The two new Buck Alpha knives, the Alpha Hunter and Alpha Scout, are serious EDC contenders.
Back in November 2022, my wife and I spent a day visiting the Buck Knives factory and headquarters in Post Falls, Idaho. We took a tour of the facility and met several of the company’s employees. One of the best parts of the visit was the sneak peek at the models it was going to unveil at SHOT Show.
We handled several different knives during that presentation, and I was immediately drawn to the new Alpha models, the Hunter and the Scout. While big knives certainly have their place, personally I’m much more interested in EDC blades, all other things being equal. The Alpha Hunter and Alpha Scout really stood out in that regard.
It took nearly four months to finally get them in hand. They were definitely worth the wait.
Ken Vitale is the product manager for Buck Knives. I asked him about the design of the Alpha models.
“We chose S35VN for the full-tang blade due to its ability to maintain a sharp edge, so there’s no stopping to sharpen the blade until the task at hand is complete,” he said. “Plus, there’s the added bonus of the great corrosion resistance this steel provides.”
He mentioned that the Alpha Hunter is actually an updated design of a previous model. Buck went with a thinner profile and provided a textured grip. The overall result is a knife that’s ideal for field use as well as being a great option for EDC.
The knifemaker also produced the Alpha Scout, which is identical to the Hunter, just a bit smaller.
As Vitale said, “The Scout has all the options of its big brother in a smaller, more packable option.”
FRESH OUT OF THE BOX
These models are available in two handle materials, brown and cream Richlite and a dark brown walnut Dymalux. I decided to get the Alpha Hunter in the Richlite and the Alpha Scout in the walnut to better showcase the differences between the two options.
These Alpha models are well-designed for outdoor use. Both knives have removable scales for easy cleaning. Along the spine are two sections of jimping, one at about the midpoint of the blade and the other beginning where the handle meets the blade. The forward section is particularly useful for indexing when you are doing detail work.
“The forward blade jimping is there to provide the user with an area for their thumb and index finger to bite into, ensuring positive control and the ability to choke up on the knife while processing game,” Vitale said.
The Scout also has a slight dip in the spine between those jimping sections, fitting the thumb perfectly. The scales are textured throughout to provide a positive grip, even in cold or wet conditions.
Both knives are curved from tip to end in a gentle arc. The drop-point profile is perfect for processing game and performing other knife chores. At the same time, that curve makes for a very comfortable knife to hold and use.
Even the sheaths were designed for outdoor use. The retaining snaps are placed such that they won’t snag on brush as you move through the forest. This helps ensure your new blades make it to your destination with you. The sheaths are made of dark brown leather and are molded to fit the knives. You might be able to squeeze a 2-inch-wide belt through the loops, but one with a smaller width would be easier. That said, the Scout is small enough to pocket carry if you wear cargo pants or something with similarly baggy pockets.
Both knives were very sharp right out of the box. However, I did notice that there was about a ¾-inch stretch on the Hunter’s edge that was apparently missed on the last pass on grinder belt. Just a bit of time with a strop will fix it, but it was surprising enough to be worth mentioning. I’ve owned several Buck knives over the years, and this was the first time I’d ever encountered something like that. Speaking of sharpening, the knives are equipped with large choils to make it easier to sharpen the entire length of the edge.
Lanyard holes round out the package. Personally, I’m not a lanyard person, but I know plenty of people who are fond of them. I do like the fact that the lanyard attachment point is part of an extended tang rather than drilled through the end of the handle scales. This makes it more comfortable all around.
STYLISH, FUNCTIONAL EDC
One of the key aspects of a knife, perhaps the most important of all, is control. Can I do what I want with the knife without it being clumsy, awkward, or difficult? At the end of the day, that’s what it all boils down to, I feel. Control means efficiency, as well as safety.
“The Hunter is an ideal outdoors knife…The Scout, while adept with those sorts of chores, suits me as more of a true EDC knife.”
The Alpha Hunter and Scout both have control in spades. The handles lock solidly in your grip. With each knife, the jimping on the spine and the back of the handle, plus the generous finger choil, indexing the knife in your hand is easy, no matter what the conditions might be.
“The Alpha Hunter and Scout both have control in spades. The handles lock solidly in your grip.”
I haven’t owned many other knives that have this sort of scallop design on the scales made specifically for a pinch grip. Alex Harrison with Night Watch Knives is the only other maker I know of who routinely does this style. I’ll admit that I wasn’t keen on this sort of handle at first, but after handling a few from him as well as these from Buck, it has grown on me quite a bit. I don’t know that I’d want it on a larger knife, but it is great for smaller ones like these.
In playing around with both knives, I found I really like the forward jimping on the spines. It gives a bit of extra purchase when you’re doing fine, detailed cuts.
I see the Hunter and the Scout having slightly different roles, though with plenty of overlap. The Hunter is an ideal outdoors knife, perfect for anything you’ll need while out in the field, from processing game to prepping food in camp. The Scout, while adept with those sorts of chores, suits me as more of a true EDC knife. It is compact, but punches well above its weight class. In other words, the Hunter is sort of a field EDC and the Scout fits everywhere else.
A CHOICE OF DURABLE HANDLE MATERIALS
The Alpha Hunter and Alpha Scout are available in two different handle materials. Richlite consists of paper and wood pulp that’s been infused with resin. It is billed as a sustainable material as the paper is recycled and the pulp comes from trees that were harvested responsibly. The end result is rather similar to Micarta in workability and use.
DymaLux is made from layers of birch wood that’s been dyed, then infused with phenolic resin. In this particular case, it has been dyed a dark walnut brown. In addition to knife handles, this material is commonly used for pool cues and pistol grips.
Both options are long-lasting, exceptionally durable, and look great.
Model: Buck Alpha Hunter
Overall Length: 8.125 inches
Blade Length: 3.625 inches
Weight: 4.59 ounces
Model: Buck Alpha Scout
Overall Length: 6.625 inches
Blade Length: 2.875 inches
Weight: 2.79 ounces
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