OK, maybe not the worst knife, but certainly the knife that is the least useful based on design, weight and ergonomics. That honor goes to (drum roll please)...
The Buck 184 'SEAL knife'!
A funny conclusion this, because if there is one knife that most Buck aficionados say they must have in their collection it is the Buck 184. I'm no exception. The 184 is a 'must have' blade if you are at all serious about collecting Buck knives. It occupies a very unique position in the history of Buck knife production. However, it is a blade that really has no practical use in the real world. Although it is extremely well designed and executed (and is perhaps one of the best hollow handled knives ever produced in large numbers), it is a purpose built device designed to fit a narrow range of tasks. As the name indicates, the 184 was designed to meet a specific requirement statement from Naval Special Warfare Command, or the SEALs. The 184 has a fascinating history which is well documented at the www.buck-184.com website so I won't delve into it here.
However, this particular knife has a provenance. I've owned it since early 1989. In February of '89 I was leading a geographic analysis team in Honduras as part of Task Force Tiger out of the 20th Engineer Brigade from Fort Bragg, NC. One of my NCOs was a surveyor named Mike Finley. Mike showed up with this knife dangling off of his belt. I'd never seen one in the flesh before and thought it was a really neat design. Mike had not babied it - the knife looked in 1989 about the same as it does in the picture above. He had lost one of the anchor pins and virtually all the survival items that came in the sheath pouches, but the knife itself was still in good shape. I told Mike that if he ever considered selling it to let me know and I'd give him a fair price for it.
About a week later we were sitting across from each other in a C-130, heading for a parachute jump in southern Honduras. Before deploying for Honduras I had purchased one of the first Casio altimeter watches sold in the PX at Fort Bragg. Before the plane took off I was sitting in my seat playing with the settings so I could monitor the C-130's altitude just before the jump (we always suspected the pilots came in a bit too low on our jumps). I wasn't particularly impressed with the watch. It only provided altitude readouts in meters and I was planning on replacing it when we got back to Fort Bragg. Mike, however, became fascinated by it. I let him play with it during the short flight to the drop zone and he thought it was the coolest thing he'd ever seen.
Back in camp after the jump Mike came up to me and asked if I'd be interested in doing a straight trade - my watch for his knife. I hesitated. I knew his knife was worth much more than the watch and I told him so. Mike didn't care. He told me he was never much impressed with the knife and he really wanted the watch. We did the trade.
The first thing about this knife that got my attention is that it is heavy. I mean, pull you straight to the bottom of the pool heavy. The knife and sheath combo seemed like they weighed at least three pounds. I know I'm exaggerating, but not by much. The blade is too big for anything other than chopping down trees or prying your way out of an armored personnel carrier. In other words, it is a neat design, but it's just too big and heavy to be practical.
I carried the knife for a few weeks in Honduras and when I got home to Fort Bragg I re-profiled the edge, but never used it much after that. It soon joined the small collection of knives I was accumulating in an old duffle bag and I went out and bought a Randall Model 14 (another story for another time). Still, I never regret trading Mike for this knife. It's value has only gone up while I'm sure that Casio watch went into the trash a decade or two ago.
Awww geeze, not another blog!
Welcome to A Fine Blade!
This blog will focus one of my lifelong passions and one of man's most basic tools - the knife!
As time and events permit we'll tiptoe into other territory where we can use the knife as a metaphor in discussions about current events and have a little politically incorrect fun.
Because you see, knives rank just below guns as the most politically incorrect subject on the web today.
Guns & Knives = Bad. Gay Marriage & Recreational Drug Use = Good
We'll see if we can't have some fun with that.
So stay tuned, and welcome aboard!