ergonomic design that gives a satisfying grip, and also makes this a noticeable star in the cool Bowie knives class. The blade locks onto the handle securely via a screw. Losing the knife in the woods comes as no surprise, it is a common occurrence. The screw is in place to keep this medium-large Bowie dangling from your waist. Also, the 12″ blade comes with a lanyard.

The package ships with a durable ABS sheath that enables you to secure the knife and carry it conveniently. It has incredible edge retention, and the weight allows for perfect balance.

5. 9001022 United Cutlery Marine Force Recon Sawback Bowie

Chopping Tree in Forest with USMC Marine Force Recon Giant Bowie Knife
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Right out the box, this knife is massive—the largest bowie knife on our list too. Overall, it is 16-3/8” with an 11-1/2” blade. Also, it is made out of AUS-6 stainless steel, so you won’t have to deal with rust and corrosion. In fact, the blade is corrosion-resistant and comes with a non-glare finish.

The grip is perhaps the highlighting feature here.

You get an over-molded handle suited in rubber with a long finger guard to keep your digits off the business of the blade. The handle feels just right, and the grip is perfect for fighting. For instance, if you are out hunting, hiking, or camping, and a wildcat pop out of nowhere spoiling for your blood.

But thanks to its small machete form-factor, it can be weighty a little bit for some people. But others might prefer its intimidating looks and fitting feel in hand.

Yet you might like the option of the full saw teeth spine and serrated/plain make—although a lot of people might not know what to do with it.

Still, you get a nylon sheath which features snap closure—a thoughtful addition. The bowie knife fits in there snugly thanks to its 1.8-inch thickness, which some might be concerned to be a little thin.

So if you are looking to buy the best quality buoy knife for sale and that strikes a decent balance among utility, pricing, and ergonomics, United Cutlery’s offer is a quality blade on the market that might appeal to you.

6. Ridge Runner Executive Wooden Bowie

Ridge Runner Executive Wooden Bowie Knife on a Table
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The Ridge Runner Executive Wooden Bowie Knife is a combination of elegance and functionality, that’s one. Second. If you are looking for a budget one that keeps the tag for a quality Bowie knife for the money, this Ridge Runner knife is a full-size Bowie for just about 20 bucks.

But it hoists out a full tang blade that is tough (AUS-6 steel), making it resistant to bulging under hand pressure like some other brands do despite claiming higher dollars.

And wait until you lay your eyes on this large bad boy. The tastefully curved and wooden handle comes with artistic, intricate scroll works, making this more of a practical knife you would gladly retire to your collection galleria for smitten admirers. Yes, it’s that much attractive.

The combination of the etched scroll works and the wood inlays makes for the best aesthetics. Yet, the balance point is right at the rugged and prominent pommel guard as well—although we would not praise it as a throwing knife.

Also, the blade is razor sharp out of the box and the package comes with a nylon knife sheath that has is decidedly roomy. As a matter of fact, it’s so roomy (large) it might swing a bit from the waist as you move around.

7. Ontario Spec Plus Marine Raider Bowie Knife

Black Ontario Spec Plus Marine Raider Bowie
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Another American made Bowie knife is among the best Bowie knives used by Special Forces. This tactical Bowie is full tang and made of 1095 carbon steel for maximum strength and durability even in extended taxing conditions.

That blade extends up to 9.75 inches over the overall Bowie’s expanse of 15.125 inches. That makes it a tad hefty for some people, but it feels rather great in the hand. In fact, it is well-balanced, making every strike smooth and less demanding since the quality Bowie’s weight does most of the work.

The blade is fairly sharp, though, so you might have to sharpen it to your liking. And the back of the clip is un-sharpened, however, you want it—you choose whether to sharpen it too for brutal back swipes, although you probably will not be using it as a weapon.

For a utility Bowie style knife, this Ontario marine raider knife is durable and practical. The blank is coated in epoxy powder, which feels rough but great to protect the knife from corrosion. For further protection, you get a decent quality (for the price) Cordura sheath.

8. 9″ Navy SEALs Tactical Combat Bowie Knife

9 Inch Black Color Survivor HK-766T Bowie Knife
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With this 9″ Bowie knife you have got a Navy SEALs class tactical combat blade at your disposal. Despite its small Bowie knife stature, it sure does make you feel secure and sorted at all times. At 9” with the blade at just 5,” it makes for a compact, lightweight knife that is easy to use and ferry around—and is especially awesome as a camp knife.

The blade has a thickness of 3.5 mm. I have to admit that you will require some effort to sharpen the first time around. Sharpening after that will be a breeze and less often thanks to the excellent edge retention of the thick blade.

It has a fixed blade making for a lot of blade strength. The sheath is from black nylon fiber with an ergonomic contour design that gives the perfect grip. The blade allows for versatility with the additional reverse saw back.

9. Gerber Winchester Large Bowie Knife

8.57 Inch Full Tang Winchester 22-41206 Large Bowie Knife
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Here’s another full tang big Bowie that is excellent at playing the awesome survival & fishing knife. Dropping the “large Bowie” moniker, the blade stings 8.57 inches upfront. And, the entire knife is just shy of 15 inches. I wouldn’t call it a monster Bowie, but it’s one of a kind.

The blade is lightweight at just 0.125 oz, and the entire thing weighs a measly 14.4 ounces. At that weight point, it is sure to spit directed power and control with each swing. Its traditional design (streamlined tip, curved edge near the tip for skinning, and lowered blade tip) helps in these regards.

That blade is made of stainless steel for increased strength and corrosion resistance hence long-haul utility in excellent condition. It is a very sharp knife too. And, it was thoughtful of Gerber to fix that large brass guard to keep our hands where they are best at—the handle.

The handle is made of finger-grooved wood and pops thanks to the deep-red showing off the wood. You might or might not like the finger grooving thing, but it is good for the grip if it fits your digit.

Overall, this is a decent, big, and cheap Bowie knife to have.

10. Szco Supplies Carbon Steel Bowie

SZCO Supplies 202858-CS Carbon Steel Bowie
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Szco Supplies Carbon Steel Bowie Knife delivers an impressive, large 15″ Bowie. The wooden handle looks great and gives an excellent grip. To keep your hand off the blade, the manufacturer incorporates a brass guard.

Carbon steel makes the blade count among the best in strength and durability around. Still, its full tang Bowie on the handle makes the knife capable of handling multiple, intended tasks. The carbon steel blade sharpens easily and retains sharpness, which is fantastic if you are spending much time out in the woods.

Both the knife and the leather sheath are a job well done. After use just tuck it safely in the leather sheath, keeps the knife safe, and also keeps you safe from injury.

How to Choose a Bowie Knife on the Market for You – Buyer’s Guide

In this Bowie knife reviews guide, it is not just about getting to know the best one for your buck. We also share a ton of relevant and informative Bowie hacks. So that you can effectively dagger down to the top Bowie knives on Amazon for the bucks.

We played hardball and let these Bowies play to our rigorous tests so you would not have to yourself. With a bunch of incomplete reviews out there, how about we dig in deeper to truly understand what makes a Bowie knife oh so great.

1. Check the Construct Material

First of all, it has to be a full tang. A knife is as good as the blade material. Whatever your reason for buying a Bowie, it will only work out as well as the blade’s material dictates. For example, think of all the things to do with durability and sharpness.

Sloppy and weak materials could mean having a brittle knife that will not see you through two days of use. Strike that wood a couple of times, and its spine squeals dead and broke.

Quality Bowies’ construct material includes stainless steel and high carbon steel (usually labeled as HC). They make the blade capable of retaining a sharp edge for a long time and stand up to some hard knocks in their rugged life.

2. Check its Blade and Overall Length

Here’s the deal.

There is a saying that goes in the lines of ‘You break the laws of physics, and they will break you’. The length of the fixed blade will determine the balance of the entire knife while you use it. So, get to feel the knife in your hand, and you can tell if the knife provides you with the perfect balance to deliver powerful strikes.

If you are into stripping back, a short Bowie knife will likely be short on delivery as well. You’ll also want to check how the knife’s weight factors in. The longer the blade, the heftier the overall knife feels in the hand. And if you are a hard-duty master, you might feel that weight wears you down surprisingly fast over time.

Also, if it’s a combat knife (likely with a blood-thirsty wild animal or sworn enemy) you need a lightweight and medium-length big Bowie for excellent control and shifting power towards the blade. Also, with elaborate and thoughtful ergonomics, even large Bowie knives can feel great in the arm and swing.

As far as weight goes too, keep in mind that a tad too light blade will struggle and trudge through slashing sticks, and pruning trees as well as a relatively heavier knife. Still, too heavy a Bowie will make for a heck of a weary utility.

3. What Tang is it?

A full tang in some way prevents the blade from breaking. A half tang on a heavy blade will not see you through hard duty. The spine of that thing could break abruptly, punching you in the face as far as value for money is concerned.

Under similar stress, a full tang will stand, but a half tang, on the contrary, will only get you stuck with no option but to buy a new knife.

4. A Word about the Sheath

The sheath is a profound safety and portability tool for all Bowie knives.

With the knife in its sheath, you are assured no one will get hurt. Most sheaths come with a strap that allows for attachment to pants or belts. Look out for sheaths with a plastic lining to help protect the blade and keep its edges sharp and ready for brutal assignments. And, of course, a genuine leather sheath may cost more but it sure does outlast the nylon knife sheath variety by a stretch.

5. Ergonomics and Bowie Design

The best Bowie design makes for a lot of handiness.

Great design makes for an easy to hold, swing, and maintain grip kind of knife. An ergonomic handle design and covering material (such as natural rubber) give you the perfect grip, so you will not be dropping it right when you need it the most. Handles that have some form of contours add to assured gripping.

Watch out that manufacturer fits in a hearty finger-guard and roomy handle. Another incredible blade design is the serrated blade back that makes for great knife versatility. From above you can see a manufacturer that includes a hook at the end of the handle to add to the sure-grip handle.

FAQ (Frequently asked questions)

1. What is a Bowie Knife?

In short, it’s a beefy knife with a long blade usually ranging between 5 to 24 inches in blade length, and is double-edged at the point. It was created by James Black somewhere around the early 19th century.

There is no accurate historical data as to when the first bowie knife was created, but reliable sources have mentioned that the first custom-made knife was for James Bowie. He was famous for the dual in the Sandbar Fight. James Bowie was known for his knife-fighting skills. Most bowies will have a clip blade or angled towards the tip.

Unlike today, the original knives were completely straight. Straight blade, straight guard built for dual. Earlier ones had a horn handle or a stag handle, nowadays you’ll see a more sophisticated handle made for comfortable gripping.

2. What is a Bowie Knife Used For?

There is nothing like a good old bowie knife. Big blades, durable material, and highly efficient. It’s a nice tool for campers, hunters, and for tactical purposes. A lot of people collect bowie knives because they are so cool. They are also very practical.

For hunters, the long length gives them the much-needed cutting power for cleaning and skinning. The flat blade can also be used to chop pieces of meat, wood, and cutting cords. For any whittling task use best wood whittling knife.

The handles are perfect for attacking prey and piercing with force.

For combat purposes, these knives are the best. You do know that these knives were made for fighting. It’s still widely used in the military. The sheer size of the knife will send a chill down the spine of your opponent. Who would want to get stabbed with a long blade?

Last but not least, survival. You can hunt with these knives, peel the skin, prep them, cut wood for making fire, make shelter, and much more. To be honest, the use of a bowie is innumerable. Depends on how you want to use them.

3. How to Sharpen a Bowie Knife?

Sharpening a bowie is easy. It’s like sharpening any other knife. However, there are certain criteria that you should follow before doing so. First of all, you need to determine the sharpening method. Do you want a system that will offer you edge guides or would you prefer to control the angle of the edges?

It’s a long process and I would highly suggest you take it to a professional. If you are still determined to do it on your own, watch a YouTube video. There are hundreds of tutorials out there. They even show you how to make one by yourself. Sharpening a bowie is not hard but you do need to be careful. And, it’s a topic for a whole new article.

4. What Is a Best Budget Bowie Knife?

When I hear the word budget, I can tell exactly what you are thinking. Come on guys, don’t be a cheapskate. A lot of time and dedication goes into making a large knife. Hopefully, there are some options available to all of you that are looking for a budget knife.

United Cutlery and Gerber both offer cheap bowies. Don’t get fooled by the price though, the quality is good. Just don’t expect too much out of them. The length would be somewhere between 7 to 12 inches. Depends on how you want to use them. Some of us would just buy them to increase our collection and not for actual usage.

Wrapping it up

There is no greater satisfaction than getting a product that works as per your expectations. Heck, who does not want to be surprised how good it works. Don’t forget the frustration that comes with losing money in the name of buying a product that cannot see the light of the next day of use.

Hopefully, our top picks in this review feed on your Bowie curiosities and help you get a knife that serves you right. These 10 best blades assure a thoughtful blend of elegance, functionality, and great prices.

Want insider knowledge for choosing the most bad-ass Bowie knife on the market right now? We have just what you want. Get in touch with us now.

Brian Casey
About Brian M. Casey

As a food lover, Brian M. Casey developed a fascination for cooking at an early age. He soon realized that not only the ingredients matter but also the knives and the accessories used to turn those ingredients into a delicious dish. This way, Brian began his journey on the magnificent world of kitchen knives, outdoor knives, knife accessories, and much more. After years of experience with many ups and downs, Brian now wants to share everything he’s learned during his journey as an avid knife collector, a well-seasoned knife maker, and an all-around knives enthusiast.

19 thoughts on “Best Bowie Knife – Reviews and Buying Guide”

  1. Julia Robert I have never used these knives specifically however my husband is a professional chef, he swears by global brand knives, they are s little pricey but incredible. I prefer for my home kitchen use calphalon knives, they are amazing, affordable and relatively low maintenance. I hope this is helpful.

    • Hello Desari, Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! We really appreciate this kinda support. And I agree with you about Calphalon Knives.

  2. From personal experience. I have never had a problem with Bowie knives. They fit nicely in your hand, easy to sharpen, stay sharp for a decent about of time and are great for hunting. If i had a choice my first choice would be a Bowie knife.

  3. Well these are some great looking knifes but how do I win one and the articles seems to explain enough to make u want one and like how they give the default about them too great way to sell the items

  4. In your article it is stated that the Marine rader has a full tang. In a couple of other places it is said to be a rat tail tang. would really like to know which. I feel that the full tang would be better generally. Thanks ArkSlim

    • From the ontario Knife (OKC) Web site “The SPEC PLUS products are a diverse mix of top-selling and innovative knife and tool patterns designed for military, sporting and first responder purposes. Each knife in the SPEC PLUS series features a comfortable Kraton® handle, epoxy textured powder coated 1095 carbon steel blades, full tang construction and a tactical sheath.

  5. I have been looking for such a knive. But after reading reviews on Amazon (esp on #4, 5 & 6 which I liked), the complaints I saw about the blades being damaged/chipped, not being sharp, getting bent or even breaking after little use, etc, I was totally put off. So I will continue to look for something sturdy.


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