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We have mixed feelings about the custom knife builder over on the Buck knives site. On one hand, you can design a pocket blade from several patterns and fit it with a ton of ready-made options and have it shipped right to you. On the other hand, you’re paying more than full retail for a product on the expensive side of whimsy in the first place.

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Where blades like Case are often more stylish and fancy of handle, Buck tends to take the shortest distance between two points as far as luxury and looks — their philosophy tends to lean toward function over form. We’ve always liked that. In fact, for roughly two decades, my favorite “carry knife” was a Buck grey mini. The Lux Pro is a few steps up from the mini but serves about the same purpose — a lightweight, lockback blade that doesn’t scream “problem child” if it comes out of your pocket in polite company.

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Check out the interesting lock mechanism on this Buck knife: A spring-loaded tab fits into a slot on the black rotary piece, making it dead simple to open and close. (Buck calls it the SafeSpin deployment.) Plus, I love the utility knife vibe. It’s almost as though it’s a utility knife for people who use it more on boxes and other stuff than on carpet or shingles.

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One of the best ideas I’ve seen in a while is the custom knife designer on the Buck website.  If you just have to have one of Buck’s Hunters a certain way, for yourself or as a gift to someone else, you can now design it online and have it shipped right to you.

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I can honestly say I’ve never skinned anything in my entire life, but I love what Buck has done to their skinning blade.  I grew up with an old-school black-handled, silver-trimmed model, and the Gen-3 was a step in the right direction — but the Gen-5 looks gorgeous.

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The rubber-handled serrated blades found on many work knives in Buck’s new outdoor line are a step away from their classic style. Some look rather strange and lack a certain old-timey vibe — but in defense of the new knives, like the Redpoint pictured, at least Buck’s designers are treading on new ground.

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Most Toolmongers know that I’m a total multi-tool hater.  Most of ’em are designed primarily as a combination tool (that just happens to have a knife blade), and while that’s handy, I want a real knife.  That’s what the X-Tract claims to deliver: a multi-tool that’s primarily a knife, but offers some other functionality, too.

It’s really intended as an “outdoors and sports” knife, but we decided to see if the X-Tract could serve a more traditional working-shop role.  The results were surprising.  Read on past the jump for lots of photos and hands-on goodness.

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Like the concept of the Santa Fe Stoneworks’ knife we posted earlier today, but don’t want to sheel out $120?  Try this screen-printed almost-a-Mini-Buck for around $21.

Note: In competition with our friends at The Hardware Aisle, we’re posting lots of patriotic tools today and tomorrow.  Look for a post on Wednesday (the 4th) where you can vote for your favorite.  And don’t forget to submit your favorite patriotic tools!  If your suggestion is the reader favorite, we’ll send you a tool from the test pile — something nice. 

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post-minibuck.jpgNo Toolmonger should be without a pocket knife, but in this post-9/11 world you’ll find little understanding at concerts, sporting events, and even major company office entrances for the larger models you’ve probably carried in the past.  Forsake a pocket knife no longer; we have a solution.

When one of our contributors brought a Buck Knives Model 425 “MiniBuck” into our offices a while back, we were immediately taken with its size, shape, material and functionality.  Its hard 420HC steel folding lockback blade holds a point very effectively while its thermoplastic handle offers durability and good grip.  And at just 2-7/8″ and 18 grams, you almost don’t notice that it’s in your pocket.  Within a month, we all picked up MiniBucks as our “everyday” pocket knives, saving our larger knives for evenings, weekends, and for use in the shop.

The MiniBuck isn’t a fancy knife, but then again Buck used to ask just $15 for it.  Sadly, they chose to discontinue it for unknown reasons.  The good news is that we’ve had no trouble finding them online (or on eBay) for $10 or less — it just takes a little poking around.  (Of course now that we let you know, they may not be so easy to find.  Trust us, though, when we say it’s worth the effort.)

The Model 425 “MiniBuck” Pocket Knife [Buck Knives]
Street Pricing [Froogle]


post-buck.jpgThis idea is so obvious that you may not have thought of it.  

The thing to keep in mind is that picking out a pocket knife for Dad is sort of like picking out a wedding ring for your spouse-to-be.  Don’t just go grab anything off the shelf.  There was a special moment of bonding when your father gave you your first knife, and now you’ll re-share that moment with him through your gift.  If you put some thought (and your heart) into it and pick out a knife that fits his needs, interests, and personality, it’ll be a gift he’ll remember, and likely carry in his pocket for decades to come.  If you just buy him whatever you find at the mall, you might as well buy him a tie.

If you don’t already know what kind of knife your father carries, now’s a good time to find out.  Fathers stick to the same pocket knife brand the way truck owners stick to Chevy, Ford, or Dodge.  He’s likely carrying the same brand his father carried, and you’ll want to get him his favorite.  To carry on the tradition while adding your own personal flair to the gift, consider picking out a version of the knife he carries in a different finish.

Our fathers happen to carry knives from Buck, Case, and Schrade.  (Not surprisingly, we do the same.  It’s learned behavior.)  In our pockets today are the Buck model #307 “Wrangler,” a largish three-blade knife of good utility that was recently discontinued, and the model #425 “Minibuck,” a much smaller single-blade that’s a lot easier to explain to the gate security at concerts and sporting events.  Among our fathers’ favorites are Case’s #035 medium “Stockman” in bone, and Schrade’s #340T “Old Timer U.S.A.” in classic brown.

To add a special touch to the gift on the ‘day itself, ask him to show you how to sharpen it — good memories, indeed.

Case Knives [W.R. Case Co.]
Buck Knives [Buck]
Schrade Catalog [Taylor Brands, LLC]