Buck is an American icon in the pocket knife world, having been around since the turn of the 20th century.
From the start, Hoyt Buck and his sons made Buy It For Life knives, working out of San Diego back when it was a little horsetrading town.
There are a lot of good oxymorons out there. You can go with classics like, “Military Intelligence” or “The Great Depression” or move onto more recent ones like “Brilliant YouTube Star” or “Well-researched Blog.” Then you have ones that flat don’t make sense, such as the one we’re here to discuss, “Bad Buck Knife.”
Though the headquarters of Buck Knives might have moved to the heart and soul of the west in Post Falls, Idaho, the quality of Buck has never slipped, never faltered, and never quailed before the competition.
They’ve only enhanced and improved, offering new items, refining old ones with new developments, and building blades that proudly bear the Buck “Forever” warranty that covers anything they make until the day they die. Nothing is more reliable than a Buck, and has the history to back it up.
Your Best Buck Knives
To celebrate the all-important anniversary of Buck, we’re taking a look at which knives in their impressive lineup are the best today. Though you can’t go wrong, Buck is proof that you can be right a lot of different ways. Here’s each and every one of them.
1. Bantam BHW
If there is a fault with this quick, inexpensive pocket folder, it’s that it will start out a little stiff and need some breaking in. Besides that, the blade has no play, the lock won’t fumble, and once you’ve acclimated to it you’ll feel naked without it. Grab it if you want (another) a budget-friendly EDC knife.
There are a few Buck knives that have been outsourced to China, which has caused the company no small amount of chagrin, as many shoppers won’t even consider something imported, especially by an American icon like Buck. If you can set aside these worries, you’ll find that the Nobleman is a satin finish beauty complete with 440A steel with the choice of carbon fiber handles. If you’re considering a Ken Onion Leek or Blur, taking a look at the genteel Nobleman is certainly not a waste of time.
More fisherpeople and yachtspersons are heading out onto the high seas with a Buck on hand, as the brand has expanded to include blades that won’t even corrode when exposed to salt water day after Marlin-chasing day. Unlike the steady and sturdy build Buck usually has, these are intended to be flexible while still using high carbon steel. A glance should tell any serious maritimer that this means business and won’t slide out of your hand when landing the big one or any deadly catch.
Spyderco fans who are looking for a change of pace without straying too far from the mothership will find the Spitfire to be both familiar and wholly new to their hand. A dense, large EDC knife that manages to cut a low pocket profile, the opening and shutting are the real stars of the show. It comes out fast with a nice solid sense of having “arrived” snapping to attention like a Marine ready for inspection.
5. 301 Stockman
The biggest of the three-bladed knives that Buck offers, the Stockman is an honest-to-heaven workman’s knife as proven by the sheepsfoot blade combined with the standard clip and drop points. You don’t need to work livestock to appreciate the 420 HC steel that has become the Buck standard, but should you find yourself on a cattle drive or dealing with barnyard duties, you’ll be happy you have this on hand.
A buck tradition with its brass nubs on each end, the 110 is still the flagship of the brand. Each one is slightly different as the brass patinas in a particular way depending on how it’s used, so the more action it sees, the more individualized it becomes. It’s a lockblade, which not everyone loves, but it does give a greater fixed blade feel than most folding pocket knives, and you can now get it as an auto knife, should the tired, traditional opening and closing mechanism be too slow for you.
A knife and fork combo tucked into a glass-reinforced nylon sheath treated with anti-microbials, this is a must for anyone who wants quality camp silverware that packs down tight. The spreader blade won’t do much cutting, but it spreads like a dream, and the sheath keeps bacteria and germs from tainting your food.
8. 119 Special
A 6″ blade with blade Phenolic handles, the 119 is a hunting knife, making it exceptional for skinning and slicing, but it’s equally good for camping or tactical excursions should the occasion rise. It’s one of our favorite fixed-blade knives mostly because it’s meant to work when conditions are at their worst, meaning covered in water, blood, filth, or whatever else you got caught up in. It’s a serious operator.
Field dressing a kill is a delicate chore that can be made infinitely easier or more difficult depending on the tool you use. If you want it to go smoothly, the indomitable strength and extended edge-retention of the Skinner can help you. If you want it to go badly and make a mess, use anything else.
10. 191 Buck Zipper
Though Buck’s hunting knives are among the best in the bloodbath, their guthook options tend to feel a little underdeveloped. Except for the Zipper, which can open up a carcass in scant seconds, leaving nothing to chance and no ragged edges.
We were leery of using an outdoor brand for kitchen work, but our fears proved unfounded as Buck stepped into the batter’s box and once again knocked it out of the park. It’s a high-carbon steel knife with slick cutting action thanks to swooping ergonomics, and can be had a few different styles at varying prices. To save a few bucks, you can get the paperstone handle, but if you can spare the scratch, get the noticeable Elk Handle for a little more kitchen flair.
12. Tops/Buck CSAR-T Responder Knife
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Cutting and skinning are the work of any knife, but the CSAR-T also looks to save lives as well as dealing with the deadly duties that a blade can perform. On the pommel is a seatbelt cutter that can be used without ever pulling the blade free, yet is part of the whole 154CM Steel full tang construction. G10 scales form the handle and are printed with deep rocky mountain tread that doesn’t slip come rain, shine, or a hail of fire and brimstone.
13. 018 Scorpion Stinger
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It can do the work of cleaning game, but it’s meant to sit in a display case so all can marvel at the obsidian and mother of pearl inlays on the handle, then Ooh and Aah at the mirror polish. Though flashy, it’s still a workable knife using the 420 HC steel you expect from Buck and the careful craftsmanship you demand.
Final Thoughts on Best Buck Knives
Do you like any of the Buck knives on our list? Have one that you prefer over the other or one we haven’t mentioned?
We’d love to hear from you.
Hit us up in the comments section below and let us know what kicks it for you.