Generations of hunters count the Buck 110 Folding Hunter as the apex hunting knife. Now Buck has engineered that same DNA into what may become your next everyday carry folder
by Dexter Ewing; Photos by Marty Stanfield, Marty Stanfield Photography
The Buck 110 Folding Hunter is arguably one of the most imitated knives on the market. It debuted in 1964, and at that time, it was the first folding knife of its type to feature robust, heavy-duty construction, a lock that secures the blade open, and a clip point to handle most hunting and field dress chores. Its build allowed the 110 to be used like a fixed blade and to withstand all the heavy use and abuse that was given to it by outdoorsmen the world over. The 110 features a heavy build with brass bolsters on both ends of the handle, brass liners, a stabilized hardwood handle, and a stainless-steel blade with an oversized nail nick for easy opening. The 110 was soon copied by nearly every knife manufacturer, many of whom still make them today, as does Buck Knives.
After its release, the Buck 110 Folding Hunter found favor with those outside of the outdoor and hunting markets. The 110 was, for all intents and purposes, the tactical folder of yesteryear. It found its way onto the belts of tradesmen, farmers, construction workers, and even law enforcement and military personnel. The 110 design was a hard knife to destroy or even cripple.
Through the years, the 110 has undergone minor tweaks to make it more user-friendly and comfortable. These tweaks mostly were to the handle to soften the hard edges. There was also a variant — the 110FG — released which featured a finger-grooved handle, making it a bit more comfortable and secure to hold. There have also been many special, limited-run variants of the 110 that featured different blade and handle materials. There’s even the 112 Ranger design, which is a smaller, more compact version of the 110. Smaller size, but with the same robust build and materials.
Perhaps one of the most significant variants has just come to market in the form of the 110 Slim Pro TRX.
The Slim Pro TRX is an optimized and modernized version of the legendary 110. This knife has all the features found in modern single-blade, lock blade folding knives, such as high-end CPM S30V stainless-steel, a G-10 phenolic resin handle, a deep carry pocket clip, Torx screw construction instead of rivets, and dual thumb studs for ambidextrous opening. Basically, an updated version for the current times.
The 110 is sheath-carried and takes two hands to open. The 110 Slim Pro TRX is carried in the pocket via the pocket clip and the blade can be opened quickly and easily using either hand. The liner-less G-10 handle promotes strength and light weight. Overall, the design lines and dimensions of the blade and handle closely echo that of the original 110 Folding Hunter. It’s very easy to see where the Slim Pro TRX’s design lineage originates. And that’s a powerful design lineage, too!
The 110 Slim Pro TRX has a 3 ¾-inch long clip point blade, laser cut and ground from ⅛-inch stock of premium S30V stainless steel. It sports the same hollow grind that makes its predecessor’s performance famous amongst demanding users. This premium steel was chosen because it is a proven standard amongst high-end factory knives. S30V exhibits enhanced edge-holding power to carry you through the toughest and most demanding cutting tasks without worrying about constant resharpening. It can be a bear to resharpen if you allow it to go completely dull (trust me on this!). To properly care for it with minimal struggle, you need to shift from a “knife sharpening” mindset to “knife maintenance.” Frequent honing based on use is what’s needed. Two large ambidextrous thumb studs permit opening the blade with either hand. This takes care of the business end of the 110 Slim Pro TRX.
But how does it perform?
Just like its predecessor, the 110 Slim Pro TRX is most definitely a serious-use cutting tool. Right out of the box, the knife is ready to work. The edge is extremely sharp but the edge grind itself appears to be quite coarse, as you can see the striations cut in. But this has no bearing on performance. Couple the excellent edge geometry with the hollow grind main bevel of the blade and you have a cutlery version of a laser.
The 110 Slim Pro TRX will go through the toughest materials with ease. The blade bites deep and hard with little effort. With such precise tasks like wire stripping, you really need to proceed with caution because of this. With thick-wall cardboard or thick rubber hose, this blade will sink right in and do its thing. Little resistance is felt at the handle end. This is unlike any other folding lock blade you own or have used in the past! Thick plastic lawn edging is also no match for the 110 Slim Pro TRX. It just shrugs it off and keeps on going. The S30V steel indeed provides the muscle necessary to power through all your cutting jobs, big or small. The blade opens easily thanks to the large contoured thumb studs. And the thumb studs placement is ideal, too. They rise up a little above the blade spine, and I discovered that they make a great, wide thumb rest to place your thumb on for control. They are at an optimal position to open the blade easily with little effort. They are also far enough back that they won’t obstruct too much of the cutting edge and get in the way.
As far as the handle goes, if you are familiar with modern tactical or outdoor folding knives that use G-10 handles, the 110 Slim Pro TRX is pretty much standard fare with those. There’s a light texturing pattern on the surface to provide comfortable hand traction for non-slip grip in most weather conditions. I like the fact that they offer this knife in not one, not two, but three different handle colors for your choosing. There’s the standard black color, but there’s also a hi-vis orange and an OD green. All come with nice contrasting black hardware and a pocket clip (orange and green).
The handle is very slim, and this disappears in the pocket easily. The slim profile resists printing in your pocket and minimizes that bulky feeling that some other folding knives have. You will barely know this knife is with you! Deep carry pocket clips are a love it or hate it proposition. This model features a sturdy, wide clip that tapers down to the end. It’s a strong clip design that carries the 110 Slim Pro TRX deep in the pocket away from prying eyes. The black coating on the clip also makes it a lower profile for discreet visibility. Buck was thoughtful enough to provide an extra set of clip screw holes on the opposite side of the handle, allowing left users to easily switch the clip to the other side using a T6 Torx bit.
Looking at the overall handle profile, it is reminiscent of the classic 110 Folding Hunter. The lack of bolsters like on the regular 110 means the weight of the knife is kept to an absolute minimum for the most comfortable carry experience of any folding knife you have used; however, I would like for Buck to make this a mid-lock lock back, meaning the release would be situated in the middle of the handle to easily allow for one-handed unlocking and thus, closing. But I figured that they wanted to stay true as possible to the original 110 design, so it has the lock release at the rear of the handle.
Overall, Buck Knives did a stupendous job at modernizing their classic, original 110 Folding Hunter into an everyday carry folder thanks to the addition of high-performance stainless-steel, ambidextrous opening, pocket clip carry, and a slimmed down profile using a phenolic-based reinforced handle material. For those who find the 110 design to be too large, they also make their 112 Ranger in the Slim Pro TRX design as well. The MSRP for any of the three colors of the 110 Slim Pro TRX is $114.99. This is an awesome value for a high-end, USA-made folding knife featuring high quality materials.