Buck Knives have earned a solid reputation among knife aficionados for being built to last, solid as they come and, first and foremost, made in the USA. Everything began with Hoyt Buck from Kansas and his son Al, who started crafting hand-made knives during War World 2, more precisely EDC combat knives that were used by GIs. Al is the creator of the iconic 110 folding knife, a legendary design that has become synonymous with Buck Knives.
Today, the company manufactures knives both in the US and China, and speaking of the latter, approximately 18 percent of their knives are made in China, especially the budget models.
Best Buck Knives of 2020
I will start my top 7 best Buck Knives with the legendary 0110BRS 110, one of my favorite folding hunter knives ever, and also one of the cheapest of the bunch. The knife retails for $50 currently, and you’ll get a lot of knife for the money. The 110 is incredibly solid and tough, it’s built to last, and even if it was designed 50 years ago, it’s still punching way above its weight.
This compact, small and sturdy folding knife with a 3.75” hollow-ground clip point blade is made in the USA; the blade uses 420HC steel, being pretty sharp out of the box, and also relatively easy to maintain.
2. Buck 119
If you’re looking for the “best bang for the buck” hunting knife, the Buck Knives 119 is my number one choice. For a mere $55, you’ll get an American legend, or, to be more specific, a classic hunting knife with an iconic design that remained unchanged for almost 5 decades. Proudly made in the USA, the 119 is an excellent choice for quartering, field dressing, or filleting fish, being any seasoned hunter’s dream.
The 119 is not really a survival knife, but it comes pretty close: full tang design, weighs 7.5 oz, uses 420HC for blade steel, has an ergonomic brass pommel and guard, and on top of that you get a genuine leather sheath.
My next pick is the Buck Knives 124 Frontiersman, a premium hunting knife with a classic design and a full tang construction. The 124 Frontiersman has the usual 420HC steel blade, an integrated finger guard, and a deep choil, as well as an ergonomically designed micarta handle and an aluminum pommel/guard for increased safety. To describe it succinctly, the 124 Frontiersman is the ideal combo of beauty and balance.
Proudly made in the USA, this smartly designed and rock-solid straight-back Bowie knife comes with a high-quality leather sheath with an integrated belt loop and boasts Buck Knives’ “forever warranty”.
4. Buck 0650BKSTP
I have a sweet spot for tactical knives, and here the 0650BKSTP comes into play. Even if the name is not very inspirational, this fixed blade black tactical knife is an excellent choice for “black ops” enthusiasts, and it makes for one Hell of a self-defense tool. The handle is a mixture of excellent grip and balance, the razor-sharp clip point blade has a non-reflective finish and it’s crafted from 420HC steel, which offers corrosion resistance and impressive edge retention.
The reinforced nylon rubberized grip feels great in hand, the sheath is lightweight and well-made, and if you add into the mix the Made in the USA thing plus the Buck Knives forever warranty, this tactical knife is hard to pass.
5. Buck 112
Getting back to classics, I must present you the 112, a ranger folding knife with a 3’’ razor sharp clip blade made from the now-ubiquitous 420HC steel. The Buck Knives 112 has a blade specifically designed for both slicing and piercing, and the lock back mechanism is everything you’d expect, i.e. it’s robust and tough, ensuring safety while you work.
Basically, the 112 is a mini-version of the 110 folding hunter, which means it’s the perfect choice for everyday carry, and it comes with a high quality leather sheath so it can be attached to your belt for secure transportation.
6. Buck 0863BRS Selkirk
Next in line I present you with a bushcraft/camping fixed blade knife, the Buck Knives 863 Selkirk respectively; what makes this knife stand out from the crowd is its full flat grind, unlike the standard scandi/hollow grind present in other Buck Knives models. The sheath is designed to be carried in both horizontal and vertical styles, which is kind of neat; specs wise, the knife has the ideal size and weight, is perfectly balanced and feels great in hand.
The contoured Micarta handle looks awesome and it’s ergonomically designed; as a nice addition, you’ll get a fire striker (ferro rod) with a whistle integrated into the injection-molded nylon sheath, and, of course, the “Buck Knives Forever” warranty.
7. Buck 105 Pathfinder
My last (but not least) pick for today is the Buck Knives 105 Pathfinder, a classic all-purpose heavy-duty fixed blade knife, which is known as the Buck 119’s smaller version. Despite being advertised as a multipurpose knife, the Buck Knives 105 Pathfinder is actually designed for outdoor aficionados, so if you’re into hunting, you’ll love this 5 inches long 420HC steel blade with a clip point.
The knife is rather large, solid and well built, the handle is made from phenolic resin and gives the knife balance, while the blade is strong enough for batoning, as well as slicing, prying and digging.
Other Honorable Mentions
Let’s assume you’ve read this far and you’re still not sure about what would be the best knife for your money, so let me give you a few extra options. Enter Buck 327 Nobleman, a smart and very affordable folding knife that retails for something like $25, give or take.
This is one of the best options for no-nonsense every day carry from Buck Knives, as it features the company’s iconic drop point blade made out of 440A steel, and if you lose it, it’s cheap enough to be replaced without shedding a tear.
The Nobleman has a titanium coating, and really looks the part despite its low price; the handle is an interesting mixture of stainless steel and carbon-look print, with a rubberized side for improved grip.
While we’re at cool EDCs, I must tell you about the Buck 112 Ranger Auto, which is basically the classic 110 Auto in a more compact package.
The Ranger automatic is made in the USA, features a built-in automatic deployment system, hence the name, and comes with beautiful ebony scales. The 420HC steel blade is 3 inches long, and is cryogenically treated for improved edge retention and strength.
Finally, I must mention the famous Buck 347 Vantage Pro Large Folding Knife, which can be described as the new school of Buck knives. This high-end folding life has an ambidextrous design and features an S30V steel blade with G10 handle scales for perfect grip in any conditions. The deep carry clip and ergonomic design of the Buck 347 Vantage Pro make it ideal for EDC, provided you’re looking for a solid folder that has all the qualities of the old Buck 110, and then some!
Now, regardless of your choice, rest assured that all Buck Knives are built to last and they offer an unparalleled value for money, plus they look awesome and most of them are made in the USA. So, if you’re looking for a badass fixed blade hunting knife or a high quality affordable folding knife for EDC, Buck has something in store for everyone.
Does Buck still make the Reaper knife?
No, the Reaper was discontinued by Buck.
How to sharpen a buck knife?
Buck knives are crazy-sharp out of the box and they retain their edge well. However, if you somehow manage to put a dent in your blade, my best advice would be to use the company’s sharpening service. Here’s the link, just go to the bottom of the page and check it out. Each re-sharpening costs $7. Another solution for DIY enthusiasts is to watch this video tutorial and then, well, knock yourselves out!
How to close a buck knife?
I know, this is not actually rocket science, but since you asked, here’s my answer: read the instruction manual first. No, seriously, it has pictures and everything. If you’ve lost it, here’s a short video tutorial, enjoy.
What is the longest Buck knife that is legal to carry?
This is a legitimate question, but the answer is complicated. It all depends on your location, i.e. knife carry laws are not the same in all US states; also, different countries have different rules regarding knife carry, hence the best thing to do is to ask your local law enforcement office or search the internet. If you reside in the US, check out this link. Europe is a mixed bag, so beware.
What to Look For in Your Buck Knife? Buying Guide
Choosing the right Buck knife is not an easy task, given the plethora of options that may look overwhelming for my readers. Even if I already did the research so you won’t have to, and I also provided you with a fine selection of Buck Knives for every budget, it’s hard to make an informed decision if you don’t know the basics.
To begin with, you must ask yourself a simple question:
- What do you want from your Buck knife?
- What type of activity are you going to use it for?
- What materials are important in your book, and what do you think about safety?
Speaking of features, there are 2 main types of Buck Knives: fixed blades and folding knives. The former are known for being dependable, sturdy, and always ready for survival/hunting use, while the latter are safe to carry, more compact and usually feature a solid locking mechanism when opened.
A full tang fixed blade is basically a solid piece of steel, which means it will never surprise you, or let you down. This type of blade is perfect for tough jobs, such as camping tasks and field dressing.
Folding knives offer carry convenience and they’re a bit safer, but everything revolves around the locking mechanism, which may make or break a folder. Speaking of locking mechanisms, you can go for a lockback design, a liner lock, a frame lock, a SLS (strong lock system), assisted opening or a button lock.
A good folding knife must be easy to open and close with one hand, which is essential if you’re involved in activities when one hand is occupied with something else.
Blade shape comes into play and as the general rule of thumb, the thicker the blade, the better will perform with heavy duty tasks. Moreover, speaking of blade shape, you must choose the one which best serves your needs, as in don’t choose based on “looks” only, because a knife is a tool first and foremost, and you must always have the right tool for the job.
Buck knives usually come with a drop point, skinner and clip blade designs, which is kind of normal because Buck is synonymous with hunting. These blade designs are best suited for field dressing and skinning game as they provide excellent control for cutting in tight places and detailed work.
If you’re searching for an EDC knife, whether folding or fixed blade, look for something lightweight and ergonomically designed.
Depending on your specific purpose, search for a gut hook, that provided you’re looking for a hunting knife for skinning game and field dressing, or a saw tooth (serrated blade) for cutting bone or wood, if that’s your cup of tea.
Blade steel quality is also important in my book, and here Buck Knives are known for their high quality steels and heat treatment. Most of my picks have 420HC stainless steel blades, a relatively affordable alloy that features solid edge retention, allows for easy sharpening, and offers great corrosion resistance.
Buck also uses spring steel in their knives, also known as 5160 steel, hardened to 57 or 58 Rc for improved performance, as well as 13C26 Sandvik, a great steel choice if you’re looking for strength, wear-resistance and hardness (58-60 Rc). The “higher end” Buck knives are built using S30V steel, an advanced alloy that provides fantastic edge retention and corrosion resistance (61 Rc), or 154CM steel.
Almost all Buck Knives benefit from Paul Bos’ heat-treating process for improved hardness and strength. After the Paul Bos “treatment”, each blade is then tempered via heating, freezing, and reheating system. This technological process is dubbed Edge2X Blade Technology and it’s been around since 1999.
Besides fancy heat treatments and stuff like that, the modern blade-making process involves the state of the art laser cutting machines, and it essentially reduces the angle on the edge’s bevel to 30 degrees, with the end result being a blade that’s easier to sharpen and way better at slicing.
Another cool thing to look for in a Buck knife is Crelicam Ebony, a fancy name for ebony wood handles. The Crelicam thing comes from the name of the wood mill, which is owned by a guitar manufacturer, Taylor Guitars, and Madinter, a wood supplier. Buck buys ebony wood from Crelicam in order to encourage and promote ethical sources of ebony wood, which is nice on their part.
Ebony wood is great in terms of aesthetics and durability, but you can always go for Micarta or rubber handles, which will provide you with superior grip in wet conditions. So, if you’re shopping for an “all-purpose” survival knife, composite materials are the best choice for improved grip, fit and durability, while ebony wood is the king of the “optics” department.