Buck 703: an excellent traditional pocketknife

Feb 18, 1999
Recently purchased this knife. This particular model is 3 and one-fourth inches closed, has a 2 and a half inch clip blade, and two 1 and 3/4 inch blades; a sheepsfoot and spey.
Despite the small size, as advertised, the knife is 'hefty,' the handles are birchwood, with nickle silver bolsters. Also each blade has its own separate spring, so their is no "crinking" (i.e., bending of blades so they won't touch each other). The handle is roughly shaped like a small, streamlined 110 folding hunter, and though about 3/8" thick, it fits comfortably in a pocket, esp. if next to a wallet in the front pocket.
I had occasion to have to cut some very tough clear plastic packing, and I actually found the sheepsfoot of this model cut the material with more control and confidence and ease than most of my tactical one-hander knives. Not to say the 703 is superior, but I've found for some cutting jobs nothing seems to beat a small to middle-sized traditional pocketknife.
Also, though a slipjoint, the backsprings are very strong, healthy thumbnails are recommended!
The blades are hollow-ground as opposed to the usual flat grind of traditional stockman-type knives. I guess now I'm gonna be making room on my person to accommodate this as another regular carry folder along with my one-hander(s) and little SAK.
James, you just found out something that I had known for a while, but only because the 703 was abouthe only type/style of knife that I could afford to buy when I was a kid. I have carried that same knife since about 1980, and just stopped this year. Mostly because I had sharpened the clip blade until it had ZERO belly, and I had broken the tip on the sheepsfoot. I decided to retire it to a place of honor (OK, actually one of my clothes drawers in my dresser), because I just couldn't stand to part with it, even to get it refurbished.

Work hard, play hard, live long.

Nice review. I love reading about traditional pocket knives and it's nice to see that they're still being used. Today for fun I carried a 20 year old Case lockback that I got in a trade with Chris from TOT Knives. What a great little knife. I think that pocket knives are very elegant and complement any larger knife.


Thanx, guys. Even though my main carries are one-handers these days, the old traditional pocketknives bring back that old sense of excitement I remember as a kid, not to mention they can be very beautiful and long-lived!
I just checked the knifecenter to get a little more info. Does "high chrome high carbon" mean stainless (420 or 440a I would guess) or is it some sort of carbon steel?

I know my carbon steel Case takes and holds a wicked sharp edge. Same for the Buck 703?

James Y, I agree. My normal carry is a Puma Bantam, a penkife. I find the one-inch blade as useful as the two-and-a-half incher. Just wish I knew what kind of steel they used in it. Or maybe not: what if it's 440A?
I believe the 703 is 420HC (not to be confused with 420J2) stainless steel. And with the new edge grinding at Buck, the blades are scary sharp.

I am checking my Bladen's catalog here and it only says the Puma Bantam's blades are High Carbon SS. My guess would be 440-C. Perhaps someone else out these knows?
From what I understand, 440-C would be a higher-quality stainless steel, but then again, I currently do not own anything in 440-C. I think 440-C is to Europeans what ATS-34 is here, but compared to ATS, 440-C supposedly resists corrosion better and may be less brittle(?).
The 420HC is not necessarily considered a premium-quality steel like 440-C, but it takes and holds an edge nicely, and is pretty easy to resharpen. But, once again, please do not confuse 420HC with 420J2. The latter may make good liners (a la CRKT Mirage), but as a blade material it sucks.