James Bowie designed the Bowie knife for self-defense. Over the years, the knife gained other uses and never fell out of popularity. Hunters use the sword-like knife for skinning and butchering game. Other people enjoy collecting the knives or using them for outdoor activities. Buyers interested in purchasing a Bowie knife must know what to look for when shopping for one and how to care for it once they obtain it. There are various factors to consider when shopping for a Bowie knife.
The traditional material for a Bowie knife was carbon steel, because it was useful for maintaining a sharp blade. After the advancement of stainless steel alloys, blade makers found comparable materials that could match or surpass the carbon steel version. Those who wish to purchase a more traditional style of Bowie knife may choose one with a carbon steel blade. However, most modern knife blades feature one of many types of steel. Both types are sufficient for hunting purposes or display.
Buyers must choose a blade size based on the intended use of the Bowie knife. Large blades are powerful and small blades grant precision. Large blades are useful for clearing weeds and brush or chopping small pieces of wood and may require a case. This type is useful for people who enjoy outdoor activities, such as camping in the wilderness. Smaller blades benefit hunters and fishermen by aiding them with the precise tasks of skinning or cleaning meat. It is important for buyers to consider the blade length along with the material of the knife they wish to purchase.
The first Bowie knives had a standard measurement of 9.5 inches in length. Long blades are a trademark of the Bowie knife. Manufacturers create Bowie knives of various lengths, but they generally are not shorter than 5 inches. The length is required for performing tasks that regular pocketknives cannot achieve. The long blade on the knife also provides a striking display for collectors.
Buyers must check the tang of a Bowie knife. The tang is the connecting shank or prong that connects the blade with the handle. A Bowie knife is heavy and should feature a full tang to prevent the blade from breaking at the hilt when in use. A full tang is not necessary for knives that owners use for display purposes only.
Each Bowie knife has a different appearance and unique characteristics. Users should choose a knife designed especially for the intended purpose.
Properly caring for a Bowie knife helps give it a longer life and reduce safety hazards. Sharpening the knife regularly with a knife sharpener keeps the blade from becoming dull. A dull knife can slip during use and cause severe injury to the user. The user must keep the knife clean and dry after use. This prevents rust or debris build-up that is unsanitary, or that can damage the blade. Users can clean the knife with metal rubbing paste and a clean cloth.