followup: bucklite MAX

Bucklite MAX small hunting knifeI finally had a chance to put the BuckLite MAX small hunting knife through its paces and I have to say it lived up to my expectations for a Buck product.

I used the BuckLite as I would any other knife in the outdoors. My tests are geared more to usability than some of the torture tests you often read about. I don’t hammer it into trees and then stand on the handle. I don’t try to see how far I can bend the blade. There are plenty of sites that can give you this type of information if that is important to you. My goal is the see how a knife handles under everyday situations.

That said, I used the BuckLite to bone a couple of chickens and a turkey before leaving on a camping trip. As expected, it did a really good job on both, although the blade is a tad short to be really quick with the larger turkey.

When we set up camp for the night I made a hat full of curlicues for tinder as well as some fuzz sticks. It handled both chores well and still took the hair off my arm afterwards. The next time you see me left arm will probably have a five o’clock shadow.

I set up my small Emberlit wood burning stove and used the knife to baton some pieces of seasoned ash and oak. The pieces were about two inches in diameter and needed to be split in order to fit the feed hole in the stove. Again — no problems. A light tap to the spine of the blade and the wood parted. After two splits on about a dozen sticks the knife was still sharp enough to remove hair – though with a little pressure on the blade.

While the water was boiling on the Emberlit I used the blade to reduce a four inch diameter piece of oak to shavings. I used a variety of grips to see how the knife handled for everyday tasks. The thumb divots made a push cut really easy to control. The hollow grind made shaving cuts easy and when I finished this test it only took a few passes on the strop to get it back into shape.

Conclusion: This knife is a keeper — with a couple of caveats.

First: I have small hands, but the handle is a little short even for me. It wasn’t noticeable until I put it through the task of reducing the large piece of oak. The grip is comfortable and didn’t produce in hot spots or blisters, but for prolonged usage it seems to be just a bit too short for long term comfort. It would make an excellent first knife for a youngster.

Second: I’ve read reports about how great the sheath is. I’ll give it a plus for being well made and for having a plastic insert to keep the blade from cutting the sheath (a real worry considering how this knife holds an edge). I really don’t like the cheesy safety strap, though. It constantly interfered with getting the knife back into the sheath. I even put a couple of small slices into the strap in the process. I cured this by turning it over to¬†Andrew at Armadillo Sheaths. He’s making me a nice Kydex sheath to replace the original so that I can wear it as a neck knife.

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