How Buck Expanded Their USA Made Budget Blade Line

Buck continues to grow its high-value made in the USA models with the introduction of the Rival series. According to the Post Falls, Idaho company, they are able to offer the knives at a low price by investing in a modern manufacturing process capable of producing a high volume of knives each day.

The Rival series, which consists of a small and large model, rank among the least expensive knives Buck produces in the States. The Rival II, which has a 3.125-inch blade and weighs 2.1 oz., will run you $19.99, and the 2.75-inch bladed 1.4 oz. Rival I just $16.99.

Designing and producing a US-made knife for the budget-conscious buyer presents obvious challenges. Justen Bock, New Product & Engineering Manager at Buck, tells us that bringing the Rival out for under $20 was only possible through careful planning. Essential hardware needed to be in place before the project could begin. “We have made significant investments in tooling for all components of this knife.”

The injection-molded plastic handles are made at a very high speed. Pressurized liquid plastic shoots into gigantic molds, themselves pushing down with more than 50 tons of pressure. “The mold splits and out comes a pair of nearly finished handles,” Bock explains. This process is even faster than using modern CNC equipment. “The injection mold process can make 1000 parts a day with ease.”

A second high-speed process cuts out the Rival blades. “The blade is blanked similar to a cookie cutter,” Bock says. “This cookie cutter for blanking blades is equal in size and weight to that of an injection mold tool.” As the 420HC steel moves down the line, the blanking tool captures both the negative and positive dimensions of the blade shape. “What we end up with is a blade shape with finished dimensions.”

By producing knives in the USA, Buck is also able to pass on savings to the consumer such as lower transportation expenses and a reduced investment in inventory throughout the supply chain.

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Buck sees the Rival as following in the footsteps of two other popular knives, the Vantage and the Bantam. “[It’s] similar in blade shape, materials, and construction,” Bock says. “The form is updated to appear more ‘2017.’ The style is a departure from traditional Buck products, while the design combines material, shapes, and texture that appeal to current knife buyers.”

Although a premium version of the Rival would take it out of the super-budget category, we asked Bock if that was something the company was considering, and he wouldn’t discount the possibility. “You will have to wait and see what we have in store for 2018.”

Knife featured in image: Buck Knives Rival