Dart Frog Wilderness Survival Logo

Best Bowie Knife

I am biased but here goes. The best Bowie knife, in my opinion, is the Western W49 Bowie Knife. If you are able to buy one of these you should. These aren't as easy to find anymore. The company that oringinally made them has been bought and sold a few times. As far as I can tell they aren't making new ones anymore. You can still find them on ebay for around $150 though. I bought mine back in like 2002 or 2003 at the Kittery Trading post in Maine. It cost me about $50.

The Western W49 is 1095 carbon steel. I'm not 100% sure if this varys for different years. The blade is over 9" and can vary slightly from year to year as far as I know.

Bowie Knife 1

The is a really solid knife. You can basically chop branches and stuff with it just like a hatchet. It is sharp, pointy, and heavy. It comes with a thick leather sheath.

More Bowie Knives

We can't really point you to anywhere to pick up our number one choice except to say "search Ebay". We are going to try to refer you to some of the other choices out there. Many of them are really good. It is always good to have options to choose from. There is a ton of variety among Bowie knives and you will want to pick what is right for you. Keep reading below or check our list HERE for some great options.


Full tang - Make sure that whatever you get is full tang. You are going to need a lot of support for a big heavey knife like this. You are going to want to be able to chop with force. This is one knife where you really need it to be full tang. Keep this in mind when you see versions of this knife with hollow handles. You don’t need that. It totally isn’t worth it to criple the functionality of your knife just so that you can store a few bits of junk in the handle. Get a solid knife and use something else to store stuff in.

Good materials - Make sure that you select something solid. Your requirements will be different depending on they type of knife you are looking at. For Bowie knives, you are going to want to go for something big and heavy. You are going to want something that is sharp. It needs to be able to handle chopping all kinds of stuff while staying sharp. High carbon steel is the way to go. It is harder than stainless steel. It stays sharper longer and some people say that it is significantly easier to sharpen it when it gets dull. High carbon won’t resist rust as much as stainless steel but in this case it is worth it. For a knife like this, just take good care of it. High carbon steel will tend to chip instead of dent as it isn’t as soft. It is a trade off but in this case high carbon is the way to go.

Shaped right - If you are getting a Bowie knife, get one that is shaped right. It should have a clip point. It should look like basically a really large butcher knife with a clip point and crossguard. You can get saw teeth on the back if you want it to look like Rambo’s knife. That is totally fine, not my thing but go for it if that is what you are into. Size is important. You are going to want something that is long, wide, and heavy. This is how a Bowie is meant to be. It needs to be sharp and pointy. It doesn’t need to come sharp as you can easily sharpen it yourself.

Full size - Personally, I recommend getting something that is full size. It should be long, wide, thick, and heavy. That is just they way this type of knife is supposed to be.

Comfortable handle - Get something with a comfortable handle. If you are using something heavily and the handle ins’t right, your hands may suffer. You won’t notice this with light use but heavy chopping and carving can give you blisters. The discomfort can generally hold you back from getting stuff done as effectivly as possible. Get something smooth and comfortable with no edges to dig into your skin.

Good rating - One good measure of quality is what experiences other people have had with the item. Before aquiring something you generally want to see that others have had good luck with it. This means that you want to get something that is rated well. You want to see that many people have rated it well, not just a few people. For example, 20 people giving something a 100% good rating isn’t as good as 500 people giving it a 90% good rating.

The List

Ka-Bar - Becker BK9
Handle: full tang
Blade: 9" Overall: 14-3/4"
Price: $$
Rating: Really Great out of a ton a reviewers
Notes: This is another really good choice. The focus with this knife is on functionality not looking fancy or traditional. You may like that, you may not, it totally depends on your personal preferences. I would view this as a great all around practical outdoors knife. In terms of functionality it should serve very well. It doesn't quite look like a standard Bowie knife. The end is kind of stubby which I like but doesn't seem right for a Bowie. It is missing a crossguard which it really should have even though a guard doesn't really have a practical purpose these days. The handle isn't overly fancy (synthetic) but it trades that for functionality. The handle is designed ergonomically. It provides comfort and won't wear your hands out while you're working. The blade isn't the longest but is still plenty long for this type of knife. Also, apparently this Bowie is use in the military.

SOG - Super SOG Bowie
Handle: hidden tang / probably full *see here
Blade: 7.5" Overall:12.88"
Price: $$$
Rating: Great out of a small number of reviewers
Notes: This is a really good knife. It is a little bit on the smaller side for a Bowie both in terms of length and width. You might want to take that into consideration. The tang isn't specified but I looked into it and it turns out it is a hidden tang. It may or may not be full (see our note on tang types). This probably isn't as big of a deal since it will probably be almost as good as full tang and the knife isn't one of the bigger Bowies anyway. I would view this as a really nice knife for outdoor use but not a big chopping and hacking tool. Don't get this if you want a real bowie experience.

Schrade - SCHF45 Leroy
Handle: full Tang
Blade: 10.4" Overall: 16.5"
Price: $$
Rating: Really Great out of a ton a reviewers
Notes: This is a really good lower end Bowie knife. By that I mean you aren't sacrificing much quality for the price. It is strong and durable. It is high carbon steel coated with titanium. It isn't the least expensive Bowie but it is on the lower end. If you don't want to spend a ton but still want something good and functional, go with this. It is less stubby than the Ka-Bar. It looks more like how a Bowie should look. It still doesn't have a crossguard which is fine if you don't feel like you need one. The handle is also synthetic and looks reasonably comfortable. It should absorb shock too. The blade is on the longer side as well. It isn't the longest but it is definitly on the longer side.

Ontario - Spec Plus SP10 Marine Raider Bowie
Handle: full tang
Blade: 9.75" Overall: 15.12"
Price: $$$
Rating: Really Great out of a ton a reviewers
Notes: This is an overall nice Bowie knife. The price is on the higher side but you are getting a good tool. The shape is about perfect and it even has somewhat of a crossguard. The handle is comfy enough. It is synthetic and isn't fancy/traditional looking. It is a great knife to have for hacking, chopping, and anything else you would expect to be able to do with it. The blade is carbon steel so there is that too. The blade is about the length you would expect from a Bowie. It isn't the longest but it is more than fine. If you like how it looks and you are OK with the higher price, this might be the right choice for you.

Case - Bowie
Handle: full tang, hidden *see here
Blade: 9.5" Overall: 14.25"
Price: $$$
Rating: Really Great out of a fair number of reviewers
Notes: This is a pretty solid knife. It is heavy and shaped nicely. As you can see from the picture, it comes in more than one color. This is another premium bowie knife. The blade is plenty long and it is shaped just about perfectly. The handle is smooth and gives a good grip. It looks just like it should and even includes the crossguard. The handle is synthetic but still retains a nice traditional Bowie knife look. The crossguard is made from brass and the blade is made from surgical stainless steel. It isn't the high carbon steel I would have expected but it is still pretty decent. The price is on the higher end but not crazy high or anything. Overall this is a great choice if you want a good Bowie knife.

Timber Rattler - Western Outlaw Bowie Knife
Handle: full tang
Blade: 11 3/8" Overall:
Price: $$ - pretty low
Rating: Great out of a huge number of reviews.
Notes: This is a big, heavy knife. It is generally priced really low too. As far as I know, the brand isn't exactly known for producing high end blades made from good quality steel. These aren't bad or anything either though. They are good for the price. They do use stainless steel on this one, not high carbon. This particular knife good if you want something simple, big, and heavy all at a discount. If you want something made from quality steel, etc. you might want to spend a bit more. Interestingly, with some quick searching I coudn't find a company website for the brand. I didn't dig too deep. They are only sold by third party sellers as far as I can tell. I wouldn't let any of that turn you away from buying this knife though. It has pretty good ratings out of a huge number of people who have tried it out. It isn't some mystery knife that no one can vouch for. Obviously it isn't going to compare to the higher end blades but it definitly is not junk. I've seen lower prices but not by much. For what you pay, this is really good. The handle is hardwood which I would view as another plus. The blade is one of the longest I've seen on a bowie.

SZCO - 202858-CS Carbon Steel Bowie Knife
Handle: full tang
Blade: Overall: 15"
Price: $$ - super low
Rating: Great out of a good number of reviewers.
Notes: At first glance, it actually looks a lot like the Western Bowie. The price is much lower and the quality just isn't anywhere near as good. People complain about quality control issues such as the handle not fitting right, rough edges, etc. Overall it is pretty decent for the super low price. It definitly isn't one of my top picks though. One person mentioned that while chopping a thick branch, the edges bent a little. It is supposed to be Carbon steel but people specualte that it is just stainless steel. SZCO actually makes a bunch of other different models of Bowie knives if you search. Interestingly, on their site, they have a stainless steel version of the knife with a model number of 202858-SS (SS for stainless steel). This model is the 202858-CS (CS for carbon steel). It could be that the person reporting the durability issue had the wrong version of the knife. The bottom line is that this is not junk and it is just about the least expensive Bowie knife you can get.

Moorhaus - D2 Bowie
Handle: full tang
Blade: ~11 Overall: 15.5"
Price: $$
Rating: undetermined....
Notes: This is another big heavy knife. It looks like it would be really good if you want to take a chance. I haven't seen very many people review this and I can't find a lot of background on it. I couldn't find an official website for the brand. I was able to find a facebook page and apparently they are a local business in Istanbul, Turkey. Their knives are supposedly handmade. It seems pretty good but there is a lack of information. They do sell a lot of other knives and some of them have a few reviews. If you want to take a chance, then give it a shot.

Gerber - Winchester Large Bowie Knife
Handle: rat-tail tang
Blade: 8.75 Overall: 15.8
Price: $$
Rating:Really Great out of a good number of reviewers
Notes: It is a rats-tail tang. It doesn't specify full or not but people who have had the handle break have said that it is not full. See our note on tangs below. It is stainless steel, not carbon (also not the best stainless). All things considered, the ratings are pretty good and a lot of people agree on that. The blade is a pretty good length. It isn't too short. The shape is nice. It has a nice looking cross guard and a wood handle. People have mentioned having the handle split after dropping it. Apparently, the tang looks like it was actually welded to the blade which is pretty messed up. I'm not sure how it has such high ratings actually. You might want to skip this one.

Cold Steel - Natchez Bowie
Cold Steel - Natchez Bowie
Handle: cable tang
Blade: 11 3/4" Overall: 17 1/8"
Price: $$$
Rating: Great out of a small number of reviewers
Notes: This is a really good knife. It is one of the higher end bowies out there. If you want something that is high quality, somewhat functional, and nice looking, this is a great option. This is far from my first choice but it is one of the more popular higher end knives and should be reviewed.
Warning - This knife does NOT have a full tang. It has a cable tang. There is a short stub of metal that sticks into the handle which connects to a piece of cable. That runs the length of the handle. This is supposedly done on purpose and not to reduce costs. It supposedly actually costs more money to do it this way. This is supposed to absorb shock better and provide better better balance. This knife is geared more towards combat and not chopping wood and stuff. I would view this as a huge set back for the knive in terms of use as a survival knife. If you just want something for combat, this might be OK. Some of the other full tang knives should also be great for combat while also being good for general bushcraft.
One thing I personally don't like about it is that it isn't wide enough (edge to edge, not thickness). A bowie should be wider. That is more a matter of personal preference but I tend to go for a wide, amost paddle like blade on a Bowie. It is still really nice though. It is functional and looks fancy. You could put it on display but I would feel kind of bad keeping something that is a usable tool on display where it isn't getting used at all. Also worth mentioning is that it is especially long. This is a major plus.

Note on Tangs

A hidden tang can be either full or partial. Full tang just means that it extends the full length of the handle and doesn’t need to be visible. See Wikipedia for a bunch of good information about different tangs HERE

Amazon affiliate disclosure statement
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.