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The Wait Is Over. From this thread, orders for the 2023 BladeForums Traditional Knife are open & here's your handy order button. OPEN TO ALL MEMBERS WITH GOLD OR HIGHER PAID SUBSCRIPTIONS OR have 25+ posts in the Traditional Forum Preorder price is $160 shipped CONUS, price increase on 9/25 11:59PM when ordering opens to anyone on the forums
For a traditional approach, the Buck 110 has probably dressed out more deer than any folder in the last 30 years. Buck's are "famous for holding an edge". Heavy brass/wood handle, stainless clip point blade, lockback, belt-pouch carry. About $40-45 at a Wal-mart or a 'net dealer.
Buck also makes "Crosslocks", which are different configurations of two-bladed, rubber/Zytel handled hunters with liner locks and blade studs. I believe one version has a drop point regular blade and a gut hook/zipper on the other blade. Same steel as the 110.
A 21st century angle would be the highly touted Tim Wegner by Spyderco. High tech construction (G-10 handle, ATS-34 drop point blade, pocket clip, one-hand opening hole, liner lock). About twice the price of the Buck via a 'net dealer, but highly recommended by lots of folks here.
If your friend is the kind of guy who wants the heft and solid feel offered by a traditional Buck 110, you might consider going to the Pete's Custom Shop link at www.buckknives.com, where you can custom build a 110. Just by way of example, a custom 110 with BG-42 steel, your buddy's name engraved on the blade, walnut handles and standard brass bolsters would cost just around $80. That's not too much to ask for a knife that'll dress deer and more for a lifetime. Plus, he'll be able to rely on Buck's stellar customer service should something go wrong (not likely).
Plus, if the blade ever breaks, you can beat somebody to death with the heavy, clunky thing(should you get attacked by a mugger). You can do better than the Buck 110. I do agree with the BG42 blade steel. That, or CPM440V. Maybe a Spyderco Starmate?
After a second look thru the spydie catalog, I'll also put the Wayne Goddard liteweight in the running. Nice traditional blade shape & lockback, Zytel handle, ATS-55 blade with hole & reversible clip. Can probably be had for around $50. A good old style, new materials & ergonomics compromise.
I have used mine to gut and clean countless squirrels and groundhogs and it works like a charm. Since October I have completely field dressed and caped 3 deer using only my Wegner. Leg and head removal honors went to various khukuris in my collection.
The Wegner is a top notch hunting knife as well as an all around carry/defensive/work knife. ATS34 can be a bit of a pain to sharpen but my Wegner responds very well to my Spyderco Triangle Sharpmaker. It will take a shivering sharp edge in minutes.
I've used mine almost every day for the past 2 years and it has never failed and has never let me down. Buy one. You will not regret it.
I'll second what others have said. If he likes traditional styling and materials, the Buck 110 from the custom shop with BG-42 blade; If he likes modern styling and materials, the Spydie Wegner. Either way he'll get a tool that will last more than his lifetime and do the required tasks with ease.
Die Entropie der Welt strebt einem Maximum zu - R.J.E. Clausius
I can also highly recommend the Cold Steel Large Voyager Clip Point. I have been skinning game with mine for several years now an it is the best knife for this purpose I have ever used. I got mine through Midsouth Shooters Supply 1-931-553-8651. Current price for the knife above is $40.96 plus $5 or so for shipping. Excellent service. Cordially, Clayton Hufford