What’s the Best Buck Knife?
In this article, you’re going to discover some of the best Buck knives available today on the market, and we’ll also examine how these knives not only compare to one another, but to other blades made by other manufacturers in this highly competitive environment. By the end of the article, you’ll come away with a better understanding of not only what these selected blades are best used for, but which one most deserves your attention and hard earned money.
But first, take a quick look at the interactive table below to compare some of the best knives on the market today (and see how well they compare to many of the Buck knives we discuss throughout this article):
|ESEE Knives 3P||$$$|
|SOG Flash II||$$|
|Ka-Bar Fighting Knife||$$|
|Kershaw Shuffle II||$|
|Spyderco Paramilitary 2||$$$|
The History Behind Buck
Buck Knives, Inc. is an American icon, so much so that their name is synonymous with the folding lock-back knife, or “Buck Knife.” They have had a significant impact on the development of knives, and are one of the most popular knife manufacturers in the US.
In 1899, at the tender age of 10, Hoyt H. Buck was a Blacksmiths Apprentice in Kansas. He learned how to heat-treat steel, make knives, tools, and other steel implements. At the age of 13, he developed a special way of heat-treating steel that allowed it to hold an edge longer.
Not bad for a youngster, huh?
In 1907, he left for the Northeast and joined the Navy. After his Navy duty, he went back to blacksmithing in Mountain Home, Idaho. After the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, Hoyt began hand-making knives for US military personnel, pursuant to a call from the government for donations of certain supplies for the troops overseas. His knives were very popular with all the GI Joes, and were carried on all fronts in WW-II.
After the war, Hoyt, and his son Al moved to San Diego, Ca. and set up their first full-time Buck knife company, H. H. Buck and Son. All of their knives were hand-made, and a little pricey compared to other pocket knives of the time, but they still sold well by direct mail. Hoyt turned out around 25 knives per week, mostly pre-sold before they were even finished, until his death in 1949.
In 1961, the company became a corporation, Buck Knives, Inc. Although Buck is still regarded as an American knife manufacturer, in 2000, due to pressure from retailers to reduce prices, Buck opened up a plant in China. Around 18% of Buck knives are now made in China, mostly the lower-priced models. In 2004, the company relocated to Post Falls, Id. where they remain to this day.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling fixed blade knives currently for sale on Amazon:
|1) Mossy Oak|
|2) Ka-Bar USMC|
|3) Cold Steel Survivalist|
|5) Camp Lore PR-4|
|4) Cold Steel San Mai SRK|
The Very First Lock-Back Folder
In 1964, Buck Knives, Inc. came out with the worlds first Lock-Back folding knife, the Buck Model 110 Folding Hunter. The strong (for the time) locking mechanism kept the blade from closing until a button on the rear of the grip was pushed and allowed the knife to be used pretty much like a sheath knife for dressing-out large game.
It revolutionized folding knives, and is still in production, with over 15 million sold so far. It is the single most copied folding knife design in the world. Since its inception, there have been many refinements and improvements in the basic design by other manufacturers, but the Buck 110 remains a true classic, and is still one of the most carried pocket knives in the world.
What Is The Best Buck Knife?
It is very hard to label any knife as ‘best’, especially when the company makes many different styles. ‘Best’ is a relative term, and what I think is best may be completely different than your opinion…and neither one of us would be wrong.
First, let me get a quick negative out of the way. One thing I have against Buck knives is the steel they use on most models: 420HC. In my opinion, this is the absolute lowest-quality steel that I would consider in any knife I am carrying. It compares poorly with most other commonly used steels, such as AUS 8, 4116 Krupp, and even VG-10. It will take an acceptable edge, and sharpens easily, but if you’re expecting it to perform like these other steels, you will be very disappointed.
But, I am a well-known knife-snob, and as I have said many times before, everyone does not need a knife you can drop on a land mine, brush it off, and immediately field-dress a medium-sized dinosaur with.
For most people, they just need a knife that will cut string, rope, straps, open a package, etc…after carrying in your pocket all day. All Buck knives will serve that purpose well. And, the company offers great Customer Service.
In fact, all Buck knives have a Lifetime Warranty against defects in workmanship or material. The warranty does not cover abuse, but let’s say you broke your knife trying to baton it through a California Redwood tree, or prying the door off of a HumVee. Buck will still usually fix it for a very reasonable fee, and if it is unable to be repaired, they will sell you a replacement knife for 1/2 the listed price on their website, excluding specials and customizing.
I have already mentioned the Buck 110, and I do include it in a list of the “best” Buck Knives, if nothing else than for its notoriety. So, beginning with the 110, here are the fives blades that I believe are the best Buck knives you can purchase right now:
- Buck 110 Folding Hunter – One of the longest, continuously produced models in the US, and the original lock-back folder.
- Blade Material: 420HC Stainless Steel
- Blade Length: 3-3/4”
- Blade Type: Clip Point
- Total Length: Open-7-5/6”; Closed-4-7/8”
- Weight: 7.2 oz.
- Scales: Something called Dymondwood, probably a synthetic laminate.
- MSRP: $80.00
The Buck 110 lacks some features that are pretty much standard on most modern folders, such as an ambidextrous thumb-stud and integral ambidextrous pocket clip, but what the heck…it’s a classic.
You don’t buy a 1957 T-Bird and complain because it doesn’t have a CD Player… It is what it is—a legend. Most knife enthusiasts have at least one Buck 110 in their collections. I have 3.
The Nighthawk is a military-style sheath knife with some nice features, such as non-slip black rubber scales, holes in the spine for running wire or other accessories, as well as a black-coated modified clip point blade.
In the 1990s, it was submitted, evaluated, and actually considered by the Navy and Marine Corps as a replacement for the aging Kabar knives (actually made by Camillus) for Marine and Seal Team Units.
In the end, they decided to stay with the Kabar design, but the Nighthawk is a formidable piece of cutlery, compares well with the Kabar, and in some respects, even surpasses it.
- Blade Material: 420HC, black oxide coated.
- Blade Length: 6-1/2”
- Blade Type: Modified Clip Point
- Total Length: 11”
- Weight: 10 oz.
- Scales: Black Rubber
- MSRP: $130.00
Most outdoorsy people are familiar with the Buck Crosslock. Its’s been around for quite a while, and has undergone many evolutions.
For those not in the know, the Crosslock is actually 3 liner-lock knives in one, attached Siamese Twin-style.
On one side, with the flick of the thumb-stud, you get a drop-point blade. Put that one away, turn the knife over, and on the other side is a combination bone saw and gut-hook blade, again, one-handed opening.
Some versions feature a serrated knife blade. Hunters have referred to the Crosslock as the, “Folding Butcher Shop” because of its utility as a folding hunting skinning knife. It eliminates the need to carry several knives in the field. It has aluminum scales and comes in either OD green, or Hunter Orange. And the new versions now have an integral pocket clip, but bad news for lefties—neither the thumb-studs or pocket clips are ambidextrous.
The blades are the standard 420HC steel—acceptable for most tasks, and easy to sharpen. The Crosslock is a very handy knife to have in the field. Even if you don’t hunt, the saw works on wood and other hard substances for quick modifications, and the gut-hook also does a great job on seat belts and strapping.
Of all the Buck knives, the Crosslock is my favorite.
- Blade Material: 420HC
- Blade Length: 3”
- Blade Types: 1-spear point and 1 combination bone-saw and gut-hook blade
- Total Length: 7-5/8” open; 4-5/8” closed
- Weight: 4 oz.
- Scales: aluminum
- MSRP: $75.00
For EDC fans who like assisted-opening knives, Buck delivers once again, with the Inertia/Momentum knives. They are actually the same knife, except the Momentum comes with an S30V blade, a much better steel.
The Inertia has Buck’s standard 420HC blade. Both have removable pocket-clips. The Inertia/Momentum is a drop-point liner-lock that opens like the strike of a cobra, with the mere flick of a thumb. It is light enough to carry all day with no trouble at all, but big enough for most common tasks.
- Blade Material: Inertia-420HC Momentum-S30V
- Blade Length: 3-1/8”
- Blade Type: Modified Drop-Point
- Total Length: 7-3/4” Open; 4-1/2” Closed
- Weight: 4.3 oz.
- Scales: aluminum
- MSRP: Inertia– $90.00; Momentum-$120.00
For those on a budget, Buck hasn’t forgotten you. The Buck Talus is a perfectly acceptable lock-back knife that is large and sturdy enough for most average tasks. The blade features a thumb-hole for one-handed opening, and ergonomic grips. They have even included a pocket-clip. The Buck Talus allows you to have the prestige of Bucks legacy at a price you can afford.
Here are some key specs for the Talus:
- Blade Material: 420HC
- Blade Length: 2-1/2”
- Blade Type: Modified Clip-Point, half-serrated.
- Total Length: 6” Open; 3-1/2” Closed
- Weight: 3.3 oz.
- Scales: G-10, black
- MSRP $15.00
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