“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That’s how the old saying goes, anyway. It was a lesson I learned when I got to do this review of the new Buck ErgoHuner Pro.
When I looked up the knife, and saw the pictures I thought, ‘That’s a weird looking knife. Not my cup of tea.’ But when I got the ErgoHunter Pro in my hand, all that changed. From the perspective of having several decades of hunting and using several hundred knives, the Buck is impressive. I should have known all along the ErgoHunter Pro was going to be a winner. Buck has set the benchmark for hunting and outdoor knives since 1902. They even have a Forever Warranty, though I doubt you’ll need it.
The handle is the first thing you notice about the ErgoHunter Pro. It’s made of a rubber called Alcryn, with Rosewood Dyamondwood inserts that are nicely checkered to provide traction when your hands are wet and grimy. The handle shape is designed for game processing, but through quite a bit of use, I found the handle worked for a variety of tasks. The handle conceals the full tang, as is evident by being able to see the tang in the lanyard hole. The Dymondwood is treated with resin to harden and protect the wood from environmental factors that a hunting knife is so often exposed to. The traditional cutting grip for a knife, with the thumb wrapped towards the index finger, works very well with the Buck. The ErgoHunter Pro also excels at two other grips, the pinch grip, and a grip with the thumb along the spine. The pinch grip, most often used in game processing, is where the forefinger and thumb ‘pinch’ the knife at the top of the handle or the bottom of the blade. The contoured handle design of the ErgoHunter Pro was really built for this grip. With a built in thumb ramp in the handle and grooves on the spine of the knife, holding the ErgoHunter Pro with the thumb along the spine of the knife is comfortable and easy on the hand.
The blade is a full tang, skinning design made of the fantastic S30V steel. With high corrosion resistance, and excellent edge retention ability, this stainless US made steel is an excellent choice for a hard use knife. What’s more, and downright impressive, is that the heat treat is done by the famous Paul Bos. This is a top shelf combination that the end user will really appreciate. The hollow ground blade came hair shaving sharp with an even edge grind along the entire blade. The stock is stout, making for a robust blade that balances well in the hand. Featuring stippling near the base of the blade directly in front of the handle, the blade is secure should you want to choke up and use a pinch hold on the blade for detailed work. The stippling is secure when wet, and gives the user yet another option for how they want to utilize the knife. An additional use for this is that the stippling makes an excellent match striker.
Before I get to the sheath, allow me to talk about another item included with the knife. Buck has seen fit to solve the problem of most hunter’s gripes with gut hook blades. They are typically too small, and gum and clog up often in use. I once owned a much touted dedicated gut hook blade that took replaceable razorblade type inserts, and the gadget was nothing but trouble. Buck has gone above and beyond with the ErgoHunter Pro, including a well built, separate, gut hook with the knife. Buck solved one of the major flaws with other gut hooks, widening the blade portion to allow hair and flesh to get out of the way before gumming up and stopping the hunter from getting the job done. Buck’s gut hook is made of their 420HC stainless steel, also with the Paul Bos heat treat. Specifically called the PakLite Guthook, Buck has made a gut hook most hunters will appreciate.
I’m picky about sheaths, especially leather sheaths. When I looked at the ErgoHunter Pro’s leather sheath, I was pleasantly surprised with its quality. Although the sheath is the only thing not made in the US, the Mexican built sheath far surpasses some of the offerings other knife companies are putting on the market calling leather work. It’s built in a fold-over style with the main body and belt loop being made of the same piece of leather. The thick welt and sewn on snap retention piece are stitched up nicely with black thread, and all edges are sealed with black sealant for moisture protection. Buck made a great move and added a piece of leather near the tip of the sheath, and with an ingenious design, built in a retention pocket for the PakLite Guthook. This keeps the knife and gut hook in one compact package, ready for when the user needs it.
I had aspirations of using the S30V ErgoHunter Pro and the PakLite Guthook to process a massive bull elk this hunting season. Despite my best efforts, I didn’t fill a tag this year and failed to have an elk to work out the ErgoHunter Pro. After some deliberation on what to do, I opted to give the ErgoHunter Pro the best workout I could for a real world review. Designed as a hunting knife primarily, I used the ErgoHunter Pro to slice and dice meat and veggies for several barbecues. Buck built a heck of a meat cutter with this one. On beef, chicken, and all the veggies I could scrounge up, I never had so much as a bobble. Even after hitting the grill over a hot bbq pit a few times, and slicing beef up on a metal pan, the edge didn’t slow down in the least. Real world hunters know that cleaning and processing game is rough and dirty work. Removing the hide, separating the joints, and making all those cuts necessarily close to bone are tough on a knife. After I’ve used the ErgoHunter Pro for nearly a month on too much to write here, I’m convinced the Buck is up to the job.
Most hunters know that the traditional hunting knife is the original survival knife. Long before that nomenclature was popular, hunters have been using the knives on their belts for all the necessary camp chores. During a recent project when I was building yet another wood burning hobo stove, I used the Buck to cut out wood slivers and baton out sticks for fuel. The thick stock and excellent grind made the task a breeze. I had plenty of wood for several burns on my test stove in a matter of about 15 minutes. For a later job that “required” a camo paint job, I used the ErgoHunter Pro to hack up handfuls of thigh high grass that I used to build a realistic multicolored paint pattern. The PakLite gut hook zipped through a pile of thick leather scraps without reservation. Using the PakLite was particularly comfortable, it’s a well designed addition to the ErgoHunter Pro.
There are five total variations of the full sized ErgoHunter Bucks, with 420HC or S30V steel, and with or without the gut hook on the back of the blade. The ErgoHunter Pro is the flagship with S30V steel and the separate gut hook blade. With a real world price between $110-$135, the ErgoHunter Pro is a top notch hunting knife. The Buck is well built, utilizing some of the best materials and workmanship available from a US company that stands behind its products. If you’re looking for a hunting knife that can stand up to some hard use, open the book cover on the ErgoHunter Pro.