Buck knives are as American as apple pie. The popularity of this brand of hunting and sport knives has survived generations of outdoor fans in and outside the US. Many knife makers around the world have imitated Buck designs. Today, people call any folding lockback knife a buck knife, regardless of brand and style.
From the world-renowned Buck Model 110 Folding Hunter to the more modern Buck Hoodlum, outdoor enthusiasts can now get these specialized blades from the Internet. Real fans may want a glimpse at the history that made this brand a household name.
Five generations of the Buck family have made their knives popular. The founder, Hoyt H. Buck, worked as a blacksmith’s apprentice in Kansas when he was 10. He learned how to make knives, and in 1902, at 13, Hoyt developed a heat-treating method to make steel hold an edge longer. He stopped making knives when he enlisted in the US Navy. After Pearl Harbor, however, Hoyt made new knives by hand with worn-out file blades. He stamped his knives “BUCK” with an individual letter stamp. Collectors call early buck knives “four strikes” because of this method, which the company replaced with a one-piece stamp method in 1961.
When the government requested public donations for fixed blade knives for America’s WWII troops, Hoyt set up a blacksmith shop to make knives for US soldiers. After the war, Hoyt and his son Al formed H.H. Buck & Son in San Diego. Hoyt hand-made 25 knives a week until he died in 1947. The company he founded with his son made more knives and marketed through dealers in the 50s.
After incorporating in 1963, Buck made a new folding utility and hunting knife with a sturdy locking mechanism and a big clip point blade. The world-famous Buck Model 110 Folding Hunter became a standard for hunters who butchered and skinned their game. The 110 started a blade lineup that featured many successful products, including the Buck Hoodlum.
As the only lockback folding knife to feature the strength of a fixed blade, the Buck Folding Hunter became one of the most popular knives ever made. Buck has produced about 15 million of them since 1964. Many knife manufacturers around the world have imitated its design.
More recently, Buck introduced the survival knife, Buckmaster. The hollow handle doubled as a storage. The 7.5 inch blade had a serrated spine and prongs to make the knife a grappling hook as well. The design targeted military and “Rambo” fans. Then there are some fixed blade knives which are equally sharp and effective for many purposes. They are also quite popular.
The strong market presence of Buck knives has made “buck knife” mean any folding lock-blade design. Outdoor aficionados and knife collectors can now easily own many Buck designs. Different online stores provide access to Buck products, as well as to other similar blades. They also give information regarding the popular knives’ history, and the companies that licensed Buck to create special art knives for specific purposes.