Bowie knife, or as it is called by Americans, “Colonel Bowie’s Knife” is a large knife with a characteristic shape of the blade having an arcuate concave bevel butt to the tip. Nowadays, this type of blades is called Clip-point. Blade length varies from 14 to 23 cm, thickness butt is 2.5-5 mm. The length of the upper false edge is 1/3 of the blade length. At the base of the blade there is a recess or a blunt finger to plot more subtle manipulation of a large knife. The knife has a simple massive spider providing emphasis in thrust. Handle can be straight with bending down at the heel, or symmetrical expanding and resembling the shape of a coffin. Initially Bowie knife handle was made of two wooden plates fixed to a massive shank. Knife is perfectly used both with direct and reverse grip. Due to the shape, simple design and balance Bowie knife is ideal for throwing. One of the main advantages of the Bowie knife is that it is excellent as it cuts and pricks. Piercing effect is due to the fact that the tip of the blade narrows sharply and placed at the axis of the handle with an advanced handguard, and the ease of cut is provided by a sufficiently large bending of the blade. Also, do not discount the sharpened notch on the butt of the blade, which is at the skillful use of a knife in a fight can cause considerable damage during the return stroke of the knife.
Peak of the Bowie knifes production falls at the end of the 1850s and the beginning of the Civil War, when Bowie knife was a basic cutting weapon for Confederate soldiers. Of course, the patriotic inscriptions, intricate shape of the blade and silver finish – it was very attractive to potential buyers. But the reason for the Bowie knife popularity as a weapon was in the other wing. The reason for that was the extreme imperfection of firearms in those years. Pistol or rifle can be used only for one shot – the process of loading weapons was long, and the combat range was small and the enemy managed to move closer to the distance of unarmed combat. That is why the large heavy knife was in demand. Which one, moreover, unlike the sword or the saber, could be used in practical purposes. Yes, and it did not require a long learning.
However, as the army weapons Bowie knife was never proved. Typically it was a weapon of Confederate soldiers from the southern states. But the unforgiving statistics showed the war, they did not used to shred the northerners, but especially in internal discords and drunken brawls. The final verdict of the “big knife” was issued by appearance of the new effective firearms for the troops. For example, Colt revolvers appeared.
The Bowie knife era began to decline in the second half of the nineteenth century, when the next American Arms Idol came on the scene – Colt revolver. With the advent of multiply charged firearms Bowie knife became increasingly used not as a knife for self-defense but as a hunting knife. Blade length decreased significantly – up to 14-15 cm, bevel butt lost sharpening. Handguard has ceased to be so massive.
Today, Bowie knife keeps characteristic shape and the traditional form. Now, these knives are considered to be hunting, camp, or knives for surviving.