Cold Steel Bowie Machete, still a great bargain survival knife

Hi Fernando,

I am a subscriber of your channel on youtube. And have seen many of your videos.

I have a question about two knives.

The Cold Steel Bowie machete, and the Cold Steel Shanghai Shadow.

It reminds me a bit of the native American Beavertail dagger, or a Roman Pugio, although the tip doesn’t seem to be as accute as that of the Bowie machete.

Which of the two is best for self defense, house defense. Combat.

I really like to hear your opinion on this.

Hope to hear from you.

High regards,



Hi Renato, the Shanghai Shadow is a 7 inch dagger, the bowie machete is a big 12 inch machete blade.

Cold Steel Shanghai Shadow Knife with Secure-Ex Sheath $28.09

The Shanghai Shadow would be better as a carry knife for self-protection, mostly because it comes with a Secure-Ex Sheath and you can actually carry it somewhat concealed or at least on the belt while the Bowie machete simply isnt the kind of knife you are likely to have on your person all the time. That’s pretty much where the advantage of the Shanghai Shadow ends though.

Cold Steel 97BWM12S Bowie Machete with Sheath

Cold Steel 97BWM12S Bowie Machete with Sheath $24.96

 The Bowie machete is a bigger knife, with a lot more reach and power behind its swing.  A dagger stabs. A machete is like a sword, it chops body parts off. The tip of the Bowie is also a lot more narrow, so even in tight corridors bringing that tip down means anyone rushing at you get impaled. The two Bowie machetes I own required a bit of sharpening, but once that was taken care of they were wicked sharp. Like big scalpels. The handle of the Bowie is much better than the one in the Shanghai Shadow, a lot more comfortable for longer work sessions.
It comes down to that. The Shanghai Shadow dagger is more handy to carry, but for home defense the Bowie is the better option.

It’s also the better survival knife in general. For the price, the Cold Steel Bowie Machete remains a favourite of mine, one of the best deals in a survival knife. You can chop, cut, pierce, 1055 holds an edge well enough and takes one very quickly. It has a bit less carbon than 1095, but in exchange its tough as nails and not as brittle. While the blade is rather thin, just 2.8mm thick, there’s just a lot of it giving it enough rigidity. Even for some wood chopping and batoning this is a knife that can handle the task.


Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”


Cold Steel Bowie Machete, still a great bargain survival knife — 1 Comment

  1. Great knife, I was worried about the 2.8mm thickness, but it has a spring temper so it has always come back to straight. Will be ordering the “new” Black Bear Bowie. Same blade with a steel guard and improved grip. Should be better if one ever had to use it in a serious social dispute.

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