BUCK 110 AUTO KNIFE REVIEW
Written by Blade HQ Staff Writer Andrew Hamilton on 2/20/2019
Al Buck first introduced the Buck 110 folding knife in 1963. In the 50+ years since, the Buck 110 has cemented itself as one of the most important and widely used pocket knives in the history of America. Known as the Folding Hunter, the Buck 110 is still one of the best-selling knives today.
Recently, Buck took the knife world by storm with the release of the 110 Auto. As the evolution of a proven classic, how would the automatic version stand up? Read on as we take a deep dive and review the pros and cons of the Buck 110 Auto knife!
First let's run through the stats...
- 8.625” Overall Length
- 3.75” Blade Length
- Clip Point Hollow Grind Blade
- 420HC Steel
- Ebony Dymondwood Handle Scales with Brass Liners and Bolsters
- 7.10 oz. Weight
- Back Lock
- Includes Leather Sheath
- Made in USA
KNIFE LIFE SCORE
Knife Life is all about representing your personality and passion through the knife you carry in your pocket every day. Quality and performance are key. Tasteful design and ritzy details are also important. You can be confident carrying any knife with a high Knife Life Score.
UNIQUENESS / IMPORTANCE
When it comes time to put pen to page and write a knife review, I try as hard as possible to remove individual bias from my ratings. That said, there was never a doubt in my mind that the Buck 110 would receive a perfect score in the ‘Importance’ category. Popular for over 50 years, the Buck 110 is America. Every knife designer has been inspired by the Folding Hunter’s strong, traditional aesthetic. Without Al Buck and his design, who knows where the knife community would be today?
LOOK / STYLING
When a design works, it just works. Simple lines. A balanced mix of materials. A working man's clip point blade. The Buck 110 perfectly blends the history, tradition, and design cues of traditional knives with a bomb-proof, confidence-inspiring ruggedness.
Your Buck will look equally at home on your workbench, at the campsite, or in your pickup’s glove box.
Alright. I’m aware. It’s 2019. Even cheap knives are coming standard with premium super steels. So how does a more budget-friendly steel like 420HC stand up to cut tests and daily EDC use?
If you’ve read the Best Steel Guide I wrote, you already know that half of cutting performance (or maybe even more) comes down to edge geometry and heat treatment. Buck is world famous for having some of the most advanced and consistent heat treatment. They’ve dialed in their 420HC and it’s truly a satisfying experience to cut with the Buck 110 Auto.
With regards to geometry, the hollow grind on the 110 Auto is truly impressive! Thin behind the edge and absolutely razor sharp from the factory, I was able to cleanly slice through soft tomatoes, remove wedges out of apples, and jute rope was vaporized like hot butter.
BLADE / SHARPENING
When evaluating a knife’s cutting performance, it’s super important to think about the use-case the knife was designed for. The Buck 110 Auto is designed to process your hunt, ace through some light camp tasks, and live in your pocket from Monday to Friday on the job site cutting open boxes, feed bags, strapping, and all the other borderline abusive tasks that an EDC knife has to stand up to. No one is ever going to tell you that 420HC steel performs like M390, but that can sometimes be a good thing! Compared to steels with better edge holding, 420HC is much more easy to field sharpen when it comes time to process that prize elk.
I was able to quickly touch up my edge on the Spyderco Sharpmaker every three to four days. In less than 5 minutes my knife was back to ‘scary sharp’. By the end of my testing, I still had a pretty nice edge, but it’s always fun to throw a knife onto the Edge Pro Apex and see what it takes to bring about a mirror edge. I can tell you that 420HC is quite the dream to sharpen. In less than 25 minutes, I had a beautiful mirror edge at about 3,000 grit with a quick stropping on leather. I can’t recommend the Edge Pro Apex system enough. Knife maintenance is a hugely important part of owning a knife. I can proudly say that my Buck 110 Auto is so sharp that it makes me giggle when I use it, and I may or may not be rocking the gigantic bald spot on my forearm that so many knife guys seem to acquire along with a sharp blade.
TRADITIONAL! The Buck 110 is not afraid of being traditional, and I am super okay with that. This thing has got so much brass on it that it should probably come with some stock holdings for BRSS (BRSS is up over 3% recently. I’m not saying it’s because of the Buck 110, but I’m also saying maybe it is because of the Buck 110).
I love that this knife boldly blends brass, steel, and wood in an unapologetic way. Titanium and steel? Pshhhh we don’t need any of that. Brass. Wood. That’s what built this country. Good enough for me.
The Dymondwood scales are lacking a bit in the premium department, but should be durable for a lifetime or more.
Some day I’ll get the chance to review a knife from Olamic or maybe a Marfione Custom or something. Those knives are 10/10 ‘Pocket Jewelry’ material. I’m not gonna lie to you and say that a Buck 110 should be compared against custom pieces like that.
That said, the Buck 110 Auto does seem to have a little magic in it. I’m envisioning a knolled out flat lay with a handkerchief and some bad to the bone brass accessories – maybe a pen and a zippo. You’re guaranteed to pull some big Instagram like numbers with an image like that.
The Buck 110 has also long been a platform for modification and customization. Recently, SKBlades began offering official Buck knives in premium blade steels and with personalized detailing. Now the sky’s the limit for your Buck. If you can dream it, it can be done!
DEPLOYMENT / LOCKUP
So the original Buck 110 was a two-handed deal. Pinch the blade with your off hand and open ‘er up. The automatic mechanism on the Buck 110 is a welcome addition, because now this classic can be opened easily one-handed. I’m happy to report that the deployment mechanism is reliable and consistent. This knife is so fun to play with, and in the thousand times (or more...) I opened it, it never failed a single time.
Is there a negative to the Auto 110? Unfortunately, the knife is still a lock back. It feels a little bit counter intuitive to fire the knife with with button only to close it with the lock back at the rear of the handle. I’m a big fan of back locks for strength, but it definitely cuts down on the vibes of this particular piece.
Maybe I’m being a little tough on this rating here. The Buck 110 Auto really doesn’t leave anything to be desired in terms of fit and finish. The blade is well-centered and well-ground. All the pieces fit together properly without any gaps or play. The knife functions perfectly. That said, there’s just something about the whole affair that feels a little bit roughshod. This is a utilitarian piece. If your Buck 110 is in a glass case, you’re doing something wrong. Go beat your knife up. Sharpen it. Then go beat it up again. A 6/10 in this category is honestly a compliment. You go Buck.
The Buck 110 Auto is super comfortable. Fire the blade out. Cut up some stuff. Put the knife away. It’s a simple equation and Mr. Buck will never let you down. Okay but let’s be real. This thing is stinking heavy! I really don’t mind big knives, but you notice this knife in hand and in pocket. The Buck 110 Auto would not be my first choice for any hiking trips and don’t try throwing this guy into your drawstring-less basketball shorts—yikes.
EASE OF CARRY
It’s 2019 and I’m reviewing a knife with no pocket clip. This category is usually just called pocket clip, but I had to change it up because the Buck 110 Auto has no clip so it’s just ‘Ease of Carry’ – and ‘Ease of Carry’ should really be called ‘Difficulty of Carry’ for this review. The Buck 110 is big and heavy. I’m glad they include a high-quality leather sheath, but I wouldn't personally carry this knife in its sheath.
My go-to with the Buck 110 Auto is to just leave it on my workbench or throw it in a bag. That’s really the only way to go. It’s not a pocket carry piece for me.
TOTAL KNIFE LIFE SCORE: 75/100
There you have it! The famous Buck 110 in automatic fashion scored a solid 75 on the Knife Life critique. Not bad for a folding knife that has roots back to 1964. If you want to see where the 110 Auto falls in our bestsellers of 2018, check out our video below.
AUTOMATIC VS. MANUAL
Which Buck 110 should you buy – automatic or manual? The manual is quite a bit cheaper! That said, I would still go for the automatic. You get all the charm of the original with the added bonus of one-handed operation. You really can’t beat that! If you happen to live somewhere that autos are illegal then definitely don’t hesitate to pick up the manual 110!
110 VS. 112
The Buck 110 is a big boy of a knife. The good news is, there's also a smaller version available! Check out the Buck 112 if you looking for a slightly more discreet carry option. The 112 is still big enough to get any of your hard-use tasks done, but it might be a better choice when weight is a factor. Throw a 112 in your bug out bag or add one to your EDC rotation.