Buck Bantam Review


April 5, 2012, 11:39 PM
First, The inexpensive valuable knife list (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=651224) thread greatly inspired this review.

The Buck Bantam model in this review is the BBW, the second smallest in the line, with a 2&3/4 inch blade. This and the even smaller Bantam Nano do not have pocket clips, while the two larger Bantam models do. Hence, I can't comment on the clips. The BBW does have a thumb stud for one handed opening like its bigger brothers though. These knives were originally made in Asia, but Buck actually moved production back to Idaho a few years ago.

These are readily available for $15 online, so I was pleasntly surprised to find them for $13 at the local Academy Sports. The knife came shaving sharp out of the box. There's a tiny bit of side to side play of the blade within the handle, but lockup is solid. One hand opening is smooth and secure. The blade steel is Buck's Paul Bos heat treated 420HC. Edge holding has been very good as I'd expect from such a blade. The handle is a fairly nice grade of high strength plastic with texturing and contours that provide a secure three fingered grip. Overall it's a solid, true pocket sized, knife.

So, how has Buck managed to make a quality, contemporary design, pocketknife in the US at the same price point as many imported knives that are truly junk? There are a couple of compromises. The handles have no liners, so it's not as rigid as a knife having such liners. The blade grind (not the sharpened edge) markings are not polished out, leaving the grind contour a little bit in the rough. This doesn't affect function, but it does save money because you can't automate polishing, and manual labor is expensive compared to machine time. The knife is put together with rivets rather than more expensive screws. Of course, Buck has been making their model 110 with riveted construction since 1962, so I think they have the process pretty well figured out. Spyderco also rivets together their much more expensive (approx $65) Delica and Endura.

Speaking of the 110, that brings us back to the 420HC steel. This is a relatively low cost knife steel, but not low performance by any means. Couple Buck's years of 420HC experience with heat treat overseen by Paul Bos, and it yields 57-59 Rc hardnes without any brittleness. That's really the key here: Buck & Bos have figured out how to make 420HC perform on par with more expensive 440C as heat treated & processed by most other well known manufacturers.

At $15 or less street price though the Bantam's compromises are easy to forgive. This is a very good value for an everyday use knife. It's not going to take the absolute abuse I dished out on a Benchmade Griptillian over two deployments, several field exercises, and years of hard use after. But I don't intend to use this Bantam that way either. With minimal care I expect this little knife to ride in the pocket of my dress pants in the civillian business world, and handle all my day to day cutting tasks for years.

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April 6, 2012, 01:03 AM
Good review.

Thanks for posting that.

I really like that we're able to produce blades of superior quality and build knives with them that can hit bargain market prices.

Sure enough, there will be compromises, but I'll take cosmetic compromise any day if it means that the function and fitness are there.

Thanks to their investment in the Lean Enterprise process methodology, they can bring out quality pieces at everyman prices.

April 6, 2012, 06:05 PM
I feel its a compromise between a gentleman's folder and a smaller tactical plus it carries nicely in my pocket.
Good review btw.

April 7, 2012, 09:42 AM
I use one of these as a letter opener.I got it as part of a walmart 2 pak X-mas special.It cost $20bux.

April 7, 2012, 01:28 PM
Check your PMs for that reply you requested.


April 8, 2012, 11:44 PM
Thanks it is time to get one!

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