Buck Knives was started by a young Kansas blacksmith’s apprentice named Hoyt Buck who was looking for a better way to temper steel so it would hold an edge longer and his unique approach produced the first Buck Knife in 1902 (for more information on the history of Buck Knives click here).
Today, Buck is widely accepted as an American icon in the knife industry and their knives are very popular amongst both hunters and every day users.
However, the Buck “Ranger Skinner” is a relatively new introduction to the Buck line of fixed blade hunting knives and it is designed to be a cross between their venerable and extremely popular model 113 Ranger folding knife and their also highly popular Vanguard model.
Like the Buck Vanguard, the Buck Ranger Skinner features a beautifully ground 3 1/8” drop point blade made from 420 high carbon stainless steel (Rockwell Hardness unknown) with a deep, hollow ground, bevel who’s lines nicely complement the overall appearance of the knife.
In addition, the handle features full tang construction with a highly ergonomic shape that is further complimented by the addition of Macassar Ebony Dymondwood slabs and high quality brass bolsters. Last, this knife is supplied with a black, pouch-type, leather sheath.
With my extensive experience in hunting and survival, I have had the opportunity to try many different blade steels, blade shapes and blade lengths in the field.
This experience has led me to form some very distinct opinions on what does and does not work in a hunting knife.
Also, I have developed a preference for a certain aesthetic appearance in my hunting knives and surprisingly, the Buck Ranger Skinner actually meets all of my criteria except for the blade steel.
You see, while 420 HC is a good blade steel. It is, however, inferior to such steels as 440C, 154CM, AST34 and D2 because it only contains 0.40% to 0.50% Carbon which is just barely enough to convert the iron into steel.
It also contain 0.8% Manganese which helps to make the steel tougher and increases its hardenability. The blades 0.18% Vanadium content still refines the grain structure ebabling the edge to be honed to a finer point.
However, with only 12 to 14% Chromium, it just barely qualifies as a stainless steel and thus, it is not a highly corrosion resistant steel.
On the other hand, despite the less than lustrous elemental composition, 420 HC is still a good blade steel. It’s just not a great blade steel. The blade of the Buck Ranger Skinner is also very gracefully designed, beautifully ground and is imminently well suited to the task of skinning harvested game animals.
The overall shape of the full tang handle does an excellent job of complimenting the lines of the blade and also manages to be highly ergonomic at the same time.
Plus, the Macassar Ebony Dymondwood slabs and high quality brass bolsters are every bit as beautiful as the rest of the knife. These are a nice tip of the hat to the venerable Buck Ranger folding knife.
Consequently, I am very pleased with the overall design and construction of the Buck Ranger Skinner and I would not feel as if I were inadequately equipped if I were to carry it with me on a hunting trip.
In fact, if the blade were made from better steel, then I personally would be willing to pay considerably more for it since I feel that it is an absolutely gorgeous example of an excellent hunting knife.