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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
There has been a definite trend over the last few years for well made and well priced hunting knives, with a few companies offering some good and practical designs around the £50-70 mark. To me this is an excellent price point for a half-decent field cutlery. One of the leaders in this field has been Buck
Over the years I have tested most of their Alpha Hunter series and perhaps their most cost effective model of all, the Diamondback, which at under £30 is an absolute bargain. However, I would be the first to admit that these models are undeniably modern, which is fine by me, but many stalkers might like something a bit more traditional. And if that’s the case their Vanguard strikes an excellent balance between looks and practicality.
The build is a classic, drop-point hunter with a 4.5” stainless steel blade and deep wide handle. The edge is hollow ground and shows a semi-choil (cut out section at the rear of the edge) in front of the guard. Personally, I think they could have made more of this feature. The spine retains its 1/8” width for near 5/6th of its length, making for a strong but not overly heavy build. The tip is nicely pointed to let you get it into tight areas like the anus for easy cutting.
Edge Up, Edge Down
The drop angle at the point means when using the knife edge-up, you can easily open up the stomach without fear of rupturing the intestines and gut, as it’s raised about ½” off the centre line of the blade. Razor sharp, medium/short and strong this is a nice design.
Moving back there’s a thick brass half guard that really gives your finger (edge-down) or thumb (edge-up) plenty to push against. Likewise the spine is flush with the top of the handle, so you can move your thumb or finger forward onto it if you want more control or need to apply pressure. Sometimes you might wish to shorten your grip and move your finger forward onto the choil and I would have preferred this area to be a little larger to allow this. As it is you can do it, but your pinky is almost on the edge.
The handle is a hard rubber compound and offers a simple yet hand-filling shape with a subtle bulge between first and second fingers that curves away slightly to end in a brass butt cap. It fills the hand well and gives a decent grip, which is improved by moulded-in chequering on both sides and textured panels top and bottom. The general shape is not dictatorial and allows edge up/down use with equal address. Unusually there’s no lanyard hole in the base.
As can be seen, what you have here is quite a traditional design with none of the hi-tech look of the Alpha Hunter or minimalist approach of the Diamondback. But with a rubber handle you are not going to have problems as you might with a natural material in terms of blood and tissue contamination soaking in
The sheath is the critical part of the overall package, as it has to offer safe carriage yet give easy access. Buck has gone for a simple, heavy nylon build that rises up and envelopes the knife to half way up its handle with a press stud/strap providing security and closure. Wisely they have lined the inside with a synthetic inner to stop the edge cutting the outer material as it goes in and out’. A simple loop is stitched to the rear which places the sheath quite high with the handle above the belt line. This could cause re-entry problem with a shorter sheath, but the mouth that envelopes the handle acts as a blade guide as you insert it. In use the Vanguard proved its promise as it cut well and handled nicely, and in terms of looks shows a more traditional styling. Yet another winner from Buck.