The Best American Made 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.

We have test dozens of Boie knives made in the USA over the course of the last few years. These are our favorites.
Four of our favorite American made Bowie knives from right to left: Ka-Bar Becker BK7, Buck 119 Special Pro, Ka-Bar Ek Commando and the Bonds Creek Predator.

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:

Ka-Bar Ek Commando Short Clip Point

The Ka-Bar EK Commando is a military style Bowie knife that is capable of survival knife tasks.
Overall Length:9.25″
Blade Length:5.062″
Blade Steel:1095 Cro-Van
Handle Material:Ultramid (glass-filled nylon)
Sheath:Kydex w/ nylon back
Construction:Full tang

This Bowie style survival/ tactical hybrid has a storied past that we covered in our in-depth Ek Commando review. This version represents the latest in the evolution of the Ek Commando line-up. We were immediately drawn to this knife when we heard that Ka-Bar was releasing a Bowie version. After a few weeks of testing it out in a variety of environments, we were pleasantly surprised at its toughness and versatility.

The EK Commando ships with a kydex sheath that folds the knife firmly in place.

The Kydex sheath that ships with the Ek Commando Clip Point holds the knife firmly in place with minimal rattle, but it is easy to deploy the knife quickly thanks to the thumb ramps on both sides of the sheath. opening.

Another nice feature of the sheath is that it sits relatively low on the hip which keeps from getting in the way of whatever activities you happen to engage in while wearing it.

The Ultramid handle of the EK Commando sports a neutral shape, but it is still easy to grip in all types of weather.

The ultramid handle sports a neutral shape, but the textured cut-outs in the handle help to make it easy to grip even if it gets wet. We didn’t notice any hot spots when performing hard-use type tasks like batoning and feather sticking. This is one of the more comfortable handles we have found on a Bowie knife.

The EK Commando is one of the more affordable American made Bowie knives we have tested, so if you are on a budget, it may be the way to go.

TOPS Backpacker’s Bowie

The TOPS Backpacker's Bowie knife is so popular that it is often hard to find, but it is worth the effort if you are in the market for a small, practical Bowie knife.
Overall Length:
Blade Length:4.5”
Blade Steel:1095
Handle Material:Micarrta
Construction:Full tang

The Backpacker’s Bowie is a little on the small side for a Bowie, and the clip point is a little subdued compared to the other knives on this list. However, it has a practical design, comfy handle and an excellent sheath. it is such a great tool to have on a backpacking or camping trip that we felt it needed to be included in this article.

The TOPS Backpacker's Bowie knife sheath can be configured for a variety of carry options.

The kydex sheath that ships with the Backpacker’s Bowie can be configured for vertical or horizontal carry which is one of the many reasons we included this knife in our Best Survival Knives article.

The sheath holds the knife securely even if you bounce around or take a fall. Quick deployment is aided by the slight swell at the top.

The blade geaometry and tough steel make the Backpacker's Bowie ideal for tackling woodworking tasks around the campsite.

The Backpacker’s Bowie is tough. We have used it to chop, baton, carve and cook all types of food around a campfire, and this thing just keeps on trucking. The 1095 steel will not wany any awards from an edge retention standpoint, but it is easy to strop or sharpen in the field, and it can take a beating.

Bonds Creek Predator

The Bonds Creek Badger is made in West Virgina in a very small factory.
Overall Length:9.0”
Blade Length:4.0”
Blade Steel:AEB-L
Handle Material:Richlite
Construction:Full tang, riveted to butt

Bonds Creek is technically a production knife company, but this West Virginia operation is small enough to have the feel of a custom maker. The owner personally checks every knife before shipping.

The Predator is a great option for hunters or backpackers.
The Predator is relatively small and lightweight making it a good option for backpacking, hunting or hiking.

The Predator features a contoured Richlite handle that locks into the hand in a way that feels secure but not restrictive. It is comfortable in a variety of grips and easy to hold when wet. This is not surprising considering the designer is an experienced outdoorsman.

This knife 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. 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. It is also much easier to carry than a lot of the other Bowie knives in this article.

The Bonds Creek Predator Bowie knife ships with a leather sheath made by JRE Industries.

The sheath that ships with the Predator is made in America by JRE Industries. They make sheaths for many of the top American knife manufacturers and custom makers.

The sheath doesn’t have a clasp or extra flap to hold the knife in place, but we haven’t had an issue with it bouncing out. The knife sits deep in the sheath is a style you often see on bushcraft knives, but there is enough handle sticking out to make deployment quick and easy.

Buck 119 Special Pro

The Buck 119 is one of the most iconic American made knives.
Overall Length:10.5″
Blade Length:6.0″
Blade Steel:S35VN
Handle Material:Canvas Micarta
Construction:Full tang, riveted to butt

The design and dimensions of the Buck 119 Special Pro are exactly the same as the classic Buck 119 mentioned above. However, the Special Pro version is made of upgraded materials. It has an S35Vn steel blade and a canvas Micarta handle.

The Special Pro version of the Buck 119 is made of upgraded materials. It has an S35Vn steel blade and a canvas Micarta handle

These upgrades resulted in a blade with far better edge retention, and a somewhat more grippy and durable handle (although they’re still clinging to that smooth feeling). These material updates pad the price quite a bit, but they do give the 119 a lot more longevity.

The Buck 119 Special Pro ships with a high quality, well designed leather sheath.

The Buck 119 Special Pro ships with the same black leather sheath the original 119 Special ships with. This sheath design is one of my favorites, because clasp is easy to snap back in place with one hand. The sheath also has a drain hole in case you hike through a deep creek or go for an accidental swim.

Ka-Bar Becker Bundock Bowie BK20

The Ka-Bar Becker BK20 is a big Bowie knife capable of hard work.
Overall Length:16.37″
Blade Length:10.8″
Blade Steel:1095 Cro-Van
Handle Material:Zytel (Micarta scales sold separately)
Construction:Full tang

The BK20 Bundok Bowie was a limited release, so it is often hard to find. We will probably remove it at some point, but several readers have found them online lately, so we figured we would leave it up for a while. If you can’t find one, the Ka-Bar Becker BK9 #AD is probably the next best thing.

If you’re going to compete with Buck for recognition on the Bowie or survival front, you better be Ka-Bar. The BK20 (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.

The Ka-Bar Becker BK20 is made for the great outdoors.
The BK20 ships with Zytel handle scales, but Micarta scales (pictured here) can be ordered separately.

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.

The nylon sheath that ships with the BK20 is durable, and it has leg tie-down holes.

The nylon sheath that ships with the BK20 is durable and well made, but it sits low and will slap around if the tie down holes are not utilized prior to hiking.

Ka-Bar Becker BK7

Camping with the Ka-Bar Becker  BK7 Bowie knife.
Overall Length:12.75″
Blade Length:7.0″
Blade Steel:1095 Cro-Van
Handle Material:Zytel
Construction:Full tang

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.

The Ka-Bar Becker BK7 ships with zytel handle scales, but it can be upgraded to Micarta. Both versions are comfortable and easy to grip.

Beyond that you have a knife that’s the same in materials. The comfort level should be about the same, although the balance will lean more heavily toward the handle. 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 for trail clearing, but it does make it easier to handle for camping and hunting tasks that require a little more maneuverability.

The BK7 was made to chop. It can clear branches, baton firewood and chop up small logs faster than just about any other Bowie knife we have tested.
The BK7 is a chopping beast.

The BK7 is one of the best American made Bowie style knives around the campsite. It is probably a bit to big for most folks to backpack with, but it is ideal for putting together a survival style campsite with nothing but a knife if that is the sort of thing you are into.

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
Handle Material:G-10
Construction:Full tang

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 knife Spyderco makes right now. I’m too lazy to fact check that claim, but the point is that 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.

Ontario Knife Co SP2

This Bowie knife has a carbon steel blade and kraton handle.
Overall Length:10.5″
Blade Length:5.5″
Blade Steel:1095
Handle Material:Kraton
Construction:3/4 tang

The proportions of this knife make it look (let’s be fair) stupid. But it’s hard to say much bad about a 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.

Ontario Knife Co SP5 Survival Bowie\

The Ontario Knife Company SP5 survival Bowie is aptly named. It is an ideal option for a survival situation.
Overall Length:15.125″
Blade Length:10.0″
Blade Steel:1095
Handle Material:Kraton
Construction:Full tang

As long as we’re including the middling stuff from OKC, we might as well talk about the bigger options.

The SP5 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 OKC SP5 ships with a nylon sheath.

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.

BlackJack Knives Classic Model 7 Bowie Knife

The Blackjack Classic Model 7 Bowie knife pictured here is an excellent survival knife that is made in America.
Overall Length:12.25″
Blade Length:7″
Blade Steel:A2
Handle Material:Micarta
Construction:Full tang

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 7-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 tool to have as part of a collection or out in the woods.

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
Handle Material:Micarta
Construction:Full tang

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 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 Longhorn Bowie make it easy to maintain a firm grip 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 its 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.

Case Bowie Knife

The Case Bowie Knife is a classic styled fixed blade that is made in the USA.
Overall Length:14.5″
Blade Length:9.5″
Blade Steel:Tru-Sharp 420HC
Handle Material:Polymer
Construction:Hidden tang

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 hand guard 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.

Bear & Son Cutlery American Bowie 501D

Bear and Son American Bowie with a Damascus steel blade and a stag bone handle.
Overall Length:12.0″
Blade Length:7.75″
Blade Steel:Damascus
Handle Material:Micarta or bone
Construction:Full tang

The 501D American Bowie from Bear and Son Cutlery sports a classic design, a high definition Damascus steel blade and a stag bone handle. This has been an extremely popular Bowie knife in America for over eight years. This is primarily due to the fact that the knife looks great, but it is also tough enough to be used as a survival or tactical knife, assuming you’re the kind of person who actually uses a knife with a Damascus blade.

Bear and Son Cutlery used their highly respected 416 layer Damascus steel for the blade. This steel is apparently a combination of a high carbon steel and a medium carbon steel (likely mixed in with a high nickel steel) that offers a good range of flexibility and durability.

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Andrew has been a commercial writer for about a decade. He escaped from a life of writing mundane product descriptions by running away to the woods and teaching himself how to bake and chop stuff up in the kitchen. He has a background in landscaping, Filipino martial arts, and drinking whiskey.

6 thoughts on “The Best American Made Bowie Knives”

    • Randall Made Knives are great; the problem is it takes five to six years after ordering one to find out how great.

    • Not sure if you’re actually asking a question here, but you can get a Buck 119 with a chip flint blade through their custom shop.


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