Shooting Industry

Buck family celebrates 100 years of making knives!

Buck family celebrates 100 years of making knives! – Outdoor Marketplace

Roger Combs

Throughout 2002, Buck Knives is celebrating its 100th anniversary. From hand-forged World War II combat knives to today’s sophisticated high-tech blades, Buck has become one of the most famous brand names in America.

The company’s longevity, traditions and customer loyalty are forged by dedicated American craftsmen. And it is still a family business, led by the third and fourth generations of the Buck family whose name is stamped on every knife the firm makes. Buck Knives is known and respected worldwide for its high-quality, edge-holding blades, and a lifetime guarantee.

During 2002, the company is celebrating its 100th birthday with yearlong special events, advertising and publicity. Dealers should take note of Buck’s special Centennial Collection knives, which will be available only during 2002. These knives are sure to become immediate collectors’ items.

“Last spring we began developing our limited-edition knives to help celebrate our 100th anniversary,” said Chuck Buck. “Now we have finalized the Centennial Collection, and I’m sure you’ll find at least one irresistible.”

The Early Years

Buck dates its knifemaking history back to 1902, when 13-year-old Hoyt Heath Buck became an apprentice blacksmith in Kansas. Buck learned to shoe horses, fix wagon wheels, and repair farm equipment. He also sharpened farmers’ grub-hoes. Since the sharpening had to be done often, Hoyt began to search for ways to keep a stronger edge on the metal tools.

After considerable experimentation, the teenager developed a tempering process that improved edge holding. Then, with an ample supply of worn-out rasps on hand, he used the technique to make knife blades that held an edge longer. From those modest beginnings came the basic concepts still used today in Buck’s sophisticated knife-making processes.

Although Hoyt Buck made his first knives in 1902, he wasn’t in the knife business. That came later. First, there was a call to help fight World War II. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the government asked Americans to donate fixed-blade knives to U.S. fighting men.

“I didn’t have any knives, but I knew how to make them,” Hoyt Buck recalled.

He set up a small blacksmith shop in the basement of his church. There, he began handcrafting knives for servicemen. By the end of World War II, there was a waiting list of GIs who wanted a knife made by Hoyt. And Buck’s knives were on their way to becoming known throughout much of the world.

In 1946, Hoyt and his oldest son, Al, set up a lean-to on the side of Al’s garage in San Diego. And they began making knives. At the time, the knives were made of discarded metal file-blades. With their heavy carbon content, they had the toughness and edge-holding qualities Buck wanted. In 1947, Al quit his job as a San Diego bus driver and joined his father in a partnership known as H. H. Buck & Son. All of the company’s knives were handmade.

The small company was struggling in 1961, which is when Buck Knives was incorporated. Soon, six models of fixed-blade knives were being made of a new, rust-resistant steel alloy called 440C. In those days, sport knives sold for about $2. Buck’s knives were priced from $12 to $20. Yet, because of their quality, they sold.

In 1964, the first Buck Folding Hunter was introduced and became a tremendous success. Dealers everywhere have sold millions of these well-recognized folders. The Buck Folding Hunter has become almost a generic name. Sometimes, news accounts describe any large folding knife as a “buck knife.” Buck is the first to point out the error, but it illustrates how popular the big folders have become.

In the ’60s, Chuck Buck, Al’s son, was named to the board of directors. His warm personality continues to draw customers and dealers to the Buck Knives’ booth at trade and consumer shows throughout the country.

Today, Chuck Buck is the company’s chairman of the board. His son, C.J. Buck, the forth generation, is president and chief executive officer.


Today, as Buck celebrates is Centennial year, it is a strong corporate entity, with a manufacturing facility covering 45 acres under one roof in El Cajon, Calif., just east of San Diego. The company continues to develop trend-setting knives and processes. Buck led the way with lightweight, but rugged, lockblades when they introduced the BuckLite series 19 years ago. Their fish-fillet knives brought non-slip handles and mid-flex blades to the market.

In 1994, Buck’s CrossLock knives received the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence Knife of the Year award. In 1996, the company introduced its clever BuckTool.

Another advancement in blade manufacturing is Buck’s Edge2000 edging process. The innovation produces sharper blades that hold an edge twice as long as other processes, and are easier to re-sharpen. All Buck knives now feature blades with Edge2000.

Celebration Knives

To commemorate its second century, Buck is producing several special knives. Buck’s Four Generations is a 12.5-inch subhilt Bowie knife. One hundred of the knives will be made, and offered first to Buck dealers as collectibles and marketing tools.

The Four Generations’ guard and butt are made of sterling silver. The 5.25-inch handle is rare Amboynia burlwood with Mastodon ivory and sterling silver spacers. Embedded in the handle is the Buck 100th Anniversary logo in sterling silver with a pave of diamonds in each, totaling 1/4k. On the 7.25-inch BG-42 blade are 24k gold-filled engravings of Hoyt, Al, Chuck and C.J. Buck. Chuck and C.J. have autographed each blade.

Other Limited Edition knives include a four-knife collection, called the Family Favorites. Each Buck knife-maker has or had A fondness for a particular knife. Hoyt’s choice was the Model 118. Al’s favorite was the exotic Model 401 Kalinga. Chuck’s choice is the Model 532 BuckLock, made with Mastodon ivory handles for this limited production. Avid hunter C.J. Buck selected the Model 191 Zipper fixed-blade, hunting knife.

Only 1,000 of the four knives will be made. They will be presented in a wood-framed display case, each serialized and with a signature on the blade.

In addition to the commemoratives, Buck has introduced the Alpha Hunter line for 2002. This all-new series of advanced-design outdoor knives was created in collaboration with renowned mountaineer Peter Whittaker. Dozens of other new Buck knives send a clear message, according to Chuck Buck.

“At Buck Knives, our roots are firmly planted in the solid traditions established by my grandfather, Hoyt Buck, and my father, Al Buck,” Chuck Buck said. “At the same time, our eyes and minds are squarely on the future. That’s why we’ve created and introduced so many innovative new products in the past two years.

“And that trend will continue, as we expand our horizons even farther. New, yes, but our hallmark is still top quality, backed by our no-nonsense, no-hassle lifetime guarantee.”

COPYRIGHT 2002 Publishers’ Development Corporation

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group