There are Bowie-style knives, and then there are real Bowie knives. The Coast 14-inch Bowie Knife is a real Bowie — maybe a little small by frontier standards, but still big enough to perform the way the originals did. With nine inches of one-quarter-inch-thick 440C high carbon stainless steel in the blade, this well-balanced weapon chops as well as it cuts. The hardwood grip around the rat tail tang is shaped comfortably and designed for non-slip control. The thick solid brass hand guard in the traditional S design could parry an opponent’s blade if necessary, and the heavy brass pommel provides balance and smashing potential. The look and feel is reminiscent of a seaman’s cutlass.
Not everyone will want to carry a knife this large and this heavy. Hanging at the belt in the secure stitched leather sheath, the Coast Bowie makes an obvious statement on the trail. Expect other people to stare. If you camp for weeks rather than days, you may be able to tighten up the gear list a little and leave the small camp axe at home. This Bowie can handle most camp work by itself. A fourteen-inch Bowie is more knife than you actually need for most hunting or fishing today — smaller blades are easier to handle and make more sense for small game.
But there’s something hypnotic about a full-sized knife, and I’m reminded of a hiking companion from years ago who packed a knife like this everywhere he traveled in the back country, despite the weight and the skeptical looks. He didn’t expect to fight bears with it, but preferred to have it within reach in case he did. There’s some good sense in that. When your hand does instinctively reach for cutting edge protection, you don’t want to come up with a two-ounce ultralight.
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