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’s became the American knife ideal. 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. Or something.

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.

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. I’d prefer something with more of a rubber texture like on the Ka-bar Beckers, but 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.

 

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. Even though there’s nothing especially iconic about this knife design. It’s 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. Also for tall people as this thing is almost 15 inches long, and isn’t horizontal carry.

 

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 handguard, 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. You could think of this as a smaller alternative to the BK9, but ultimately they are designed for different activities.

 

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, but it’s close. The SP5 comes off more as a machete. 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.

 

Ontario Knife Co SP50 Spearpoint Bowie

This spearpoint Bowie knife from Ontario is a grea tactical fixed blade knife that is made in the USA.

Overall Length: 14.5”

Blade Length: 9.5”

Blade Steel: 5160 carbon steel

Grind: Flat

Handle Material: Kraton

Sheath: Nylon

Tang: Full

Designer: Dan Maragni

 

The next generation of OKC’s Spec Plus line is pretty solid, but generally more expensive, so I wanted to have knives from both on here. I actually prefer the drop point style of this marginally smaller Bowie knife, but the really interesting progression of the Gen II Spec Plus knives is the steel. Without getting too technical, 5160 is basically high carbon steel with a bit of chromium and sometimes silicon added, which makes it a bit tougher.

It’s similar to Ka-Bar’s Cro-Van steel only tougher by several degrees as it uses enough other metals to be considered an alloy steel. It won’t hold an edge like 1095, but it will take a sharper edge and it’s less likely chip. It’s a little pricier, but it definitely makes for a nicer survival tool all around.

 

Benchmade Sibert Arvensis 119

The Benchmade Bowie knife ships with a kydex sheath, and it is made in America.

Overall Length: 11.72”

Blade Length: 6.44”

Blade Steel: 154CM

Grind: Hollow

Handle Material: G-10

Sheath: Molded Polymer

Tang: Full

Designer: Shane Sibert

 

I like seeing Benchmade get their knives dirty. For a company that makes so many clean-cut folders, it’s refreshing to find out they do a decent survival tool. The Sibert Arvensis 119 is still pretty high class for a Bowie knife, though. They use 154CM steel, and they laid it on thick, which makes it a heavy knife but definitely brings a lot in terms of toughness. The finger choil is also large enough choke the blade up comfortably, which you don’t see much on Bowie knives. This is probably one of the better hunting knives on this list.

Best of all, in my opinion, is the sheath. Boltaron, as I understand, is a harder version of Kydex that’s supposed to be impact resistant (not that this knife needs much of that). But the design of the sheath itself is great because they’ve made it MOLLE compatible, which means you could find a way to carry this thing every which way, including horizontal carry, if your belt is small enough.

 

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.

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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2018-10-30T02:01:20+00:00

About the Author:

Copywriter with vague delusions of grandeur. My time is spent aggressively oscillating between drinking coffee at my computer and running through the woods with pointy objects.
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