Buck 112 Slim Pro Knife Review

Overall length: 7.25”
Closed length: 4.25”
Blade length: 3”
Blade thickness: .12”
Handle material: micarta
Blade material: S30V
Blade grind: hollow, with Buck’s Edge 2X geometry
Locking mechanism: lockback
Weight: 2.6 ounces

The Basics

Buck’s Slim Pro series is essentially a modernization of the time-honored 110 and 112. Originally designed to offer something akin to the performance of a fixed blade in a folding package, the 110 and 112 were a revolutionary step forward when they were first introduced, quite a long time ago now.

The Slim Pro series sheds the heavy brass bolsters and scale material, offering unlined micarta or G10 in their place. The addition of a pocket clip–as well as a thumb stud to allow for one-handed opening–brings this knife more in line with the expectations of contemporary knife owners.

Buck cognoscenti will notice that the blade shape has been altered, as well, straightening and lengthening the swedge to produce a slightly more reinforced tip.

The final difference between the Slim Pro and the 110 and 112 currently in production is the change from Buck’s 429HC steel to S30V.

Fit and Finish

When Buck first introduced the Slim Pro series, there were numerous complaints of unacceptable vertical blade play. Purportedly, these were not cosmetic niggles, but real problems caused by the change in manufacturing techniques.

In contrast to the pinned construction of the original 110 and 112, Buck introduced a riveted hinge pin for the Slim Pro. According to insiders, this took some adjustment, and unfortunately, a few slipped through quality control that weren’t up to par.

My Slim Pro 112 is pretty good.

In the closed position, the backspring is just shy of fully flush, and my fingernail can grip it for an instant if I try. To a collector, that might be unacceptable; for a user, I can’t see any problem.

Can you see the proud backspring?

In the open position, the backspring and blade are fully flush.

My micarta scales are perfectly executed.

The blade grind is centered, properly polished, and everything you’d expect.

Very slight gaps are visible on either side of the back spring.

I can detect just a hair of vertical blade play if I grip the knife firmly and really push. Light force produces nothing, and lock-up is incredibly solid.

Performance

I’ve carried and used this knife for six months, and I have to say I’m impressed.

Grip and comfort

Like many of you, I do more than fish in the outdoors. I like to hunt, hike, and camp, as well. And I’ve found that what feels good at my desk or on my couch doesn’t necessarily impress in the field.

I’ve found that the scale shape and material on this knife provide a positive grip, even when wet, bloody, or slimy.

In prolonged skinning and butchering, the 112 Slim Pro disappeared in my hand, and instead of thinking about the tool, I was able to think about my work. To me, that’s the highest compliment that can be paid to any working knife–to simply disappear into the work.

That’s been just as true for cleaning fish and cutting bait.

Pocket clip

Large, wide, and sturdy, the 112 Slim Pro’s pocket clip allows the knife to ride low in the pocket.

It’s very secure, and I’ve had no trouble with the knife backing out–not a single time in six months of EDC.

That said, it’s easy to retrieve with one hand.

Opening, closing, and locking

Buck knows the 112 inside and out, and it comes as no surprise that the thumb studs are placed where they can provide the most leverage while still staying clear of whatever you’d be cutting or slicing.

The blade is a touch stiff to open–a trade-off that’s necessary when pinning unlined micarta. My understanding is that to reduce blade play to a minimum, the pin must be very tight, compressing the micarta scales against the blade.

As a result, it takes a bit more force to open and close than most lockbacks, and certainly more than typical liner locks.

This is further aggravated when wet, as the micarta apparently swells slightly, creating even more friction.

Nevertheless, I’ve had no trouble opening this knife with one hand.

It’s simple enough to close this knife with two hands, and just as easy to close it with one hand by reversing your grip, depressing the lock, and carefully folding the blade closed against your leg.

Care must be taken with this technique, of course, as it can put a finger in harm’s way. The slight choil does a good job of preventing injury, however, as you can see in the picture below.

The lock engages with a loud snap, and I’ve not had any real-world trouble with slippage or disengagement. It’s easy to release with my thumb, but very secure under load.

The lock is positioned to the rear of the handle, placing it where a stout grip and serious pressure won’t disengage it accidentally.

Sharpening and care

Micarta is fairly tough material, but it will absorb trace amounts of liquid.

Due to the lockback, the 112 Slim Pro is harder to clean thoroughly than an open-framed liner lock or a fixed blade, and some care must be taken to remove dirt, blood, fish scales, etc. from the interior of the knife.

A simple wash in warm, soapy water seems to do the trick.

S30V is very corrosion-resistant, and I’ve had no trouble with staining or rust.

I’ve used this knife in and around saltwater–cutting bait, rope, and fishing line, removing urchins from the bottom, and prying limpets free from rocks. My knife remained wet, unrinsed, and uncleaned for hours, with absolutely no sign of corrosion. I put AUS-8 through the same use, and pitting and corrosion were noticeable in just a few hours.

S30V has a well-earned reputation for edge-holding, but many users complain that it’s difficult to sharpen.

Buck’s Bos heat treatment brings the best from this steel, and I do find that it holds an edge appreciably longer than Ontario’s AUS-8, Buck’s 420HC, 1095, and 440A. That comes as no surprise, of course, as Buck states that they harden it to Rc 59.5-61.

I’ve had no trouble with chipping whatsoever, which is not something I can say about every “super” steel.

I sharpen my knives on the Spyderco Sharpmaker, and I’ve not needed to do more than make a few passes on the fine ceramics and strap on the back of a belt. Getting to hair-shaving sharp from a working edge takes about a minute in my experience.

Field Testing

Fire-starting

The 112 Slim Pro feather-sticks well, and the handle is well-shaped for this task. The spine will throw sparks from a ferro rod, and I’d give it high marks on this front, in part because it holds its edge well, allowing you to move from this task to others without needing to attend to the blade.

Feathering is fine with hardwoods like cherry and oak.

Not the tightest, nicest curls in cherry and oak.

Why would I feather-stick these materials?

These, and black locust, are the most common materials I find within reach in my neck of the woods.

These lovely pines don’t drop a lot of branches, and very few are within reach.

By contrast, pine curls beautifully, with absolutely minimum effort.

The spine will also produce kindling from sticks or fat wood, curling-up small particles and fuzz that are easy to start with a spark.

Camp chores

The 112 Slim Pro excels around the camp, making short work of rope and anything else that needs cutting.

Carrots, onions, mushrooms, and meat: the slim blade and hollow grind expedite cooking chores. Ditto for opening tough plastic and cutting rope of all kinds.

This is also a place where the advantages of S30V come to the fore.

For longish trips, I don’t need to worry about carrying sharpening equipment, nor do I need to take particular care to clean and dry my knife. I’m not suggesting neglect, but rather I’ve found that on canoe trips, for instance, caring for a carbon knife becomes a more-or-less constant chore.

High corrosion resistance and excellent edge retention are things I’ve come to appreciate in the field, mostly through experience with knives that had neither!

Cleaning fish

The spine works well to remove scales, and the shape and design of the micarta scales provide a positive grip during this slippery task.

The grip I use for the cut from cloaca to throat.

The fine point and sharp edge make quick work of the necessary cuts, and I find that the unique shape of the 112 Slim Pro’s scales give me an ideal place to rest my thumb with the blade facing upward.

Here, sharpness counts: the sharper the blade, the greater the control–always a good thing when you’re working with a knife in one hand and a fish in the other!

This little knife processes bait well, too, and it’s relatively easy to clean with soap and warm water when you’re done. Indeed, a quick wash has eliminated any unpleasant smells!

Processing game

I find that game processing is a real test of edge retention, and I’ve been generally unimpressed with carbon steel for this purpose.

A few contacts with bone and my carbon knives have needed attention to regain an edge that would really work the skin from the meat beneath.

Buck’s S30V excelled here, and my knife remained sharp throughout. S30V isn’t necessary for this performance, however, and my 440A and 420HC knives do just as well.

The fine point on the 112 Slim Pro made basic tasks easier than they were with the otherwise excellent Mora 2000, for instance. Though the Mora has an excellent blade for a variety of tasks, the absence of a sharp point made it less than ideal for initial cuts on the legs, for example. Your experience may vary, and this is largely a matter of preference.

The hollow grind and improved edge geometry of the blade allow very precise cuts.

The scales remained grippy even when bloody–and perhaps as the ultimate test–even when my hands were greasy from handling sheepskin.

The lock never budged, even when working the edge through joints. I was careful to use this tool as was intended and avoided twisting the blade to pop joints free.

Final Thoughts

Is the 112 Slim Pro the ideal knife for outdoorsmen and anglers?

I can’t decide that for you.

But if you hike, camp, fish, or hunt, a sturdy, compact, lightweight, high-quality locking folder may be just the thing you need, especially if you prize edge-retention and corrosion resistance–always things to consider in wet climates and for those of you who spend time near or in the water.

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