The Rise of Jim Bowie and the Bowie Knife

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Apr 22, 2013 | By Jeff

Thanks to Rambo, Commando, and Crocodile Dundee, you're likely familiar with the Bowie knife, which today has come to signify any large sheath knife with a crossguard and a clip point. Yet these three men would melt in the presence of Jim Bowie, the man who launched and carved his namesake knife into the conscious of America in a brawl known as The Sandbar Fight.

In 1827, Bowie was attending a duel - much like we attend a movie today - between two other men on a sandbar outside of Natchez, Mississippi. After two shots and no injuries, the duel ended with a handshake. As the duelers and spectators began to walk away from the scene, a shot was fired. Although not intended for him, the bullet hit Bowie. Pandemonium broke out, and the all-out brawl now known as The Sandbar Fight began.

Bowie charged the shooter with his knife drawn, but was stuck down to his knees with a blow to the head with the shooter's empty pistol. While down, the shooter stabbed Bowie in the chest with his sword cane. Naturally, Bowie's sternum deflected the jab.

While the shooter attempted to withdraw his sword cane, Bowie pulled the shooter down by his shirt and into the point of his knife - The Bowie Knife. The shooter died instantly.

With one opponent down, Bowie continued to defend himself against gun shots and stabbings, all the while with a sword cane protruding from his chest. Bowie survived to tell the tale, the story of the Great Sandbar Duel drew national attention, and Bowie earned the reputation of an astute knife-weilding legend. (Tarantino take note.)

His weapon of choice remains a popular go-to in the knife world; Bowie's legacy lives on.

Photo credits: #1, #2.