The Buck 110 is a classic slice of Americana. I love this knife, though to be frank, I love it maybe a little more than I should. When I finally bit the bullet and ordered my Buck 110, I was ecstatic. I grinned ear to ear when it arrived, and when I at last took it out of the packaging, I explained to Elise just how long this knife has been on my want list, how nice it was to finally have it, and how I probably would never sell it because of that. It’s a beauty, but as I sit here to consider what I can say about it, I find that I am trying very hard to rationalize why I like this knife so much; I love it even though it fails so miserably against modern contemporary folding everyday carry knives, like the Spyderco Military.
The Buck 110 is an old school design that has been produced – virtually unchanged – since 1963. The knife world has evolved: with newer steels, improved ergonomic designs, and upgrades to materials. Yet here we are in 2014, with a brass bolstered folder still available to us. It weighs the equivalent of a 18-wheeler truck, but it’s so classic most, like me, can’t resist it’s charm, and end up making the purchase.
The Buck 110 is comparable to a Spyderco Endura in terms of size (and size only). The Buck is 12.4 cm (4.875 inches) closed, with a blade length of 9.5 cm (3.75 inches). Pretty standard stuff for a large everyday carry knife, except it weighs 205 grams (7.2 ounces)… Going back to our previous comparison, the endura only weighs 68 grams (2.8 ounces), which sure is pretty light even for a modern EDC, but that still means that at roughly the same size, the Buck 110 is over 2 and a half times heavier than the Spyderco Endura. Let that sink in.
The main criticism others have of this knife (besides the weight – which I think I’ve mentioned enough) is the very delicate tip it sports. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the tip, as, if you’ve been around here long enough, you’ll have noticed I love modifying knives that aren’t clip points to having much more fine tips (example: my Spyderco Resilience). If the tip on the Buck 110 wasn’t acute, I probably would have modified it myself to make it acute.
Judging it by the Buck 110’s appearance, you might be inclined to think this knife is perfect for blue collar workmen, but the Buck 110 is not a prying machine. Based on the sheer number of broken tips and regrinds of the knife that I’ve read about around the web, I can safely say that the blade was ground for slicing and piercing only.
As you may have noticed, the bulk of the gargantuan weight comes from its very nicely machined brass bolsters and liners. Don’t expect any skeletonizing here – the Buck 110 is American muscle at its finest – no illusions of weight-saving measures having been taken whatsoever.
Centering is decent enough, as is the fit and finish (except for the initial grind on the blade, but more on that later). Bare in mind, however, that this knife is maintenance free – and unfortunately not by choice. Completely pinned construction means that you cannot tighten the pivot or take apart the knife for a cleaning, unless of course you use a vise and pressure. Should you choose to use this knife for heavy duty work or on the field while hunting, you will become well acquainted with q-tips and compressed air canisters in your down time.
The balance point on the Buck 110 is straight up god awful. Can’t sugar coat this one. Ultimately, nothing unexpected, taking into account how heavy the scales are. This knife is great fun, but if I was going to use a knife for extended periods of time, I would definitely choose a more neutral offering, like the CRKT Ripple or the Spyderco Delica, over the Buck 110.
The lock on the Buck 110 is relatively sturdy. If I really try, I can get some blade play in all four directions, but engagement is solid, so whilst I wouldn’t trust it for heavy duty prying, for normal use it’s pretty decent.
No true choil on the knife, so if the lock fails, you’ll be saying goodbye to your digits.
The tip is my favourite aspect of the Buck 110 (besides it’s charming looks of course). The mean clip point is instrumental in giving such an acute tip. The blade is very finely ground, but as you can see in all the pictures, it has a slight recurve to it. I do wish the blade had more belly, especially at the heel near the tang – it almost looks like it was over-sharpened at the factory. In any case, the grinds are, in my opinion, not optimal, but perhaps the recurve was intended.
The hollow ground blade is made out of the time tested 420HC stainless steel. Yes, it’s not exciting, but Paul Bos is a legend, and he really pushed the limits of the steel through an excellent heat treatment.
Contrary to the hype: no, it will not match super steels, but it will hold an acceptable edge for EDC use, and that’s fine by me.
This is my first back lock, as the Endura & Delica are, strictly speaking, mid-locks. I do wish that on the Buck 110, the locking bar/spring would recess all the way into the handle, as that little gap breaks symmetry somewhat.
The lock is not particularly smooth to disengage, and does require quite a bit of pressure. Two hands are definitely needed to safely close the knife.
This knife is not particularly tactical in design, although I would wager it has been in more fights than any other folder. But I digress. As you can see in the animation below, it is possible to open the Buck 110 with one hand, but I would strongly suggest using two, as it’s not particularly safe. Some companies manufacturer screw-in thumb studs for the Buck 100, but up here in Iglooland (a.k.a. Canada), I can’t seem to get ahold of them. You can find them on Amazon.com, though: for example here.
The “advantage” of such an awkward-to-deploy knife is that people keep experimenting with new ways to open them one handed. Hell, you can even “Spydie drop” the Buck 110’s blade open (although once again – not particularly safe so mind your fingers).
The lack of a pocket clip (for good reason as, again, it weighs about 3 tons) means that the Buck 110 comes with a rather nicely made leather sheath. Sadly, it’s not made in America, but rather in Mexico. I’d love it if my Buck 110 was 100% American-made but taking into account that Buck sells it for well under $50, I understand that sacrifices have to be made.
The leather Buck 110 sheath is pretty thick, and construction is very much overbuilt, with strong stitching and rivets. I don’t see it breaking down with use.
The belt loop on the sheath is nicely implemented, and will fit all belts (normal sized ones that is).
Wearing the Buck 110 sheath on my belt less than subtle on me. That said, I have walked around with it some, and no one seems to even give it a second look. Maybe people presume it’s a cell phone case? Either way, it’s pretty unthreatening as far as knife sheath’s go.
The grip on the Buck 110 is traditionally neutral. Don’t expect perfect ergoes here, but ultimately, I would say it’s above average. The ergonomics are much better than some modern knives, like the Spyderco Manix 2 FRN, for example.
Choking up is theoretically possible, but the skewed balance and lack of choil make this grip uncomfortable for prolonged use.
Reverse grip on the Buck 110, however, is pretty damn comfortable. If I had to use this knife defensively, I would, hands down, reverse grip, especially because of its acute tip.
Pinch grip is above average. This makes sense taking into account the Buck 110 is supposed to be a folding hunter.
And now just let it sink in how beautiful this knife is…
The interesting thing about the Buck 110 is that, if a manufacturer just released this knife, it probably wouldn’t sell, at least amongst performance-oriented buyers. It’s still a damn nice looking knife, but it would be laughed at by critics, and if we are to be objective – for plenty good reason. The Buck 110 should be viewed as true classic that stubbornly refuses to die, and to compare it against modern knives is just foolish. Past this point, ignore logic, and check out how good those brass bolsters look. Not sure a modern knife can ever have this much raw appeal.
The Buck 110 is a complete contradiction. It’s a terrible tool, but I really can’t help but love it anyway. Maybe it’s those memories of wanting one as a boy, but never being able to afford it. Maybe it’s that the weight, in all its absurd bulkiness, is actually somehow reassuring. Maybe it’s that Buck is actually quite badass in that it gives zero shits about “updating” this knife to cater to modern trends and standards.
Whatever the reason, for under 50 dollars, I get to walk around with an
anchor gorgeous slice of old-school Americana on my belt, and I like that. Yes, the grinds are not perfect and it’s eclipsed by hundreds of newer and better-performing knives, but regardless of all the criticisms I’ve pulled out of the bag, I still have to stick to my guns and say I’m likely to never part with it. In life, not every simple pleasure has to make perfect sense, and the Buck 110 echoes that sentiment perfectly.
Recommended, just because.