Trigger Alert: This article is about a very big knife. If that scares you, then click here. March 6, 1836 was a bad day for Jim Bowie. In fact the two weeks prior weren’t much better since the small mission building in which Jim and a hundred others took a stand was under attack. Remember the Alamo? But long before that fateful Sunday morning James Bowie was famous for his knife prowess whether true or not. In 1827 Bowie (pronounced BOO-ee) was involved in a skirmish known as the Sandbar Fight where Jim Bowie essentially won a gunfight with a knife. A very large knife. And, as they say, the rest is history.
By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache.com
Modern Sporting Knife
The Bowie Knife is a pattern much like the AR15 is a pattern. The so-called Bowie Knife is general form with some characteristics, but there is no one type of Bowie, nor any particular feature that makes or breaks a Bowie Knife. In general a Bowie Knife is a large blade, something eight or more inches, an overall length more than a foot, a crossguard separating the blade from the handle, and a clip point blade tip. Finally, there is the appearance of a false edge running along the top of the blade from tip through a curve ending at the spine proper. The false edge may or may not be sharpened, and thus the Bowie might cut both ways. Today, however, most Bowie Knives are not sharpened on the upper portion of the blade due to weapons laws in many jurisdictions. But originally as a fighting knife, that was the point.
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The origin of the Bowie Knife is a little tangled in lore and opinions. Even the facts depend upon which story you subscribe to. But in the end, and even with all the unknowns, the Bowie Knife is one of the most recognizable and famous blades in the world. And just as the initial Bowie Knives were evolving and upgrading as each one was pounded into existence on the blacksmith’s anvil, the Bowie is evolving even today some 187 years after James Bowie brought a wooden model of his ideal knife to an Arkansas blacksmith named, of all things, James Black who then pounded Bowie Knife life into an old file. So a blacksmith named Black made a Bowie for Bowie. Even more, David Bowie, the famous rock star, took his stage name “Bowie” from the knife because, as David noted in an interview, the Bowie Knife “Cuts both ways.”
In addition to the famous Rambo blades of Hollywood fame, the silhouette of the Bowie Knife can be found in real life in the popular Buck 119 hunting knife, the famous leather-handled USMC KA-BAR fighting knife, and in a smaller form factor, the SOG Seal Elite, Seal Pup and their multitude of versions. However, the rich history of Bowie Knives and its variants are pretty much still using historical designs and antique blade technology. Until now, that is. At the moment, the most modern, the most durable, and the sharpest Bowie Knife in the world is the Fällkniven MB or Modern Bowie.
Although Jim Bowie did not travel much beyond the southern territories of a fledgling United States, the Bowie Knife is a worldwide phenomenon and therefore fair game for all knife makers. But with that fame comes a majority of so-called “Bowies” that are more art than substance, or those versions that substitute size for quality. For Fällkniven to produce such a monster knife rich in American history and then to openly name it a Modern Bowie takes guts. And confidence. So I’m very happy to announce that the Fällkniven Modern Bowie truly honors Jim Bowie and adds yet more cutting magic and lore to the never ending supply of tall tales that Bowie Knives generate. I certainly intend to add my own Bowie adventures to the story line.
A Muscle Blade That Would Make Jim Proud
The MB version is not completely new for Fällkniven, but in fact building on both their large Northern Lights series of knives crossed with their professional survival knives. An NL1 crossed with an A1 Pro to be more specific. And the result is bigger, thicker, and certainly badder. The Modern Bowie, abbreviated MB by Fällkniven, is a true Muscle Blade (abbreviated MB by me) . Borrowing heavily from the Survival Pro series, the MB including cobalt steel, a convex edge, a protruding tang, and a Thermorun handle. Even the presentation box and included DC4 diamond sharpener are straight out the Pro playbook. However, three notable deviations with the Modern Bowie include a larger, thicker handle, a double sided guard, and a mild index finger groove just aft of the stainless steel crossguard.
Dynamite in the Hand
The balance of the Fällkniven Modern Bowie is exceptional. The grip provides both the comfort and control necessary to wield such a large blade with elegance and precision. This is especially important since a key feature of the Bowie concept is a sharp and deadly point effective for stabbing and piercing. In reality the point of the clip point blade is to move the blade point lower and more line with the grip when thrusting the knife like a sword. Unfortunately the clipped nature (almost like a bite (clipped) was taken out of the spine of the blade) causes some limitations in daily work. Fällkniven preserved the spirit of the Bowie clip point but tempered it with the wisdom learned from the A1 Pro blade.
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The brute thickness of the Fällkniven MB is a staggering 7.4mm or a few hundredths shy of a third of an inch! The blade length is a full 10 inches and the overall length of the Modern Bowie exceeds 15 inches. Fällkniven’s laminated cobalt steel uses an incredible edge steel sandwiched between durable and stain resistant stainless steel faces. Laminated steel can be much stronger than solid steel. Fällkniven also uses its famous convex edge profile adding further strength and sharpness to its world class supersteel composition. Add a beefy stainless steel crossguard that is effective without being a tripping hazard, a swollen Thermorun grip, and a full tang that is bigger than some knives and you have a Muscle Blade worthy of proudly wearing the name Bowie.
Bring It On
The Fällkniven Modern Bowie cuts with dangerous impunity whether a small task or massive challenge. While the Modern Bowie sadly lacks as a canoe paddle, it does chop wood like a beast, and behaves very well when batoning. You can shave arm hair with care, and clear brush with reckless abandon. You can lunge and slope and long point without embarrassment, but when the MB is sheathed on your belt you will be conspicuous.
The Modern Bowie is a vastly different experience than carrying the Fällkniven A2 Wilderness Knife. In fact the MB is almost as large as the A2 is when inside its overbuilt leather sheath. And the MB is certainly longer. The A2 seems a perfectly reasonable camp knife when compared to the Modern Bowie, yet in proximity of popular knives the A2 is eye-openingly large on its own.
The sheath the Fällkniven Modern Bowie sleeps in is a four-layer double stitched leather dangler that would double as a canoe paddle. Perhaps that’s what Mr. Bowie wanted given that swinging a two pound sharpened steel blade back and forth in the water might be a dumb idea. The blade slides into the sheath in either edge direction, and the single leather snap strap is reversible by rotating it vertically. The stern end of the sheath has two grommet holes that are necessary for using a leg strap which is not a bad idea for field work since the Modern Bowie dangles just north of my knee. On the A2 sheath, there are also two grommet holes on each end of the insertion slot of the sheath. On the MB sheath, east and west of the insertion slot are removable screw bolts opening similar holes but without grommets presumably for some more creative mounting options.
The Third Century
Knives claiming to be Bowies range in price from $10 to $10,000 with the extremes for show only. To get a Bowie that actually performs like the Bowie you will need to spend something much closer to four figures than two. The Fällkniven MB Modern Bowie is a brand new knife with deep and rich history. If you have a weakness or need for a Bowie-class knife, then the MB should be your starting point. And for everyone else, the Bowie Knife will be waiting right here for you just as it has for the past two centuries.