|Mossy Oak brand Bowie knife.|
When it comes to iconic American weapons and knives, it’s hard to top the Bowie knife. I was reading an article about Bowie knives and their place in American history one day several years ago, and it dawned on me that I couldn’t honestly say that I’d ever even actually held one of these iconic American fighting knives. For that reason, I put it on my “bucket list” and finally got a chance to hold one the other day.
According to more sources that I read, the historical origins of the Bowie knife are murky at best. Most sources agree that the Bowie knife originated in Arkansas sometime in the 1830s. Rezin Bowie, who was an early American politician and inventor, is generally given credit for inventing the knife.
Of course, the Bowie knife is most commonly associated with Rezin Bowie’s more famous brother, James “Jim” Bowie, the famous American pioneer who died at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. Bowie and the knife designed by his brother became internationally famous when Jim Bowie successfully used it during what is now known as the Vidalia Sandbar Fight on Sept. 19, 1827. During this fight, which was actually a duel between Bowie and some of his political rivals, Bowie was beaten, shot and stabbed but ended up winning thanks to his now-famous knife.
I have to admit that I have always been intrigued by Jim Bowie’s exploits because some sources say that he once lived in Monroe County, Alabama, where I have lived most of my life. According to the 1853 book, “Reminiscences of Men and Things in Alabama” by Benjamin Faneuil Porter, Porter wrote that "I am reminded that Col. (Jim) Bowie, who fell with Travis, and from whom the term 'Bowie knife' was derived, also lived in Monroe (County). On the road from Claiborne to Burnt Corn, near the present site of Monroeville, was a double log house where Col. Bowie resided."
With all that in mind, I happened to encounter a Mossy Oak brand Bowie knife this past Friday in the sporting goods section at the Wal-Mart in Monroeville, Ala., which happens to be located a short drive from where Bowie supposedly lived in Monroe County. The ladies at the store got the knife out of the case for me, and I got a good close up look at a Bowie knife for really the first time. The fearsome look of the thing left little doubt that it would be a formidable weapon in close quarters combat.
The Bowie knife on display at Wal-Mart was relatively inexpensive ($19.95), especially compared to the other knives there, which ranged on up in price to over $100. Despite this, I was left to wonder if, with modern manufacturing techniques, if the cheap Wal-Mart knife was actually of better quality than the knives made in the 1830s. I think that there’s a good chance that the modern knife, regardless of its price, is of higher quality.
In the end, how many of you have actually ever held a Bowie knife? What were the circumstances? What’s the most expensive one you’ve ever seen? What company out there makes the best Bowie knife? Let us know in the comments section below.