Dart Frog Wilderness Survival Logo

Bowie Knife

This is an excellent fixed blade knife to have in your pack. A bowie knife is a large functional knife that is really handy to have. It is designed to be used as a weapon but is also equally useful for everyday bushcraft use. It is an excellent, practical tool for wilderness survival. It is incredibly popular and for good reason.

Bowie Knife 1

Practical Survival and Bushcraft Tool

The bowie is great for general use. It is great for both chopping and carving. If you need to hack down small trees and branches, a bowie will do the job. These knives are really durable. They have enough weight to make chopping easy. Carving is still easy with this tool. It works great for sharpening sticks, cutting notches, and similar tasks. You won’t have to switch tools. The Bowie knife is versatile enough that you can do all of this with just the one knife. The handle provides a comfortable grip which you will come to appreciate if you have ever tried to carve something with the blade on a multi tool.

It is also useful as a weapon. While we don’t focus on combat this is worth noting for several reasons. Combat is a practical use and something you may want to consider depending on your situation. Another reason why this is important is for defense against bears. It shouldn’t be your only defense but it doesn’t hurt to have a large knife on hand if you are attached by a bear. It is a good idea to carry both bear spray and a high calibre pistol if you are going somewhere with bears and if you have the option. If you don’t have these or if they aren’t within reach, a Bowie knife could save your life. One person actually fought off a bear with a steak knife (he was still injured very badly). A Bowie will be far better than a steak knife.

The Bowie knife serves as a great hunting and butchering knife. It is well suited to skinning and chopping meat. Hunting is a core component of living in the wilderness and this is the tool of choice for many. It is going to help you every step of the way. The same goes for fishing although it isn’t going to compare to a fillet knife.

Comparison: Bowie Knife vs Kukri Knife vs Hatchet

Each of these tools could almost be used in place of the other. They have a lot of overlapping functionality. The hatchet is of course the best for chopping out of the three. A hatchet will not however work very well for carving. Trying to carve something with a hatchet will obviously be very difficult.

The Kukri knife is great for chopping and pretty decent for carving as well. I would place it somewhere between the hatchet and the Bowie. It is great for chopping but not quite as good as hatchet (this is debatable). It is definitely better for carving than a hatchet.

Out of these three tools, the Bowie knife is going to be the best for carving. It is still really good at chopping but not quite as good as either of the other two. It is definitely the best hunting knife out of the three. You are going to prefer this knife if you plan on hunting, skinning, or cutting meat.

What is a Bowie Knife?

In general, the term Bowie knife is used to refer to a large fixed blade knife with a crossguard and a clip point. It would generally be carried in a sheath. The clip point is one of the major distinguishing features features of the knife. It allows for more control while thrusting because the point is aligned with the handle. In some cases the back edge of the blade may be sharpened but it is often not. When it is, this would be done along the clip.

There is a good deal of variety among knives that are labeled Bowie knives but they mostly follow this pattern. There is no clear, official definition of exactly what qualifies as Bowie. Personally, I think of my Western W49 Bowie, pictured at the top of this article, as the standard model. I’ve seen people try to call all sorts of things a Bowie knife. Some fit the description, some are way off.

Russell T. Johnson describes the James Black knife like this, "It must be long enough to use as a sword, sharp enough to use as a razor, wide enough to use as a paddle, and heavy enough to use as a hatchet."

The Bowie is very much an American knife. It was designed and achieved its legendary status in the United States. It has historically been produced in other parts of the world, most notably in the UK. This was often for sale to American buyers from which there was/is a great demand for the knife. It is viewed as being a uniquely American knife .

Coolness / Popularity

Besides being extremely functional the Bowie knife is just really cool to have. It is extremely popular because of its coolness and its legendary status. There has been a huge historical demand for the knife and there still is today.

It is an iconic item that has been included in everything from books and movies to video games. These include things like Rambo, Crocodile Dundee, Mark Twain, Counter Strike, and much more.

If you want to look like a really serious outdoorsman carry one of these. It isn’t just going to make you look cool though. It is going to actually make you better prepared for just about any excursion. There is a lot of overlapping functionality between a Bowie and a hatchet. Both are great tools but the Bowie will score you more coolness points.


A bowie knife is a type of knife that is based on a pattern constructed by James Black. It originated in the early 1800s. It was created for Jim Bowie ( who it is named after ). Jim bowie was famous for using a really big knife in the Sandbar Fight. This was a somewhat legendary dual that Jim fought in. He is also known for defending the Alamo.

The history and origin are of this knife are little tricky, see the wikipedia page: HERE