That Time I Accidentally Fell in Love with Buck Knives
Eve Flanigan 07.24.20
Lots of blades, mostly folders but some fixed, have been part of my EDC life for years. They’ve represented a small selection of national brands, but never a Buck, until two Buck knives showed up and, rather unwittingly, I’ve come to regard them as favorites.
That one time, at carbine class, a student dropped a fixed-blade, tactical-style, synthetic-sheath Buck Maverick blade in the parking lot. It sheath was a locking Kydex belt loop style, really quite nice. When I called to say I’d bring it by, he said I could keep it. What an unexpected favor!
I used this knife now and again for random chores but mostly ignored it until I got to test some knife sharpeners by Worksharp Tools. With its moderate size and somewhat abused (weed-cutting, staple-pulling) 420 HC steel blade with 3.125 inches of cutting surface, the tactical Buck was a great candidate to see if Worksharp’s Ken Onion Knife and Tool Sharpener would hone it back to its original sharpness.
Suffice to say, this blade was a standout in the sharpening test, sharpening quickly and capable of slicing tomatoes so thinly, it’s possible to read the BUCK logo through the slice. I’ve since backed off using this blade for jobs better suited to things that live in a toolbox.
A little research revealed that this blade is 420HC (high carbon content) steel with matte black oxide finish—the latter being oh so tactical. I learned that 420HC is a common material for Buck blades, and a big reason why the company has stood the test of time. This blade sharpens easily and holds an edge quite well for its level of hardness—the best of both worlds. It has a full tang blade with a perfectly curved handle and well-textured G10 grips. Also, it’s affordable. Eight or so years ago when this knife was new, it was just $20. So much blade for so little money.
The Maverick (Maverik? I’ve found it spelled both ways and it’s no longer on the Buck website) is one of the few Bucks made in China, but it’s proven itself through an American tradition: hunting. When my partner and guide, caping out a gemsbok, handed me his blade to sharpen, I handed him the Maverick so the skinning could continue. The difference was immediately obvious. It split hide from flesh like the proverbial hot knife through butter, thus becoming a favored skinning blade in addition to its great form for tactical use.
For the past few years, Buck Knives has hosted a knife-throwing contest at the SHOT Show Range Day. In 2019, the prize for lodging a blade into a log was a Buck knife. Being fortunate to get media blasts before SHOT, I knew about the contest beforehand so I logged a few sessions of tossing little throwing knives into hay bales to get my technique in order. Hand-eye coordination has never been my strong suit.
It’s definitely not the hardest contest on the planet, but practice or maybe Vegas luck paid off and my single throw lodged the contest knife into Buck’s target, a hunk of log, just right. I walked out smiling with my newest possession in hand—a lovely Slim Ranger folder.
This EDC knife has a clip point blade of premium CPM-S30V steel, which is considered the ultimate EDC steel by some for its toughness, ease of sharpening, and edge retention. It’s seven inches overall with a three-inch blade. Although it’s a bit long for some of my jeans pockets, I’ve been making it work as an EDC knife for about a year. The high-set, reversible clip helps keep it in place and its fresh design doesn’t scream “tactical” or even “knife” in places where people are hyper-sensitive about such things.
This lockback blade feels more expensive than my other EDCs—and it is. Suffice to say it’s been a more cherished gift than the usual pens and can koozies.
A couple weeks ago, I was on yet another gemsbok hunt with a friend who harvested a nice bull. It so happened the Slim Ranger was in my pocket. Like the Maverick before, the Ranger got put to use as a backup skinner while I sharpened the primary knife. Though the clip point isn’t made for that job, the little knife held its own, gliding between flesh and skin with little effort.
And that is the story of how I accidentally fell in love with Buck knives. Yours truly is more of a tactical than a hunting/fishing type. I’d never taken a big interest in the brand thanks to their erstwhile mostly-traditional, grandpa-esque persona. But the quality and performance of these two blades has made me a lifetime fan—a good match for Buck’s Forever Warranty.