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?