After carrying the Buck Knives Redpoint for a few weeks, using it for typical pocket knife chores, I got it outside and roughed it up a little this weekend. I had a few of my own preconceived notions about this particular knife as I set out to see if it was going to be “all show and no go” or if it would be a viable outdoors tool.
Before getting it out back into the bushes, I did notice that the Redpoint was nicely finished, with fine, even, satiny grind lines on the blade faces, clear, legible and deeply etched markings, no burrs, no flash on the composite parts and generally very good overall attention to detail. It operated smoothly, locked up solidly, the edge grinds were symmetrical and it actually had a decent edge out of the box. I think that it is notable that the country of origin is clearly and permanently etched on the blade at the ricasso, where one would expect to find important data pertaining to a knife. BUCK also notes on their site that the knife is imported. This leaves the design and build quality of the knife to speak for itself and it speaks in a no-nonsense, everyday-people type of language.
Because the Redpoint is so unique, I felt that I had to dissect its assessment into three separate elements in order to give fair play to each. Obviously, there is overlap of the three elements and it is difficult to talk about one of them without touching on another, but they all come together in an interesting composition of unique and functional ideas.
The spearpoint/drop-point stainless steel blade is just shy of 2 7/8” long and .109” thick with thumb serrations on the spine and a half-serrated – half plain edge. It is hollow ground with a secondary bevel and overall good geometry for efficient cutting of various materials. Its wear resistance/hardness seems very good when put to the diamond hone for a touch up and no tenacious burr eludes you on the strop. There is a hump on the spine at the pivot, the purpose of which I did not understand, but it makes the knife handle comfortably. The blade locks closed and locks open – solidly in both cases and there is very little side-play in the blade when open. The blade etchings are fairly deep and there is an elongated hole at the grind line, where a fuller might otherwise be, so I assume it is a measure to reduce weight or improve balance because a thumb-stud or thumb-hole is not used and not necessary to actuate the blade.
The handle is 4 ¼” long and has stiff, tacky, over-molded scales, which are actually pretty comfortable. The overall shape fits my hand well and the knife felt fairly natural as I used it. I did not get into any prolonged shelter-building, fire-making and carving projects with it, but then it seems more of a general-use knife and comparing it to a full-sized Bushcraft type knife would miss the point entirely. The Redpoint sports an oversized loop/bottle-opener at the butt, referred to by BUCK as a “Utility Arch,” through which even fairly large cordage, carabiners or clips can pass through. The open back, stainless steel liners, posts and removable clip indicate ease of cleaning and maintenance. I did flush it with hot tap water just to see how long it would continue to drip and it dried fairly quickly. The pocket clip orientation makes it a point-down carry, unless you choose to remove the clip. The tackiness of the scales made using the pocket clip a bit clumsy at first because the handle wants to drag on the fabric of a pocket, but is a plus for retention.
There are several distinct and unique features on this knife and then there is the sum of those unique features which make the whole knife unique in itself, but I think the blade lock is the most intriguing. The blade lock button is unobtrusive but very easy to manipulate, in fact, the locking system is very easy to operate after you get used to not doing things the traditional way. This is a “thumb and finger” proposition, where you manipulate the button with your thumb and use the pad of your index finger to rotate the blade open using the protruding notches on the tang. That is if you are right-handed. If you are left-handed, your middle finger manipulates the button and it operates as easily either way. BUCK has trademarked “Safe-Spin” to describe the action of this knife. As stated previously, lock-up is solid, open or closed, but I don’t know the details of the mechanism and cannot speak for just what it would stand up to. With no springs and apparently few moving parts, the system seems pretty durable and easy to maintain as well.
Once I got the Redpoint outside, I wanted to see how it would do as an emergency tool on top of being a viable all around outdoors tool. As a fire-starting aid, the plain edge surprised me with how nicely it shaved feathers for kindling and I found that the spine was sharp enough nearer the point to throw great sparks from a Light My Fire firesteel, while the rest of the spine’s edges had been eased nicely for the comfort of one’s thumb. It did passably at notching a pot hook and would do better with some minor work on the edge. Stripping bark, cutting cordage, making tent pegs and similar tasks were accomplished with respectable ease.
So, what about shelter-building? Not all emergency situations will necessarily occur in the deep wilderness where the only resources are what nature provides. A vehicle breakdown in a remote, but formerly inhabited area is a likely survival setting. I found the serrations, which I had initially found so loathsome, to be especially useful separating several man-made materials (read “junk, trash, litter…”) into smaller, easier to use parts, for instance – thick rubber conveyor belting, thick polypropylene from a 55-gallon drum, automotive hoses, rubberized truck tarps, mud flaps and floor mats. I did not try it on seat-belt webbing because I had none other than that in my ride to work. The serrations chewed through the stuff with unexpected ease. You can cut such materials with a plain edge, but it’s a bit troublesome and is tough on the edge.
For $36 retail (as low as $22 depending on where you’re shopping), the Redpoint makes a lot of tool value accessible to a wide range of users and the knife itself fits a wide range of users’ needs regardless of the price. It is even available in four colors (gray, black, blue, yellow) which should suit the more conservative of us, with gray and black, as well as the more forgetful or festive with the high-visibility colors. The Utility Arch makes it hard to lose and easy to carry, as some pretty large cordage and any carabiner I tried will fit through that loop, and yes, the bottle-opener does work.
Slap on a decent warranty and you’ve got yourself a deal! BUCK did just that. With a few reasonable exclusions, the Redpoint is covered with no time limitation that I could find. I got a peek at the other colors and the “Forever Warranty” on BUCK’s site where I don’t think BUCK said quite enough about this knife. At first glance, I presumed its non-traditional appearance to be a gimmick. Some time and use proved its features to have been well thought out and nicely executed as a versatile and inexpensive tool.