The Buck Hoodlum is a part of the Hood's Woods line of outdoor survival knives, a collaboration between Buck and the late Ron Hood. When I first heard about this knife, my first reaction was that it was probably more knife than I'd want to lug around the woods. But my curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to give the Hoodlum a shot. While, I wouldn't go so far as to say that carrying the Hoodlum was pain free, the size of the knife was less of an issue than I had expected.
What can this knife handle?
I wanted the Hoodlum to serve as a hatchet replacement, that doubled as a camp knife. This way instead of having to bring a seperate hatchet and knife, I could get the same performance in one tool. Buck advertises the Hoodlum as being "light enough to carry in a sheath, but heavy duty enough for any task out in the wilderness". The knife weighs 14.6 oz which is less than you would expect from looking at it. It is a heavy duty knife, that was clearly designed for chopping. The so called Shock Mitigation System (SMS) supposedly ensures you can baton safely with the Hoodlum, but we'll touch on that a little later. The Hoodlum is a long knife (over 15 inches) and the length coupled with the handle design make it awkward to use the Hoodlum for non-chopping tasks.
Construction and Blade
The Buck Hoodlum's blade is made of 5160 Carbon Steel. 5160 is incredibly tough due to it's lower carbon (.5%) and high chromium content, making it ideal for use on axes and chopping blades. This steel doesn't keep an edge so be prepared to do a lot of sharpening if you're going to be using the Hoodlum for anything but chopping. When I received this knife, it was not sharp out of the box, which really irritates me since it's a fairly expensive knife and should have arrived sharp. On the other hand, it does sharpen easily, so there is good with the bad. I do think it's kind of shoddy that the finish started wearing off the blade after the first time I batoned with it. Being a high carbon steel blade, rust will be an issue once that coating wears off.The Hoodlum's blade is 10 inches long, full flat ground, and full tang. It's a plain edge, which is my preference for anything other than a rescue knife. The design features a large finger choil on the ricasso, which is also the location of the balance point. About halfway down the spine of the blade is a bone marrow notch. Buck claims this doesn't weaken the blade but I don't really know how cutting a notch in the spine of the blade could not weaken the knife. In all fairness, I have batoned with the Hoodlum and it hasn't broken yet, but the notch does make me nervous. As far as the blade's performance, it's a mixed bag. I found the Hoodlum to be an excellent chopper, but I was less impressed with it as a batoning knife. I've seen Youtube video's of guys splitting what looks like fallen tree's with the Hoodlum... I just don't know if I buy it. I struggled to baton through decent sized pine logs. It eventually got the job done but I've had much better success with cheaper bargain bin knives. </p> <p><a href=" p-1323-buck-hood-hoodlum-knife-0060bksbh-b.aspx"="">
Handle, Grip, and Feel
If you do use the Hoodlum for batoning, be sure to wear a pair of thick gloves. The so-called Shock Mitigation System (SMS) does nothing, you get a lot feedback when batoning with the hoodlum, to the point where it became painful. You even notice the feedback during chopping, as far as I can tell there is not "Shock Mitigation" at all. The handle scales are constructed out of an extremely tough composite material called micarta. These scales are connected to the knife via two screws at the top and bottom of the handle. All you'll need to remove them is a flathead screwdriver, and if you lash the bare knife to a limb, you can make a decent little pig-sticker.
The shape of the handle definitely lends itself to chopping. It's set at a slight angle to the blade and curves downward. A deep finger choil and and some sup-par jimping near the handle, offer a vareity of grip options. The handle is thick and fills the hand. The scales are seperated from the tang by some red spacers and the look is pleasing to the eye. The handle offers great traction for your hand even when wet. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, it does not absorb impact well. The tang is exposed at the butt and you're supposed to be able to hammer with the Hoodlum when it's secured in its sheath, but I didn't try it so I'll have to take Buck at their word.
I could talk about the sheath for quite some time, but I'll try to give a brief overview and leave you with my thoughts. The sheath is made of high quality nylon and is MOLLE compatible. It has a non-removable plastic liner and the sheath can be adjusted so that the knife rides high or low (depending on your preference). There are also multiple pockets to store back-up folding knives. The knife is held in place by a primary and secondary retention strap. Unfortunately (and this may be by design) the knife doesn't stay in the sheath without the straps. There is absolutely zero retention without the straps. Because it's so loose the knife tends to rattle when you carry it. Basically, the sheath would be awesome if it held the blade...but it doesn't.
I'd be lying if I didn't say I was kind of disappointed in the Buck Hood Hoodlum. It's one of those knives where I felt they had great ideas for features but couldn't put it all together. The knife is light for a heavy duty blade but it's lack of heft also means you get less power in your cuts. It's also not very sharp and isn't the batoner that I hoped it would be. The handle is solid and provides a good grip but doesn't absorb impact at all. The sheath is awesome with lots of cool features except it fails in the most important area for a sheath- it doesn't hold the knife. A second generation version might be great but the knife needs a lot of work as is. Until it gets fixed, save some money and buy a hatchet.