Buck’s Slim Pro series is essentially a modernization of the time-honored 110 and 112. Originally designed to offer something akin to the performance of a fixed blade in a folding package, the 110 and 112 were a revolutionary step forward when they were first introduced, quite a long time ago now.
The Slim Pro series sheds the heavy brass bolsters and scale material, offering unlined micarta or G10 in their place. The addition of a pocket clip–as well as a thumb stud to allow for one-handed opening–brings this knife more in line with the expectations of contemporary knife owners.
Buck cognoscenti will notice that the blade shape has been altered, as well, straightening and lengthening the swedge to produce a slightly more reinforced tip.
The final difference between the Slim Pro and the 110 and 112 currently in production is the change from Buck’s 429HC steel to S30V.
Fit and Finish
When Buck first introduced the Slim Pro series, there were numerous complaints of unacceptable vertical blade play. Purportedly, these were not cosmetic niggles, but real problems caused by the change in manufacturing techniques.
In contrast to the pinned construction of the original 110 and 112, Buck introduced a riveted hinge pin for the Slim Pro. According to insiders, this took some adjustment, and unfortunately, a few slipped through quality control that weren’t up to par.
My Slim Pro 112 is pretty good.
In the closed position, the backspring is just shy of fully flush, and my fingernail can grip it for an instant if I try. To a collector, that might be unacceptable; for a user, I can’t see any problem.
Can you see the proud backspring?
In the open position, the backspring and blade are fully flush.
My micarta scales are perfectly executed.
The blade grind is centered, properly polished, and everything you’d expect.
Very slight gaps are visible on either side of the back spring.
I can detect just a hair of vertical blade play if I grip the knife firmly and really push. Light force produces nothing, and lock-up is incredibly solid.
I’ve carried and used this knife for six months, and I have to say I’m impressed.
Grip and comfort
Like many of you, I do more than fish in the outdoors. I like to hunt, hike, and camp, as well. And I’ve found that what feels good at my desk or on my couch doesn’t necessarily impress in the field.
I’ve found that the scale shape and material on this knife provide a positive grip, even when wet, bloody, or slimy.
In prolonged skinning and butchering, the 112 Slim Pro disappeared in my hand, and instead of thinking about the tool, I was able to think about my work. To me, that’s the highest compliment that can be paid to any working knife–to simply disappear into the work.
That’s been just as true for cleaning fish and cutting bait.
Large, wide, and sturdy, the 112 Slim Pro’s pocket clip allows the knife to ride low in the pocket.
It’s very secure, and I’ve had no trouble with the knife backing out–not a single time in six months of EDC.
That said, it’s easy to retrieve with one hand.
Opening, closing, and locking
Buck knows the 112 inside and out, and it comes as no surprise that the thumb studs are placed where they can provide the most leverage while still staying clear of whatever you’d be cutting or slicing.
The blade is a touch stiff to open–a trade-off that’s necessary when pinning unlined micarta. My understanding is that to reduce blade play to a minimum, the pin must be very tight, compressing the micarta scales against the blade.
As a result, it takes a bit more force to open and close than most lockbacks, and certainly more than typical liner locks.
This is further aggravated when wet, as the micarta apparently swells slightly, creating even more friction.
Nevertheless, I’ve had no trouble opening this knife with one hand.
It’s simple enough to close this knife with two hands, and just as easy to close it with one hand by reversing your grip, depressing the lock, and carefully folding the blade closed against your leg.
Care must be taken with this technique, of course, as it can put a finger in harm’s way. The slight choil does a good job of preventing injury, however, as you can see in the picture below.
The lock engages with a loud snap, and I’ve not had any real-world trouble with slippage or disengagement. It’s easy to release with my thumb, but very secure under load.
The lock is positioned to the rear of the handle, placing it where a stout grip and serious pressure won’t disengage it accidentally.
Sharpening and care
Micarta is fairly tough material, but it will absorb trace amounts of liquid.
Due to the lockback, the 112 Slim Pro is harder to clean thoroughly than an open-framed liner lock or a fixed blade, and some care must be taken to remove dirt, blood, fish scales, etc. from the interior of the knife.
A simple wash in warm, soapy water seems to do the trick.
S30V is very corrosion-resistant, and I’ve had no trouble with staining or rust.
I’ve used this knife in and around saltwater–cutting bait, rope, and fishing line, removing urchins from the bottom, and prying limpets free from rocks. My knife remained wet, unrinsed, and uncleaned for hours, with absolutely no sign of corrosion. I put AUS-8 through the same use, and pitting and corrosion were noticeable in just a few hours.
S30V has a well-earned reputation for edge-holding, but many users complain that it’s difficult to sharpen.
Buck’s Bos heat treatment brings the best from this steel, and I do find that it holds an edge appreciably longer than Ontario’s AUS-8, Buck’s 420HC, 1095, and 440A. That comes as no surprise, of course, as Buck states that they harden it to Rc 59.5-61.
I’ve had no trouble with chipping whatsoever, which is not something I can say about every “super” steel.
I sharpen my knives on the Spyderco Sharpmaker, and I’ve not needed to do more than make a few passes on the fine ceramics and strap on the back of a belt. Getting to hair-shaving sharp from a working edge takes about a minute in my experience.
The 112 Slim Pro feather-sticks well, and the handle is well-shaped for this task. The spine will throw sparks from a ferro rod, and I’d give it high marks on this front, in part because it holds its edge well, allowing you to move from this task to others without needing to attend to the blade.
Feathering is fine with hardwoods like cherry and oak.