What Is A Bowie Knife Used For?

This knife is very famous, yet not a lot of people know that it is considered a knife.

You probably have seen this in movies and reality TV about hunting.

Some consider it as a short sword, but it is known as the Bowie Knife.

What is it?

A Bowie is believed to originate from the US by the popular knifemaker during the 19th century named James Black.

It was named after Jim Bowie, an American soldier with great fighting skills.

However, it is not quite sure about the correctness of the information or if it was inspired by a similar-sized knife.

The common length is ranging from 12 to 18 inches (approximately 30 to 46 centimeters).

It has a heavyweight blade, that is primarily used for tough work but can be used comfortably.

Most bowies (as knifemakers and enthusiasts call it) today either have a clip blade or has an angle towards the tip.

The original ones are perfectly straight, but modern ones have the combination of straight-edged and a serrated blade on each side.

It makes it more capable with different uses.

One of the most striking features of the bowie is its handle.

They have a double hilt, a prominent characteristic of this type.

It acts as a suspension to protect the user against the blade.

Originally, a bowie knife has a handle made from a horn.

Today’s handles are made from wood or any other sturdy material that can withstand rough use.

Since this is more likely to be used as a survival or hunting tool, it is commonly paired with a sheath to protect the person handling it from the sharp edges.

It is meant to be carried with it because of its weight and size.

The sheath is usually made from quality leather, plastic, or a mix of both.

What is it used for?

As mentioned, a bowie is mostly used for hunting or camping purposes.

It is commonly used for cutting wood for bonfires – to provide warmth, lighting, or cook foods.

It can also be used for making thin sheets from the wood that is a great fire starter.

The tang (where the blade and the handle meets) will allow the user to add more force to cut wood easier.

The long hilts will block the user’s hand from touching the blade.

It is also considered to be the hunter’s favorite choice, as the large surface can help in skinning and cleaning the animal.

The weight and thick blades can get through the bones easily, making it a perfect tool for dividing the parts equally in preparation for cooking.

This can be used with a piece of wood to help push it down to the meat.

In terms of cleaning, the wide surface will allow separating the meat, fat, and animal skin.

Just like for self-defense, this is a great tool for survival.

Since it can get through wood and a lot of different items, it can help in creating a shelter or handmade boats.

There are multipurpose versions where the blades could have different edges, which will be perfect for different use.

In terms of history, you may use this tool for knife fighting.

Well, that may sound harsh, so we can choose to use the word ‘self-defense’ instead.

It is appropriate to fight both humans and animal attacks.

However, most bowie knives are heavy and have a large surface which could be hard for some to use as a fighting tool.

If you want to use this as a proper tool for self-defense (as a weapon in short), it is recommended to undergo training to avoid harm to yourself while using it.

Maintenance tips

Just like any other knife, using a dull or chipped blade is dangerous as it can cause accidents and injury.

It is important to always sharpen them and check their sharpness before use.

You may use a larger whetstone if you have a wider blade surface when you want to do the sharpening.

A bigger and heavier one may need a professional’s help in keeping them in good shape.

It should be easily available in a nearby knife sharpening service shop in your area.

When not in use, remember to keep it in its sheath to help prevent rust or dirt, not to mention for safety purposes too.

Make sure that before storing it, the whole knife should be clean and dry.

Some knife manufacturers may include a care guide, where it will contain information on how to properly care for it considering the materials used in manufacturing it.

The guide will help you keep it in good shape for a longer period of time.

If they didn’t give one, you can try visiting their website as they could offer a downloadable version.

Where to buy one?

Your favorite knife specialty store or tactical supplies shop should make this knife easily available, as common supermarkets or department stores may not carry one.

When buying this, consider the grip and if it is comfortable to use.

When buying this knife online, consider checking the specifications to know if it is the perfect knife for your tactical, survival, or hunting needs.

You may read or watch some reviews, which can help you decide what would be the better option.

Watch out for the very cheap ones! They could be made with materials of low quality that can break when used with force.


A Bowie knife is a perfect tool for those who like camping or those who find fun in survival challenges.

It is also a great knife for hunting, just remember to always proceed with caution in using this as it can bring harm to the user too.

This knife can be considered to be a heavy-duty knife that can last for years or even for generations to come.

Last Updated on July 22, 2021 by Andy Wang

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My name is David Strong. I'm a knife expert and a US Marine veteran. I used to fight in Iraq, so I gained lots of combat experience there, especially when it comes to combat, tactical, and outdoor knives. And this blog is where I share my expertise with you alongside my friend Andy.