Buck Knives Inc. dates it history back over 100 years to the first knives made by Hoyt H. Buck. Hoyt H. Buck became a blacksmith apprentice in Kansas in 1899 at the age of 10. During his tenure Hoyt learned to make knives and in 1902 when he was 13, he developed a method of heat-treating the steel in hoes and other tools so they would hold an edge longer. Hoyt left Kansas in 1907 for the American northwest and eventually enlisted in the United States Navy. He is not known to have made knives until 1941 in Mountain Home, Idaho after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hoyt made each knife by hand, using worn-out file blades as raw material. These early knives are called "four strikes" by collectors, because each of the letters in BUCK was struck with an individual letter stamp, which in 1961, was replaced by a one-piece stamp.
With the entry of the USA into WW2 the government asked the public for donations of fixed blade knives to arm the troops. Upon learning there were not enough knives for soldiers who needed them, Hoyt Buck bought an anvil, forge and grinder to set up a blacksmith shop in the basement of his church and started making knives for US troops. Hoyt later explained, “I didn’t have any knives, (to offer) but I sure knew how to make them”.
After World War II, Hoyt and his son Al moved to San Diego and set up shop as "H.H. Buck & Son" in 1947. These early knives were handmade and more expensive than a typical mass-produced knife, Hoyt Buck made 25 knives a week until his death in 1949. In the 1950s the company began making knives on a much larger scale marketing through dealers as opposed to direct mail.
On April 18, 1963, just two years after their incorporation, the Buck board of directors voted to authorize development of a new folding lock-blade knife. This would become the world-famous Buck Folding Hunter Model 110.
The Buck 110 has a 3 3/4 inch blade, a high-tension lock and a low-pressure release, the handles are typically wood and the bolsters are brass. Introduced in 1964, the Buck Folding Hunter revolutionized hunting knives and became one of the most popular knives ever made. Its design is one of the most imitated knife patterns in the world.
In 1984, Buck introduced a survival knife with a hollow handle for storage and a 7.5 inch blade with a serrated spine and prongs so the knife could double as a grappling hook. Dubbed the Buckmaster, it was marketed to the military and fans of the Rambo movies of the 1980s. The Buckmaster was soon followed by the M9 Bayonet manufactured for the US Army, with an initial order of 300,000.
In 1992 Buck introduced the Nighthawk, a fixed-blade knife with a 6.5 inch blade and a black, handle made of Zytel for an ergonomic grip. This knife was submitted to the United States Navy for evaluation for use by the Navy Seals.
In 2000, due to a demand from major retailers to reduce prices, Buck opened a plant in China. They now import about 30 percent of their knives from there. These knives generally sell for under $30.
In 2005 the company relocated to Post Falls, Idaho. Leaders of the San Diego business community considered this move a blow to San Diego County's economic landscape and a symbol of the state of California's problems in attracting and keeping businesses.
Buck Knives has collaborated with different custom knifemakers such as Tom Mayo, Mick Strider, David Yellowhorse, and the late Rob Simonich.
Al and Chuck Buck were inducted into the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame at the 1982 and 1996 Blade Shows respectively in Atlanta, Georgia in recognition for the impact that their designs and Company has made upon the cutlery industry.