Pat’s Product Review: Buck Knives Hood Hoodlum

It’s nice when a real survivalist designs something, instead of an arm chair commando or wannabe survivalist. The late Ron Hood was well respected in the survival field, as a true expert in wilderness survival techniques. Hood collaborated with Buck Knives ( , to come out with the Hood Hoodlum fixed blade survival knife. Unfortunately, about a week after the knife came out, Ron Hood passed away – a loss to us all, and he will be missed.
Ron Hood also spent 20 years teaching accredited college courses on survival skills. Not too many survival instructors I’ve heard of that have taught accredited courses on survival in college. My late friend, Chris Janowsky, who ran the World Survival Institute up in Tok, Alaska used to teach the US Marine Corps survival instructors winter survival skills, and Chris could have easily taught accredited college courses on survival techniques. But there just aren’t too many survival instructors out there these days who have the background and know-how to teach accredited college courses.
As soon as I received the press release on the Hoodlum, I requested a sample, that was in January 2011 – and I only just received my sample a few weeks ago. Was it worth the wait? You bet it was! As SurvivalBlog readers know, I’m a fan of big knives, especially if you are dealing with wilderness survival. There’s more tasks that you can accomplish with a big, stout, fixed blade knife, than you can with a small folding knife.
The Buck/Hood Hoodlum has a 10″ blade made out of 5160 spring steel, and the overall length is 15.5″ – so you know you have a big knife in your hand. The blade thickness is 3/16th of an inch – thick enough for tough chores, and thin enough to make the knife balance nicely in the hand. The Hoodlum really shined at chopping chores around my small homestead, and it would easily chop through some fairly thick tree limbs. There is also a small “cut out” in the blade backbone for scoring bone, to bending wire, to removing pots from the campfire. The knife is plenty big enough for defensive/offensive purposes, too. The handle is made out of Micarta – I would like to see G-10 handles scales, as it is stronger than Micarta – and who knows, maybe Buck will come out with a G-10 handle version. There is also a lanyard hole in the butt of the knife.
The Micarta handle scales can be removed – if you have a multi-tool – and you can create a spear by lashing the Hoodlum to a tree branch. There is also a very well made MOLLE compatible, heavy-duty black Nylon sheath, with a front storage pocket – read: sharpening stone or multi-tool pocket, and the sheath is lined, to prevent the knife from cutting through should you take a fall. As big as the Hoodlum is, it balances very well, and only weighs-in a 14.6 oz. Best of all, the Hoodlum is made in the USA – after Buck Knives moved to Post Falls, Idaho, they have been having some of their knives made overseas – not a bad thing, as it saves them and the consumer money, and you get as good of a knife as you want from overseas. Still, it does my heart good to see any products that bear the Made In The USA moniker stamped on ’em.
I showed the Hoodlum around to quite a few folks, and the first thing they all said was “wow” when they pulled the knife from the sheath. They were totally impressed with the overall length of the knife, and secondly, they couldn’t believe how well-balanced the Hoodlum was. And, they all commented on the outstanding sheath. Then “the” question – “what’s this cut-out in the handle for?” In short order, I explained that the Hoodlum was designed for hard-core wilderness survival, and the “cut-out” was for scoring bones from game animals they might take, as well as for lifting a pot off the ol’ camp fire – I could see the light bulb go on over their heads. Something sooooo simple, yet soooooo useful on a big knife!
The 5160 spring steel is made out of carbon steel, but there is a coating of some type on the blade, to help prevent the blade from rusting. Still, it’s a good idea to keep a coating of Birchwood Casey Barricade (formerly sold under the trade name “Sheath”) on the blade to prevent rust from getting a foothold. I use Barricade on all my guns and knives – even the stainless steel ones (remember, stainless means they “stain less”) and they can still rust if you don’t take care of them. In a wilderness survival situation or a SHTF scenario, you have to take good care of your weapons and tools – you may not have a second chance if you tools and weapons fail you when things go bad.
I found the Hoodlum to be very fast in the hand using slashing moves. However, the knife wasn’t designed as a stabber – but I could still stab into stacked cardboard as deeply as I wanted the blade to go. Never mind what Hollywood might say about knife fighting – when it gets down and dirty, most knife fighting will be slashes and not stabbing – although, a finishing move might entail stabbing. Still, it’s best to slash as the arms, hands and legs of an attacker – cut those tendons and they can’t hurt you any longer.
I also used the Hoodlum around the kitchen for cutting chores. While it’s not any sort of a paring knife, it was great for slicing ham slices for Christmas. It also chopped various veggies with aplomb, too. I took the knife up to one of my rural shooting areas on top of nearby mountain, where poachers are always dumping illegally taken deer carcasses, and used the knife to easily chop through the bones on the carcasses – so it is a great chopper and easily broke through the leg and hip bones of deer carcasses without much effort. And, before I get a ton of e-mails about the poachers, I have called the local fish and feathers guys numerous times – they are aware of the area – but are so short-staffed, they can’t sit there and watch for poachers to dump the carcasses all the time. I despise poachers! And, I have turned in a few when I saw them doing things that were illegal.
If the SHTF, or we were faced with an end of the world situation, I wouldn’t hesitate for one moment, to grab the Buck Hoodlum and bug out for the boonies, with this being my only knife. It would take care of all the wilderness survival tasks I could possibly ask of it. Now, the good news – at least I think it’s good news. I honestly expected a knife of this quality to be in the $300+ price range. However, Buck’s full retail price on the Hoodlum is only $230. Yes, I know, it’s still a good chunk of change, but you are getting a lot of knife for the money. BTW, these can sometimes be found for as little as $116 on and eBay. If you were to have a similar knife made by a custom knife maker, it would easily sent you back $400 to $500 – depending on who makes it for you. And, as always, shop around on the ‘net, and you’ll find the knife a bit less than retail – but be advised, they are a little hard to find right now – they are in great demand from those who are in the know.