The Bowie Is A Beloved, Historic Knife That Continues To Inspire Makers Today. This Trio Of Factory Bowies Stands Out.
Perhaps no other pattern in knife history has as rich a legacy as the bowie. It is a highly recognizable design featuring a large blade in a variety of shapes, some of which have a prominent swedge, and handles of varying designs, often with a guard.
The pattern dates back to 1827 as a knife given by Rezin Bowie to his legendary brother, BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame® member Jim Bowie, the famous American pioneer who participated in the Texas Revolution and who was killed in the Battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836. Jim Bowie was a principal in the Sandbar Fight of Sept. 29, 1827, a melee that established the bowie’s reputation as a fearsome combat knife that lives on to this day.
Boker Magnum Giant Bowie
The bowie remains a widely sought-after pattern for knife collectors and users alike. Its commanding stature attracts attention. A striking example is the Boker Magnum Giant Bowie, Magnum being Boker’s more affordable knife line made in China.
Boasting a stacked leather-washer handle with integrated finger grooves, polished double guard and pommel, and clip-point blade with a pronounced swedge, the Giant Bowie looks all business.
The 8-1/8-inch blade is 440A stainless steel. The handle is comfortable and the finger grooves index your grip nicely. The leather is covered with a clear coat that prevents moisture from soaking in and ruining the handle. The buttcap screws down to compress the washers.
One drawback is I cannot find any evidence that the handle is of a full-tang construction. It doesn’t have the balance of such in hand, as it is slightly blade heavy. As a result, use this one with caution—meaning no use bordering on abuse.
The black leather sheath has a single retention strap with a button snap. A small accessory pocket also has a button-snap closure and contains a sharpening stone. The stone is too small for major resharpening but can be used for quick field touch ups.
Spyderco FB44GP Respect Bowie
Spyderco’s FB44GP Respect Bowie pays homage to classic bowie design, hence its name. Sal Glesser, company founder and BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame® member, designed this beast to be his version of the bowie executed in modern materials and manufacturing techniques.
Incorporating massive .3-inch-thick CPM 154 stainless steel, the 7-inch blade is fully flat ground. While the blade is massive, the distal taper of the spine lightens it progressively toward the tip and makes it feel agile in hand. The ergonomic G-10 handle has rounded edges, which make for a very comfortable grip.
A stainless steel double guard provides ample protection from your hand sliding up on the blade, and acts as a positive stop for choking up for additional control. You can move your grip rearward on the handle to shift the balance point to where the feel is blade heavy for chopping tasks. Torx® screws fasten the scales to the full tang securely.
The Respect makes an excellent expedient chopper, with the flat-ground blade providing excellent bite into saplings. It aggressively eats away at green wood, sending chunks flying with each blow. Toning it down, the blade makes a great slicer with the graceful curve of the cutting edge that terminates at the tip. It sliced foam blocks easily, an indication that the cutting edge quality and blade grinds are spot on. There is enough of a defined tip to perform scoring jobs if needed. The blade can do some serious penetration as well. There were no problems with cutting performance.
The heavy-duty sheath is sewn leather. A brass frog helps secure the leather retainer strap over the guard to prevent the knife from falling out of the sheath. A belt loop on the reverse side provides further ease of carry should you opt for it.
The Respect is a high-end production knife through and through and very well engineered at that. Made in Golden, Colorado, at the Spyderco facility, the bowie comes with a zippered padded storage pouch.
A.G. Russell Knives California Bowie
Built in the A.G. Russell Knives shop in Rogers, Arkansas, the California Bowie is based on an English-style pattern popularized by knifemaker D.E. Henry in the 1960s and ’70s. Henry was thought by many to be the best at the time in crafting this style of bowie, the end result being a handmade knife of meticulous fit and finish that garnered him fans worldwide. ]
The 8.5-inch clip-point blade is 154CM stainless steel with a full flat grind. Stock thickness is .185 inches, thick enough to handle the heavy work but not so thin as to be fragile. The stainless steel guard fits tight to the tang with no gaps.
The handle is beautiful wild African wild olivewood, and there is also a version with African Ironwood scales as well. The material is a blonde color with a highly contrasting grain for a stimulating visual effect. Red fiber liners give a pop of color, something seen more in custom knives than production.
The wood scales are pinned to the full tang, and the inward curved handle lines make the knife sit in your grip very nice and secure. It may be a boxy style handle but the way it is executed makes for a comfortable feel. There is no lanyard hole.
The sheath is done right: brown leather with contrasting white stitching and a simple button-snap retention strap. The shade of brown complements the color of the scales quite well. Knife and sheath are a “10” in overall appearance. Another nice touch is the satin finish throughout, including the blade, double guard and tang, so there’s that continuity.
The California Bowie is a real slicer. The knife is balanced in proportion to the hand and feels agile and very controllable, though it is not much of a chopper due to the lack of a blade-heavy feel. If you are primarily slicing, this knife is for you. It may be a looker but it’s also a really nice user.
- All-Access Axes
- Camp Knives: All-Purpose Performers
- Trench Knife: The WW1 Relic Still Endures
NEXT STEP: Download Your Free KNIFE GUIDE Issue of BLADE MagazineBLADE’s annual Knife Guide Issue features the newest knives and sharpeners, plus knife and axe reviews, knife sheaths, kit knives and a Knife Industry Directory.
Get your FREE digital PDF instant download of the annual Knife Guide. No, really! We will email it to you right now when you subscribe to the BLADE email newsletter.
Boker Magnum Giant Bowie
The 8-1/8-inch blade is 440A stainless steel.
I cannot find any evidence that the handle is of a full-tang construction. It doesn’t have the balance of such in hand, as it is slightly blade heavy. As a result, use this one with caution—meaning no use bordering on abuse.