Hunting, Fishing, & Bushcraft

Question Of The Day: Would A 21st-Century Buck 110 Still Have A Clip Point?

Image: Chris Dumm for TTAK

Reader PubliusII had a great observation about the classic Buck 110 we reviewed recently:

I wonder if Buck were designing and introducing a 110 Hunter today if it would have such an extreme clip blade?

My hunch — please correct if I’m wrong — is that the blade’s design reflected the popularity of clip-point hunting knives in the first half of the 20th century. Such as the Marbles Ideal and countless others that echoed it, including the Ka-Bar (and siblings), all certainly familiar to guys who had recently carried them in WW2 and Korea.

But today’s hunting knives have a strong trend toward drop-point blades. If Buck were starting from scratch today, would the 110 Hunter be a drop point?

This is a great question, and it tracks the history of blade styles in American culture. Let’s take a closer look at the Buck catalog to see where they’ve been and where they’re going.

This is the also-classic Buck 119 Special hunting knife, which hit the stores in 1961. The 110 wouldn’t be designed for a few more years, but the 119’s clip-point blade was already the king of the hill. The similarly-shaped (but stronger) USMC Ka-Bar had been carried through WWII and Korea, and the clip-point USAF Survival Knife had been in service for several years with our aviators.

Clip-point fever wasn’t just for military men: Disney’s original Davey Crockett miniseries had just been rebroadcast in color on NBC for those few families with color TV sets, and boys were still buying and wearing coonskin caps. Remember that Crockett famously died defending the Alamo with Jim Bowie (yes, that Bowie) and you may start to see the big picture here.

The clip point is great for piercing and detail work, but that tip is exposed and delicate and it doesn’t really feel like an extension of your finger. Hunting knives changed forever with the introduction of Bob Loveless’ Drop Point Hunter in the late 1960s, however, and the clip point fell off the throne of American knife designs.

Thirty years later, Buck followed suit with their own Vanguard, which offers better handling and a stronger blade. If you check the Buck website today you’ll notice that almost every knife in their ‘Hunting’ category, except the folding 110/112 and the 119/Woodsman, has a drop-point blade instead of a clip-point blade.

I think PubliusII was right, don’t you?

Discussion

9 responses to ‘Question Of The Day: Would A 21st-Century Buck 110 Still Have A Clip Point?

  1. A better comparison would be with Buck’s 500 series knives, which were designed in the 1980’s, as I recall. Those, while the same size and basic shape as the 110, came with drop points, steel frames, and stabilized wood scales instead of macassar ebony. They were also rounded/deburred all around to cause less wear to a pocket or sheath. They were an improvement in every way over the 110: the drop point was better for hunting, the stainless steel frames were easier to maintain than the brass of the 110, and the stabilized wood scales were more water/blood resistant than the ebony of the 110, making for a more hygienic knife.

  2. I don’t know. If Buck was designing for today, the drop point
    style would definitely be a consideration. But then again a
    good design will make itself popular. The blade design field
    is a lot larger today than when the 110 was first made. Even
    with the increase in competition the 110 with its clip point is
    still going strong.

  3. To chime in on my own question —

    The blade length on the 500 Duke compares closer to the 112 Ranger than to the 110 Hunter.

    • 110 Hunter: 3.75 inches
    • 500 Duke: 3.0 inches
    • 112 Ranger: 2.875 inches

    If you’re setting out to make a folding, locking knife that compares in size, strength, and utility to a fixed hunting knife, I think you’d want a blade no smaller than 3.5 inches and probably longer. I’m not a hunter, but I see a lot of 4-inch fixed blade hunting knives advertised, and that seems to meet what the hunter market expects today.

    My take? The 500 (and 501, 503, 505 series) were intended as stylish items — a sort of “gentleman’s” lockable folder for the pocket that could also be presented as an elegant gift. By comparison, the 110 and 112 have a rugged, “red plaid,” pickup-truck utility that pitches them mainly toward the hunting/fishing community, which was Buck’s original market for them after all.

    All that said, I sure wish Buck would put out a 110-size drop point folder (with no plastic anywhere in it!), which is highly unlikely given the iconic status of the classic 110. Or offer a drop-point blade as a feature for either a 110 or 112 ordered as a custom model.

    I have seen in other forums where 110 and 112 size knives have been rebladed as drop points by people skilled enough to take the 110 or 112 apart. They look beautiful.

    • I own a n original Buck Model 500 Duke that I have owned since e 1970s. I beleive they started selling them in 1974. All my friends had the 110 Hunter but I have always felt more comfortable with a drop point. I was a hunter and have a 1969 Puma Skinner with a unique clip point in that it is sharp on the top and bottom of the blade. You could pull the blade upwards to gut a deer and use the bottom of the clip for skinning. Every shape has a purpose, take a look at Puma’s catalogue, the Skinner, the White Hunter, etc. My favorite little pocket knife of all time (which I lost) was an ivory scaled (or ivory colored) Buck 505 Knight. It was a gift so I didn’t know if it was real ivory but it was a beautiful and sharp pocket knife and I would pay a small fortune to replace it. I now carry a Kershaw Ken Onion basically switchblade knife. It is razor sharp and has a modified drop point but the blade is extremely thin at the tip and it already broke off once. There guarantee charges $10 to replace the blade because that is caused by misuse not a defect even though I never used it for anything it wasn’t intended for. Its not like I was opening paint cans with it. Incidentally, I was watching NCIS one night and they showed a close-up of Gibbs cutting something and you could clearly read Kershaw and it was identical to my knife. I wonder if the prop guys gave it to him or he picked it out himself?

  4. Buck has an Eagle Scout Model 500. I don’t see why they couldn’t make a drop-point 110. I wonder if anyone has asked them about it. On the other hand, I suspect they sell enough 110s as it is.

  5. Buck already makes a slew of more modern fixed and folding drop point hunting knives. However, the 110 is a classic that won’t be going anywhere for a while. I think they still sell like crazy.

    I still have an old Buck General (I think it was model 120). I bought it way back when they still came with the heavy flap holster sheath. When I was young and thought more was always better, I wore it on every camping trip. It’s too big, heavy and dated to be of practical use now but I’ll never give it up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *