The "Bucktool" from Buck Knives won much acclaim when introduced. However, for all its nifty features, and it does have its share, it falls down in some vital areas from the perspective of being a survival tool.
Buck Knives makes a number of variations of its BuckTool, all of which have locking blades and implements, along with needle nose pliers and soft wire cutters. The BuckTool is unique in the way it unfolds. The handles are rotated in opposite directions away from the faces of the pliers which nest between them. In practice, you generally hold one handle while rotating the other around 360°. If they haven't already done so by then, at the 180° point, the handle hits a stop on the pliers and the pliers fold out. This simple operation gives it the highest "fiddle factor rating" of any of the multi-tools.
One drawback of this design is that when twisting the pliers clockwise, the handles have a tendency to move towards the closed position, reducing the maximum force you can exert. The good news is that we most often need maximum effort when trying to loosen something that is stuck, which usually involves a counter-clockwise rotation, and the handles are against the stops in that direction.
The very ergonomic handles are comfortable to grip and the spring lock works well enough, though it isn't as easy to operate as some. It takes very firm pressure on the spring loaded lock to release the tool or blade. The small tools are not easy to open, being heavily spring loaded, and have been known to break fingernails when they unexpectedly spring open having been pulled overcenter of the spring.
The screwdriver blades: small, medium, and large slotted and #1 and #2 Phillips, are short, with the longest only an 1 3/16 inches long and the rest even shorter, down to 5/16 inch. Moreover, about half the already short length is very wide to accommodate the opening slot, further reducing the utility of the drivers. The Phillips drivers are rather unique, with only three sides, basically half a Phillips bit. This means you must hold the tool perfectly aligned or the bit may slip. There is also a can/bottle opener.
The various configurations are offered with two blades(the Original), a partially serrated drop-point and a fully serrated sheepsfoot, 2 1/2 inches long, or the drop-point and a combination coarse and fine metal file, the "BuckTool with File." This file is an odd beast--a beveled edge necessary to clear the internal locking mechanism means the course side is compromised when trying to use it in some instances. An angled chisel point end on the file, while potentially of use in limited circumstances, also makes is difficult to use in many others that you'd commonly utilize the file for. The BuckTool WorkMan includes slots on the beveled edge to serve as wire stripers, the bottle opener is replaced by an awl, and the blade is the serrated sheepsfoot.
Nylon sheaths are included except with a version of the Original BuckTool that comes with a pocket clip, though at 4 1/8 x 1 3/8 x 9/16 inches it is a bit awkward in the pocket.
The BuckLite is a slimmed down version with straight handles and non-locking blades and tools. It seems to be Buck's answer to the original Leatherman Pocket Survival Tool and fits nicely in a pocket, though we found it had a tendency to start to open on occasion while drawing it out, something of a bother. It has three slotted screwdrivers, the smallest on the end of a bottle opener, and a #2 Phillips screwdriver (that half-a-Phillips design again), and awl, a conventional course/fine file, a fold-out lanyard ring with a nice sized 3/16 inch hole, and the partially-serrated drop-point blade.
For more information and detailed photos of on the BuckTool, check out our expanded review and valuation.
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Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
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Revision: 010 January 12, 1999
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