The Buck ‘Thug’ fixed blade survival knife was designed by Ron Hood. It features a 7” drop point blade made from 5160 high carbon steel (Rockwell Hardness unknown) coated with a matte black finish to prevent corrosion. The blade also features a deep, hollow ground, bevel combined with a thick spine making it very sharp but still impervious to shock generated by light chopping tasks.
In addition, the handle is built from linen Micarta and it incorporates Buck’s proprietary Shock Mitigation System (SMS) to alleviate shock and wasted energy when chopping. Plus, it has a large finger choil and a grooved section along the back of the spine to provide the user with more leverage and greater control when carving or performing other detailed carving activities.
Plus, it also features an exposed lanyard loop at the back of the handle. Lastly, the Buck “Thug” is supplied with a heavy duty M.O.L.L.E. compatible nylon sheath.
Although I am not personally a big fan of Buck knives, I have to admit that the Buck “Thug” is a well designed knife for the stated purpose of outdoor survival.
At 7″, the drop point blade is long enough to perform well as a general purpose knife. The hollow ground bevel on the blade enables the user to sharpen the blade to a very sharp edge. The matte black finish helps to impede corrosion.
In addition, the 7″ length is long enough to serve effectively as a light chopping tool but is not so long as to preclude the user from also employing it effectively as a skinning knife.
In addition, I personally do not care for the large finger choil ground into the back of the blade because it places the starting point of the edge farther from the user’s hand which in turn, reduces leverage when carving with the knife.
Also, the use of 5160 alloy steel has both good and bad aspects. For instance, alloy steels exhibit higher strength, hardness and wear resistance than carbon steels. Thus, they are used in a wide range of industries. Therefore, 5160 alloy steel creates a knife with excellent edge retention that is also very tough so that it will resist chipping and breaking under hard use.
However, since alloy steels contain less than 4% chromium, they are not stainless steels (requires greater than 12.5% to qualify as a stainless steel.) Therefore, they do require extra care to prevent corrosion unless they are coated with a non-corrosive finish.
In addition, the shape of the handle does demonstrate considerable forethought concerning the ergonomics of the knife.
Although Buck does not list either the overall length of the knife or the length of the handle on their web site, the handle is designed such that the handle slabs can be easily removed so that the knife can be lashed to a stave to form a makeshift spear in the event that you find yourself threatened by predatory animals.
In addition, I do like the textured, black, linen Micarta handle slabs since Micarta is an extremely tough material that will not chip, split or crack under extreme duress. And not only is it impervious to changes in temperature, it is also waterproof and thus, it will not absorb moisture the way non-stabilized wood slabs will.
However, I am of two minds concerning the fact that the handle slabs are removable just like many of the more modern smaller knives. On one hand, removable slabs do allow the knife to be lashed to a stave for use as spear but, not having the handle slabs permanently affixed to the tang means that they can come loose on their own or be lost if purposely removed from the tang.
Last, I really like the design of the M.O.L.L.E. compatible nylon sheath since nylon is also an extremely tough material that is both waterproof and impervious to moisture absorption. And designing it such that it is M.O.L.L.E. compatible provides numerous different options for attaching the knife to your gear.
Consequently, I am very pleased with the overall design and construction of the Buck Hood/Thug (if not the price) and I would certainly feel like I was well equipped if I were carrying it in the field. But, with a retail price tag of $200.00, I feel like this knife is overpriced compared to some others on the market. However, in all probability, this is due to the use of the unconventional 5160 alloy steel. But, if I were willing to spend that much on a hard use survival knife, there are other brands and models of survival knives that I would choose over the Buck Hood/Thug.