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I have the opportunity to buy a 479 Buck Diamondback Knife. It has China stamped on the blade...costs about $40. Is this a quality item? Is it too expensive?

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Wow, has it really been six years since someone has posted to this thread? Ok, the drought is over.

Recently got to visit Smokey Mountain Knife Works and came away with a Buck X-Tract Fin with Blue Rubber Handle, made in China. I must admit that I have been disappointed with a few of the import Bucks, namely their 300 Series imports, but this knife is different. When comparing it to my Leatherman & my SAK's I have to say this is a superior knife. I had to actually use it to disassemble an unbalanced ceiling fan recently, and I found the tools to be easy to use, secure, and well fitting in my hand. All the tools are accessible with one hand, and honestly I can't find a thing wrong with this handy tool. This one now lives in my car, my SAK's live in a drawer, (sans the tweezers & toothpick which I always lose).

That is a nice looking tool Syd. I was very disappointed when I heard Buck ad started outsourcing there knife making to China, years ago. I have always tried to stay faithful to American made products. I know they have become more expensive and I can't always afford to buy the items made in the USA. I have had to force myself to buy items made in China and have found that some of them are not bad quality. I would buy one of these multi tools if I needed one, based on your recommendation and my recent experiences. I still prefer American made, but only if I know they are quality products. Unfortunately, I know some of the USA made products aren't what they used to be either. 

Having been around the online knife collecting community for a few years now I know that Chinese knife manufacturing can be a real hot button topic. However, when Buck started outsourcing overseas, I am reasonably sure it was simply a business decision necessary to keep the company going. Around that time many of the US manufacturers were closing, I think Buck just did what they had to do to survive. Remember, Case even flirted with Chinese-made products for a while too. Nowadays it just is what it is, Schrade, Camillus and others are gone, and gone for good, and the affordable pocket knife market is dominated by overseas manufacturing. Thanks to people like Jim Frost, Kevin Pipes of SMKW & others, the demand for quality has been heard by the Chinese, and believe me they learned fast what we as their consumers wanted, and have responded with ever increased quality. The Buck I pictured above though is the only Buck import I have liked & is to date the only Buck import I now own. Not so with Rough Rider, (SMKW), Steel Warrior, (frost), & Colt, (also SMKW). Almost every knife I have had of those brands has been of very high quality indeed, and Taylor Shrades are not far behind.

If it's an argument that says most Chinese knives are inferior is basically a moot point, proved wrong many times over in the last few years. Wanting US manufacturing back the way it used to be is a desire that will inevitably not be realized, so if you simply like knives as tools, and like them for their craftsmanship & utility then Chinese-made knives are for you, If you pine for the "old days" then the costy offerings of current US-made knives are what you are left with.

Like it or not Chinese manufacturing is here for good, you can either take it or leave it, but it isn't going away. I like a good knife no matter where it came from, to me there is no right & wrong to it, (but believe me, I'm aware others strongly disagree).

Jeremy B. Buchanan said:

That is a nice looking tool Syd. I was very disappointed when I heard Buck ad started outsourcing there knife making to China, years ago. I have always tried to stay faithful to American made products. I know they have become more expensive and I can't always afford to buy the items made in the USA. I have had to force myself to buy items made in China and have found that some of them are not bad quality. I would buy one of these multi tools if I needed one, based on your recommendation and my recent experiences. I still prefer American made, but only if I know they are quality products. Unfortunately, I know some of the USA made products aren't what they used to be either. 

Regardless of the place of manufacture, would Buck still not have final say as to what materials were being used in their knives? If they have ultimate control of things like steel, then isn't it Buck (or any other company) agreeing to to use inferior steel on their product? I have wondered about this for a while.

They of course are not agreeing to using inferior anything, they are agreeing to use Chinese labor to make products they can't afford to make in the US any more. The US brand owners have become very specific about the materials and quality of those products, and resultant products are indeed of decent quality, (as specified by the US brand owners).

The  brand owners put out the parameters as to what materials they want used, (Rockwell hardness, liner/handle materials, etc), and they then issue parameters regarding QC, and then inspect the product themselves before starting production, after that they depend on the manufacturer to produce the quality expected. Same is true for most US brands having their products made in China. For example, AG Russell, Smokey Mountain Knife Works, Buck, Taylor Brands, etc all demand a certain quality & make sure they follow those parameters, and judging from the quality of many of those brands the Chinese are delivering.. The difference is the cost of labor, the Chinese know very well how to make quality items, they can just do it for a lot less than we can, thus the proliferation of manufacturing going overseas for many industries. Don't discount a Chinese made knife just because it was made in China, judge it by it's quality. The reasons manufacturing has gone overseas is another matter, a political and business matter that most of us can't change or influence. Having been in the musical instrument business for years I can say from experience that China does indeed make quality products nearly equal to US-made. Those instruments were looked upon with derision & disgust for years, but eventually people realized they were indeed usable and capable instruments. Just like knives, US-made musical instruments are now extremely costly, and the average musician uses an import because it is capable, and more importantly affordable. I think that parallel compares to the cutlery industry very well.

I'm not saying Chinese knives are better, I'm just saying they are capable and usable, and of course much more affordable. I like carrying a good tool no matter where it was made, so I save my US-made tools as collectibles. If I use & break a Chinese knife there is no big deal, not so with a US knife. Having said that, I carry, use & sharpen my Chinese knives every day right along side my US-made knives, and I have not had any edge retention issues, or any issues at all, that should speak for itself.

Steve Scheuerman (Manx) said:

Regardless of the place of manufacture, would Buck still not have final say as to what materials were being used in their knives? If they have ultimate control of things like steel, then isn't it Buck (or any other company) agreeing to to use inferior steel on their product? I have wondered about this for a while.

In my (admittedly limited) experience with Buck, their QC is very good, but I'm sorry, there is no way anyone can say that 420 is not an inferior steel, because it is.  It's cheap, especially in bulk, & Buck has bulked the crap out of it.

Buck has kept a lot of models made in America, which is respectable to some degree, but you have to factor cheaper, less-protected Chinese labor (perhaps also at the cost of American jobs, but not necessarily).  Buck has a superior heat treat process that keeps their 420 steel strong but not brittle, also respectable, but it's still cheap 420 steel.

But if they can sustain that, I guess a sinking tide lowers all ships, & compared to generic 440 (A, mostly), & 8Cr13 (& 7Cr, & 3Cr, etc.), 420 likely will prove superior, with Buck's heat treat.

420 is THE reason I kept a distance from Buck when I started getting into knife collecting, & fortunately have picked up some US-made & China-made models (including that blue X-tract you mentioned above, Syd -- just like you, I've had very good experiences actually using that multi-tool, including the pliers, & the main blade).  But I still prefer the 440C in a pre-2000 Ranger 112 I picked up on eBay a few years back, it's one of my favorites.  And I remember Buck set 440C as the standard to bear back in the 70's.

It's really one of those things that I've begrudgingly come to accept is that Buck, despite using 420 steel, has largely figured out how to work that steel (not without exception -- I made a recent purchase of a 420 folder (Bucklite Max 420HC) that has not held an edge well), & because of mass production they can make them cheap.  

But here's one thing most people don't consider -- buying things from China also requires incredible amounts of fuel & packaging & ultimately air, land, & sea pollution, just to get that "cheaper" item to American consumers.  I'm actually lecturing myself as much as anyone, but it really bothers me how many resources go into sustaining American consumers' need for more.

I completely agree, China is a serial user & abuser....of most everything. They are really a plague to the world in many ways, but the fact is they have monopolized manufacturing to such an extent I can't see how we can ever go back to producing affordable products ourselves. So where does that leave us? Do we refuse to support their rape of the environment and their people by refusing to purchase or accept anything made in China? Is that really going to make a difference? Probably not. The scariest part of that equation is what will happen if they turn off the spigot for some reason? What are we gonna do then? The fact that we depend on them so much nowadays is the scariest part to me..

As to Buck using 420, of course they use it because it's cheap, which was a business decision, but like you say they have learned how to make it work for the average consumer, which is the market they are after. They aren't necessarily making their products for the knife aficionado, they are after the average Joe who shops at Walmart, and 420 is good enough for them because Joe doesn't know the difference. And, as long as we're talking steel, I really don't think Case's "Surgical Stainless Steel" is all that much better, I think naming it that is more or less advertising hype. They don't seem to want anyone to know exactly what goes into their blades, and again that was probably a business decision made to insure their continued existence. More than Case, Buck seems to cater to the average consumer, while Case these days seems to target "collectors", (though Buck does keep their fingers in the collector field to a limited degree). I too miss the "good 'ol days" when Buck used 440, but those days are gone and likely won't be back. Honestly, I think Buck and Case are fortunate to have survived.

I'm sure it would make a good working knife and as mentioned above Buck will stand behind it.  However, I would not buy it no matter the price.  I was very disappointed when they started selling chinese made Bucks.  Same with AG Russell, they have some very attractive chinese made knives but I won't buy them.  I will still buy American made knives from both companies, hope they see the light.

My stand is similar to yours David.  As a normal policy I will not buy a Chinese made Buck.  I won't buy any Chinese made knife that used to be made here, for instance Schrade.  I do buy Chinese made knives.  In fact one of the three brands I collect is made in China,Rough Rider.  But they were never made here.

David Gallup said:

I'm sure it would make a good working knife and as mentioned above Buck will stand behind it.  However, I would not buy it no matter the price.  I was very disappointed when they started selling chinese made Bucks.  Same with AG Russell, they have some very attractive chinese made knives but I won't buy them.  I will still buy American made knives from both companies, hope they see the light.

I just discovered this group today - interestingly, the first real quality knife I bought was around 7 years ago, a Buck Omni 10 point. I was not hunting at the time, though had grown up hunting small game. I just wanted a good knife, and had decided that while many good knives are made in other parts of the world, I live here now (Virginia) and wanted a genuine made in the US knife - not an outsourced to China because it is cheaper knife. I looked carefully at every Buck I considered within my price range at the time, and discarded anything that did not have US stamped on the blade.

I also have many knives made in China, and Pakistan, even my most recent addition of a Gerber Freeman guide guthook while not clearly marked is likely made in China. But on my last hunting trip, all that Gerber did was unzip the pajamas on the deer, then I immediately set it aside and pulled out my old faithful Buck Omni. That's done me three seasons, 6 deer field dressed and 4 skinned, then quartered and butchered using the Buck and other knives. Still going strong, still sharp.

I have several Chinese-made folders also, my favorites being various Colts, but my all time favorite is a Buck X-Tract Fin multi tool which is the best such "knife" that I have ever owned; much better than any Leatherman I have. The controversy around foreign-made knives isn't necessarily about quality, (though some claim it is, mainly out of spite), it is more about the simple fact that they weren't made by US hands. Personally I feel a good tool is a good tool no matter where it came from, and getting a good tool for $10 is a strong inducement to me.

allanm said:

I just discovered this group today - interestingly, the first real quality knife I bought was around 7 years ago, a Buck Omni 10 point. I was not hunting at the time, though had grown up hunting small game. I just wanted a good knife, and had decided that while many good knives are made in other parts of the world, I live here now (Virginia) and wanted a genuine made in the US knife - not an outsourced to China because it is cheaper knife. I looked carefully at every Buck I considered within my price range at the time, and discarded anything that did not have US stamped on the blade.

I also have many knives made in China, and Pakistan, even my most recent addition of a Gerber Freeman guide guthook while not clearly marked is likely made in China. But on my last hunting trip, all that Gerber did was unzip the pajamas on the deer, then I immediately set it aside and pulled out my old faithful Buck Omni. That's done me three seasons, 6 deer field dressed and 4 skinned, then quartered and butchered using the Buck and other knives. Still going strong, still sharp.

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