Buck XlTi

May 2, 1999
This is a great knife that often get's passed by in favor of more trendy pieces, many of which fail to offer a significant, if any, adavntage over it.

I had mine for round about two years, which is a record for me and folders. I don't care who makes it, what it's made from, or what high-tech features it has, I can and will break it.

I say "had" because I finaly broke mine a couple weeks/months ago when I found myself locked out of my house. Against better judgement I attempted to spread the doorjam with the blade of my XlTi. It flexed around half an inch out of line and then, predictably, it snapped.

I should note that it was only about 3/4 an inch or so in, so all the force was on the tip where the least amount of metal is. I then stuck what was left into the door and managed to spread the frame enough to retrieve the broken-off tip.

Buck says it's got a closed length of 4 and 7/8's an inch, and a blade length of 3 and 1/4's an inch. The handle length is right, but the blade is actualy a bit longer, I think they're just quoting the sharpened portion of the blade. Mine was closer to 3 and 3/4 long, if you include the unsharpened ricasso.

The finger grooved handle is a hair over 3/8's an inch or so, and remarkably comfortable and secure. I have let the knife be used by many different people, who naturaly have different sized hands, and they all said it fit pretty well, even in the reverse grip. The large gaurd that's integral to the handle eliminates the possibility of your hand slipping up onto the blade.

A feature that is missing in many high-priced "tactical customs".

The lock itself is the same ol' strong and reliable lockback found in their more popular 110. I have thrusted full force into a tree and the blade did not fold. I may be only 145lbs, but that's still a lot of stress. Needless to say, spine whack tests don't have any effect, and I've never found anyone who could "white knuckle" it open. By the way, if you wish to do this yourself, go ahead, but do so at your own risk. I take no responsibility if you got a lemon that folded on you.

I have used this knife to cut through branches 1.5 inches thick, not all at once obviously, but it did the job without problems. I've opened soup cans with out incedent too. Dulled it up a bit, but didn't noticably loosen the blade any.

If you want to know bout edge retention, you're asking the wrong guy. I never notice that. I pretty much cut stuff with a knife and then sharpen it when it gets dull, as all knives will. The best I can offer is that it never got so dull that it wouldn't cut cleanly, and it resharpened easily on my flat diamond stone.

You'll notice that this review doesn't include any cutting of rope, free hanging or otherwise, or clamping in vices and what not. That's not what I ever used this knife for, so it never got tested like that. What I can tell you is that I lived with it for about two years, and used many times a day, every day, and never had it go sour on me. It's a solid and reliable knife suitable for both defense and utility.

However, having used it for a couple years, I have noticed several areas I'd like to see refined;

1. I'd like to see a straight rather than concave clip. Like on a Project 2.

Reason being that a concave clip's main advantage is when it's fully sharpened and on a large fighting knife, for the purpose of delivering backcuts. On a knife this size, it just unneccesarily removes steel from the point.

.2 I'd like a lanyard hole.

These things are just all-around handy on just about any knife, but I carry my folders in the fifth poket of my Levi's under my belt, so a fob would aid in drawing the knife.

Pocket clips suck. They can at worst cut you, at best raise blisters after extended use. Besides, clips aren't as secure as the above method.

.3 Add a thumbstud to the blade, but towards the base, like on a Applegate Combat Folder.

Thumbstuds are a nicety, not a neccesity, and you can open this knife one-handed just fine without them. In fact, I never used both hands to open it when I was using this knife for utility purposes.

Still, it would be "nice", as long as the thumbstud was far enough back so as not to impair slicing or, in a defensive situation, a thrust.

.4 The black powder coating on the black version looks sloppy and feels weird. I'd like it replaced with an oxide coating of some sort, or actualy Buckcote would be great.

I heard that this knife may be discontinued. That would be a shame. If you'd like to see this knife stay in production, and especialy if you'd like to see my porposed upgrades, e-mail Buck, or post on the thread on the subject I've started in the Buck forum;

Snickersnee :

It flexed around half an inch out of line and then, predictably, it snapped.

Brittle failure at such a low flex angle is rather poor behavior. Has Buck commented on if this was the expected result?

For comparison, my Spyderco Calypso Jr. can go 2.5 inches out of line without even taking a set let alone snapping.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 09 September 1999).]
2.5 inches out of line on a 2 and 7/8ths inch blade?! That's nearly laying it over on it's side. I find that statistic very hard to swallow, no offense.

Also, you failed to mention wether you were doing this with just the tip, or with the spine.

When I used the broke knife to pry to door to retrieve the piece that had broken off, I was able to get the spine into the doorjam.

It did much more work and with less flexation than the tip. I should have kept it and viced it to see how far it would bend over.

I point out again that I was talking about the point where the tip snapped, not the bulk of the blade. The spine of the knife is much stonger.

Anyway, if you want to do a comparison test, lock the hollow-ground tip of the Calypso into a vice and bend it over. Make sure that you don't put any of that thick spine into the vice. I'd be intrested in your results.
I'm not sure if this makes a difference, but the Calypso Jr.'s blade is leaf-shaped compared to Buck's clip blade on the XLTi and 110. The Buck's relative thinness at the tip could have made a difference in it snapping off.
Snickersnee :

you failed to mention wether you were doing this with just the tip, or with the spine.

1 cm of the tip was held fixed.

The spine of the knife is much stonger.

The spine will take less flex before fracture than the tip, not more.

Frank :

Are you measuring from the butt of the handle to the tip?

It is the amount the butt is out of line with the normal. Being curious, I just bent it to 4" and it resulted in a 1 cm of the tip (the part held fixed) taking a small bend (the very tip was bent 1 mm off the normal).

AUS-8 tempered as Spyderco does is a very tough ductile steel, I have not managed to chip or fracture it. I have beat directly on the edge and on both sides of the Calypso with a 5mm thick mild steel rod about 2 feet long. The rod took deep cuts from the impacts and even bent. The Calypso Jr's blade was just blunted slightly.

A new Calypso will hold up better than mine as I have bent the tip before and thus weakened the steel. In reference to the above 90 degree bend, I have stuck the Calypso Jr in pine and bent it flat and the tip just bends slightly.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 13 September 1999).]
Well, that explains the difference. I wasn't talking about how far out of line the handle was( can't say as I was holding the handle), I was talking how far the tip bent out of line with the rest of the blade.

Yeah, I guess it stands to reason that the spine won't flex as far as the tip.

I'm not sure about the 90 degree stuck-in- pine flex though. A good portion of that could be because the pine tree itself was giving way. I have seen that before a lot actualy. How far into the board/tree was the Calypso?

Still, your results seem a bit odd to me, I'm going to have to get a Calypso and another XlTi and check this out.

Anyway, sounds like the Calypso is a bend-before-break and the Buck is a break-before-bend. Some say that it takes more force to break a break-before-bend than it takes to bend a bend-before-break equivalent.

Seeing how much force it takes to fail both would be intresting. The SpyderCo has a wider blade than the Buck, but it's got a big hole in it. While cracks tend to resist opening a radious, I doubt that hole actualy makes it stronger, though I would believe stiffer.

I hear Buck is fixing to do a big comparitive study of differnt production folders vs. theirs, perhaps they will do such a comparison.
Snickersnee :

I was talking how far the tip bent out of line with the rest of the blade.

So your measurement is the distance from the blade tip off the normal? Then then means a flex of about 35 degrees - the same angle at which the Calypso Jr. took a 1 mm bend.

Some say that it takes more force to break a break-before-bend than it takes to bend a bend-before-break equivalent.

In general yes, the maximum stiffness results in low/no ductility. However the toughness of non-ductile steels (break before bend) is virtually non-existant. They tend to fracture easily. I like steel tempered that way for light use blades (skinners and the like) because of the edge geometry it allows, but for general use impact fragility is a real disadvantage. They will not take a coarse edge well, they chip out easily, and of course are prone to gross failures under impacts.

How far into the board/tree was the Calypso?

Less than a cm. Yes the wood gave way, you can feel this happening during the initial flex and then it grow rigid as the compressibility limit is approached.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 13 September 1999).]
As noted, impact resistance wasn't a problem, I could both chop with it and both the blade and lock withstood strong thrusts into trees. The only thing was latteral stress.

However, that's for a folder. I prefer a tougher high carbon blade in a fixedblade knife for it's greater impact resistance.