Other than the day when a teenage blacksmith named Hoyt Buck made his first knife (sometime in 1902, in Leavenworth, Kan.), it's safe to say April 18, 1963, is the most important date in Buck history.
On that day, the Buck Knives board of directors voted to authorize development of a new folding lockblade knife. There were some large folding knives on the market with locking systems, but none were very successful.
A little first-hand research by the Buck team (including Al Buck, his son Chuck, Don Ham and Howard Craig) revealed why these knives had not been embraced by the buying public.
"We bought three of the rival knives," Chuck Buck said. "We handled them, used them, tried to get a feel for them. Then we took them apart to see how they worked. In the end, we agreed all three had features we liked and some features we didn't like. And we didn't like the looks of any of them. So we asked one of our engineers if there was a way to get all of the good things into one good-looking knife."
The engineer was Guy Hooser, an eccentric, off-the-wall sort who could do more with baling wire and second-hand scrap iron than most men could do with a fully equipped machine shop.
There were problems, of course. Since the concept involved a 4-inch blade, a high-tension lock and a low-pressure release, there was little margin for error. The bolsters, handle...