My grandfather always carried a Buck 110. No matter where we were, if I needed a knife I knew Grandpa could pull out his trusty Buck. You needed to use two hands to open and close it. No ball bearing deployment system or thumb stud or tactical anything. It was a knife and it worked and it was always available. It was also what everyone expected a knife to look like, and this non-threatening appearance meant you could carry it almost anywhere.

Buck 110: A non-threatening American classic.

That was the beauty of the Buck 110. Created 1963 by Al Buck, it has become the traditional American folding pocket knife. It was designed for those who wanted a sturdy knife but did not want to carry a fixed-blade. The Buck 110 features a 3 3/4" blade which is larger than your typical EDC pocket knife. It also features an Al Buck designed lock that allows you to open the knife easily and have the blade lock open for use.

The one thing the Buck 110 is not designed for is speed. It is built for strength and simplicity and therefore is an ultra reliable knife. And for over 50 years it has been one of America's best-selling knives.

Buck 110 Folding Hunter
Blade 3.75"
Length closed 4 7/8"
Weight 7.2 oz.
Blade material 420HC stainless
Handle material Ebony / brass
Locking ✔ (Lock back)
Made in USA
Price $50
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So what if you want to enjoy the benefits of this traditional knife but don't want to look like you are carrying an antique? That's where this guide comes in. Let's find some modern Buck 110s.

Mercator Solingen K55 Black Cat

The Mercator K55 Black Cat is the German version of the Buck 110. Only older. It came to the U.S. by way of returning G.I.s from WWII who brought these back as souvenirs. But the K55 is a true workhorse of a lock back pocket knife. The blade is forged from high carbon steel (although stainless is also available) and the handle is a sturdy folded and riveted piece of black painted stainless steel. The knife is incredibly slim and will slide into a back pocket where you will forget it's even there.

Mercator K55: The Buck 110 of Germany since 1867.

However, when needed, the razor sharp 3.5" blade with drop point tip is ready to go to work. The rear of the handle features a useful ring that can be used as a lanyard attachment or to simply clip the knife to something. The handle also features the famous etched cat in gold.

For $30 it's amazing that you can still get the K55 Black Cat that has been made continuously in Germany since 1867. Who would have thought that an alternative to a Buck would be nearly 100 years older?

Mercator K55 Black Cat
Blade 3.5"
Length closed 4.25"
Weight 7.75 oz.
Blade material Carbon steel or stainless
Handle material Stainless steel
Locking ✔ (Lock Back)
Made in Solingen, Germany
Price $30
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Cold Steel 54VPM Lucky One Gentleman's Knife

This is the reinvention of the classic gentleman's knife by Cold Steel. Using a premium CPM-S35VN blade steel and carbon fiber handles, this slip joint knife is truly a modern pocketknife. The Lucky One is incredibly light at less than one ounce and you may even forget that you are carrying it -- which is what you want in an every day carry. It's so light you can even carry it in your shirt pocket.

Cold Steel: Gentleman's knife with high tech finishes. 

This knife is hand fitted in Italy with the blade sandwiched between two-tone polished carbon fiber scales. This knife is elegant, non-threatening, and legal almost everywhere in the world. At $68, it is a solid value for a well designed and useful knife.

Cold Steel Lucky One
Blade 2.625"
Length closed 3.25"
Weight 0.9 oz.
Blade material CPM-S35VN
Handle material Carbon fiber
Locking ✘ (Slipjoint)
Made in Italy
Price $68
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CASE Hammerhead

Next to Buck, Bradford, PA based Case is another legendary American knife company. At first glance the Hammerhead resembles the Buck. But there are some notable differences. Instead of natural wood, Case uses a hi-tech polymer matched to solid brass. The blade is forged from Case's own Tru-Sharp stainless steel. Tru-Sharp is very stain resistant, easy to sharpen, and takes on a razor edge. It is also engraved with the iconic hammerhead shark.

Case Hammerhead: Like the Buck but not a Buck.

The Case Hammerhead blends the strength of a fixed-blade knife with the convenience of a folding knife. It is easy to operate with a solid lock back which keeps the blade open. This is a big, bold, and useful knife and is a solid deal at $74. This is a knife that will last forever, and you will be proud to pass it on to your grandkids someday.

CASE Hammerhead
Blade 3.5"
Length closed 5"
Weight 9.5 oz.
Blade material Tru-Sharp
Handle material Polymer
Locking ✔ (Lock Back)
Made in USA
Price $74
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Victorinox Swiss Army One-Hand Sentinel

The traditional Swiss Army knife has a million tools and it not known for its ease of carry. As a slip joint it is also not considered a hard use knife. The Sentinel just changed everything. This is a minimalist knife that only contains a primary blade. Of course, Victorinox could not help themselves and did add a toothpick and tweezers into the handle. But it's basically a single blade knife.

Victorinox Sentinel: The Swiss Army knife with one blade.

The blade is also nice and large at just over 3 inches. It is a Swiss made stainless steel that includes a thumb hole which allows the knife to be opened with one hand. It is not a fast to deploy knife and the action is fairly stiff. Once open, a liner lock keeps the blade out until intentionally disengaged.

Without all of the tools, the knife is also very thin and fits easily into your pocket. Also, as a Swiss Army knife, it does not attract the kind of attention that a similarly sized Spyderco or other tactical folder would. Made in Switzerland by Victorinox, the Sentinel makes a great everyday pocket knife that will last a lifetime. And all for under $35.

Victorinox Sentinel
Blade 3.2"
Length closed 4.375"
Weight 2.6 oz.
Blade material Swiss stainless
Handle material Polymer
Locking ✔ (Lock Back)
Made in Switzerland
Price $35
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SOG Traction EDC

While SOG is known for their tactical folding knives, the Traction is their all-purpose line of lock back knives. They are lightweight and durable. Available in a clip point or tanto blade, it is forged from 5Cr13MoV stainless steel which keeps a nice and sharp edge. The blade does feature thumb studs which aid in opening the knife with one hand. However, it is not designed to be a fast deploy flipper. The lock is a traditional lock back mechanism and the entire knife is housed in a thick and strong glass-reinforced nylon handle. The textured handle provides a firm grip even in wet conditions.

SOG Traction: A traditional folder from a tactical company.

One trade off in keeping the price down is that the knife is made in China. However, SOG does claim to have extensive quality controls and at $27 this is probably a good knife to take a chance on.

SOG Traction
Blade 3.5"
Length closed 4.2"
Weight 2.3 oz.
Blade material 5Cr13MoV
Handle material GRN
Locking ✔ (Lock Back)
Made in China
Price $27
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Buck 110 Folding Hunter LT

Wait a minute. A Buck 110 as an alternative to the Buck 110? Yes, but read on. This is not your granddaddy's 110. This is the lightweight (LT) hunting folder modernized for the 21st century. You get the classic Buck 3.75" blade in 420HC stainless steel. But instead of wood and brass you get indestructible nylon for the handle. Not only is this rust and tarnish free, but it is also much lighter.

Buck 110 LT: Not your granddaddy's Buck.

And just look at the knife. Compare it to the SOG Traction above. The use of black nylon completely changes the vibe of the knife. The Buck 110 LT doesn't look like an old man's knife anymore. But the lack of tactical doodads also signals that you are someone of class and tradition. You still open your knife with two hands!

At $32 and still made in the USA, even if you decide on one of the alternatives above you probably should also have a Buck 110 LT in your daily rotation.

Buck 110 LT
Blade 3.75"
Length closed 4 7/8"
Weight 3.2 oz.
Blade material 420HC stainless
Handle material Nylon
Locking ✔ (Lock back)
Made in USA
Price $32
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The Buck 110 is a great knife. But that does not mean that technology and time cannot improve on it. The alternatives above prove that you can still get the qualities of the original Buck 110 but in materials and construction that are throughly modern.

What do you think? Did we miss a great alternative or one of your favorites? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.