Buck Mini Alpha Hunter 196CM
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
Buck have been in the cutlery business for a long time, so they know a thing or two about knives, and like any successful manufacturer they’ve also learned how to move with the times. Although models like their classic 110 Folding Hunter and Model 119 Special fixed blade are still as good and viable as they were in the way back, new customers want other things.
Perhaps one of Buck’s most successful modern designs has been the Alpha Hunter in all its versions. At the last count it was 18, which included both fixed and folders, with options on gut hook blades, handle and sheath materials. I have the synthetic handled Alpha Hunter 4 fixed blade in my collection and it’s a real tool. The overtly modern shape flows beautifully and not only looks good but does the business too.
More Than Enough
We Brits are an understated lot and not ones to like big and flashy things. This is certainly true of the majority of deer hunters, especially when it applies to hunting knives. When you think what a knife has to do then anything with a 4” + blade might seem a bit on the large side to some people. I know stalkers who might feel the 3 ¾” blade of the Alpha 4 is still too big. If so then the Mini Alpha Hunter embodies most of the good points of the design in a neat and compact package.
At first I was not sure about this little knife as I have to say I’m a 4”+ man, when it comes to blade length that is… Buck describes the Mini Alpha thus “Small, rugged, fixed-blade knife specifically designed for field dressing game. The sleekest fixed-blade hunting knife we make.”
The Mini follows the identical build to the standard Alpha. The 2 ½” blade is a full tang design made of 154CM stainless steel and offers what Buck calls a “modified wide drop point” shape. Hollow ground, the shape is deep and short with a good width to the spine so offering a rigid build.
The scales (handles) are riveted to the tang and made of resin-impregnated wood and in this example camo-finished in what might be Mossy Oak Bottomland or Break-Up pattern. Typically they do not conform to the edge of the metal, being purposefully smaller so leaving a raised section around the whole of the handle shape. To provide extra grip and thumb purchase there are also two sections of cross slots - one at the front and the other at the rear of the tang. There’s also a lanyard hole too.
A Little Short
Weighing in at just 3.6 oz the Mini Alpha is small yet fills the hand securely. I would have preferred the handle to be maybe an inch longer just to give me a tad more to get hold of. Normal cutting tasks were easy enough, with the sharply angled drop point being easy to get into awkward areas when gutting and skinning a carcass. The compact size of the blade is not a problem at all and serves to show that 2-3” is more than adequate for even the largest deer. However, I did find the drop point and handle angle a bit too much to give an easy edge-up hold and address, which is doubtless the penalty you pay for scaling down the larger Alpha design, as this factor is not apparent in that model.
The sheath is a neat and practical design. Made of heavy duty nylon cloth in a matching camo finish it envelopes the Alpha up to half way along its handle, and uses a single press stud/strap for retention. Inside the blade area is a synthetic liner, which is there to stop the edge cutting into the material, a wise move indeed. At the rear is a single 2” belt loop. The small size and light weight of the Mini Alpha makes it easy to carry anywhere in your clothing or gear.
Verdict - a neat and practical little hunter, in an eye-catching design, that has more than enough blade, but maybe needs a bit more handle for some of us. If you don’t like camo, the same model is available with rosewood scales and a plain black sheath.
Buck Mini Alpha Camo 196CM £94.95
Buck Mini Alpha 196 (rosewood scales) £89.95