Some tools are good-looking. Others feel great in your hand. It’s hard get both in the same package, but Buck Knives seem to do it every time – and their Folding Alpha Hunteris no exception.
Buck Knives have a long history, going back to Kansas in 1902, when 13-year old blacksmith apprentice Hoyt Buck began experimenting on old fire blades, discovered a new way to heat-treat steel for greater strength, and started a side-business selling custom knives to local outdoorsmen.
Fast-forward to 1945. With World War 2 still raging, the US government sent out an appeal for citizens to donate fixed-blade knives to the troops fighting overseas. Buck was no longer a blacksmith, but he was a patriot, and he remembered his heat treatment. He set up a small shop to turn out knives for the troops, and eventually went into business with his son. Buck Knives was born.
In 1964, his son Al created the iconic 110 Folding Hunter knife, the first folder to have the strength of a fixed blade. With its heavy brass bolsters and sturdy locking mechanism, it’s still one of the best knives you can buy for the money. Today’s Folding Alpha Hunter, made in Post Falls, ID, is its modern incarnation.
It’s all of the Buck 110’s toughness updated with modern features including a thumb-stud for fluid, one-hand opening and a liner lock for one-handed closing. It’s built like a tank with a full steel frame, yet the blade opens so smoothly on its brass washers that you can (with a little practice) flick the knife open with a quick wrist motion alone. It opens with a heavy, somewhat addictive ‘snap’.
The knife pictured has been used since 2004. It has cut rope, sharpened stakes, opened packages, carved wood, cut drywall, and was even left out overnight once (sorry, Buck). It remains as solid as a rock, with a resharpening time of just 30 seconds thanks to Buck’s inexpensive but very practical 420HC stainless steel, treated with the same process that Buck Hoyt invented more than a hundred years ago.
If you’re a knife collector, you may prefer the rosewood-handled version, but the basic model stands tall in its own right: a 3 ½ inch drop-point blade, a thick, solid frame, non-oxidizing santoprene handles that don’t slip in your hand when it’s wet, and Buck’s lifetime warranty underpinning the whole package.
A note on size: at eight ounces and five inches closed, this knife is too large to carry in office pants. If you work indoors and you need a smaller knife for everyday carry, be sure to check out Buck’s new Mini Spitfire as an alternative.