Recently, I penned a short piece on the importance and value of a good knife or two consistently carried on the belt or in the pocket. While hardly groundbreaking wisdom, wise words reiterated for the modern reader are never wasted.
A shortfall in the article was brought to my attention in recent days; I had failed to offer an actual example or two that mesh with my ideas of worthwhile edged tools. Please allow me the opportunity to redeem myself, and I shall endeavor to offer a detailed description of a couple knives, the company they come from, and what that company appears to stand for.
If you read my last article on cutting tools, you’ll remember my preferences are geared toward avoiding folding knives if practical. There are times when even a small belt knife can draw unwanted attention, so having one or two reliable folders sitting in a safe place is a great way to be prepared. You’ll also remember my lack of interest in spending the money required to get one of those super high-end “tactical” folders. There are some amazing, tough folders out there that look great and can take a beating. With most of us having the internet at our fingertips, easy and factual research has helped weed out the show boating companies that can’t stand the test of time. If those types of knives interest you and you enjoy them, choose wisely and odds are you won’t be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something simple and American, I have a solution that has served me well.
Right around ten years ago I was given a first-generation Bucklite, one of the Buck Knives designed and marketed for the average Joe. I have and greatly enjoy the famous Buck 110, which is purported to be the most copied knife in the world, but the brass and wood configuration can cause one to pause and rethink some of the coarser tasks required of a pocket knife. The polymer-handled Bucklite was the perfect solution.
Once the solid lock-back is engaged, there is no play even after a decade of use, including multiple Afghanistan deployments. To be fair, a good-sized fixed blade saw the most use during that time, but the Bucklite, carried for sentimental reasons as much as anything, did cut plenty of cordage and open an MRE or two. The blade has a little less to it than when new, but I sharpen out of boredom as much as necessity. The knife has perfectly fulfilled its intended purpose, and it may have even held up well to some light abuse (Mumbley Peg may be an old game, but it hasn’t gone completely by the wayside).
I don’t like to review things I don’t feel I’ve fully put through its paces yet, so I’ll give first impressions of my newest Buck knife. The other night I arrived home to a package from home. Waiting inside were a couple of Bucklite Max belt knives. The package was addressed to both my brother and me, so I begrudgingly passed one along to my sibling. The surprise arrival was a ‘just because’ present from my father, who coincidently was the source of the Bucklite folder!
The Bucklite Max belt knife seems to meet all of the expectations established by its folding counterpart. It has a blade just under three inches, a little jimping on the spine, and a grippy rubber handle. The sheath is a plastic lined cordura material, and in my eyes the largest shortfall of the package. I dislike small to mid-length belt knives riding low on my leg, and immediately rigged up some paracord to allow for a higher carry. Maintained on my belt throughout the day in this manner, it never once required special attention or movement.
I have never received a factory knife I didn’t sharpen to my own standards right away. For knives of this size and smaller, I use a system that offers three grades of stone and a clamp for the back of the blade to guide your strokes in an accurate angle. After a quick once over with all three stones and a strop or two on an old leather belt, this knife took a literal razor’s edge. I have sharpened a few knives this week, all with the same technique, and this one is absolutely the sharpest. While 420 stainless is not suited to every task, this knife has earned a spot in my lineup, and will be on my belt both in work and normal clothing for the foreseeable future.
I promised to mention the company, so here goes. Your best resource is really to just look at the message to all Buck owners posted on Buck’s website, so I’ll try not to steal their thunder. From what they publish, they appear to be dedicated to ensuring the Lord retains His rightful position as the priority in their lives and business. I admire a company willing to use their prominence to spread the Good News.
That Bucklite folder, as well as the Max, is made in the USA. Buck does produce some knives at a plant in China, and after my initial knee-jerk reaction I settled into the realization that they’re making an effort but are also running a business. While I have the luxury of spending a little extra on American Made, not everyone does. Both these knives can be had for well under fifty dollars apiece, and with their Lifetime Warranties that seems to be money well spent.
If you have an appreciation of craftsmanship in a cutting tool, finding a custom knife maker who can turn five hundred bucks into a reliable work of art once or twice in your life may be your thing. If you have an appreciation for cost effectiveness, performance, and the American Dream, you may be able to turn a Buck or two into a good time.
Think about it, and if this isn’t an important enough issue to pray about, pray about something that is.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my father and mother for their dedication to the God of the Bible, family, and country. I would not be the husband or father I am today without their influence and guidance. My father instilled in me a passion for the real American way of life, and my mother did the best she could to instill some dang manners. They have blessed me with honesty, encouragement, and their Spiritual Legacy. Thank you, and I love you both.