Buck 135 PakLite Caper Knife
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Illustration courtesy of Buck Knives.
In 1902, after he had learned how to temper steel so that it would better hold an edge, Hoyt Buck began making knives. For many years all Buck knives, although produced to specific model patterns, were hand made, but this is no longer the case. However, the quality and durability of Buck knives remains high and the Buck Knives reputation is carried on by third and fourth generation family members.
The name of this little fixed blade hunting knife, "Caper," says it all. It is designed for caping big game trophies and also serves nicely for field dressing medium size game animals. Buck describes their Model 135 (black) PakLite Caper this way:
"Lightweight, sturdy and effective. This caping knife can be carried alone or used to compliment any hunting knife. The skeletal steel frame is heavy-duty, yet lightweight for easy carry. You won't even know it's there. The 420HC stainless steel blade and handle ensure durability and corrosion resistance, while the minimalist design is effective and reliable while in use. This version features Buck's Black Traction Coating for added grip."
We discovered this knife in the hand of one of the professional skinners at the Clover Creek Ranch. These guys field dress and cape far more big game animals than most hunters, so when a guide whipped out a Buck PakLite Caper to field dress a ram, we noticed and decided to acquire one for review.
This is the lightest, fixed blade hunting knife we have yet encountered, weighing a hair over one ounce. It is just a short, gently curved, hollow ground, drop point blade and a skeleton tang that serves as a handle. There are no handle scales, only a black crackle coating to provide a bit more traction than naked stainless steel. The same knife is available without the coating, but we need all the grip we can get. There are coarse thumb serrations on the top of the blade and similar serrations on the top and bottom of the tang, as well a finger notch directly behind the blade's cutting edge. There is no hilt. Said cutting edge is sharp when it comes from Buck, so take care that a digit doesn't slip onto the blade.
The 420 HC stainless steel of which the Caper is made is heat treated for excellent tensile strength, hardness and wear resistance. Use a hard/fine Arkansas stone with a little honing oil to sharpen your knife after use and keep it sharp. We have used medium and fine Buck sharpening stones for years. In the case of the Caper, the cutting edge is relatively thin and we found it easy to restore the edge with the fine stone.
The included nylon sheath wraps over the lower half of the handle and provides good security for the knife. Positive retention is by means of a snap strap. 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 only 2"; we would like it bigger to accommodate a wider range of belts. Because the knife is so small and light, the nylon sheath is entirely adequate for the job.
This is a knife designed for fine cutting. Since there are no handle scales, the skeleton grip, by itself, is a good argument against the use of excessive force. Some of us found the Caper's skeleton grip a bit intimidating. Nobody's hand slipped on the non-handle, but we were aware of the limited grip traction.
The Buck 135 PakLite Caper, despite its minimalist configuration (or perhaps because of it), is a very serious tool. There really isn't anything to break, but just in case, it is covered by Buck's Forever Warranty. Most Buck knives, including the little Caper, are 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.
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