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Buck Knives Vantage Pro Review

The smaller knife makers have led a charge toward more usable knives at reasonable prices; with the Vantage, Buck more than catches up
Buck Knives Vantage Pro
Photo: Amazon
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Price:  $93 List | $84.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent steel, one-handed opening, simple construction
Cons:  Steep edge angle on a thick blade, only two pocket clip orientations, no lanyard hole
Manufacturer:   Buck Knife
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2020
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57
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 17
  • Blade and Edge Integrity - 30% 5
  • Ergonomics - 20% 7
  • Portability - 20% 7
  • Construction Quality - 20% 7
  • Other Features - 10% 0

Our Verdict

The Buck Knives Vantage Pro is a modern, high-end knife from a legacy manufacturer. Buck has been making knives in the USA for many decades. They do so in high volume and with great respect for tradition. With other products from them, this has somewhat slowed innovation. The Vantage is fully modern, with all the portability and usability advantages of that sort of upgrade. We like the Vantage. It is an investment but comes with lasting construction and excellent blade steel. For many purposes, we wish the blade were thinner and ground with a gentler edge taper.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award  
Price $84.99 at Amazon$185 List$124.95 at Amazon$73.21 at Amazon$84.00 at Amazon
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Pros Excellent steel, one-handed opening, simple constructionGreat blade, classy wooden handleIncredible blade quality, assisted open, perfect combination of compactness/functionalityBeautifully constructed, assisted open, good valueBig blade, excellent steel, four pocket clip positions
Cons Steep edge angle on a thick blade, only two pocket clip orientations, no lanyard holeExpensive, no assisted opening functionPricey, blade lock mechanism not intuitiveSlender handle makes it hard to apply even pressure, thin blade is fragileBulky pocket carry, slim handle in use
Bottom Line A quality knife in a configuration we have come to expect from the boutique manufacturersA compact yet "full size” pocket knife for day to day use and all but the heaviest of tasksA high end construction of a knife carefully tuned to optimize portability and functionThis thin knife disappears in your pocket, tackles most tasks, and is easy on your walletA long-time classic, enduring for its solid design, significant customization options, and continuous improvements
Rating Categories Buck Knives Vantage Pro Benchmade 15031-2 North Fork Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585 Kershaw Leek Spyderco Delica 4
Blade And Edge Integrity (30%)
5
9
9
7
7
Ergonomics (20%)
7
8
8
6
7
Portability (20%)
7
7
7
8
8
Construction Quality (20%)
7
9
9
8
7
Other Features (10%)
0
0
0
0
0
Specs Buck Knives... Benchmade 15031-2... Benchmade... Kershaw Leek Spyderco Delica 4
Weight (ounces) 2.8 oz 3.2 oz 3.4 oz 3.1 oz 2.3 oz
Blade Style Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Drop point, straight Clip point, straight
Blade locks closed? No Yes Yes Yes No
Opening Style Back-of-knife finger tab or ambidextrous thumb hole Ambidextrous thumb-stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud Assisted, ambidextrous thumb stud. And back-of-knife finger tab. Ambidextrous Thumb hole
Lock Mechanism Liner lock Proprietary (Axis) Proprietary (Axis) Frame lock Lock back
Carry Style, in addition to loose in pocket Pocket Clip Pocket Clip Pocket Clip and lanyard hole Pocket Clip Pocket Clip and lanyard hole
Blade Material S30V stainless steel CPM-S30V stainless steel 154CM Steel Sandvik 14C28N VG-10 Stainless Steel
Handle Material Plastic Stabilized wood Plastic 410 stainless steel Plastic
Blade Length (inches) 2.5 in 2.9 in 2.9 in 2.9 in 2.5 in
Closed Length (inches) 3.5 in 3.9 in 4.0 in 4.0 in 4.1 in
Overall Length 6.0 in 6.9 in 6.9 in 7.0 in 7.0 in
Thickness (w/o pocket clip) (inches) .5 in .5 in .6 in .3 in .4 in
Other Features or Functions None None None None None

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Vantage Pro is a modern contribution from this legacy company. Other Buck knives we have tested were less sophisticated and modern than the Vantage Pro. Improvements in pocket knives in recent decades have been incremental, but the sum is indeed more usable. The Vantage is the right size, with most of the right attributes, and has great blade steel at a good value.

Performance Comparison


The Vantage Pro sticks the venerable Buck Knives brand on a modern...
The Vantage Pro sticks the venerable Buck Knives brand on a modern product in a sweet spot, size-wise.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Blade and Edge Integrity


The blade of the Vantage Pro is made of excellent (for the price) steel and is shaped into a robust, thick, steep-sided edge. Buck's heat treatment is proprietary, but legendary. S30v steel, as used in the version we tested (you can get different configurations of the Vantage), is known to be very, very good. Other manufacturers use this kind of steel in their "premium" products, for instance. This Buck blade is serviceable and robust. For the overall dimensions, the blade is relatively thick and its edge is formed by two steeply joining facets. As a result it holds up real well between sharpenings, but requires more force in harder materials like wood. We'll take that trade-off for an everyday carry blade, as we don't want to perform frequent maintenance. For game dressing, a finer blade is going to be better than that on the Vantage.

The blade of the Buck Vantage we tested is really, really nice. It...
The blade of the Buck Vantage we tested is really, really nice. It is a tiny bit thicker than we'd like in a knife this size, but it is sturdy and made of excellent steel. Buck's heat treatment is legendary also, and the overall construction is extremely solid.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Ergonomics


First, the Vantage Pro is just big enough to fill a clenched adult hand. For heavy use, we don't want anything smaller than this Buck. Your pinky finger barely gets in on the act, somewhat hanging off the rear. Another 1/4" of handle length would augment heavy use with minimal "cost." From pocket clip stowage you deploy it with either a thumb hole or index finger flip. Both work one-handed. Finger flip requires a pretty snappy move. We prefer assisted opening function, but that adds complication and expense.

The rounded handle and sturdy blade hold up well to whittling of...
The rounded handle and sturdy blade hold up well to whittling of even the hardest woods.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Portability


Large enough for most moderate to heavy use, the Buck Vantage is small enough to disappear in most pants pockets. The rounded handle enhances ergonomics but makes it a little bulkier in carry. The pocket clip is tight and low profile. It can also be switched from one side or the other, but not from top to bottom. You have to carry the Buck Vantage "tip up," but you can do so in either left or right pants pocket.

The deep pocket clip of the Buck Vantage is attached right to the...
The deep pocket clip of the Buck Vantage is attached right to the end of the knife for maximum depth in the carrier's pocket. This is good when a low visual profile is sought.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Construction Quality


Everything is tight and clean. There is just the right amount of tension in the main pivot; it doesn't fall open in your pocket, but a single, vigorous index finger flip deploys the blade when needed. The wide open frame sheds crud and pocket detritus when you want it to. The liner lock leaves no play in a locked out blade.

Other Features


The Buck Vantage Pro is a simple, one-blade pocket knife. There are no other features included.

Your day to day life might not involve jungle bamboo harvest, but if...
Your day to day life might not involve jungle bamboo harvest, but if it did, you'd be glad to have the stout Buck Vantage along for the ride. This daily driver knife will handle all you might encounter.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Value


This isn't a budget knife. It'll cost about the same as a typical date-night at a nice restaurant. The purchase of the Buck gets you excellent steel, well-regarded construction quality, and USA construction.

Conclusion


An American-made, widely recognized brand making a modern knife to boutique-grade standards. The Buck Knives Vantage Pro is very well made and backed by Buck's large distribution network and many, many decades of business.

Jediah Porter