History of the Buck Knife

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The Buck Knife, a term mostly used to refer to folding locked-blade knives, is also the namesake of one of the most successful knife manufacturers in the country. Read on to learn more about the history of Buck Knives.

Origin of the Buck Knife

In 1902, Hoyt Buck, a 13-year-old blacksmith apprentice in Kansas, was experimenting with ways to temper steel so it would keep an edge for longer. His intent was to use the technique to heat treat the steel in garden hoes, but he would later use this same method to craft his knives.

However, the Buck knife, as it was soon be known, didn't show up in the market for years after Buck's discovery. Buck moved to the Northwest, where he eventually enlisted in the Navy. When Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, Buck was no longer an enlisted man, but began hand making knives using worn field blades.

When Buck heard there was a scarcity of knives available for troops, he purchased an anvil, forge and grinder and set up a blacksmith shop in a church basement, where he began producing hand-made knives for the military.

Move to San Diego

After the war ended, Hoyt Buck moved to San Diego with his son Al. The two set up a shop called H.H. Buck & Son behind their home in 1947. The father and son duo continued to make high-quality hand made knives and their business soon thrived. In fact, Hoyt Buck made approximately 25 knives by hand each week until his death in 1949.

Incorporation and the Model 110 Folding Hunter

Alfred Buck took over where his father left off. In the early 50s, he expanded advertising of Buck knives to mail order catalogs. In 1961, Buck was incorporated and in 1964, the company introduced the Model 110 Folding Hunter knife, which was a huge seller and became one of the most popular knives ever made.

The 110 had a 3 ¾ inch blade. The handles were typically made of wood and the bolsters constructed of brass. Its staple features were its high-tension lock and low-pressure release. The 110 was so successful that it turned 'Buck' into a broad term for all folding locked-blade knives.

Other popular knives

Buck introduced the Buckmaster, a survival knife with a hollow storage handle and a 7.5 inch blade with a serrated spine, in 1984. The knife, which had prongs that allowed it to double as a grappling hook, was sold to the military and outdoor enthusiasts.

In 1992, Buck debuted the Nighthawk, which was a fixed-blade knife that was 6.5 inches tall and had a black handle made of Zytel for an ergonomic grip. This knife was submitted to the U.S. Navy for evaluation for use by Navy Seals.

Buck Today

Buck relocated to Post Falls, Idaho in 2005 and remains there today. It has annual revenues of approximately $80 million and retains approximately 200 employees. The current CEO is C.J. Buck, the great-grandson of founder Hoyt Buck.

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