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Bladeology: The Famous Buck Model 110 Folding Hunter
June 2016
Dan Martinez

What can I say about the famous Buck 110 Folding Hunter that hasn’t already been said in the 52 years that it has been around?

Well I can say that I never owned one until recently. But my history with them goes back to my high school years in the 1970’s. They became somewhat of a fad among many of my high school chums. It’s a little amazing now to think that a suburban high schooler in southern California could show up at school wearing a Buck knife on his belt, no problem. No high schooler could do that today. Not even a teacher!

Even though I thought these dudes were pretty cool wearing that big hunk of metal on their belts on a daily basis, somehow I never joined the cool crowd myself.

But thinking back now, I realize what a powerful impression those guys daily strapping on their Buck knives has left on me. Sometime after high school, I started wearing a knife in a leather belt sheath as part of my daily attire. But it wasn’t a Buck knife. The sheath was much smaller and the knife was a Victorinox Swiss Army knife. But it was those Buck knives on my high school friends’ belts that first “normalized” for me the concept of the everyday wear of a folding knife in a sheath on my belt.

To say that I had never owned a Buck 110 until recently is accurate. But I’ve owned a very similar Buck knife since 1992. It is the Buck model 426 Bucklite. The 426 uses the exact same blade as the Buck 110. The difference is that the handle is one-piece plastic, and of course, it is much lighter. The Buck 110 is made out of two hunks of solid machined brass with wood inserts on each side.

I finally decided that I needed to own one of the original classics myself. I remembered hearing that 2014 was the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Buck 110. It turns out that 1964 was a very special year. I’ve already talked about the 50th anniversary of the Remington M600, introduced in 1964. That was also the year that the Ruger 10/22 was introduced. Don’t forget about the Ford Mustang! -- and the Buck 110 Folding Hunter.

In 2014, every Buck 110 made was a special 50th anniversary edition. The blade had a special tang stamp with “50” inside the Buck anvil, and a little brass plaque was inlaid in the wood that says, “1964 50 Years”. I had to have one.

In early April of 2016, I happened to buy the last one on hand at my local Walmart. Can you believe the luck?

At Walmart, the Buck 110s cost about $30. There was no premium price for the 50th anniversary model. Just about everywhere else, the Buck 110s cost about $50, but they come with a leather sheath. At Walmart, they come with a ballistic nylon sheath.

To tell the truth, I really like that nylon sheath. The knife fits snugly inside, and on your belt, the knife is pulled tight into your side. The knife fits a bit loosely in the leather sheath, and the leather sheath sticks out farther from your side when it is on your belt. But if you want to look like one of my cool high school buddies, the leather sheath is the thing!

Three Bucks. From the top: 1970’s vintage Buck 110.
Middle: 2014 50th Anniversary Edition.
Bottom: 1992 Buck model 426 Bucklite.

After picking up the 2014 50th anniversary edition Buck, I figured that I needed one from back in the day. I scoured eBay until I found one that I liked. If you Google “How old is my Buck knife?”, you will find Buck’s date code chart. Buck knives made from 1974 to 1980 will show a single dot on each side of the model number stamped on the base of the blade, like this: · 110 ·

When it arrived, it looked like a 40 year old knife. The brass was tarnished and dinged, the blade had numerous scratches and the edge was dull. Worse, it looked like the knife had been dropped on end at one time. The brass was bowed out in the center. The backbone of the knife also had a bunch of dings and dents in it. The blade pivot pin was recessed into the brass bolster on one side.

I was able to do quite a lot to get it looking good again. I put it into my 6-ton hydraulic bench press to take the bow out of the frame. A fine file on the spine greatly reduced those nasty dings. 400-grit wet-sanding on the blade took out a lot of the scratches. Flitz metal polish on the brass really spiffed it up.

But in the end, there was nothing I could do about that recessed pivot pin. But I also discovered a fatal flaw: Medium pressure on the back of the blade could defeat the blade locking mechanism.

Buck is famous for another thing, their “Forever Warranty”. That’s right, you can send in your old beater, if there’s anything that goes wrong with it, forever, and they will fix it for free. I figured that the failing blade lock was a perfect opportunity to test their warranty.

So I sent it in, with a note about the recessed pivot pin, mentioning the failing blade lock, and I asked them to shine it up and sharpen it. I specifically asked them to keep the same blade. I wanted the knife to still be a 1970’s Buck knife when I got it back.

So about 3 or 4 weeks later it came back to me. The pivot pin was fixed, it shined like it was new, and it had a factory fresh sharpening. However, when I pushed on the back of the blade, the lock still gave way. That was a great disappointment.

So should I send it back again? No, I think that I will live with it. I know it has the problem, so I won’t test it in that manner. Anyways, it is more of a collectible for me, than a user.

If you compare the new production 110 to the 1970’s Buck, you may notice that they are now rounding the bolsters much more than they were in the 70’s. The bolster edges of the 1970’s Buck are more squared than current production knives.

Once the other knife makers saw what great success Buck was having with the model 110, many made their own copies. Most of the others missed the mark. There is a certain elegance, a perfection of form and line, that the Buck 110 has that the others couldn’t quite get right.

Because the Buck 110 has been such a great market success, Buck has been able to invest in streamlining production to such an extent that they can still be profitably made here in the USA, at working-man prices. The Buck 110 is undeniably, an American legend.

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