Bowie knife

A Bowie knife (pronounced pron.: /?bu?i?/ boo-ee[1][2][3] or pron.: /?bo?.i?/ boh-ee[3]) is a pattern of fixed-blade fighting knife first popularized by Colonel James "Jim" Bowie in the early 19th Century. Since the first incarnation was created by James Black, the Bowie knife has come to incorporate several recognizable and characteristic design features, although its common use refers to any large sheath knife with a crossguard and a clip point.[4] The "Jim Bowie knife" first became famous due to Bowie's use of a large knife at a duel known as the Sandbar Fight. The knife pattern is still popular with collectors; in addition to various knife manufacturing companies there are hundreds of custom knife makers producing Bowies and variations. The historical Bowie knife was not a single design, but was a series of knives improved several times by Jim Bowie over the years.[5] The earliest such knife, made by Jesse Clifft at Rezin Bowie's request resembled Spanish hunting knives of the day, and differed little from a common butcher knife.[5] The blade, as later described by Rezin Bowie, was 9.5 inches (24 cm) long, 0.25 inches (0.64 cm) thick and 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) wide. It was straight-backed, described by witnessess as "a large butcher knife", and having no clip point nor any hand guard, with a simple riveted wood scale handle.[6] Noted knife expert Bernard Levine has reported that the first known Bowie knife showed a strong Mediterranean influence insofar as general lines were concerned, particularly the shape of the traditional Spanish folding knife, the navaja, often carried by immigrants to Mexico and other territories of the Old Southwest.[7] In an 1828 account of the capture of a pirate schooner carrying a mixed group of Spanish and South American pirates, the carrying of knives similar to the early Bowie knife is mentioned: "Amongst these [weapons], were a large number of long knives - weapons which the Spaniards use very dexterously. They are about the size of a common English carving knife, but for several inches up the blade cut both sides."[8] After the Vidalia Sandbar fight, Bowie was a famous man, and the Bowie brothers received many requests for knives of the same design. Bowie and his brothers would later commission more ornate custom blades from various knife makers including Daniel Searles and John Constable.[6] George William Featherstonhaugh described them as, "These formidable instruments...are the pride of an Arkansas blood, and got their name of Bowie knives from a conspicuous person of this fiery climate."[9] Accor ing to an 1847 article, the Bowie knife was originally designed to fill the need for a wearable, convenient close combat weapon - a short sword much shorter than the saber or other swords of the day, yet still possessing a heavy blade. This cleaver-like blade had enough weight to give the blade sufficient force in a slashing attack, while permitting the use of cut-and-thrust sword fighting tactics.[10] By this time the 'Bowie knife' was already being made in a variety of sizes, with the optimum blade length similar to "that of a carving knife"[10][11] The blade design was described as: "Back (spine) perfectly straight in the first instance, but greatly rounded at the end on the edge side; the upper edge at the end, for a length of about two inches, is ground into the small segment of a circle and rendered sharp...The back itself gradually increases in weight of metal as it approaches the hilt, on which a small guard is placed. The Bowie knife, therefore, has a curved, keen point; is double-edged for the space of about two inches of its length, and when in use, falls with the weight of a bill hook."[10] Most later versions of the Bowie knife had a blade of at least 8 inches (20 cm) in length, some reaching 12 inches (30 cm) or more, with a relatively broad blade that was an inch and a half to two inches wide (4 to 5 cm) and made of steel usually between 3?16 to 1?4 in (4.763 to 6.350 mm) thick. The back of the blade sometimes had a strip of soft metal (normally brass or copper) inlaid which some believe was intended to catch an opponent's blade while others hold it was intended to provide support and absorb shock to help prevent breaking of poor quality steel or poorly heat treated blades. Bowie knives often had an upper guard that bent forward at an angle (an S-guard) intended to catch an opponent's blade or provide protection to the owner's hand during parries and corps-a-corps. Some Bowie knives had a notch on the bottom of the blade near the hilt known as a "Spanish Notch". The Spanish Notch is often cited as a mechanism for catching an opponent's blade; however, some Bowie researchers hold that the Spanish Notch is ill-suited to this function and frequently fails to achieve the desired results. These researchers, instead, hold that the Spanish Notch has the much more mundane function as a tool for stripping sinew and repairing rope and nets, as a guide to assist in sharpening the blade (assuring that the sharpening process starts at a specific point and not further up the edge), or as a point to relieve stress on the blade during use.