first impression: bucklite MAX small hunting knife

Bucklite MAX small hunting knife
This is my first impression of the Bucklite MAX small hunting knife. It is a reasonably priced piece of steel that shows the hallmarks of Buck quality. I paid $18.97 at Academy and felt it was a small price to pay to take this unit for a test ride.
Most outdoors folk have owned a Buck at one time or another, from the ubiquitous folder to one of their many fine fixed blade knives. I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t pleased with their knives and they’ve been a benchmark for quality for many years.
So, for my tech oriented friends, here are the tech specs as supplied by Buck.
BU673BKS: Bucklite MAX™ Small
Buck Knives
Compact, lightweight and durable. This hunting knife was designed with full tang construction and Alcryn® MPR rubber handles for superior performance in demanding end-use environments. The additional large integrated finger grooves and grip areas provide safety of use.

Specifications
  • Blade: 3 1/4″ (8.3 cm) drop point, 420HC
  • Length: 7 3/8″ (18.7 cm)
  • Weight: 2.8 oz. (79.4 g)
  • Handle: Black Alcryn® rubber with texture
  • Sheath: Heavy-duty nylon
  • Made in USA

First impression

Let’s address the issue of the 420HC stainless steel. It’s been my experience that, if properly heat treated, this is a serviceable steel for knife blades. It is fairly corrosion resistant and is more easily sharpened than the more expensive 440C. The following is a quote from the North American Knives website concerning the steel.

420HC knife steel: 420HC steel is a higher carbon version of the 420 steel. 420HC steel has .4 to .5% carbon and about 13% chromium. This is a lesser quality steel but when it is properly treated like Buck Knives does it produces a good general purpose knife steel with good corrosion resistance and edge holding ability.

I’ve always been a fan of drop point blades, so this one was a natural for me. I find them comfortable to use in most situations. This is a billed as a “hunting” knife, but it should be more than adequate for most camp and utility tasks. Some of my bushcraft buddies will be rolling on the floor giggling ’til they pee their pants over this knife, but there is no perfect knife that handles everything equally well.

My impression is that this would be good for small to medium game – rabbits to deer. I wouldn’t want to take on an elk or moose with just this blade alone. It should be great for most camp kitchen chores. The blade is thin enough for most chopping and slicing needs. For those who use their knives to process firewood, fuggeddaboutit. The 3 1/4 inch blade will be too short to handle more than batoning twigs for kindling. The full tang makes it sturdy enough, but blade length is the contributing factor.

I have relatively small hands, so the handle is not too bad for me. Gloves would make it more of a challenge. The rubber coating is comfortable and the thumb depressions on the handle make it comfortable for doing back cuts for things like trap triggers.

The weakest link in the package is the sheath. While it is well made in heavy duty nylon with a plastic insert to protect the sheath from cutting, the blade retention strap is flimsy. The strap gets in the way of replacing the blade in the sheath and is very prone to cutting. That makes one-handed sheathing problematic. You could fix this by attaching a small piece of elastic to the outside, but a pouch type sheath would have been better.

The blade was shaving sharp right out of the package, but close inspection of the edge showed distinct grind marks. A little work with a leather strop and jeweler’s rouge soon made it sharp enough that it would scare the hair off my arm. It’ll take some heavy field use to tell you how well the blade holds an edge. I’m leaving for a state park Christmas camp on Friday, so I should be able to let you know how that goes.

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