Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Buck/TuffThumbz Advantage

Six months ago I decided to fix a problem.  I really liked the size and shape of the Buck Vantage Small.  I loved the pocket clip.  But there were some glaring omissions.  There was no jimping anywhere.  The spine was completely untouched from when it was cut from the steel slab.  Most importantly, the fit and finish was atrocious.

So I put together what I thought would be the ultimate mid-size EDC package--the Buck Vantage Small with some tweaks.  I contacted Geoff "TuffThumbz" Blauvelt and asked him if he could help.  He said yes, so I sold some stuff and bought a new Buck Vantage Small Pro (Paul Bos treated S30V is something of a miracle) and had it shipped directly to him.  After some waiting, here is the result:


The carbon fiber Geoff used was a special piece he had sent to him from a composites company and it was uni-directional in the center and then traditional twill weave on the outside, sort of like a sandwich of different kinds of carbon fiber.  The end result is a really sweet effect.  The convex handle scales create an almost wood grain like pattern that, when in the right light, shifts and shines like very fine kauri (a very rare type of wood; click the link for a picture of what I mean).

The carbon fiber scales were pretty cool, but the blade itself is a marvel--the darkest, most Boba Fett like stonewashing you can imagine.  Here is a marco:


It looks like it is TiNi coated, but it isn't.  It is just a bit lighter than that and again in the light, it really does move like a nice stonewashed finish should.  It just happens to be the same color as fog at midnight.  Really awesome.  Hit the clip too:


The clip on the original Vantage is my favorite clip of all time, besting even the wire clip of Sypderco and the double dip Sebenza clip.  It is the perfect balance between retention and discretion.  Here it's matte finish blends even better.

Geoff continued around to the spine of the knife and made two substantial improvements.  First he added meaningful jimping:


It is almost identical to the Leafstorm's jimping in terms of shape and grip. I like it quite a bit.  Finally, he really put on a final touch of refinement by rounding over the spine.  I really like this feature on the Sebenza and I don't understand why more makers don't do it.  It saves weight and makes the knife easier to carry in the pocket.  Here is a peek:


The overall fit and finish were dramatically improved as well.  The knife is just about centered and lock up is better.  Geoff also bronzed the backspacer and the screws, given the knife a very nice appearance.

I'll have a full review of the knife in a while, I just though you might like this little spread of pictures.  It was not insanely expensive to pimp out this knife and for the price I have a very nice EDC knife.  You might think of this as pimping out a Civic, but I really, really liked the bones of the Vantage and I had some spare gear to move, so I thought it would be an interesting experience.  Hope you like it.  


  1. It's a nice looking knife but I'd go with a Ritter Mini-grip. That would be a great head to head review.

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  3. If the Ritter Mini-Grip had some other way of opening other than a thumbstud, I'd have considered it. Also I like the clip better on the Vantage and the blade shape as well. The Bos treatment is a true premium as well. Essentially the only thing I like better on the Ritter Mini-Grip is the lock.

    I had thought of doing a custom 555hg (for the thumbhole opener) in S30V, but again I still liked some of the features of the Vantage more.

  4. Love it Tony! I really enjoy Geoffs's videos - definitely for a mature audience, but I find him to be very entertaining and the creative aspects of the knife modifications are always interesting to see. I think his work with carbon fiber and acid etched stonewashes are super cool as well. This is a slick little modification. Looking forward to the full review.

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