Friday, March 8, 2013

Buck Vantage Review

Buck Vantage Select - Small

Blade length:        2.63" (2 5/8")
Overall length:      6.25"
Closed length:      3.75"
Handle material:   Glass reinforced nylon
Pocket clip:           Tip up carry, reversible, stainless steel
Deployment:         Flipper
Blade steel:           420HC
Weight:                 2.3oz

  This is a high value little knife. It's not often that you can find a blade like this for under $25. I consider it a good deal for the money. This is especially true as it's made in the USA. We all know how rare that is today.
  In spite of this knife's good qualities, I give it a "Meh." It's just not for me.

  Let's start off with what I like about this Buck Vantage Select. It's very sharp out of the box. This should be a given, but I've gotten a few dull knives over the years. It is always a surprise and a bit disappointing. That's not an issue with this folder.

  Lock up is tight on the Vantage. There's absolutely no movement when the blade is deployed.

  It is an attractive knife without looking gaudy or tactical. Sometimes you don't want to carry something that screams ninja/operator/Rambo. Coworkers can sometimes be stupid about pocket knives, and this is more office friendly than some models on the market.

  The handle while small, has a good shape.

  Blade centering on this knife is good.

  The pocket clip is reversible for left or right handed carry. It's attractive and allows for deep carry. I really like the clip design on this little EDC knife, and wish that my other knives had a pocket clip that was this good.
  BTW, you're stuck with tip up carry. That will be non issue for most buyers.

  There are dual liners (stainless steel) and an open construction.

  In case you didn't notice, this is a liner lock. I have a bunch of different EDC knives, and have never had an issue with a blade utilizing a liner lock. I've seen a few cheap flea market liner lock knives that could not be trusted to remain locked open.
   This has not been my experience with Buck (or Kershaw) knives, and I trust them. Then again, I don't use my folders that hard. Get the right tool for the job. If you need fixed blade strength then it should go without saying that you should probably get a fixed bladed knife.

  While small and inexpensive, this knife still feels solid and well made. I'm sure that the stainless steel liners, and tight lockup are the reason for this. I hate a loose, wobbly knife. They don't exactly inspire confidence while being used.

  Deployment is fast enough if you give the Vantage a good flick of the wrist. I like flippers, but am not really partial to any particular deployment mechanism.

  The Buck Vantage comes in two different sizes and three different quality levels. I'll let you browse these sites since they sum it up better than I can.
Blade HQ
Buck Knives
  The size, handle material, and blade material are the obvious components driving the price differences.

  This is a lightweight knife that carries very deep. It's easy to forget that's it's there. The Vantage is sharp, and holds an edge well. You can't beat the price. There's a lot to like about this knife.
  It's not perfect however, and it has a few things that I'm not crazy about.

1) I'd prefer a blackened clip. It doesn't make sense (to me) to have a shiny pocket clip on a knife that carries this deep. That's an issue that's easily fixed so it's not a biggie.

2) The blade on this Buck is short, and I usually prefer at least a 3" blade. A 3.5" blade is just about perfect in my opinion.
I knew what size the blade was when I bought it so that was my mistake. It was just too good of a deal to pass up. Buck has a version with a 3.25" blade for those that share my views.
I see this model as kind of a gentleman's folder. Most could carry it for office use without causing a lot of pants wetting hysteria from some of the more sensitive and over reacting members of our society. Every job has a few people that would rather spend the day making scenes, and throwing hissy fits instead of working. Pulling out a large folder just gives them another float in the crazy parade.

3) The handle is slick. It's a lot smoother than I like on my knives. It has a good shape, and that helps somewhat. There's a lot of Vantage models with different textures, and handle materials. I'd spend a few more dollars and get one of them if I could do it over again.

4) Blade centering can be iffy. I bought this Buck at Bass Pro Shops a couple of years ago and had to go through the entire rack before finding one that had decent blade centering. The rest looked like they were rubbing on the liners. This one is good, but I suspect that there were a lot of disappointed people that bought their Vantage's without being able to pick and choose.
I was back in Bass Pro Shops about a month ago and (knowing that this was coming up) went through the rack of Vantage Selects. All of them appeared to have perfect centering. It appears that Buck got the problem resolved. If I remember correctly, the manufacturer addressed this in a YouTube Shot Show interview. I'll post it if I run across it again.

5) Blade deployment can sometimes be poor. The flipper works OK if you can really give your wrist a hard flip. The flipper stud (?) needs to be slightly larger in my opinion.
You'll notice that the blade has a thumb hole instead of the usual thumb stud.  The hole is kind of small and close to the scales. This makes it a little more difficult to use your thumb when deploying the blade. The 2 5/8" Vantage Select is a small knife, and it's hard to get around this. There's only so much blade material available for the thumb hole.
I put a zip tie through the thumb hole and this works great. You get very fast deployment when using the zip tie instead of just the thumb hole.
With the zip tie, it's even possible to use the wave method to open the blade when pulling it from the pocket. Be warned that it may wave whether you planned on it or not.

6)  There's way too many choices (sarcasm). Buck has a lot of different models, sizes, colors, blade and handle materials. What to get?

7) When you buy a knife, defensive use is always a consideration. Hopefully it is never needed for this role, but you can't help but think about it.
The blade is short. Deployment is pretty good with the zip tie but may be iffy without it. The grip panels are too smooth. As a defensive blade this is a very mediocre (at best) pick. The 3.25" Vantage would clearly be a better choice if self defense is considered. To be perfectly honest that's too short as well (so sayeth the internets).

  As I said earlier, I would consider this version of the Buck Vantage to be a gentleman's folder. I'd carry it in an office environment but would much prefer the larger version for EDC. A model with a better grip texture would be a huge plus for me (and after looking at Blade HQ's page, will probably be ordered).
  I wouldn't want to use this model regularly with wet, sweaty, or oily hands.
 Obviously I'm not a fan of the handle texture.

  So that's it. This is a good little knife. Buck makes a better version that costs a few dollars more. That's the one that I would buy if I had to do it again. There's nothing wrong however with this model if you need a small, lightweight, and quality blade.  

  This little Vantage Select will do almost everything that I need a knife for. In spite of that I find it hard to get motivated about this folder. I just can't get past the slick scales and short blade. Hence the "Meh" rating.
  This knife was passed on to a friend that likes it a bit more than I do. Had I kept it the Vantage, it would have ended up in an get home bag, tool box or glove compartment. I would probably have pulled it out when I had a job that would trash a more expensive knife.
  Had I bought one the 3.25" models with better textured grips it would no doubt be in my EDC rotation.

  Past Gun And Knife Reviews

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