Photograph of a Buck 110 Knife, A Swiss Navy Knife and a Milwaukee Fastback Knife

Function vs Form – Knives.

When I first wrote a few thoughts about Function vs Form I used my lighters as an example. This time I’ve been pondering over the knives I’ve been using for the past 30-odd years.

I first started regularly carrying a knife back in the mid-eighties. At the time I was doing a lot of drawing and sailing, and I carried the immensely handy Bosun’s Mate Knife, great for dealing with ropes and shackles, and sharpening pencils. I lost my first one, and there were some quality problems with the replacement – the blade had a very sloppy fit, which led to it being replaced.

We spent this past weekend with Jim & Carol, and while we were there Jim gave me a Buck 110 knife (top). It’s a classic knife that set the bar for folding knives to come.

The pros on the Buck are obvious, its looks and function; it is a thing of beauty, and it works. The cons are its weight and (for me) the lack of a pocket clip. I like my knife clipped into my pocket.

The middle knife is my trusty Swiss Navy Knife. It’s great, and the wear on it hints at its history of many years of everyday use. As much as I love it, I hate its serrated blade, and it doesn’t have a clip to hold it in my pocket – hence the lanyard. I’ve lost it in a lake once, and had to resort to snorkeling to recover it. The lanyard is to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

My everyday carry was the Milwaukee Fastback (bottom). It’s a fantastic workhorse, and inexpensive to boot. It’s a knife you can afford to abuse and lose. The wear on the opening button gives testimony to its constant use.

I say that the Milwaukee ‘was’ my everyday carry. That is because I have a request in for a lightweight multi-tool – the Leatherman Skeletool CX, and, of course, I now have the Buck.

I’ve picked a multitool with a titanium frame, and a straight blade. It is light. It doesn’t include a marline spike, tweezers, or tooth pick (more’s the pity) – which the Swiss Navy Knife does, but I reckon I can manage without those in favor of pliers and cutters. The multi-tool does have a clip, so It’ll sit nicely in my pocket. And to my eye it looks good too.

Coming back to Function vs Form with my knives.

The Swiss Navy Knife beats the Milwaukee and Buck hands down on functionality, with its screwdriver blades, marlin spike, bottle and can opener, shackle tool, tweezers and toothpick. Depending on what tools I’ll be needing, I suspect it also beats the Leatherman Skeletool CX. But, for everyday carry I want a straight blade and pocket clip – the Swiss Navy Knife has neither.

The Buck just feels right, and wood and brass wins out over a plastic grip any day. I can forgive the lack of a pocket clip for the Buck’s great looks and wonderful feel.

For the moment the Milwaukee Fastback and Swiss Navy Knife will be consigned to sitting on a shelf. When I get my multi-tool it will become my everyday carry, and the Buck will get pride of place on my desk. When I’m out backpacking or hiking the Buck will accompany me in my pack. Until I get the multi-tool the Buck will be my Everyday Carry.

Copyright © 2017 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.