Buck Knife, 845 Vantage Force Model in Military Camo: Product Review

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I did not want a Buck knife.

Yes, the Buck 845 Vantage Force knife, with half of the blade edge serrated and a military camo handle, did end up being the folding knife I chose as my Happy Birthday To Me gift when my 70th birthday rolled around. That’s true. But I fought to resist. I really did.

Scout’s honor.

See, I’ve long been aware of the Buck company’s sterling reputation in the knife industry, but as a long time owner of a Buck fixed blade survival knife, I’ve also had one serious complaint: The steel in that hunting knife is so hard, it’s a real bugger to sharpen. In fact, I’m not 100% certain it’s not made of tougher stuff than the bastard file in my toolbox.

Still, it was my birthday and a new folding knife was definitely in order. The folder that’s been at my right hip for the past couple of years was almost perfect…except for being a cheap no-name hunka hunka clunky junk. A month or two ago, the thumb-flipper screw came undone, fell out, and disappeared forever. About a week after that, the blade suddenly developed a major wobble from side to side when it was locked open. The red fake-wood plastic handle was (to me) stunningly beautiful from every angle but not quite long enough to truly fit my oversized hand.

And so on and so forth.

The older knife with the red handle was almost perfect...except for basically being a cheap piece of junk.  The slightly larger Buck 845 Vantage Force Knife in military camo, on the other hand, is built to last a very long time.

The older knife with the red handle was almost perfect…except for basically being a cheap piece of junk. The slightly larger Buck 845 Vantage Force Knife in military camo, on the other hand, is built to last a very long time.

I’ve usually owned a folding knife of some sort, at least since around age seven or so. On the other hand, an amazing number of those pocket knives were lost over the years, too. During childhood, a new Case or Boker or even a mostly worthless Imperial knife could count on disappearing within days.

Back then, the Tree Brand (Boker) was considered top of the line. My father carried a Tree Brand in a little buckskin case on his belt for decades, using it for everything from cutting baling twine to castrating bull calves on the ranch. I inherited that one and keep it tucked in a storage tote in my bedroom…but no longer see it as the end all and be all of knives. I’ve grown to appreciate a larger blade with a bit of serration, a lockback mechanism, and a handle that more or less fills my fist.

Not for a pocket. Being retired and living off grid in rural Arizona, I can carry a folding knife in a case on my hip without members of the public thinking a thing about it.

All I have to do is remember to leave it in the car before going into the County Courthouse.

So…what brand did I want? Eh? Eh?

First choice (or so I thought): Kershaw.

Somewhere in the early 90’s, I bought two Kershaw pocket knives. One, called a Silver Spur, was so tiny you could tuck in a shirt pocket and forget it was there. The other was bigger, perhaps two thirds the size of those I carry today.

Both of them were razor sharp right out of the box and super-easy to keep that way.

Besides, the name sounds cool when you say it aloud. Kershaw. Kershaw. Kershaw.

Buck. Buck. Buck. Nope; it’s just not the same. Sounds like a hen bragging about just having laid an egg.

In the end, though, Amazon reviews soured me on every other brand and sold me (decisively) on Buck. The 845 had 12 Five Star reviews, all of which made sense to me. Not a single negative review had been posted.

There was only one thing I didn’t like about the new knife–other than price, which came to $85.71 with tax. (Arizona has succeeded in forcing Amazon to collect sales taxes on items sold to Arizona residents.) The other negative was the inclusion of a pocket clip. In my book, those are worthless and frustrating at best.

Fortunately, that was not much of a problem. As soon as a tiny little set of screw extractors arrived (also purchased from Amazon), the pocket clip was removed. The Buck, being a bit longer than the old red handled junker, rides a bit higher in the leather case and is therefore easier to draw without having to think about it.

The knife blade itself came out of the box razor sharp and ready to rock. It easily shaved a bit of hair from the back of my left wrist. Every cutting task it’s been asked to perform so far has been accomplished with ridiculous ease.

Frankly, though I’ve never spent that much money for a folding knife before, neither have I handled a blade that came anywhere close to this quality. As Crocodile Dundee would say, “That’s a knife!”

Up close, showing the serrated portion of the blade and the Buck name.

Up close, showing the serrated portion of the blade and the Buck name.

On the Buck 845 Vantage Force knife, the handle's contours fit my large hand perfectly.

On the Buck 845 Vantage Force knife, the handle’s contours fit my large hand perfectly.

A more complete look at the Buck knife's blade, which came out of the box razor sharp.  The large thumb hole makes one handed operation easy.

A more complete look at the Buck knife’s blade, which came out of the box razor sharp. The large thumb hole makes one handed operation easy.

The Buck knife did a nice job of shaving a little patch of hair on the back of my left wrist.

The Buck knife did a nice job of shaving a little patch of hair on the back of my left wrist.

The butt of the handle, showing two screw holes where the pocket clip used to be attached.  As soon as I got rid of that, I was in love with the Buck.

The butt of the handle, showing two screw holes where the pocket clip used to be attached. As soon as I got rid of that, I was in love with the Buck.

A loose grip to show how well the Buck 845 knife's handle fits my sizeable grip width.  This beast is amazingly comfortable in the hand.

A loose grip to show how well the Buck 845 knife’s handle fits my sizeable grip width. This beast is amazingly comfortable in the hand.

The leather knife case that rides at my right hip whenever I'm not in bed or in the bathroom.  (A Canon PowerShot digital camera rides at my left hip to balance things out.)

The leather knife case that rides at my right hip whenever I’m not in bed or in the bathroom. (A Canon PowerShot digital camera rides at my left hip to balance things out.)

The old red junker knife rode lower in the case than I'd prefer, requiring a bit of "finger digging" to pull it out.

The old red junker knife rode lower in the case than I’d prefer, requiring a bit of “finger digging” to pull it out.

The Buck 845 Vantage Force knife, with a handle about 3/8" longer than the old junker, rides just high enough in the case for and easy draw grip with thumb and forefinger.

The Buck 845 Vantage Force knife, with a handle about 3/8″ longer than the old junker, rides just high enough in the case for and easy draw grip with thumb and forefinger.

One remarkable feature that illustrates the wisdom of the old KISS acronym (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is the thumb flipper. Most ordinary lockback folding knives use a screw for that which, as mentioned earlier, can come loose and fall out. Plus, even when such a screw is set firmly in place, it does jut out to the side of the blade. On the Buck 845, however, the company has made things both easier and better by simply carving a long oval hole–which is definitely workable. My thumb tucks in there just right, just enough to make one handed operation a done deal with no muss or fuss.

This is a way better design.

Now…what about self defense? It’s not a Gatling gun, but short of facing a loaded firearm, could the owner of a Buck 845 use it effectively to save his (or her) life, should the need arise?

The short answer is obviously yes. Anything can be used as a weapon.

The long answer is also yes. That is, if you’re competent with edged weapons, you might prefer a katana, broadsword, or battle axe for serious combat. Duh. But if a short folding knife is what you have to work with, you want it to possess several specific characteristics:

    1. It should fit your hand like it was part of your body, something you can “set and forget” without having to think about it.

    2. It should be rock solid and extremely strong so that there’s no wibbly-wobble going on and very little likelihood that an opponent can break your weapon with a move of his own.

    3. It should be seriously sharp.

Fortunately, the Buck knife we’re reviewing is all of the above, at least for me. If your hand is smaller, that might not be the case. I once owned a copy of the Bowie knife used by Sylvester Stallone in one of his Rambo movies (Rambo III?) but discovered to my dismay that Sly apparently has a seriously small hand. The guard and tang on that fighting blade’s handle pinched my hamfist something fierce.

Ah! Before I forget: The specs on the Buck say the handle is “glass reinforced nylon”, done that way for “added strength”. The texture is good (not slippery), and the blade locks open with a truly audible -Snick!- (or maybe more of a -Thwack!- ) sound. There’s no discernible free play; the opened knife feels as solid as a fixed blade.

Obviously, with all this praise, our rating for the Buck 845 Vantage Force Knife (serrated, in military camo) can only be a full FIVE STARS. It’s the most expensive knife I’ve ever owned, but without a doubt it’s also the best.

The Buck 845 Vantage Force knife gripped in combat position in my right fist .  This grip is used in certain Shotokan karate weapons forms.

The Buck 845 Vantage Force knife gripped in combat position in my right fist . This grip is used in certain Shotokan karate weapons forms and found its way into one of my recent fiction pieces.

10 thoughts on “Buck Knife, 845 Vantage Force Model in Military Camo: Product Review

  1. Nice knife. I have a nice little three blade Case knife with a pearlized handle that I carry in my purse. It comes in handy for all kinds of things. I also have my dad’s pocket knife. It has been sharpened so many times that the blade is getting narrow. Dennis used to have a KNIFE that he used Crocodile Dundee’s ‘This is a knife” about. Someone stole it out of our van though. The blade was about a foot long. Heeheehee

  2. Oh, I know about the large hands too. My grandfather wore a size thirteen pinkie ring. My dad’s hand was slightly smaller, not much. He made a ring for my grandfather out of silver. That is how I know he had a size thirteen pinkie. Dad wore a size thirteen, but it was his ring finger. They fell off of my thumb.

  3. Yeah, a 12″ blade would definitely do it…:)

    My fingers aren’t that thick–size 11 (or a little larger now, maybe) at the ring finger. But they’re long, and the palm is wide. Not bad for playing guitar, but anything less than an XL work glove is out of the question–and some of those come up short, depending on the manufacturer.

    Over the years, I’ve seen a fair number of knives that were sharpened enough to narrow the blade, but most of them were kitchen knives.

    My new camera came in, too. Thankfully, it’s “almost” the same as the old one, so the changeover didn’t require much of a learning curve. It looks like it takes better screen shots, though it’ll take a few more samples to be sure of that.

  4. Ha, I wear an extra large glove. I have big hands, especially for a woman. They alre also long. Mine are barely larger than Dennis’, since I seem to have inherited the large ones. My oldest son has hands like mine. Long and slender, almost delicate. Katy’s and David’s are tiny. Theirs are like Dennis’.

  5. Got it.

    Speaking of gloves, I stopped by the feed store yesterday. The guy on shift was kind of alarmed to see me. Last time I was in, I’d cleaned them out of the extra large buckskins, and the new order hadn’t arrived yet. All they had on the rack in buckskin were a few pair that had clearly been designed for super slender midgets.

  6. I am surprised to see another BUCK serrated. Charles T Buck made me a custom commercial divers knife. I requested it be serrated and later suggested a product line called the BUCK PRO MARINER. Targeting commercial and sport diving. It never came about. To date anyway.

  7. Buck has a lot of partially serrated knives at the moment. Just took a look on Amazon and quit counting after spotting a dozen different models. Don’t see why they shouldn’t do a BUCK PRO MARINER; that sounds like an awesome product line (and I don’t even dive).

    I continue to use my Vantage Force multiple times every single day; it’s become an extension of my arm.

  8. Charles T. Buck made me a custom GOLIATH and serrated the blade too but back in 1998 or 99. He also did almost the entire blade for me. I thought for sure he was going to produce a full line of commercial divers knives and sport divers knives. but he didn’t. I was surprised to see your BUCK with factory serrations. How did that come about?

  9. Dale, I don’t know how it came about, but they’ve had a bunch of models with factory serrations for a while now.

  10. I don’t remember if I read this here review before acquiring my own Buck Vantage, the 345 ‘Select’ version in 420HC. I wasn’t even particularly looking to get one after reading a nice review of my model on A Fine Blade (a blog you might like for some easy reading). But that review did spring to mind when I spotted the distinctive shape in the $10 display case at my go-to pawn shop. I asked to handle it, and within a few seconds decided it would be my new pocket knife, to replace the smaller SOG (another cheap happy find in that pawn shop) which I’d recently lost in a river. Till that point I hadn’t wanted a Buck either for whatever reason, and there were too many cool Kershaws and even a couple of Gerbers on my wishlist to think of choosing a Buck first. I’ve since used it with pleasure for many tasks including shaving/splitting/prying apart kindling (never too abusively, mind you) and hacking up the ice under the front gate so I could kick it aside to allow the gate to close properly. The only job so far that the blade felt ever-so-slightly ill-suited for was slicing up an apple, but that’s just because it isn’t a super thin paring knife. And I do love the pocket clip. It lets the knife ride so deeply in my right pocket that I’m the more irritated with my Carhartt pants (also bought secondhand) for having pockets that angle away too soon for any decent-sized knife to ride comfortably. Someday maybe I’ll fashion some fatter hardwood scales to replace the stock ones, as I’ve about gotten over my infatuation with tacti-slim handle profiles, but for now I’m quite happy with it as is.

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