Best Buck Knife: Choosing the Right Knife for Your Activities

Best Buck Knife: Choosing the Right Knife for Your Activities

65 Models Considered
78 Hours of Research
6 Experts Interviewed
215 Reviews Analyzed
Update - June 10, 2020In the latest refresh of this Buck Knives article we changed a couple of things. This included expanding our top-8 up to top-10, adding Best Pocket Buck Knife – the 375 Deuce and spring assisted 830 Marksman as the Best OHT

If you are on the hunt for the best Buck Knife, then we can safely assume that you already have a well-founded understanding of exactly what makes a great knife. Our team as analyzed over 30 Buck brand knives in 2020, and now we’re ready to narrow it down to the Top 10, breaking it down by sharpness, durability, comfort, and of course, style.

Look: we already know that Buck makes some of the best knives on the market, so we know that we don’t have to waste a whole lot of time telling you why these knives have a real edge over the competition (pun strongly intended). Instead, we’re going to go deeper into what we think are the 10 best Buck brand knives in their catalogue, so you don’t have to spend any time scratching your head.

After the rundown, we are going to take a deeper dive into the criteria that we used to make our calls, as well as provide you with a bit more information on how to shop for Buck fixed blade knives.

Best “All-Around” Folding Buck Knife

Buck 110 Hunter

BLADE STEEL 420HC
BLADE LENGTH 3 3/4”
CARRY WEIGHT 7.2 oz.

For over 50 years, the 110 has been Buck’s highest-selling knife, and for the reasons we mentioned above, it is easy to see why. The leather sheath is an added bonus that a lot of manufacturers would charge extra for. The Buck 110 is one of the best all-around fixed blade knives that you can buy, not only because of the price, but also because of the remarkable versatility.

This little high-action knife has the comfortable, compact size of a pocket knife but the heft and durability of a survival knife. Once you hold it in your hands, it’s pretty clear that this isn’t the kind of knife that is going to give out on you anytime soon. It is no secret that we are big fans of the clip-point style of blade shape, and the 110’s graceful curvature provides an elegance of both style and performance that is simply unmatched in this price range. In fact, it seems that everything about this knife is designed to maximize sharpness and ease of cutting, without breaking the bank.

Pros
  • Small, sleek, & comfortable design
  • Included leather sheath for added protection
  • Affordable & versatile
Cons
  • Some side-to-side play after significant use
  • Sheath needs some breaking in / stretching

Best Fixed Blade Buck Knife for Hunting and Fishing

Buck 102 Woodsman

BLADE STEEL 420HC
BLADE LENGTH 7 3/4”
CARRY WEIGHT 2.5 oz.

The obvious advantage to buying a fixed blade knife over a folding blade is the added durability, which is a big deal when it comes to high-octane activities like hunting and fishing where you will most likely need more heft, more stability, and a larger grip that will allow you to work the knife in just the way you need. Whether you are cleaning a buck or gutting a fish, the 102 Woodsman is Buck Knives’ answer to the true outdoor enthusiasts of the world, and it’s only a few dollars more than the 110 Classic that we reviewed above.

The woodsman features the same clip point style that Buck is known for, but the thicker handle provides a level of control that makes slicing, cutting, and cleaning an absolute breeze. The leather sheath included with the Woodsman is also upgraded from the 110, offering a construction of genuine leather that is more likely to hold up against the rigors of outdoor adventuring. Yet, the 102 Woodsman is not a full-sized hunting knife, and is in fact compact enough to make it an easy everyday carry knife, or simply an auxiliary blade to keep in the car or backpack.

Pros
  • Full-tang construction provides serious strength
  • Thick, comfortable handle gives a high degree of control
  • Genuine leather sheath is a nice bonus
Cons
  • Slightly too narrow for big skinning jobs
  • Handle is also a bit light for big-game applications; a better fishing knife than hunting knife

Best Folding Pocket Knife

Buck 375 Deuce

BLADE STEEL 420HC
BLADE LENGTH 2-5/8”
CARRY WEIGHT 7 oz.

As the name suggests, the Buck 375 Deuce features not one, but two quality blades, both made from 420J2 steel. The handle is authentic woodgrain with silver bolsters, and the blades fold neatly into their enclosures with very little wiggle or play. The surprisingly light construction makes for a great EDC folding knife, but this is also an ideal choice for anyone looking for a low-key folding knife to store in the glove compartment or fishing creel, or even a jacket pocket for the impromptu outdoor adventure.

While the small size can be a big surprise to anyone who is used to a larger Buck brand knife, we have no doubt that almost anyone could find the perfect application for this great little knife. Of course, it also helps that the 375 Deuce is perhaps the most affordable Buck knife on our list, which indicates its suitability as a stocking stuffer for any member of the family. The only significant drawback is that the small size makes it impossible to achieve the same level of durability as other Buck knifes, but for the price, you’re still getting a great deal.

Pros
  • Super affordable
  • Dual-blade construction adds versatility
  • Very lightweight
Cons
  • Too small for serious outdoor use
  • Some blade wiggle over time

Best Buck Knife for Camping

Buck 620 Reaper

BLADE STEEL 420HC
BLADE LENGTH 6-3/4”
CARRY WEIGHT 8.5 oz.

While Buck Knives is known mostly for their hunting, camping, and fishing knives (being one of the top-rated knife makers over the last 50 years) we are not in the least bit surprised to find out that they have taken a big step into the realm of survival knives. The Buck 620 Reaper is one of the best entry-level survival knives that money can buy, offering some features and design elements that we usually only see on far more expensive knives.

Take the black traction coating for example, which not only provides an incredible grip but also makes for a super-stylish design that will be sure to turn heads on the trail. A woven nylon sheath is far more durable than any of the leather sheaths offered on the cheaper buck knives, and a sturdy belt loop means that you won’t have to worry about the 620 Reaper disappearing from your hip unexpectedly. While a bit small for most hunting applications, the Reaper is still great for splitting, feathering, and other basic outdoor needs.

Pros
  • Sleek and stylish jet-black design
  • Arrives in an impressively sharpened state
Cons
  • Narrow blade limits the Reaper to more basic outdoor applications
  • Handle is a little light

Best Fixed Blade Buck Knife for Game Skinning

Buck 103 Skinner

BLADE STEEL 420HC
BLADE LENGTH 8-1/4”
CARRY WEIGHT 4.3 oz.

Thus far, we have had a look at a few Buck brand knives that are great for everyday outdoor adventures … everything from camping to backpacking to fishing. But as any experienced hunter will tell you, you’re going to need something with a bit more heft to it if you are planning on brining any meat back from the wilderness. The 103 Skinner could be called an entry-level skinning knife, but in fact, it performs just about as well as the most expensive skinning knives by competing brands. An extra wide 4” blade will allow the user to deftly control the cutting blade, no matter what kind of animal you have brought down or how you plan to go about cleaning it.

A snap-fastener sheath with an integrated belt loop keeps the blade in an easily accessible position at all times … which is important when the sun is going down in the Rockies and there is very little time to waste. Of course, it is important to note that the 103 is not just a skinning knife, but in fact performs well in almost every outdoor situation that we can think of.

Pros
  • • A downward-pointed tip helps prevent hide punctures
  • • Extra-wide 4” blade offers excellent skinning control
  • • Also functions as a great all-around adventure knife
Cons
  • • Slightly too small for larger hands

Best Folding Knife for One Hand Use

Buck 830 Marksman

BLADE STEEL 154CM
BLADE LENGTH 4-3/4”
CARRY WEIGHT 4.0 oz.

As any experienced outdoor enthusiast will tell you, some situations require both hands, so the ability to both retrieve and open a folding knife with a single hand can be a real asset. The 830 Marksman is designed specifically for the high-octane adventure enthusiast, offering not only a well-designed one hand operation, but also the same high quality blade and handle construction that you have come to expect from Buck.

With a far more modern design style and blade shape, the Marksman is a great gift idea for the young outdoorsman or experienced backpacker alike. The SLS lock system is as well-designed as the rest of it, and will absolutely prevent the blade from flicking out unexpectedly (something that cheaper folding knifes have a real problem with, and is the cause of a significant amount of field injuries). Our favorite feature however is the reversible pocket clip, which allows the user to decide which pocket they would like to keep it in, while also preserving the important ambidextrous use design that is integral to the 830 Marksman.

Pros
  • Ambidextrous use with reversible belt clip
  • Safe & reliable locking system
Cons
  • Latch will require intermittent adjustments
  • Handle ‘scales’ can sometimes catch on pocket material

Best Price on a Buck Knife

Buck 327 Nobleman

BLADE STEEL 420HC
BLADE LENGTH 3-3/4”
CARRY WEIGHT 2.6 oz.

The Nobleman has been awarded our ‘Best Price’ moniker not because it is the most affordable knife on our list, but because it offers the best blend of comfort, performance, and price without sacrificing on build quality or sharpness. The Nobleman is a pocket-sized folding knife that is great for just about any application, and utilizes the same 420HC steel blade as even some of the more expensive Buck-brand knives.

Most retailers offer a choice between three unique color varieties, which is perhaps why this knife in particular has become so popular for everyday carry. The frame-lock is our preferred style of blade lock, and the Nobleman seems to have perfected its design, or at least, they have come very close. Our only complaint is that over time you will need to tighten the pivot screw more and more, otherwise you might notice your blade resting too deeply inside the handle, which can lead to some slight blade denting from the steel pins.

Pros
  • Great frame-lock
  • Available in three different colors
  • Great price for a folding EDC knife
Cons
  • The “Carbon Fiber” option is a color style, not a different construction style
  • The pivot screw will need to be tightened or even replaced over time

Best Survival Buck Knife

Buck 124 Frontiersman

BLADE STEEL 420HC
BLADE LENGTH 11-3/4”
CARRY WEIGHT 13.3 oz.

The Frontiersman is a different class of Buck-brand knife, in fact, significantly higher quality than the more affordable knives that we have reviewed thus far. With a massive 6 ¼” Bowie-style straight back blade and a brilliantly strong full tang construction, this knife is ready to take on some of the most serious survival tasks without breaking a sweat (though we can’t likely say that same for you).

An oft overlooked feature on a survival knife is a finger guard, and the Frontiersman has one of the biggest and strongest in its class. Not only will this provide a high level of protection against accidental injury, but it also provides a nice seal against the leather sheath, keeping the blade clean and sharp even when not in use. A think black handle utilizes Micarta, a proprietary synthetic material that can offer the same comfort and durability of wood or steel with a remarkably light final product. Unfortunately in this particular case, the sheath just isn’t that great of a fit, and the blade-snap is oddly placed.

Pros
  • Large 6 ¼” blade
  • Lightweight Micarta handle
  • Bowie-style shape & finger guard
Cons
  • The included sheath is not a great fit
  • Blade-snap is oddly placed

Best Serrated Blade Buck Knife

Buck 822 Sentry

BLADE STEEL 420HC
BLADE LENGTH 9.5”
CARRY WEIGHT 6.6 oz.

It doesn’t matter whether you are planning a fishing trip in the northern Rockies or a military-style march across the desert, the 822 Sentry is one of our very favorite models of survival knife. The partially serrated blade offers something that the other knives on our list simply do not, which is the ability to easily saw through wood, rope, cording, or anything else that might be standing in your way. The sentry comes with a M.O.L.L.E. (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) compatible sheath, which is perhaps why this knife is a favorite amongst the armed forces and ex-military adventurers.

Because the blade configuration is modeled after much larger Bowie-style hunting knives, the Sentry is also capable of some wilderness cleaning and skinning jobs. It might not be your main hunting knife, but would make an excellent backup or secondary blade. Our only complaint is the handle, which has a scaling pattern with some rough edges that could be a bit more smoothed out.

Pros
  • M.O.L.L.E.-compatible sheath
  • Partially serrated blade
  • Can be used for smaller skinning & cleaning tasks
Cons
  • The scaling on the handle could be more smoothed out for increased comfort.

Best Buck Knife with Guthook

Buck 691 Zipper

BLADE STEEL 420HC
BLADE LENGTH 8-1/2”
CARRY WEIGHT 6.6 oz.

Anyone who is actually serious about field-dressing their freshly killed game is going to want a skinning knife with a guthook, which is a handy little design feature that allows for more efficient cutting. By inserting the hook just beneath the skin of the animal, the user is able to cut the skin with a pulling motion as opposed to a cumbersome and tiring sawing or hacking motion.

But while this is the only knife on our list to feature a guthook, that is certainly not the only thing that we love about the Zipper 691. The blade itself is a massive 8 ½” in length … which is the professional standard for this kind of application. In addition, the heavy-duty polyester sheath is designed to protect the user, but it also happens to be extremely well crafted and clearly designed to last. The slightly lower carbon content of the blade steel means that regular sharpening is a necessity, and hopefully a pleasure.

Pros
  • Only knife on our list with a guthook
  • A more professional-level skinning knife for the serious hunter
  • Well-made Nylon sheath
Cons
  • Requires regular sharpening for best results

Buck Knives Buyers Guide – How to Choose a Buck-Brand Knife [2020 Update]

Let’s be honest: the fact that you have already decided to buy a Buck-brand knife means that you are clearly a consumer of good taste. After all, we’re talking about a company that has been making some of the highest-rated, best-selling knives on the market for over one hundred years. The next step, however, is not so easy!

Choosing the best Buck knife model is all about taking into consideration a few key questions, and then narrowing it down further by both taste and price point. What follows is a careful examination of those questions, followed by a couple of recommendations that our team came up with along the way.

Fixed Blade Knives vs. Folding Knives

The first decision you are going to have to make when shopping for a new knife is which style you are interested in. When you break it down to the most basic components, there are essentially two different kinds of Buck Knife:

Fixed Blade Knives utilize a full-tang construction, meaning that there is one piece of metal that forms both the blade and the handle interior. As the name suggests, the blade cannot therefore fold into itself and become smaller. Rather, this type of knife is designed to be worn in a sheath, either on a belt loop or with a backpack-style gear system like M.O.L.L.E. The primary advantage of a fixed blade knife is that it is far more durable and sturdy than a folding knife. For this reason it is the only option for a good hunting or skinning knife, as folding blades provide neither the size nor sturdiness to perform a full field dressing.

Folding Knives are the clear favorite for Every Day Carry (EDC) because they are compact enough to fit into your pocket without getting in the way of the pocket itself. Some folding knives however are significantly larger than the average pocket knife, especially the ones made by Buck knives. While the convenience an portability of a folding knife speak for themselves, the reduction in both strength and durability mean that they are a poor choice for hunters who are looking to clean an animal or perform a field-dressing in the wild.

Blade Steele

While there is usually a great deal of variation in the types of steel that are used in the construction of knives, Buck is one of those companies that knows that they like, and they tend to run with it. Here is a quick rundown of the types of steel featured in our review:

420J2 Steel Construction

When it comes to Buck-brand knives, the 420J2 is slightly less common, used in under half of the total product line. With a medium-level carbon content and impressive corrosion resistance, this is the type of steel that is used in many precision surgical instruments, not to mention high-quality knives. The 420 J2 also utilizes a slightly more advanced hardening process, which leads to a great all-around blade that doesn’t require a whole lot of maintenance.

420HC Steel Construction

With its comparatively high carbon content, 420HC steel is easy to sharpen, durable over time, and fairly rust and corrosion resistant. For this reason, 420HC is the steel of choice for the majority of Buck Knives, and it is easy to see why. This fairly common steel is easy to harden and inexpensive to acquire, which is perhaps why it is the go-to choice for other knife manufacturers as well.

Blade Design

There are a ton of different options that you can get when it comes to blade design, each with their own specific advantages. Here is a quick rundown of the different blade features that you will see on the different Buck Knife models:

  • Drop Point Blades are slightly thicker at the actual blade point, which gives the user more strength and power for all kinds of jobs, not to mention a more general durability that will prevent the knife tip from simply breaking off.
  • Pen Style Blades are significantly smaller than their counterparts, and is generally what you see in pocket-sized folding knives. Because these blades are so thin and short, they are inappropriate for any heavy duty tasks, but are sharp enough to get you out of a jam or perform basic cutting tasks. The 375 Deuce is the only pen-style blade on our list and is the best option for anyone looking for a knife that they can keep in their jacket pocket.
  • Clip Blades have a narrow tip with an extremely sharp edge, and are designed for effective puncturing. Clip blades are the best option for someone who might need to be punching holes in things like leather or canvas. The thinner tip however makes it far less durable than other styles, so the user has to be sure not to use it to pry anything.
  • Gut Hook Blades feature a back-facing hook that is designed specifically to cut the skin of a game animal. The hook is sharpened on all sides, making it possible to cut the skin with a pulling motion as opposed to sawing or hacking. In fact, it is extremely effective at all sorts of game cleaning tasks. Almost exclusively, gut hooks are found on larger, thicker Bowie-style knives that have the size and heft to hold up against such activities.

Look Out for Imposter Blades!

Whether you choose to do your shopping online or in person, it is important to keep an eye out for impostor or imitation Buck Knives. Because of their reputation, there has been a flood of counterfeit products on the market that are of a significantly reduced quality. The Buck Knives Logo Stamp is a good thing to look for, but if you aren’t sure how to spot a counterfeit, then you might want to head over to their website and read more about the identification process.

Conclusion: The Best Buck Knife in 2020

Out of the 10 different Buck Knives that we featured on our list, the idea of narrowing it down to a single recommendation is somewhat intimidating. After all, these knives are all unique in their own way, and each have certain advantages and disadvantages that are defined by both the user and the task at hand.

Still, we would be remiss to not send you off with a recommendation of some kind. After thinking it over, our team has decided that the Buck 327 Nobleman offers the best blend of affordability, durability, and style. It is inexpensive enough for any budget, but still features all of the high-quality construction features and elements that we have come to expect from such a reputable brand.

And, like any other Buck Knife that you choose to buy, it is 100% covered by Buck’s quality guarantee, meaning that if for some reason your blade does break, you won’t have to jump through hoops to get a replacement sent out to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Do they come with a sheath?
a:

All Buck Knives products come with a sheath, because the manufacturer wouldn’t have it any other way.

When it comes to knife sheaths, there are a number of different styles and materials available that usually vary depending on the price of the knife itself. While leather is a stylish and comfortable option, nylon tends to be more popular because it is lightweight, weatherproof, and more affordable.

q: Which Buck Knife is better: the 110 or the 112?
a:

The principal difference between the 110 and the 112 Buck Knife is the blade material. The 110 features 5160 Alloy while the 112 goes with 420HC. While the difference between these two materials is often debated, many people prefer the reliable ease of sharpening of the 420HC to the longer edge retention of the 5160.

So the real answer to your question? They’re about the same; it all comes down to personal preference.

q: Which Knife is the best for game gutting?
a:

For game gutting and animal processing, there is perhaps no better folding knife than the OMNI HUNTER. It has a built in guthook on the back side of the blade, which makes it perfect for getting in there to get those dirty jobs done. In addition, it is far more ergonomic than some of the other knives, meaning a more comfortable grip for those long and involved cleaning sessions.

q: What’s the difference between full flat grind and hollow grind?
a:

While both types of edge grind work very well, flat grinds are for the most part less fragile and will not chip as much over time. However the concave shape of the hollow grind leads many to believe that it cuts better through a number of different materials.

q: How rust & corrosion resistant are Buck Knives?
a:

While Buck Knives boasts about the rust and corrosion resistance of its entire product library, there are certain factors that lead to slight differences in these properties between different model numbers. The most important factor, of course, is the steel type. Generally speaking, the 420J2 is going to feature a more rust-resistant blade than the 420HC, but with a little bit of common sense maintenance and cleaning, rust isn’t something that you should have to worry about at all.

q: Should I oil my new Buck knife?
a:

While Buck Knives are certainly built to last, the proper care regiment will keep your knife extra sharp, sparklingly clean, and rust-free for years and potentially decades to come. According to the Buck Knives website, both your knife’s pivot point and blade should be oiled about twice a year. We recommend a good coating of 3-in-1 oil, which can be found at any hardware store, but in actuality just about any household lubricating oil will suffice.

q: Is WD-40 bad for knife blades?
a:

This is a question that we get a lot, so we wanted to be sure to address it fully. It seems that there is a ton of misinformation out there about why WD-40 is bad for your knife blade, the idea being that it will accelerate the rusting process as opposed to prevent it. We could find no real evidence for this, and in fact the whole theory seems to have been debunked. While it is true that WD-40 has petroleum in it, there is nothing about its composition that will cause the blade to rust any faster than a different lubricating oil.

HOWEVER, this doesn’t mean WD-40 is the best option for keeping your knife clean and lubricated. WD-40 was not designed to lubricate or protect; it was actually designed to displace water from mechanical components. For this reason, it is not nearly as effective for use with knife blades than more specialized oils, like Breakfree CLP or EEZOX.

q: What is the longest Buck knife that is legal to carry?
a:

Generally speaking, the longest legal blades are between 5 and 7 inches, but this can vary greatly from state to state and sometimes even from county to county. For a comprehensive and up-to-date look at the different knife laws in America, you can hop over to the American Knife & Tool Institute and have a look at their state-by-state comparison page.

Best Buck Knife: Choosing the Right Knife for Your Activities
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