If you are looking for a sturdy and solid fixed blade knife for fishing or skinning small game, you should consider the Buck Woodsman. My personal Woodsman has the Cocobola handle, that gives the knife a nostalgic feel. The fine brass guard, and bolsters add to this impression. The Woodsman looks like the kind of knife my Grandpa would have carried around. It’s small in size, easy to conceal and carry on camping trips or even to work. The Woodsman is made right here in the US, so you can not only get a great knife but also help out the country’s economy.
What can this knife handle?
The knife is not to big, and not to small. If you are a trout fisherman this is a great knife for you. It will also take care of any small game that might need skinning. It could even be used to skin a deer in a pinch, though you will want to have a bigger blade it you’re after big game. The blade is a pretty good work horse, I’ve used it extensively on camping trips and the Woodsman has never failed me. Its perfectly capable of functioning as an EDC if you prefer fixed blades to folding blades. The classic look of the Woodsman also makes it a great showpiece knife, so any collectors out their should take note.
Construction and Blade
The Buck Woodsman is constructed of 420HC stainless steel (420 steel with a higher than normal carbon content) which can reach up to RC 58 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. 420HC is highly stain resistant, stands up to wear decently, and is a breeze to sharpen (the plain edge also eases the task of sharpening the blade). The knife is a total of 7 7/8” long with a 4in blade. For a fixed blade, the Woodsman is a lightweight, tipping the scales at 6.6 oz. It’s fine point blade will clean and skin small fish and prey to perfection. Despite it’s small size, this is a well constructed knife and it will stand up to a good deal of punishment, that doesn’t mean I recommend putting it through some kind of grueling torture test (unless you want a broken blade).
Handle, Grip, and Feel
I have the Cocobola handled Woodsman, so that’s the one I’ll be reviewing. However, Buck does offer the Woodsman in other options, which is something to keep in mind if you’re looking to go in another direction. There are pro’s and cons to the handle. On the one hand, it looks great, the richly colored handle and shiny brass bracers and guard give it a classy look. On the other hand, the slight finger grooves and relatively smooth surface don’t offer the most solid of grips. In defense of the Woodsman, I can’t imagine any job for which it might be employed where a more secure grip would be required, but if you’re thinking about really pushing this knife to the limit, you should be wary. The problem of slippage is offset by the brass guard which will stop your hand from sliding up onto the blade. The brass butt helps to strengthen the knife and can be used in emergency to deliver hammer blows, but this should be done only as a last resort. The knife is light and easy to carry and has good ergonomics (I always feel that the blade will go and do what I want it to). Buck also includes a leather sheath with knife for easy day-to-day carry and the wood handle is treated with environmentally friendly resin for protection.
As long as you don’t ask it to do something it’s not designed for, the Woodsman should be an excellent knife for you. If you are in the market for a small hunting or fishing knife I highly recommend it. If you are hunting for an EDC but like the look of the Woodsman, I can also assure you that it’s up to the task. However if you need a knife that can handle heavy jobs or are in the market for a Survival or Tactical blade, you need to look elsewhere. It’s a great knife, with good looks, but it’s capabilities are somewhat constricted by its construction and size.