The Buck 119BR Special is large best fixed blade knife that is designed for cutting and piercing. The handle is solid and able to be used for several purposes in itself. This knife is a bit pricey for the simplicity, but it is almost a jack-of-all-trades knife. It is able to hold up in many scenarios. It is also a bit smaller than the Ka-Bar, making it easier to carry with you. The blade is also extremely sharp, making it ideal for hunting and survival. This knife is best known for its appearance in the thriller movie Scream.
The Buck 119BR Special is one of the few best fixed blade knife created by the Boyt family. Hoyt Buck was creating knives at the young age of 13 in the early 1900s. The first Buck knife was used in the military in the 1941, right after Pearl Harbor. When his son, Alfred (Al) took over in the early 1950s, he added the knives to mail order catalogs. Three years after the company became incorporated; the first folding knife was introduced.
There are several fixed blades that are popular in the military, but the 119BR is one preferred by many interests. The company moved from Kansas to Idaho in 2005 and now has about 200 employees. CJ Buck, who is actually the great-grandson of the founder, is also now running it.
The Buck 119BR Special is a hunting/specialty knife that has a blade made from 420HC stainless steel. It is ground with a hollow grind and shaped into a clip blade point. The fine point makes the knife more versatile. The handle of the blade is 4 1/2″ long and is made with Cocobola. It has finger guards to make it easier to hold, and the butt of the knife is polished brass.
This knife comes with an unconditional lifetime warranty, which is unlike most survival knives that come with a limited warranty. It is not a tactical knife, as the sheath keeps the knife protected and secured. If the sheath is left open, the knife falls out easily.
The Buck 119 is made by stock replacement currently out of 420HC stainless steel hardened to 58 HRC (different grades have been practiced in the past). It weighs 7.5 oz. (213 g.) With a six-inch blade & an overall length often & a half inches. The blade is hollow ground with a clip point & has a Phenolic handle.
This Buck 119 was obtained heavily used; there were hammer consequences along the spine above the blood groove & even on the guard who had left dents and chips. The edge was also chipped & dented (sub-millimeter) as well as roughly sharpened which massively obscured the new in box edge profile. The tip was also carefully cracked off (sub-millimeter).
In regards to general design, the blade has a deep clip point which is 2.5 inches long & is 1.04 inches at its widest. The blade stock is 0.180″ (~3/16″), & the knife weighs 210 g with a balanced point 1.5 cm back the guard (measured from the middle), & thus it significantly feels heavy. The handle is nice & thick & fills the hand well.
The hollow grind is decently deep & high (0.67″) regarding the thickness of the steel & intended use of the knife. Precisely, behind the edge the steel is ~0.021″ thick, moving back in 1/8″ increases it is 0.033, 0.052, 0.082 and 0.115″ thick respectively. For evidence this is significantly thinner than the Green Beret, which includes 0.045″, 0.065″, 0.093″ and 0.125″ at the same points.
Concerning the actual edge geometry in detail, the angle was difficult to determine as the sharpening was somewhat smeared out. But, it was almost ground at 12-13 degrees per side & 0.021″ thick behind the edge. A couple of analysis passes with a Sharpmaker set at 15 degrees instantly hit the side creating a micro-bevel confirming the angle estimate.
No sheath came with the blade.
As the Buck 119 was purchased used, the new in box sharpness could not be examined. All performance tests were done after the blade was sharpened & the upper portion of the guard removed.
Push cutting 3/8″ hemp required 30-36 lbs through the tip. Pointing sections of hardwood dowel the Buck 119 was a powerful cutter, forming a one-inch tip in 10.1 +/- 0.6 cuts. The thin & acute edge bit in well & the knife was comfortable in handle with a grip choked up over the guard.
With a 50 lbs push the Buck 119 sank 148 +/- 3 pages into a phone book, not particularity high penetration. However, with a hard vertical stab, the blade achieved a depth of 701 +/- 35 pages which is great, especially from a perception per mass ratio scene which shows one of the advantages of the deep clip point.
However, a disadvantage was immediately shown on the 2×4 digging ( performed during the last stages of the review). The point easily cracked off on a soft-medium density piece of lumber, with little to no capacity to remove wood on a deep stab (half an inch of penetration). A notable portion of the tip was lost, where the blade cracked the steel was 0.125″ thick. The point was reground, & used to dig through a 2×4 with 31 +/- 7 stabs in 140 +/- 37 seconds.
With the very thick tip (0.150″ thick, 13-degree distal taper), strength was no longer a problem. However, the knife would tend to pop out when prying due to now far too full massive wedge design. Something more tapered, but still high enough like the Green Beret tip profile is far more efficient. A pic of the reprofiled tip :
With a full grip, the Buck 119 had little chopping ability; it had no power on the swing. With a two-fingered grip around the end of the handle, the performance increased to 15 +/- 3 % of the ability of the Gransfors Bruks Wildlife hatchet on scrap wood as well as felled 2-3″ pine & spruce.
The Buck 119 is light in handle & thus works well in the kitchen for a “tactical” knife. It is easier to handle for example than something like the Camp Tramp. The guard, however, reduces the ability to work with a cutting board, & the blade profile is thicker of course than what is found on an actual kitchen knife like the KX06 from Spyderco, but it is many times greater than something like the SOG SEAL 2000. The steel is well adapted to kitchen use, showing no signs of corrosion even when left wet or opened to fruit juices for extended periods of time.
The largest downside of the Buck for woods work is that it has little chopping experience. For example chopping through 1×4 inch pine needs 26 +/- 3 chops, with a full grip. When the grip is shifted back on the handle to allow more power can be brought into the swing the number of chops is lowered to 17 +/ – 1. For comparison, the Green Beret, which isn’t a powerful chopper for its blade class, does the same in 9.3 +/- 3 & 6.3 +/- 3 chops respectively. An active chopping blade will cut the same class of wood in 1-3 hits.
However, The Buck 119 is sturdy enough to be used with a baton if the wood is needed to be cut. Batoning in general though is many to one times slower than using a decent chopping knife & thus to complement the abilities of the Buck 119, a larger blade or decent folding saw would be well appreciated in general like a Felco, or the Zeta from Tashiro Hardware.
In general though, while saws are handle felling well on small woods & excel at bucking, they are poor for climbing & gathering vegetation in general. For a lot of shelters & miscellaneous construction, boughs are valuable building materials. The Buck 119 doesn’t have the length & more importantly heft to limb out even small sticks economically. A saw isn’t a competent choice here either, & a small hatchet or better yet long limbing blade can be many times to one more efficient.
However, with its thin & acute edge, the Buck 119 confirmed to be a deft tool for carving woods While not in the same class as the Mora 2000, the Buck was much more capable than blades like the Green Beret. Specifically, connecting the two in carving up some soft pine, the Green Beret wanted an standard of 23.0 +/- 0.8 cuts to form a point, where the Buck 119 only needed 7-10 slices. This performance is indicated in the relative performance on the hardwood dowel as regarded in the above.
For precision tip work, the knife was slightly limited by its size. A much smaller knife is far easier to use, something like the small puukko is near optimal. There is also the issue of tip strength when digging/prying in thicker woods. The depth needs to be kept relatively shallow to avoid fracturing the tip.
However, in general, its lightweight & balance also made the Buck 119 more productive for extended light work than the larger & heavier chopping blades. It was much more efficient than the Camp Tramp for example in cleaning a few trout. Its tip profile, while not quite robust enough for deep prying in hardwoods unlike the Camp Tramp, is much stronger than the Mora 2000 & thus has benefit for such work, though again care needs to be taken not to overstress the tip.
With its thin edge & decently acute primary grind, the Buck 119 worked well as a medium dull utility knife. It is neutral in balance & thus has a low fatigue rate, & with a proper grit finish (coarse to fine) excelled at cutting woods, plastics, ropes, leathers, nylons & various fabrics. The only significant downside outside of chopping ability was the rather low prying strength.
The Buck 119 was used alongside the Green Beret to cut cardboard, checking with both a highly polished & somewhat coarse edge. In general, it compared well & held its matching the performance of the Green Beret ( ref).
The Buck 119 was used alongside the Green Beret to cut various metals with the initial edge as well as the slightly acuter modified edge. In general, it compared well ( ref). The edge took damage readily when cutting metals & other hard materials, but resisted gross damage strongly & thus could be brought back to functional performance with a little work with a file.
Prying & impacts
The knife was also locked in a vice, right behind the reground tip (one inch back) & bent until it broke. The blade snapped at a small angle, 15 +/- 2 degrees, with no permanent bend, the load was 90 +/- 10 lbs. The knife was also subjected to a light hammer pop (Estwing 22 oz, just wrist pop) which fractured the primary grind. The knife was again voiced & locked & again broke at a small angle.
Ease of Sharpening
To reset the initial edge bevel & remove the damage, the blade was honed with a pseudo-file, a 100 grit AO s&ing belt fixed to a strip of fine hardwood. Due to the damage, an excessive burr formed which had to be cleaned off before the knife would take a crisp edge.
The burr was removed with a couple of passes at an obtuse angle which a coarse SiC Waterstone. It took about five minutes to set the edge, which was then honed to a razor sharpness with a series of Waterstones & finishing on CrO. The entire process took about ten minutes.
In general ease of sharpening was high. The blade readily took a push shaving sharpness freehand, readily above to push cut right into newsprint. Coarse edges could also be easily applied. The steel ground well with minimal burr formation.
The edge was later modified after hard impacts & repeated tests against other blades; the new profile left the edge 0.019-0.022″ thick & ground at 9.2 +/- 0.2 degrees per side.
As the upper guard limits grip versatility significant (see the review of the Green Beret for details [ ref]), it was cut off with a hacksaw, & then finish ground with a bastard file & then some s&paper. The modified Buck 119 :
With the above modification the handle was much more ergonomic & could be readily used in an overhand grip with only minor ergonomic issues.
This is a pretty standard hollow ground blade design, in general personal user preferences would pick a flat ground blade with more blade balance, but there are trade offs to consider with such choices. The only real obvious st& out is the lack of ductility. However given the blades past heavy user by the previous owner, the low fracture points could have been influenced by past history – though such breaks are common for stainless steels in general.