Why Are Buck Knives SO Hard To Sharpen?

Buck is one of the most popular brands out there when it comes to hunting and survival knives.

These blades are known for coming out of the box razor sharp, holding their edge really long, and being all-around reliable tools.

And while they are popular for a lot of their good qualities, they are also notorious for being very hard to sharpen.

So why are buck knives so hard to sharpen?

Buck knives, especially old ones from the ’70s and ’80s were made out of either 440C, 425M, or 420C steel. These materials are known for holding their edge for a really long while and being very durable, but they’re also known for being very hard.

440C, in particular, has a lot of carbides in it, which makes the steel exceptionally hard and makes it hold its edge longer, but it also makes it very tough to sharpen.

Most of these tools will come out of the box very sharp, meaning you won’t have to sharpen them for a long time, but when the time actually comes, it can be very tough to get a nice edge on them.

So if you’ve been struggling with your old-school Buck knife, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we take a close look at why they are so hard to sharpen and what techniques you can use to get a razor-sharp edge on your own Buck blade.

Read on to learn more.

What Makes Buck Knives So Hard To Sharpen?

Sharpening Buck blades and restoring the edge that they had when it was first bought is a real struggle.

In fact, knife forums and message boards are filled with enthusiasts who say that it feels almost impossible to accomplish the task.

This is mostly because of the steel used by Buck back in the 70s and 80s.

The first in-house blades were made with 440C, and in 1980 they changed it to 425M, and in 1985, it was changed to 420C steel.

These are all very hard materials, which made them keep their edge for a very long time regardless of what you used the knife for, which was one of the main selling points of the brand.

That being said, once the edge got worn out (which could take a very long time but it would still happen eventually), restoring it becomes very hard to do because of how hard the steel was.

The struggle was even tougher back then, as there weren’t too many diamond stones around, which is one of the only materials harder than the steel that could actually get a good edge on it.

Luckily, in this day and age, we now have the right materials and all the information you need to get that sharpness back on your Buck blade, which we’ll talk about in the next section.

How Can I Restore The Edge On My Buck Blade?

Before you go on about the different ways you can sharpen these very tough blades, it’s important to remember that it’s going to take a lot of work, so be patient when approaching these blades and make adjustments as you go.

But once you get the hang of it, sharpening Buck blades will be fairly easy, and if you do it right, you won’t have to resharpen it again for a long time anyway.

Learn The Proper Technique

This would be the most important step in knife sharpening.

Most people would say that knife sharpening is as much of an art as it is a science, and that couldn’t be more true.

If you’re using a traditional whetstone (which is what you’ll need for Buck models since sharpeners don’t do a great job with these blades), you have to know the proper technique.

Take your time and learn about the proper angles and stones to use for different purposes before trying it out yourself.

It would be best if you could ask a professional to show you the ropes, but another great way to learn is by watching videos of how it’s properly done so you can follow the steps clearly.

It’s important to do this because if you don’t use the right techniques, you might end up even damaging the blades while you try to restore the edge.

Use A Diamond Stone

This is the most important tip that people give other knife enthusiasts when talking about Buck blades.

Since the material used to construct it is so hard, only a diamond stone can properly do the job.

In fact, if you invest in one of these you might even be able to get the job done in a matter of minutes if you do it right.

And if a diamond stone isn’t available at the moment, you can even use ceramic stones as they do the job very well.

For quick fixes, you can even use the bottom of ceramic cups and plates to sharpen your blades, just be careful when doing so.


So there you have it.

Sharpening a Buck knife can be a very tough task, but with the right technique, right materials, a bit of elbow grease, and a lot of patience you’ll surely be able to get the job done!

Last Updated on July 22, 2021 by Andy Wang

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My name is David Strong. I'm a knife expert and a US Marine veteran. I used to fight in Iraq, so I gained lots of combat experience there, especially when it comes to combat, tactical, and outdoor knives. And this blog is where I share my expertise with you alongside my friend Andy.