Buck 392 Omni Hunter 12 PT Knife
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Illustration courtesy of Buck Knives.
Hoyt Buck, the founder of Buck Knives, began making knives in 1902, after he learned how to temper steel so that it would better hold an edge. All of Hoyt's knives were made individually, by hand. For many years all Buck knives, although produced to specific model patterns, were hand made, but this is no longer the case. Hoyt's son, Al Buck, later managed the Company and was responsible for its considerable growth during its middle years. Today, the Buck Knives reputation is carried on by third and fourth generation family members.
The 2014 Buck Knife line is extensive, including both fixed and folding blade types. Most Buck knives are still made in the USA, but some of the least expensive models are now sourced overseas. Be sure you know what you are getting before buying. It is worth paying a bit more to get a Buck knife made in the USA.
Buck describes their Model 392 Omni Hunter 12PT this way: "Full-size, heavy-duty, ergonomic design. This larger hunting knife has contoured handles, grip ridges for easy handling and a lanyard hole for easy attachment. Made in the USA." Succinct, but not a lot of detail.
What we have here is a large hunting knife with a wide, curved, semi-skinner type blade. The hollow ground blade is made of satin finished, high carbon stainless steel. The large, curved handle has a large finger notch and is covered with a black rubberized thermoplastic material for a non-slip grip. Inside the handle is a full length tang. There are thumb notches on the top of the blade for exerting extra cutting force without slipping and a lanyard slot in the butt of the grip. A ballistic nylon sheath with a hard plastic insert to prevent the blade from cutting the nylon is included in the price of the knife.
This is one of the modern Buck utility hunting knives. With its satin stainless blade and all black, rubberized "ergonomic" handle it looks much like the hunting and skinning knives marketed by dozens of other manufacturers. It is not an instantly identifiable, classic Buck fixed blade knife like the General, Woodsman or Skinner, nor does it come with a classic Buck black leather sheath. However, it is made in the USA of Buck's specially heat treated 420HC stainless steel, so it cuts and holds an edge like the classic Buck knives, resists rusting equally well and costs less.
The Omni Hunter's medium thick, wide, 4" long blade should be plenty strong enough for serious field use. It has a lot of curve, but it is not quite as curved at the tip as Buck's classic skinning blades. Its width and drop point shape make it look like a pure skinner, but actually it has a more versatile cutting edge shape that is useful for general cutting chores. It will, of course, serve nicely for skinning big game animals. Its width increases its strength, but makes it a bit bulky for fine cutting.
Buck knives come sharp from the factory and you should keep them that way. The 420 HC stainless steel in the Omni Hunter is heat treated for excellent tensile strength, hardness and wear resistance. The maximum Rockwell hardness is about Rc 58. If you let this blade get dull, sharpening will be a chore. Instead, use a whet stone with a little honing oil to touch-up your Buck knife after use and keep it sharp. We have used a Buck sharpening set with two stones (medium and fine) for years with complete satisfaction. In the case of the Omni Hunter, the cutting edge bevels seemed ground finer that some of our older Buck knives and we found it easier to restore the edge with a fine grit stone. It is not difficult to keep this knife sharp.
The handle is long, but rather thin. It provides a firm grip with minimum bulk and plenty of leverage for heavy duty cutting, although a thicker grip might feel better in the hand. There is no separate hilt; the large finger notch at the front of the handle serves to keep the index finger of the cutting hand back from the cutting edge of the blade.
The Model 392 looks like a big hunting knife, but its thin handle and 4" blade crafted from medium thickness stock means it actually weighs only 4.3 ounces. Visually, it appears to be a much bigger knife than our recently reviewed Randall Model 5 Small Camp and Trail Knife (see the Outdoor Accessories page for that review), but in fact the Randall knife weighs 1.3 ounces more than this Buck.
The supplied ballistic nylon sheath covers most of the handle and provides good protection for the knife. There is a hard plastic insert to protect the nylon sheath and the wearer from the sharp blade. The belt loop sewn to the back of the sheath measures about 2-1/4"; we would like it bigger to accommodate a wider range of heavy duty belts. Most knife manufacturers economize on their sheaths to keep the retail price of their products competitive and apparently most consumers don't know the difference. However, a few years down the road they find out. This Buck sheath is about average for its type. We would like to see it improved by being made from extra heavy weight, genuine Cordura with heavy duty double stitching to improve its durability.
Overall, the Buck Omni Hunter 12 PT is a reasonably priced, made in USA hunting/skinning knife from a respected manufacturer. It is a substantial knife, but lightweight. It's weather resistant, easy to care for and should provide many years of good service in the field.
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