Analysis: The Buck “Reaper” Knife

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Buck Knives was started by a young Kansas blacksmith’s apprentice named Hoyt Buck who was looking for a better way to temper steel so it would hold an edge longer and his unique approach produced the first Buck Knife in 1902.

The Buck Reaper Fixed Blade Survival Knife is one of the products of Hoyt’s unique approach.

The Buck Reaper features an overall length of 11” with a 6 /34” drop point blade with Buck’s Advanced Edge2x technology made from 420 high carbon stainless steel which is coated with a matte black “traction coating” to prevent corrosion.

Also, the blade features a deep, hollow sabre ground bevel combined with a thick spine to create a blade that is very sharp but will also withstand the shock generated by light chopping tasks. In addition, the blade has a large finger groove and a grooved section along the back of the spine (known as “jimping”) to provide the user with more leverage and greater control when carving or performing other detailed carving activities.

In addition, the handle features full tang construction and a very ergonomic, hand filling shape with handle slabs made from molded nylon that are available in Buck’s Reaper Black Camo or their Viper Skin finish. The handle also features a single integral quillion. Last, the Buck Reaper comes with a heavy duty nylon sheath.

Since I have written about so many different knives on this web site now, I decided to take another look at the Buck website this evening and I just happen to run across the Buck Reaper and I have to admit that I was immediately impressed by its lines.

For instance, the aggressive drop from the “hump” on the spine to the tip is very graceful and it does an excellent job of complementing the recurved edge and the positive forward angle. Also, the deep, hollow sabre grind is gracefully done and the plunge line to the finger groove is very elegant. In addition, the tip of the spine is sharpened to provide the knife with and extra sharp point for piercing and the deep finger groove ground into the edge along with the raised hump and the “jimping” on the spine enable the user to “choke up” on the blade for greater leverage and greater control.

Plus, the blade is made from 420 high carbon stainless steel which consists of 0.40%-0.50% carbon, 12.0%-14.0% chromium, 0.80% manganese, 0.60% molybdenum, and 0.18% vanadium. Therefore, 420 HC is excellent steel for dedicated wilderness survival knives because…

  • it has just enough carbon to convert the iron into steel so it is hard without being brittle,
  • it contains enough chromium to make it highly corrosion resistant,
  • it contains manganese which increases toughness and hardenability in steel,
  • it contains Molybdenum which increase hardness in tool steels and forms hard, double carbide, bonds with the Chromium which helps improve the abrasion and corrosion resistance of the steel; and last,
  • it contains Vanadium which helps to produce a fine grain during heat treat and improve wear resistance. Also, it refines the gain structure of the steel for both good toughness and the ability to sharpen the blade to a very keen edge.

In fact, many people report that they are able to get knives using steels that contain vanadium sharper than they can non-vanadium steels such as ATS-34. In addition, the molded nylon handle slabs attached to the full tang are both very tough and very ergonomic since they are spherically designed to fill your hand and thus distribute the pressure of carving and cutting evenly. Last, nylon is the perfect choice of sheath material for a dedicated wilderness survival knife since the individual fibers will not absorb moisture and thus, they are rot proof. Nylon is also very abrasion resistant and so it is impervious to nearly anything that it might encounter in an outdoor survival situation.

Consequently, as dedicated survival knives go, the Buck Reaper like  many others is both excellently designed and excellently made which an unusual statement for me to make about a survival knife. Plus, because it’s reasonably within budget, it is within reach of most dedicated outdoorsmen’s pocketbooks.

For all that, the Reaper is one knife that I would actually recommend for those of you who have need of a dedicated wilderness survival knife but don’t spend enough time in the outdoors to warrant the expense of a truly professional quality survival knife.

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