Hoodlum from Buck Knives

Description by Buck Knives : The Hoodlum is built for ultimate survival. Based on Ron Hood's design and built to Buck's quality standards, the Hoodlum helps ensure survival in extreme conditions. It is light enough to carry in a sheath, but heavy duty enough for any task out in the wilderness. The handle is built with a Shock Mitigation System (SMS) to alleviate shock and wasted energy when chopping. It has a large finger choil for providing control while whittling or other detailed activities. A groove is cut into the blade spine for scoring bone, bending wire, removing pots from a camp fire, or other small tasks. Also, the Micarta handles can be removed to create a spear by lashing a branch to the tang of the blade. There is an integrated hammer and lanyard hole in the butt of the handle and it comes with a heavy duty nylon sheath. The Hoodlum will serve all your survival needs from protection to food prep while out in the wilderness.

This review of the Hoodlum from Buck Knives of :


Basic specifications :

It also has a few attributes some of which are almost trademarks of Hood and others which are unique to this blade :

An introduction to the Hoodlum is given in the right by the designer, Ron Hood. The video makes a number of points/illustrations :

A couple of interesting points about the video :

User Feedback

Not all reception has been positive as as illustrated by the video on the right where a number of issues are discussed :

Another user also has a less than stellar experience when splitting just a few pieces of wood the edge turns and ripples up into the primary grind. Note at this point that steel has been heavily damaged if it is not straightened then it will become a focal point for stress and keep bending until it cracks. The only way to fix it this type of damage is :

Initial Impressions

Initial impressions :

Stock testing : main

Comparing the rough carving ability to a #1260 Mora using light force (25-35 lbs) in a forward grip, the Hoodlum has about 70 (6) % of the rough carving ability of the Mora in regards to number of slices to make a point in soft pine. However while the cutting ability is decent as the edge is relatively thin and acute there are pretty significant issues with the handle :

Due to these issues, mainly the first one, the Hoodlum is limited to using such light force unless gloves are used. If a heavy glove is used, unless they are very thin, the index finger will make contact with the sharpened edge.


Using the Hoodlum in the kitchen there were a few things immediately and obviously observed :

If the cutting is more utility based such as just cutting up vegetables for a stew or fruits for a salad most of these issues are minor. A few comparative cuts: Once the foods is reduced down to celery and the like there is no significant difference in force and it is all about handling. Of course in a commercial kitchen it would be disregarded immediately due to lack of proper handling ability and the higher rate of fatigue, but again just working at camp and such on smaller foods there would be no real issue.

The turnip cutting is an interesting example of how an increase in thickness does not always translate to a proportonal loss in cutting ability and how a number does not always give the full measure of the performance. The Hoodlum will crack the turnip after it has made a partial cut and thus the force increases at first but then stops and then decreases rapidly. In comparison the Chicago Cutlery Chef's knife makes a consistent and smooth cut. The main difference here is control. The cracking with the Hoodlum makes cutting even slices much more difficult and increases fatigue as there is more effort to control the blade in the cut.

Beyond simple cutting ability, using the Hoodlum to peel and dice a few potatoes alongside the Chris Caine Survival Tool and Chicago Cutlery Chef's knife a few things were noted :

The performance of the Chef's knife wasn't surprising as it is of course designed to do such work. It was interesting to see just how much the thinner and more acute edge could compensate for the very wide blade. Of course this is very coarse peeling, just removing the peel and the waste is not that important. Removing the rinds from various foods is more sensitive to blade width.


Cutting :

Comparing it to the Chris Caine Survival Tool, the Hoodlum's slimmer point was much easier to cut into the cans but again the handle was the limiting factor as in a side grip cutting the bottles the index finger cutout digs right into the palm. In general as it came sharp most of those types of materials are easily cut. The edge was thin and acute enough to cut through the screw strips (thick plastic). There was a lot of binding noted on the thick foam which took 40 lbs to make a complete slice, but even the #1260 Mora took 25 lbs to make a slice as that type of material wedges badly.

Doing some more cardboard cutting alongside the :

As the boxes were just being broken down and the cuts made in the folds, as long as the blades were sharp all of them sliced through with very little force. While there were differences noted they would not be a concern just cutting up a few boxes. But if a lot of such work had to be done either the MTech MT-151 or Hoodlum would be preferred for ease and just general security and safety compared to the other larger and wider blades.


Some quick and light work with the Hoodlum showed quickly various issues with the grip mainly related to the index finger cut out :

In general :

Doing more work with the Hoodlum and a couple of larger knives including the Cold Steel Kukri machete :

Noting too surprising here, as more work is done it becomes clear that the Hoodlum is more of a light scrub knife. It doesn't take very much wood to reduce it to having to take multiple chops whereas the kukri machete and similar blades with more heft keep sweeping them off easily in single chops. However it has to be taken into account that those same larger blades can be uncomfortable or awkward in lighter use.

Comparing the knife to North 49 mini-hatchet the Hoodlum showed its worth and the advantages (and disadvantages) of a long blade compared to a small axe :

Some more notes on use :

Using the Hoodlum to split a piece of 4" Spruce while sitting down with moderate impacts on the spine the performance was rather dramatic :

It took only three moderate impacts to basically cause the blade to disintegrate. The low strength and brittle nature was consistent with other issues noted with the blade in use.

Edge Retention

The Hoodlum was compared to the North 49 mini-hatchet cutting some scrap lumber and surprisingly the Hoodlum did not show a significant advantage which is not representative of properly hardened 5160.


Sharpening the Hoodlum, it responded very well to even basic stones which would be expected from a medium carbon, low alloy and low carbide steel. Moving on to higher quality stones, a 1000 grit King waterstone and a 3000 and 8000 waterstone from Henckels, the Hoodlum immediately responded and took a very fine polish very quickly. However there was an immediate problem as noted on the picture on the right.

The chopping as noted in the work in the above left the edge in a very ragged state which was chipped both visibly as well as large sections of the edge (several sections over one centimeter long) was also deformed and bent laterally. The bends were the most damaging to the sharpening as the large sections of the edge being pushed over left it over stressed and it heavily burred and the burr would not be ground off on the reverse side sharpening. The only way to remove that damaged steel would be to simply grind it all off.


5160 is a spring steel, essentially 1060 carbon steel with enough chromium to increase depth of hardening to prevent pearlite formation in thick parts. For knives this really isn't an issue as knives generally are not thick enough to prevent full hardening. The main difference between 5160 and 1060 in a knife then is then :

However these effects are going to be very small and the main difference is one which is more about ease when it comes to manufacturing now actually in use for a knife. Basically what this steel offers is :

What it lacks is :

However for a large knife only the first is really a consideration if desired. In general for a blade to be used for chopping, blunting is mainly by deformation if the blade is tough enough, or fracture if it is not. It is very rare for the edge to blunt slowly because of the high probability of contacting grit in the wood, bark or especially dirt if root work or harvesting deadfall is required.


The grip stands out immediately as a weak point and regardless of the type of use was always an immediate. Highlights :


Overview :

In short, this isn't similar to the Junglas though they are often compared. It is much more like a stout Tramontina machete rather than a short parang. Assuming the performance of the steel isn't representative, this would make a nice camp knife where you were doing a lot more cutting and a lot less chopping, i.e. :

Comments and references

Comments can be emailed to cliffstamp[REMOVE]@gmail.com or by posting to the following thread :

Or in the YouTube Playlist.

Most of the pictures in the above are in the Hoodlum album at PhotoBucket.

Last updated : Thu, 23 Feb 2012 23:15:46 Newfoundland Standard Time
Originally written: 28/01/2012