The Buck Hoodlum: Ultimate Knife for Survival Craft?

Buck Hoodlum

Looking for an all-in-one, go-to knife that can satisfy any survival or utility need? Look no further! Let’s dig in and checkout the Buck Hoodlum Survival Knife…

Ron Hood

Ron Hood


The Buck Hoodlum was designed for Buck Knives by wilderness survival legend, the late Ron Hood.

It’s a very large, U.S. made knife that has a 10-inch or 25 centimeter long, fine edge blade, which is about twice the length of a typical wilderness survival knife… and it comes with a very suitable nylon sheath.

Buck Hoodlum

Larger survival knives like the Hoodlum can be great for chopping, clearing, batoning, bushcraft and self-protection but are often very heavy due to the length of the knife and the extra thickness needed to keep such a long blade from bending or breaking under stress.

The Right Steel for the Job

Buck Hoodlum
The additional weight of MOST larger survival knives can make them a challenge to carry and use for extended periods.  Buck seems to have overcome weight and blade strength issues by using 5160 Carbon Steel and tooling the blade to remove unnecessary steel.

The Hoodlum is crafted from 5160 carbon steel which was originally developed for use in applications like vehicle leaf springs,  so it is very strong and made to flex without breaking when under extreme stress. For this reason, the Hoodlum does not need to be as wide or thick as many other larger survival blades to retain its toughness.

5160 carbon steel, when compared to popular 1095 carbon steel, is generally tougher… although 1095 steel will usually hold a bit of a better edge.  So using 5160 carbon steel in the Buck Hoodlum has kept the weight down and seems to have increased its usefulness.

Buck Hoodlum

compared to Ka-Bar Becker BK-2

Buck Hoodlum

compared to Schrade SCHF-9 survival knife

The Buck Hoodlum (with 5160 carbon steel) weighs in at 14.5 ounces or 411 grams compared to the Ka-Bar Becker BK-2 (that’s made of 1095 steel at 14.8 ounces or 419 grams or the Schrade Extreme Survival Knife SCHF9  (which is also made of 1095 carbon steel) weighing in at a hefty 16.2 ounces or around 458 grams (almost 2 ounces heavier than the Hoodlum). This comparison places the Buck Hoodlum as a real lightweight among similar knives.

More About the Blade
The Hoodlum steel at the spine is still nearly a quarter inch wide or 6 millimeters… So this is a beefy blade.

But interestingly the primary bevel of the Hoodlum starts at the blade spine, instead of about 1/3 of the width of the blade from the spine like most knives.

This further reduces weight of this blade which is good.

Don’t get me wrong… weight does have its benefits, especially when chopping. But the speed of my swing with a Hoodlum seems to about make up for any weight difference between some other larger blades.

Buck Hoodlum

Here I am chopping a tree with the Hoodlum. Its sharp blade and the velocity that I can get with each stroke… make chopping pretty easy.

Oh and before I forget… the Hoodlum is full tang, meaning the blade steel is one solid piece from tip to butt. Full tang is considered by many experts as the strongest way to make a knife.

Buck Hoodlum

One More Thing About The Steel Used in This Knife…

Buck Hoodlum

Like 1095 carbon steel, 5160 steel is NOT stainless, so it will rust if not cared for.  So be diligent to wipe down and clean off your knife regularly and make sure to apply a thin coat of mineral oil to your blade edge and you should be just fine… since the rest of the blade is covered in what seems to be a pretty durable powder coating.

The Hoodlum ONLY comes in a 100% fine edged blade as does its little brother, the Hood Punk… which means no serrations… Yeah, I don’t see very many tears out there…

Buck Hoodlum

Shaving Sharp

My Hoodlum and Hood Punk both came shaving sharp and have stayed sharp through my use over the past several weeks.

The Hoodlum has what seems to be a very long, straight clip point blade. Which means the knife spine was clipped off straight from about 4 inches from the point, about where this notch is.

Buck Hoodlum

A gentle clip point like this is going to be pretty strong (similar to a drop point blade)… but makes for a slightly sharper tip that is more suitable for piercing, getting into small places and performing tasks like skinning game.

The Notch

Buck Hoodlum
On the spine of the blade there is a notch groove that can be used to score bone and wood, bend wire and remove cooking gear with a handle, from a camp fire.
Honestly, I haven’t had any use for it yet. But then, I have not had to use it as my exclusive survival tool either. At this point… I’ll rely on Ron Hood’s wisdom in including this feature.

Toward the handle on the blade side you will find a generous choil which aids in sharpening the entire edge and provides a suitable place to wrap a finger to get more control of the Hoodlum for fine cutting tasks… just be careful.

Buck Hoodlum

On the spine side of the blade there’s a bump that helps provide more leverage when using the choil and as well as some jimping which provides a bit more thumb grip.

Now Let’s Talk About the Handle…

Buck Hoodlum

The handle of the Hoodlum is made out of Micarta, a tough, durable man-made, laminate material. The slabs on my Hoodlum are green and are contoured to fit the ergonomic curves of the handle steel.

And it’s good that there are pretty sizable handle cutouts for my fingers, because when dry the Micarta handles are a bit slick.

My leather gloves help a lot and surprisingly, when wet, the grain of the Micarta seems to rise a bit and makes the handles a bit more grippy when wet than when dry.

Buck Hoodlum

Under the Micarta, Buck bonded a cushioning material between the slabs and the tang of the knife that Buck calls a SMS or Shock Mitigation System.  This may help pad the parts of your hands that are in contact with the handles… but it’s not going to do much for the part of your hand that’s directly in contact with the tang of the knife.

But all in all, the handle of the Hoodlum is pretty comfortable in my hand and should work out well for adults with small, medium or large hands.

Make it into a Spear

Buck Hoodlum
Now here’s a cool feature….
The Micarta handle slabs are designed to be easily removed in a survival situation so that the Hoodlum can be lashed to a pole to make a very formidable spear.

To remove the handles, simply remove the two flat-head screws… Underneath, you will find a weight-reducing cutout that doubles as a mighty fine place to lash the spear to a pole.

Buck Hoodlum

Once you remove the handle screws you may have to tighten them occasionally. Apply a dab of thread lock to each screw if you want them to stay tight.

The Hammer

Buck Hoodlum

Now on the butt end of the knife tang we have a large lanyard hole and this sizable pommel for breaking, smashing and hammering things.

The Sheath

Buck Hoodlum

The Buck Hoodlum comes with about the best quality ballistic nylon sheath that we‘ve seen.

The sheath has a large, thick polymer insert that allows for right or left hand carry.

Now the fit of the knife in the sheath is NOT tight at all. It actually wiggles around quite a bit and requires two restraint systems to ensure that the knife stays in the sheath.

Buck Hoodlum

The first is a nylon handle strap with a snap closure. The second is a heavy nylon cord and locking stay system.

This double restraint system is a bit inconvenient, but considering the length and quality of this knife and sheath, they are more than suitable.

On the front of the sheath they’ve designed a sizable pouch for some survival gear and a sharpening stone. There is an elastic band across the top of the pouch to help things tight and the pouch closes with an adjustable clip and strap system.

Buck HoodlumBuck Hoodlum

Toward the bottom front of the sheath you’ll have two velcro and two elastic straps that you can use to secure more gear to this sheath.

There are 6 grommet holes through which you can lash the sheath to a pack or other gear.

On the back of the sheath are several rows of MOLLE straps… So this sheath IS MOLLE compatible.

And last, but not least, I want to point out the flip and tuck, belt carry strap system that makes it easy to attach the sheath to any belt up to about 2 inches or 5 centimeters, without removing it.

Buck Hoodlum

Owner Comments

Owners love the versatility of this knife and almost everyone appreciates how light it is for its size. Most comment on its quality build, ability to hold an edge and how it can handle large and small tasks and just about everyone likes what they get for the price.

Buck Hoodlum

Some comment on how slick the Mircarta handle can be and others wish the sheath held the knife tighter and was less of a hassle to use.

Our Rating

Buck Hoodlum

We rate the Buck Hoodlum at 4 out of 5 stars for it’s simple, practical, rugged and  functional design… Its thoughtful weight-reducing innovations… including the use of 5160 steel in this huge 10-inch blade.

Buck Hoodlum

We love that the Hoodlum is Made in the USA! And we really enjoyed the versatility of Hoodlum as a capable all-in-one survival blade that, in a pinch, can function in place of a hatchet for chopping or a machete for clearing.

We like that the Hoodlum handles are made to remove so that the knife can be easily lashed to a pole to make a spear.

And the Hoodlum can baton and split wood with the best of them.

Buck Hoodlum

It’s great for large and small bushcraft tasks, and suitable for just about any survival task that you might expect a bladed tool to perform.

We took off  a star because the handle is not very grippy and even with the dual sheath straps the knife still moves around a bit in the sheath. Although the sie of this knife can be a real big positive, it isn’t a low-profile knife  prevents it from being something you can carry with you at all times. The steel, although great for being lightweight, requires regular maintenance to prevent rusting.


So Who is the Buck Hoodlum Knife for?

The Buck Hoodlum is a great choice for those who want a very large, lightweight and super rugged knife that is capable of performing the widest range of survival, camping, emergency and bushcraft tasks and is comfortable enough to carry all day.

Buck Hoodlum

It’s a great knife for Bug Out Bags, Emergency Kits, Camping, Hiking, Bushcraft, Hunting, Extreme Adventures, Survival Training and for those who are looking for ONE reliable knife…. that they can depend on to do just about do anything, in a pinch.

And with it’s online street price around $150 U.S. and Buck’s Great Warranty… the Hoodlum is a blade well worth saving up your pennies to get.

Buck Hoodlum

(L-R) SOG Seal Team Elite, Gerber LMFII, S&W Homeland Security Knife,Schrade SCHF10 and Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knives, Ka-Bar becker BK-2, Buck Hood Punk and the Buck Hoodlum.

For the same great characteristics of the Hoodlum, in a smaller package… check out the Buck Hood Punk.

For a smaller, stout, proven and popular bushcraft and survival knife at about half the price of the Hoodlum, check out the Ka-Bar Becker BK-2 or the Schrade Extreme Survival Knife SCHF9 or SCHF10.

For another HUGE, rugged, largely undiscovered and virtually indestructible stainless steel survival blade for less than $50 U.S. check out the Smith and Wesson Homeland Security Knife.

And for more of a Tactical, Combat Survival Knife … Check out my reviews of the Gerber LMF II or SOG Seal Team Elite.


Buck Hoodlum

We’ve just taken a look at the Buck Hoodlum Survival Knife and hope this review was helpful to you! Check out our video review on You Tube to see the Buck Hoodlum in action.


15 Responses to “The Buck Hoodlum: Ultimate Knife for Survival Craft?”

  • Lars

    Hey David

    What would be your favorite medium sized survival knife that you have had so far?

    • Carin

      David: Sign up for the monthly survival e-mag …in that, there’s a section where I share my favorite knives of the month.

  • Lars

    Awesome. Thx!

  • Ron Drey

    I have a Hoodlum and love it. I am not that wild about the sheath. I prefer leather and a dangle carry. Other than that I love the knife.

  • Roger

    Good looking knife, but a little pricey! The only other thing is that it’s probably a bit awkward for skinning small game like squirrels. I don’t think it’s possible for any blade/edged weapon to do everything, so I carry a Kabar kukri machete for heavier tasks (good control and heft without too much weight) and a Cold Steel Mini Tac neck knife for skinning, the combo cost about half as much as the Hoodlum. Any good knife is an absolute necessity, but any blade can be lost or broken, so two is one, one is none!

    • Carin

      David: Good points! Thanks for the comment. Everybody has to decide what works for them. You’ve obviously worked that out – which is cool.

  • Dan

    After researching this knife, I’ve found many videos on youtube of this knife critically failing and breaking off at the notch section on the blade. Apparently Buck is having major manufacturing issues with this knife because they told the public that they were milling the notch into the knife during production, when in fact, they were laser cutting the notch. The laser cutting was a cheaper means of making the notch but compromised the integrity of the blade weakening it. This makes the blade extremely susceptible to breaking when batoning wood.
    I would not recommend anyone purchase this knife.

    • Carin

      David: Thanks for this information…I was unaware of this. Will follow up with Buck to verify.

  • Hey David,

    Im wanting to purchase the Buck Hoodlum as my primary knife. Everything is appealing to me about it, but have one issue. I’ve learnt from you-tube videos that when battoning with the Buck Hoodlum it will eventually snap at the notch. I ask you for your advice as you’ve had first hand experience, I could accept the negative point of the Buck Hoodlum, if there was a way to avoid putting stress on the notch point when battoning.

    Much Appreciated,

    Luke Roebuck

    • Carin

      David: Buck Hoodlum is a great knife but yes, whenever you make a notch into the spine it is going to weaken the blade for sure. So be careful not to baton towards the point and you should be fine.

  • Lumberjake

    Well, as mentioned here in the comment section, this knife has issues with the notch on the spine. Frankly, to suggest simply avoiding battening the tip is weak. No one should have a “survival” knife and have to worry about how they batton with it. That is ridiculous and defeats the point of carrying a blade this long, may as well save the money and by the Punk. If I am buying a survival knife and spending $150 , it better do everything short of abuse without fuss. People batton with Moras! If Buck is Laser cutting these notches they better offer refunds for those who purchase this knife. I like Buck and they have a good reputation but I absolutely detest how most big companies today avoid at all costs a recall on a defective product but choose to wait and warranty it if it does break. Especially, if you are marketing something for survival purposes where one could be relying on it for their life. I am curious now how Buck has dealt with the issue, but I bet they are playing the warranty card. If so its doubly bad considering the man whos name is attached to this. I would bet Mr.Hood would not feel comfortable selling a product knowing this issue.

  • Lumberjake

    Oh, there is another, far more critical review but its obviously, on another, possibly competing site. This may never get approval but I will give clues as opposed to directing you to the site.
    Key words are:
    A common tactic to kill large herds of buffalo were to drive them of one.
    Secondly, you use it to send an envelope.
    Google the answers and the name to this knife and it will be there, and if you cannot figure this out I suggest you don’t buy sharp objects.

  • survivalistexprt

    the buckhoodlum is a very capable knife however the notch weakens it when batoning wood however who batons wood for firewood and does not use an axe or hatchet and I will be happy to have this knife any day especially for the mass extermination of zombies

  • survivalistexprt

    I took a weldind tool to weld the notch to make it harder and then I sharpened it so now it can cut rope or seatbelt in a pinch

  • TheOncomingStorm

    the ontario rtak2 does the same thing this will and you can get it for about $80 on amazon. the now $270 msrp or even the $169 that amazon charges is just bloody ridiculous and another prime example of price gouging.

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