Buck Knives, www.buckknives.com , has been around for about 100 years, depending on who you talk to. Their most popular folding knife is still their Model 110 lock-back folding knife that is made in their plant in Post Falls, Idaho. Many people say that imitation is the sincerest form or flattery. If that’s the case, then the Buck Model 110 lock-back folding knife is probably one of the most copied folding knives in the world, if not “the” most copied folding lock-back knife.
The Model 110 is now celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014, and every model will have “50” stamped on the tang of the blade, as well as a medallion in the handle. The sample I received must be one that slipped through because it doesn’t have the medallion in the handle. It is only stamped “50” on the blade. Perhaps I have a one-of-a-kind; we shall see.
For as long as I can remember, and even today when someone sees a large, lock-back folding knife, they often call it a “Buck”, regardless of who made it. However, let’s be clear on this, there is only one Buck Model 110. Everyone else is copying the design. Some make minor changes so as to not infringe on the design. Others simply outright copy the design made famous by Buck. To be sure, they are all copies or clones– some well-made and some junk, with the pure junk being made overseas and imported into the U.S. There is only one Buck Model 110, and it’s the real deal!
The blade on the Buck Model 110 is 3 3/4 inches long, but it seems longer, for some reason. The material is 420HC (High Carbon) stainless steel. There is one thing Buck is famous for, and that is that their knives are made out of 420HC and known to hold an edge on the blade for an extremely long time. Therein lies the one minor complaint. The steel is very hard to re-sharpen. For those who aren’t aware, Buck changed their edge geometry a few years back, and now all their knives are much easier to re-sharpen. Before this change, it took a real knack with a sharpening stone to get a dulled Buck knife’s edge back to “hair-popping” sharp– the way it came from the factory. So, if you haven’t purchased a Buck Knife lately because they were hard to re-sharpen, fear not; the task is much easier, thanks to the new edge geometry Buck is putting on all their knives.
The 110 has Macassar ebony Dymondwood handle scales, and this is very dense material– almost indestructible, to be sure. Plus, it is a very attractive deep brown color. Brass bolsters are on either end of the handle, and they are real brass (not brass coated or colored aluminum or steel, like many of the fake 110s have). For all you tactical knife fans, you’ll be sad to know that the 110 does not have thumb studs for rapid opening. It has the old fashion nail nick, so you need two hands to open the blade. As already mentioned, it is a lock-back design with the lock midway down the spine of the handle, and the blade locks-up extremely tight. A black leather belt sheath is included with each 110, too.
Here’s a bit of trivia, and many of you Vietnam Vets will already know this. The Buck Model 110 was the most popular folding knife carried by our troops in Vietnam, and all the base PX outlets sold the 110. If memory serves me correctly, the Buck Model 119 Special was probably the most popular privately-purchased fixed blade knife bought by our troops in the later years of the Vietnam War, too. Buck Knives has a long history with our fighting men and women in the military.
I have an older (not real old, though) Buck Model 110, and I carry it every now and then. Comparing it to the new 50th anniversary edition, side-by-side, I can see the different edge geometry because I know what I’m looking for. Aside from the “50” stamped on the blade’s tang, there is no discernible difference between the older model 110 and the new 110.
A very wise sage, at a major knife company, once told me that a really good knife design will have about a 3-year life. After that, people lose interest in the design and sales decline. Eventually, the design is dropped from the line-up. We are looking at steady sales of the Buck Model 110 for 50 years now, and I don’t see it disappearing from the Buck Knives line-up any time soon, either. The design is as popular as ever. If it wasn’t, then all these copy cat companies wouldn’t be copying the Buck Model 110’s design.
I know that, these days, everyone has to have the latest “tactical” folding knife with thumb studs for fast opening and a pocket clip for easy carry in the pants pocket, and it needs to have a liner-type lock or other similar features. However, for a pure hunting folder, an everyday carry folder, or one for camping and survival purposes, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better folding knife with a longer history than the Buck Model 110 has going for it. So, if you’re in the market for a new folding knife and might just want a little nostalgia to go along with it, take a close look at the Buck 110. Its full retail is only $73.00, and it comes with Buck’s lifetime warranty against defects in materials, too. Just make sure you are purchasing a genuine Buck and not a copy because not every large, lock-back folding knife that looks like a Buck is a Buck. Buy the real deal, and you won’t ever be disappointed. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio