The Best American Made Bowie Knives

A few of the best American made survial Bowie knives.

The USA Knows How to Make a Large Fixed Blade Survival Bowie Knife

For all the controversy around the origins of the first Bowie knife, almost everyone agrees that it was an American design. Over the years it became the American knife ideal, and now it’s the natural comparison for any large knife made for survival or fighting now. In honor of that tradition we decided to find some of the best Bowie knives made in the USA and put them here in one place so we can capitalize on the helpless patriotic drive of all rednecks to buy American knives… I mean, to celebrate the tradition.

If some of the stuff here is a little too rich for your blood, you should check out our list of cheap Bowie knives. Those aren’t all American made, but they’re all at least decently made, and well priced.

Here are top picks for the best American made Bowie knives:

  • Buck 916 Bowie – 7.5″ Blade | 420HC Steel | Wood or Bone Handle | Read More…
  • Ka Bar Bowie Single Mark – 7.0 ” Blade | 1095 Cro-Van Steel | Leather Handle | Read More…
  • Buck 119 – 6.0″ Blade | 420HC Steel | Polymer or Wood Handle | Read More…
  • Ka-Bar Becker BK9 – 9.0″ Blade | 1095 Cro-Van Steel | Zytel Handle | Read More…
  • Ka-Bar Becker BK7 – 7.0″ Blade | 1095 Cro-Van Steel | Zytel Handle | Read More…
  • Spyderco Respect Bowie – 7.94″ Blade | CPM-154 Steel | G-10 Handle | Read More…
  • OKC SP2 – 5.50″ Blade | 1095 Steel | Kraton Handle | Read More…
  • Ontario Knife Co SP5 Survival Bowie – 10.0″ Handle | 1095 Steel | Kraton Handle | Read More…
  • BlackJack Model 13 Bowie – 5.5″ Blade | A2 Steel | Micarta Handle | Read More…
  • TOPS Knives Longhorn Bowie – 6.75″ Blade | 1095 Steel | Micarta Handle | Read More…
  • Case Bowie Knife – 9.50″ Blade | Tru-Sharp 420 HC Steel | Polymer Handle | Read More…
  • Bark River Boon – 6.215″ Blade | A2 Steel | Micarta Handle | Read More…

Buck 916 Bowie

The Buck 916 Bowie knife can be customized to the customer's preference.

  • Overall Length: 12.25”
  • Blade Length: 7.5”
  • Blade Steel: 420HC
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Wood or bone
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Tang: Full

This used to be a collector’s item, but Buck finally came to its senses and made it available for the less ambitious knife swingers of the world.

This knife is a lot of things that are appealing to the kind of person who already likes Buck knives. It has a prominent clip point and natural materials for the handle. The sheath is a nice thick leather that’s bound to make the whole thing an awkward hip companion (although it’s fortunately not a dangling sheath). The blade is the ever-revered BOS 420HC steel, and the whole thing just screams “take me into the woods and do a lot of irresponsible things”.

As a bowie knife, this was designed for hunting and survival, but as a high-priced Buck knife with a few dozen handle materials to choose from and the option to add a display box and an engraving it makes a pretty stellar gift and display piece. Not that I advocate getting a knife for the sole purpose of making it collect dust in plain view. Especially on a piece like this that’s clearly asking to get into a tussle with a bear.

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Ka Bar Bowie Single Mark

The Single Mark Bowie from Ka-Bar is one of many great Bowies style knives they make.

  • Overall Length: 12.0”
  • Blade Length: 7.0”
  • Blade Steel: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Leather
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Tang: Full

Some things are classics for a reason. This has been the form of the true American Bowie knife since World War II. The original model has been updated quite a bit since then. Ka Bar makes about 50 different versions of this knife, mostly just with decorative variations, but you can also find a lot of knives with the “Bowie” name made by Ka Bar with little changes in handle shape and blade length.

The Single Mark has always felt like the most true to form to me, though. And with the modern upgrade of Ka Bar’s 1095 Cro-Van steel it’s quite a bit tougher than the original combat knife that’s been a staple of US culture for over 60 years.

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Buck 119

The Buck 119 is a mid size Bowie knife that is made in America.

  • Overall Length: 10.5”
  • Blade Length: 6.0”
  • Blade Steel: 420HC
  • Grind: Hollow
  • Handle Material: Polymer or wood
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Tang: Full, riveted to butt

 

Buck sets the standard for modern Bowie designs as far as I’m concerned. Their 420HC steel is just about a perfect balance between corrosion resistance, hardness, and affordability for survival knives, and the design looks nice without coming off as frivolous decoration. I’m not a huge fan of the actual handle material, though. I’ve said before that it never quite feels secure, whether its phenolic or wood. Buck does offer it in a few different materials at a premium if you feel like customizing the thing yourself, but honestly I’d prefer something with more of a rubber texture like on the Ka-bar Beckers. Handle aside, the knife as a whole is a solid design for dressing game and general camping chores.

It doesn’t have the same heft as a lot of other Bowie knives. It certainly won’t do vine chopping like one of OKC’s Spec-Plus blades will, and even if you move up to the Buck 120 you only get another inch or so in length. But it will slice better than most of the other knives on this list, and it could still stand its own in terms of toughness.

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Ka-Bar Becker BK9

The Becker BK9 is a survival style Bowie knife made in the USA.

  • Overall Length: 14.75”
  • Blade Length: 9.0”
  • Blade Steel: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Zytel
  • Sheath: Nylon
  • Designer: Ethan Becker
  • Tang: Full

 

If you’re going to compete with Buck for recognition on the Bowie or survival front, you better be Ka-Bar. The BK9 (and the whole BK series as a whole, really) is a pretty sweet evolution of the Bowie style, and pretty widely used in practical fields, although you do kinda have to squint to see the Bowie aspect of it. You’ll notice that interesting little non-word “Cro-Van” next to 1095 on the steel. If you’re not up with Ka-Bar lingo, that basically means it’s 1095 with a little bit of chromium and vanadium mixed in. Essentially that means this steel is a little tougher and might be slightly more rust proof (but not much), and it can take on a sharper edge.

In function, the BK9 Bowie is a chopper. This is what you take with you to the jungle to clear away miles of unsuspecting brush and vine. It’s made to be comfortable, although it’s probably more so for larger-handed people and tall people as this thing is almost 15 inches long, and isn’t horizontal carry.

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Ka-Bar Becker BK7

The Ka-Bar Combat Utility knife is American made.

  • Overall Length: 12.75
  • Blade Length: 7.0”
  • Blade Steel: 1095 Cro-Van
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Zytel
  • Sheath: Nylon
  • Designer: Ethan Becker
  • Tang: Full

 

The BK7 is the smaller but maybe more combat oriented brother to the BK9. It doesn’t have quite as much length to chop with, but it does have a more severe clip point and a slightly longer hand guard, which makes it a pretty good poker. Beyond that you have a knife that’s the same in materials. The comfort level should be about the same, although balancing might be different. While this is made with pretty much all the same materials as the BK9, they are designed for different activities. Losing those two inches makes the BK7 a little less capable where trail clearing is concerned, but it does make it easier to handle for other camp work.

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Spyderco Respect Bowie

The Spyderco Respect Bowie is made from a huge chunk of CPM-154 steel.

  • Overall Length: 13.5″
  • Blade Length: 7.94
  • Blade Steel: CPM-154
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: G-10
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Tang: Full

When I first saw this I thought it was a kitchen knife. But then I saw the clip point, the hand guards, and the Spyderco hole. This has to be the biggest thing Spyderco makes right now. I’m too lazy to fact check that claim, but the point is this is a huge chunk of CPM-154 steel from a company that has a strong history of workshopping high-end steels and edge geometry into perfection.

It’s one of the pricier knives on this list, but that shouldn’t be surprising considering the amount of materials in it, and the fact that it comes out of Spyderco’s US factory. This is also a Sal Glesser design, which generally means a lot of thought has been put into the ergonomics and the edge. This knife will be comfortable, and it will have a scary edge.

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OKC SP2

This Bowie knife has a carbon steel blade and kraton handle.

  • Overall Length: 10.50″
  • Blade Length: 5.50″
  • Blade Steel: 1095
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Kraton
  • Sheath: Nylon
  • Tang: ¾ tang

The proportions of this knife make it look (let’s be fair) stupid. But it’s hard to say much bad about stout carbon steel blade on a Kraton handle. This has all the makings of a nice survival knife. It’s grippy with contoured hand guards, and has a 5-inch blade with a relatively thick blade stock. I wouldn’t say it’s the most remarkable knife on this list, but it has the benefit of a functional design that falls under $50. And that’s a rare thing in the fixed-blade world.

The Ontario Knife Company does a lot in the survival knife category, and my opinion has developed into the range of “good enough”. They are often the more affordable survival option, but you have to compromise for an edge geometry and heat treatment that’s usually not quite on par with ESEE or even Ka Bar. I realize that’s a lot of qualifying before I tell you their knives really are good, and the Bowie design is a good match for how they make knives, but on the whole they are the good budget option.

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Ontario Knife Co SP5 Survival Bowie

The Ontario SP-5 is a large surival Bowie knife manufactured in America.

  • Overall Length: 15.125”
  • Blade Length: 10.0”
  • Blade Steel: 1095
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Kraton
  • Sheath: Nylon
  • Tang: Full

 

This isn’t what I’d call pure Bowie, what with that curving tip. The SP5 comes off more as a machete, but it’s close. There’s clearly some heavy Bowie inspiration going on here with the handle and a somewhat different take on the clip point. One of the more striking features of this knife is that it has two sharpened edges, which gives it some interesting survival utility. The length paired with the Kraton handle make for a great hiking companion, and the length should give you plenty of room to baton logs without smacking the back edge.

The biggest issue with it, like with a lot of bowie knives, is that it’s just so long and comes with a pretty thin nylon sheath that it will be an annoyance riding on your hip while you try moving through woods or jungle unless you have some kind of strap or MOLLE system to keep it tight against you. But if you’re used to that kind of weight sitting on your hip, then OKC is a great company to go to for large survival knives.

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BlackJack Knives Model 13 Halo Attack Bowie Knife

The BlackJack Knives Model 13 Halo Attack Bowie Knife with Micarta handle scales and an A2 steel blade.

  • Overall Length: 10.5”
  • Blade Length: 5.5”
  • Blade Steel: A2
  • Grind: Convex
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Tang: Full

Black Jack Knives is a small company, and anyone who’s tried to order something from other small knife companies like Bark River will understand that means long waits for things. I see these guys’ knives out of stock a lot, but they do a lot of cool stuff, and this Bowie design is probably one of my favorites.

It has a lot of style with the large handguards and the sleek Micarta handle with a palm swell, but it also has a 5.5-inch blade made of A2 steel with a convex grind. This thing is a survival beast. I want to chop down a tree with it, and then I want to fight a bear and skin it. I would die in the process, but I would die with a sweet knife in my hand, and that’s really more than I could reasonably ask for. If you can find this Bowie knife in stock it’s a great knife to have as part of a collection or out in the woods.

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TOPS Longhorn Bowie Knife

The TOPS Longhorn Bowie is a great American made knife with a practical design. Pictured here on a white background.

 

  • Overall Length: 11.72”
  • Blade Length: 6.44”
  • Blade Steel: 1095 High Carbon
  • Grind: Flat
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Sheath: Nylon
  • Tang: Full

The Longhorn  from TOPS Knives features a practical design that makes this knife ideal for anyone who needs a versatile Bowie knife capable of multiple tasks. The blade is long enough to for this knife to technically be considered a Bowie, but it is short enough at 6.75 inches to be serviceable as a field dressing knife. It would also make a great survival knife or even a camping knife for those who like camping with large fixed blades.

The contoured micarta handles of the the Longhorn Bowie make it easy to maintain a firm grip in in all kinds of conditions which also adds to this knife’s qualifications in the tactical department.

The Longhorn is one of my all time favorite American Bowies due mostly to it’s versatility, but I also really like the fact that the Black River Wash coating varies slightly on every knife which makes each knife somewhat unique.

We are currently testing the Longhorn Bowie out and writing an in depth review. I will post a link here as soon as it is finished.

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Case Bowie Knife

The Case Bowie Knife is a classic styled fixed blade that is made in the USA.

  • Overall Length: 14.50”
  • Blade Length: 9.50”
  • Blade Steel: Tru-Sharp 420HC
  • Grind: Convex
  • Handle Material: Polymer
  • Sheath: Leather

 

This is one of those things that really seems like it’s more for showing than using. It’s fun to look at because it looks like a damn cartoon. The gold trim and long handguard make me half expect a pirate to come around looking for his sword so he can go kidnap Tigerlily. What’s really odd though is seeing a 14-inch knife come from a company that became famous for three-inch barlow knives.

That said, though, it’s nice enough. Case makes a soft 420HC steel (I think I’ve read it runs around 56 HRC), but it’s tough enough to take into the woods if you’re willing to tarnish the immaculately polished blade and gold-colored pins. When you put it next to the other knives on this list, it really comes off more as a decorative piece, but it is a very functional decoration.

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Bark River Boone II

The Bark RIver designers stayed true to form through both their Boone designs, even using an old school steel like A2.

  • Overall Length: 10.5
  • Blade Length: 6.215”
  • Blade Steel: A2
  • Grind: Convex
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Sheath: Leather
  • Tang: Full

The designers at Bark River are nothing if not traditionalists. They’ve stayed true to form through both their Boone designs, even using an old school steel like A2. While the knife has a lot of showroom potential, they clearly built the thing for use. With a convex grind, tool steel, and a canvas Micarta handle, it’s incredibly tough. And if you can get around the size, it should be up to par for pretty much every camping task you put it through.

Bark River is also similar to Buck in that they offer a pretty generous warranty on all their knives. So while the price tag on their stuff might be quite a bit higher than most other companies on here, remember you are getting a pretty high degree of craftsmanship and customer service along with it.

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