Bowie knives come in numerous sizes. Most often, these knives start at about six inches in length and extend to over fourteen inches, in some cases. In reality, a proper Bowie knife is usually between 6 and 14 inches, by most measures. Knives that extend beyond that upper limit tend to be novelty items with little practical value. The knife itself, however, can have enormous practical value at many different sizes.
Bowie knives were designed to be combination tools. Remember, however, that Jim Bowie used his knife for both fighting and general frontier work. Most individuals will not have any real use for a fighting knife and, thus, will need to purchase a Bowie that offers them a very reliable, specific function that doesn't require that the blade be intimidating or deadly, as was the case in Bowie's life. Today, Bowie knife blades are chosen for the actual work they can perform.
For skinning or cleaning an animal, the clipped point on a Bowie knife is a huge advantage. It basically allows the user to employ what amounts to a smaller knife and to avail themselves of the agility and control advantages inherent in smaller blades. The fact that the blade does have a hefty portion makes it suitable for dealing with bone, as well. The Spanish notch is sometimes used to cut sinew. With a high-quality, sharp blade, a smaller Bowie is an excellent hunting implement.
One has to take their own body into account when they purchase Bowie knives, as well. A person with small hands or a young person will likely find a 12-inch Bowie a bit much to handle with any precision. A smaller knife is ideal. For those with very large hands or who have a great deal of experience with blades, long Bowies are excellent options. The clipped point offsets the size of the blade, in some regards, and can provide an agile cutting point for precise work.
In most jurisdictions, there will be a limit on the size of knife that one can keep in their pocket. Beyond that length, it becomes a concealed weapon. This applies to most Bowie knife designs. These knives are intended to be carried in a sheath and, in most jurisdictions, it is fine to carry them in that fashion. Remember to see about length restrictions first, however, if one has a Bowie that they intend to carry with them about town.